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South Carolina

Happy New Year - A Look Back and a Look Ahead

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Happy New Year - A Look Back and a Look Ahead

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, no matter what and where you celebrated it. I was at home in Washington D.C. with my family, trying to catch my breath for a minute, fix some of my equipment and enjoy some holiday cheer. It is, of course, always a good opportunity to look back at the year gone by, and look ahead at the year to come.

A year ago, I was getting ready to set out for the second time on this trip. I had had a fascinating month in West Virginia at the end of 2017, learning about the wonderful history of the Mountain State and seeing some truly spectacular scenery. I had never taken such a deep, in-depth look at a state before, and I really connected with West Virginia on so many different levels. From deep in the heart of coal country to their wonderful state park system to the little big cities of Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling, West Virginia had so much to offer. On the other hand, it was December, so it was cold and the sun was going down at around 4:30 in the afternoon. These were probably not the best of conditions to try and learn the ins and outs of my new van and my new lifestyle, but then again I am a big supporter of a trial by fire. The challenges I faced in my first month of this journey were real, but I persevered as there was no way I was giving up...

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Iconic Food and Drink of South Carolina

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Iconic Food and Drink of South Carolina

I ate out a lot during my stay in South Carolina. South Carolina is definitely a wonderful food destination. With tons of seafood coming off the coast and wonderful farm-fresh meat and produce coming from the Piedmont, it's hard to go wrong. Unfortunately I didn't plan my meals out as well as I could have, nor did I do my due diligence by really researching the places I ate. These long days have kept me busy and I usually ended up eating wherever was open and grabbing a quick burger or a salad. This is something I hope to correct in Tennessee as I eat in a little more often and save my money and my appetite for some well planned out meals. I did, however, find a few cool places around the state so before I move on, I thought I would share some with you today. 

I had some really great seafood up and down the coast. When I was out on Daufuskie Island, I had a plate of fresh fried grouper over jasmine rice with green beans and slaw at Lucy Bell's Cafe. When I tell you it was to die for, I really mean it…

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Live Music in South Carolina

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Live Music in South Carolina

I was surprised at how hard it was to find live music in South Carolina. For a state with such a rich musical tradition, there weren't a ton of live music venues outside of the big cities, and even many of those only had shows closer to the weekends. I had so much success finding great live music in North Carolina (read about it HERE) and even in West Virginia (and HERE) that I was a little surprised at how difficult it seemed to find a good show. From the state that brought us the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, James Brown, Darius Rucker, Edwin McCain, The Marshall Tucker Band and so many others, I had hoped it would be easier. Maybe I was just spoiled by the wonderful resource that is blueridgemusicnc.com that I didn't dig deep enough. Either way, I did see some great music in the state, shows were just a little fewer and further between than I would have thought… 

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This Week on the Road April 13th-19th

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This Week on the Road April 13th-19th

This is my last week in South Carolina! I've been here longer than expected and I've really had a great time here. It's a small state, but some places have just pulled me in and kept me around for a while. I'm not complaining - it's been a wonderful stay - but it's definitely time for me to be moving on. 

As stated when last we met, my week did indeed begin with a visit to Clemson. Clemson is a cool little college town, very purple and orange, but also a nice place for a quick visit. I caught up with some of my fraternity brothers there for dinner and then left them to their evenings while I went and checked out some of the bars around town. I particularly liked the massive Tiger Town Tavern and the Esso Club. Clemson was somewhat reminiscent of my own experience at Penn State, but on a much smaller scale. I enjoyed my short visit there, though I only stayed one night and headed out in the morning...

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Chasing Waterfalls in Western South Carolina

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Chasing Waterfalls in Western South Carolina

The mountains in the eastern United States are nice. These are the mountains I grew up with and hiking their trails is where I fell in love with the great outdoors. They have character and grace which come with their age, and it is always great to be in them. Having traveled the world though, and seen the Rockies and the Alps, the Andes and the Wrangells, the Cascades and the Brooks Range, it's difficult to look at the Appalachians with awe and amazement. They're gentle and rounded and beautiful, but "awesome" just doesn't come to mind when I crest a hill and they come into view. Hidden among them, though, are some absolute jewels of nature. The waterfalls of Appalachia are truly some of the most spectacular you will find anywhere. For three days last week, I went out to woods in western South Carolina to get some fresh air, soak in the cool spray of these magnificent waterfalls and practice the art of photography. I love photographing a good waterfall, and while I don't think a photo can ever do some of these justice, it was well worth the effort. Some of these waterfalls were right off the road and others were buried deep in the forest, but all of them were worth the time and energy to get to them...

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Greenville: A Town Full of Surprises

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Greenville: A Town Full of Surprises

One of my guidebooks for South Carolina described Greenville as "the coolest city you've never heard of". After spending a few days there over the last week or so, I would have to agree. I knew nothing about Greenville when I arrived, and absolutely fell in love with the city while I was there. It seemed like there was so much thought and care put into it and every time I looked around I found something else to smile about. It's an intensely livable city, with so many of the things I would look for if I was thinking about where to settle down, and it seems to be attracting quite a few young people who are doing just that. With a great arts scene, a few sports teams and some wonderful bars and restaurants it really has everything you could ask for in a city this size. And with all of these things in a city this size, why would you want to live somewhere bigger? Greenville definitely kept me around longer than I had intended to stay, and even when I did leave I felt a little bit sad to go. But I promise, I will be back. If Greenville isn't on your travel radar, it should be...

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This Week on the Road - April 5th-12th

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This Week on the Road - April 5th-12th

It's been a pretty quiet but fun week out here in western South Carolina. I've been trying to catch up on some things, so that has taken a lot of my time, but I'm almost there. A lot of the week has been spent here in Greenville, one of my new favorite towns, but it's been great to be here. This next week will probably be my last in South Carolina. 

I started the week by finishing my latest podcast. The stories are from the eastern part of the state and this one came out pretty well. It tells the story of Vanna White, from Conway, South Carolina and her rise to fame. I talk about the revolutionary war history of the state and how it led to the state flag. It may look like there's a crescent moon on the flag, but there isn't. Then I talk about Francis Marion, the legendary Swamp Fox and how is bad ankles may have saved the Patriot cause in the Revolution. Next was the story of Robert Small. Born a slave, he made a daring escape and dash to freedom during the Civil War and went on to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. We hear about the S.S. Central America and how, when it sunk off the coast of South Carolina...

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Greenville Brewery Crawl

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Greenville Brewery Crawl

I had so much fun doing my story on the breweries in Asheville, NC (The Best Beers in Beer City - read it HERE), that I decided to follow it up with a brewery tour down the road and across the state line here in Greenville. I have taken quite a shine to this town, and have really enjoyed my stay here. It feels like such an up-and-coming kind of place, like Asheville before it was Asheville. Prices are still reasonable, and there's a lot of opportunity here. One of the businesses which has been on the rise here in Greenville is the brewery business. There are about 8 breweries in the area and more on the way. I figured I'd take a little tour around and check them out. My rule for this crawl was the same as it was in Asheville, I would ask for the bartender's favorite beer - not their best seller or newest or freshest, but the one they would drink if they could only have one. Some of the beers I had were pretty awesome... 

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Cheraw - The Prettiest Town in Dixie

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Cheraw - The Prettiest Town in Dixie

"The Prettiest Town in Dixie" is a pretty big claim to make. Having traveled fairly extensively around the south in my life, I've seen some really beautiful towns. But this claim is certainly an enticing one and a bold one, so I had to go and see for myself. The town that made this claim? Tiny Cheraw, South Carolina. I got there first thing in the morning with the intention of staying maybe an hour or two, and ended up being there the better part of the day. It really is a beautiful town, steeped in history and with one of the best tourism infrastructures I've come across in a town this size anywhere. I came knowing almost nothing about Cheraw, and left charmed by it and knowing it's a place I will return to. 

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Easter on a Different Day - An American Story

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Easter on a Different Day - An American Story

I am a pretty typical American mutt. While all of my ancestry that I’m familiar with comes from somewhere in Europe, there is very little that I can identify with. I knew all four of my grandparents, and all four were pretty typically American, if that can be said of anyone. Even my grandmother on my mother’s side, who was actually born in Poland and immigrated to the U.S. as a child, spoke unaccented English and served me macaroni and cheese and sandwiches on Wonder Bread. It is from her mother though, my great-grandmother on my mother’s side, that I have some understanding of my Ukrainian background. 

My great-grandmother escaped to Poland from the Ukraine, while pregnant with my grandmother, during the Bolshevik Revolution. She left behind a husband and a son, both of whom were killed under Stalin’s regime. When my grandmother was 5, they got on a boat to the new world. They sailed under the Statue of Liberty on their way to Ellis Island...

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This Week on the Road - March 29th-April 4th

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This Week on the Road - March 29th-April 4th

Another wonderful week on the road has come and gone. The weather has been great and the time really does seem to fly out here. I've been enjoying central South Carolina, an area I've spent very little time in in the past. There's lots of history here, and a beautiful National Park. I've enjoyed some great food and caught up with some old friends. It's been a great week. 

Since I had problems keeping my days straight last week, I will start this week with Friday. Friday I got an early start and headed out from Camden towards Congaree National Park. On the way, I made a few really cool stops. I stopped to take some photos at Boykin, a tiny town with a few old stores and an even older mill. There was even a cool little covered bridge. It was a neat little place...

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In Focus: Congaree National Park

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In Focus: Congaree National Park

America's National Parks are our nation's most valuable resources. From the U.S. Virgin Islands to the coast of Maine and from Alaska to the South Pacific and so many amazing places in between, the National Park System protects our most treasured natural and cultural areas. There are many different designations within the system, from National Battlefields and Historic Sites to National Monuments and Heritage Areas, but none is more revered than the National Parks. Of the 420 or so sites withing the system, only about 60 have the designation of National Park. Over the course of many years, I've had the distinct pleasure of seeing almost all of them. They are all incredible places and I can't imagine my life without being able to visit these areas again and again. While sometimes the topic will come up in the news about "government owned land", we must remember that this is actually public land - our land. And it's there for us to enjoy and will be forever as long as we don't let our guard down. 

Congaree National Park in central South Carolina is one of our newest National Parks, having received that designation in 2003. It protects the largest tract of old growth, bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States...

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