LIVIN’ ON STITLS
Better late posting than never posting, am I right? We’ve done quite a bit of hibernating since my last post. I promise I was totally ready to leave Florida after a nice warm three weeks there. However, some of this 20 degree weather had me wishing we were back on the beach.
Edisto beach was a pretty campground surrounded by thin woods and some marshy areas. It’s called an Island, but we’re not totally sure why as it didn’t seem to be surrounded by any real body of water. I guess its just because of all the marsh and it’s on higher ground. The beach itself was nice but too cold and cloudy to hang out. We were definitely there during the off season. The town was very sleepy and quiet. I would have described Edisto Beach as quaint and hardly memorable if it wasn’t for the extremely memorable salty water. I’m not talking about the ocean. The tap or potable water was salty. We noticed it while showering at the campground, but thought maybe it was just the pipes in their bathhouse. Upon leaving the campground, we dumped and filled our tanks, as is our usual routine. The first sip of that disgusting water made me cringe. Nothing helped. I tried boiling it, making tea, Crystal Lights (made me actually gag), the coffee was passable but I had to load it with sugar. It was imperative we flush our tanks and get some better water and quickly. I probably sound dramatic but it reminded me of one of those salt water flushes we used to do during the Master Cleanse, which is also stupid, and I agree with your judgement there.
We did some research on the old Googling machine and found out the water has been deemed safe to drink by whatever crack pot health department. Neither of us pooped our pants, but we had a hard time drinking it and I’m glad we did so sparingly. We also learned some of the residents actually want the water to remain disgusting to keep development out and the tourism manageable.
We drained every last bit of that yucky water out of our tanks before heading to Charleston on Tuesday (March 13th). We parked in an underground garage that had space for oversized vehicles in the heart of town, and set off on another fantastic walking tour of the city. We saw so many historical buildings, so old and still running as homes or museums. Some of the houses have been owned by the same family going back 200 years. Rainbow Row was my favorite. A line of attached homes all painted in pastel colors and facing the beautiful bay will alway bring a smile to my face. Fred gets so much attention on these walking tours. I get it, he’s super cute and also wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but the coos, the awes…it’s like these people actually don’t even see Matt or I and think Fred dressed himself. Ok, now I sound jealous of my dog. I could delete that sentence, but I’m leaving it.
We planned on staying in the parking garage that night. They allow 24 hour parking and at a super reasonable price. It was pretty loud and cold, though. We finished our walking tour early enough to head out to a free campground about an hour outside of Charleston called Honey Hill. The campground was really nice, with designated spots that gave us privacy. We only stayed one night and left quickly the next morning.
Wednesday (March 14th), we headed to Myrtle Beach. This is the only town on this side of the country that has more Mini Golf spots than churches. I could see this town really popping off in the on-season. The beach was beautiful. We had a great time strolling the paths and letting Fred run wild in the sand.
Thursday (March 15th), we headed to another free spot called Yates Place Campground. It’s right along the Uwharrie trail in the Uwharrie National Forest. There was only one of other camper there in a tent who was a little bit crazy but also very nice. I chatted with him a lot. He rescues rats. Yep, rats. He actually brought them out to show us. I have to say, if you don’t think about it too much, they were actually pretty cute.
On Friday (March 16th), we hiked part of the Uwharrie Trail. The entire trail, point to point, is around 20 miles. We only did a small portion of it, but I really fell in love with the area. At this time of year most of the trees are bare and the ground covered in a thick layer of pale leaves. Pine trees were peppered throughout and a cool breeze kept us happy all day long. It was a bit warmer up there, in the 60s with the sun shining all day. We spent one more night in the free spot before taking off to continue the adventure.
Saturday (March 17th), we had along drive ahead of us, ending up in Asheville near The Great Smokey Mountains. Asheville is a posh North Carolina town with fancy communities and the very large Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore Estates were built and are still owned by the Vanderbilts in the late 1800s. We didn’t tour them, but I’d like to if and when we come back to the area. After many failed attempts at settling in one of the free camp sites throughout the beautiful Pisgah National Forest, we ended up finding a turn out near a closed road late in the evening.
Sunday (March 18th), we headed up in to the Smokies. I had grand plans of climbing around Clingman’s Dome and some of the trails around it, but the damn dome was closed. We ended up hiking just a bit farther up the road along the Appalachian Trail at New Found Gap to one of the many shelters along the trail. It was strenuous and very muddy, but so wonderful to explore. Fred wasn’t allowed, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed cleaning all the mud off of him any way.
We headed back toward Asheville again after that and spent the night at Davidson River campground back in the Pisgah National Forest. We made a mental note to come back the the Smokies during their on season. We were about two weeks too early to see everything we wanted. They were smokey, though! Clear enough to see the trees and far off mountains, but with a soft haze blanketing the range.
The next day, we headed north to follow along the Blueridge Parkway. Again, we were a bit too early in the season, and a lot of the route and campgrounds were closed to us. Don’t come here before April if you can help it. The weather took a pretty nasty turn. All of a sudden the rain was pouring and then snow falling. We ended up cutting our losses and staying at a Walmart in a small secluded mountain town.
Tuesday morning, Matt found the Mayberry Campground. He didn’t know it at the time, but my parents had a small obsession with Andy Griffith Show while I was growing up. I’ve seen more episodes than I care to recall. It was meant to be, so we headed there for the next couple of days to wait out the storm.
It snowed Wednesday morning and the little kids in us poured out. We played in the snow, building snowmen and throwing bombs. By the afternoon, most of the snow had melted as we hibernated in our camper with the electric heater running.
Still all grey skies on Thursday but dry enough, we headed down to the little tourist town of Mayberry. The city is actually called Mount Airy, but they have a few blocks dedicated to the old show. I took some nostalgic pictures for my parents before heading out of North Carolina and into Virginia. After that, we headed to Piliot Butte, a little hiking area in Mount Airy. We did a fun little hike around the butte, some older gentleman whispered secretly to us that they call it the booby in town.
We camped the next few nights at a big park called Glen Maury Regional Park. The mountains around us all looked like powder sugared dessert and made me think back to the mounds of beignets we devoured in Louisiana. We had a couple of very quiet neighbors at the park, but were totally undisturbed. Nothing fancy or exciting there, but it did give us a cheap and warm place to hunker down through another cold storm. Florida, I sincerely missed you last week.
On Saturday, we visited the Natural Bridge State Park. We all needed to get outside and stretch our legs after so much hibernating in the camper. Thomas Jefferson used to own the area, with a beautiful stream running throughout, natural caves, and a very tall natural bridge to explore.
We did a nice little walk through the park with Fred before heading back to our park for another night. Sunday, we drove a couple hours north to Woodstock, VA. I can’t remember if I mentioned it in an earlier post but we finally purchased as Passport America pass a few weeks ago. Typically, we avoid RV parks but the pass has been a blessing through all of these storms. I don’t mind dry camping, but I HATE being cold. The pass has already paid for itself three times over and allowed us to get a little closer to areas we normally avoid because of the cost.
Monday, we headed out to climb Big Schloss. It’s a hike to an overlook that straddles the Virgina/West Virginia line. Poor Fred was pretty pissed to be stuffed into his sack but it was unavoidable as we had to climb through ice, snow and mud. Still, the hike was quite the adventure. We slipped a few times scooting up the steep icy trail, and I vowed to always have my poles, no matter how far back in the truck they’re stored. By the time we headed back down, the icier parts had become softer and slushier, much safer for the descent.
Tuesday, we headed into DC! I’ll catch you up on that adventure in the next post.
Ariel + Matt