About a month ago, I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina with my parents for the annual American Association of Meat Processor’s convention. My parents have been attending the annual convention nearly every year since 1987, only missing three conventions since then. I have been going to the convention since before I could remember. The members of the association are like my family, my meat family… They’ve seen me grow up, they’ve shared all by big life events with me. Attending the annual convention is like a family reunion of sorts. We get to catch up on what’s been going on in everyones life. Celebrate births, weddings, and share stories. It’s an awesome couple days catching up with people who I have known basically my entire life and I was so blessed to be able to attend this year, even though I am now living in North Dakota and don’t work in the meat industry anymore.
Growing up, meat conventions were our “family vacations”. It was the only vacation we would take all summer and we would usually spend a week or so being gone. Being that we were some of the ONLY people to attend every year from California, we always had to travel the furthest. We have traveled all over the U.S. because of meat conventions. I’ve got to see and experience lots of new states and new places simply thanks for the convention every year. I have lots of fond memories of traveling with my family.. Getting up long before the sun to catch a flight, cramming our luggage into a rental car way too small for our family of four, lots of fighting with my brother in the backseat, me learning how to read a map to give my father directions… Oh, the memories.
This trip marked a first for me… It was the first time I left my big DSLR camera AT HOME. My Canon 7d is like my third limb. I carry it with me basically everywhere. Instead, I chose to take film only. I shoot with a Minolta X-700 that was my mother’s. Dad bought it for her when they were first married. It’s way lighter than my Canon, it’s fairly simple to operate thanks to it’s Aperture Priority mode, and as I found out… It takes AMAZING photos! I couldn’t wait to get my film scans back and when I did, I was SO excited. This was my first experience shooting with film… I understand why photography people are drawn to film. There’s something about it that is UNMATCHED in a digital image. So here is my South Carolina journey… in FILM!
This year, I caught a flight and met my parents in Charleston. This was my first time to the city and I heard some rave reviews from lots of social media friends. I got some great tips on places to check out, where to eat, and what to see. Although Charleston wasn’t my favorite city I’d ever been in. It was still a great experience and a great time. The Southern food was to die for delicious and so not healthy. Everywhere you went it was fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, grits, biscuits, gravys, okra… And the seafood! Being right on the coast, I got my fill of fresh seafood. I got to enjoy many lunches over wine with my mom. And lots of evening meals with both my parents. I ate some pretty awesome food that I plan on duplicating here on the rural prairies of North Dakota. Thank goodness for the internet and getting me the essential ingredients I need.
I had no idea that Charleston, South Carolina marks THE spot of where the Civil War begun… Call me a bad American, I know. So of course, while visiting there, we had to go visit Fort Sumter. One of the things I enjoy most when I travel is to visit historical landmarks… There’s some about the nostalgia. Standing right there thinking about the shots that were fired, imagining the aftershock of those huge canons, and the many men and women who gave their lives so we could be where we are today. What is left of Fort Sumter today is very different from what it looked like back then. But much of the original walls still remain as well as a museum full of original artifacts found in the rubble including the original flag that flew at Fort Sumter which was pretty neat to see in person.
We also decided to visit Patriot’s Point which is actually across the river from Charleston, away from the iconic downtown. And if you like military history, this is a MUST visit. Patriot’s Point is home to three amazing vessels in our United States military history. The first is the USS Yorktown CV-10, an aircraft carrier that was commissioned in 1943 and served during World War II, Vietnam where she would earn 5 battlestars, and even recovered Apollo 8. This was my first time ever seeing a carrier in real life and I cannot even begin to describe to you the massive size and scale of this ship. It was impressive and for me, having the chance to see it hit close to home. My grandpa on my mom’s side served in World War II on an aircraft carrier, the USS Princeton. Grandpa worked sending and receiving letters for higher ranking officers on the ship. During its service, the Princeton was struck by enemy planes and eventually sunk. Grandpa survived and was recognized for Meritorious Service following the event.
I can’t even put to words how awesome it was to tour through this carrier. I cannot even imagine living on this ship months on end. Even more so, imaging my grandpa living here. What he went through on a day to day basis. It’s not glamorous like a cruise ship. This was a community. They had dentists, doctors, cobbler, seamstress, and their own mechanic to fix any and all parts they needed. It boasted a crew of around 3,400 and around 90 aircraft on board. The carrier also holds the Medal of Honor museum where you can learn about the stories and lives of the recipients of the Medal of Honor since it was first established in 1862. It is the nation’s highest honor for military valor and since being established only 3,461 people have been awarded the medal of honor. Pretty amazing.
Patriot’s Point is also home to a battleship, the USS Laffey and a submarine the USS Clamagore. The battleship was commissioned in 1944 and took part in the D-Day landings at Normandy. While operating off Okinawa in 1945, the battleship was attacked by enemy bombers and kamikaze (suicide) aircraft. Five kamikazes and three bombs struck her, which killed 31 and wounded 71 of the 336-man crew. In the end, Laffey shot down 11 of the attacking aircraft and saved the damaged ship. The heroic crew of the battleship earned her the nickname: “The Ship That Would Not Die.” The USS Clamagore submarine was built too late to serve during World War II, but it does boast a service of 30 years during the Cold War. Clamagore is now the only surviving GUPPY type III submarine in the United States. She represents the continued adaptation and use of war-built diesel submarines by the Navy for the first two decades after the WWII. The GUPPY conversion submarines comprised the bulk of the nation’s submarine forces through the mid-1960s.
For many, Charleston represents the most romantic city in the United States… iconic downtown, the foodie scene, and the history amongst all the brick buildings. For me, Charleston represented a step into our military history. I enjoyed re-living the past and experiencing the nostalgia while standing in the footsteps of many of our service men and women. If you ever get to Charleston… I highly recommend a visit to Patriot’s Point… and grabbing yourself a bowl of shrimp and grits! 🙂
Have you ever been? What was your favorite part of Charleston?