A Magnolia Plantation Field Trip: The First Half

IMG_9462As a child growing up outside the city of Chicago, I equated field trips with jaunts into the city. I remember visiting, among other places, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and the Sears Tower. We’d pile onto the bus and head into the city, mashing our faces against often-frosted windows to try to see the tops of the skyscrapers as we neared our destination. And later, as an English teacher in the Chicagoland area, the majority of my field trips were to many of the city’s theaters, like Steppenwolf Theatre and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. In short, most of my field trip experiences have been metropolitan in nature.

Now, in the coastal Carolinas, at both schools my children have attended, the field trips tend to swing the opposite direction, toward parks and historical preserves and beaches and tidal creeks. This spring, the big third grade field trip headed to Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, and I was able to help chaperone my daughter’s class. I was pumped for this trip; it had been four years since I’d accompanied my son on his third grade class trip to Boone Hall Plantation, so I was eager to experience another plantation with another child.

I feel it important to first comment on several pre-plantation points of interest. This might be why travel publications are not beating down my door, asking me to write for them. This might also be why An Island Mom is more likely to be classified as a mom blog rather than a travel blog.

Points of interest, then, for moms:

  1. In my rush out the door, I totally forgot to confirm that I had hand sanitizer in my purse before I left. I’m not sure if this is progress or regress.
  1. Unlike the last plantation field trip, this time the school chose not to charter a bus and instead took a school bus. Now, the school bus we used could have been much worse, but it also could have been much better. You know, liked chartered better, with seats that actually take the human spine into consideration.

I’m not complaining; the fee was much less expensive than the trip to Boone we took four years ago. Less expensive field trips are a good thing, and I’m assuming the transportation downgrade was the reason for this.

But wow.

I’m sorry to say that, lest I were harboring any secret delusions of youth before entering that bus, I have now been assured that I no longer have the body of an elementary student. Those seats? They don’t exactly woo you with their comfort. Instead, they pretty much force one into the at-attention pose for the duration of one’s journey. Thus, while the bus bumped its way to Charleston, I felt like I was going to be propelled into the ceiling at any moment.

  1. I spent much of the ride there, when not talking with another mother, thinking about my character flaws. Specifically, I broke “the rules” on this trip, and more egregious is the fact that I’m only about 50% sorry.

It was all because of yogurt.

Actually, it was all because of laziness, but I like the effect the word yogurt gives in the last sentence.

The night before, Baby-Girl came to me while packing her mandated paper bag lunch and said she really, really, really wanted to bring yogurt. Initially, I told her she couldn’t take any, since her bag lunch would be sitting in the heat all morning. But, when a quick search of the kitchen’s alternative offerings revealed I’d need to run to the grocery store to make Plan B a viable option, I was immediately fine with ignoring the bag lunch rule. I handed her an insulated sack and told her to pack.

Y’all, I’m a teacher. I’ve made rules like this myself. And, when it happens on my watch, I’ve been all like “Who’s the dipwad parent not following the rules?”

Oh, there is shame in this.

Thankfully, for all two of you who came here looking for a travel post, my introspection was broken by our arrival at the plantation. We checked in, pulled over to disembark, grabbed our lunches, and walked to a picnic area for what turned out to be an early lunch.

IMG_9367The picnic area was interesting, flanked by a petting zoo on one side and a retired outhouse on the other.

IMG_9371Fifty bucks says the outhouse is taken out of retirement from time to time.

Watching the kids mosey over to the outhouse to figure out what it was brought an entertainment to my mealtime I hadn’t anticipated. I witnessed two quickly thwarted attempts to throw garbage in it (“Is this the garbage?”), and more than one third grader slipped over, at some point during the lunch, to try out the seat.

It seems there’s nothing like a mid-lunch break to sit a spell in the outhouse.

IMG_9384IMG_9386Our next stop was the petting zoo. I will never get tired of seeing peacocks. Their colors are my colors.

I know all creatures are beautiful and all that, but some creatures also scare the heck out of me. All while being beautiful, of course.

IMG_9396This is one of those creatures. That neck makes me want to throw up with all that beauty.

IMG_9405Next, we took a tram tour through the plantation. This is classic Lowcountry, folks.

IMG_9407Why yes, those would be gator heads you see popping out of the water.

IMG_9410So here’s what I don’t get: The turtles just sit there, like they are taunting the jaws of death or something. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think an alligator would enjoy a good turtle from time to time, when hunger strikes.

IMG_9416It was on the midway point of the tram tour that I heard my favorite exchange, the words that made me ponder whether or not I should switch to elementary education, just for entertainment purposes.

We were in the middle of nowhere, miles from anything like a McDonalds, ourselves the only civilization around for acres upon acres. During a break in the narration provided by the tram operator, a child in front of me turned to another child with an observation.

“I smell chicken nuggets!”

Y’all, it took every ounce of self control I had, and I mean every ounce, not to lean forward and, in my best Sam Elliot voice, say, “Them ain’t chicken nuggets you’re smelling. Them are gator nuggets.”

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