~Friday, April 14, 2023~
I suppose we got what we deserved. With the campground’s passive/aggressive approach, we received a text from the campground host, reminding us of the 6’ leash rule. It’s hard to mind the leash rule when you have such a well-behaved dog. But rules are rules. We get it. We would later find out that everyone received the same message, so maybe we “stirred the pot” a bit.
Today’s destination…Charleston. This would be a perfect example of lodging taking precedence over what it is you want to see. Our Thousand Trails campground would be about an hour’s drive from anything worth seeing, generally not our style. But the whole point was to follow the lead of our friends rather than our own agenda. If you’d like to learn more about these amazing humans we’re hanging with and who we’re proud to call our friends, you can check out their stories on Instagram:
The Bacher’s handle name is holisticsix
The Alonzi’s handle name is alonziabodeontheroad
And the newest family added to the caravan clan are the Happ’s at happyhealthycasita
Trying to find parking in Charleston that would fit 3 big trucks you’d think would be challenging. But thanks to Krista Happ and her thorough research through the Parkopedia app, we were able to park for $14 (all day), at the Citadel Square Baptist Church parking lot;way better than the sardine can-style parking garages that charge $40. The only one missing from our group was Mike Bacher who had to stay back and work from the campsite. The other 2 dads, Derek and Ryan were able to handle their business from the car.
First stop to satisfy everyone’s hunger……Breizh Pan Crepes for a gluten-free alternative, straight from the French chef himself, Patrice.
Patrice was a bit of a grouch appearing to not have tolerance for our loud group. But for that shortcoming, he well made up for it in his crepe technique. Absolutely delicious! Jeff had one filled with egg, potato, mushroom, onion and ham and mine was laid flat and topped with sweet potato, mushroom, avocado, and drizzled with some delectable sauce. And after this perfectly sized lunch, we were ready to hit Charleston highlights.
With Jeff always holding up the rear of the group (there were 16 of us), we first hit the Charleston City Market. The first thing Jeff and I noticed was how much busier it was than our last visit to Charleston which was at the peak of COVID. Every vendor station was occupied today, all 100 of them. It is a bit of a tourist trap, but a good glimpse into the Old South. Initially known as the Centre Market beginning in 1790, it is one of the nation’s oldest public markets and the cultural heart of Charleston. The 6-block long, 100-foot wide merchant avenue is full of artwork, cookbooks, clothes, toys, souvenirs and other handmade trinkets. And of course there are the hand-woven baskets….my favorite.
Many of these Gyullah artisans have been weaving baskets for centuries using local materials such as sweetgrass and palmetto leaves. We were even able to watch a few of them demonstrating their skills. When you watch the labor and love that goes into them, you then know why they are priced the way they are; example….a salad plate-sized basket was about $100. They are smart to label next to the price, the hours it takes to make each one.
As we continued touring the streets, we were entertained by the many horse-drawn carriages and street musicians livening up the place.
The things we could have done without were the annoying roaming street peddlers. Your first encounter might seem like a lovely free invitation to take the beautifully handmade palmetto rose that’s being offered to you. But 30 offerings later, enough is enough. They’re only $3 and probably should have satisfied one eager seller. But when I saw their look of disgust when anyone refused, it made me NOT want to buy one. They don’t seem appreciative at all. In fact, we saw one negative encounter between a tourist and a seller over this exact item. With their argument escalating, Jeff and I promptly moved across the street. Our theory is that this woman and her entourage were offered the rose, but by the 6th block had had enough of them being shoved in her face. After telling them to “back off” so to speak, the vendor let her have it as well. It really was an ugly way to end our time at the market. Whatever happened to just walking away from a situation?
Derek, Jeff and Ryan found an old bar to do some bourbon tasting, so they would meet up with us later as we took the kids down Rainbow Row.
Rainbow Row is a cluster of 13 brightly-colored Georgian style homes along the waterfront on East Bay Street. Of course the kids immediately went into choosing which one was their favorite color as if they were choosing their favorite flavor of ice-cream. Many of the homes were first constructed around 1740, where most of the residents were notable merchants and planters serving up their business from the ground floor with living quarters above. The homes suffered slight damage by Union artillery bombardment during the Civil War, ultimately looking rather slummish as a result. It wasn’t until Dorothy Porcher Legge and her husband Judge Lionel Legge purchased this section of houses to turn things around. We’re happy they did. Such a charming neighborhood today, something almost like a storybook. Nearly all the home facades are decorated with welcoming gas lanterns and gorgeous window baskets. We weren’t sure if these recently spiffed up baskets were part of the Festival of House and Garden Tour or if they’re required to always have them look this beautiful. This particular section of town also offers a great photo backdrop for weddings and proms as we were witnesses to with the many bridal groups and prom couples having their portraits taken. You know you’re old when these young people look even younger than your own children 😩.
With the guys back to joining us, we were on a mission to find a pick-me-up treat when we happened upon another location of historic significance……the Old Exchange Building. In the 1800’s with Charleston being one of the largest slave trading cities in the U.S., the area around the Old Exchange Building was one of the most common sites of downtown slave auctions. Along with real estate and other personal property, thousands of enslaved people were sold here. Such a sad, despairing part of history and THE hardest part about touring The South.
Once we finally made it to the unique ice-cream shop called Off-Track Ice Cream, we were once again met with the kiddos trying to choose their favorite. With their area-sourced ingredients and the many dairy-free, gluten-free options, it satisfied everyone in the group. Jeff had a rootbeer float and I had a 2-scooper
mixed with caramel coffee and chocolate fudge brownie. Who said you can’t have dessert before dinner? It was definitely the pick me up all the kids needed after having walked miles through the city. They really were troopers (not one complaint). We had such a good time experiencing Charleston all together!
Heading back to camp, I’m sure the parents enjoyed their peace and quiet all the way home with a car full of tired kiddos. Jeff and I took advantage of the long drive back to talk to my bestie Michelle. Being a real estate agent herself, she’s been pursuing a Corcoran Group agent for us in North Carolina. After talking with a few agents, she felt a good vibe with one in particular and set up an email introduction for us to meet. So we’ll set up a phone meeting in the next few days and go from there. It’s hard to believe our serious house hunting search begins in just a few days.
Having gotten back around 7:30 with dinner and bedtimes being the primary focus of our clan, there’d be no gathering around the campfire this evening. Instead, my sis and I had another lengthy phone call before their trip to California tomorrow. She and Tim are flying out to help my mom over the next 2 weeks to tie up the loose ends related to her move as well as go through their own things they’ve had in storage for several years now. Whatever they choose to keep will piggy-back on to my mom’s moving truck. In the end, I’m sure it will be more cost-prohibitive and efficient to do it this way rather than renting a separate truck.