We are camping on Lake Marion in Summerton, South Carolina. Lake Marion was created by the construction of the Santee Dam by damming, guess what river? Your right, the Santee River, there is no getting pass you guys. The dam was constructed in November, 1941 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression.
The lake is named after Francis Marion, a General in the American Revolutionary War. Supposedly, more places are named for Marion than any other Revolutionary War hero, other than George.
Directly next to us on Lake Marion is Santee National Wildlife Refuge, which we hiked. We heard neither birds, nor saw any any animals during our hike. Probably because of the Government Shutdown.
In this area, we expected to see wood ducks (named because they inhibit this woodland area, not because they are made of wood), but they must have been furloughed.
Roanoke Rapids, NC to Lake Marion, South Carolina: 269.1 miles
4 hours 54 minutes
On our way home for my father’s 98th birthday, we took a slight detour to Rock Hill, South Carolina to visit friends we made on our Alaska Trip. He has a more warped sense of humor than I. In response to my question of what to see and do in Rock Hill, he jokily said, “The most notable thing here is the tank at the National Guard Armory”. So, here’s to you, Charles:
In 1851 the railroad was looking to build tracks and a station between Charlotte, North Carolina and Columbia, South Carolina. The closest towns did not want a railroad in their town because they considered it dirty and noisy. However, nearby landowners agreed to let the railway have a right-of-way through their lands. A spot was chosen for a rail station and the engineers noted the spot on the map as a “rocky hill”.
Tidbit of Information: Robert Moorman Sims, a resident of Rock Hill, born December 25, 1837, was a Captain in the Confederate Army. He was ordered by Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865, to carry the white flag of truce which led to the surrender of Lee’s forces at Appomatox Courthouse.
Most of my information about Rock Hill came from our tour of the Rock Hill Telephone Company Museum, and this gentlemen.
He grew up here and worked for the telephone company, now retired. He pointed out old pictures of Rock Hill, and told us what use to be there and what was there now. Most of the old buildings have been torn down, or refurbished for new businesses.
The Museum of York County was an interesting museum in downtown Rock Hill.
Do you know what this is?
That’s right, a pigeon. Did you know Pigeons are one of only a small number of species to pass the “mirror test” – a test of self-recognition? They can also recognize each letter of the human alphabet, differentiate between photographs, and even distinguish different humans within a photograph.
Of course you know pigeons use to carry mail (carrier pigeons). I wonder if they read that mail?
Well, Barbara says we have to go, she’s famished.
Atlanta Georgia to Rock Hill, South Carolina: 249.9 miles
5 hours 3 minutes
This should be the last night of cold weather, as tomorrow we will be in sunny Florida. We are not doing any sightseeing, as the object is to get out of the cold weather. We are spending our days organizing the Sphinx, as we just threw everything in when we left Maryland since the temperatures were in the single digits.
Raleigh, NC to Walterboro, SC: 236.5 miles
4 hours 58 minutes
Although the town of Fort Mill was not incorporated until 1873, after the Civil War, it has a rich history, including the site of the last Cabinet Meeting of the Confederate States of America.
The town of Fort Mill, originally called Little York, takes its name from a colonial-era fort built by the British. Thomas Spratt was the first European to settle here around 1750.
Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Cabinet passed through the area during their flight from Richmond. The last meeting of the full Confederate Cabinet was held in Fort Mill on April 29, 1865.
Fort Mill’s Confederate Park, a tribute to the Southern Cause, contains the nation’s only monument to slaves fighting on the Confederate side of the War of Northern Aggression.
The park is funded by private citizens, and therefore the Government cannot take down the monuments, like in New Orleans.
Although, to my dismay, there were no confederate flags flying, they still have a street called Confederate St.
Tidbit of Information: In the 1980s, Fort Mill was the home to TV evangelist Jim Bakker’s now defunct Heritage USA.
Atlanta, Georgia to Fort Mill, South Carolina: 237.9 miles
5 hours and 4 minutes
We hiked along the Cooper River in Berkeley County, South Carolina. This is the area were Francis Marion was born in 1732. He joined the military and took part in the French and Indian War. He became known for his brutal campaign against the Cherokee Indians, this carried over to the Revolutionary War. He was not liked by the ranking military officers and was given his own command in defending South Carolina from the British to get him out of their hair. Marion committed atrocities during the war, including not honoring flags of surrender, brutality, and killing unarmed prisoners.
An example would be after the Battle of Eutaw Springs on September 8, 1781. The retreating British fled to a plantation were they set up a hospital to treat their wounded. Marion ordered the hospital, and it’s inhabitants, burned to the ground. This incident resulted in much controversy about the proper rules of warfare. The senior Continental Officer of South Carolina responded saying military supplies were stored in the building, which made it a legitimate target. The victors write the history.
Marion was made a romantic hero by books and shows like Walt Disney’s Swamp Fox.
It has now been one year of traveling in the Sphinx. Do we like it? Was it worth the investment? What were the highlights? What problems did we have? With all of the above, did we make the right decision?
Never being more than 40 feet apart was a major concern when we started this adventure. As it turns out we get along great, which is probably the reason we’ve been married for 35 years, we both love me.
Taking into consideration the cost of the Sphinx, campground fees, attraction and admission costs, restaurants, and diesel fuel, it is costing us less on a per day basis than staying in our home. (We figure groceries equal out.)
Seeing the Country, learning (or re-learning) history, seeing wonderful sights, tasting local cuisine (today we had shrimp that we bought right off the shrimp boat), and meeting a wide range of people, has made this a fantastic journey.
Taking your house, with all your possessions, and shaking them up like a cocktail has given us challenges (my wife’s term), that we did not anticipate. At lot has to do with the poor quality control in the RV industry (and we have what is considered a high-end RV with good quality control). We have overcome these challenges (from the hydraulics not working to a shattered window caused by the roughness of I-55 in Louisiana). It is all part of the adventure.
There is no doubt in our minds that we made the right decision. We are having the time of our lives.
Therefore, we will be continuing our 5 year journey. We chose five years as our initial target to justify the cost of a new RV over a used one. There is nothing to prevent us going longer, as long as our health holds out.
I will continue writing this blog so you may follow our travels. I hope you find them entertaining. Please leave comments in that section at the end of each blog, making sure you check the box that says notify you when I respond to your comment.
Townsend, Georgia to Summerton, South Carolina 158.1 miles
3 hours 12 minutes
I mentioned in previous posts (Day 234) the Battle of Kings Mountain, the revolutionary war battle that changed the course of the war. Today we hiked the mountain and the battlefield. The Battle of Kings Mountain was a decisive victory in South Carolina for the Patriot militia over the Loyalist militia. The battle took place on October 7, 1780 and lasted only 65 minutes.
The interesting thing about this battle, no British regulars or Continental Army regulars took part in the battle. It was fought by British Loyalists (Tories) and Patriot Frontiersmen, the Over-Mountain Men (Whigs).
As you might recall, the Over-Mountain men were Frontiersman from western North Carolina (now parts of Tennessee) who did not partake in the Revolutionary War because of their remoteness. However, Maj. Patrick Ferguson was assigned to protect the left flank of Cornwallis’s army, who was trying to capture North and South Carolina. Ferguson sent out a declaration that if any frontiersmen interfered with him, he would come over the mountains, hang their leaders, and put their homes to the sword and torch. This pissed them off. They gathered, bringing their hunting rifles and horses. They were experienced fighters from their conflicts with the indians. Ferguson chose the top of Kings Mountain as his vantage point. However, at the time there were no trees at the top of the mountain, and the silhouette figures made excellent targets for the frontier sharpshooters.
The mountain was not named for King George, but for Samuel King, an early settler in the area.
Tidbit of information: John Crockett, father of Davy Crockett, fought in this battle.
Mebane, NC to Blacksburg, SC 168.3 miles
3 hours 29 minutes
Dillon, South Carolina, is a train whistle stop. In 1882 the Florence Railroad Company was building it’s line from Florence, South Carolina to the North Carolina State line. It had right-of-way problems when it reached the land owned by J.W. Dillon. The issue was resolved with Mr. Dillon granting the railroad a one half interest in 65 acres of his land on the condition that the railroad build a depot on the land, and lay out a town. The boundaries of the town are 1/2 mile around the train station.
When we visited the town they were having their annual “Dillon Celebrates Main Street” festival. It included lots of food, displays, and a car show.
The Courthouse did not display a tribute to the Confederacy, but the stars and bars and the Sons of the Confederacy were well represented.
Charleston SC to Dillon SC: 170.9 miles
3 hours 29 minutes
Carolina began as a grant to 8 men by King Charles to set up a commercial operation in the New World. Charles Towne Landing is where, in 1670, the new colonists set up their first settlement. The idea was to grow crops, ship that and wood to Barbados in exchange for sugar and then ship that back to England for sale and profit. Charles Towne Landing is actually inland, off the main ocean trade route because the settlers were afraid of attacks by the Spanish, who had declared this land as theirs, and Indians. After 10 years, they moved the settlement to what is now Charleston, on the ocean trade route.
Charles Towne Landing is now a State Park to preserve the site of the first settlement of what would end up being the State of South Carolina.
The actual site is nothing but a field with markers indicating where archaeologists think things, like a fort, might have been build. Little evidence has been found to support their findings. Actually they can say anything they want, and who would know.
Here is a replica of a small trading ship that moved supplies from the colony to Barbados and back.
I caught one of the residents change color from green to brown as I photographed him:
The turtles were having a convention at the water’s edge:
Now that we have more experience backing into sites, and more comfort traveling off the main expressways, we are venturing out. Our last 3 campsites have been on lakes. At Savannah South, KOA, we were actually on the waterfront. This was our view from The Sphinx:
These sites are more spacious.
Richmond Hill, GA. to Mt. Pleasant, SC. 141.7 miles
3 hours 10 minutes
On our way to Port Royal, we stopped at Fort Fremont on St. Helena Island, South Carolina. It was built at the beginning of the Spanish-American War to protect the U.S. Naval Station in Port Royal.
Since no part of the Spanish-American War took place in the States, the fort never engaged in battle.
Port Royal was a disappointment, as I expected stories of Pirates and Swashbucklers.
Being the first settlement on the continent, I also expected elegant homes.
However, there was an oyster festival going on, and I got to shuck my first oyster. A skill omitted in my traditional upbringing.
On our way back home, it is weird calling a trailer home, we stopped at The Cypress Wetlands of Port Royal.
In our travels south this is the first place we encountered Spanish Moss, an air feeding plant or epiphyteIt, that grows hanging from tree branches. It absorbs nutrients from the air and rain. It use to be called an air plant.
Where did Spanish Moss come from you ask? Well, I am glad to tell you:
We are in the Beaufort area of South Carolina, where, according to legend, is where Spanish moss originated way before the English settlers arrived in the 1600’s.
In an Indian village, not far from where I am standing, a Spanish soldier fell in love at first sight with an Indian chief’s favorite daughter. Though the chieftain forbade the couple to see each other, the Spaniard was too love struck to stop meeting the maiden in secret. The father found them out and ordered his braves to tie the Spaniard high up in the top of an ancient oak tree. The Spaniard had only to disavow his love to be freed, but he steadfastly refused. Guards were posted to keep anyone — the chief’s daughter above all — from giving food or water to the poor Spaniard.
The Spaniard grew weaker and weaker, but he still would not renounce his love for the girl. Near the end, the Chief tried to persuade him once more to stay away from his daughter. The Spaniard answered that not only would he refuse to disavow his love, but that his love would continue to grow even after death. When at last the Spaniard died, the chief kept the body tied up in the tree as a warning to any other would-be suitors.
Before long, the Indians began to notice that the Spaniard’s beard continued to grow. The Indian maiden refused ever to take a husband — unless the Spaniard’s beard died and vanished from the tree. As the years went by, the beard only grew stronger and longer, covering trees far from the Indian maiden’s village. Legend says that when the Spanish Moss is gone, the Spaniard’s love will have finally died with it.
And now you know the rest of the story.
Finally, we are South enough that flowers are blooming.
Another beautiful day. Actually every day is a beautiful day when you’re retired, even when it is windy and raining. Although it was a sunny, clear, cloudless sky day; as I write this at 2 in the morning, it is pouring. What a beautiful day.
Exploring the Islands, we went to Hunting Island State Park for some hiking. Plenty of wildlife. Don’t step on the alligator.
Do you recognize the diamond back turtle?