Welcome to the dramatic finale of this two-part series. (Read Part I about Charleston here). Here are some more highlights from the rest of our stay in Charleston.
Boone Hall Plantation
The first plantation we toured was Boone Hall, which dates back to the 1600s. The current house was built in the 1930s (after the current tenants bulldozed the former farmhouse, a fact which many writers griped about in guide books). Far and away, the coolest part of the house is the Oak Alley driveway leading up to it. Centuries-old live oaks, adorned with weeping clumps of Spanish moss, form a natural tunnel of sorts above the dirt road.
If this was my home, I’d run (very dramatically) down that road every single day.
A fun fact about Boone Hall: it served as Allie’s parents’ house in The Notebook. Yes. The Gos was here.
Another day, we decided to tour the gardens of Middleton Plantation. The beautiful old brick farmhouse was burned down by Union troops during the Civil War (to which I’m like, there are ways to take a victory lap without torching historic estates, jussayin’) and you can still see the charred bricks laying where they fell.
Because the house no longer stands, people visit to tour the meticulously landscaped gardens. It was a good bit of fun to wander about and take photos. Because we snuck in right before sunset, we had the place mostly to ourselves. We also spotted a gator or two and got pretty close to one until he hissed and I said to Mike, “WAIT how fast do these buggers run again because I’m in a maxi dress.”
Kayaking the tidal creeks
Mike and I signed up to do a kayak tour of the tidal creeks near Folly Beach. It was just us two and a guide, a very knowledgeable crunchy dude named Will who explained the ecology of the swamp and the vital role it plays in keeping the entire ocean healthy. Word.
As we were preparing to launch, we saw a pair of bottlenose dolphins—a mother and a calf—frolicking in the water in front of us. I love me some dolphins. When I was in elementary school, I went through an obsessive dolphin phase, in which I collected dozens of dolphin figurines and posters. I even named my goldfish “Dolphin.” So those mammals still have a special place in my heart.
We paddled through an increasingly narrow waterway, surrounded by tall blades of sea grass on either side. We even passed several shipwrecks, which Will informed us were tossed around and battered during recent hurricanes. There were dozens of shore birds: brown pelicans, snowy white egrets, blue herons, and more.
As we headed back, we saw a dolphin jump clear out of the water in a beautiful breaching arc, Seaworld-style. Will told us that he’d only seen that two or three times in all his years of leading kayak tours. What luck! I think my dead goldfish was pulling some strings from that big blue fishbowl in the sky. I didn’t capture it on camera, but I found an accurate depiction online:
Apparently, dolphins breach when they’re feeling playful or excited, just like humans.
Later, we went back for a scrumptious seafood dinner at Bowens Island Restaurant, an off-the-beaten path restaurant at the end of a dirt road. The views were okay.
Then I dropped Mike off at the airport and picked my mom up, and we headed off to do Hilton Head and Savannah for the remainder of the week. Stay tuned for those recaps!
Trip Recap: Charleston
- Plantations toured: 2
- Alligators who hissed at us: 1
- Number of ginormous porches on my dream home: 4
- Cost of one home we saw for sale in Charleston’s historic district: $19 million
- Miles driven, Chicago to Charleston: 915 miles
- Total cost of our favorite seafood dinner: $33
- Wind speed, clocked at the end of our kayak trip: 25 miles per hour
Official Wildlife Count:
- 4 alligators
- 4 dolphins
- Several brown pelicans, snowy white egrets, and blue herons
- 2 coyotes
- Several wild turkeys