Final episode of our US camping trip, heading south along the coast.
Off to Charleston (cue for another song – and dance?), but stopped first to look round a small town called Edgefield, about 20 miles from Modoc. We’d passed through the previous day, and thought it seemed a quirky kind of place, especially with the wild turkey statues!
We treated ourselves to a motel in downtown Charleston, which was convenient for the sights. There are many beautiful historic houses, and we did a guided tour of one, the Nathanial Russell House. It was perfect timing, as the rain started as we were going in, and stopped as we came out. Later we walked down to the waterfront, and admired more of the architecture, but by then we’d almost lost the sun. We sampled a restaurant and a couple of bars which were also conveniently close to our motel!
Friday 22. Before checking out, we had time for another walk around Charleston; the white and coloured buildings look their best in the sun.
Then we were off to Edisto Island: not far as the crow flies, but about 50 miles by road. We’d never been there before, but it is the current home of Ruth and Robert Anderson, who were good friends when we lived in Greenville. Somehow we’d lost touch about 20 years ago, but last year the minister of Travelers Rest Methodist Church (see previous blog) helped us to make contact. It was great to see them again, and enjoy their hospitality. We had a lot to catch up on, so we spent much of the next two days talking!
Ruth and Robert have a beautiful house, very close to the beach, so we all went for a swim in the afternoon. In the early evening they took us to a place called Botany Bay, which used to be an old plantation. Botany Bay Beach has dead trees decorated by shells, so is very picturesque. On the way back to the car we saw the sunset.
Saturday 23. This morning we went to the Ace Basin Wildlife Refuge, and walked down a long path to the Grove plantation house, which is now being restored. It was very hot, with little shade, and lot of mosquitos! We went on to Roxbury Park, and walked round the lake there. In the afternoon we went back to the beach.
Sunday 24. After brunch, we said farewell to Ruth and Robert, and continued our journey south. First stop was the small town of Beaufort; they had a ‘Water Festival’ on, but it was almost over. Then on to Hunting Island State Park, where we spent some time on the beach, climbed the lighthouse, and had a brief stroll by the lagoon.
Monday 25. Drove down to Savannah (Georgia), and spent the day walking round the city. We’d been there twice before, long ago, but enjoyed seeing it again. The many squares, with their colonial mansions and live oaks coved in Spanish moss, are so picturesque. In Forsyth Park, there is an elaborate and beautiful fountain. We also visited the RC cathedral and the Colonial Park cemetery. And we walked along the riverfront, from the Waving Girl Monument to the Globe (WWII) monument. We looked in a couple of shops, but didn’t buy anything!
Tuesday 26. Drove about 60 miles further south to Brunswick, where we had coffee and strolled around the downtown. We spotted the Presbyterian church where we had attended services in 1982 and also 1989. Then we drove over the causeway to St Simon’s Island. First stop was the Fort Frederica National Monument. The fort was built by the British in the 18th century; only a few ruins remain, but the place is quite atmospheric. We stopped at Christchurch (nearby) to see the stained glass windows, including those depicting the John and Charles Wesley, who preached there.
In the village we saw the lighthouse (but decided not to go up) and the fishing pier. We had enormous ice creams, and went for a stroll along the beach. There are no campgrounds on St Simon’s, so we drove over to Jekyll Island, and pitched our tent there. Later in the evening we heard loud rustling noises. No bears this time – just a large raccoon come to inspect our rubbish bag!
Wednesday 27. We spent the morning on Jekyll Island. First we went for an early morning walk along Driftwood Beach – lots of dead trees, very picturesque. On the way back to the car we saw a lot of small crabs in a pond. Next we stopped at the Horton House ruins, and walked round to see the cemetery and remains of the warehouse. Then to the Jekyll Island Historic District, where we walked along the river and took photos of the posh ‘cottages’. We had coffee in the café belonging to the Jekyll Club Hotel, which gave us an opportunity to see how the other half live. Finally we enjoyed a refreshing swim on Great Dunes Beach.
Then it was on to St Augustine. Back into Florida! We parked near the Castillo de San Marcos at 4pm, which gave us time for a good look round before it closed at 5.15. This was our second visit, the first being at New Year 1983. We had drinks in an Irish bar nearby, then drove out to Anastasia State Park, and booked two nights at the campground. When Sandie went to the bathroom, she heard rustling in the bushes, thought it was another raccoon, but flashed her torch around and saw three armadillos scurrying for cover! No shortage of wildlife in these parts.
Thursday 28. This morning we drove to Washington Oaks State Park; we’d read about it but were rather disappointed. The formal gardens were not that exciting, especially as the ponds had been drained for maintenance. The beach (with lots of coquina outcroppings) was more interesting, and we enjoyed a stroll.
This afternoon we went back into St Augustine, stopping briefly en route to take photos of the lighthouse. We went to the Colonial Spanish Quarter – a kind of open-air museum. The tour included demonstrations of blacksmithing and firing guns. When it finally finished we had drinks in the ‘British pub’. We had time for a quick visit to the cathedral, and the San Sebastian Winery. We then went to the Lightner Museum, where they were having an open evening, which gave us a chance to look round the works of art, with free entry and cheap drinks.
Friday 29. This morning we went for a short walk along the beach, and then headed for Silver Springs – the final stop on our nostalgia tour. On our first-ever visit to Florida (from Greenville, in December 1982) we stopped there on our way to Disneyworld. The glass-bottomed boat trips in Silver Springs have been famous for many years. We discovered that it recently became part of the adjacent state park, but otherwise it was just as we remembered.
Silver Springs is close to Ocala, on the I75 (motorway) which goes south to Sarasota. So from there it was an easy drive home!