South Carolina was our first stop after a whirlwind three weeks in Indianapolis visiting family and friends. Alex also worked the whole time we were in Indy so he had a very busy three weeks DJing around the city. We were ready for some solitude.
We decided to go South Carolina because it was a state we hadn't visited yet and it was on the way to Jacksonville, FL which was our Christmas destination. I found a free boondocking location on Campendium in the Francis Marion National Forest. The camping area was mostly used by hunters and there were some buildings around the campsite that forest service employees used for storage. It was a great location, very private and roomy and flat and good cell service but the hunting buildings made it feel like a really perfect location for a horror movie.
One day we visited the nearby Santee Wildlife Preserve. It's a beautiful preserve with great walking paths, a small free camping area for tents, and lots of bird watching.
We drove into Charleston, SC for a day and walked around the city. The weather was perfect- sunny but not hot. We started at the city market and looked at all the vendors. Some were selling gorgeous homemade items and some were selling made-in-China trinkets. Lots of vendors were selling beautiful, intricately woven, sweetgrass baskets. The sweetgrass basket-making tradition came to South Carolina by way of West African slaves who were brought to America to work on plantations.
We walked the Battery and White Point Garden and marveled at the huge historic, well-maintained Southern Antebellum homes. We ate lunch at a place called Jestine's Kitchen where every table was served a little bowl of sweet pickles and we ate hot chicken and a shrimp po boy.
The Hampton Plantation was only about 5 minutes from our campsite. From their website:
"Tucked away among live oaks and magnolias in the Santee Delta region, Hampton Plantation State Historic Site is home to the remote, final remnants of a colonial-era rice plantation. The plantation’s Georgian-style mansion and well-kept grounds serve as an interpretive site for the system of slavery that helped build such plantations in South Carolina into the greatest generators of wealth in early American history.
The property also tells the story of the freed people who made their homes in the Santee Delta region for generations after emancipation. Visitors can explore the mansion, wander the plantation grounds or look out upon Wambaw Creek at the remains of rice fields that once stretched as far as the eye could see."
We didn't take the tour of the house (frugal!) but you don't have to take the tour to enjoy the park. We walked the grounds which have excellent trails and signs that describe the history of the plantation. We walked around the huge house and through the old gardens. We were able to bring Jane with us and she met two old hound dogs that roamed freely around the grounds.
The only other item of note from our time in South Carolina was that I spent my first night alone in the RV without Alex. He had a show in Augusta, GA so he drove to that and Jane and I stayed in the hunting camp/horror movie by ourselves for one night. I have an overactive imagination and I thought for sure I would be terrified alone on the dark forest but it was actually fine. Jane and I had a quiet evening and Alex was home by 6am the next morning.
We left South Carolina in mid-December and had a short drive to our next destination-Jacksonville, FL to see my family for the holidays!