|The Carolinas & the Mid-Atlantic. Part 2: Charleston Bustup|
Charleston, South Carolina. (Map)
I came to a modern bridge over a waterway. I knew the bridge was modern because of research I had done on Charleston (where I found pics of people 'exploring' the old bridge), but also because it was one of those bridges that seem to be the focus of every new bridge project (a cable-stayed bridge - just like the one in Toledo).
The bridge was bringing me over the Charleston Harbor & into the my friend Yrvelouria's city. As I've started to really travel the U.S., I've become concerned with the notion of one day having been to every large destination of a city - so today I was happy to be taking in a completely new, completely foreign place in notable Charleston.
As I descended from the bridge, I scanned the cityscape at top speed. I noticed a few factories which looked like they belonged more in Detroit than this southern city. I was expecting a place like New Orleans, mostly because New Orleans made up the majority of my southern city experience. Although, once the bridge spat me out onto neighbourhood streets, it actually started to resemble New Orleans. It was gritty, the trees were similar & the houses were colorful & tightly-packed. Some of the houses & apartments were built of unfamiliar architectural styles, which always has that appeal in being strange & new.
Charleston made a good first impression.
There was barely any time for a first impression though. I made my way to Yrvy's work within 5 minutes & we didn't even go to his house.
"We can knock that church off quick. It's not very far from here."
I of course knew about this church beforehand, hence the quote. I had emailed Yrvy about this place when I saw it online somewhere, but he already knew about it.
It was nothing special - a small, architecturally insignificant, baptist-style church on the edge of Charleston's rougher areas. Yrvelouria told me this, but if it was easy & nearby, why not hit it?
The entry involved climbing into a large window, about 3 feet off of the ground. For some reason, maybe because I'm rusty, I was having a bit of trouble & simply threw myself through, landing on the carpeted floor...the carpeted floor laced with glass!
Not long after getting to my feet, I could feel the liquid running down my forearm & realized that I cut myself. It wasn't that bad, but just enough to bleed considerably. I decided to leave my mark on this church as a return-of-favour for it leaving its mark on me.
The only other item of note was that this church had to have the most empty bottles of King Cobra I've ever seen.
Someone enjoys the 6% malt liquor smoothness (someone besides me, that is).
We went back to Yrvy's & had a beer on his piazza0, relaxing in deck chairs as the warm wind swayed the palmettos. His cat Clyde came to check us out & even at his advanced age, he was moving more than we were.
It was awfully hard to get going, but thankfully Yrvy was more focused than I.
We stopped by a building along the way, simply because it was along the way; as Yrvy didn't have high hopes for us getting inside...
...but lo & behold! Magic, walla!
This is where the jokes started, of myself coming to town & suddenly we could get inside everything. Yrvy gave this place a look a couple of months ago, but a cop pulled in as he was creeping around (the cop was just there to set up a speed trap, but poor Yrvy had to wait it out until mr. officer went on his way).
We figured this place to be an old jeweller's, because of the merchant areas & the safes in the back of the building.
The building was completely empty, so the stairs & the safes - the only things they couldn't take with them - were the saving grace of making this an interesting visit.
The piazza wasn't half bad either, except that it was next to a busy road.
If there's one thing the south gets right, it's the extensive use of these elevated porches.
Next we took a shot at the old Admiral's house, built a long time ago upon the naval base here in Charleston. Yrvelouria didn't have high hopes for this one, but we decided to give it a walkaround for the heck of it...
...and walla! Magic!
Apparently Yrvy had checked on this location just a week ago & there was no way in...then I came to town & there's suddenly an egress.
He warned me to tone down my exploring enthusiasm as there wasn't much in Charleston, but after all of this luck with generally unlucky buildings, we were making a decent trip of it.
Of course this entry involved ninja'ing around a broken pane of glass, where Yrvelouria told me to be careful so as not to have a repeat of the baptist church blood incident.
And also of course, I made my way in (in a careful manner I thought), only to walk through two rooms, and then discover the trail of red dots following me, the crimson red contrasting the dusty hardwood floors.
It's a good thing I brought my first aid kid for these explorations, something which I don't normally do. By this point, I had used up almost all of the tape & bandages, having a gaudy x-bandage across my elbow & a new large, finger encompassing bandage from this admiral's house.
Yrvelouria was happy that we made it inside today, mostly because he wanted to see some good pictures from this place (saying that he'd expect them to be better than his flash-using, handheld, point-n-shoot snaps).
Suddenly there was pressure on me, but thankfully the place was mostly empty away from the architectural features; making it fairly easy to line things up & create passable pictures.
Again with another awesome piazza!
Especially here at this estate, this is one of the only places in Charleston where there is spanish moss on the trees - so you have the setting sun creating long shadows, with a bevy of trees surrounding the balcony, with lazy spanish moss hanging from the branches.
I imagined there were worse places to be stationed.
Yrvelouria showed me this neat room upstairs, where you went down a hallway & then there was a tiny doorway leading into a shoehorned room. The window provided a nice view of the grounds, but there was nothing else desirable. Whereas it was only in the 80s outside, and mostly in the 80s around the house, this room was inexplicably in the 100s or worse. Within the time it took to snap a few pictures, I was already dripping sweat onto my camera & tripod - I couldn't imagine how uncomfortable this room would get in the middle of the summer.
We were meeting Yrvy's girl for dinner shortly, but we figured we had enough time to finish with this hospital.
As we rounded a corner, there was a half-difficult way of getting in, but Yrvy wasn't having it & we continued to an easier point of entry. My my, how this lucky day had us acting spoiled.
What you saw in the first picture of this hospital was probably the highlight.
The white-washed walls contrasting with the red tile roof under the blue skies of South Carolina. Inside, the place was empty & repetitive.
I'm always quite excited for hospitals, but this was another place where Yrvy told me that it's not as exciting as it sounds.
Although, I did find it to be better than he was saying. Maybe a difference in standards was in play there.
This location has a giant courtyard, which is quickly being consumed by the thick & hearty vegetation of the south. Yrvy used the courtyard to cut across to a more interesting section, but I was constantly examining my feet & had my head on a swivel looking for ticks, snakes and/or spiders.
This only caused Yrvelouria to laugh at me & tell me to settle down, as he hasn't seen many of those things & he's been living in Charleston for a couple of years.
I'm glad I keep having experiences like this to alleviate my fear of creepy, crawly southern insects/reptiles.
We actually had a fair amount of time to spend in the hospital, so Yrvy made sure I was happy with what I saw. We were a little more thorough as a result, but there wasn't much inside - it made for a nice end-of-day, tired exploration; but not for captivating pictures.
There was a funny moment where we were taking pictures of a skybridge & looked outside to notice a teenager creep up to the building & peek inside. We yelled at him from the upper windows & he jogged away - much to our amusement. Hopefully he went and tried the admiral's house after, only to find fresh blood all over the floor.
Anyway, we had now been walking around old buildings for close on 5 hours in substantial, end-of-summer heat. We were ready to pile in the car & head for some Mexican food. Much to our chagrin, we had to wait for a train for 10 minutes, but it allowed us to detour & check out some random cemetery - I never thought I was going to be exploring the Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. The train would obviously eventually finish & it was comical that the Mexican place was literally 3 blocks past the train. This was apparently the only good place to get Mexican in Charleston, a fact which made Yrvy miss Mexicantown back in Detroit. I wasn't completely sure why though, after having the Charleston Mexican, I would be happy to have it in my city & wouldn't be longing for Detroit's Mexicantown as well.
Afterwards, we grabbed some local beers & sat on the piazza for a bit longer, this time without any rush as we had cleaned out all of the buildings in Charleston. Not having seen actual downtown Charleston yet, the Yrvelourias decided we should go down there for a drive (especially because there's an endangered lighthouse which I needed to see). We drove around & certain porch styles were explained to me, I was shown old mansions & mansions with tales, as well as the old slave trading market & the bay which is home to Fort Sumter. We finished our drive by going to a local dive bar for a beer, an experience where it was good to know Yrvy (he seeks out interesting bars in whatever city he lives in).
We came back, had a couple more beers on Yrvy's awesome porch in the crisp, night air; before calling it a successful day.
There's zero chance that I would have enjoyed Charleston to the same extent if it weren't for Yrvy's hospitality. At an age where I go to so many cities alone & hardly interact with anyone, it was great to have a local guide, with an awesome house & tons of solid knowledge.
Here's to hoping Yrvy moves to another cool place when he finally decides to leave the South.
Onto Part 3.
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Sources: 1 - Assateague Lighthouse - Chincoteague National History Association