Sunday, December 27, 2015

Charleston, SC - A Lot to Do in a Short Time

The first thing we did here was go out to Fort Sumter. Since it's on an island, we needed to take a boat.

The boat leaves from Patriots Point, home of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. Built in World War II, she had an exciting career until becoming a museum ship here in 1975.

Also here is the destroyer USS Laffey. She earned the nickname "The Ship That Would Not Die" for her exploits during the D-Day invasion and the battle of Okinawa.

As our boat left the dock, we got a different view of the USS Yorktown.

We also got a distant view of Castle Pinckney, a small fort built in 1810.

Fort Sumter is most famous for being the site of the first shot of the Civil War.

A tour was offered, but I just wandered around on my own.

Some of the walls are made from "tabby concrete," made by burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells.

I liked how the fort has not been pristinely restored. Lots of evidence of war damage is still there.

The fort was originally a three story fortress.

Fort Moultrie is also located near Charleston.

Three different forts were built on this site through the years.

We also took a trolley tour of the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in North America.

The reason all the plants are flat on top is that the tea is picked from the newest growth -

Using this machine that shears off the top.

This sign shows where the other tea plantations are. The closest one is in Argentina.

We also stopped off the see the Angel Oak Tree, a huge live oak tree 300-400 years old.

The trunk was too big to hug, being 25 1/2 feet around. The tree provides 17,000 square feet of shade.

We also went to see the Confederate submarine USS Hunley. It is being restored in a giant water tank, and was unfortunately difficult to see because of the reflection.

This is a picture of what was recovered in 2000. The Hunley was the first successful combat submarine when she sank the USS Housatonic in 1864! Unfortunately the Hunley never returned from the mission.

If you're wondering how a submarine was propelled in 1864, Phil is demonstrating how it was done. Seven men turned a hand-cranked propeller.

While at Charleston, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with our group. (Now you know how far behind I am...)

We also went to see the Holiday Festival of Lights in Charleston. It's a 3-mile drive through 700 light displays.

Noah's Ark was my favorite, and maybe the biggest presentation.

Although this one was very suitable for us.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Myrtle Beach

Our stay at Myrtle Beach, SC didn't begin too well, with a couple inches of rain.

But never mind - we are at the 2nd Friendliest Visitor Center in the World!

We went to the beach and just about froze to death.

We also went to Broadway at the Beach, a tourist mall with some interesting stores and a lighthouse.

The fish here know that the tourists feed them.

But the big attraction here is the Upside Down House.

I don't know what happened here, but it really landed hard on this other building.

King Kong is also here -

And he grabbed a plane that was flying by.

We also went on a pontoon boat ride on the Waccamaw River.

The dark water made for some beautiful reflections.

We didn't see any alligators, but saw lots of turtles.

And quite a few sunken ships.

We sat through a 120-minute time share presentation (which actually was well over 200 minutes) to get free tickets to the Carolina Opry Christmas Show. (Won't fall for that again) But it was a great show, with beautiful songs -

And some crazy segments too.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Rushing Through Wilmington

Since Phil and I stopped off in Durham to see his relatives, we didn't have a lot of time in Wilmington, NC with the group, but we still managed to see quite a bit. We didn't tour the Battleship North Carolina, but got a good view of it across the river -

On the Wilmington Riverwalk.

The beach is pretty quiet this time of the year.

We went to see Fort Fisher, the South's largest earthen fort, which protected blockade runners en route to Wilmington before its fall in January 1865.

The North Carolina Aquarium is on the grounds of Fort Fisher. We met a young Bald Eagle with an injured wing.

And saw a rare albino alligator -

And some smiling stingrays -

They also have some really cool sculptures -

Some of which are pretty scary!

There were some really cool jellyfish -

Beautiful whatevers -

And some interesting lionfish.

AND - I found Nemo!

We then took the $5 ferry across the Cape Fear River.

Wilmington is a very busy port.

Along the way, we got a good view of the ruins of Price's Creek Lighthouse, from before the Civil War.

And a very distant view of Bald Head Lighthouse, also know as Old Baldy.

Across the river, we found the ruins of old Brunswick Town, the first permanent English settlement along the Cape Fear River. It was founded in 1726.

And yet another earthen fort, Fort Anderson.