Hello everyone! It's been a busy week out here on the road as usual. During this week I realized that in my pursuit of journalistic stories to publish and photograph, a lot of this journey gets left on the cutting room floor. So I thought when I can I would try and give a quick travelogue of my week - where I've been and what I've been up to. A "behind the scenes" look at my life on the road. This way you can get to know me better and see what this trip really entails.
My week started in Florida as I was there for the wedding of my friend, Peter. Peter and I met in Tokyo in the summer of 2010. I lived in Japan from 2010-2012, teaching English in rural public schools in the south. Peter lived in the next city up and we became quick friends when we met at our orientation in Tokyo. 8 years later, I found myself in Florida for his wedding - it was a lot of fun.
On my way back north, I stopped in to visit my friend Tina and her new baby boy Reef in Palm Coast. Tina and I worked together when I lived on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We worked with Jacques Cousteau's son Jean-Michel for his Ambassadors of the Environment program. It was great to catch up with Tina and meet her new son. I was sorry her husband Jake was out of town, but he was actually in Savannah so I got to catch up with him the next night.
I made my way up to Savannah, a city I love and am pretty comfortable in, to get some work done before beginning my journey in South Carolina. When I arrived I went to get a great southern lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room - a must-visit restaurant if you are ever in Savannah. From there, I was off to the library where I finished editing the fifth episode of my podcast American Anthology. This episode, Blackbeard, Gold and an American Coup d'etat was the second episode about my travels in North Carolina. The podcast has been one of the more challenging aspects to this whole project, but I've really enjoyed it. As a history lover, it has allowed me to really look in depth at some of the stories I find most interesting about the places I've been traveling. Each episode gets a little easier and a little better and I think this one came out really well. You should give it a listen when you get the chance - you can listen or download it HERE or by searching "American Anthology" on iTunes, Stitcher, GooglePlay or wherever you get your podcasts.
When I finally got this episode edited and posted, I went to meet Jake out in Pooler, about a half hour from downtown Savannah. We played some bingo at a burger joint out there and had a chance to catch up. Jake had managed the dive shop on St. Thomas that I worked at when I was there. We had and have a lot in common and I always enjoy catching up with him.
Friday, I was back at the library in Savannah, working working working. I wanted to start to wind up some things from my time in North Carolina and edit some photos and do some writing. When I finished, I was driving downtown for a celebratory beer when I heard that the Brad Paisley concert that night at the Civic Center still had some tickets available. I went down there right away and was surprised to get some pretty good seats for only $34. It was a great show and included Dustin Lynch and Chase Bryant on the ticket. I had a few beers and enjoyed the concert.
Saturday was the day to start my month or so in South Carolina and thankfully all I had to do was cross the bridge from Savannah and I was there. My destination for the day was Hilton Head Island. On the way, I passed through Bluffton which was a weird little place. It seemed more like a movie set than a town, but it was nice enough and I did have some good barbecue at Choo Choo Barbecue. From there I headed out to Hilton Head and still got there pretty early. I did not like Hilton Head at all. It is a planned resort community and I just didn't like the way it felt. It was very neat and clean and orderly, but not very real or authentic. I understand why people would like it, but it's not my kind of place. At least I could go see the lighthouse though, right? Wrong - apparently they don't allow any type of RV, even a van, into their little gated community where the lighthouse is located. Definitely not the place for me. I wasn't there long before starting to plan my exit. I did stop and see a movie though - The Shape of Water - not sure what all the hype is there either. I was not a big fan. Kind of a disappointing day all around really, but still better than a lot of days I've had in my life.
Thankfully, as disappointed as I was in Hilton Head, my next day was the complete opposite. I made my way by boat out to Daufuskie Island, a tiny little 2 by 5 mile island only accessible by water. When I got there I rented a golf cart and spent the day cruising past old sprawled out oak trees draped in Spanish moss. There were lots of old buildings and history there. I stopped for a great lunch of fresh grouper and toured the rum distillery. I took lots of photos and even took a walk on the beach. As I road the ferry back to the mainland, the sun was setting and I had a big smile on my face as I felt like I had spent the day in the real off-the-beaten-path South Carolina that I was looking for. When I got back, I headed on up to Beaufort for the night.
Sunday morning started Daylight Savings Time, so when I woke, dawn was just breaking and as I cruised into town the water surrounding it was touched with beautiful hues of pink and orange and purple. I went to church with the Anglicans at St. Helena Parish Church, a congregation that dates to 1712. It was a nice service.
After church, I went for brunch and then made my way out to Parris Island, the Marine Corps Training Center here in South Carolina. Parris Island is one of the few military bases in the country which has good access to the general public. After having to explain to the guard that the District of Columbia on my driver's license is the "D.C." in Washington D.C. and that yes, I was an American citizen, I was allowed in. The museum was a fascinating look at the history of the Corps, the history of the island, and an intense look at the training process of the Marines. After learning about the process, it was cool to wander around and see the training taking place. I got some photos of some cool statues and iconic spots including "the portal" and the yellow footprints before making my way off the base.
I headed out to Hunting Island with plans to spend the night at the campground at the State Park there. When I arrived, the man at the campground told me it was $53 for a spot. I find this outrageous. I could park in Manhattan for that. I could get a hotel room for that. This wasn't for a cabin or anything, just a cramped spot to park for the night. State Parks are supposed to be places for the people to enjoy, not just the wealthy. Yes, it is on the beach, but there are plenty of beach-front areas for people with money to go to. I expect more from a state park. I was disappointed, and left. I found a nice little spot to pull off the road by the water, cooked my dinner and ate as the sun was setting and then headed back into town.
Monday was rainy and chilly so I spent all day at the library. I went for a nice walk around town in the evening - Beaufort is a truly beautiful place. All the charm of Charleston with 1% of the people. I saw the house they filmed The Big Chill at, now undergoing some serious renovation. Then I headed down to the waterfront and watched the sun set over the river. It was so nice to still have daylight at 8pm. I'm very excited now that the days are longer and I feel like I can get so much more done.
Yesterday I headed out to Penn Center on St. Helena Island where I learned a ton about the Gullah culture. The Gullahs were freed slaves who lived on the remote coastal islands off of the Carolinas and Georgia after the civil war. They have a very distinct and interesting culture, and the Penn Center is the center of this culture in the region. Once the Penn School, it was established to educate black people after Union occupation in 1862. It served as a school and training facility until the late 1940s, and now is a museum and conference center. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent a lot of time there, finding peace and quiet to work at this isolated outpost. It was really interesting.
I spent the rest of the day hiking in the non-campground side of Hunting Island and enjoyed some exercise in the woods there. This was where they filmed the Vietnam scenes in Forrest Gump, and it definitely reminded me of that (though not necessarily of actual Vietnam haha). I enjoyed the lighthouse and the hike and then made my way back to Beaufort with a stop at Mama Lou's for some amazing Gullah food on the way.
So that's been my week out here on the road. I've really enjoyed it and starting my exploration of South Carolina. Now I'm heading north towards Charleston and some more of the coastal islands and looking forward to some luck o' the Irish on St. Patrick's Day this weekend. The longer days are already a blessing and the weather has cooled back off to a more appropriate March temperature. I'd like to hold onto some cool days as long as possible and hopefully enjoy a nice spring. The flowers are blooming here and it is spectacular.
That's what I've been up to y'all. I hope your week has been as good and as productive as mine. I've got some good stuff coming up this week and I hope you do to. If you have any tips or suggestions for the rest of my time in South Carolina, I'd love to hear from you. Be sure you get the full story by following me on facebook and on instagram @miles2gotweet. Until next time, I'll see you down the highway!