Saturday was a stay-on-the-boat day for the most part. I did take the free trolley ride to Harris Teeter (a grocery store chain in this area) in the morning for some provisions. A little after 2 o’clock in the afternoon, Justin, Shera, and Megan came aboard for a visit. We had planned to go out on the bay for a couple of hours, but there was a substantial easterly wind that had us pinned pretty firmly against the dock. After a few futile efforts to get Beatitude off the dock while avoiding the vessels in front of us and behind us, we decided to just stay put for the afternoon. The ladies went up to the resort pool to hang out and refresh themselves in its cool waters. Justin and I stayed behind to visit for a while. When the ladies returned, we had burgers, hot dogs, macaroni salad for dinner, followed by a little rum cake. Once again, it was so nice to be with our friends.
Sunday was a stay-in-town sort of day. We boarded the trolley for downtown a few minutes after 10 a.m. The driver let us off a couple of blocks away from the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (the group which left the Episcopal Church a few years ago). The building was constructed over two hundred years ago. Like many other Episcopal/Anglican churches from the period, it was almost devoid of ornamentation. (The Old North Church in Boston and the St. Andrew’s Parish church that we visited last week are similar.) There were stained glass windows in the apse, but these were not original, but were added in 1991 as part of the Hurricane Hugo restoration. The building is known for its great acoustics which were evident on this Sunday morning. We were blessed to join the church for an atypical Sunday morning service. Instead of the usual liturgy, the service consisted of sung Matins (morning prayer) and the Holy Eucharist. The choir only consisted of seven or eight voices, but they were marvellous. The singing was magnificent and moving. The organist was also wonderful, playing both a Bach prelude and a Bach postlude to the service. It was a great morning in church!
After church, Cindy and I decided to stay in town all day since we were to meet the Argabright’s that evening. We ate lunch at Five Guys and hung out there for a couple of hours surfing the net. We then slowly made our way southward down King Street, window shopping and stopping for rest periodically. At 5:45, we met Justin and Shera for dinner at Blossom, a stylish, yet understated, restaurant serving Lowcountry dishes. The food (especially my soft-shelled crabs) and the company were great.
After dinner, we walked two or three blocks to the the Dock Street Theater which resides in the historic French Quarter neighborhood of downtown Charleston. It was built in 1809, first as a hotel and covered to a theater in 1935. It sits on the site of the first building in the Colonies designed for use as theater. The interior was beautifully done, and perfect for the evenings entertainment: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, produced by a traveling company from the Globe Theater. We were blessed to see As You Like It performed at the Globe in London a few years ago. Now, we were blessed to see the story of the star-crossed lovers in the company of our good friends. The performance was great. We had actually met one of the actors, Tom, (who played Benvolio and Friar Laurence) at our resort/marina bar and grill a few days ago. We discovered at our first meeting that he was one of the globe actors, so it was a cool experience to meet him in person and then see him perform on stage.
On Monday, our dedicated local tour guide (our friend, Shera) picked us up around 11 a.m. to take us to visit a plantation. There are a number of historic plantations in the Charleston area, but our destination for the day was Middleton Place, directly across the river from North Charleston. The plantation was the primary residence of several generations of the Middleton family, many of which played significant roles in the history of the United States. Henry Middleton, who was the President of the First Continental Congress, received Middleton Plantation as part of the dowry which accompanied his wife. His son, Arthur, who was born at Middleton and lived there at the end of his life, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Middleton was, of all things, a rice plantation in the 1800s. I was unaware that rice plantations existed in the U.S.!
Unfortunately, just before the end of the Civil War in 1865, a group of Union soldiers burned most of the plantation. There had been a main house flanked by two smaller houses pre-civil war. All that remained after the fires was the southern house and the gutted, ruined walls of the main house and the north wing. These ruins were reduced to rubble with the great earthquake of 1886. (Also, who knew Charleston was on a major fault line!?) We enjoyed an hour-long stroll through the gardens, which are the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States. Afterwards we took a guided carriage ride through the property. The carriage was pulled by a couple of grand American Belgian Draft Horses. We then had a guided tour of the Middleton Place House (the south structure built by Henry Middleton in 1755. We had another great day, thanks to Shera. enjoying parts of Charleston that would otherwise be unavailable to us without a car.