As we continued south, it became clear that the chilly temperatures were following us. So we decided the only real option was to make a beeline for South Carolina. While we drove, we researched all of our camping options – State Parks, Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, private campgrounds. It is not always easy to find a campsite on the weekend, even in the off-season. We also discovered that South Carolina State Parks don’t allow same-day online reservations. Since it was getting late in the day, we decided to drive directly to Givhan’s Ferry State Park, where we were met with good fortune. We ended up booking three nights allowing for time to rest up, warm up, explore the area and decide how to proceed south. The only plan we had on this trip was a one-week reservation in Key Largo, Florida, and we had two weeks to get there.
Givhan’s Ferry State Park is a small forested park in the Low Country situated on the Edisto River. The Edisto River happens to be the longest free-flowing blackwater river in North America and a popular kayak and canoe trail. It was a part of South Carolina we hadn’t previously explored and had the advantage of being just an hour west of Charleston, a city we love. All great, but not having to worry about overnight freezing temperatures was the biggest perk.
Our route into Charleston was ever so pretty, consisting of secondary roads flanked by live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss. We passed streets with names like Rhett Butler and Linger Longer Drive. We saw an ‘Old Fashion Tent Revival,’ two or three plantations and a peanut-shaped building selling hot, boiled peanuts. We stocked our pantry with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables at Earth Fare before finding our lunch destination, Dave’s Carry-Out, known for their fresh, made-to-order fried seafood. We enjoyed our Low Country lunch in our van dining room while parked on a downtown street. Afterward, we walked, walked, and walked while Duff received enormous adoration from friendly citizens and tourists. The three times we’ve visited this coastal city have been sunny, warm, and the sky a deep, clear blue. And each time we visit, we declare that we’d love to live here for a spell.
Our last trip to the US was in the winter of 2019. That was our first time visiting Edisto Island, and we loved it. We were overjoyed to be able to score two nights in the coveted State Park oceanside campground. Dogs are allowed on beaches in SC (on leash), making it appealing to our pal MacDuff. Edisto is a sea island about an hour south of Charleston named after the Edistow people, an indigenous sub-tribe of the Cusabo. We had enough time to re-visit the former Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud Plantations turned 4,000-acre wildlife management area. Buildings and remains of buildings are scattered throughout the plantation and hint at the area’s history. The history includes enslaving Africans and forcing them to grow and produce Sea Island Cotton. This commodity made the plantation owners both wealthy and famous. Learning the history of the places we visit is an integral part of our travels. We talk and contemplate those histories and stories as we drive through live oak canopies, walk on beaches and roast oysters over an open fire.
‘There are things I have experienced that I will never again be able to experience for the first time,’ said Tom Hazard.How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
Oysters were one of the reasons we wanted to return to Edisto Island. The last time we were there, we stopped at Flowers Seafood Company and bought a paper grocery bag full of wild cluster oysters common to the area. We were advised that the best way to eat them was to steam them open over a scorching wood fire. Sometimes we think experiences are not meant to be repeated. We have many examples to draw upon that back up this supposition. The Edisto oysters of 2019 are relegated to one of our best food memories of all time. While the Edisto oysters of 2021 may not have lived up to our taste memory, they exceeded it in quantity. We asked to buy a bag of oysters like last time. Mr. Flowers obliged and told us to collect it from the shed around the corner. You cannot imagine our shock when the young fella brought out a bushel of oysters in a sack we could barely lift. Even halving our original order meant adhering to an oyster diet eaten for several days in a couple of states and taking up valuable real estate in our tiny van fridge.
From Edisto, we followed the coastal route south into Georgia, making a pit stop at the Carolina Cider Company. There we enjoyed Counter Culture Coffee and picked up a few local specialties. Of course, we had to stop at our other favourite walkable southern city, Savannah, before continuing to our next campsite. Duff is a fan of Oglethorpe’s city design and is particularly drawn to the many squares. His owners were quite impressed by the foot pedal-operated dog-poo disposals available in those squares! This city has it all! It’s another place we’d be happy to call home!
Afterwards, we camped for a couple of nights in coastal Georgia surrounded by beautiful vegetation, playful deer, scurrying armadillos and glorious sunsets. Would it be possible to top our time in South Carolina and coastal Georgia? Find out in the next post.