Sunday, December 03, 2017

Seeing through the eyes of a visitor...



 T'is the season to do some holiday travel.

Not in the crowded skies, but on-the-ground aboard AMTRAK

It was a good sign when my buddy from Chicago arrived two minutes EARLY.

It has been a while since I went to our old, old railroad station but I was pleased that the parking lot had shrunk, due to the start of construction of a new intermodal facility.

This had been talked about going back to when I first returned to Charleston from Tallahassee, back in the nineties.

Doesn't look like much right now but the project has finally started.

Dirt is being moved around and the digging of foundations is underway.

The new, expanded, modern facility is scheduled to open next summer to welcome travelers.

Not just as the passenger railroad connecting point for Amtrak, but also shuttles to the airport, the new Greyhound bus station and CARTA buses headed downtown.

Back in 2005, after I had retired from the local paper, I bought a North America Rail Pass that gave me access to all the routes by Amtrak for 30 days.

I learned a lot about train-riding as I traveled up and down both coasts and Coast to Coast when I added a trans-Canada trek on a restored 1950s vintage VIA Rail train.

One of the parts of the Rail Pass was to include a leg of the journey in Canada.

It was an added cost but the First Class posh ride - with my own roomette - was a relaxing Canadian break.

Last week my buddy and I had 6 days to get around town and re-visit places we had gone to 3 years before.

Last time, the remodeling of The Market had just been completed.

So he had to walk through and do some gift shopping with a Southern flavor.

Adjacent to the Market was Noisy Oyster where he enjoyed a platter of salmon.

It was a sunny noontime and the open windows there went well with a mild, sunny day.

I ate my way through a delicious serving of shrimp and grits, with pieces of sausage and crumbled bacon bits.

Oh, and a slice of cornbread.

Delicious.

We spotted a group of (I guess) Amish young ladies in long blue skits and white bonnets.

Right across from the Noisy Oyster, several of the older Amish gentlemen were in a lengthy discussion at a booth offering tickets to a carriage tour.

Equine horse-power being the center of the conversion I am sure.

Sure, it's a cliche or stereotyping but it MIGHT have been what they talked about.

We had seen the younger folks as they trooped up the many steps of the Custom House and then came back down and wandered toward the market.

We stopped at the Moon Pie Shop where I usually have my guests pose, sitting on the prop moon, set up in the back of the store.

Today that area was filled with boxes and I was told they would be closing soon. Aww!

Naturally one passes the Four Corners of Law at Broad and Meeting Street.

Today I actually had something to mail so we ducked into the Federal main post office. I had not been in there for a long, long time.

There was a small area off the lobby labeled History Room and it was pretty interesting.

Old equipment, official uniforms of the 1900s era, Confederate stamps and currency and other odds and ends, like an odd-looking numbering machine in addition to old typewriters.

There were many racks of various hand stamps that reminded me of summers at the Folly Beach post office in the fifties.

My grandmother worked with Jimmy Ballard, the Postmaster, and she would let me take naps on piles of scratchy mail bags and "help her" as I hand-canceled tons of colorful postcards. Well, small stacks.

I was probably 10 or so. Center Street had not been paved yet. It then was crushed oyster shells.

My Chicago visitor and I wandered around today's Folly Beach Island - lunch at Rita's - after walking out to the end of the fishing pier. We saw craftsmen working on encasing damaged support pilings with a protective skin of concrete.

Then I drove us to the west end of the island and we walked on the beach toward the lighthouse.

We were joined by two ladies who had recently moved to Charleston.

Telling them I grew up here, they asked if I had taken the boat tour from Bowen's Island to the lighthouse where you go ashore? They said they saw a Groupon for it.

I responded that there no longer was an "island" to tour and the lighthouse was closed to the public as too dangerous.

We came upon something that had been uncovered by Hurricane Irma when dunes were recently severely eroded.

When asked what it was, I suggested it either was part of a flying saucer or perhaps the base of a WWII shore gun emplacement.

It was a beautiful day at the beach and we took lots of photos with our cellphone cameras.

(Click on the pictures and links for more details.)

Thanks for joining my small walkabout tour with my out-of-town friend

We made sure to stop in at a few Craft beer breweries while he was here.

At Edmund's Oast Brewery he had his first cask ale in quite a few years.

I do wish I had brought my "real" camera with its crisp zoom lens for even better shots. Hindsight and all that.

Here are a few more pictures including an interior view of the marble and staircase in the Main Library:







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