Every couple has that one summer in their life where everyone they know is getting married. Most of your weekends are spent traveling and you drop thousands of dollars on hotels, attire and gifts. It’s a rite of passage. For my boyfriend Glenn and I, this was supposed to be our summer of eight—yes, eight—weddings. 2020 had other plans however and most of those weddings were postponed or cancelled. But after replanning her wedding THREE times, one of my best friends was finally able to have a small, intimate wedding down in Charleston, South Carolina. A wedding celebration, warm weather AND an actual trip in 2020?! I’m so there.
We stayed in Folly Beach which is a beautiful beachfront town on Folly Island just outside of Charleston. The combination of it being vacation off-season and a global pandemic meant that nothing was very crowded and we really enjoyed all of the restaurants we visited.
We decided to keep our parks and recreation streak alive by renting a car and spending a day deep in South Carolina exploring places you’d normally miss by going straight to the beach. We drove two hours outside of Charleston to Congaree National Park, South Carolina’s only national park. Apparently, in 2015 it was named “one of the top five worst National Parks in America.” Ouch. I guess they didn’t share my passion for parks because in my opinion, National Parks are like pizza…even a bad one is still pretty freakin’ good!
I think Congaree National Park is beautiful, important and fascinating and here’s why: it was established to preserve the last remains of old-growth floodplain forest. (Floodplain a.k.a. swamp.) What was once 35 million acres spanning across southern United States is now down to less than one half of a percent —11,000 acres—within this National Park.
First, we walked the 2.4 mile boardwalk loop and learned about the diverse landscape. I’ll give you guys some fun facts along with photos from the walk:
We then drove to South Cedar Creek to check out the iconic bald cypress growing up from the water.
We wanted to get in one more hike so next we headed to Bates Ferry Trail to do the two mile out and back path that brings you to the shore of the Congaree River.
We’re used to keeping an eye out for things like bears in Northern Minnesota but this time we had to stay alert for alligators and snakes. I don’t know if it was a good or bad thing that we didn’t have our dog Audi with us for once! Fortunately, we didn’t run into any creepy crawlies other than this monster:
And finally, before heading back to Charleston we made one final stop at Congaree Bluffs Heritage Preserve to take in the overlook of the park.
I was in awe of how unique this park is. We didn’t have a tone of time, so we stuck to the beaten paths but it would have been fun to venture further into the park on one of the many hiking trails or to canoe the Cedar Creek. There were some mosquitos but I was just glad we didn’t come across anything that slithers. Congaree, you’re a 5-star National Park in my book!
This was probably our last trip for a while and I’m so thankful I was able to be with my close friend on her wedding day and also get my travel fix at an extremely special National Park.
As we head into the winter months here in Minnesota, I hope to be able to share some snowy adventures with you all but until then, I hope you all are staying safe and well. And let’s hope that Glenn doesn’t punish me for posting these photos of us being super adorable on the internets.