Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Edisto Island. Part I

Table of Contents for This Series

  1. Arrival at Edisto Beach State Park, and a look around Edisto.
  2. Visit to Edisto’s Shell Mound
  3. Interview with RV Camper Jimmy Moran of Colorado.

Back at Edisto Island State Park again for a few days. Site # 18 became available, and I couldn’t resist. Arriving Sunday afternoon with a Friday morning departure date. One more opportunity to visit a South Carolina park before the Great Southeast American Indian Mound Tour of Georgia and Florida’s Panhandle later this month. More on that later.

It’s unusually chilly here this year, dropping into the mid 20s over night. Frost on the windows; frozen water hoses. The distant, muted roar of propane furnaces from the big RVs parked here and there.

None of this much affects the Aliner, fortunately. I learned two years ago on this very site not to connect the water hose directly to the Aliner’s system. Rather, I now use it to fill the internal tank upon arrival. Then drain the hose and put it back in its storage compartment. Live and learn!

The Aliner walls are well insulated, making it easy to heat in the winter, and to cool in the summer. A small electric cube-type heater maintains a comfortable inside environment even when temperatures drop to the low 20s outside. And an 18,000-btu propane furnace stands ready to cope with even colder temperatures. A former tent camper’s dream!

Empty Sites Forecasts of chilly weather may have discouraged other campers. Some of the best sites here are unoccupied now. Which is unusual. Even in January. No matter what the weather! Seems a shame.

Daytime temperatures have risen to near 50. And it’s sunny with no breeze to speak of. Ideal for tramping along the beach, or through the walking/hiking paths maintained by the Park personnel.

I’m hoping to visit the Park’s American Indian shell mound this trip. As well, of course, as another visit to Botany Bay Plantation.

In past posts I’ve focused on Edisto’s natural scenery: the State Park; the Interpretive Center; Botany Bay Plantation, and so on. But, of course, Edisto Island and the surrounding area has a thriving population of permanent residents. Its social scenery.

Bay Point Development A population swollen during the summer months by short- and long-term visitors who come to enjoy Edisto’s remarkable Lowcountry environment. The photo above is of Wyndham’s Bay Point “interval vacation ownership” community. One of several similar up-scale developments on the Island.

Political Sign Judging from conversations I’ve had with permanent residents over the past few years, there’s no consensus on Edisto’s future within its politically active community. Or among its elected representatives. A political tension found in many other parts of the State. And around the country.

Pavilion Nearly everyone seems to welcome the boost tourist spending gives the local economy. The photo above is of The Pavilion, a landmark for many years right on the beach that has attracted visitors from all over for generations. And recently, under new ownership, has attracted political controversy.

Many Edistonians fear that expanded tourism, and property development in pursuit of more tourist spending, will damage, or even destroy, Edisto’s unique character.

Comments such as “We can’t live in the past!” “We mustn't become another Myrtle Beach!” And more pointed protests, some inappropriate for a general audience, are hurled regularly from one side to the other during frequent public meetings.

These issues are significant. The participants committed. Competition intense. Democracy, American-style, in action. I should have brought some of my USC political science classes here to observe the process! Well, some of the process, anyway.

And Edisto does have a unique character. It’s unlike any other place in the Lowcountry. And the Lowcountry is unlike any other region I’ve ever seen. Not only its natural scenery. But also its social scenery. Or, those elements of the environment created and maintained by human beings.

Beach House 1 Edisto has its standard-issue developments, like those at the end of the Island. But it also has its own most unusually configured houses on its beach front. The houses don’t look like much. But the lots upon which they’re sited are worth a fortune.

Beach House 2Beach House 3 Nearly all of those remarkably shaped houses reflect long experience with Edisto’s building-erasing storms of the past. As you see in the photos above. Almost as if the next storm was expected, and planned for.

Edisto Arcade Commercial development on Edisto too has its own character. Here’s the “Edisto Arcade,” for example. A small group of eclectic shops connected by boardwalk. Stop in and walk around. It really is unusual.

Piggly Wiggly And here’s a photo of the local “Piggly Wiggly.” Often commented on by visitors and locals alike. This certainly is the most unusual branch of that large chain of up-scale supermarkets throughout the Southeast that I’ve ever encountered.

Chain store branch, it may be. But Edisto’s Piggly Wiggly manages to maintain a strong Edisto flavor. In spite of the sign out front. If you’re skeptical, try some of the fried chicken they serve daily. Or any of their “fixins’.” It’s hardly chain supermarket fare!

Egrets Lots of places around the United States try to preserve what they consider to be their unique character. Too often, though, it’s hardly worth preserving.

Egret 2 That can’t be said of Edisto Island and Edisto Beach. Edisto is something else! While driving around in search of scenes typical of Edisto’s unique social scenery, I turned a corner right near those standard-issue condo developments on the South of the Island and saw a flock of egrets. Beautiful birds. Well, how can anyone ignore a sight like that.

Beach Sunset Of course, Edisto’s youngsters can’t survive on beautiful natural scenery, egrets, and sunsets alone. They’ll either find employment opportunities here after they complete their education, or disappear into the urban areas of South Carolina and beyond. So Edisto’s political debate is likely to go on for a while.

Click here for Part II


  1. SUPER pictures, those last ones in the line-up, Bob! Fifty degrees looks good from here...

  2. Hello. My daughter and I were in the Serro Scotty. It was cooooooooollld.