During our time in Charleston, I had a strange obsession with the cobblestone streets and the stone sidewalks. Probably because I kept tripping on the uneven sidewalks, and then the cobbles were beautiful, but uncomfortable to walk on for any period of time. And I wasn’t even wearing flip-flops! I am not normally this clumsy, but when you’re looking for the next photo opportunity, you just don’t watch where you’re putting your feet, and then having trippy walkways just isn’t fair.
The cobblestone roads are a well-known feature of the backstreets by the waterfront, and I always drive over them to reach our usual parking garage. And then, Waterfront Park is only one block away. Built in the late 1980’s, its completion date was slightly after Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, but it sounds like they still managed to open on time, even with the hurricane damage.
Some of my first Charleston memories involved driving a friend down for the Cooper River Bridge Run and staying overnight in a hotel. That weekend, one friend got a ticket for not using her blinker when she changed lanes twice in a row (the cops were out in force, that weekend), and getting pulled over by that cop scared the daylights out of us. I think I was eighteen, at the time (before anyone asks, there was no alcohol involved on this weekend, because my friends and I don’t drink).
That same weekend, I let my friends cut and layer my hair, in the hotel bathroom, and they actually did a pretty good job. It only took them several hours, though. And that was probably the first time I ever let my friends put makeup on me, and they did a nice job of that, too. My parents still have a picture, taken in front of the Pineapple Fountain, from the next day, with haircut and makeup.
When my mom and I reached Waterfront Park, I stopped to look at a small amphitheater looking area, which I’ve seen before, but never stopped to examine closely. There were no signs explaining its purpose. Did people give speeches and impromptu Shakespeare performances from the big granite circle? I climbed up to take a look, and let my mom take some pictures. But while I was hollering directions at her, concerning the camera, I realized my voice was amplified once I stood in the center square. Or at least, it sounded like it was.
Mom said my voice went down in volume, after that, but it might have been because I thought I was shouting. Surely, it was actually amplifying my voice, so that anyone nearby would be able to hear it easily? I’ve looked online, and can’t find anything about it. I hopped down to let my mom come up and try, and she was surprised by the effect, as well. Maybe someone who knows about amphitheaters and acoustics could explain it to me. It was quite intriguing.
We took a break on the lovely benches facing Charleston Harbor. From there, you can see the U.S.S. Yorktown, which now houses the Medal of Honor museum, as well as a whole museum of old-school airplanes. I’ve toured the ship several times in recent years, one memorable visit right after I had injured both knees, and then had to climb numerous steep stairs on board the ship.
But when I was in elementary school, we went on an overnight trip to Charleston, and slept on the Yorktown. I wonder if schools can still do this? I remember sleeping in the triple or quadruple high bunk beds, which hang on chains. And during the night, we heard a loud crash from above us, which was one of the boys falling off the very top bunk. Ouch.
Also, from the Waterfront Park benches, you can see the rest of Patriot’s Point (where the Yorktown is located), the new Cooper River Bridge, and even, Fort Sumter in the distance. Over the years, we’ve walked the new bridge, seen all the other ships and submarines at Patriot’s Point, and toured Fort Sumter many times. With my ever-growing interest in photography, I’d be interested to see them all again, to see if there’s anything new that I haven’t photographed before. : )
Even the marshy area by the pier, with the marsh grasses, has memories for me. One year, there were so many of us visiting the area, that we got divided into two groups, accidentally. My cousin was in the group that was throwing a frisbee back and forth on the waterfront, and it went over the railing into the marshy area, at low tide. She climbed over the railing (I’ve seen the pictures), dropped into the muck while wearing her flip-flops, retrieved the frisbee, and then had to be hauled back up by the guys. I wish I could’ve actually seen it happen.
After a decent break, we walked over to the Pineapple Fountain, which is always visually stunning, in person, and in pictures. Another incident that I missed, one year, was a guy friend of mine deciding to climb it, while still wearing his rollerblades. Frankly, I don’t think anyone’s allowed to climb that fountain, but he never got caught. I still don’t know how you climb ANYTHING, while wearing rollerblades. But if anyone would do it, Kelvin would.
Some self-portraits were necessary by the Pineapple Fountain, with no one around to take them for us, and then we went down the lovely tree-lined walkway to the main fountain, in front of Vendue Wharf (which we usually just call the Pier). The Pier is a nice location, especially in summer, for sitting on the swings and hanging out, or for racing up and down the floating dock, at the end of the Pier.
Last time I was there, the “maps” were full of water, since it had just rained, and there was even water under the teeny-tiny bridge. Several blocks are covered in these maps, showing what the layout of Charleston was like, in each different century.
But the fountain (I don’t know if it has a name) is the main attraction, during the summer, for kids. I think I’ll call it the Entrance Fountain, for lack of a better title. Well, I think anyone would love to play in it, even the grownups. Just throw the swimsuits and sunscreen on the kids, take them downtown, and let them play in the Entrance Fountain until they’re worn out. Wouldn’t you like to? Just remember, no lifeguards.
And so, after a long day in Charleston, we walked back to our parking garage, by way of the Art Gallery, which is right behind Waterfront Park. I’ve never been inside, though. Come on, on a nice day in Charleston, would you rather be inside or outside? But while I was careful to not trip any more than necessary on the brick sidewalks, I admired some of the decor outside of the gallery. And you can see how high up we are, on the roof of our parking garage, judging by how far below us the Art Gallery is.
Yes, I know it took me a long time to go through one whole day in Charleston. Usually, I don’t take quite so many pictures, because I’m trying to keep up with my friends, and some of them are fast and determined walkers (Dave! Tom! Slow down!).
But my mom was very understanding, and let me take as many pictures as I wanted to. You’ll have to wait until May, for my next trip down there. I’ll have fewer pics, probably, but maybe we’ll go see something new, or something I haven’t seen in a while!