Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

One of the main reasons I had for renting a car for a day on our recent trip to Charleston was to visit the Old Sheldon Church ruins in Beaufort County. After we visited Magnolia Plantation and the Angel Oak, we drove about an hour west to check out the ruins. I became aware of the ruins thanks to Kaylah of The Dainty Squid, who shares my love of all things creepy, and I couldn't pass up the chance to see Spanish moss-covered ruins surrounded by a graveyard.

Built in the 1750s and originally known as Prince William's Parish Church, the church was burned by the British during the Revolutionary War. It was rebuilt, only to be burned again (or more likely just torn apart) during the Civil War as General Sherman cut a path of destruction from Savannah to South Carolina. There's enough left to get a general feel for the layout and size of the church—I can see why this is such a popular spot for weddings that they had to erect a sign stating that unauthorized events were prohibited on the property.

The churchyard also contains a handful of graves and tombstones, including that of Colonel William Bull, a prominent figure in the development and design of Savannah—he also funded the construction of the church and it was called "Sheldon," after his plantation. The tombstones vary widely in design and age and they're scattered kind of haphazardly around the property. There were several groups of people that visited the ruins while we were there so it doesn't exactly feel abandoned—but I'm glad that despite the many attempts at destruction, the Old Sheldon Church is still accepting visitors.  

Monday, February 27, 2017

Cross-Country Skiing

The weather this winter has been all over the place, and while I am happy that we've had two respectable snowfalls, I do wish we'd had more. Overall it's been pretty warm (but climate change is just fake news, huh?), and two weekends ago temps were in the 50s. It's been way snowier upstate than in the city, and they had a nice base of snow but we knew we had to act fast, so we rented a ZipCar for the day and headed to Lake Minnewaska.

This was only my second time cross-country skiing, but it went much better than my first. I only fell once this time—in a scene akin to Bambi on ice—and I'm in much better physical shape than I was when we went two years ago. In fact, not only did I not feel basically paralyzed the next morning, but I hardly felt as we'd done anything strenuous at all, which is a definite triumph for me.

Lake Minnewaska is about two hours outside of the city, near the town of New Paltz. We rented skiis from a shop in town and I was amazed at how cheap they were—less than $20 for skiis, poles and boots. We did about a seven-mile loop, passing the frozen Rainbow Falls, snow-covered Lake Awosting and stopped for the incredible views around almost every turn. I kept remarking how irresponsible it is to allow people like me strap slippery skiis onto their uncoordinated feet on top of a mountain, but once the terror subsided it turned out to be a perfect day.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Project 365: Days 48-54

48/365: Mozart, forever trying to figure out how doors work.

49/365: Cross-country skiing upstate on a beautiful, 50-degree day with my main squeeze.

50/365: My mom and I explored the abandoned New York City Farm Colony ruins.

51/365: I wandered around Greenwich Village for a few hours before meeting Jim for our usual at Caliente Cab. I walked right by Alec Baldwin filming what looked to be a commercial, which was one of my wish-list New York celebrity sightings.

52/365: My haul from browsing the dollar section at The Strand, aka my addiction.

53/365: This dummy.

54/365: This breakfast towel makes me smile every day.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Charleston: Unitarian Church + St. John's Lutheran Cemeteries

We went on a ghost tour on our first night in Charleston, which is one of my favorite ways to be introduced to a city. I've been on enough ghost tours now to realize that they're definitely lying to you, but the places they show you and most of the history is very real. I had the Unitarian Church Cemetery on my list already, but it was a stop on the tour as well—or rather the gate was, since the cemetery is closed and locked at night. Our guide told us that several people had inexplicably passed out while standing outside the gates—which can't possibly be true, right?—but his spooky stories made me even more eager to actually see the inside of the cemetery. We went back the next day, and were thrilled with what we found.

We walked by several churchyard cemeteries on our trip, but if you only go to one, Unitarian is the one to see. The Unitarian Church of Charleston was founded in 1787 and it's one of the oldest of its kind in the country. The graveyard is small, but it's packed with interesting headstones and a huge variety of plants. Upon first glance it might appear as if the cemetery is abandoned, but I overheard a woman explaining that "it actually takes a lot of maintenance to look this overgrown."

There is pretty much no better cemetery dressing than Spanish moss, and even though some of the trees had lost their leaves they were still dripping with the always-spooky moss. The graveyard has a Secret Garden-vibe that is so lovely—the entrance gate puts you in an alleyway so the cemetery is hidden from the street on three sides. I remarked immediately after entering that this was one of my favorite cemeteries, a distinction I don't make arbitrarily.

Neighboring St. John's Lutheran Church also has a graveyard, albeit not as picturesque as Unitarian's. They were once separated by a fence but now sort of bleed into one another so I'm counting them as pieces of a whole. That incredible "Memento Mori" skull stone is actually part of St. John's and is one of the best skull-and-crossbones renderings I've seen. The graveyard also had "DANGER DO NOT ENTER" tape wrapped around a few stones forming a scene straight out of my Halloween parties.

The Unitarian Church Cemetery is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Annabel Lee— subject of the famous Edgar Allan Poe poem—although we couldn't find evidence of her grave despite having a (poorly-drawn) map from our ghost tour guide. I don't need a famous ghost story to get me into a cemetery, but it doesn't hurt either.