American Locations 33 – Okefenokee

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 

Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia

 

Early the next morning we drove south from Savannah on Hwy. 17 to Midway. Here we turned inland away from the coast on Hwy. 84. We continued southwest to Waycross, where we turned southeast on Hwy. 23. We turned south onto Rte. 177, which took us to the northern entrance to Okefenokee Swamp.

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Where we saw several alligators.

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I really didn’t get this close, I zoomed. I’ve got better sense than that. Most of the time.

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We hiked into the swamp.

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Lily pads in bloom are a pretty sight.

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An even prettier sight was this sleeping alligator. I didn’t zoom in for this shot. You can see in the bottom left corner of the photo the edge of the boardwalk. He had curled up right next to the boardwalk to snooze.

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So I had to pose with him.

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We walked by other alligators who were wide awake.

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In this one pond there were four cruising around, although I could only get 2 of them in the same photo.

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The boardwalk led to an observation tower that gave a good view of the swamp.

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Finished with the hike, we drove off to see more of the swamp.

 

Next Location – Okefenokee 2

 

 

 

 

American Locations 32 – Savannah

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

Savannah, Georgia

 

While staying at Skidaway Island State Park we spent a day in Savannah. We used the Hop On – Hop Off tour bus line. They are such a joy to use, I highly recommend them. We parked in their lot, then didn’t have to worry about driving our motor home in heavy traffic on unfamiliar streets, or about finding sights we wanted to see, or about discovering interesting sights we hadn’t heard of, or about parking a 23 foot long vehicle. You buy a day pass. Their buses circle through a route that has stops at all the major sights in the city. You can get off at any of these stops, spend as much time there as you want, then catch the next bus. They come by every half-hour. While you are on the bus the driver tells you all about Savannah. A relaxing and enjoyable way to see a city. We rode the bus through the entire circuit once to decide what we wanted to see. On the second go around our first stop was the waterfront.

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See how the waterfront is below street level, with stairs giving access to the lower level? There are warning signs on them that you are using them at your own risk. Apparently very risky.

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There are several interesting statues.

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Unfortunately, the most famous one, Bird Girl, which was on the cover of the novel ‘Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil’, has been moved inside to protect it, so we didn’t get to see that one. So here is an image I found on the Internet.

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We spent most of our time at the waterfront. We ate lunch at a seafood restaurant with an interesting light made of clam shells.

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We also got off at several city squares. These little parks are spread all over Savannah.

 

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There are many interesting old buildings. The tour guides on the bus will tell you the stories behind each.

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And several churches.

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This was where Robert Louis Stevenson lived while writing ‘Treasure Island’.

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And the inn next door he frequented. Note the pirate flag.

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After a long day touring Savannah we drove back to Skidaway Island to crash.

 

Next Location – Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia

 

 

American Locations 31 – Skidaway Island State Park, Savannah, Georgia

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 

Skidaway Island State Park

 

We found a beautiful place to camp outside of Savannah – Skidaway Island State Park.

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We took a short hike.

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We saw this area had taken a hit from the recent hurricane, just not as bad as Hunting Island.

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The bridge over the Skidaway River.

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After resting at our campsite, later that afternoon I took a much longer hike around the park.

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I found these piles of clam shells at several different places.

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I saw more hurricane damage.

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Like most state parks, there was the opportunity for primitive backcountry camping.

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I came across an observation tower.

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It gave a good view from its three-story height.

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I climbed back down and continued my hike.

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There was a tree with impressive roots.

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And a bridge with a natural arch.

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I came across several clam middens that had been piled up by native Americans.

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And the remnants of a still.

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There were also earthworks from the Civil War where canons had been emplaced to defend this approach to Savannah.

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After several miles the trail wound its way back to the campground, where I crashed for the rest of the day.

 

Next Location – Savannah, Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Locations 30 – The Low Country

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida. 

The Low Country, South Carolina

 

Early the next morning we continued southwest from Charleston on Hwy. 17. It was an uneventful drive until we turned south on Hwy. 21. This road took us into the Low Country. This was a much more scenic drive. The only problem was it was a rainy overcast day. We stopped at the waterfront in Beaufort. As you can see from the photos it was foggy and everything was soaked.

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We drove across the bridge at Beaufort and continued on Sea Island Parkway deeper into the Low Country. We stopped at a seafood market on the side of the road for some fresh shrimp to cook that evening. Then we drove on to Hunting Island State Park, which is on the coast. We learned the campground was closed due to damage from the recent hurricane. The storm had hit this area much harder than it had the Outer Banks. Although we couldn’t camp we could still drive around the park. The damage was extensive.

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Otherwise, the little we saw of the park was nice.

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There was a bridge crossing to a small island.

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We drove across it, but was stopped at the far end. The island was privately owned and we weren’t welcome. So we turned around and backtracked all the way back through Beaufort back to Hwy. 17. We were on one of the several peninsulas in the Low Country with only one road in or out. Once off the peninsula we resumed traveling southwest on Hwy. 17 to I-95, which took us south out of South Carolina into Georgia to Savannah.

 

Next Location – Skidaway State Park

American Locations 29 – Patriots Point, Charleston

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

Patriots Point, Charleston, South Carolina

 

Leaving Boone Hall, we drove on Hwy. 17 through Charleston. I try to avoid large cities since the motor home is such a pain to drive in crowded conditions on unfamiliar streets. But Charleston wasn’t bad. The main thing I noticed about the city was all the bridges. Here is one of many.

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I knew Charleston was on the ocean, but I didn’t know there were 4 rivers flowing into the harbor – the Wando, Cooper, Ashley, and Stono. We stopped on the far side of the city and found a pleasant private campground.

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The next day we drove back across the harbor to see Patriots Point. This is a park on the waterfront where a decommissioned WW2 aircraft carrier, battleship, and submarine are docked. We spent an entire day here. I’d never been on an aircraft carrier or a submarine before.

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We started with the aircraft carrier.

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Inside we went through the sleeping quarters.

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They had a torpedo on display.

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The boiler room. The ship was diesel powered, of course. This was long before nuclear.

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The bridge.

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There were many other interesting area, such as the kitchens, the medical offices, the torpedo tubes. It was like a floating city, with about 4000 sailors on board. But the best part of the tour was going up on top to see the planes.

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Next was the battleship.

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A gun battery.

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A torpedo launcher.

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A depth charge launcher.

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No computers. The controls were all electric switches and valves.

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An interesting program on the battleship was a simulated encounter with a Soviet submarine. It was a very tense situation, since the captain didn’t know if it was merely harassing them or was really attacking. They had to prepare for an attack. They tracked the sub on sonar, ready to attack if it made the least hostile move. But it merely sailed away. The presenter said during the Cold War this occurred on a daily basis all over the globe.

Last was the submarine. As you can tell by the first photo it was still in the process of being restored.

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Inside is very cramped. If you have claustrophobia, I advise against going below.

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A cut-way torpedo, so you can see what was inside it.

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There was also a Viet Nam war era helicopter and a Quonset hut set up with displays from the war. Ken Burns’ ‘Viet Nam’ was playing inside, to provide images and set the mood with the 60’s music he scored the documentary with.

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After a full day, we drove back across the bay to collapse at our camp site.

 

Next Location – The Low Country, South Carolina

 

 

American Locations 28 – Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

Charleston, South Carolina

 

Shortly after leaving Pawnee Island we stopped for the night at an uninteresting private campground along Hwy. 17. In the morning we continued south on Hwy. 17 across the Waccamaw River and Great Pee Dee River through the edge of the Francis Marian National Forest into Charleston. It was a pleasant unhurried drive along the coast and through the forest. As we neared Charleston the traffic picked up. We started seeing many booths set up alongside Hwy. 17 selling sweetgrass baskets. We stopped at one to look them over and considered buying one, until we learned the price. Although they were unique and pretty, the price was too steep for us.

We stopped to tour Boone Hall Plantation. We approached on a gravel lane through an impressive arch of live oaks.

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We toured the plantation house. No photography was allowed inside, I could only take them outdoors.

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This house isn’t very old. The original had burned down. As had the second house that replaced it. This was the third incarnation. The plantation originally grew cotton. After the Civil War the plantation switched to pecans. After a blight wiped out their pecan trees the plantation was opened up for tourists and a small vegetable farm continued to sell fresh produce.

The house is surrounded by attractive gardens.

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The smooth bright red bark doesn’t show up well on this tree, but it was distinctive. I wish I could think of the name of this tree, but it eludes me.

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The plantation was on the Horlbeck Creek.

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There is an old warehouse on the creek. While we were there they were setting up for a wedding reception.

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There was another warehouse on the property they had braced to keep it from collapsing.

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There was a classic palmetto next to it.

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I thought this wind-twisted tree had character.0872_Charleston

There was a pond, with a boardwalk around it.

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There were warning signs for alligators. We didn’t see any, but we did spy this bird.

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There were also slave cabins open to tour.

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Adorned with interesting art work from the slave era.

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And sweetwater baskets.

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These brick cabins were homes for the overseers. The actual slave cabins weren’t nearly this nice. They were constructed of wood and had all burned down. In one of the cabins is a horrific display. A list of all the slave ships that docked in Charleston, which had one of the biggest, if not the biggest, slave markets in the country.

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On this photo I zoomed in so it can be read. The 2 columns on the right show the number of slaves that embarked in Africa and the number that disembarked in Charleston. So many Africans didn’t even make it here, crossing the Atlantic was so brutal. The slavers crammed as many bodies as they could in their holds, then hardly cared for them at all during the months it took to get here.

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At one of the slave cabins a historical interpreter gave a presentation about Gullah culture. This college professor (in the blue top) was incredible, her half-hour was one of the highlights of the entire trip.

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I had no knowledge of Gullah before this. It was fascinating to see her portrayal. Here is a brief Wikipedia article. I encourage you to read more on your own, it is such an remarkable part of our American history:

The Gullah (/ˈɡʌlə/) are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of Georgia and South Carolina, in both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. They developed a creole language, the Gullah language, and a culture rich in African influences that makes them distinctive among African Americans.

Historically, the Gullah region extended from the Cape Fear area on North Carolina’s coast south to the vicinity of Jacksonville on Florida’s coast. Today, the Gullah area is confined to the Georgia and South Carolina Lowcountry. The Gullah people and their language are also called Geechee, which may be derived from the name of the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Georgia.[1] Gullah is a term that was originally used to designate the creole dialect of English spoken by Gullah and Geechee people. Over time, its speakers have used this term to formally refer to their creole language and distinctive ethnic identity as a people. The Georgia communities are distinguished by identifying as either “Freshwater Geechee” or “Saltwater Geechee”, depending on whether they live on the mainland or the Sea Islands.[2][3][4][5]

Because of a period of relative isolation from whites while working on large plantations in rural areas, the Africans, drawn from a variety of Central and West African ethnic groups, developed a creole culture that has preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage from various peoples; in addition, they absorbed new influences from the region. The Gullah people speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords and influenced by African languages in grammar and sentence structure. Sometimes referred to as “Sea Island Creole” by linguists and scholars, the Gullah language is especially related to and almost identical to Bahamian Creole. There are also ties to Barbadian CreoleBelizean CreoleJamaican Patois and the Krio language of West Africa. Gullah crafts, farming and fishing traditions, folk beliefs, music, rice-based cuisine and story-telling traditions all exhibit strong influences from Central and West African cultures.[6][7][8][9]

On our way to the parking lot as we were leaving we encountered people in distress. A man was tending to his sister who was on the ground. She was having some kind of medical emergency, perhaps a stroke. It was a hot sunny day, so he and I lifted her up and carried her into the shade. My wife called 911, and we stayed with them until an ambulance arrived – which was very quickly. Once she was on her way to the hospital, we walked on to our motor home and left.

 

 Next Location – Patriots Point, Charleston

 

 

 

American Locations 27 – Huntington Beach & Brookgreen Gardens

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

Huntington Beach State Park & Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina

 

The next morning we explored the extensive boardwalks that ranged far out into the wetlands.

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On the far side of the wetlands you can see some parked cars.

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We drove over there and found it was a place to launch your canoe or kayak.

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And fish, of course.

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Where the three are standing, and also in the previous photo, it looks like gravel. It’s not. It is crushed clam shells. Before this was a state park a lot of clamming went on here, and this place was where the shells were collected, crushed, then used as a base for the road. All along the lane from the road to this point are mounds of shells not yet crushed.

Once we finished here we drove out of the park across the street into Brookgreen Gardens. It is a statue gardens situated upon land that originally was a rice plantation. We spent the rest of the morning roaming around it.

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There were also courtyards filled with statues.

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And some indoors galleries.

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After leaving the gardens, we drove to nearby Merrill’s Inlet for lunch. The restaurant had this interesting construct of a school of fish hanging from the ceiling.

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Afterwards we walked their boardwalk along the waterfront.

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Someone was keeping some goats on this little isle.

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Heading south on Hwy 17, we took a short detour to see Pawnee Island.

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We drove to the southern point, where there was a sandy beach.

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On the sound side people were boating and fishing.

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While on the ocean side they were paddleboarding the surf.

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Late that afternoon we drove off the island and headed south on Hwy. 17.

 

Next Location is Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina