Saturday, March 21, 2009

Southeast Road Trip Day 6

Breakfast was the only thing we really did in North Carolina, since there was just 20 miles left before we got to South Carolina. We perused the atlas and our guidebooks for a good place to see the ocean and we settled on Charleston, specifically Fort Sumter. So we headed southeast off of 95 and took 26 into Charleston. We parked at Liberty Park and went into the Fort Sumter Visitor's Center, a building on the mainland housing artifacts from Civil War Era South Carolina. There we got our tickets for the ferry that brings you out to Fort Sumter, since it's on an island that was constructed over a sand bar at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. As we waited to board the ferry, we saw several boats traveling through the harbor and some that were docked, including a cruise ship and one that looked like a pirate ship to my landlubber eyes. Off to the left there was the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the western hemisphere.
We took seats on the top floor where the wind sliced right through us. I had to put up my hood and was still freezing! As we pulled away from the dock, some gulls followed the ferry out to Fort Sumter. A few passengers threw bread for them as they screeched and dove. I took video of them, and I would guess they are Bonaparte's Gulls, but I'm not really sure. There were a few pelicans and other birds around as well. Out in the harbor we saw Fort Moultrie, Castle Pinckney, USS Yorktown, a Custom House, and some great views of Charleston. There was a narration on the boat telling us about the harbor and the events leading up to the first shots of the Civil War, which took place at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Once we arrived at the Fort, the ranger gave a more detailed talk about the dealings between Anderson and Beauregard, as well as explaining the six flags that flew overhead. He explained that the tree on the South Carolina flag is a palmetto and the crescent shape is from the caps of South Carolinian troops that fought in the Revolutionary War.
Then we were let loose to run around the Fort, visit the museum and stare out at the ocean for about 45 minutes before the boat brought us back to the docks. The gulls accompanied us again and the cruise ship passed close enough that we could wave at the passengers.
Since we'd been in view of the Ravenel bridge the entire time, Mike really wanted to drive over it, so we took the long way out of town, over the bridge and around Charleston on 526 before meeting up with Highway 17. There are lots of signs proclaiming it the Savannah Highway, so we knew we were headed in the right direction. We giggled as we passed the US Vegetable Labratory and got to the Wingate in Savannah just in time for sunset, dinner at Sam Snead's steakhouse and the first half of a two-night domino game.

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