The Birthday Celebration
by, 27 Aug 2008 at 10:09 AM (3906 Views)
I am blessed to have an amazing daughter who turned 15 yesterday. The years have gone by quickly and they seem to be passing by at an accelerated rate these days. Last year due to us living in a very small apartment she decided that she wanted to eschew the traditional birthday party and just go somewhere different for a couple of days. We spent her 14th birthday in Philadelphia and this year we have spent it in Charleston, South Carolina due to having a wedding to attend on Labor Day weekend.
So with our skill at searching out a travel bargain we landed at the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, SC which is about a 20 minute drive to downtown Charleston. The hotel is stunning, the rooms very well appointed, the property is beautiful, and the beach fabulous. We have really enjoyed our stay here and are looking forward to coming back an entire week next summer.
So the birthday started off with a tasty southern style breakfast full of things we love but don't get to eat very often in New Jersey. We had our fill of biscuits and gravy, grits, home fried potatoes, and the other usual breakfast fare. We took off for Charlestons and we had a very full day exploring many things.
First we went to the South Carolina Aquarium which is a smallish aquarium but it is nicely maintained and the exhibits interesting, and the staff knowledgeable. We happened to be there during feeding time in the very large saltwater tank that had very large fish in it along with some sharks. We really liked how the aquarium emphasized how the entire ecosystem affects the ocean and how important conservation is in many regards.
Next we went to the Fort Sumter National Monument which is several things: the interpretive center, Fort Sumter itself, and also Fort Moultrie. We went through the interpretive center which was very interesting and then we took a 30 minute boat ride over the Charleston Harbor to Fort Sumter. This is where the Civil War began but I expect most everyone knows that here. The ruins are impressive, the park rangers enthusiastic, and it was fascinating to learn that Fort Sumter had a very long and active life through World War II. It is the fort that refused to die.
After that we went for a quick lunch and then off to the Charleston Museum which is "America's First Museum" founded in 1773. The museum has a little bit of everything in it but is mostly focused on Charleston history throughout the ages and has many fine artifacts on display that give a great idea of what life was like in the early days of the state. There is a new exhibit called "From Slave to Sharecropper" which is a very sober accounting of post-Civil War Reconstruction and the struggle of slaves to claim their place in a society that did not want them.
Then we came back to the hotel and Emily and I went down to the beach to just relax a bit because the friend we are traveling with had turned out to be a bit of a pain and we didn't want that to dampen the spirit of the day. So we headed down the boardwalk straight towards the beach and found that it was relatively deserted but the tide was well on its way out and the water was nice and warm. We started walking around a bit with the surf lapping at our toes and to our delight discovered that it was a great shell combing beach. We found more than a few good sized whelks of a couple of varieties that were larger than our hands! She was excited but said she didn't want to be greedy so she selected the few she wanted to keep and returned the rest to the beach for others to find. As I sat there on the beach with the sun going down watching her flit around in the surf, picking over the shells, and being silly it struck me that she was stuck between the improbable, and sometimes impossible, stage between being a girl and being a woman. I pictured what was to come: the driver's permit, learning how to drive, getting her license, the first date, the first heartbreak, getting her ready for her first formal dance, sending her off to college. She was drawing hearts in the sand from what I could see just like I did when I was her age. I wondered whose initials were being scribed in the sand and she beckoned me to come see. Written there was "Emily Loves Mommy". She is still my little girl.