July 10-12, Charleston, South Caroline (continued)
Thursday morning we headed back into Charleston to Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum – home of the USS Yorktown, USS Laffey and the USS Clamagore. We started by touring the destroyer USS Laffey. The USS Laffey is named for Seaman Bartlett Laffey, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient, and for the first Laffey which was sunk at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. The second Laffey was built by Bath Iron Works in Main as an Allan M. Sumner-class destroyer and was commissioned on February 8, 1944. While operating off Okinawa on April 26, 2945, the Laffey was attacked by a massive air strike of 22 Japanese bombers and suicide kamikazes. Five kamikazes and three bombs struck her and two bombs scored near misses. Thirty-two of her crew were killed and 71 of her 336 man crew were wounded. During the attack, the crew shot down 11 attackers and kept the Laffey afloat. She was decommissioned in 1975 and arrived at Patriots Point in 1981.
A great view from the bridge.
We next toured the 322 foot diesel-powered submarine USS Clamagore. The Clamagore was commissioned at New London, Connecticut in June 1945, a few weeks before the end of World War II. She spent her 30-year career operating out of Key West, Charleston and New London. She was modified first to Guppy II and then to Guppy III, the final configuration attained by diesel submarines before the introduction of nuclear submarines. She is the only Guppy III surviving as a museum ship. Clamagore was decommissioned at Philadelphia in 1975, and towed to Patriots Point in 1981.
We entered through the forward torpedo room where the crew bunked above the torpedos.
The hatches in the submarine are a lot smaller than on any other ship we have toured. We don’t see how the crew managed is such tight quarters. The galley and eating areas were also very small. One of the showers was a combination toilet and shower and was just big enough for one person - you sat on the toilet while you showered.
After we survived the confined quarters of the USS Clamagore we went aboard the USS Yorktown “The Fighting Lady”. The Yorktown is the tenth aircraft carrier to serve in the US Navy. She was named for the Yorktown lost while repelling the Japanese Fleet at the Battle of Midway in 1942. Built in Newport News, Virginia, as an Essex-class carrier, the new Yorktown was commissioned on April 15, 1943. Yorktown received the Presidential Unit Citation and earned 11 battle starts for World War II service. Yorktown was featured in the 1944 documentary motion picture The Fighting Lady and in the 1970 picture Tora! Tora! Tora!
More than two dozen historic aircraft are located on the Yorktown’s deck and hanger deck.
Inside we found the crew quarters cramped but a lot roomier than on the submarine.
The displays inside the Yorktown were set up to show what life was like on the carrier during World War II. A recipe for 10,000 chocolate chip cookies was displayed in the galley. We can’t remember exactly but it called for over 200 lbs of chocolate chips, about 300 lbs flour and 500 eggs - we can’t image mixing up that recipe! There were also displays about other naval ships and their commanders.
This was a wonderful museum and we enjoyed touring the ships.
Friday we toured the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island. This is the only tea garden in America. We took a trolley tour through the grounds and learned all about how tea is grown and harvested.
They are expanding the farm and start all new plants from cuttings. The cuttings are kept in a computer controlled greenhouse until they are ready to plant.
This one-of-a-kind tea harvester was made especially for the plantation. The harvester collects the tiny new tea leaves that pop up on the tea bushes all summer long. The tea is then processed in the on-site factory.
We also took a factory tour where we learned how the tea is processed. The gift shop was very nice and provided all the iced or hot tea you wanted to drink. We bought some boxes of green, raspberry and earl grey tea.
We also visited the Firefly Distillery where we tasted moonshine and flavored vodka. We bought apple pie and strawberry moonshine and peach flavored vodka – Mmmm good. Next door was the Irvin-House Vineyards where we did another tasting and bought two bottles of a great sweet wine called magnolia.
On our way back to the resort we stopped at Angel Tree which is 300 to 400 years old, 65 ft tall and a circumference of 31.5 ft. The Angel Oak is a Live Oak that is a native species found throughout the coastal Carolinas. Nancy is dwarfed in front of the beautiful tree.
The largest limb is 89 ft long with a circumference of 11.25 ft. This is an awesome tree and we are reminded of the Red Woods in California.
A storm rolled in Friday evening and it rained all night and most of Saturday morning. It was a good day to get the laundry done along with other chores.
We enjoyed our time in the Charleston area despite the heat and humidity.