Debora Dale Alt logo
where fear and passion collide
Debora Dale Alt logo
where fear and passion collide

What South Carolina vacation would be complete without a trip to Fort Sumter?

On our last day in Charleston, we hustled about the historic district, trying to fit in as many historic building tours as possible. We also managed to tour the oldest original plantation home in the state – Dreyton Hall.

This home was built in 1725 and while it stands empty, it stands. The paint on the walls has faded with time, but the history and grandeur of the home is still quite evident.

We were fortunate to have a tour guide whose expertise was in architecture. The details of the structure were too many to recall but fascinating as they were heard.

The reason this home escaped Sherman’s burning of the city, was because of a sign posted on the property. What was written on that sign? It stated that the home was used as a hospital to treat people infected with small pox. Was this true? Well, we will never know for sure but we are grateful for the sign whether sad truth or ingenious lie.

This final day in the Carolinas was the hottest. Nearly 100. We’re told that’s actually about 20 degrees cooler than it normally is there at this time of year. That worked out well for us, because of all days, we lost our car. <sigh> We must have circled the same area seven times before we finally found it. I’m guessing all the driving, touring and heat finally caught up with us and delirium took over.

However, we found the car and managed to get to our Fort Sumter ferry in the nic of time. NIC of time. What an amazing place this fort is. The outer walls are five feet thick. Mortar shells can still be seen in the walls and the original flags – from Union as well as Confederate troops – are on display in the museum there.

Did you know…

The Union officer in charge of the fort at the start of the war  – Anderson – told his men to sleep in the morning of the original bombardment of the fort by the confederates. He knew the fort was tenths of a mile further than was needed for a cannon ball fired from the mainland to do damage. However, Beauregard, a confederate officer who had trained under Anderson before the Civil War (which in Charleston, btw, is referred to as either The War Between the States, or more often as The War of Northern Aggression) ordered his men to fire up the cannon balls. They heated them to a red glow and fired them off. They didn’t blast through anything but they did start several fires and between putting out the fires and firing back, the limited Union troops were overtaken and Fort Sumter fell into enemy… oops… Confederate hands.


We were up early the next morning, ready for a 9-hour drive up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Our goal was to get there in time to have dinner at the Farnsworth House. If ever you are in Gettysburg (I may have already said this, but it’s worth repeating) GO to the Farnsworth House. Eat in the garden or in the dining room, it doesn’t matter, just eat there and make sure you have their spoon bread and pumpkin fritters. Heaven on earth. With a few ghosts thrown in. LOL.

Seriously, the Farnsworth House is one of America’s top ten haunted inns. We were going to take their ghost tour after dinner, but the screams from the basement while we dined sorta changed our minds. One day…

We barely made it in time for dinner, btw. We hit traffic in D.C. and lost a full hour. Ten hours on the road made us want to drop into bed instead of eat, but we went anyway and were VERY glad we did.

There are over 100 civil war bullet holes in the side of the Farnsworth House. All still quite visible. The food is scrumptious with contemporary fare as well as that of the period. Best of all… I GOT RECIPES!!!! They now offer a cookbook that contains recipes for their famous spoon bread and pumpkin fritters. Of course, just because I can now make them, it doesn’t mean we’ll ever miss an opportunity to dine there… and maybe one day we’ll even work up the nerve to stay overnight at their inn…despite the top-ten haunted inn rating… and then again… maybe not. :-/

The next day, we walked around the town of Gettysburg…

…and then we drove the battlefield with an audio tour CD. Too much information to absorb on one listen, but clearly bloody and disturbing. Then again, it was war.

After the battlefield tour, we drove an hour to Hershey, PA. Chocolate Town! With Hershey kiss-shaped street lights.

The park was a thrill – what amusement park isn’t?

And though it rained on us the next day – so hard at one point, they shut down all the rides – we had a blast.

This vacation put 1804 miles on our car. I drove about 1700 of those miles and loved almost every minute of it. Considering we went from views like this in the south and in Pennsylvania…

To views like this as we neared home…

I’m guessing you can understand which part of the drive I enjoyed, and which I didn’t. 😉

It took us two days at home to recover but we’re raring to go now and already looking ahead to next year. But first… we have over 1,000 photos to sort through and place into albums. So… if I’m AWOL again, you’ll know where I am. Sitting in front of mounds of photos trying to recall every facet of our wonderfully adventurous trip.

Thank you for letting me share my family vacation with you. We, obviously, had a great time and I hope you enjoyed hearing about it.