We've decided that February in Charleston is kind of like April at home in southeastern Pennsylvania, and kind of like May in upstate New York and New England. In other words . . . it's nice!
One thing that is very different from home is that we are at the beach, and so it tends to be windy, and we are very aware of the tides. Here's is the view outside the back on our rented townhouse yesterday at low tide.
And this is what surprised us this morning, when the tide was high. Quite a difference, right!
Charleston is definitely a city on the water, bounded by three rivers -- the Cooper, Ashley and Wando -- that drain into a large harbor and then the Atlantic ocean. So I thought I'd show you how the city looks from the water, as we took a ferry out to Fort Sumter. Here is the city's signature Ravenel bridge leading from downtown to Mount Pleasant and points to the northeast, up to Myrtle Beach and eventually North Carolina.
The South Carolina aquarium, opened in 2000, sticks out into the harbor, and boasts the deepest tank (at 42 feet) in North America. We visited one day last week and saw river otters, loggerhead turtles, alligators, sharks and plenty of other aquatic life.
Charleston is also a port. These two transports carry BMWs which are manufactured outside of Greenville, SC, then brought by train to Charleston for shipment around the Western Hemisphere.
Charleston is also home to the Yorktown aircraft carrier, which was built during World War II and saw service in the Pacific. It was later used during the Vietnam war, and served as a recovery ship for the Apollo 8 space mission. It was decommissioned in 1970 and has been a museum in Charleston since 1975.
So we took the cruise boat out to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. We first passed Castle Pinckney, a fort built in the early 1800s that briefly held Union prisoners of war during the Civil War. It is now owned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and that's a Confederate flag that flies over the fort . . . but efforts to restore the fort by both the state and the Sons of Confederate Veterans have been resisted by the currents and the tides of Charleston harbor.
I must confess that I did not get a decent photo of Fort Sumter. Suffice it to say that it looks kind of like Castle Pinckey -- only bigger. Sumter was occupied by Federal troops in December 1860, taken over by the Confederates in April 1861 and then was bombarded mostly to ruins by Federal canons for two years. This is one if the canons that helped the Confederates withstand the attacks, and keep Charleston harbor open to the South for most of the Civil War.
Fortunately, it turned and kept to the channel, and we boarded our boat and returned safely to downtown Charleston. When we rounded the Yorktown we got a closeup view of its bow.
And then I saw the container ship headed safely to its docking. So today, at least, all is right with the world.