This has been a fun part of the trip as we get into warmer weather and head down the coast. South Carolina has had some of the nicest State Parks we’ve been at. You start to really appreciate a well-run, taken care of campground. We spent 2 nights in Myrtle Beach at a campground a few minutes from the sandy beaches and a few minutes to the bustling beach town. Since the beach is more our flavor than hanging out in the city, that’s where we spent most our time. Reading in our lounge chairs, riding along the water’s edge at low tide, or watching jellyfish and fisherpeople from the pier.
We then veered away from the coast and went inland to check off a National Park near Columbia, Congaree National Park. This park is not flashy and there are no mega-scenic-byways transecting it. There are about 120,000 people that visit the park a year for the hiking, paddling and bird-watching. We opted for the most traveled hiking path, The Boardwalk, an elevated trail with self-guided information at each stop that taught us about the trees, wildlife and history of the place. We were not up for any more extensive hiking amidst the mosquitoes, and the campground there is tent-only, so we ended up only spending a few hours at the park. As we walked along the trails, our conversation drifted down the path of negativity, and it was easy to write off the park as small without much to do. Granted, we could have spent time on the river if we had a canoe or kayak, or we could have hiked longer or spent the night in the backcountry had we brought lots of bug spray and xanax to deal with the mosquitoes. But as we learned more about the amazing biodiversity of both plant and animal life, our thoughts shifted away from the self-centered ways that the park served us, and started to appreciate the park just for what it was. It’s a unique ecosystem that floods about 10 times a year, mostly in the winter and spring. It has the largest old-growth forest in the Southeast, and is home to Champion trees which are the largest known examples of their species.
We listened to the sounds of the forest as we walked through, and it taught us an important lesson – – that the conservation of National Parks is not just solely for our enjoyment and recreation. As much as this statement seems obvious, it’s something that we tend to forget on our travels and visits to National Park sites. There is incredible value in protecting wilderness just for the sake of the wilderness and this park, like all of the remaining wilderness we haven’t destroyed deserves to be protected. We are not the only species on earth, (although we’re making quite the effort to be the most destructive). Congaree gave us this reminder that we certainly needed. If you listen to the sounds of the forest, sometimes you learn important lessons.
Our only real stop in Georgia was a day spent in Savannah. It is such a walkable city, with pretty much all the entertainment you can handle in the historic downtown district. We loved looking at the architecture of historic buildings and the park-like feel of the city with public squares scattered throughout. This is the spot, now benchless, where the bench scene in Forrest Gump was filmed.
We clocked about 8 miles of walking through the day and ended the day with a drive out to Tybee Island where we had dinner beachside and strolled until sunset. The view of the ocean at sunset just never gets old.