This week, we took the opportunity to venture even deeper into the Southeast with several cool side trips in the region. Here are some highlights:
Beaufort, SC: Just an hour south of Charleston lies the beautiful city of Beaufort. This quaint place is full of southern charm, with historic homes, shaded avenues, and a lovely waterfront. It’s been used as the set of several movies, including Forest Gump. During the Civil War, this area was controlled by the Union and was a focus of the country’s Reconstruction efforts. We visited the home of Robert Smalls, an escaped slave who rose to status of US Congressman following the war, as well as the Penn School, one of country’s first freedmen’s schools.
Okefenokee, GA: Continuing down I-95 for a couple more hours, we came to the Okefenokee Swamp. It was really interesting to learn about this unique environment (plus, it’s just fun to say Okefenokee!). This National Wildlife Refugee had a nice interpretive center, auto tour, and boardwalk hike. We also took a boat trip into the swamp with a guide who pointed out the various plants and animals.
Although it was unseasonably cold (high of about 50 degrees) we had good sun and some bright autumn colors. We saw several alligators, egrets, herons, hawks, and a very large but sleepy snake with a big lump in its belly. Cool stuff!
Congaree National Park: By midweek, we started our inland trek toward the mountains of western Carolina. Along the way, we stopped just outside of Columbia, SC to visit one of our newest National Parks. Congaree is also swampland, but it’s cooler and at higher elevation (thus no gators). We spent our day canoeing through the narrow waterways and enjoying the sights and sounds of a bald cypress forest. We saw a raccoon and heard what we think were wild boars squealing in the distance (really, I’m not just referencing the movies). It was a beautiful place, in a primordial sort of way.
The weekend has us visiting good friends (the Freeman family) in Asheville, NC. From here, we’ll drive the short distance to my parent’s house. They live in the town of Traveler’s Rest, SC which sounds like the perfect place to turn off our engine, enjoy a home cooked meal, and spend time with family. Happy Thanksgiving!!