Our second week on the road took us through Columbia, SC and Atlanta, GA. Our home in Columbia was Sequicentennial State Park. Upon arrival we are greeted by motivational signs and a variety of footprints on the road, that lead us around the park. The park has a serene lake with a boat house that offers a variety of rental options to get out on the water. There is a trail to hike all around the lake and there are a number of trails that you can hike further into the woods. There is plenty to see and do at this scenic park. You can read our full review here,
We spent half a day at Congaree National Park, where we hiked the Watson Lake Trail. There are several trails with options for every level of hiker. If you are just looking for a short stroll in the woods, most of their trails start at the elevated bridge loop. Our trail was fairly easy and the forest there is unique. We kept joking about how it reminded us of a combination of Yoda's Home and the Fire Swamp. I kept waiting to see a Starfighter floating in the air or Rodents of Unusual Size to run by. But seriously, it was quite and peaceful. We didn't see any wildlife short of a few squirrels, cardinals, and a woodpecker.....unless you count the swarms of mosquitoes! We can't complain though...the park did warn us! Prepared with bug spray, it created a wonderful force field that kept the mosquitoes at bay and neither of us received a single bite. You can read our full review here.
We did leave the serenity of the forest to drive into Columbia and check out the sites. We found the Tunnel Vision Mural, the Largest Fire Hydrant sculpture, and the Never Bust Chain sculpture, all done by Blue Sky. We then visited Finlay Park to see this beautiful fountain that is there, which unfortunately was not running. This park in the city still had some really nice views with a large pond with a regular fountain. Heading back to the campgrounds we saw a sign off the highway that said "Guaranteed Worse in Town". It definitely peaked our interest so we had to turn around a go find it. Come to find out, it's a store called Cromer's that has been in business since 1935, selling peanuts, popcorn, and candy. We stocked up on our snack supplies and headed back to camp. You can find our review of Cromer's here.
On our last full day in the Columbia area we decided to take a drive in the country to explore a few places off the beaten path. We traveled about 80 minutes to Blackville, SC where we visited God's Acre Healing Springs. We filled up our water bottles, because we could use a lot of healing, and then we headed up the street for lunch. Miller's Bread Basket is an Amish-Mennonite buffet in Blackville. We enjoyed a delicious lunch made from scratch as well as some German Chocolate and Shoo-Fly pie! The people here were very friendly too! From there we drove about 10 minutes to a town call Barnwell. This quaint town has some old architecture as well as the oldest free-standing sundial in the U.S. You can see reviews on all of these places here.
We really enjoyed our time in Columbia and the surrounding area, and feel it is a great area for a weekend getaway, especially if you enjoy the outdoors. The State and National Parks are a must see and there are plenty of things to see and do to fill your weekend with fun!
Our second stop this week was in Charleston, SC. Both of us have been to Charleston years ago, but not together and not for any significant amount of time to really explore. If you enjoy history, wars, and military, then this is your town! With horse drawn carriages, old architecture, and brick and cobblestone streets, there is no doubt you are in the south!
Here are some of the places we explored!
- Coleman Public House Restaurant
- The Angel Oak
- The City Market
- Jestine's Sweet Shop
- Waterfront Park
- Belgium Gelato
- The Old Slave Mart Museum
- 5 Church Bar and Restaurant
- Sticky Fingers Restaurant
- The Exchange and Provost
- Fort Sumter
- Patriots Pointe
- Cinnebar Restaurant and Theater
With Google at everyone's fingertips we won't bother explaining each place in detail, however, we will be posting reviews of each place as well as sharing pics and video in our gallery soon!
Overall, we really enjoyed spending time in Charleston. The people here are friendly, make eye contact and smile, and are pretty courteous drivers. The city is easy to drive around and there was ample parking at fair prices. The French Quarter/Historic area does smell pretty bad because of the horses, though we saw several trucks that do drive around and keep the streets clean and sanitized.
Unless you are teaching your kids about history, there didn't seem to be a lot of fun things for kids. This city is a nice weekend getaway for those that just like to wander and learn. There is also a variety of shopping and restaurants to peruse as well. The Angel Oak is worth the drive so make sure to add that to your agenda here!
Our journey began of May 30th, 2017. After a lot of work, a lot of planning, some sad goodbyes, and a scary first step forward, we walked away from our current life to pursue our dream to travel the world. There is so much uncertainty with this trip. So much can happen in three years, but we both know that we need to take the risk so that we can complete the majority of our travel bucket list before we are physically able to do so.
We are sitting in our hotel in Charleston, SC, less than a week into this journey, trying to convince ourselves that it's still just a vacation at this point. It should feel like a vacation, but it doesn't. The enormity of it all can be overwhelming. There is certainly much more work and much more planning while on the road than in other long vacations we've taken before. The flexibility of our journey coupled with our long-term plans means that we need to find balance between vacation mode, work mode, and planning mode. It's an adjustment not being on vacation and being out and exploring every second possible. Down time to work, plan, and just to recover is necessary and with no set travel schedule, we need to get used to taking the time we need away from exploring. Also, besides running our business back in Tampa, we want to make sure we are sharing this experience with our followers as well as documenting this journey for ourselves. Taking the time to do this is also an important part of this journey. Unfortunately, we've run into some tech issues this week that made this even more difficult for us. Hopefully we have most of the bugs worked out and will have a schedule and a system down soon.
So, that is some of what we are feeling at this point, but now let's talk about our travels this week! Our first stop was at Amelia Island, FL where we camped at the Amelia Island State Park. Upon check-in we met Park Ranger Jim who was extremely helpful and friendly. He let us know that our site was an open site, meaning that there was no shade, and he advised us that we might be able to move to the river side the following day if we needed to. We figured we would be exploring during the day so it should be fine, and it was. You should all know, that this was my first time tent camping as an adult, and the first time Toni and I tent camped together. As a matter of fact, we've only camped together one time before and that was just last year in my Dad's camper in NY! We had bought a tent about 10 years ago, but only used it once....indoors! We managed to set it up in about 15 minutes without killing each other, so that was a good start! The site was nice. It was an open site on the sand, which was pretty soft, so we thought we could sleep comfortably on it....we were wrong! So, lesson learned...always use the air mattress! The site was just a two minute walk down to the beach so we went to sleep and woke up each day to the sound of waves and birds. The park has plenty of wildlife to see. We would regularly see several deer and cardinals on the beach. We also saw an armadillo, a huge gopher turtle climing a huge sand dune, and the Rangers found a sea turtle nest in the morning which we watched them mark off to protect it. We also had interactions with some great people. We met Nenia, who like us, is a FL transplant from NY. Her and her husband are currently traveling across the country for the second time! She had some great suggestions for us that we definitely add to our list! Besides Ranger Jim, we met Ranger Michelle who was a huge help as well. The staff here is just outstanding and the facilities and park are clean and taken care of!
Downtown Amelia Island is like many historic coastal towns. It's quaint with a lot of shops and restaurants. We enjoyed a nice stroll around and we stopped at Peppers for an awesome Mexican lunch. We considered going to the pinball museum, but honestly couldn't justify the $14 admission charge per person. There were several other museums and water activities downtown offered, they just weren't on our list for Amelia Island.
Tip: Amelia Island State Park books 8-10 months out so make your reservations early.
We had a great time in Amelia Island and would recommend it, but definitely recommend staying at the State Park. Our next stop was Charleston, SC...New BLOG coming soon!