Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Lowcountry, Part 2: Beaufort

Beaufort is a jewel in the Lowcountry, about half way between Charleston and Savannah, where history and charm meld into this beautiful water-front town. We spent many afternoons navigating the narrow interlocking streets adorned by centuries old, moss-draped live oak trees, trying to snap shots of old historic, civil war-era mansions and churches, walking the beautiful waterfront by the downtown marina, and window shopping along Bay Street. 

Located on Port Royal Island, the largest of the Sea Islands, on the Beaufort River, a link in the 3000 mile-long Intracoastal Waterway, Beaufort is a destination by both land and sea.  We soon realized our efforts would be better served by taking a couple of reasonably priced tours with guides who know the local lore.

Old Episcopal Church

And cemetery

We started with a horse-drawn carriage tour for $18 each.  After trying to self-guide and find parking along the narrow streets, this proved to be a much better way to view up close, the historic old homes and get their story, always accompanied by a witty anecdote.  I wasn't able to take notes on much of the narrative, but it was definitely worth the price, and a fun ride through the city.

All aboard for a run ride


Always the live oaks

On another afternoon, we took Captain Dick's Beaufort River Cruise which lasted about 1 1/2 hours and cost $20 each.  If you book both boat and carriage tours on the same day you save $2 off each ticket.  Though a bit cold motoring into the wind, we really enjoyed seeing the shoreline along the city and also many of the houses were better viewed from the water-side. The salt marshes and Spartina grass, dolphins playing, and shore birds posing, oyster beds exposed at lowering tide, all made for a wonderful trip. 

Fellow passengers wore appropriate attire

Downtown waterfront

Spartina grass frames this marina on Lady's Island

Cormorant posing

Thanks to author Pat Conroy, The Great Santini kicked off a string of movies filmed in Beaufort.  Beautiful marsh views, incredible sunsets, and glamorous estates provided settings for Forrest Gump, The Big Chill, Prince of Tides, Forces of Nature, GI Jane, The Jungle Book, and more...

The "Big Chill" house

Mississippi River Bridge in Forrest Gump

Beaufort saw little action during the Civil War, other than a mass exodus.  Once the city learned of the capture of nearby Savannah, locals fled so fast that meals were left unfinished on tables. The British forces moved to occupy the island by late 1779, and many of the old mansions became hospitals. 

Now the Beaufort Visitor Center

Robert Smalls was a local hero, and there is going to soon be a movie based on his life.  An enslaved African American who, during and after the war, became a ship's pilot, sea captain, and politician, he freed himself, his crew, and their families, from slavery by commandeering a confederate transport ship and sailing it to freedom beyond federal blockades.  He was later elected to the US House of Representatives.

Robert Smalls house

Good dining can be found in abundance along the waterfront and Bay Street.  We just happened to pick Plums for lunch one afternoon and I had the best oyster po-boy, certainly as good as any I've had in New Orleans or Galveston!

Oyster Po-Boy at Plums!

We're still playing catch-up on the blogging efforts, and I feel the foregoing sounds rushed and disjointed....sigh.  If you notice our current location and weather on the side-bar shows we're in Palm Beach County, FL.  Actually now heading to the Everglades. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.....

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