Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Making the Best of Things in The Low Country
I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks."
Here we are now in Hardeeville South Carolina making our way back to Texas and trying to stay off the Interstate and hug the coastline as much as possible. Since leaving Elizabeth City North Carolina we have been to North Carolina's Outer Banks and saw the Wright Brother's Memorial and Nags Head, Kill Devils Hills and Roanoke Island. On Roanoke Island we visited the museum there that had all the history of the Lost Colony and Virginia Dare the first English baby born in the New World. We got to go onboard a replica of the Elizabeth II and were entertained by "crew" in period costumes who even spoke to visitors in the Old World English and told us all about their long voyage to the New World. Then we toured the Indian Village and Settlement complete with working carpenter and blacksmith shops! Again all the people were in period clothing and spoke the Old English. The blacksmith was intriqued by the 160 year old square "cut" nail I wore around my neck on a string and I explained to him how I had pulled one out of the old house we were raised in for myself and my sisters to have as a memento. He then got his forge blazing and made me a square nail from stock he had "brought with him on his voyage from England" and made a nail like they would have used in the first colony. We watched as he heated the iron stock red hot and then hammered and cut it with five facets on the nail head. It was really some thing to see it made and then he demonstrated how it would hold in wood even better than a modern round nail! Then next day we headed for Myrtle Beach and the Crystal Coast. The traffic along that bit of the coast was bumper to bumper with college age kids heading to all the hotels and beaches so we just pushed on down 17 until we hit Georgetown and got another great motel room at the Jameson Inn for 49 bucks! Today we headed for Savannah Georgia but decided to stop for the night in Hardeeville South Carolina because motels here are only 30-40 dollars and we also thought we might drive into Beaufort and Hilton Head in the morning and see what they have to offer. Today we hit a stretch of 17 that was called The Sweetwater Basketweavers Highway and we soon found out why. This part of South Carolina is near the Santee River and Delta (you might remember this name from the movie The Patriot) and it is where many freed slaves settled after the Civil War and also hid out during the war. The highway was lined with wooden shantys selling woven baskets made with sawgrass from the local salt-marshes and sold by decendants of slaves that still live in the area. On some of the sea islands here there are still people who live poor and simple lives fishing and farming and making baskets who speak Gullah a language combining English with a West African influence. There are also many old plantations in the area that are open to tours. We may stop at one tomorrow because we read that the plantation owner planted over 400 live oaks on both sides of the road over 250 years ago and they are now huge and draped with spanish moss on the two miles into the plantation! This is all called the South Carolina Low Country and you could spend quite some time here just exploring all the old history.
Posted by Steve Chase at 8:31 PM