Archive for December 9th, 2014

Rest of South Carolina Adventure

Wow! It is going to be tough to recap everything in the last four weeks!

After the flat tire incident, which really was a blessing in disguise because I did need those two tires changed out and who would have thought it would only cost $55! Plus it taught me a good principle I should employ while galavanting around the nation 30,000 miles worth—only drive in daylight hours. I don’t want to imagine that scenario in the dark and cold!

Speaking of dark and cold, it was a dark, damp, cold night when I was at a Love’s truck stop when I returned to my van to discover that my keys were not in my pockets or purse. I tried to open the front door and thought “Hokeydoodle, I have left my keys in the van and all the doors are locked.” I remember distinctly hitting the master lock switch when exiting the van.

Leaving my keys in a locked van on a cold dark night is scarier than walking into this guy on a beautiful day!

But then, I remembered that the electric lock on the driver rear side door did not always abide the master’s command. I’m glad to report, that rebellion saved me a very long night at the Love’s station on Thanksgiving Eve night—it opened, and there were my keys in the ignition! Thank God for the idiosyncrasies of this 2001 Chrysler!

See? This is why it will take forever to recap…that was just a 15 minute incident from my 60 day journey so far!

Big Blue at Congaree National Park (no longer called Congaree Swamp Monument!)

So as I was saying, after the tire incident, I then headed to Congaree National Park. It used to be called the Congaree Swamp National Monument. But lo and behold, once they removed that “ugly” S-word (2003) visitors started coming! I don’t know, I kind of find the word “swamp” mysterious and kind of enticing.

Swamp of South Carolina

But truthfully, it really isn’t a swamp, it is a floodplain (which just happens to flood about 10 times a year). The Everglades is a swamp—standing water always. And truth be told, Congaree can be described as the Everglades meet the Redwoods! Though instead of Redwoods it is old-growth bottomland hardwoods draped in Spanish moss. Loblolly pines, sweet gums, dwarf palmettos, cherrybark oaks, water tupelos, beechnut trees, bald cypress (some of whose knees reached 7’ tall!), water hickory, and many others create a towering canopy (higher than in the Amazon rain forest) which generated what I am calling a “sound dome.”

Bald Cypress trees of the Congaree Ntl Park. Their “knees” can be as tall as 7′! Gobs of them every where!

That is what struck me the most. I wish I could have found the source of every unique sound that reverberated throughout the park, but the easiest of them to find was the woodpecker! His tap tap tapping was the most constant. The insects were fiddling, the birds were singing, the frogs were croaking, the bugs were chirping, the squirrels were clicking, the fish were splashing…all of which I would have missed the sound of, if it weren’t for the dome-like effect of the champion trees. It would give the Superdome a run for its money as far as 12th man effect!

At Weston Lake in the Congaree National Park where old-growth hardwood trees abound as well as minnows, tadpoles and red-bellied turtles.

The river which floods it, and the park, are named after the Native American tribe that used to live there. As I hear often in the southeast here, this tribe too was decimated in the 1700s from smallpox and such. The only critters I actually saw (as opposed to heard) were a squirrel, a turtle, minnows, a pregnant frog, tadpoles, white heron, blue heron, woodpecker and several other birds too far away to capture a photo.

Can’t see his red belly, but those motherboard-green strips and his turtle shell are a sure give away that he is a Red-Bellied Turtle!

I then headed to Charleston, SC via the Ashley River Road Scenic byway. It’s just 11 miles, but on it I was able to see a lot of plantation history (Drayton Hall from 1738), and still see the beauty of the old buildings, gardens and iron gates.

Oldest church in South Carolina…St. Andrews Episcopal Parish established in 1706.

But what compelled me down the road the most was the oldest continuous congregation at Old St. Andrew Parish (Episcopal) Church started in 1706, and then rebuilt again in 1764 after a fire. Also there is the oldest freed African American church in SC right across the street in Springfield Baptist Church in 1863.

Coming together in the mid 1860s, freed slaves established the first freely organized Baptist congregation at Springfield Baptist Church.

My next stop in SC after that was Francis Marion National Forest because it has free camping outside of Charleston. (Congaree was free too—they are still trying to make a name for themselves…still have to entice people to sojourn that way, unlike the Everglades or Yosemite, etc.) The map made FMNF seem like it was just stone’s throw away from civilization, but alas! I thought I was traveling to edge of the world and began to imagine creepy deranged men waiting for weary travelers. But once I arrived I was pleased to see other campers with fires burning and kids playing and I set up camp underneath the watch tower and settled down for a few days. Didn’t do much exploring here since it was raining and I had work to get done. It was just a few days to work work work (which by the way, I hope you St. Philip’s folks are appreciating the “work work work” done to create those God’s Story handouts! )

Big Blue at Francis Marion National Forest…free camping…a rarity for the east coast!

After a morning in Charleston, and Sullivan’s Island, I then headed towards Savannah.

This bird was swooping right at me on the bridge at the Breach Inlet off Sullivan’s Island the whole time…but I didn’t have a good camera with me! I don’t know what he was/is!

Georgia Blog coming the end of this week, DV