Saturday 21st January – Sunrise Over Sea

I had set an alarm last night for 6:15am so I could be up and on a beach for sunrise. I wanted to see the sun rise over the ocean, another thing I hadn’t seen since leaving home. While there were heavy clouds in the sky and some drops on my windows, it wasn’t raining yet, so it seemed it would be worthwhile. I drove ten minutes to Sullivan’s Island and found a park in the neighbourhood near a walk down to the beach. Now I was really excited. I walked down the short boardwalk that sat half-buried amongst sand and bush and came upon a flat beach at low tide.

My shoes came off immediately and I enjoyed the feel of sand between my toes as I walked towards the water. The beach wasn’t deserted, but the few people out with their dogs all smiled and said good morning as if they saw me every day. As I reached the water and stood in the gentle waves, I looked up and saw dolphins swimming through the surf. Now I really felt special. They were not more than ten meters away from me and a few minutes later they were gone. That made me feel like I am doing the right thing. As the sky tried to turn blue through the clouds, I walked along the beach to the point, walking through the cold waves, letting them wash around my ankles. As I walked, I watched the colour grow in the sky. While the low grey clouds were too thick to reveal the sun, the pale colours that results were still well worth the early start. At the point I turned around and returned to my beach entry, easy to find because there was an historic lighthouse marking it.

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Back at the car, I washed the sand from my toes and made bacon and eggs for breakfast. I would have to get used to humidity again, it does make the body feel sluggish. I drove down to Fort Moultrie where I showed my annual parks pass to get into the national monument for nothing.

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It was a significant point of defence in America’s battle for independence, then during the civil war. I liked the fact that they flew an American flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes to represent the number of declared states at the time of the fort’s operation. On such a pooey day, I had the place to myself and explored all the nooks and crannies, including the ruins of a wooden fort that lay at the seaside.

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When I tried to get to the Isle of Palms beach I didn’t have much luck. It appears most of the area is a resort, so not accessible to plebs like me, but I wasn’t too disappointed. Being back at the ocean made me think more and more about getting a surfboard, so I started a bit of a search. Thanks to the directions of a man in a sports store that didn’t have boards, I ended up at a small surf and skate shop where I was happy to find a very helpful and non-judgemental man to give me some pointers. While every board in his shop was well above what I wanted to pay, he was happy to give me some advice when looking for a first board and I tried on a wetsuit for good measure. Feeling thoroughly more knowledgeable about surfing, I felt better. He also told me I’d probably have better luck once I get into Florida, since Charleston isn’t that famous for surfing and there aren’t many waves between here and Florida.

With the rain coming down, I did an overdue shop at my Walmart camp and had lunch. Seeing that the afternoon was supposed to be rain free, I went back into Charleston, parked where I had yesterday and rode into town for a closer look. I rode down the west side of the island where fog covered the ocean and the streets. The city has some beautiful parks and the buildings are stunning. Lots of colour and old architecture that just fits in so well with the seaside. I entertained myself by taking lots of photos of my bike.

After riding around the point, I went and did the markets, which were open! I walked my bike through the not-very-crowded indoor market, selling lots of shit you don’t need. Oh how the tourists must lap it up! Still, it was fun to wander. Charleston definitely has a lot of charm. Around every corner is a horse and cart operating a tour through the streets, or a row of houses that have been turned into restaurants, or church graveyards with overgrown gardens in residential streets! I walked my bike for a bit through the more crowded areas of King Street and walked it through a church graveyard that was way too crowded with tombstones for my liking. When the rain started to come down again, I headed for home.

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On the way, I was distracted by the “Aquarium Wharf” so went down for a look. I was confused when I saw the visitor’s center for Fort Sumter at the end of the wharf. I thought that fort was on the other side of Charleston. Upon entering the VC and talking to a man I found out the fort is on an island and it costs $19 by ferry to get over to it, a ferry that leaves only twice a day. Hmm, that was going to be tomorrow’s activity, but I think I might reconsider.

The rain was being serious now, so I rode straight back to the car and got inside the dry van. It was nearly 5pm and I had no intention to stay outside in this weather, so I went back to last night’s camp to hang out the rest of the day. And this I did. It felt like home, there was a full-on thuderstorm! I had to empty my water catching bags because I feared they would break from the weight!

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