We enjoyed our short stay in North Carolina and must say that the people here were some of the friendliest we met on the road. We loved the hipster, craft beer loving town of Asheville and was able to park the car for free at the visitors centre and spend a few hours doing a self-guided historic walking tour through the city centre.
That night we camped at Lake Powhatan Recreation Area and enjoyed a great hike around the lake. This area is also very popular with locals jogging and mountain biking as it has hundreds of Km’s of tracks. This campground was one of the cleanest and best maintained we stayed at and Tom was delighted to get a photo with Smoky the Bear!
Now we were at the pointy end of the trip and only had a few days left to get the Jeepy back to Alamo at Fort Lauderdale airport. So farewell North Carolina and hello South Carolina as we sped along the fast moving interstate. We had a pit stop at the visitor center and learnt about the national and state parks we could visit. Then drove straight to the Congaree National Park, a stunning but little known park, home to the only area of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in North America. This park of approx 26,500 acres only became a protected area in 2003 after a great activist, Harry Hampton, began conservation efforts in 1969! And we are so happy he did! We wandered around the boardwalks above the swamps, marveling at the eerie Bald Cypress trees with their ‘snorkel knees’ and the Loblolly Pines that grow up to 50 meters or more high! A truely remarkable place.
From here we continued towards South Carolina’s historic coastline to visit some more NPS attractions.
The first was The Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. This aristocratic American politician was one of the few men who helped draft up and sign the US Constitution. His Snee Farm Plantation has been turned into a historical park, complete with a restored homestead that houses a fascinating museum with each room delving into the the history of the area, the lifestyles of the upper crust as well as the African slaves. You can do some short interpretive hikes around the property admiring the Spanish moss hanging from the large oak trees.
A short drive away towards the ocean is Fort Moultrie. This fortress also has a long wartime history of protecting America’s shores during internal and external wars. You can walk all around the fort, up to the guard towers and down into the bunkers used in WW2, complete with displays and all the original furnishings and equipment. The visitor centre has a kitchy video you can watch documenting the history of the fort and also has a wonderful museum with great exhibits.
If you are really interested in maritime war history you can also travel across to an island where another fort – Fort Sumner is located.
We had our fill of war history and drove south into Georgia deciding to forgo the historic Charleston to check out Savannah instead. Savannah was America’s first planned city and was organized as a series of neighborhoods surrounding 24 gorgeous squares and parks.
Being Sunday we were able to park the car in the visitor centre carpark for free and instead of being lazy and hopping on a tour bus, we picked up a map and did the walking tour. This historic city is simply gorgeous and deserves half a day or more to stroll around the old streets to view the restored mansions and sit and relax in the parks, admiring the magnolias in bloom and the large oaks with the distinctive Spanish moss. Make sure you visit Chippewa Square to see the famous spot where the bus stop scenes were filmed in Forrest Gump.
That night was spent at a very well managed state park – Skidaway Island – where we went on a late afternoon hike to beat the summer heat. The Spanish moss here is divine but so eerie at night time. The Rangers came by our tent to show us some reptiles – a corn snake and a lizard. Later that night tom almost picked up a snake thinking it was a piece of wood! Oops! Lucky they aren’t venomous!
From Georgia it was a quick drive to Florida’s northern coast and we were so happy to get some beach time as the weather was so hot now that we were out of the mountains. Our nights weren’t too comfortable in our four season mountain tent!
We camped at the Fort Clinch State Park on Amelia Island, a peninsula near Fernandina Beach, where we swam in the ocean, walked along the long fishing pier and relaxed at sunset in hammocks on the beach.
We also camped at Manatee Hammock campground in Titusville, which has a prime position overlooking Cape Canaveral and we could see the Kennedy Space Center with a shuttle getting ready to launch in a few days time!
Wow what a busy last few days we had and now it was time to hand back the car. We had an amazing 57 days road tripping 12,000 miles in the USA and enjoying 24 states! What an adventure!!! Message us if you have any questions about road tripping USA!!!