PLACE Ft Sumter National Monument
One of the things we had planned on doing on this trip was a tour of some of the important sites of the Civil War. I think we mostly failed at this, since we started heading west before we even got to Virginia, and we were chased away from visiting Shiloh Battlefield in Tennessee by a tornado, which I totally regret. Not the running away, as it was not a storm to take lightly, but I regret not seeing at least one important battlefield on the 150th anniversary of the war. Paul, the dog (in her bag) and I did however take the boat out across Charleston harbor to visit Fort Sumter, where the first shots were fired, and we did it 4 days before the 150th anniversary, so we weren’t the only ones with the same idea.
The visitors center is on the harbor next to the new aquarium, and you and a couple hundred other people pack onto an older, but sturdy looking ferry for the half hour ride out. Charleston has one of those Calatrava-like bridges that we saw in every state in the South, but doesn’t make it less picturesque. In fact it’s not a spoiler for me to say that the boat ride was the best part of visiting Fort Sumter. I’ve heard other people say they’ve seen dolphins, but we didn’t, just tourists straining to hear the narration of various events about the 3 or so other forts on islands that you can see on your way out, and a giant cruise ship heading out into the Atlantic. If you want to hear the history of the Fort and the war, sit inside, not outside. If you already know the story, or you get sea sick, or you are a photographer, find a spot on one of the decks outside.