A breath of fresh air…

South Carolina has been a welcome breath of fresh air.  As Dave mentioned, Nashville was ultimately disappointing which we attribute more to circumstance than the city itself.  The campground was the pits!  Dave was more diplomatic than I will be…  The site was level but that was pretty much all it had to offer.  The campground was too crowded, had way too many rules, and no public dumpsters (so people had trash bags outside their campers every night).  We were about 25 minutes driving distance from everything worthwhile, so getting out was more of a hassle.  I was not very happy.

Eli and I still saw some interesting things in our free time while Dave worked.  We went to the Parthenon, a life-sized (concrete) replica of the Greek original.  Word is that it was built in Nashville because, with so many coming there to study and get an education, it is the “Athens” of the south.  I went there with one goal in mind actually: find a wide open space for Eli to run around.  Mission accomplished!  Eli must have run around for 90 minutes endlessly entertained.

The structure also had floor to cieling solid bronze doors that you could swing (slowly) closed.  And it houses the largest statue in the western hemisphere: a 42-foot rendition of Athena.

Outside we wandered the beautiful park area around the pond and to a salvaged train engine.  With 72 inch wheels, Eli wouldn’t even let me put him down for a picture: too intimidating!

Because everything was so far away, getting out of the camper and into the world felt extra challenging to me.  Between nap time, meal time, and play time, I was lucky to get out before 3pm, and then guess what, it’s time for dinner.

Saturday was our successful family day, and you can read more about that in Dave’s last post!

So here we are in South Carolina, thank goodness!  Almost the complete opposite of our last experience, the campground is idyllic!  We are situated in a county park on a small island in Lake Keowee with lake views on all sides.  There are about 100 sites here, but because it’s getting closer to the off-season, for most of the week we were almost completely alone here.  The site is grassy, shaded, with a playground across the dirt road.  There is a constant breeze, a rich smell of pine, and quiet as can be.  The weather has been phenomenal, and the landscape is incredible.

Eli has loved playing outside, throwing and kicking his soccer ball and working up to running.  Dave and I both took jogs this week, and the views and fresh air are divine!  I took a fall on my run this morning.  No serious harm done, but it will likely force me to edit my exercise routine for a while.  I smell a lot of planks and push ups….

This is also a very interesting area.  Lake Keowee is a man-made lake (as are many lakes around this area), developed in the 1970’s as an energy project.  These lakes are HUGE and I’ll let Dave fill in the blanks here to explain what I don’t understand…  Here’s what I can gather: They flooded the rivers to create the lakes and in doing so filled in the valleys of this mountainous area.  At the bottom of these lakes you can even find (with the proper scuba gear) trees, houses, even original headstones that remain.  It took years to buy out all of the land and about 10 years to complete the project.

What exists now is a beautiful (and strange) landscape.  If you look at a map you can see the strange shape of the lakes.  They look a bit like squashed tomatoes, with fingers reaching every which way.

Earthen dams hold in unthinkable amounts of water.  The drop from the top of the dam at Lake Jocassee to Lake Keowee?… 400 feet down!   We were told that the dams could withstand up to three hours of overtopping before there would be “trouble.”  That doesn’t sound like enough time to me…  The lake is also on top of a fault line – which hasn’t been active in about 300 million years, but still… It’s a fault line.  And there’s an active nuclear power plant here, which the waters cool.

So, I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was kind of a scary place to be.  Lots of possibilities for disaster.  But if you just forget about that and put it out of your mind, this place is awesome!

Waterfalls that will leave you speechless, historical landmarks that are palapable, and endless forests and mountains.  This area also has some of the oldest mountains in the world, with some rock formations dating back 500 million years.

Lake Jocassee is also a botanist haven, with some plant species thriving that are not found anywhere else in the U.S.  This area gets the most rainfall in the country, so some tropical plants have made a happy home, surviving the long journey through the clouds from Africa and Asia.

Where did I hear all this info?  We took a boat tour on Lake Jacassee today, an intimate and informative way to see the various and unique sights.

Yesterday we went on a hike to Yellow Branch waterfall.  A moderate hike, we made it a true adventure (Eli in tow) and climbed a precarious “trail” up the side of the waterfall to try to snag a view from the top.  Not much luck there, but it gave us a good workout.

And then there was the Stumptunnel, an unfinished train tunnel running through a granite mountain.  The line was supposed to go from Charleston to Cleveland, but construction came to a hault after governement funds ran out after the civil war.  Families of immigrants suddenly found themselves with no livelihood, and the tunnel sits as a haunting tribute to their hard work and interrupted dreams.  You can walk about 100 yards into the tunnel, and through an iron fence you can see about 100 yards further where the first air shaft extends to the top of the mountain.

So whether you’re interested in the hikes, the waterfalls, the rocks, the plants, the incredible engineering, the agriculture, the civil war history, or the under-water remains of life before the flood, this is an incredible place to visit.

Next up: Charleston!  With recent flooding, we took Charleston off the table and considered Asheville, North Carolina after it was highly recommended.  But, with virtually no reasonable campgrounds within 25 miles of Asheville, and with flooding supposedly under control, we head out to Charleston tomorrow!  More on that soon!

Also, stay tuned for a more detailed account of “a day in the life,” where I’ll tell all about what things are like day to day.  Is it what you imagine?  Is it better?  Worse?  Is this your dream or your nightmare?… Stay tuned!

2 Responses to A breath of fresh air…

  1. Mom

    Maybe a little of bit of all of those things!!! Love the posts. Almost like being there…..sending you hugs and lots of love <3

  2. Jodi S

    How fun to finally sit down and catch up on all your adventures! I’ve been thinking about you lately and it’s so fun to read your accounts in your different voices, and to hear about all the interesting things you are seeing along the way. <3

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