Thursday, April 26, 2012

Images of Charleston

I have written enough in the past about Charleston, South Carolina that you, dear reader, should be well versed in the history of this wonderful city. So – for once, I will try to let the pictures speak for themselves.

We have spent the past 2 days dragging Teri through Charleston City Market, The Battery, seeing Charleston by mule drawn carriage, Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan's Island.

Here are a few images of our time together here.

                                                                   Old City Jail

                                                Reflection of us on our carriage ride
                                                     City Market and Confederate Museum
                                                                        straight ahead

                                                                       City Market
                                                       Some garden down by the Battery

                                                  Bridge across the Cooper River

                                                                      Sullivan's Island

                                                Sullivan's Island Lighthouse (and Monte)

                                                                        City Market

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mepkin Abbey

Our second day in the Charleston area found us touring Mepkin Abbey.

Mepkin Abbey, located on the banks of the Cooper River north of Charleston, South Carolina is, today, a community of Roman Catholic Trappist Monks established in 1949.

The property was at one time, Mepkin Plantation, owned by Henry Laurens (1723-1792), a merchant, slave trader and rice planter on the property. Laurens was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and succeeded John Hancock to be the second President of the Congress. During the Revolutionary War, Laurens was sent to the Netherlands as a diplomat but was captured at sea by the British, convicted of high treason, and spent 15 months in the Tower of London (not a nice place). Eventually he was swapped for Lord Cornwallis. When Henry Laurens died, his was the first cremation to take place in South Carolina and his ashes are interred on the Abbey grounds.

After Laurens' death the property passed through many hands until in 1911 it was purchased by the Rutgers family of New Jersey and then in 1936 it was sold to Henry and Clare Boothe Luce. Henry was the founder and publisher of Time, Life and Fortune Magazines. Clare Boothe was an author, Congresswoman from Connecticut, and Ambassador to Italy.

The property had fallen in to decay and the Luce's revitalized the plantation through architectural and botanic improvements. By the time they gave the land to the Roman Catholic Church for a monastic foundation in 1949, the Luce's had established a legacy for the monks to build on.

While at Mepkin, we strolled through some wonderful gardens, all installed by Clare Boothe Luce. Unfortunately, we missed the spring bloom season and all the color of the azaleas and were too early for the summer bloomers. However, the gardens were still lovely and peaceful.

We took a tour led by Al, a volunteer docent who was very knowledgeable about the property. As part of the tour we attended the monk's midday prayer. No pictures allowed.

Taken from Mepkin Abbey Garden Guide Book:

“The founding monks of Mepkin Abbey came from the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. They belong to the order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance which traces it roots back to the motherhouse of Citeaux in Burgundy, France. The Trappist-Cistercian way of life is defined by a strict asceticism, a joyful spirituality embracing the deepest roots of the human person where thoughts and motives of the heart have their source, and through communal daily schedule which pursues continual prayer and mindfulness of God. At Mepkin, the brethren are engaged in mushroom cultivation, garden tending, nursery propagation, and timber farming.”

If you are ever in the Charleston area, it is well worth going out of your way to visit this quite, peaceful, thoughful place. Be sure that you are there by 11:30 for the tour.

The Journey Begins

As we have done each springtime for the past 15 springs, we have begun our annual trek to explore this wonderful country we call home.

As was the case last year - we again have a new motorhome - and hopefully this one will last longer than the last one.  After our fiasco last October when the Winnebago spent 6 weeks in the shop and then another month in February, we decided to call it quits and we now have a Fleetwood Bounder.  Don't get me wrong on this - there was nothing wrong with the Winnebago part of the RV - it was the Ford chassis that had the issues and the Bounder has the same chassis just a year newer.  Time will tell...

This year is also different as we have a traveling companion (other than Chief and Casey) for the first leg of the trip. Our niece, Teri Berry, the daughter of Monte's sister Kass, is traveling with us. Teri had been in Florida visiting with her mother for the past couple of months and was going to fly back to her home in Alexandria, Virginia when we invited her to hitch a ride with us. She accepted and – here we are – enjoying spending time together.

Stop number 1 is Charleston, SC. We are camped at the Charleston Air Force Base FamCamp.

Our first full day here we drove up to Bowman, SC and spent some time with Monte's other sister Nance and her husband Bill Owens. I don't know how I let this happen, as I do occasionally, but I failed to drag out the camera – therefore no pictures to share of our afternoon spent with them. However, I don't need pictures to remember the amazing strawberry shortcake that we pigged out on. Good job Nance! Thanks for the hospitality and hope to see you again soon.