We decided to take the leap and bring Annabeth camping! T.J. and I have been waiting for a chance to start exploring South Carolina’s 47 state parks. With the furthest being only 4 hours away in the Blue Ridge Mountains and 6 state parks within an hour of our house, we have been looking forward to this for months. That’s right, we’ve got mountains out here. The tallest peak is Mount Mitchell bragging about his 6,683′ stature. Considering that he rises from sea level versus a mile high, perspective is probably not too different from a mountain back in Colorado. We shall see. I’m sure that will be one of our future adventures.
The weekend after Memorial Day, we reserved 2 nights at Givhan’s Ferry State Park. 17 miles and only 25 minutes away. Being so close, we could easily head home in a worst case scenario. Annabeth and I spent all day Friday packing the car. Dad came home and she was pumped to see what all the hype was about. We headed straight there, stopping only for a bag of ice and a pre-dinner taco. The site was described as “hike-in only.” A little scary when booking blindly but it just meant that you couldn’t pull your car straight up to the site. There was a parking lot at the end of the loop and we carried our gear along the sandy path to our site #32. Now that I think about it, that was T.J.’s high school football number.
We set up camp in a pit of sand, cooked chili cheese dogs, and headed to bed. The next morning, we made breakfast burritos and set out to explore the park. Annabeth is a magnet to water, so it’s no surprise that she found the river immediately. Turns out, this state park is located at a bend in the Edisto River. Our camping trip morphed into a water weekend the very moment Annabeth set eyes on the shoreline. We ran into a park ranger who told us that the river was unusually low and we could walk across! T.J. and I took turns letting Annabeth drag us down river. Cooper isn’t fond of being wet, so he sat this one out. People started showing up with elaborate floats and coolers. We found out that alcohol is not allowed in the state park but once you’re in the water, the rules are lifted. One guy plopped his chair and cooler down right on a sand bar and popped a top. It was fun watching groups of people celebrating a birthday carrying an inflated peacock with seating for 6 into the river or college kids tying together inner tubes. They sure did take special care of that rectangular float escorting their precious Natty Light down river.
We could not get Annabeth out of the water. She cheerfully greeted every person she came across and befriended a family who shared a floaty with her. It had been about 4 hours, so T.J. ran back to the campsite to grab lunch supplies. Annabeth graced us with her presence to grab a chip and a sip of water a few times but the river was her home now. The beach started to crowd and Annabeth was wearing thin despite her unaltered enthusiasm. No amount of coaxing could stop the tears that streamed down her face as we pull her away. We ran to the store to look for beach gear, a fresh bag of ice, and a Bojangles fried chicken dinner. We were back in the water less than 2 hours later. Annabeth made a friend within seconds and we sat on the beach until the sun began to set.
S’mores and a camp fire were next up on our camping adventure. Dad enjoyed one with a Reese’s thin peanut butter cup but Annabeth preferred plain graham crackers and a raw marshmallow. I ate mine as God intended. Annabeth made a firm request to sleep in her own tent for the night. We tucked her in and sang ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ crouched down on our knees. She beamed with pride and confidently sent us away. As Dad and I got ready for bed, she asked for a story that eventually led to her cuddling with us. I am glad she did because my night would have ended in some silent tears if she’d fallen asleep alone in that little orange fox tent.
I wish we’d taken a couple more pictures but the weekend will always warm my heart. T.J. and I have enjoyed camping since before we met. The joining of our camping bins was carried out in a ceremonial fashion. Passing on our love for the outdoors and sharing our first South Carolina camping adventure was the highlight of our summer so far. We are so proud to be a part of your story, Annabeth Elise. You have made our lives the grandest of adventures.