Monday, October 19, 2009

Hunting Island State Park, SC Part I

Table of Contents for This Series

  1. Drive down and initial impressions.
  2. Early morning walk around the Park
  3. Visit to the Nearby Gullah Grub Restaurant
  4. The Visitors Center and Light House

Up early yesterday to prepare for the trip to Hunting Island State Park. Weather was ideal for a long drive. Mostly sunny, but not oppressively hot.

This state park, located on a barrier island near Beaufort, is said to be the most popular in the whole South Carolina State Park system. Nearby Beaufort too is an old and interesting South Carolina town that I’ll write more about this trip, if time permits. But first the Park!

The drive from home is only about 170 miles. Most of it along four-lane interstate highways: I-26, I-77, and I-95. It’s also possible to avoid I-95 by continuing east on I-26 to the North Charleston area, there connecting with Route 17 South.

Route 17 too is a four-lane highway. But it’s much more interesting to drive. And gives the feeling of actually being in South Carolina. With its often unusual roadside shops, restaurants, and fruit and produce stands along the way. The signs alone are an experience! It also takes you right past the turn-off to Edisto Island!

Today, though, I took the shorter and quicker I-95 route. All the way south to Exit 33, and from there east on Route 21. Through Beaufort, toward Hunting Island. The interstates were surprisingly busy in both directions today. Quite a few motor homes and travel trailers. But not a single Aliner!

Over the bridge – well, bridges! – across islands with interesting names. Such as “Lady Island” and “St. Helena Island.” And finally on to the outermost, Hunting Island. Right on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.

Hunting Island and the surrounding area, like Edisto, has a long and interesting history. Speaking of Edisto, It’s quite a ways from here, if you go by land. Due to the irregular South Carolina coast line in this area. But it’s only a few miles north by boat.

Main Sign Here’s a photo of the Park’s main sign. And the area surrounding it. Note the small island visible on the horizon. The clear water, and the marsh.

Camping Sign It’s easy to miss the turn into the campground if you don’t stay alert. It’s right across the road from that main sign. So, slow down and make the turn. Otherwise, as I did the first time, you’ll end up at the other end of the island and have to circle back.

Entry Marsh The road into the campground is scenic and beautifully maintained. Slow down and look left just after the turn for a view out across the marsh through moss-draped live oaks. What a place!

Drive in Then proceed toward the office and gate. This sort of scenery doesn’t just happen. It must require intensive care!

Volunteer Check-in I arrived at the Park gate at just around 2:30 p.m. Since this Park is so busy, volunteers help to check people in and out, standing at the entrance in front of the main office and store. They have over 200 campsites to keep track of. Today a South Carolina couple from the western part of the state, near Keowee-Toxaway State Park, were on duty.

But, for the first time ever, I had difficulty with a reservation made on-line. My reservation for site # 39, made some time ago, wasn’t listed on their sheet! Worse, someone else was already there and set up. Not good!

So, in to the office to try to straighten things out. It’s still not clear what happened. But it seems this reservation had been confused with a reservation for a later date at Lake Wateree State Park! Meaning I was out of luck for Site # 39.

Campground Map However, all was not lost. One more ocean-front site just happened to be available. Number 51. Right at the southern end of the campground. See it marked with the arrow on the campground map.

Aliner on Site It’s also a pull-through site. It doesn’t have quite as broad an ocean view, as you can see in the photos above.

Hedge But it does have the advantage of a sturdy barrier of plants and trees on its northern side. And plenty of shade. All to the good!

No difficulty pulling in. Or even turning the Aliner to face the ocean. That’s usually a real challenge in the soft sand of these beachfront sites.

Reading Chair Within a three-quarters of an hour the reading chair was out, facing the ocean, and I was enthroned with a good book! Anything closer to heaven would frighten an older person like me!

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