It's a beautiful December day. The kind of day we'd hoped for in South Carolina for Christmas. The sun is glimmering off the inland creeks and marsh ponds; the Ashley River and the Atlantic Ocean. The balmy weather and sunny morning set the mood and the pace for our adventure.
Charleston is a very short distance from Kiawah--as the crow flies. In a car traversing the variety of waterways that comprise this location, you should plan on a 30 - 40 minute drive depending on time of day and season.
On our first visit to Charleston--15 or 16 years ago--we headed that first morning to the historic district, parked the car, walked to the edge of the parking lot and boarded a horse-drawn carriage. Yep! In that order and that quickly we made a very significant step in getting to know Charleston. Our charming driver shared a wealth of information during our tour--history, scenery, gossip, humor, insider information, and opinions. So, CA and I are determined to share a similar experience with our family today.
We park the car near the College of Charleston and walk a few short blocks to Market Street, schedule a carriage ride in just over an hour, and then wander through the Slave Market. Our little girls are shoppers, so CA and DM patiently accompany their 5 girls as we move from stall to stall until we find just the right money holders--leather wallets-on-a-string for LG and KF (regretting forever after that we didn't buy one for the very competitive, almost 2 year old NJ).
Very soon, we walk to the appointed corner (exactly where we boarded our carriage on our first visit to Charleston) and the 7 of us settle in with 4 or 5 other visitors for a thumbnail tour of this gorgeous city. Today's carriage driver is gregarious, but not nearly as informative as we remembered from before. Still, we delight in the architecture and style, sunshine and glimpses of courtyards and gardens that are so very much Charleston.
When our tour ends and we've taken time to admire the horses, we head for Hyman's for a late lunch. It's after 1:30pm and still there's a 30 - 40 minute wait. Our little girls are patient travelers but standing on-line at this point in our day is just not a great idea, so we find our cars and drive to James Island for lunch at the Carolina Seafood Company location we remember from our second visit to Charleston.
On the drive back to Kiawah, CA and I fulfill a promise and stop by a bike shop to rent 4 adult and 1 child bike, along with appropriate child seats and helmets for our remaining days on the island. We're feeling a bit smug because we know the awesome realities of beach and trail biking on Kiawah, but so far it seems no one else has grasped the pleasures ahead.
We settle into our evening with Old Maid and some t.v. and videos. Since today is December 28th--DM + MK's 9th wedding anniversary, we've volunteered to tend the girls tonight so that they can enjoy an evening out at one of the lovely restaurants at The Sanctuary on Kiawah.