Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dodging Bullets

After almost 5 days of all-day rain, I have certainly had enough. But I am not complaining because the rain was caused from a tropical storm rather than a hurricane! We have been dodging these bullets (hurricanes) quite a bit over the past few years (although Charleston has seen at least 90 over the last three centuries). It seems like the really evil ones have stayed out at sea (this year, anyway) and some other nasty ones have brushed our coast and continued farther north. This tropical storm (Nicole) could just as easily have grown up and become a hurricane, so we'll consider ourselves lucky once again. But it's too soon to breathe a sigh of relief, as we still have another two months of "hurricane season." The month of October is rather risky. But in the meantime, we'll enjoy the beautiful weather that this month brings - and the beautiful resurrection fern that has enjoyed the rain and given its final appearance on the live oak trees before dying back for the winter. Thanks, Nicole!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Walk a Mile in Your Shoes

It's really not so far - a mile, that is. That's how far it is to walk down Meeting Street to cover 13 museums. Even though the special $20 rate for visiting those museums during the special Museum Mile Weekend won't roll around again til next year, you can still have a great time when you visit some of them on the Heritage Passport, on sale at the Charleston Area Visitors Center. You can visit 2 museums and 5 house museums along the Museum Mile for almost half off the regular admission fees. Plus they throw in two plantations at the same discount! Check it out at - then come take my Charleston 101 walking tour with me and you've covered the best of what makes Charleston the best!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tour of Homes

This is an anxiously-awaited time for visitors (and locals) to tour private homes in downtown Charleston! The Preservation Society of Charleston sponsors the event, allowing folks to purchase a one-day pass for $45 and tour several homes in a specific neighborhood of the city. To quote the Society's website: "These are self-paced, self-guided walking tours with volunteer guides stationed in each house or garden; on average, eight to ten properties are included in each tour, which vary in architectural styles and periods. All tours are in historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places. " Why not check it out and see the interiors of homes and gardens that are usually off-limits to touring? You can get tickets at the Preservation Society's shop on the corner of King and Queen or through their website, . Remember, this organization uses proceeds from this event to continue to make Charleston a wonderful place to live and visit.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Time to Remember That We'd Like to Forget

It's 10:11 as I write this blog, the first I've done in a long time. (I have been derelict in my duties as a blogger.) Anyway, this is an anniversary that should be recognized, even though it's not one to celebrate. Twenty-one years ago tonight, at an hour very close to this, Hurricane Hugo, a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds, hit our area. Since I'd experienced many hurricanes in the past, I didn't pay too much attention to the hoopla directed at this one. Most hurricanes in my lifetime had been nothing worse than a big storm - usually heavy rains and some wind that knocked down limbs. Maybe a power outage for a day. My mother came over to my house and we filled the bathtub with water to flush toilets for the next several days. We filled some pots and jugs with drinking water - enough for a few days. My husband was in the U.S. Navy and all ships homeported in Charleston were put out to sea to evade the storm - just in case it was a big one. So he was gone, and she had come to stay with me, since she lived downtown in an apartment building that would be inconvenient in the event of a power outage. The day before the storm hit Charleston, I went to K-mart - to buy a bedspread for my daughter. People were lined up buying sterno and batteries, and I giggled at them for their preoccupation and exaggeration of what I knew was overzealous precaution. I bought my bedspread and came home and turned on the television. The mayor was telling people that this storm was quite serious. It had wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico and was heading our way - a bulls-eye was painted on Charleston, he said. Maybe I should've bought some batteries. Maybe staying in my ranch house, surrounded by many large pine trees was not such a good idea. Maybe my two babies (age 4 and 1) were being put in harm's way. My mother and I decided we'd head for the country - Walterboro - where my aunt had a farm, about 50 miles from the coast. I threw diapers, bottles, formula, and photo albums in the car and within the hour, we were on the road. The deserted road. Everyone who was leaving Charleston had already gone. The road was ours alone. The rain began to pick up and there was some wind. But the storm was predicted to make landfall in about 8 hours so I felt we still had time. We did, but if we'd waited much longer, it would've been foolish to drive. We arrived at the farm safely. Throughout the night, I could hear the wind whipping through the wide-open spaces - I told my mother I thought I heard the train-sounds that accompany tornadoes. We lost power about 10 p.m. and went to bed. The next morning, the evidence all around the farm validated my assessment of the presence of tornadoes. The farm was littered with debris and heavy limbs. We turned on a battery-operated radio and got pretty dismal stories of the conditions in Charleston. But most of the roads had been cleared and I wanted to see if my house was still there. We hit the road about noon and crept back toward Charleston. The roads may have been cleared but only somewhat. What had been a 4 lane highway (Hwy 17) was narrowed to a one lane road where oncoming cars took turns with us weaving our way around trees stretched over the road. The normally 45 minute trip took twice as long. And there were of course no traffic lights. A very intimidating scenario. Upon arriving home, I found my house intact, although others nearby were sliced in two by fallen pine trees - just like the ones that used to stand in my yard. My trees were down but miraculously had missed the house! Why was mine spared? Who knows. Now the clean up would begin - and the stress that comes with a town filled with people who had just been through an event that would haunt them for decades.