Jan and Andees’ Adventures in Charleston

Magnolia Blossom

My last post was all about the CGOA conference in Charleston, South Carolina. This post is all about Jan and I being tourists in Charleston. If you get the chance it is a city well worth visiting, though I would recommend visiting in the spring or autumn when the weather is not blistering hot.

When Jan and I were planning our trip to Charleston for the CGOA conference she recommended that we tack on a couple extra days for exploring the city. She had been there before when another close friend of hers had lived in the area.

Spanish Moss along the sidewalk outside our hotel.
Spanish Moss in the trees along the sidewalk outside our hotel.

The conference ended Saturday evening so we were leaving on Tuesday afternoon. That gave us 2 full days to explore and enjoy Charleston. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with us on Sunday. The day didn’t see much sunshine as it was over cast and heavy rain all day long.

Instead we spent the day hanging out with other CGOA friends in the hotel atrium as they slowly began their leave-taking for flights and drives home. Both of us had crochet projects to work on. I even helped Jan with untangling a ball of yarn that had decided to misbehave on her earlier in the week.

Tracee and I

One of the few photos I took with a friend at the conference was this one of Tracee Fromm that Sunday before she left to catch her flight home.

It was fun to see our friends old and new. Some were actually leaving on Monday, so we were all enjoying a decompression day. That evening Jan and I walked over to Bonefish Grill one more time. After dinner we worked on getting a good start on packing up our suitcases.  Neither of us stayed up very late that night, as we both wanted to get an early start on touring the city the next day.

Visitor Center

After getting breakfast in the hotel we walked over to where we could catch an express bus to the visitor center in down-town Charleston. Our timing was great as a bus came about 3 minutes after we got there. Once we arrived at the visitor center we got some maps and picked up tickets for a carriage tour of the city.

Sea Grass Basket info at VC

I had been told by a Colorado friend that has family in South Carolina, to be sure to go by the Market to see the ladies weaving sweet grass baskets. In the Visitors Center was a display about these baskets as well as a lady weaving and selling her baskets right there.

Charleston has great transport for their city. Little Trolleys with routes that take you around to a number of the high points. Jan and I caught the one that would take us to the City Market where we could walk over to catch our carriage tour.

The folks at Old South Carriage had permitted the CGOA to yarn bomb one of their carriages during the week of the conference. Unfortunately Jan and I were too late to see that carriage, but we were able to get our discount on the tour package. When we got to the stable our names were added to the list and they told us our tour would be leaving in about 45 minutes.

Jan and I decided to go explore the City Market sometimes referred to as the Slave Market. We had overheard one of the Old South Carriage guides telling some other folks about the name “Slave Market”. It wasn’t where slaves were sold, it was where the slaves did the shopping for the households they worked in. In fact, the family that deeded the land to the city for the market to be built on, had stipulated that no human beings were to be bought or sold in the market or the land would revert back to the original family.

The Slave Market

The market is still a busy place of commerce with lots of shops and stalls selling everything you could think of. It is a roofed building that stretches along 4 blocks of the city and has streets on the north and south of it. Appropriately those streets are called North Market and South Market. The photo above is the west end of the market. I managed to take this photo during our carriage ride, you can see it was a bit wet as a light rain storm had rolled in.

Our Carriage

Jan and I explored the market for a little while, then headed back to the stable to begin our carriage tour.  This is our carriage, I hadn’t realized how far off the ground the carriage put us until we finished the tour and I took this photo. We actually boarded the carriage inside the stables where we walked up some steps and entered the carriage from a platform.

Our Tour Guide - Elliot

Our guide and the driver of the carriage was Elliot. He was very entertaining and informative about the history of Charleston and the buildings we were seeing.

Our Carriage Horse - Bill 2

This was our horse that pulled our carriage. His name is Bill 2, but he was called Bill by Elliot. He liked to splash the water from his trough, so I had to be quick to get this photo.  Part of the information Elliot shared with us was Bill’s history and capability. Basically being a carriage horse in Charleston is a pretty good gig for these horses. Our carriage fully loaded was actually one quarter of the weight that Bill could pull, and had pulled at the beginning of his life when working as a draft animal on a farm.

Loving all the winding trees

Our carriage tour took us around the area of the College of Charleston and then back along the Market. I was sort of inconsistent in my photo taking. Partly because being on the move made it trickier and sometimes there wasn’t a clear shot. I loved all the tree-lined streets.

Looking up at Oak branches

I especially enjoyed the moss-covered branches weaving overhead. The vegetation in the area is so different from what I am used to here on the mountain and even down in the plains of Colorado. There is a lushness that goes along with all that humidity you just don’t see here in the West.

Beautiful Iron Gate

Elliot told us that Charleston is considered the 2nd most well preserved city in the world. First place goes to Rome, Italy. He said since Rome has over 2000 years on them, 2nd place isn’t too shabby. Everywhere we looked during the tour, and afterward when Jan and I were exploring on our own, there were interesting things to see.  I particularly loved all the gorgeous ironwork gates.

Palmettos Everywhere

The palmetto trees were everywhere along with flowering trees that I can’t recall the name of. I do remember that the ones called “white” had pink and purple blossoms, which was very confusing and amusing. Elliot told as about how Ft. Sumter was originally built from Palmetto trunks. The thinking being that the sponginess of the trunks wouldn’t break under the impacts of canon balls. When the revolutionary war happened the theory was tested and proved true. The soldiers in the fort came out and gathered up the British canon balls and, “Very kindly returned them to the British ships.”

After our tour was over Jan and I headed back to do some real shopping at the City Market. I wanted to get some sweet grass baskets and find gifts for my boys. The day was heating up a bit and we made a stop at a stall that was selling fresh hand-made lemonade. It was delicious and entrancing to watch the lemonade being made. Jan had watermelon lemonade.

My new Vera Bradley bags

Different sections of the market were air-conditioned and in the first of these Jan and I spotted a little shop that had wonderful Vera Bradley bags and accessories. I fell in lust with this purple pattern as soon as I saw it. Turns out it was a brand new fabric release that week called “Lilac Tapestry”. The lady running the shop was very nice and was also a yarn wrangler.

Vera Bradley organizer open

Jan and I were discussing that the large bag would be great as a project bag, and the shop lady showed me the organizer that I could get when I spent $100 or more. I was hooked especially when she pointed out how well the organizer would work for holding stitch markers and all the other accoutrement that we yarn folk need.

There were lots of stalls selling tourist items in the market. I spotted a stall that had lots of different T-shirts and decided to get one for each of my boys, plus one for myself. I also wanted to find a piece of jewelry that had pineapples on it. Pineapples are the symbol of hospitality in South Carolina and they were the theme for our conference there.

Historic Charleston purchases

I finally found the pineapples I wanted at the Historic Charleston Foundation store. I really liked that the profit from these purchases would also help fund their organization. The pineapple ornament will look great on my Christmas tree this year and will remind me of the lovely city. The pendant and earrings were surprisingly light-weight and I loved the glimmering pau-shell that was used to make them. Last of all I purchased the small print of one of the beautiful ironwork gates in the city.

20s style SunHat

Then Jan and I decided we needed to finish up with the shopping part of our day and grab a late lunch. I still needed to purchase some sweet grass baskets so we headed back to my favorite shop we had found earlier. On the way there I was captivated by a stall that was selling hats. This bonnet style one made me think of 1920s style cloche hats, at $10 I couldn’t resist.

Sweet Grass Baskets

Finally we made it to the baskets again. I picked out a couple of small ones, some would be gifts for friends back home in Colorado. I loved a lot of the larger ones, but the price and the logistics of getting them back on the airplane kept me from adopting any. My favorite thing about them was the scent of the sweet grass and while I am writing this one sits on my desk holding paperclips and smelling sweet.

Low Country Bistro for Lunch

At this point Jan and I were definitely hungry so we went hunting for a local restaurant that would fit the bill. One of the very pleasant surprises on this trip was the number of restaurants that had lots of gluten-free options on their menus. We decided to go to the Low Country Bistro. Some other friends at the conference had eaten there and recommended it, and our Elliot from the carriage ride had too.

The air-conditioning when we walked in was quite welcome and our server kept us well supplied with cold drinks as we ate a delicious meal. My favorite part of my meal was the home-made potato chips. I did share with Jan, but it was a near thing.

Cobble stone street
Old cobblestone street

After lunch we decided to do some exploring before we needed to head back to our hotel. Jan wanted me to see Charleston’s version of “painted ladies” which they call “Rainbow Row”. The folks at the Historic Charleston shop got us headed in the right direction. I wasn’t really able to get a good photo of them, but I took lots of other photos as we walked around enjoying the city.

Anchor Gate

So many of the nooks and crannies in the city were intriguing like this gate to a little garden behind a building.

Doorway with lamps

The historic touches were fun too, like the working gas lamps that framed this impressive doorway.

Beautiful fountain and garden

I really loved this beautiful fountain with flowers in front of the Charleston Place Hotel. We had seen it while on our carriage tour and managed to stumble upon it again while walking around the city. I couldn’t tell you what street it was on though.

Waterfront Park - A restful place

We ended our day in Charleston at the Waterfront Park. A beautiful area with lots of shade and fountains.

Waterfront Park - Looking off the pier toward Ft Sumter

Jan and I walked out to the end of the pier to see Ft. Sumter better. That pink circle is around the island where I think it is located. It was difficult to really see and I hadn’t brought along binoculars.

Waterfront Park - Pathway

We began walking along the Waterfront park path where we could see some fountains.

Waterfront Park-Looking out of the Shade

Even in the shade we were very warm, but it was preferable to the bright sunshine. I did like the look of the contrast in this photo though.

Waterfront Park - Admiring Hidden Gardens

There were lots of beautiful gardens alongside buildings on the street beside the park pathway.

Waterfront Park - Pineapple Fountain

Of course I had to have a photo of the big Pineapple Fountain.

Waterfront Park -Kids Fountain

The whole Waterfront Park area seems to be designed with families in mind. This fountain in particular was popular with children running in and out of it. If I had been dressed appropriately for it I might have joined them as I was very hot at this point in our wanderings.

Crane Iron Gate

My last photo before we caught our trolley ride back to the Vistor Center was this lovely gate with a Crane on it. I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the highlights of Jan and I’s adventures in Charleston.

I’ve been a busy gal since my return to Colorado. The boys are headed back to school in less than 2 weeks and suddenly our summer break seems to be speeding by. I’m also getting ready for teaching at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair in early September.

Finished Free Form Piece

As part of that I’ve been working on a Free Form Crochet art piece for the Fiber Arts Show that is on display in Mitchell, Nebraska for the month before the fair.

With all this stuff keeping me busy I’ve been having a difficult time getting back into my twice a week posting here on the blog. Hoping to correct that in the next week. Thanks for stopping by.


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