Road Trip Mission Underway
This trip was all about driftwood beaches and ancient ruins (plus a few breweries). I was struggling to process my dad’s illness and death and needed time alone. The symbolism of needing to see things that were once sturdy and dependably strong that fell to ruin was not lost on me.
I had flown into Jacksonville Florida and drove my rented car up the Georgia coast with a mission. I stopped at several sights along the way and made it into Savannah where I spent the night.
First Stop…1750 Colonial Park
The next morning I was heading further north, but first I wanted to see the 1750 Colonial Park Cemetery.
I stashed my luggage in the car, grabbed a big coffee from a local bake shop and walked from the hotel through the city.
The six-acre cemetery was not far from the hotel. A granite arch sat at the entrance with an eagle perched on top.
There was a path leading through the graves. Some of the burial sites were above ground. The hanging mossy trees gave the grounds a somewhat creepy feel.
The path was a tabby concrete, made from oyster shells,sand, ash and water. Tabby was commonly used as building material in this area back in the colonial days.
Wall O’ Headstones-Colonial Park Cemetery
The brick wall at the far end of the cemetery was lined with rows of headstones that were damaged years ago from storms and soldiers who occupied and vandalized the cemetery during the civil war.
The cemetery lay in decay for years after the war and the wall holds the displaced and broken headstones.
Near the end of the path was an area where almost 700 victims of the Yellow fever epidemic were laid to rest.
Holy Talmadge Bridge!
After a quick stroll through town I was back on the road. I could see a huge and somewhat frightening bridge in the distance.
“Hooo boy,” I thought as I consulted the GPS, looking for another route. “I’m going to have to drive over that beast.”
I gripped the steering wheel and leaned forward creeping ahead at about 12 mph and feeling increasingly sweaty. The Talmadge Memorial Bridge is a 1.9 mile ride, 185 feet over the Savannah River.
Once I was safely on the other side, I exhaled all the breath I’d been holding and entered South Carolina. There were signs for boiled peanut shops everywhere.
“Boiled peanuts?” I thought…”Ieww.”
Salt Marsh Brewing Co
The road brought me right to my next destination, The Salt Marsh Brewing Co. I had a loaded grilled cheese sandwich and a super yum Salt Marsh Tabby Porter.
Giving In to Peanut Peer Pressure
After lunch, I got back on the road. There was about an hour of driving behind me and I had passed about 100 roadside stands and shops advertising the boiled peanuts. I finally gave in to the peanut peer pressure. I had to find out… “What’s the deal with the nuts?”.
The peanuts were floating in a warm spiced liquid and when I pulled them from the shells, they were surprisingly soft. I popped one in my mouth and the warm, spicy saltiness was delicious.
“Holy moly that’s good!” I exclaimed to myself.
The peanut had taken on the consistency of a cooked lima bean and soon I was shoving them in…because apparently I was now a big fan of the aforementioned, “Ieww boiled peanut.”
The Big Momma of the Ruins – Sheldon Church
My next stop was one I was really excited about. The Sheldon Church Ruins were about 20 miles north of Beaufort. I had seen pictures but I was still surprised to see the hulking brick structure in front of me.
The church was built in 1751 and was partially burned during the American Revolution in 1779. Enormous red brick columns lined the front of the building. The late day sun filtered through the open archways as if the building were lit from within.
I wandered inside the church walls (which have since been fenced in). A small cemetery surrounded the church, draped by mossy oaks. There was a single grave within the structure. I felt very small walking inside the towering walls.
I marveled at the stone work and the arches and tried to imagine how it had looked all those years ago.
It was winter and the sun would set early, by 5 pm…so I needed to move if I was to make it to my next couple stops before dark.
A Little Rest at the Chapel of Ease
It was about a 40 minute drive to the St Helena Parish Chapel of Ease. When I got out, I could see mossy trees draped over the side and grassy areas on the roof. The small church was built in 1740 and is in the National Register of Historic Places. I studied the tabby walls with their thousands of little shell pieces jutting out across the surface.
There were impressive brick archways and a small cemetery. A raised tomb sat eerily in the center. The chapel had been burned by a forest fire in 1886 and was never rebuilt.
Daylight was fading so I began heading towards Hunting Island State Park. I had read there was a driftwood beach at the end of the island and wanted to check it out.
On the way was a visitor shop and swampy area that was said to be home to a few alligators. I did a careful scan for eyeballs on the water but didn’t see any signs of the gators.
I continued towards the beach and found a parking area. Grabbing my camera, I walked quickly and purposefully onto the sand. It was almost dark and my phone was almost dead. Not a good combination. I could see the fallen trees laying in random formations near the shore.
Who’s This Little Purple Guy?
As I climbed over a large tree on the pathway, I spotted a glimpse of something purple in a small pool of water on the sand.
When I approached I was excited to see it was a sand dollar, a round burrowing sea urchin. I had a couple of white sand dollars at home from beach gift shops during childhood trips to Florida. I was fascinated by the intricate starred design on the top and the little doves within. It never failed to amaze me how God’s nature can be so detailed and beautiful.
“Big score!” Was my first thought as I bent down to pick up the little treasure.
“Oh wow! I think it’s still alive.” Was my next thought as I peered at the spotted purple disc.
I began thinking, “If this little guy is alive, he won’t make it long if the tide continues to go out. My treasure quest soon became a life saving mission. I carefully picked up the small creature and tossed him back into the water, feeling grateful to have been a part of that moment.
Pizza, Stout and Small Talk
My phone gave out completely and the sun was now down. I wound back out of the park and into Beaufort where I was staying. (Home of Forest Gump)
After checking in to the hotel, I headed to Hearth Wood Fired Pizza for dinner. I sat at the bar area surrounding the wood oven and chatted with another solo traveling girl. We shared stories and photos of our day over an amazingly delicious pizza and a stout.
It was late and I headed back to my room to map out and rest up for my next day’s adventure.