There was no mistaking, the mountains were disappearing behind us. The road descending, trees getting thinner. We are out of the mountains and the low country lay before us.
This leg of our journey continues with rain. It can get torrential, but for a shorter period of time, and, it’s warming up. We visited two wonderful state parks in South Carolina: Paris Mountain and Hamilton Branch.
Paris Mountain, SC
Paris Mountain State Park felt more like a day park than a campground. It had an aura of yesteryear picnic-charm: swim hole, paddle boats and canoes to rent, kids feeding ducks breadcrumbs… I spent some time chasing bugs, once or twice they chased me.
We had read about Greenville in a travel magazine, and since it was so close, we stopped for lunch to check it out. Cranes and road construction were everywhere. It seems the city is making a significant investment in infrastructure, increasing walkability and reclaiming the city’s natural beauty.
Hamilton Branch, SC
Hamilton Branch on the shore of Strom Thurmond Lake. Now this was my sort of campground. About 200 sites, and not a bad one in the park. Every spot felt extremely private, had a lake view, and many had lake access. The strange thing was, there were only a few “bath houses”. Some loops had no bath house at all. There were roughly 10 tent sites, and those were near a bath house. Sometimes being a small rig, has big advantages.
From Woodlands into Savannah
We were here in 2016, but I kept confusing it with Charleston. Woody set me straight. Took me to the iconic markers… we were on these steps when Carlos was with us. “OH YEAH. And, I really wanted to go in this candy store.”
Want to know how it got its name? After clear cutting some higher ground, founding father and philanthropist James Oglethorpe could see clear across the knee high grasslands to the sea. This reminded him of the savannah’s of Africa. Interestingly, the ship Oglethorpe sailed on also carried the cotton seed, simply as an experiment to assist the Chelsea Medicinal Garden research in London. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Our 26 year old tour guide also shares, that his Gigi, with her “…ice cold, blue eyes, always said, to never forget… General Sherman’s march to the sea. To this day she believes he’s the reincarnate of Satan himself.” So amazing the roots that (continue to) strangle reason.
Speaking of ice cold blue, I want to talk about a color. Haint Blue. You hear of it? It’s a color that mimics the color of water (some say the sky), a color steeped in lore and superstition. Well, I think superstition. Originating from the Gullah culture, (African Americans from the low country,) it was used on shutters, doors, and most predominantly, porch ceilings. You see, “haints” – haunted beings – don’t like crossing water (or some say get confused if it looks like sky.) Now, I had read about this at a museum in Blowing Rock, and made a point to check it out. Sho’nough, so many porches are painted Haint Blue! Sherwin Williams calls it Porch Blue.The tradition/superstition clearly made the cover of Southern Living Magazine.
We are continuing south and just crossed in to Florida. We’ll be hugging the coast for more van life travel. Can’t wait to share this last leg!