Tuesday, February 15, 2011

150th Anniversary of the Civil War

The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War will be commemorated from 2011-2015. Given that the first shot of the Civil War was fired right here in Charleston, and several important battles fought here - reflecting on this crucial conflict in the nation's history is important. The below writing is from the book 'Southerners' by the great Journalist Charles Kuralt. Mr. Kuralt, as a significant scholar on American History, made a personal journey across America - chronicling much Americana along the way. His reflection on events that preceded the Civil War are very interesting...."Why was the word "damn" always put before "Yankees"? Well, Yankees and Southerners never did have anything in common. The history is well known: the North was commercial, the South agricultural. The conflict goes way back, before the Civil War, before the Revolution. Southerners and Northerners did not have anything in common even then. It wasn't easy to get from one place to the other. I'm always amazed to read that the best way to get from Boston to Philadelphia in Colonial times was by sea. To go farther South was really difficult. It was inhumanly difficult for George Washington to get from Philadelphia back to his home in Virginia. Georgia, the thirteenth colony, might as well have been on another planet. It was easier to travel West after the National Road was built. But try to go South, and you had a rough time. There was no U.S. Highway 1. Everybody who made trips by road in those days described the roads with horror. The National Road, finally was built and went all the way to Illinois. Travel writers of the day said it was as fine a highway as any in Europe - an Appian Way of the New World. I remember John Adams's letter to Abigail about what he thought of Edward Rutledge, the South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress. He said Rutledge was "totally vain, totally empty" -- you know, a Southerner. He believed that Rutledge, and by extension most of his fellow Southerners, were all style, with no substance. The fact that the two of them could agree on this one thing - that the nation had to break with Britain - is impressive to me. It was the one, fundamental thing that they could agree upon. The South was committed to make the break, even though much of its commerce, the cotton trade, depended on England. States like New York hung back, but the South was ready for a free country. It was that independent streak showing that the South possesses. That streak lay dormant through Jackson's Presidency, but as the country grew and the differences between South and North became more evident, it revived as an ember, then as a flame. We must remember that the men who started the Civil War were the sons of men who fought the Revolution, so the concept of a break for independence, defended with guns, was not as foreign to them as it is to us now." Charles Kuralt

Friday, January 7, 2011

On the Fly - Not!

Fly Fishing is anything but - 'On the Fly'. It is peaceful, relaxing and demands a slowdown to the pace of the ebb and flow of the flood tide. This is not to say that the sport is without excitement. In the numerous shallow waterways surrounding Charleston and her barrier islands...there is truly an adrenaline rush in seeing a big redfish tail pop up about 20 yards away from your small flats boat or kayak. Charleston is just plain and simply - fly fishing heaven. The Charleston angler has countless creeks, flats, river marsh edges and other places redfish love to hang out. And the redfish is oblivious to the Lowcountry angler until that line flies off your reel and the drag sings that 'Redfish on the Line' song. Several bait and tackle establishments throughout the Lowcountry teach 'How do I catch a redfish with a fly rod?' - in both classes and one-on-one instruction. There are many educators that can also teach fly tying. After budding anglers are taught how to cast a fly rod, they usually hit a local freshwater pond to practice casting on bream and bass. Some dive right into saltwater fly fishing. The selection of the fly is very important as the angler's first step. Bait is, obviously, key. Redfish love to nosh on fiddler crab and shrimp. If baitfish are visibly swimming all over the shallows you are fly fishing in - it is more enticing to the redfish to do a crab pattern or shrimp bait. Prepare to enjoy your peaceful, plus exciting, experience in the Lowcountry saltmarshes. Pluff mud is some sticky stuff and you don't want to sink into it - stay in the marsh grasses. You will likely have some friendly dolphin dancing near you - an up close and personal great experience! Listen to your instructor and/or guide. Don't forget the sunscreen, bring some refreshments and plenty of hydration. You will have a great time, regardless - but, hopefully, at the end of the day you will be taking home a photo of yourself with your big 'catch & release' redfish.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Southwest Airlines = Charleston Buzz

Starting March 13, 2011, Charleston will have 7 direct daily flights coming from 4 key feeder destinations (3 daily flights from Baltimore,MD (Washington D.C. area) 2 daily flights from Chicago,IL; 1 daily flight from Houston, TX & 1 daily flight from Nashville, TN). Those are direct flights, so if you think about connections via those cities it really opens it up to 60+ new destinations flying into to Charleston. Given that Charleston, SC was recently named the # 2 Top American Destination for the 18th consecutive year, by Conde Nast Traveler - it is truly exciting to have much better and lower-cost airline access to this Historic city on the way. In addition, the other competing airlines to Charleston's hub will need to now lower their rates. This is wonderful, as Charleston has had historically high rates - even causing some visitors to fly in and out of nearby cities in order to visit Charleston. Other discount airlines have come to Charleston over the last decades, but, have not stayed. Southwest is by far the largest discounter to come to Charleston, SC. Southwest has never pulled out of a destination since they started business in 1971, so are confident they are truly going to be serving the Lowcountry for a long time and will be here to say. More exciting news is that Southwest is planning to acquire AirTran which should open up Atlanta direct flights in a year or so - among other destinations. The best news is that Southwest has no bag fees! Things are looking great for Charleston, South Carolina - the accolades for this historic city keep coming and airline access is about to get much better and less expensive.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tip Top East Coast 'Surf's Up' Town - Charleston, SC

Not only did Charleston, South Carolina recently win the title of 'Best Tennis Town' by the USTA (United States Tennis Association),Outside Magazine and Outside Online have named Charleston the Best Town for Surfing - East Coast. The city is surrounded on all 3 sides by the Cooper River, Ashley River and Charleston Harbor opening to the Atlantic Ocean. The Charlestonian oldtimers like to say "The Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet to form the Atlantic Ocean." Isle of Palms is a barrier island only 15 to 20 minutes from Historic Charleston, SC. Isle of Palms and neighboring island, Sullivan's Island, are classic beachfront communities of the Carolinas with lodging accommodations from one-bedroom villas to very large private homes. On the other side of Charleston, Folly Island is a six-mile-long-barrier island that has some of the best surf at an area the locals call 'The Washout'. There are a consistent crew of local surfers around Charleston and they are happy to share their knowledge and vibrant surfing scenes with the percentage of the over four million people that surf when visiting the lowcountry annually as vacationers. The water is warm enough to trunk it for about seven months a year. The continental shelf sucks some of the power out of the waves, but, they remain consistent rides and are occasionally astonishing when passing hurricanes brush the edge of East Coast. Longboarders especially enjoy the Isle of Palms area. When it is too flat or windy to surf, you can stand-up-paddleboard enjoying the surrounding marshes and sounds. And, Charleston is more than fun for surfers. It has a thriving arts and music scene. Great shopping and world-class dining for serious foodies - or - swimsuit and flipflop seafood eateries. It is a great city to try and enjoy both the city and its surfing scene - especially during one of the half a dozen annual surfing contests. Check out this East Coast jewel where water is a way of life for Charlestonians.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Top Tennis Town - Charleston, SC

Charleston now Top 3 in Best Tennis Town Contest!

Charlestonians and Sea Island residents and visiting guests that love Charleston are excited that -The USTA announced that Charleston, SC has been selected as a Top 3 finalist in their second annual “Best Tennis Town in America” contest. Representatives from the Lowcountry tennis community were notified today of this honor, and will be present at the public unveiling of the “Best Tennis Town” winner at the US Open.

The US Open is a Grand Slam Event, which will be held from August 30 through September 12 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. In addition to the title of “Best Tennis Town in America”, the Grand Prize winner will receive a $100,000 grant, second place will receive $50,000, and third place will receive $25,000, with each grant mandated for community tennis development.
The USTA’s “Best Tennis Town in America” contest began in late May when a collaborative tennis committee from the Lowcountry area submitted a video describing the tennis attributes of their respective areas. In total, 82 cities entered the contest, and Charleston was notified by the USTA of its Top 10 status on July 15th, and then began to aggressively market itself and solicit votes from across the country and around the world.

“The USTA is excited to see the passion and commitment to tennis that these towns have showcased through the ‘Best Tennis Town’ competition,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “All three finalists are great ambassadors for the sport and would be a worthy recipient of the title of ‘Best Tennis Town.”
The Charleston committee made strong use of social media, e-newsletters, tennis and resort industry contacts, local and regional media outlets, as well as word-of-mouth marketing. Since Charleston was the only city in the Top 10 with a professional women’s tennis event, the Family Circle Cup and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour were also instrumental in promoting Charleston during the voting process. Votes were cast throughout a 10-day window spanning July 16th - 26th at www.BestTennisTown.com. Voting tallies will remain undisclosed by the USTA, both throughout and after the contest.

“I want to congratulate all of the local tennis entities who collaborated in the effort to bring this accolade to the Lowcountry,” said Joseph P. Riley, Mayor, City of Charleston. “Placing in the Top 10, and now the Top 3, has been a major victory in itself, bringing national attention and immense pride to Charleston.”

“This contest has really shown the cohesiveness of the Lowcountry tennis community,” commented Billy Swails, Mayor, Town of Mount Pleasant. “Looking back over the many years I’ve spent in the Charleston area, I’ve never seen such a unified and collaborative team come together to benefit the sport of tennis.”

The Charleston community put 100% of its support behind this initiative,” noted Bob Moran, General Manager, Family Circle Tennis Center. “Our Top 3 status is a direct result of a complete and comprehensive effort by countless entities who truly believe that Charleston is the Best Tennis Town in America. The Family Circle Cup is proud to be located here, and our fans and players alike attend this event because of what this city has to offer.”

“Congratulations to Charleston for advancing to the Top 3 in the USTA’s Best Tennis Town competition,” said Samantha Stosur, 2010 Family Circle Cup Champion. “Charleston certainly felt like the Best Tennis Town in America when I won the title in April, and it’s definitely one of my favorite events on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour because the city is so beautiful, and the fans are very knowledgeable and supportive of the sport.”

Charleston was named as one of the nation’s top-10 best cities for strong infrastructure, attractive economy and savvy urban planning last year by Forbes Magazine, the city has more than 13,000 local players who take to the courts every year, including more than 7,500 who play USTA League tennis. In addition, the city houses more than 580 tennis courts within its 485 square mile radius, and is home to the annual Family Circle Cup, a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Premier Event.

For we amateur players it is important to note that Tennis is a sport that requires a solid foundation of strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility and balance. All of these areas need to be trained in some form during a training week. Structuring a weekly schedule to ensure that all these components are appropriately trained can be challenging. It is recommended that players consult a certified strength and conditioning specialist who has experience training tennis players and will go through extensive training in planning and implementing programs to maximize performance

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Good 'Ole Summertime

I am a local and am amazed every Summer 'high season' at the amount of activities, many free-of-charge, that can be enjoyed on Charleston's Sea Islands. Visitors and residents alike have a plethora of options. Clearly limitless in choice for quality 'paid' enjoyment - inshore and offshore fishing charters, paddling and kayaking eco-tours, nature tours and shelling excursions, sailing and motorboating, jet ski and banana boat rentals, water-skiing and kneeboarding to name some of the many on-the-water activities. Landlubbers have an abundance, too - plantation tours, walking or motorcoach tours, the Aquarium, touring Patriots Point, or simply walking the historic streets of Charleston, the Battery and marveling at the scenery of White Point Gardens and the ocean vistas it provides. And, what family would not enjoy a romping splash in the Waterfront Park fountains on a hot Summer day? Charleston is a treasure trove of fun including family options that are unique such as a visit to the Lowcountry Children's Museum. But, what really is amazing are the amount of Free Activities families can enjoy!
Just a few examples include: Bringing your beach blanket and beach chairs to the 'Village Green' betwixt the adorable shops of Freshfields Village between Kiawah and Seabrook Islands. On Monday nights from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. visitors can enjoy the colorful, fresh and fun to stroll stands of Lowcountry Farmers, Food Vendors and Artisan's wares. On Wednesday nights are great free Outdoor Movies. On Friday nights from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. are wonderful live bands. 'Music on the Green' can be enjoyed while strolling the shops of Freshfields Village and maybe sampling a low-key or high-end bite to eat.
For only $5, children ages 5 to 13 can try fishing from Bohicket Marina on Wednesdays, all Summer at 9:00 a.m., for an entry fee of only $5 - Rods and Baits provided.
Over on the Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island and Wild Dunes side for island guests...nearby Mt. Pleasant's beautiful new Memorial Waterfront Park Pier is a not-to-be-missed photo-op! Starting at the Mt. Pleasant Visitor's Center - guests and residents can enjoy walking to the end of the Pier and literally be looking at Historic Charleston on the right, Patriots Point on the left, and all the varied boating activity in between! On Monday night at 9:00 p.m. on July 24th - all it takes is bringing your beach chair and one can enjoy a delightful Free Movie. Viva Summer in Charleston, SC!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Southwest is coming to the Southeast

Charleston, South Carolina is a major tourist destination, in fact, one of the 'must-do's'. History, hospitality, scenery, the sea, and delectable dining and libations. Charleston is delighted that a major lowfare air carrier is about to be adding Charleston to its long list of destinations. Southwest Airlines will be soon gracing Charleston International Airport thanks to the tireless efforts of Charleston County Council and the Charleston Area Legislative Delegation. This addition will be a boon to area residents and certainly to Charleston's tourism guests.
Charleston is now homeport for Carnival's Fantasy and the addition of both cruising and reasonable airline rates serving many feeder cities into this historic Southeastern city of charm are both great advantages to the already robust hospitality industry.
Charlestonians love their genteel, pastel-painted South Carolina port city. And, Charlestonians love to share her with visiting guests. Especially since they have everything they need right in their own 'homeport'. The Charlestonian question is "Why would I ever travel, my dear? I'm already here." The genteel Charlestonians love to share their fondness for both city and heritage with visitors.
A charming town with brick streets lit by cast-iron street lamps, it is perched like a jewel on a small finger of land between the softly flowing Cooper and Ashley Rivers. Its seven square miles of skyline have hardly changed in more than a century. No new building can be higher than the steeple of St. Michael's Church, built in 1761. Fly on down on Southwest Airlines and see for yourself.