After a cold night in the boler, with the heater on most of the night, we enjoyed a slower start to the day, a couple of coffees to get the blood flowing before heading off to visit one of the oldest plantation properties in South Carolina. The Magnolia Plantation dates back to the 1670's and has been continuously owned by the same family. Their riches stripped by the Civil War they sold 1500 of their original 2000 acres and rebuilt the mansion on the foundation of the one burned at the end of the war. Eventually they opened the house and gardens to the public as a way of maintaining the property.
Fueled by up to 50 slaves, the plantation on the banks of the Ashley River had produced Carolina golden rice for almost 200 years prior to the war. Once slavery was abolished and 3/4 of the property sold off there was little left of a productive farm. But the gardens are spectacular and the lakes and ponds abound with wildlife. Visit per year number in the millions.
Our cost for the visit was $22 per person, but that only included the entrance fee plus a wildlife tour. If you want the full experience, the cost balloons to $47 per person. We started with the wildlife tour.
Egrets, turtles, alligators, and other bird species too numerous to mention cover the ponds and nest in the trees. The wildlife tour lasts the better part of an hour and gives you a 4 mile long tour of the property. Ours was in the cold morning and while it was great to get an overview, we headed straight for the cafe when it was done to get a coffee to warm up. The cafe was a pleasant surprise. We figured with a captive audience that prices would be through the roof, but it was very reasonable. Lunch can be had for a around $8 a person. We also got to try something a little different...deep fried peanuts. You can eat the shell. A pretty good snack, and much better than our earlier experience with boiled peanuts.
The plantation house is pretty impressive, but we passed on the 30 minute guided tour of the interior, cost $8:
Instead we walked through the gardens past the slave houses and through the marshes and alongside the ponds and lakes. Jenny took numerous pictures of the camelias, orchids and azaleas in bloom. By the slave houses was a particularly impressive oak tree, covered with Spanish Moss
After almost 5 hours we were ready to head back to the R/V park. The one we are staying at is pretty good. Oak Plantation Campground is about 7 miles from downtown Charleston and has at least a couple of hundred sites. Cost, with our Sam's Club discount is about $32 a night. We purchased some local shrimp for supper, did our laundry and settled in for the night.
On our way back to the Campground we passed the local Chevrolet dealer...Rick Hendrick...fans of Nascar will recognize the name. There were 7 separate dealerships, all with the same name, right beside each other. Whatever vehicle you want, foreign or domestic, this guy sells them all. This is the US flag on the Chev dealership:
We are headed south tomorrow, with a 2 or 3 day stop in Georgia planned.