Along the Swamp Fox Passage

Well, darn. Here I thought today was Wednesday and I still had today to get this done before my newsletter went out on Thursday. But today is actually Thursday and my newsletter came out this morning. It's easy to lose track out here sometimes, but I'm going to write it anyway. I have enjoyed this the last few weeks - it reminds even me of what I've done and where I've been and lets me just write without having to stop and look up facts and figures. 

The wisteria is in bloom here in South Carolina. This beautiful, purple, sweet smelling, flowering plant hangs from vines around the region and I have found myself stopping often, literally to smell the flowers. Be sure you do too this spring, whatever flowers you have where you live won't be there long so stop for a minute and enjoy the way they smell, their colors and the way they move in the wind. It's a great way to clear your head for a minute and always brings a smile to my face. 

Saluda Shoals at Awendaw Green

I began the week in the Lowcountry, that marshy area on the east coast of South Carolina famous for shrimp boats and cypress swamps. Last Wednesday I took a nice long walk along the Swamp Fox Passage of the Palmetto Trail in Francis Marion National Forest. Francis Marion was a Revolutionary War hero, known as The Swamp Fox for his ability to make an attack and then disappear into the swamp with his men. I learned a lot about him this week and will give you the full story in my next podcast. This trail was wonderful, quiet and straight as an arrow. It was a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the peace and quiet of the woods. 

That evening I went to an amazing music show at Awendaw Green. These "Barn Jams" happen every Wednesday night, year-round, and really are an awesome event. It's $5 to get in, and you can bring in your own food and drinks. They do serve some wonderful food there, but no alcohol so be sure you pack your cooler in with you. There are chairs and tables set up, bonfires were burning and it's just an all-around wonderful environment. Local and touring bands come up and do one set each, about 45 minutes or so. There were 5 bands playing that night and each was really good. My favorite was Saluda Shoals out of Charleston who let me record some of their set for my next podcast. 

Shrimp Fleet at McClellanville

Thursday morning, I got up nice and early and did another stretch of the Palmetto Trail. It was quiet and really pretty along this stretch as well. I then headed up to the tiny town of McClellanville where I enjoyed their tiny local museum and took some photos of the shrimp fleet which ties up there. I love shrimp, and the best place to get shrimp is where they bring it in right off the boat. I had a great lunch at TW Graham and Company, a great little local restaurant in town. They had a communal table in the middle where a rotating group of locals had their lunch and chewed the fat. It was a nice little spot. 

From there, I visited the Hampton Plantation, a colonial-era rice plantation and now a State Historic Site. The beautiful Georgian-style mansion was cool, and I enjoyed wandering around the grounds and taking some photos. From there, I headed into Georgetown, an old port city and center of the rice-growing industry in the region. In fact, Georgetown was once the largest exporter of rice in the world. I learned this and so much more at the really awesome Rice Museum in town. The nearby South Carolina Maritime Museum was also a winner and had an awesome exhibit on shipwrecks. A sunset stroll along the waterfront was a nice way to finish my day in this beautiful town. 

Hampton Plantation

On Friday I made my way slowly up the coast, stopping in at Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet and finally Surfside Beach. I caught up with an old friend from home and we enjoyed some music and cold beverages at a fun little local bar called Beer 30. 

Saturday I headed up to North Myrtle Beach where I caught up with my friend Joe. Joe and I were roommates way back in the late 90s and have been friends ever since. Saturday was an adventure as Joe was trying to buy a boat. This should have been simple enough, but it took quite a few hours of figuring out the paperwork, hooking up the trailer, and at one point we were even moving furniture for the guy selling the boat's neighbor. Funny how it goes sometimes, but we did end up with a boat at the end of the day, and some well earned beers.

Myrtle Beach Tourist Traps

Saturday we drove around catching up and seeing how much the area has changed in the last 20 years. I took some great photos for my post The Best of the Worst of Myrtle Beach , a fun look at some of the crazy tourist-trap sites along the beach. We wandered up to the waterfront at Little River which was cool and even drifted into North Carolina for a bit. It was a nice day of catching up and driving around my old haunts from what seems a lifetime ago. 

Sunday I visited the Meher Spiritual Center dedicated to the teachings of Indian spiritual master Meher Baba. I really enjoyed it and wrote THIS POST about it today. It was a cool way to spend the afternoon and was someplace I didn't even know existed when I lived there and I worked almost across the street from the place. It is a wonderful wooded area with cabins and lakes and places to sit and meditate. It was pretty neat. 

Meher Baba Spiritual Center

Monday I had the joy of doing my taxes, but they are done so that is something. When I was done with that, it was mid-afternoon on a grey Monday so I didn't accomplish much. I headed out Highway 9 into the Pee Dee region of the state. It was gloomy out, so I took the night off from exploring and enjoyed some Chinese food and an early night. 

Cheraw Market Building

Yesterday I explored the town of Cheraw, South Carolina the self-proclaimed "Prettiest Town in Dixie". Cheraw was occupied by General Sherman at the end of the Civil War, but he left it intact, so there are many historic and beautiful antebellum houses to check out. It was also the birthplace of Dizzy Gillespie, and they have several nice tributes to him there as well. The town had a wonderful Visitors Center and a great cell phone tour. I took a lot of photos and will do a post on it later in the week. I planned on being there a couple of hours and ended up there most of the day.  

From there I headed down to Camden, where I am writing this from today. Camden was the site of two battles of the American Revolution, and is a really pretty and pleasant place to be. The weather was amazing and I spent a few hours just sitting out on the grass and writing the stories for my next podcast. Now I'm at their downtown library trying desperately to catch up.

Camden Historic Site

The week ahead should be a good one. I'm looking forward to exploring Congaree National Park and then heading into Columbia for a day or two. Easter is this weekend so I am looking forward to being a part of the celebration somewhere and then heading towards the southwest part of the state. 

Until next time then, I will wish everyone who celebrates it this weekend a wonderful Easter and others of you a peaceful Passover - Shalom. As spring spreads north, I hope you will get out and enjoy it. I'll keep my wheels turning and this week my headlights are pointed south and west. 


Dizzy Gillespie Statue in Downtown Cheraw