Thursday, June 13, 2013

On the Road--Down South: Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (continued) and Charleston

I went back to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge yesterday, over the Talmage Memorial Bridge again, this time hoping to see new birds while walking one of the forested trails. The day before, I had walked out in the sun--not a tree in sight--and felt unwell afterward. Yesterday's forested trail was shady and somewhat cooler--not to mention shorter. There was a fair amount of bird song, but, frustratingly, I saw almost nothing. Not knowing the songs here that well, I didn't always know what I was hearing, either. I did recognize Cardinals and Towhees in the distance, but there wasn't a lot going on.

Later in the day, I decided to drive up to Charleston. I mainly wanted to see Fort Sumter, but I arrived about ten minutes too late to take the last ferry over for the day. I was annoyed. I can't imagine why the ferries stop running at 4:00PM in the middle of June, and you'd think there would be private boats willing to take tourists the short distance to the island, which looks about two miles out in the bay, but I could find no way to get there. From what I read at the ferry pier, however, the fort looks nothing like it did during the Civil War. First, it was reduced to rubble during the long siege that it suffered, and at some time well after the Civil War a large, modern artillery battery was built in the middle of what was once the parade ground. It was enough just to see the position of the fort and to see the place the first shots of the Civil War were fired from, a place called Point Johnson on the shore. I watched the water for a while. Royal Terns and Laughing Gulls were fishing or stealing bait (the gulls) from fisherman on the piers. I looked at Waterfront Park and later Battery Park, which has a nice pineapple-shaped fountain in it. Lunch on the way into Charleston was a truly delicious pair of grilled shrimp flour-tortilla tacos at Yo Bo Cantina Fresca.

I spent the rest of the day just walking around Charleston, which has a lot of interesting architecture. The oldest houses seem to be mostly brick and from around the Revolutionary War period. You could spend days looking up at the cornices of the bigger buildings or peering into courtyards lush with ferns, or looking into shop windows. Much of the old downtown in Charleston (and Savannah as well) still has gas lamps burning. I had a quick dinner and then made the drive back to Savannah, about two hours. This morning I feel tired and somehow don't want to go out into the heat at all, but I'll think of something interesting to do.

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