Finally we are on our way!
First we had to put a few last minute refrigerated and personal items in the van. Then, since we will be gone for four months, we got our home ready to leave as we did last year. We turned off the water and heat and set up a dehumidifier - sitting on the kitchen counter with a hose to drain into the sink. We then set up lights and a radio on timers to give the appearance of someone being home in the evening. These things seemed to work well for us last year while we were gone for eight months walking across the country so hopefully all will be well again this year.
Leaving home and heading to the Atlantic Ocean this year is so much different than last year. We are excited to be able to drive west this year but we don't have the same feelings and anticipation of the long journey ahead that we had when we were walking west.
We arrive on Isle of Palms, Charleston, SC and park our van. As we then walk to the ocean it is raining lightly. Last year we started our walk under clear blue skies which was nice. Having rain at the ocean today is of little impact compared to what it would have been last year. We walk down the beach some and head to the water at the same place we touched the Atlantic Ocean last year before starting our walk west. After taking pictures we each again this year pick up a couple of shells to "carry" with us to the Pacific Ocean. It feels good to finally be on our way and driving west.
Charleston, SC is a great place! We have very much enjoyed living here for the past twenty-four years and have visited most of the scenic and historic sites. It is a great place to visit also with both its natural and historic attractions. While Charleston, SC is best known for its history and hospitality it also has fine beaches on the barrier islands - Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island to the north of Charleston Harbor and Folly Island to the south of the harbor. There are many places to see and things to do but the following are a few of our favorites.
Fort Moultrie, on Sullivans Island, is part of the Fort Sumter National Monument but is off the main tourist route. Its history actually spans a longer period from the Revolutionary War through World War II. There is a visitor center with excellent movie plus the preserved/ restored fort. It is a very interesting self-guided tour through the various sections of the fort with great views of Charleston Harbor.
Of course the historic event that Charleston, SC is best known for is the battle over Fort Sumter during the Civil War. Liberty Square is a scenic park in downtown Charleston, SC where you catch the boat to Fort Sumter. Also adjacent to the park is the South Carolina Aquarium.
Perhaps the most historic building downtown is the Old Exchange Building, built by the British prior to the Revolutionary War. Many people don't realize that Charleston, SC has a rich history during pre-Civil War times.
At the Visitor Center in downtown Charleston, SC you can buy a walking tour guide book and do your own downtown tour at your own pace which we always enjoyed doing.
Of course most people come to Charleston, SC during the summer when it can be crowded, hot, and humid. April is a delightful time to be in Charleston, SC when many of the plants are blooming. Our favorite time of year there is in the fall but you do have to be aware of the potential for hurricanes though we usually only have one every ten years or so.
We leave Charleston, SC heading northwest on state route 61. As we drive along seeing convenience stores we stopped at last year and places where we camped we reminisce as they bring back memories of our walk last year. It's amazing how in an hour of driving we covered the same distance that it took us about four days to walk last year. In comparison to walking west last year the scenery seems to fly by this year. That was one advantage of walking - we had plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful countryside.
We arrived at the home of our good backpacking friends Dave and Rose where we enjoyed a delicious country dinner of barbequed ribs, sweet potatoes, and baked beans, as well as delicious homemade blueberry bars with ice cream for dessert! Last year Dave and Rose were our first "trail angels" letting us sleep in a bed for three nights, feeding us excellent food, and shuttling us back and forth in order for us to walk each day. After dinner we enjoyed visiting before turning in for the night.