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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

01 NOV thru 15 NOV 06, Charleston, SC

GPS Position: 32°47’.339N: 79°55’.443W

Being back in Charleston, SC is like coming home for us. Both Kim and I feel a connection to this city that is beyond explanation. As far as living in the US is concerned, we've only lived in the north, yet Charleston makes us feel as if we’ve always been here and everything about the city has an eerie sense of familiarity.

We spent the first couple of days here doing the shop and resupply thing. We rented a car from the local Enterprise office and made the usual stops at Sam's Club, Wal-mart and West Marine to restock low inventories of food, household supplies and boat maintenence items.

With our boat resupplied, we spent the next three days cleaning, shining, wiping and waxing the boat. It takes a lot of work to keep Current Jumper looking like new, but the results were worth all of the hard work.

With the boat all in order, we got on the bicycles and began touring the city of Charleston. No visit to the city is complete without a trip along the north shore to see the old row houses. Most of these have been around since the civil war and are held together by long threaded rods that pass through the entire structure
with a star shaped nut on each end. It worked well then and is still working today.

From the Row Homes, we went on to Battery Park. First used as a public park in 1837, Batter Park became a place for artillery placement during the American Civil War to protect the approaches to Charleston. It is also, the site where, on April 12, 1861, the residents of Charleston gathered to watch the bombardment of Ft. Sumter, which marked the beginning of the War.

Today, however, Battery Park is a beautiful public park that still contains many of the original Civil War artillery pieces. Everyone seems to agree that the Battery is the city's best spot for strolling. Maybe it's the live oaks drooping with Spanish moss, the pleasant ocean breezes, or the lovely views of Charleston Harbor. Whatever the reason, Battery Park is definately on the "A" list of places to visit while in Charleston.

Our next stop was the Charleston Market. The market has been at its present location for 220 years and has survived a tumultuous past, out lasting tornadoes, hurricanes, a major earthquake and devastation by fires and bombardment from without and within.

Located near the waterfront in the Ansonborough area, the first actual suburb in America, the property was built on low lying marshland and a small tidal creek which were gradually filled in between 1804 and 1807 and were by then high enough to erect the market stalls.

The main building, Market Hall, was built in 1841 and is an apparent modification of the Grecian-Doric temple of "The Wingless Victory" at Athens. The cornice is ornamented with ram's and bull's heads, a symbol of the ancient Greek custom of hanging the skulls of animals sacrificed to the gods in the temple.

Today, Market Hall is used by the United Daughters of the Confederacy for the preservation of articles of historic interest from the War Between the States.

Below Market Hall is a spacious portico, which was used as a meat and fish market until modern times. For sanitation purposes the three buildings behind Market Hall, which sold fruits and produce, were set apart.

Today when visiting Charleston, the City Market is a must see. There are a total of four buildings spanning from Meeting Street to East Bay Street. Sweet grass basket weavers can be seen in every building, along with, local artists, jewelry, tapestry, souvenirs, church dolls, afghans, rugs, rice, beans, sauces, local candies and cookies and much more.

Well, today started off with great news. We received a call from some old friends of ours from Ohio and found out they’re in Charleston! They travel the highways in a fifth wheel camper and, being retired like us, spend their time traveling and sightseeing in the US.

They are staying at the James Island County Park, which has a huge RV facility in addition to 643 acres of well-manicured public lands. Our friends came and picked us up at the Marina and then we all went to dinner at Melvin’s Barbecue. Melvin’s wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t expensive, but the food sure was FANTASTIC!! I can’t believe we ate so much.

Once diner was done, we got back in the truck and made our way to the James Island County Park. When we arrived at the park, we all got out of the truck and began the walking tour of the Festival of Lights (what a great way to recover from over eating!)

The walking tour covers a leisurely 3-mile trek along forest paths illuminated by light-sculptured art. With over 600 displays located throughout the park, the Holiday Festival of Lights is a magical place to be!

Once the light tour is complete, there is still a lot left to be seen. One can visit Santa's Workshop, tour the facility on Santa's Train, ride the Giant Carousel or visit the huge sand sculpture (it takes more than 50 tons of sand to construct) that is specially created each year for the Holiday Festival of Lights

We had a great time at the park and it was great being with our friends again. Tomorrow, we'll see them again and have more adventures together.

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