South Carolina

Sunday, 3 December 2006, Hunting Island SP, Beaufort, SC
The weather is once again overcast and a little rainy! But it's definitely not typical of the weather we have been experiencing of late. And we are in probably the most beautiful campsite we have had on coastal USA. From the window I am looking between Palmettos, out over a small sand dune, watching the waves of the Atlantic roll onto the beach. So even though it is raining today, the view from inside, where it is dry, is just wonderful!
We have been in South Carolina for 2 weeks today and this is only our third campground. Travelling more slowly is certainly appealing to both of us. We spent most of the first week in Huntington Beach State Park Campground. It was leading up to Thanksgiving and the campground was apparently booked out from Thursday through Sunday. We managed to stay until Friday and then went on to Charleston. To reach Huntington Beach, we had to drive through Myrtle Beach. It is enough for our Australian friends and family to note that Myrtle Beach is exactly like the Gold Coast in Queensland. There are many golf courses and holiday resorts, including camping resorts with around a thousand sites! Needless to say, we were not interested in staying at one of those. Shopping and mini-golf seem to be the favourite pastimes, judging by the number of shopping centres and elaborate to weird mini-golf courses along Highway 17.
I confess that we did spend most of Tuesday in one of the larger shopping malls. We were looking for a hairdresser and the weather was cold and rainy, so once we arrived inside the mall and found a place to get WiFi, we just stayed. The shopping malls here in the USA often seem to provide very comfy seating, so it was doubly inviting to stay inside and let the mall provide the heating, instead of sitting in our camper and using up our propane to stay warm... Luckily for us that was the only day where it really rained consistently for the whole day, although it did remain quite cool, with occasional showers for the rest of our stay.
Huntington Beach State Park is named for the Huntingtons who owned it from 1930 until it passed into state protection in 1960. During their time there they built Atalaya, a mansion in the style of the Moorish architecture found on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, to be their winter home. It contained a rather large studio in which Anna Hyatt Huntington pursued her art of sculpture. She is renowned for her large animal sculptures. The house still stands and one of the great attractions of the park is being able to wander from room to room, complete with a guide sheet outlining the use of each, and imagine how it was to live in such a place. The building faces the ocean and is a very interesting structure - 30 rooms surround three sides of a huge courtyard, and the fourth side contains various outbuildings including a stable, dog kennels and bear pens!
Other features of the park, which we also had time to explore, are a freshwater lagoon and a salty marsh divided by the causeway entrance to the park. Both have boardwalks out into them, from which many avid bird-watchers observe the multitudinous bird-life to be seen here. There are also alligators, but unfortunately the weather was a little cold for them to be out and about. So, we still haven't spotted an alligator.
We had stopped in this area because we had chosen the nearby Georgetown to receive some mail. We drove into the town on Monday to check for it and were told it hadn't arrived. When Juergen called on Wednesday he was told it was there and when he went to pick it up found that it had been there for over a week - don't know what was happening there. Georgetown itself has a fairly impressive historic downtown area and we spent some time there walking around, looking at the old buildings, on our way south on Friday. The houses are mostly wooden structures, with wide verandas, window shutters and occasional pieces of wrought iron trim. They were once again in the tree-lined streets we had also experienced in Wilmington, with Spanish moss and ferns living on the trees. A very pretty area, although we drove through other parts of Georgetown which were not so attractive and reflected the lifestyle of the people who live there and probably work in the paper mill, steel plant or other various industries around which this town has grown.
After having so much of a problem getting a site at Huntington Beach over the weekend, we had called the James Island County Park ahead to book a site, only to find that it is their annual Holiday Festival of Lights in the park and we could get one site for Saturday night and then another from Sunday through Wednesday. On arrival in Charleston on Friday, we called again to find that they were still booked out. After checking out another campground somewhat out of town, and finding it set right on a busy railway line, we decided to spend the night at Wal-Mart for the second time on our trip.

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