I felt really sad Tuesday night. (Yes, contrary to popular belief, I am not always happy.) I was in a general funk. It comes and goes. Mostly I was feeling bad because I wasn’t in the mood to blog, even though I know I need to get to wrapping up these vacation recaps. I had quite a bit of self-doubt. I thought jeez Mandy, it’s almost been a month since the start of your vacation and you still haven’t finished these posts. Get it together. I tried to look on the bright side by remembering that I had posted six times since vacation, five of those vacation recap posts, and that if blogging would make me unhappy, I shouldn’t do it. Nights off are OK. And I’m basically documenting this for me.
What I’m trying to say is: Thank you for hanging in there and reading my vacation recap posts, whenever I do post.
Now let’s jump into something that does make me happy: Charleston. Charleston is one of my favorite cities, if not my favorite. There’s wonderful food. There’s rich history. There’s southern charm. If you ever get the chance to go, do it!
David and I fell in love with the Carolinas when we visited with two of our good friends, Lindy and Jerod, last May. To be completely honest, we molded the last half of our trip around Charleston. We could have gone further north, you know ’cause we were in Virginia. We were a stone’s throw away from D.C. We could have gone to Baltimore or to Myrtle Beach, but no, it wasn’t for us. Our anniversary was September 25, so we took the opportunity to go someplace we knew and loved. We were in the area-ish, so why not? (I told you that was the theme the whole trip.)
The drive from Damascus to Charleston was beautiful. I was able to drive the curvy roads in the mountains with no motion sickness. Then once we entered South Carolina, trees lined both sides of the highway. Despite being in the car a lot, I enjoyed the scenery and the all-around allure of the road trip.
Once we got into town, we decided to head to Poe’s Tavern for dinner. David got the spiced yellow fin tuna fish tacos that he got last May. He loved them and said they tasted just like he remembered.
I decided to try the mahi mahi fish tacos. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that impressed. I’m very new to the whole fish taco concept, but it tasted over-cooked, almost burnt. I enjoy fish tacos here in the Midwest better than I did there. Weird, I know.
Everything felt wonderfully familiar. We knew what roads to take to get to downtown. We knew where to walk to get to the beach, even in the dark.
The next morning I actually did a little happy dance, realizing that it was our anniversary and we were going to spend a whole day in Charleston without having to leave and head to the next city. True story.
We did a bunch of seemingly normal stuff — we shopped and went out to eat a couple of times. And it was wonderful. Our first stop was Toast to have brunch/lunch. David loved Poe’s before and I loved Toast, so we had to stop there while we were in town.
They have phenomenal biscuits and gravy. I could swim in that stuff. Southerners know how to make biscuits. I also had the best coffee ever: a creme brulee latte. I was so so happy savoring every single bite and sip. David got a fried green tomato, topped with a crab cake and a poached egg. He enjoyed it — but not as much as his spiced yellow fin tuna tacos.
After lunch we walked around to an area we hadn’t before. (It’s shocking, huh? Trying something new.) :) I saw a picture of what I call a pineapple fountain at the hotel and I asked the server at Toast where we could find it. Turns out it wasn’t too far away.
The pineapple fountain! Isn’t it cute if a fountain could be cute?! It was quite the popular spot. To the right of this picture, a photographer was taking pictures of a family.
After finding the pineapple fountain, we wandered along the colonial cobblestone streets to get to King Street — the shopping area. We ventured into stores like Kate Spade (how adorable are her new accessories?!), Le Creuset, Half Moon Outfitters (like a Moosejaw/Backwoods store), and Anthropologie. I bought a super cute apron from Anthropologie. Maybe this will give me the push I need to get back into baking. ;)
I also bought my first pair of TOMS shoes. They are red canvas and I now understand what all the hype was about. They are comfy.
David wanted seafood, so we headed out in search of a new restaurant to try for dinner. We ended up at a restaurant called The Noisy Oyster. It seemed low-key, which is what I wanted. I tend to get anxious in nice restaurants for some reason.
Before I tell you how the meal went, I have to back up just a bit to tell you a quick story. As we were checking the menus all around town (one of the things I love about Charleston) to see what we wanted to eat, we ran into a person that was quite a character. David and I must be good at running into friendly, interesting people. This guy had just left The Crab House and he saw us eyeing the menu. He recommended a couple of things and then we ended up talking about his family and life. He has lived in Charleston all his life, is a physician by trade, but he loves to drive the horse-drawn carriages around town for the tours, and he has two daughters and a son.
His stories about his daughters were hilarious. One of his daughters moved to Denver, after being in Charleston all her life. She called her dad one day and said, “Dad, I haven’t had to buy dinner or a drink since I’ve been here.” He asked, “Are you laying on the Charleston charm, sweetie?” Her reply: “Yeah, I’m laying it on real thick, Daddy.”
This next one is the best, though. I do the story much better with hand motions, but hopefully I can tell it just as well with words. When his daughters were younger, he let them catch baby alligators. (Crazy, I know.) Obviously, they didn’t keep them, but it seemed to be quite the game. He said he was more worried about the gators than his girls. One day one of the daughters caught two baby gators and had one under each armpit. She said, “Daddy, daddy! I got them,” as she was running toward him. Then, the roles reversed. “Daddy, daddy! They’ve got me!” she said as both gators’ mouths are covering her hands. The way he was telling the story I could just picture it. Although it probably wasn’t funny to the girl at the time, I thought it was hilarious.
Alright, back to dinner. I decided to be adventurous again and try some seafood. I’ve only had shrimp that’s typically fried or basic tilapia that can be seasoned however you’d like so you know how it’ll taste. I figured crab cakes would be a good way to ease into seafood; the texture would be normal and it wouldn’t be overly fishy.
I enjoyed them! Especially with that butter sauce, yum. However, the dirty rice that came with it wasn’t that good. It was so authentic. I’m not used to the creole seasoning. I urged David to try a traditional shrimp boil since we were in the South and had access to fresh seafood.
He wasn’t thrilled with it at all. He didn’t like how much he had to work to eat his food. He had to “clean” the shrimp, meaning he had to peel off the legs (yuck) and snap and pull the tail off before he could take a bite. We left beyond full and looking forward to sleeping off our food coma.
The next morning, September 26, we headed to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina — basically a suburb of Charleston — to visit Boone Hall Plantation. I had only been to one other plantation before this with my parents on a family trip, but I wanted to visit another one. I find them really interesting. It gives a glimpse on how life was back then.
This plantation’s entrance was absolutely beautiful!
The Avenue of Oaks consisted of 94 oak trees. Ninety-six oak trees were originally planted, but two died because of a lightening strike. This stunning entrance is amazing because the guy who planted it had to have such a creative vision in mind for how it would turn out because it took 150 years for the trees to grow over the now-road. He didn’t get to see his masterpiece, but he and his family are buried near the front where the trees start.
Plantation owners usually lived in town in a nice home, while a plantation hand lived on the property and actually ran the plantation. This is the third house to be built in this spot. The first one burned to the ground after a fire in the kitchen got out of control back in the 1700s. Then, the next one was a little bigger, but the owners who took it over decided to rebuild it after the depression, and that’s the house you see above.
The people that own the land now still live on the property. Someone lives on the second floor of the house, so we were only given a tour of the main floor, which was a bit of a bummer. We also couldn’t take pictures inside the house. Double bummer. Then, someone else lives on a smaller house built on another location on the plantation.
The grounds were gorgeous, though. And I could take all the pictures outside that I wanted.
I know I keep gushing about this plantation, but I really enjoyed the trees. They continue to stand though the test of time and I loved how they wrap and twist.
Also on the property, you could see all nine original slave houses still intact.
I like how they portrayed the slaves’ story. You start by viewing the slave house closest to the main house/mansion and then make your way to the last one; history progresses as you move from house to house. You hear about what type of work the slaves did, how they lived (two families typically lived in these one-bedroom houses together), the rebellion and the start of anti-slavery laws, and then finally emancipation.
We had such a good time and can’t wait to go back… but I think we’ll wait more than a year this time. ;)
Hang tight, there’s one more vacation recap post to go! You’ll get beautiful Great Smoky Mountains pictures in that one.
Question for you
What’s your favorite city that you’ve visited?