After checking out this morning about 10:30, we drove into Charleston and headed all the way through town to the battery, where we parked for a walkabout. It was blowing cold from the north, but the sun was shining, so if we stayed out of the wind it was quite pleasant. Moultrie Park at the Battery is a lovely, tree-shaded little block of green, lined with big cannons pointing out to the water.
We met some folks who were having a grand time trying to get self-timed photos of themselves, and I offered to take it for them. “Thanks anyway, but we’re just playing around trying to get some crazy shots!”
Would one of them be willing to take a photo of me and Max with my iPhone? Sure!
After this, we drove back along East Bay Street to a great bakery/coffee shop called Baked, where I got my lunch – a savory spinach and provolone Quiche that had a hint of nutmeg, flaky pastry, fresh spinach, and excellent crusty cheese on top. Oh yeah! And another latté!
After I ate, we walked around some more, admiring houses, some of Charleston’s big mansions, and churches, but not finding a lot of shops open.
So, we headed out of Charleston around 12:45, intent on getting to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens – founded in 1676 and still in the same family! Also, the oldest landscaped gardens in America.
According to the Charleston visitor guide, we needed to head south on 17 to Rte. 61 and follow signs for the plantations. I thought I was doing OK – without GPS – until I ended up in the far left lane when I needed to exit RIGHT onto 61 – at a point that seemed way too soon according to the map!
A quick U-turn down the road a ways, a (probably illegal) turn through a hotel parking lot back to 17 South, and a dash through a break in traffic across to the exit and we seemed good to go. EXCEPT, there was absolutely NO indication that we were on track for the plantations.
Pull over. Find a plantation on the GPS. Tell it GO! and voila! we were on the right road.
As we drove, I passed Timbo’s Hot Boiled Peanuts on the right:
I took a photo, went up to the window and started talking with the owner, when his dog popped up and started sniffing my right hand. “He must smell my dog,” I said, and his owner said, “Max is my only employee.”
“I have a Max in the car!” I said, which lead to a conversation about what kind of dog my Max is and what kind his Max is. The other Max is an Australian cattle dog – smallish, beautiful markings, and just as sweet and friendly as can be. His owner is quite proud of him – says they are one of the smartest breeds, “real easy to train. I don’t believe in chains for dogs. He’ll just stay right with me.”
When another customer stopped, I said my goodbyes and kept on going down the road to the plantations, about 8 miles away.
First, we stopped at Drayton Plantation (my second choice but the first one on the road), only to discover that you pays your money and you gets to drive in. I had hoped to be able to drive in and see it, then drive out and go to Magnolia… Not to be, exit left, and continue one more mile to our destination.
At Magnolia, you drive all the way in to the parking area and then get out and buy your ticket, which is what I had hoped for at Drayton…
There was a fundraiser happening called the Rafters Trot – raising money to fight canine cancer – so there were a lot of dogs coming and going in the parking lot. Since we came for the gardens, we went in the opposite direction and bought a ticket.
By now, it was after 1PM, the sun was fading behind some high thin clouds, so the day was no longer as beautiful as it had been when we were in Charleston. Max was a happy boy to be out though, and we began our self-guided tour of the gardens.
The Plantation’s ad in the Charleston visitor guide claimed that there were things blooming all year round in the gardens, but I have to say I was disappointed. There were bright red tea berries, maybe a half-dozen magnolia flowers, and nothing else. In fairness, it’s been really cold, and that could account for the lack of color…
All that aside, it was great fun. Max had lots of good sniffs, we saw many interesting details like a Biblical garden, lots of statuary tucked in here and there, and we went through a maze, but never got to the center before ending up at the exit. all told, we walked the grounds for over 1-1/2 hours.