The Great American Roadtrip: Civil War Time Traveller

Civil War Time Traveller

Civil War Time TravellerCivil War Time TravellerCharleston
South Carolina
12 Apr 2011

Charleston is a town where history is in the houses and the stones. It leaps out at you, smiling sometimes, sometimes grabbing you by the heart. It’s a place I’ll visit in the future.

Civil War Time TravellerI don’t know how we managed to time our overnight visit so that we arrived on the exact 150th anniversary of the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the beginning of the Civil War. Just happened that way, without planning, which kind of describes my life. I remember aiming for a quiet moment in early 2008 to drive my rental car around the Arc de Triomphe. Early arvo, I thought, it will be about as empty as it gets during daylight hours. Of course, that happened to be just a few seconds before the Olympic flame for the Beijing games passed through, and there were about a million protestors and gendarmes and helicopters and tourists…

Charleston was full of tourists for the anniversary. People dressed in period costume, people with cameras, sometimes all three in the same frame. We stopped at a bakery to pick up a bunch of saltwater brownies and the struggle to find a parking space within walking distance reminded me of the Arc de Triomphe episode.

Anyway, we eventually found a spot that was legal, dropped a quarter in, and looked into the bakery. Big jars of goodies: muffins, cookies and yup, saltwater brownies.

Flummoxing the Southerners

A young man asked me what my desire was, and I looked him square in the eye, and said in my Australian accent, “I have travelled here from the year 1957 to buy a dozen of these brownies.”

This is technically correct, but he gasped, said, “What?” and gave me the sweet pleasure of repeating my line. I then fumbled with the coinage when paying him, holding out a palm of change to let him select the correct amount. US currency is always difficult for an Aussie, with those nickels and dimes the wrong way around.

Speaking of sweet pleasure, FutureCat and I sampled one out of the dozen and dear glory, but it was good!


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  1. Ah exactly what I missed, since we do an east coast road trip in a couple of weeks and also stay in Charleston. I am very interested in the history of the U.S. civil war, so I look already much forward to visit this place.Saltwater brownies sound interesting 🙂

    1. Charleston is beautiful in its own right. Some fabulous food. Saltwater brownies from Bakery are only the tip of the iceberg!

  2. Always wanted to go to Charleston and it sounds like it was a lot of fun on this visit. It would definitely be part of my US road trip when I get round to doing it!

    1. It was my fourth visit to Charleston, and certainly not my last. The old town didn’t change much – they didn’t have the money to rebuild for decades, and when prosperity came, so did an appreciation of heritage.

      I was blown away to wander through an overgrown cemetery in the heart of town to find the graves of Confederate officers. It’s not just an economic necessity any more; these folk are steeped in history.

  3. I love road trips, so I’ll definitely have to save this for future reference! Saltwater brownies?!? Sounds amazing, would love to try that!

  4. Charleston sounds cool. I’ll have to check it out for my upcoming road trip either later this year or next year. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. Charleston seems great, I heard a lot about the music culture and the food… would be interested to travel there at some point!

  6. One of my best friends lives in Charleston, so I have been plenty of times. It’s lovely and also yes, very touristy!

  7. I’ve heard a lot about Charleston and it’s indeed a place worth paying a visit. It has definitely made it to my travel bucket-list. Thanks for sharing!

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