Doin’ the Charleston (with no help from Arthur Murray)

Wednesday brought my longest drive of the trip: Adairsville, GA to Charleston, SC, almost 400 miles. It was uneventful, save for a wrong turn or two, easily corrected. The RV park is located inside a Charleston County park, which is very nice. Had to do my first back-in job at an RV park, though. With help from a couple of neighbors to spot me it got done.

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But on Saturday I had to move to another site (that was the deal when I made the reservation) and back in again. Practice is good, I suppose.

Charelston is a foodie town. A few days ago I received an email from Trip Advisor that named the top 25 restaurants in the good old US of A. Four of them are in Charleston. So I’ve been sampling the fare with my pal Sheldon and her little man Evan. Wednesday night we went Italian at Al di La. This was basic Italian comfort food well executed. The next couple of days was definitely down home Charleston. Thursday night we ate at a total dive called The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene:right on the water, right at sunset.

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And what better in such a setting than a good old seafood platter?

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That’s not a rhetorical question. The answer is NUTHIN’!  (http://www.wreckrc.com/

Next night was at a place called The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island. More good food and in this case an interesting cocktail list as well.

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I tried the Swamp Fox and the Thunder and Friendship. Swamp Fox was the winner. There’s a hotel in downtown Charleston called the Francis Marion Hotel. Marion was an officer in the Revolutionary War who was known as the Swamp Fox due to his use of guerilla warfare tactics against the Brits when they occupied Charleston from 1780 to 1782. Whether he liked bourbon I do not know, but South Carolinians back then were some drinkin’ sons of guns (when I was in Charleston many years ago they said on a tour that back in those days there were 7 pubs for every man in Charleston), so I suspect he would enjoy the libation named in his honor, or at least the idea of it.  http://www.theobstinatedaughter.com/

On Saturday we went on a walking tour of downtown Charleston (more on that later) and finished at a place called Leon’s for lunch. This was a great spot, almost an ice house vibe with some really good fried chicken and oysters and hush puppies and other things.  http://leonsoystershop.com/

Charleston is a pretty darned historic place, to say the least. Friday I went to Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island. I was not familiar with Charleston being a battleground during the Revolutionary War, but in fact one of the earliest battles occurred here in late June 1776. Apparently Charleston was one of the wealthiest cities among the Colonies (“The London of the Lowcountry”) and the Brits thought if they could capture the city it would destroy the revolutionary fervor then percolating among King George’s subjects. There was a fort on Sullivan’s Island then under construction designed to guard the city of Charleston  and the Brits considered it a sitting duck ripe for the plucking. But the enterprising Colonel Moultrie built up the fort from palmetto logs and sand. The palmetto is a spongy wood and when the Brits fired their cannonballs at it they just bounced off and did very little damage. Even with a 10 to 1 superiority in firepower it was the Brits that were the sitting ducks as the low tide limited the maneuverability of their ships and them local boys was able to shred ’em up but good. The Brits tucked their tails and skedaddled, only to return in 1780 and take the city by land.

The fort was later named in honor of Colonel (later General) Moultrie and remained active until 1947. The main theme of the exhibit now on display at the fort highlights that it was an active fort for 171 years, from the Revolution through WWII, and it shows the development and evolution of the artillery used at the fort over the years. The fort was also prominent in the Civil War. When South Carolina seceded after Lincoln was elected, the Union general then in charge of Fort Moultrie began to get a bit nervous that his welcome would soon run out, so he retreated to Fort Sumter. When he failed to turn over Fort Sumter upon demands by the Confederacy, the new leader at Fort Moultrie fired on Fort Sumter, which was the beginning of the Civil War.

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The current fort was built in the early 1800s. It flies a flag from that time. How well do you know your flag history?

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Hard to see the 15 stars (trust me), but the 15 stripes are clearly visible. Here’s the story:

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Thanks to Fort Moultrie for the interesting history lesson.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw this church just down the street from the fort:

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Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition?

On the walking tour we visited a couple of historic houses: the Joseph Manigault House from 1803 and the Heyward-Washington House from 1772. Heyward was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. This was his townhouse to escape the rice plantation in the summer. It’s now called the Heyward-Washington house because George Washington stayed there for a week in 1791. Both houses were notable for their locally-made furniture (some incredible massive bookcases and dining room sideboards) and for the way they illustrated the lifestyle of folks back at that time. The Heyward-Washington also features the kitchen, which was in a separate building behind the main house, a feature that is long gone at the Manigault House.

But back to food. Saturday night was an adults-only meal at Charleston Grill (rated #6 on the Trip Advisor list) and it was a good ‘un. Ambience and service were superb, a nice jazz trio, and terrific food.

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Excellent steak tartare

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Lowcountry muddle, which is kind of like bouillabaisse with grits in it.

And for dessert: carrot cake fritters and creme brulee.

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Carrot cake fritters? Get outta town! Sixth best restaurant in the country? Well, I don’t know about that, but a very good one indeed.

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