Charleston, Beaufort and Firefly Vodka

Randy and Aaron have biked over 70 miles and Aaron has seen a bit of Savannah, so the next place to visit was Charleston.  On the way there, of course, we stopped to see the amazing Angel Oak on John's Island, which we first visited in August.
This time we noticed something unusual in the area - a little white squirrel!  A local artist said it had been there a few weeks.  Previously the only place we knew with white squirrels was Olney, Illinois.  This little guy has dark eyes so he's not an albino.  So we got to see one huge, gorgeous natural attraction plus one tiny, cute one - bonus!
Next stop:  Wadmalaw Island, and the small Firefly Distillery, which specializes in vodka.  And boy, do they like vodka; once they started making it, they just kept going.  Now they make all sorts of flavors, like sweet tea, peach tea, raspberry and lemonade.  I, of course, didn't care for any of it, but the guys bought "tasting" tickets and found several they liked.  We came home with blackberry, apple pie and chocolate pecan vodkas, plus some Bourbon. 
They don't usually do tours at the distillery but the owner, recognizing kindred drinking souls in Randy and Aaron, and took them on a personalized tour.

In Charleston we lunched at "Fuel", which Randy heard about on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  We have found that show to have some hits as well as some misses, but this turned out to be good one, and Randy's order was the best of the bunch - Jerk Chicken with pineapple and bacon, and a side fried plantains.  

Then we went to catch the ferry to Fort Sumter.  Unfortunately we were too late; because this is the slow season they only ran 2 ferries, and we missed them both.  Dang.  We did go through the Visitor Education Center, which was very interesting.  The actual Garrison Flag is there, partially on display.  They don't have a huge display area with controlled lighting and temperature, like the Smithsonian has for the "Star Spangled Banner", so their solution is to display a just small section, and slide the display window over to display a different section each day.  This diminishes the destructive effects of the lights.  They need to protect it because, as old photographs show, there is not much left. 
And based on the section that was displayed, what remains is thin enough to see through.  When it was whole, though, it must have been an impressive sight.  It was huge, with an unusual pattern of stars. Above the long display case which holds the original flag, hangs a replica, covering the entire wall.
But dang, we really wanted to see the fort.  It's over 3 miles away from the Center so we couldn't even get a good look at outside of it.  Looking out the window, we could just barely see the sand bar it sits on, way out behind the boats.  
Since we couldn't see the fort, we had a little time to spend at the City Market, looking for souvenirs.  Hand-made sweet grass baskets still cost several hundred dollars, so I still don't have one.  By then it was after 5 pm so we headed home; it's a 2 hour drive and the dogs were really glad to see us when we got back.

Today, Sunday, we visited another small town, Beaufort.  On the way we stopped at Port Royal beach to look for shark's teeth.  I'd found one earlier this year, but today all we found were oyster shells and seagulls.
So on to Beaufort.  After we drove across the bridge and parked, we looked back and saw that the bridge was a Swing Bridge.  Because some tall sailboats were waiting to get to the other side, traffic was stopped while the middle section of the bridge swung sideways, opening a channel for them to sail through.

And Randy's had a very short career as a deckhand on a shrimp boat; he helped this guy cast off a couple of lines so the boat could leave the dock.
It was getting cold (47?), so we stopped for coffee and tea to warm up a bit.  This is a very pretty town, with lots of beautiful old two-story houses with deep porches, white columns and blue porch ceilings.  There is a old Southern tradition that blue ceilings stop wasps from building nests, because the blue looks like sky to them.  Live Oaks grow here, too; sometimes they just take off in one direction and keep on going.
On our way downtown we noticed someone picking up nuts that were laying on the ground; they turned out to be pecans.  We tried a couple; I found raw pecans to be a little damp, and not as flavorful as roasted pecans. 
We went through a lot of the unique shops downtown before we learned that today was the day of the Christmas parade.  Beaufort is a town of about 12,000, and it seemed like half the town was in the parade.  It lasted an hour, which, as the temperature dropped, seemed like a pretty long time.  But everyone was was giving it their best.  The parade included bands, dance troops, cub scouts, church floats, firetrucks, dogs, horses, and several military groups.

And here in the South, "Three Kings" means something a little different!

Three years ago: Sand Shapes and Mud Pots
Four years ago: Back home in Arizona

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