Thursday, June 6, 2013

Charleston to Tropical Storm Andrea, Mile Marker 354

There is no place like Charleston, to visit that is. We have never been to Charleston this late in the year so the heat and humidity were a shock to us. It turned out this was the first week of an annual celebration of all the arts, Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto. The later is a series of events and venues open to the public without big ticket prices, the goal being something for everyone. Because we did not know of the seventeen day festival soon enough, we were unable to secure tickets to music events which appealed to us.We did however enjoy an amazing performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream performed by the the Bristol Old Vic and Handspring Puppet Company, the group who brought you War Horse on Broadway! The play was one of many performances in the recently restored Dock Street Theater, an establishment as old as the city itself. It was magical, as were the free events we took in. The city was crowded with destination Spoleto guests but everyone's spirits were great, awestruck and happy.

Fortunately we had made restaurant reservations well in advance, and even then we had to settle for second choices or odd times. This trip we ate at Husk (getting too uppity because of their reputation: watch out Sean Brock and staff!,) High Cotton, Magnolias, and the Palmetto Cafe, which was our favorite. Palmetto is in Charleston Place Hotel, owned by the Orient group who coincidentally owns the Inn at Perry's Cabin in St. Michael's near our home port. They were even gracious enough to give us recipes. We found the tempting cuisine and the heat a poor combination, but we were grateful to have this opportunity.

We had a different quest this visit to Charleston, to seek out examples of art by Jonathan Greene, and we were very successful. We are huge fans of his Gullah interpretations in vibrant colors and low country themes. Charleston Place was decorated with his work, there were tile murals in the City Market Place, the Gibbs Gallery has just completed a showing of his work, and we found the gallery owner who represents him. If you keep your eyes peeled you will see his work in unusual places. Unfortunately we had poor luck with our own photography during this visit because of the crowds, the light always being wrong, the French Quarter being of narrow streets, etc., until we just gave up and enjoyed the views. Sometimes, its a good thing to do.

We cast off on Sunday, June 2, at first light and mid-tide which we needed to get past Isle of Palms. This was so tricky it made the Georgia stretch look deep! But, we successfully arrived in Georgetown that afternoon for a three day stay based on inaccurate weather forecasts for the next few days. While in Georgetown we rented a car to visit Pauly's Island and spent a day at Brookgreen Gardens. The 900 acre gardens were established by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington (1931) in the footprints of four former rice plantations, one of which was the home of Vice President Aaron Burr's daughter and her plantation owner husband. Anna needed a warmer climate as she had tuberculosis, and she was a sculpture of high regard. Hence, the gardens showcased her work and that of prominent sculptures, some quite recent. There are two indoor galleries as well as ponds, outdoor installations, a zoo, and more. Be careful where you walk, native species of all kinds roam free, including venomous snakes, alligators and bear. We enjoyed a trekker trip to a plantation homestead and the Alston cemetery, but we did little walking about!

Across the modern highway is a South Carolina State Park with beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean. Here the Huntingtons built a less than attractive structure (called the Castle?) which survives hurricanes despite being mere yards to the Atlantic's door.  In Moorish architecture, the hose was built without a plan, and the owners employed only local labor is its construction. Atalaya means watchtower, and the structure had one, not for protection but to hold the water supply.

By Wednesday we were anxious to move and to be secure before weather set in. After passing through the "rocks" or ledges we tied up at a face dock at Barefoot Landing. No amenities but several loud restaurants, and other boaters to keep company, waiting out tropical storm Andrea. The forecast is ever changing but our captain says being here until Saturday mid-tide again will get us favorable water for the upcoming inlets.  Good time to read, catch up on writing, plan the rest of the trip. We are now competing with fishing tournaments as well as seasonal boaters for out slips and space on the waterway. Arrrrg!

We will be safe though a little rocky if the storm ever gets here. Do not worry :). 

When we say low water,
we mean low water.

In Charleston Place.

Fish dive in Murrels Inlet.

Reading the Paper in Detroit
Brookgreen Garden

Original plantation wall and gate
in Brookgreen Garden

Cemetery Gate

Resurrection fern, resurrects itself with rain.

She especially loved horses,
and a big scale.

Anna designed the iron work at Atalaya.

Look how close Atalaya is to the beach!

Jonathan Greene at the market.