American Locations 29 – Patriots Point, Charleston

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

Patriots Point, Charleston, South Carolina

 

Leaving Boone Hall, we drove on Hwy. 17 through Charleston. I try to avoid large cities since the motor home is such a pain to drive in crowded conditions on unfamiliar streets. But Charleston wasn’t bad. The main thing I noticed about the city was all the bridges. Here is one of many.

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I knew Charleston was on the ocean, but I didn’t know there were 4 rivers flowing into the harbor – the Wando, Cooper, Ashley, and Stono. We stopped on the far side of the city and found a pleasant private campground.

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The next day we drove back across the harbor to see Patriots Point. This is a park on the waterfront where a decommissioned WW2 aircraft carrier, battleship, and submarine are docked. We spent an entire day here. I’d never been on an aircraft carrier or a submarine before.

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We started with the aircraft carrier.

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Inside we went through the sleeping quarters.

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They had a torpedo on display.

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The boiler room. The ship was diesel powered, of course. This was long before nuclear.

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The bridge.

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There were many other interesting area, such as the kitchens, the medical offices, the torpedo tubes. It was like a floating city, with about 4000 sailors on board. But the best part of the tour was going up on top to see the planes.

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Next was the battleship.

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A gun battery.

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A torpedo launcher.

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A depth charge launcher.

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No computers. The controls were all electric switches and valves.

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An interesting program on the battleship was a simulated encounter with a Soviet submarine. It was a very tense situation, since the captain didn’t know if it was merely harassing them or was really attacking. They had to prepare for an attack. They tracked the sub on sonar, ready to attack if it made the least hostile move. But it merely sailed away. The presenter said during the Cold War this occurred on a daily basis all over the globe.

Last was the submarine. As you can tell by the first photo it was still in the process of being restored.

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Inside is very cramped. If you have claustrophobia, I advise against going below.

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A cut-way torpedo, so you can see what was inside it.

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There was also a Viet Nam war era helicopter and a Quonset hut set up with displays from the war. Ken Burns’ ‘Viet Nam’ was playing inside, to provide images and set the mood with the 60’s music he scored the documentary with.

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After a full day, we drove back across the bay to collapse at our camp site.

 

Next Location – The Low Country, South Carolina

 

 

American Locations 28 – Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

Charleston, South Carolina

 

Shortly after leaving Pawnee Island we stopped for the night at an uninteresting private campground along Hwy. 17. In the morning we continued south on Hwy. 17 across the Waccamaw River and Great Pee Dee River through the edge of the Francis Marian National Forest into Charleston. It was a pleasant unhurried drive along the coast and through the forest. As we neared Charleston the traffic picked up. We started seeing many booths set up alongside Hwy. 17 selling sweetgrass baskets. We stopped at one to look them over and considered buying one, until we learned the price. Although they were unique and pretty, the price was too steep for us.

We stopped to tour Boone Hall Plantation. We approached on a gravel lane through an impressive arch of live oaks.

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We toured the plantation house. No photography was allowed inside, I could only take them outdoors.

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This house isn’t very old. The original had burned down. As had the second house that replaced it. This was the third incarnation. The plantation originally grew cotton. After the Civil War the plantation switched to pecans. After a blight wiped out their pecan trees the plantation was opened up for tourists and a small vegetable farm continued to sell fresh produce.

The house is surrounded by attractive gardens.

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The smooth bright red bark doesn’t show up well on this tree, but it was distinctive. I wish I could think of the name of this tree, but it eludes me.

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The plantation was on the Horlbeck Creek.

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There is an old warehouse on the creek. While we were there they were setting up for a wedding reception.

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There was another warehouse on the property they had braced to keep it from collapsing.

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There was a classic palmetto next to it.

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I thought this wind-twisted tree had character.0872_Charleston

There was a pond, with a boardwalk around it.

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There were warning signs for alligators. We didn’t see any, but we did spy this bird.

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There were also slave cabins open to tour.

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Adorned with interesting art work from the slave era.

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And sweetwater baskets.

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These brick cabins were homes for the overseers. The actual slave cabins weren’t nearly this nice. They were constructed of wood and had all burned down. In one of the cabins is a horrific display. A list of all the slave ships that docked in Charleston, which had one of the biggest, if not the biggest, slave markets in the country.

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On this photo I zoomed in so it can be read. The 2 columns on the right show the number of slaves that embarked in Africa and the number that disembarked in Charleston. So many Africans didn’t even make it here, crossing the Atlantic was so brutal. The slavers crammed as many bodies as they could in their holds, then hardly cared for them at all during the months it took to get here.

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At one of the slave cabins a historical interpreter gave a presentation about Gullah culture. This college professor (in the blue top) was incredible, her half-hour was one of the highlights of the entire trip.

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I had no knowledge of Gullah before this. It was fascinating to see her portrayal. Here is a brief Wikipedia article. I encourage you to read more on your own, it is such an remarkable part of our American history:

The Gullah (/ˈɡʌlə/) are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of Georgia and South Carolina, in both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. They developed a creole language, the Gullah language, and a culture rich in African influences that makes them distinctive among African Americans.

Historically, the Gullah region extended from the Cape Fear area on North Carolina’s coast south to the vicinity of Jacksonville on Florida’s coast. Today, the Gullah area is confined to the Georgia and South Carolina Lowcountry. The Gullah people and their language are also called Geechee, which may be derived from the name of the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Georgia.[1] Gullah is a term that was originally used to designate the creole dialect of English spoken by Gullah and Geechee people. Over time, its speakers have used this term to formally refer to their creole language and distinctive ethnic identity as a people. The Georgia communities are distinguished by identifying as either “Freshwater Geechee” or “Saltwater Geechee”, depending on whether they live on the mainland or the Sea Islands.[2][3][4][5]

Because of a period of relative isolation from whites while working on large plantations in rural areas, the Africans, drawn from a variety of Central and West African ethnic groups, developed a creole culture that has preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage from various peoples; in addition, they absorbed new influences from the region. The Gullah people speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords and influenced by African languages in grammar and sentence structure. Sometimes referred to as “Sea Island Creole” by linguists and scholars, the Gullah language is especially related to and almost identical to Bahamian Creole. There are also ties to Barbadian CreoleBelizean CreoleJamaican Patois and the Krio language of West Africa. Gullah crafts, farming and fishing traditions, folk beliefs, music, rice-based cuisine and story-telling traditions all exhibit strong influences from Central and West African cultures.[6][7][8][9]

On our way to the parking lot as we were leaving we encountered people in distress. A man was tending to his sister who was on the ground. She was having some kind of medical emergency, perhaps a stroke. It was a hot sunny day, so he and I lifted her up and carried her into the shade. My wife called 911, and we stayed with them until an ambulance arrived – which was very quickly. Once she was on her way to the hospital, we walked on to our motor home and left.

 

 Next Location – Patriots Point, Charleston

 

 

 

American Locations 27 – Huntington Beach & Brookgreen Gardens

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

Huntington Beach State Park & Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina

 

The next morning we explored the extensive boardwalks that ranged far out into the wetlands.

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On the far side of the wetlands you can see some parked cars.

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We drove over there and found it was a place to launch your canoe or kayak.

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And fish, of course.

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Where the three are standing, and also in the previous photo, it looks like gravel. It’s not. It is crushed clam shells. Before this was a state park a lot of clamming went on here, and this place was where the shells were collected, crushed, then used as a base for the road. All along the lane from the road to this point are mounds of shells not yet crushed.

Once we finished here we drove out of the park across the street into Brookgreen Gardens. It is a statue gardens situated upon land that originally was a rice plantation. We spent the rest of the morning roaming around it.

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There were also courtyards filled with statues.

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And some indoors galleries.

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After leaving the gardens, we drove to nearby Merrill’s Inlet for lunch. The restaurant had this interesting construct of a school of fish hanging from the ceiling.

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Afterwards we walked their boardwalk along the waterfront.

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Someone was keeping some goats on this little isle.

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Heading south on Hwy 17, we took a short detour to see Pawnee Island.

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We drove to the southern point, where there was a sandy beach.

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On the sound side people were boating and fishing.

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While on the ocean side they were paddleboarding the surf.

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Late that afternoon we drove off the island and headed south on Hwy. 17.

 

Next Location is Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

 

 

 

 

 

American Locations 26 – Huntington Beach

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina

 

We drove south on Hwy 17 a mere 20 miles to Huntington Beach State Park. This was the shortest drive of the trip. We entered the park on a long causeway over a lake to the right and a marsh to the left.

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After securing a site, our first stop was to tour Atalaya Castle, which is on the grounds. Here is a Wikipedia article about it:

Atalaya Castle, is correctly and historically known simply as Atalaya, and was the winter home of industrialist and philanthropist Archer M. Huntington and his wife, the sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, located in Huntington Beach State Park near the Atlantic coast in Murrells InletGeorgetown County, South Carolina.

Archer Huntington was a noted scholar of Spanish culture and art, and designed the residence in the Moorish Revival and Mediterranean Revival architecture styles from Spanish Andalusian coast models.

Residence[edit]

Atalaya was built near the Atlantic Ocean in northeastern South Carolina, within present day Huntington Beach State Park. The location was chosen as a milder winter retreat for the health of Anna Huntington, who suffered from tuberculosis from the mid-twenties to the mid-thirties.[2]

The 200 by 200 foot (60 by 60 m) masonry structure was built from 1931 to 1933 apparently without drawn plans,[3] Archer Huntington had already designed the residence for them with his detailed imagination ‘in his head.’[4][5] Local labor was used at Archer Huntington’s insistence to provide work for a community hard hit by the Great Depression.

Description[edit]

Atalaya (AH-tuh-lie-yuh) means “watchtower” in Spanish, as in the real Atalaya Castle in Spain. The house is dominated by a square tower, which housed a 3,000 gallon water tank.[3] Rising nearly 40 feet (12 m) from a covered walkway, it bisects Atalaya’s inner court. The inner walls of the main courtyard were covered with creeping fig vines, Sabal palmettos, the South Carolina state tree, and other palms.

The living quarters consist of 30 rooms around three sides of the perimeter, while the studio, with its 25-foot (8 m) skylight, opens onto a small, enclosed courtyard where Anna Hyatt Huntington worked on her sculptures. Pens for animal models, including horses, dogs and bears, are situated adjacent to the open studio. The building also features hand-wrought iron grills designed by Mrs. Huntington, which cover the exteriors of windows. These and shutters were installed for protection against hurricane winds.[3]

Transition

During World War II the Huntingtons vacated Atalaya and provided it to the Army Air Corps for use from 1942 to 1946.

The Huntingtons last used Atalaya as their winter home in 1947. Most of the furnishings were sent to New York City after Mr. Huntington’s death in 1955. The studio equipment was moved to a new studio at Brookgreen Gardens just across U.S. Route 17, which cut through the Huntingtons’ former contiguous property.

Public era[edit]

The 2,500-acre (10 km²) tract was leased to the state in 1960 for use as a state park. Mrs. Huntington died in 1973.

Atalaya Castle was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984,[1] and was included in the designation of Atalaya and Brookgreen Gardens (along with the sculpture garden at Brookgreen Gardens) as a National Historic Landmark District in 1992.[6][7]

The Friends of Huntington Beach State Park offer guided tours of Atalaya and operate the Atalaya Visitor Center with exhibits about the house and the Huntingtons.

The annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival is held each year in late September.[8]

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The plaque on this photo says ‘oyster shucking room’. Oysters have always been a large staple of the diet in this area.

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After leaving the Castle we drove around to see other parts of the park. We found a path…

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…that led to a beautiful beach.

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There were also trails through the wetlands.

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There were signs all through the wetlands warning of alligators.

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I spotted my first alligator of the trip in the lake.

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It was a pretty lake.

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There were a lot of birds in the lake.

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After my hike around the lake I’d had enough. I joined my wife for a relaxing evening at our camp site.

 

Next Location – Huntington Beach & Brookgreen Gardens

 

American Locations 25 – Myrtle Beach 2

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

Myrtle Beach State Park, South Carolina

 

Early one morning I joined a group on the beach participating with a ranger program. She was digging up sea turtle nests that had already hatched to see how many had not survived to leave the nest. The nests had already been located and marked to keep people away.

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We gathered on the beach to await the ranger. It was another pretty sunrise.

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The ranger began excavating the nest.

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The remains of the dead baby sea turtles were spread out and cataloged. Many of the eggs hadn’t even hatched.

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The ranger told an interesting story. When the baby sea turtles hatch they have to make their way across the beach into the ocean in order to survive. Their hatching coincides with a full moon, which gives them light to guide them into the water. But a nest no one had known about hatched up the beach in the resort area, and all the lights confused the baby turtles. When some were discovered to be going the wrong way away from the ocean, word quickly spread. Not only did people gather up the turtles they could find and carry them out to the ocean, all the nearby resorts cut off their lights so the turtles could focus on the moon.

While camping at Myrtle Beach State Park we drove to Waccamaw River Tours for a river cruise.

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We rode in a pontoon boat.

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Which took us up and down the Waccamaw River.

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The green clump floating on the river is lily pads, but they weren’t blooming at the time.

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It was a pleasant relaxing couple of hours.

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I like this photo because of the distortion the boat’s wake causes in the reflections in the water.

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After the river tour it was back to the state park for one final walk on the beach, then we were off early the next morning.

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Next Location – Huntington State Park