Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vacation in South Carolina

I should say that I will try to keep this short, but our vacation was so fun that I don't want to forget a second of it. Also, Paul had to be in St. Louis for a week, (and that is why we took a vacation in the first place) and had to miss everything. I figured if I had to take a week off work for him to be gone, we might as well go somewhere fun. Our friends Dan and Kate May moved to the Charleston area about a year and a half ago and we hadn't been able to visit, so I was thrilled when she told me that would be a good week for us to come. We ended up leaving a bit earlier because of the last shuttle launch and wanted to try to see it in person. So that meant we left on Friday, July 8th, which is also a very special day because its Cow Appreciation Day at Chik Fil-A. Free food for dressing like a cow. When you are traveling over 8 hours, you might cross paths with a few Chik Fil-As and have to stop and eat there...might! We ended up eating all of our meals there on the way and what a blessing that was! We stopped at a mall in Brandon for breakfast, but they didn't open for 2 more hours, so we had to head back to the van hungry...bummer!

Our next stop was Orlando to meet up with some friends of JoDee's and the plan was to watch the shuttle launch from their house. BUT, we didn't get our acts together and time got away from us and we ended up watching the launch from the Chik Fil-A parking lot. Not exactly what I had hoped for, but still a much better view than if we had stayed home. The clouds were so low that we only saw it for a few seconds and nearly missed it because I was watching the countdown online with my phone and didn't think of the few seconds it would take to reach my phone. Luckily, Gabe looked up and saw it in time for the rest of us to look up at the sky and catch it for a few seconds before it disappeared into the clouds. I was glad we chose to sleep in our beds rather than try to sleep in the van in Titusville to get front row seats to a launch that we could have only seen a few seconds of. We enjoyed time with Jamie and Anita and their family. We shared our costumes so they could get a free meal too.

We stopped for lunch in Georgia:

And dinner in South Carolina

It was fun to see lots of others dressed up too. Some of our stops we would see almost everyone dressed up and at one stop we were the only ones! All worth it though!

For our first outing, we went to an old fort that was right near the May's house. Fort Dorchester was colonized by a group in 1697 who were having a hard time with the weather and land in the northeast. Their lives centered around community effort and the church which was built in 1719. Behind us you see the walls of the fort where the ammunition was stored. This fort was never attacked and that is why so much of it is intact.

The opening where a heavy door used to be:

 The walls were made partly off oyster shells and mortar. Very sharp and would discourage a lot of climbing!

 A long section of the wall
 The roped off portion is where the gunpowder and other ammunition was stored,also called the "magazine"
 While we were there, they were doing some excavating research. This town was abandoned after the Revolutionary war and the forest reclaimed it until 1960 when it was made a public landmark and some digs were started. Much has been found just a few inches beneath the grass that gives clues to the lives of those who lived there once.
 The kids got to take part hands on and help sift through the dirt and find pieces of history. They found some window glass mostly, but were thrilled at the idea that no one had touched that piece of glass in over 300 years.

 It was also a pretty place to take some pictures. The kids are in front of the bell tower which is all that is left of the church. While we were there, there was a couple there having their pictures taken professionally at the bell tower. It was melting hot, but a beautiful spot.

The bell tower and in the background another photographer:

Sunday, we went to Fort Sumter. This was the place made famous for being the place where the Civil War began. The Confederate Army fired upon the fort until they were able to take control of it. The Union Army was short on supplies and didn't have very many men there either because the war was not anticipated. I was very pleased with the history the kids picked up and that they were able to appreciate standing in the place where history was made and touching the walls where soldiers also likely touched as they defended the fort.
 We took a ferry over to the fort, enjoyed the air conditioning just a bit longer. It was so hot while were were there and very humid. I guess it was that way all over the country that week. We were mid 90s with 90% humidity!
 We saw an aircraft carrier that is parked in the Charleston harbor:

And they have a bridge similar to our Skyway bridge in St Pete...though that is difficult to appreciate from this distance:

 This is a fort where the first pirate hanging took place. Also out in Charleston harbor near Fort Sumter:

 There were still some cannons there for us to see and touch:

The opening for the cannon:
There were many different size cannons and each had a different purpose:

Fortunately, there was a museum inside with lots of relics and historical explanations (and air conditioning!) This is the flag that was flying at the time of the attack that started the Civil War: 
Some of the artillery shot through the cannons:

Holden had my little camera and was taking pictures also. I told him I didn't need 700 pictures of "things", and that he should try to include someone from our family in the pictures. He took the above and below pictures. Jo with a musket and Alayna with a model of the fort as it was at the start of the Civil War.

He listens very well sometimes:

 We loaded back up on the ferry and headed back to the harbor. Riley got some pretty shots of the city's skyline. They are known for their steeples. I wish it was a clearer day:
Next we grabbed some lunch and headed to the Hunley Museum. This was a submarine that was used in the Civil War to try to break the Union's blockade which prevented the South from exporting their goods and shut off their supplies as well. It was the first ever successful submarine attack that sunk a ship. The submarine was lost shortly after her successful mission and all the crew (8 men) perished. It was found in the early 90s and raised and is now being restored. We couldn't photograph it, but this is a replica of what the inside was like. There were seats for the 7 men who turned the pipe that moved the propeller that moved the sub through the water. The kids thought it was quite hard work!

Jo, Kate and I with a  replica of the Hunley. It was amazing to see the technology they already had figured out with the sub. It was only 48 inches tall inside (random fact inserted here!)
Monday was even hotter and we got up early and found a farm to pick our own blueberries. They were $10/gallon and all you could eat was free...not sure they profited from us or not! They were so good right off the tree! And they were very easy to pick.

Gabe swears he ate a gallon himself:

Kate and Alayna worked together:

Riley ate his share as well:

But I filled my basket before I ate very many. I liked to see progress!
We ended up with 2 full gallons and it didn't take very long to do that at all. It was very fun and I wish a bit closer to home. I would do that on a regular basis!

 We cooled off at the pool and then decided to try our hand at letter boxing. Kate introduced it to us. It was like a treasure hunt. We tried four times at four different locations. The first three didn't work out because the instructions were too vague and we couldn't locate the boxes though we looked diligently and got eaten ALIVE by mosquitoes. It was TONS of fun...insert sarcasm here. We went to a pretty park for the third try and at least found some cute statues to photograph:

 And some cute kids to photograph:

 We gave up again and headed to the fourth and final try. It was on church property. Apparently the church was quite old and still had a cemetery on the grounds as well. We spent some time reading the headstones and were quite saddened to see so many children's graves. One family had three children buried there. It was a great opportunity to talk about the advances of medicine and how each of our children had had at least one illness that would have killed them if they had been born 200 years ago, and that God had plans for them and therefore gave them to us in this present day for their purposes to be fulfilled. Sobering.
We did finally find success here at the church! It wasn't easy and we probably looked for an hour before we found the landmark mentioned in the clue. I guess its supposed to be that hard, we were really glad to find one at last! We dug out the box from the underbrush and this is what we found:

 Inside was a bag with a book and a rubber stamp. You are supposed to bring your own book and stamp and use the stamp in the box to stamp your book and write the date and place found. Then in the book in the box, you use your stamp and write your names and the date found. It was fun to read through the book and see where everyone was from who had found the box and see their stamps.  The kids liked it and it was free. I think we will try this again around home when the weather cools off.
For our last day, we headed back toward Charleston and stopped first at Folley Beach to see a lighthouse. It was a long walk in the heat but so worth it. So beautiful! And the humidity this time made for beautiful pictures I think:

One of my very favorite pictures of the trip: 
Next, we went to lunch in Charleston and caught the trolley to the Waterfront Park. Waaaay too hot to walk that far! 
The kids had a blast playing in the water at the park. Wading was encouraged in the fountains.

Finally, we headed to Market Street to see the open air market where jewelry, baskets and about anything you could imagine was sold. We saw this pretty building on the way. It looked like a nice place for a family photo

Our drive home was blissfully uneventful, and we are just relaxing until I have to work this weekend and until Paul gets back tonight. I have declared chores off limits and Grammy had the day off, so we went to a double header at the movie theater. We saw Soul Surfer and Thor. Both very good movies. The kids were glad to be home and have a day with their grammy:

Now, we are already looking forward to our next vacation. I have a hard time believing that I will only have a few more years to take these kinds of vacations with the kids. Its so amazing how fast they grow up. Trying to enjoy every minute! 


Rikki said...

Very fun to see/read. Those cow pictures were so great, though--and such a great plan on a travel day!!

Rikki said...

Very fun to see/read!! I loved the cow pictures--that's a great plan for a travel day!!

Anonymous said...

Lovely chronicle. :) FYI: the aircraft carrier is the USS Yorktown. I am so glad I got to go on a family vaca too! Where to next??

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so glad that I took a look at your blog. What a wonderful surprise. The History of the trip to SC was invaluable for the kids, and they all seemed to enjoy it. You got some awesome photos. I too think the one in the water of the two younger ones is a favorite, and the variety of fountain shots, so cool. Looking forward to seeing Gabe soon. Love and hugs to all.

May Family said...

Great Photos!!

May Family said...

Great Photos! We enjoyed having y'all!! ><>

Lian said...

Wow! All the kids have grown up indeed! How time flies. :D God bless your family.