Sunday, November 22, 2009

Battle of Secessionville - Thursday

We pulled out Thursday morning and drove to Charleston amid light rain. Supposedly the rain was going to clear out later in the weekend but I was cynically skeptical. However, I did hope the weekend would be a pleasant break from all the stress of producing a CD, sewing a ball dress, putting on a ball, and dealing with the rest of my normal ratrace life.

The drive down didn’t exactly bode well. For one thing, the walkie talkies broke. Of course, they’re only about 15 years old so I guess that’s not surprising. We needed the walkies because Dad was in his car and we were in the van towing the trailer. And, um, Dad was the only one who knew where we were going. Fortunately we had our cell phones, although that’s a little bit of a slow process when you’re trying to tell the person behind you to change lanes. :)

Half an hour before arriving at Boone Hall plantation we made a quick pit stop at a fast food joint. I noticed a tourist brochure stand and went over to look at it while Dad was getting coffee.Seeing a flyer for Boone Hall, I grabbed it and proceeded to regale Mom and Raquelle with its contents while we drove. I hadn’t known much about the Boone plantation at all, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out how interesting it is. For one thing, the brochure declares that it is “America’s most photographed plantation.” That’s partly because, in 1743, Captain Thomas Boone planted a long avenue of live oak trees which is now an absolutely magnificent sight to behold. Please note my photo of it. Yes, I succumbed to peer pressure and became one of the myriad photographers that makes Boone Hall “America’s most photographed plantation.”

So amid a light rain, we finally arrived at the entrance of the plantation but a little bitty sign tells us to keep going to the “reenactor’s entrance” ahead. We drive. And drive. And drive. Finally Dad calls us on the cell phone and says maybe we should turn around. “Well,” I observed, “the flyer says the plantation is over 730 acres so let’s at least keep going to the corner.” Sure enough, at the corner there’s another little bitty sign telling us to turn left. We do and drive another quarter mile before FINALLY finding a sign that points to the elusive reenactor entrance.

It’s now cold and misty and we hike through puddles in the sandy soil to the registration tent. Fortunately, even though the plantation is huge, there’s a pretty good map in the program so we’re able to figure out where to go to set up. We’re in the living history area, Station 14. (Yes, believe it or not, but they were organized enough to LABEL all the living history stations with numbers on stakes.)

The living history area is a big grassy spot behind the mansion itself. It’s full of live oaks and pecan trees all draped with Spanish moss. It also has a covered pavilion in the center. Lest you are picturing an old-fashioned pavilion constructed say, of wood or brick, in keeping with the rest of the plantation’s historical atmosphere, let me set you straight. It is a strange white monstrosity that Raquelle immediately christened the Denver Airport. Anyone who has flown into the Denver airport will understand the name.

A pic of the Denver airport we took in September

I corrected her, however, and said it looked like the Denver airport on a budget.

Be that as it may, a clearly marked number 14 showed us where to set up, which was good because there wasn’t much else to guide us in that large space. We proceeded to whop the two tents up in no time. The flies took longer to put up than usual, however, because the light rain was now accompanied by 20 mph gusting winds. We finally got the whole thing put up and then headed for the hotel to warm up, dry off, and find a restaurant.

A funny thing happened as Dad and I were walking across the field to load up. A big, burly, white-haired fellow with a flowing beard hollered hello across the field at us so we went over to say hi. He gave us each a hug and asked how we were doing. Then he looked at me and said, “You do that web newsletter, right?” I had no idea what he was talking about. “You know,” he insisted, “that ladies newsletter on the web!” It finally dawned on me that he was talking about the Palmetto Soldiers Relief Society (PSRS) newsletter. Mom and I actually co-edit it and another gal posts it on the website. “I LOVE that newsletter!” the guy enthused. “I love the pictures and the articles and everything! When’s the next issue?” I was totally kerflumoxed that a big ole burly dude like him would even be reading our ladies newsletter in the first place, much less enjoying it! J But now that I think of it, I guess it’s pretty interesting with all the reenactment reports and pictures and stuff.

Anyway, as we walked away from the guy, Dad turned to me and said, “Who was that?” I broke into laughter and exclaimed, “I have no idea!” We figured out later he’s the guy who is provost at Battle of Aiken. He always camps next to us at Aiken so he recognized us at once. But for us, you’ve seen one big hairy reenactor, you’ve seen ‘em all. :giggle: Anyway, he was a real nice fella.

We finally got ourselves to the hotel and began carrying stuff up to our rooms. As we were unloading, someone drove up and yelled, “We don’t want any harpists here!” Turns out it was our friends the Suttons. They knew we were attending this reenactment and had asked ahead of time which hotel we’d be at so they could stay at the same one and get in a little visit time with us. The funny thing is that the hotel staff put them in the room right beside us!

They had already eaten dinner so we headed out to a Cracker Barrel for ours. After a full supper, we warmed ourselves by the big fire (and Raqu incidentally beat Mom at checkers) and then headed back to the hotel to get stuff laid out for the next morning. I was excited about the upcoming weekend after seeing the plantation. Even the brief glimpse we got was enough to tell me we were going to be in a picturesque environment and I couldn’t wait to start taking pictures.

No comments: