Over the upcoming summer, Laura, McKenna, and I will be traveling out west to camp for several weeks. Before embarking on such a marriage-shattering expedition, we chose to test out our camping equipment at Charleston over Spring Break, packing our recently-updated gear. Because if something on this trip is going to break the marriage, it won’t be the lack of high-quality memory foam topping for our air mattresses packed into our new car-top carrier.
Just to add a degree of difficulty to the test run trip, we arrived at the campsite on James Island 45 minutes before sunset. Then we discovered that the camp store was out of firewood and our self-inflating air mattress wouldn’t self inflate. On the plus side, we did have memory foam, and some college students were kind enough to share their firewood. In payment, McKenna regaled them with her vast store of Harry Potter trivia. Somewhere in McKenna’s gene pool, there is someone who never stops talking and is not at all shy. Somewhere.
The next day, we quickly solved our mattress and firewood problem at nearby stores, and by “quickly” I mean after rescheduling our ferry tour to Fort Sumter only three times. They love us at the Fort Sumter Ferry ticketing office. The only way they could love us more is if we allowed McKenna to tell them about the top ten differences between the book and movie versions of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. After a morning of successes, we headed into Charleston.
Now that we were in the city, we just needed to find a place to park. This being Spring Break, the first parking deck we found was full, and all of the downtown street parking seemed to be taken. Fortunately, we located another deck and headed in. As we navigated through the deck we heard this THUMP-skreee-thump sound. Then we heard it again. And again. Finally, we solved the mystery of the sound; as it turns out, a Honda CRV with a car-top carrier is just about seven feet tall, which was the clearance in the deck under the concrete supports. Apparently, we are now these people.
We finally found a space without doing any apparent damage to the car-top carrier, and, having postponed our Sumter trip to the suitably late 2:30 slot, we walked down to Charleston’s city center.
One of Laura’s college friends, Angela, runs an art gallery on Church Street in Charleston, so we went there first for a tour and impromptu reunion.
After our gallery visit, we began to wind our way back to the ferry, taking in some of the sights as we went.
It was definitely spring in South Carolina, and the tree tunnels were very green.
Just in time to save McKenna from a collapse caused by overexposure to fresh air, we reached the Fort Sumter ferry.
It was at about that time that the weather started taking a turn for the worse, making this a good time to be on an enclosed ferry.
By the time the ferry reached Fort Sumter, it was rainy and a bit windy.
The museum at the fort is very informative with great visuals. However, due to the chilly and damp weather, the museum was also packed with people as underdressed as our daughter. To escape the crowds, we decided to toughen McKenna up with a perimeter tour of the fort.
Of course, since Laura and I are history teachers, the weather didn’t detract from our appreciation of the location that the American Civil War began.
A little after 4, I stopped torturing Laura and McKenna with things like “national history” and “the heritage of our country” and we boarded the ferry to return to downtown Charleston. The weather cooperated with our plans and the clouds began to break up.
We had 6:30 dinner reservations at Fleet Landing Restaurant, giving us about an hour and a half to fill with some touristing. In Charleston, being a tourist includes looking at private homes and yards in a way that would be a little unsettling back in Midlothian.
After about a half an hour, we transitioned from stalker behavior to shoppers back at the city center.
At the City Market, we foolishly told McKenna that she could get a souvenir without setting parameters for what qualified as a “Charleston souvenir.”
We got to our restaurant a bit early, but they were ready for us with seating with a view of Charleston’s harbor.
After a fantastic dinner of stuffed hushpuppies and shrimp and grits, it was back to the parking garage for another round of “cartop carrier vs concrete girders.”
Fortunately, the garage was almost empty by this time, enabling us to creep along at a safe(r) three miles per hour. At that speed, the carrier only made a mildly anxiety-inducing skree-thump sound rather than the earlier panic-inducing THUMP-skreee-thump. Against all odds, we made it out with the car and car-top carrier intact. This calls for a victory s’more!