Friday, November 30, 2012

Our last few days in South Carolina

It’s hard to believe it, but we spent the entire month of November in South Carolina.  We explored many great areas – Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Charleston . . . and we spent the last few days in Hardeeville, just a few miles from Hilton Head and Savannah, Georgia.  We took advantage of the dry days later in the week to explore both.



It was just a short drive to Savannah from the RV Park, and we made our way to River Street to walk along the river and do a little window-shopping.  Just love these street-level entrances and cobblestone roads!



The shops and the streets were all decorated for Christmas, and with just a few other people walking around, it was quite nice.


Lots of fraser firs in south Carolina . . . and not quite as pricey as they are in Michigan!






Walking along the riverwalk, we saw this huge cargo ship on it’s way to port (at least I think it was going towards the port – maybe it was leaving!).


The little Tug was behind it at first, but quickly moved up front as the big ship approached the bridge!


It sure didn’t look like it was going to fit under the bridge . . .


but it did – no problem!

We wandered into the Savannah Candy Kitchen for the free samples,


and left with a bag full of treats!  I think I’ll need to add a line for treats/snacks to my 2013 budget, so these purchases don’t keep messing up my grocery budget!



At the next candy store (where we didn’t buy anything) we were just in time to see the Candy Maker make some saltwater taffy!

First, he added the colored stripe to identify the flavor (lime).

Then he set it on the rollers which twisted and twisted until the dark green was a spiral stripe through the lighter green.



After he stretched it out some, he fed it into the machine which cut it into little pieces and wrapped each individually.


And then we got samples!!  Nice, soft taffy, but lime isn’t a flavor we would choose!

When we reached the end of the riverwalk, we climbed back up to street level and ventured over to City Market.


Here there were more shops and restaurants, and little outdoor eating areas.  We walked around but didn’t buy anything.  Making our way back to the car we passed City Hall,


and the Old Savannah Cotton Exchange,







along with several historic squares and parks.


By the time we were done walking and shopping, we were pretty hungry, so at the recommendation of numerous people we decided to go for “Savannah’s best BBQ”.


The boys and I all had pulled pork, and Tom had beef brisket and pulled pork.  All of it was delicious, but the pulled pork was the best!  We even bought some frozen pulled pork to take with us (since I currently have an empty freezer!).

We took “the long way” back to the campground, but we got there, and in plenty of time for Survivor!

 Hilton Head

On Thursday, we decided to take a drive up to Hilton Head . . . totally different that Savannah – nothing historic at all, just tons of shopping and hotels, and golf courses.  We drove the length of highway 378, and ended up at the beach.


It was low tide, so the beach was huge!  There was a little river that ran out of the ocean, and Bryce kept jumping back and forth over it.


The water was pretty warm and the sun was nice, but with the wind it was definitely chilly – too chilly for the beach! 


No ships out there!

We made our way back to the car, and started back towards the mainland.  We stopped at a waterfront marina/shopping area and walked around a bit, admiring the boats.


This one is really nice!  I think it’s bigger than our RV!!


Nicolas kept watch from up above . . .


We could definitely tell it was off-season, with many of the shops closed until February and hardly anybody else walking around.  Tom did have a chance to pose with a god . . .


We decided that Hilton Head is a little too ritzy for us, and probably a zoo when all the snowbirds are here!

On the way back to Hardeeville, we stumbled onto the Farmer’s Market in Old Town Bluffton . . . definitely more our style!


I’m amazed by the amount of fresh produce you can still find down here . . . it just seems strange!  This little shop was all decked out for Christmas!


Back at the RV, Tom got a fire started while I cooked dinner. 


We haven’t been able to have fires for the whole month of November, so it’s nice to burn some of this wood we’ve been carrying around since Kentucky!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Charleston Harbor Tour


As we lounged around on Saturday morning, watching the news and enjoying a leisurely start to the day, we heard that the Spirit of Carolina tour boat was offering a free cruise around Charleston Harbor to anybody who brought a toy for their Toys for Tots collection.

Tom was intrigued, so we quickly woke the boys and everybody got ready to go.  On the way to Charleston, we made a quick stop for some toys, and arrived just in time for boarding at 10:45.


The boat was full, but not overly crowded, and since it was a beautiful morning, we grabbed a spot along the upper deck railing where we could watch for pelicans and dolphins as we waited to leave.


There were pelicans all around us, diving for fish in the water,


and we kept catching glimpses of dolphins around the boat and along the docks.


It was a beautiful day, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the 60s, and there were many sailboats around the harbor, enjoying the great day.


Finally, it was time to get underway, and we cruised around the peninsula as a recorded narration played over the speakers.  We saw the historic homes on East Bay,


and the steeples of several historic churches.  From there, we cruised past St. James Island, where there were several nice large homes,


and headed out towards Fort Sumter.












Across from Fort Sumter was the National Monument, Fort Moultrie,


and Sullivan’s Island, where there are some really cute modern homes on the beach.


As we cruised back up towards the port, we we going into the wind and moving a lot faster, so it was quite a bit cooler.  We went inside the boat for awhile and listened to the Christmas music playing in the lower lounge.

As we passed by Patriots Point, we could see the Yorktown from the water,


and got a close-up view of the Ravenal Bridge from underneath.


We spent the final part of the trip on the lower deck in the front of the boat, and were treated to the view of a dolphin leading the boat back into the harbor!


It was a really nice cruise on a beautiful day, and we enjoyed it very much – it was definitely worth the price of admission!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Patriots Point

Sure, we could have gone “Black Friday” DSC_0249shopping with everybody else, but the day was promising to be warm and sunny, so we decided to spend the day outside instead. 

Katy thought it would be too difficult to manage all the stairs and tight passageways while carrying Jaxon (and now that we’ve been there, I can say she was definitely right!), so we were on our own for the day.

We stopped to get discount tickets on our way out of the Base, only to find out that they were closed for the holiday weekend . . . but we got lucky when we stopped at the Mt. Pleasant Visitor Center on the way to Patriots Point . . . they had tickets for the same price we would have gotten on base . . . and we got a good view of the Ravenal Bridge!


Patriots Point is the home of the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier,


the USS Laffey destroyer,


and the USS Clamagore submarine. 


Arriving right around noon, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn’t too crowded . . . everybody must be shopping!


 We started our tour onboard the Yorktown.  Home to almost 3500 sailors, the Yorktown is a fully functioning community . . . with a Post Office, a dental office,


(this one is for Dave & Joe – what do you think of this office?!)

a soda fountain and store, a barbershop, a hospital,


(Bryce is giving Tom an eye exam . . . still 20/20!)

and, of course, the brig!


(Not a very pleasant place to have to spend your time!)

We saw where the sailors live and work while at sea,



where their food is prepared,


(this is the Butcher shop)


and where their food is served. 

Bryce was getting hungry, but he couldn’t get anybody to give him any food! lol!







We also found the bakery, and it really made it clear just how big of an enterprise these ships are!


And that’s just a single batch of cookies!!





The passageways and stairs were definitely narrow and steep, and sometimes treacherous!  We couldn’t decide if we should climb down facing forward (so you could watch out for places where you could hit your head!), or backwards, which felt much safer, but occasionally resulted in banged heads!




The lower levels of the ship housed the many work areas, including the engine room,


and lots of hydraulic valves and gauges.


Nicolas thought it was all very complex, and wondered how these guys know how everything works!

From there, we made our way back up . . . and up . . . and up . . .


to the Flight Deck, and the Bridge.




We saw lots of fighter planes from WWII, and even with all those planes up there, we were amazed at how much space there still was!



We had spent about 3 hours touring the carrier, and we still had the destroyer and the submarine to go . . . and we were all starving!  Good thing for us they have a snack shop, so were were able to get some lunch before we continued our tour.


We went to the submarine next, and were amazed at the conditions that these sailors are willing to live and work in!  There weren’t as many stairs, but the passages were REALLY narrow!


It was very interesting to see how a space this compact can contain so much . . . sleeping rooms (including these sleeping berths in the torpedo rooms!),

DSC_0280and cooking and eating areas,


along with communications, navigation and the engine rooms.








It’s not all that different from an RV, I guess, where every square inch of space is utilized, and everything has its assigned space!

From there, we moved over to the destroyer,


where Nick and Bryce had to take their turns at firing the “big guns”,



We didn’t spend nearly as much time on the destroyer as we did the carrier, but we made sure that we found the engine room,



always fascinating for the “car guys” in our group!


It was a long, tiring day, but we enjoyed our day learning about the various ships that protect our country and the men & women who live and work on them!