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I will miss the carriage tours clopping down our street, the convenience of being able to walk to coffee shops, pastry heaven, and excellent restaurants. What I will miss most about Charleston are the people we’ve met here. Some are from here, some not. Most everyone in Charleston has been friendly, tourists and locals alike. Even the people who work in coffee shops and restaurants have been good-natured.

Our most interesting new friends are from birding. Lest you think that birders are all staid white-hairs wearing many-pocketed jackets, they are not. We’ve found local birding groups to be welcoming, the members interesting, and we’ve gone well beyond the birds, meeting up to go on other outings, have a meal, and enjoy conversation. We even went to a play at the local Theater 34 West. It was a terrific venue, about 30 seats around small tables, and a bar! About 20 minutes into the very animated musical, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” the actress (cast of four) fainted and it wasn’t part of the script. We figured it out as the cast started to clear a path for the EMTs to get to the stage. I’d go back on another visit to see an entire show.

Our birding days let us see bald eagles, ospreys, herons and egrets, and some of the smaller, harder to see peepers. It’s been a lot of fun (a multi-pocket vest can be very handy…). We ran into a bit of difficulty birding on our own. Twice, at the end of a generous drive, we arrived at places with well known trails to find the site closed for deer hunting (season Sept. 16-Dec. 1 this year). I’d checked the web site in advance for each location and found no notices. There was a sign at the entrance to Botany Bay by the locked entrance gate. At Dungannon Plantation, the trail was open but a notice pointed out that it was open for bow hunting and anyone out on the trail should wear international orange (also known as Blaze Orange). We don’t carry that kind of gear with us so turned back.

In addition to the activities I’ve mentioned, we enjoyed farmers markets, sweet grass basket sellers, the Charleston Aquarium, McLeod Plantation, and the Gibbs Art Museum, our favorite cultural stop. Our bird walks at Caw Caw state park and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens were excellent. Santee National Wildlife Refuge let us see a painted bunting. We even stopped to look at the gigantic Angel Oak. We made a field trip to Georgetown, an interesting spot on the way to Myrtle Beach. On one of our final days in Charleston, we discovered there is beach glass along the battery at low tide. We chatted with people walking along the sidewalk who were curious about what we were doing, and heard about where they look for beach glass.

Whether you’re from here or not, Charleston is a friendly place with a lot to do.

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