Travel to North Carolina/South Carolina June 2011

On June 1st Tim and I left Goose Creek and headed north on the back roads to tour North Carolina for a month.  Our first stop would be Onslow Beach Recreation Area on Camp Lejeune for 10 days.   What a wonderful 10 days it was.  Every morning we walked at least 2 miles on the beach enjoying the fresh air and getting our exercise at the same time. 

The campground has full hookups with a large cover over the picnic table but large enough to put chairs and be in the shade.  We spent every day at the beach and enjoyed the surf greatly.  One day the wind was blowing so hard that sand was blowing everywhere so we left after an hour.  That day we went shopping and enjoyed touring the base.  The base is huge as it occupies 246 square miles with 14 miles of beach.  The only bad part about being here we never toured the area as we enjoyed the water and beach too much.  LOL

While at Camp Lejeune we celebrated Tim’s birthday.  Happy Birthday honey.

Our next stop was Smith Lake Army Travel Campground on Fort Bragg.  This is a nice campground with full hookups, showers, cabins, tenting sites, tables, campfire rings, lake, fishing, boating and hiking.  A tornado had gone thru here in April and destroyed alot of trees, homes, dropped trees into the lakes so it was not as pretty as it could have been.  We did enjoy our stay and the only complaint I had was the laundry is in the office and closes at 5pm.  We found a laundry on base though so got all of that done in one afternoon.

Fort Bragg covers 251 square miles and was established in 1918 as a field artillery site.  In 1934 the airborne tradition began with the first parachute jump using an artillery observation balloon as a platform.  In 1952 it became home to the Army’s Special Forces known as the Green Berets.  The Golden Knights, the Army’s Parachute Team, are also stationed here.  It is one of the largest military complexes in the world because of personal stationed here. 

We did alot of hiking while here each day early in the morning before it got to hot.  It was wonderful walking in the woods listening to the birds chirp and seeing so many pine trees. 

One day we toured Cape Fear Botanical Gardens in Fayetteville.  They are located on 79 acres where Cross Creek meets the Cape Fear River.  They have a beautiful Visitors Complex, children’s gardens, butterfly stoll, friendship garden, camellia garden, daylily garden, conifer garden, shade garden, rain garden, and a hosta garden.  My favorite part was the hosta garden as I loved hostas – had loads of them in our yard when we owned our home.  Another part I loved was they had old buildings with flowers growing in the yards to look like a neighbor.  Really cool place.

We toured the Fayetteville Transportation Museum where they had exhibs and artifacts of transporation from days gone by.  It was very interesting and all free.  While here a lady thanked me for letting my hubby serve in the military.  In the last few years alot of people have thanked him for his service but never me.  Maybe the next time I see a military spouse I will thank her for her sacrifices. 

If you are ever in Fayetteville, North Carolina please stop in at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.  Admission is free – only the movie and simulator cost money.  What a wonderful museum as the exhibits start in 1940 and go thru all the wars right up to present day.  It is a museum which will not bore anyone as the displays are so interesting and imformative. 

They have a wonderful movie called “Descending From the Clouds” which is well worth the time and cost.   The motion simulator was wonderful as you felt like you were flying a helicopter, skiing down hills, jumping out of the helicopter etc.  It sure gave you a feel for what the special ops training is like.

We totally enjoyed this area and will return again someday.  Our next stop was Weston Lake Recreation Area and RV Park located on Fort Jackson in South Carolina.  Fort Jackson is the largest and most active inital entry training center for the Army.  It sits on 52000 acres which gives the army plenty of room to train.  The base was founded in 1917. 

The campground was just wonderful, full hookups, tables, campfires, showers, lake, swimming, fishing and boating.  This was one of our best stops as we saw so much and enjoyed our selves greatly. 

One night we had a nice dinner with fellow campers from Arizona which we totaly enjoyed.  Real nice couple and wonderful food and conversation.

We went to South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum one afternoon.  It shows the history of the military from the Revolutionary War to present in South Carolina.  They had loads of civil war flags which were fun to look at but on a scale of 1 to 10 we would rate this about a 3.  Kind of boring but it could be because we have been to so many museums.  After we left the museum we stopped at the State Capitol which sits on 18 acres in the heart of Columbia.  Construction of the capitol or state house as they call it started in 1855.  In 1865 General Sherman’s cannons shelled the walls of the unfinished capitol.  Today 6 bronze stars mark the impact of the shells.  It was finally completed in 1907 and is a beautiful building.  We were able to tour the inside but not the chambers as the house was in session.  Very impressive.

The grounds are just beautiful with loads of trees, flowers and monuments galore.  Wonderful stop.

We drove to Camden to tour the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site.  The battle of Camden was the worst American defeat during the revolutionary war.  This site shows how an 18th century town looked like.  We paid extra to get a tour of the Kershaw house which is a replica of the original home.  This house served as post headquarters during the British occupation in 1780.  During the civil war in 1865 it served as a storehouse for the Confederacy.  It was burned to the ground in 1865 when Federal troops came thru Camden.  It was a very enjoyable day.  We had lunch downtown Camden in a restaurant which was very popular with the locals.  Wonderful food.

Sunday we took a ride to Lake Murray which was constructed in the 1930’s as a hydro electric generating facility.  It is 41 miles long and 14 miles wide and covers an area of 78 square miles with 649 miles of shoreline.  As Tim and I found out most of the shoreline is private property so very few places to see the water.  We had a wonderful lunch at Rusty Anchor Restaurant at the Lighthouse Marina.  This sat right on the water and was very pretty.

Congaree National Park was another wonderful stop.  The park is the tallest deciduous forest on the planet and is home to several champion trees.  The park was established inn 1976 and is so different from any park we have been too.  We hiked 4.4 miles enjoying the wonders of this place.  We even got to see barred owls and heard their call which is a series of 8 accented hoots.  Worth coming back to this place to enjoy nature.  It is home to the largest old growth floodplain forest in North America. 

The Governor’s Green is a 9 acre comples consisting of the Governor’s Mansion built in 1855, the Lace House which was built in 1854  and the Caldwell-Boleston House which was built in 1830.  We did not have reservations so we were unable to tour the homes but it is quite a pretty setting. 

One of the best museums in the country is located in Columbia and is the State Museum of South Carolina.  It is a comprehensive museum with extensive exhibits in the disciplines of art, science and technology, cultural history and natural history
.  In one stop it encompasses all that South Carolina was, is and can be.  We totally spent hours looking at everything.  I would go back here in a second. 

Columbia also has a beautiful river walk which we did one day.  It was neat to see people putting tubes in the water and drifting away.  Our only complait was the heat – much too hot to be walking in the sunshine. 

A wonderful month