Road Trip 5 - Charleston

View of the Ravenal Bridge from the pier

NOTE: This spring and summer were very busy, as well as very eventful for me. I got way behind with posting on the Dog Blog. I am going to try to catch up, and as I do I will post events in chronological order. Some of them were a while ago but I will write what I remember.

We had already had a pretty full day. We had an early start for our visit to Ft. Sumter, then a long drive to get back to Charleston because of an accident on the Ravenal Bridge. But after a break for a good lunch, we were ready to go again. It was only midafternoon and it was a beautiful day. We walked out to the pier that we had visited the last time that I was in Charleston. It was quite a differnce. That had been a cold, windy and overcast day. This was a warm sunny spring day with a bright blue sky. Charleston harbor was quite pretty, from the Ravenal Bridge in the north to the USS Yorktown across the river to Charleston Harbor spreading out to Ft. Sumter, just barely visible in the distance.

Looking back along the Battery

Since I am always up for a hike, we took a walking tour of the waterfront and some of the old Charleston neighborhoods nearby. We started out on a nice pedestrian walk that ran along the river with some beautiful old colonial-style houses across the street, many dating from before the Civil War. It is known as the Battery, because it was originally built as a defensive sea wall. During the Civil War, an artillery battery was placed there, which is how it got its name.

After walking for about a mile, we reached the end of the Battery at White Point Garden. It's at the very southern tip of the peninsula that the city of Charleston is on, so it overlooks the entire harbor area. Because of its commanding defensive position it was the site of another major artillery battery. Today it's a city park and the replicas of the cannon there are only used by kids as something to climb on.

I wonder if this house was pink during the Civil War

From the park we went a few blocks inland to take a different route back to our car. The whole area was filled with beautiful old houses, many with signs which told their history. The area was beautifully preserved and it was easy to imagine the city as it had been a hundred and fifty years ago, with horses and wagons on the streets instead of cars. Finally we walked through the Charleston City Market. The old buildings that served as the beef and produce market for the city have been nicely restored. Today they are filled with shops selling crafts and souvenirs. I found a nice present for Sandy at a jewelry shop in the market. But at the end of the market there is a darker presence. Another restored old building houses the Old Slave Mart Museum. As the name implies, this was where slave auctions were held. When the US stopped the importation of slaves in 1808, Charleston became the center of the domestic slave trade. It's hard to believe that in America only a hundred and fifty years ago people were bought and sold right next to the markets where cattle and produce were sold. Although it is certainly a black mark on our history, I give the people of Charleston credit for preserving the building and putting in the museum. Better to acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them than to pretend that they never happened.

There were three dogs sitting right behind us

When we got back to our car it was time to head out of downtown Charleston. Our plan for the evening was to go to a baseball game and see the Charleston Riverdogs, a Class A minor league team. On the way there Mickey drove through the campus of The Citadel, a private military academy in Charleston. The campus was quite pretty with some impressive old buildings. Unfortunately the light didn't cooperate for taking pictures so you will have to take my word for it.

Then it was on to the game. We had left downtown Charleston early enough to beat the worst of rush hour traffic so we were at the ballpark plenty early. Getting a parking spot was not a problem. The special promotion for the evening was "doggie date night". People were encouraged to bring their dogs to the game and quite a few of them did. I'm definitely a Dog Person but I thought that it would be total chaos. Turned out that the dogs were quite well behaved. There wasn't a lot of barking during the game, which is what I expected. The people right behind us had three dogs with them. They were very friendly and didn't bother us at all. I guess dogs must like watching baseball. Who would have thought?

One of the dogs wanted to play ball too

The only incident occured during pregame warmups when a dog got loose from it's owner, jumped the fence, and ran onto the field. After doing a few laps around some of the opposing players who were warming up, it finally listend to its owner calling it and came back. It needed a boost to get off the field and back into the stands, but no harm was done. The fans and the players all got a good laugh out of it.

It was a beautiful night in Charleston and what better way to spend a nice spring evening than at the ballpark. The Riverdogs' stadium, "The Joe", which is named after former Charleston mayor Joe Riley, is a nice minor leage park. We had great seats, in the front row right behind third base. The Riverdogs are the Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees. They are partially owned by actor Bill Murray, who is listed as the team's "Director of Fun". He lives in Charleston and frequently attends games, although we didn't see him at this one. I don't know how he could pass up doggie date night.

Fresh self-seve herbs next to the pizza stand

The Riverdogs were playing the Rome Braves. That's Rome Georgia I think, not Rome Italy. They are affiliated with the Atlanta Braves and wear the same uniforms. Since we had seen the Atlanta Braves play a few days before, it was like deja vu.

The game started well for the home team. The lead off batter got on in the bottom of the first and scored for a 1-0 lead. That held up for quite a while. The Riverdogs pitcher was sharp, giving up only one hit and striking out nine in five innings. But the Braves pitcher settled down so it was still 1-0 going into the late innings when the game was handed over to the two bullpens. The Charleston relief pitchers couldn't hold the lead, giving up the tieing run in the sixth and then a disastrous six runs in the seventh. Rome ended up winning 8-1. But while I rooted for the home team (and even bought a Riverdogs tshirt) I am not really a Riverdogs fan so I wasn't too disappointed. It was a fun game to watch, with some good pitching, some good plays, some mistakes, and some scoring. I even had a pretty good piece of pizza for dinner during the game. One thing that Sandy would have really liked is that next to the pizza stand, they had a row of plants, various herbs, with a sign that said "pick your own herbs". Talk about fresh! All in all, a fun evening and a good way to cap off a good day and a good trip.

After the game Mickey gave me a ride to my hotel, which was just outside the Charleston airport. Since I left first thing in the morning, I wanted to stay near the airport where I could just catch the hotel shuttle the next day.

Mickey discusses the game with a Riverdogs fan

We had one last beer in the hotel bar while we watched the end of Game 6 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers series. It was being played at Amalie Arena in Tampa, where we had been just a few nights before at the Rush concert. Deja vu all over again. New York won 7-3 to force a game seven, which didn't do them any good since Tampa Bay won game seven in New York to go to the Stanley Cup finals. Which didn't do them any good as they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. Finally it was time to say goodbye and Mickey headed back home to Summerville.

My trip the next day was uneventful. All my flights were even on time. That doesn't happen often on United. It was good to be going home to Sandy and Abby, but I had to admit I was a little sad to leave. The trip had been wonderful. It had been great to hang out with Mickey for several days. We did a lot of interesting things, but mainly we just had a lot of fun together. It reminded me of the season that Mickey played travel hockey in eighth grade during the winter of 2002/2003 when we had made many road trips together.

An excellent trip. I hope that we get a chance to do something like it again sometime, but I will certainly keep many fond memories from this one.