Lake Marion, South Carolina

Day 837

     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. 

Technical Stuff: 

Roanoke Rapids, NC to Lake Marion, South Carolina: 269.1 miles

4 hours 54 minutes

10.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.56

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Day 832

     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. 

Technical Stuff:

Atlanta Georgia to Rock Hill, South Carolina: 249.9 miles

5 hours 3 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $3.00

Walterboro, South Carolina

Day 556

    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. 

Technical Stuff:

Raleigh, NC to Walterboro, SC: 236.5 miles

4 hours 58 minutes

10.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.74

Fort Mill, South Carlolina

Day 543

     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.

Technical Stuff:

Atlanta, Georgia to Fort Mill, South Carolina: 237.9 miles

5 hours and 4 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Cooper River, South Carolina

Day 367

     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.

 

 

 

Summerton, South Carolina

Day 365

     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. 

Technical Stuff:

Townsend, Georgia to Summerton, South Carolina 158.1 miles

3 hours 12 minutes

11.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.69

 

Blacksburg, South Carolina

Day 251

     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. 

Technical Stuff:

Mebane, NC to Blacksburg, SC 168.3 miles

3 hours 29 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.40

Dillon, South Carolina

Day 71

     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.

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day 69-70 (43)

Barbara could not resist adjusting the carburetor day 69-70 (47)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technical Stuff:

Charleston SC to Dillon SC: 170.9 miles

3 hours 29 minutes

11.7 MPG

Diesel $1.97

Charles Towne Landing, South Carolina

Day 69

     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.

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I caught one of the residents change color from green to brown as I photographed him:day 69-70 (22) day 69-70 (23) day 69-70 (24) day 69-70 (25)

 

The turtles were having a convention at the water’s edge:day 69-70 (34)

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Day 68

 Camper (11)

     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.

Camper (12)

Camper (14)

Richmond Hill, GA. to Mt. Pleasant, SC.  141.7 miles

11.5 MPG

3 hours 10 minutes

Diesel $2.38

 

Port Royal, South Carolina

Day 15

     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.

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    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.

Day 15 (5)Day 15 (3)

     Being the first settlement on the continent, I also expected elegant homes.

Day 15 (4) They did a poor job of upkeep.

 

 

 

 However, there was an oyster festival going on, and I got to shuck my first oyster. A skill omitted in my traditional upbringing. Day 15 (6)

 

 

 

 

On our way back home, it is weird calling a trailer home,  we stopped at The Cypress Wetlands of Port Royal.

Day 15 (8) Day 15 (10) Day 15 (17)It was a green goo, but had some neat birds. Click on a picture for an up close and personal view.

Day 15 (9) Day 15 (19) Day 15 (27) Day 15 (25)

Beaufort, South Carolina

Day 14

      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.

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     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.

Hunting Island, South Carolina

Day 13

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. Day 13 (18)Don’t step on the alligator.

Do you recognize the diamond back turtle?Day 13 (2)

We went out on the pier, then into the woods for a hike across the river to the Atlantic Ocean.

It was so windy the red flag warning was displayed.Day 13 (17)

     Down by the ocean was the graveyard of all the debris of the previous storms. It was neat.

We next went to the lighthouse of Hunting Island.Day 13 (20) Day 13 (19) Day 13 (22) Day 13 (21)

     We rounded out the day with a leisurely dinner on Lady’s Island, where we ate seafood that slept the previous night in the Beaufort River. The view from our table was exquisite.Day 13 (1)

St. Helena Island, South Carolina

Day 12

Travel

     Each day brings new challenges. Most RVs have what is referred to as an RV refrigerator. It is a small 9 cu. ft. refrigerator that is run by the batteries of the RV (commonly referred to as “house batteries” to distinguish them from the car or truck batteries), and propane. Yes, propane. The RV fridge does not use a compressor, like your home fridge, but a method of cooling called “absorption”. This uses the heat of the propane flame to cause a chemical reaction that absorbs heat from the refrigerator box, leaving cold.

     The advantages of this type of box is it weighs less, uses 12 volts and propane to run, which means you do not have to be hooked up to electricity. The disadvantage is that they are small, and propane has trouble running a flame at high altitude because less oxygen.

     We decided that we wanted a full size “residential” refrigerator for both size and the ability to use a compressor to cool, rather than absorption. No problem at altitude. The disadvantage is they weigh a lot, and only run on 110 volts. This means I need to be hooked up to power. For traveling down the road, or camping without power (called boon-docking) I need electricity. This is achieved by installing an inverter. This device transfers 12 volts from the house batteries to 110 current. I also can use my 5.5 kilowatt generator to power the refrigerator._DSC0508

_DSC0507
This is 20 cu. ft. My one at home is 18 cu. ft.

     The point of this rambling (after all, I am retired with nothing to do for the next 5 years) is to describe to you the following:

     Our fridge comes with an ice maker and filter cooled water. We have now exhausted the ice we brought and decided to hook up the ice maker. First, I went to the water dispenser to prime it. Pushed button. Nothing. I figured the dealer probably did not want to turn on the water to the fridge until delivered. No problem. Went to turn water on, can’t find valve. Looked behind unit, where it is on my house fridge. Not there. Looked under sink, where most of the water connections enter the coach. Not there. Is this beginning to sound like the cable/antenna switch? After a day and a half of searching, I found the turn on valve OUTSIDE the coach, by the rear spare tire. Why I did not think to look there first is beyond me.

     St. Helena Island is one of 200 islands, collectively known as the “Sea Islands”, off the main cost of South Carolina. They include Port Royal, of pirate fame, and Parris Island, close to the heart of all marines. Not far from us is the US Marine Corps Air Station. Fighter jets were constantly flying overhead. At first I thought they were just doing maneuvers, then I realized, one flew over our RV site and went back and told the others of our attempts to set up camp. The others then came to see and laugh for themselves.

Technical Stuff:

Florence to St. Helena Island 171.2 miles

10.9 mpg

3 hours 37 minutes

Florence, South Carolina

Day 10 & 11

Travel:

    Florence, South Carolina, is a dinky little town, which appears to be totally under some sort of construction. We parked in the RV campground, set up our unit and took off to get some dinner at places recommended by our hostess. The first place was closed. The second place we went to seek our supper was completely blocked by construction. Finally we were  able to get our dinner at Jersey Boys’ Pizza. A small place with a few table and chairs, but mostly catering to take out. They had the best pizza. We ordered a 16″ cheese steak pizza, which appeared to be much larger. I guess Domino’s uses a different measurement for their 16″. Two pieces, and I was full. The rest is now a midnight snack waiting to happen.

Technical Stuff: 

Four Oaks to Florence 123 miles

10.6 mpg

2 hours 41 minutes

Diesel: 1.84 gallon