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South Carolina Trip: Part 3

This is a long one, kids. I don’t want to drag our week-long trip out into a month of posts, so settle in. But first — Did you catch Part 1 and Part 2

Although all of our vacation was enjoyable, Tuesday was definitely my favorite day. I had read about Brookgreen Gardens before we left, and I was so excited to see it. The gardens did not disappoint. If you’re in the South Carolina area any time, definitely set aside at least half a day to see Brookgreen!

Brookgreen Gardens is 9100 acres of flowers, trees, poetry, sculptures, trails, and even a zoo. We spent several hours there and didn’t even make it to the zoo — it’s that big and engrossing. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a nice photodump of some of my favorite shots (in no particular order) from Brookgreen.

butterfly bench brookgreen statue brookgreen childrens path2 brookgreen oaks

Entrance to the "Beyond the Wall" trail
Entrance to the “Beyond the Wall” trail

dragonfly

This donkey was a made of succulents.
This donkey was a made of succulents.
This was in a designated children's garden, which we had to investigate. It was so cool -- full of little paths like this and kid-friendly sculptures.
This was in a designated children’s garden, which we had to investigate. It was so cool — full of little paths like this and kid-friendly sculptures.

brookgreen13 brookgreen11 brookgreen7 brookgreen8 a thought

Not all the poems were serious.
Not all the poems were serious.

We loved Brookgreen and could have easily spent more time there. The $14 ticket gets you a weeks’ worth of admissions, but we only had Tuesday morning to spend. We didn’t even make it to the zoo, because by the time we ate our late lunch, it was getting quite hot and humid, and we were ready to hit the beach.

We left Brookgreen and drove less than a mile to Huntington Beach State Park, which is also a must-visit! Near the park’s entrance is an information center that has a boardwalk out over the saltwater marsh, from which we saw millions of baby crabs crawling about (no picture of the crabs — we tried and tried and couldn’t get a clear one). The nature center was informative, and the short walk and crab-viewing was pretty cool, too.

huntington beach SP

From the nature center, we walked a two-mile trail through the woods. It was quite an experience for these Colorado dwellers: walking on both pine needles and beach sand was unique!
huntington beach trailIt was hot and buggy in there, but we still had a lot of fun exploring. When we finished, though, we were even more ready for the beach. We splashed and played and lounged for a couple of hours, but then thunder started rumbling and ran us off the beach. Boo. At least I got to relax in this little chair for a while.
huntington beach

We planned to go back to Murrells Inlet and give the restaurants there another try, and since the thunder cut short our ocean fun, we had some time to kill before dinner. The storm had passed, so we walked the marshwalk for a minute, then decided to get a drink at Bubba’s Love Shak. Because seriously…its name was Bubba’s Love Shak.
bubbas at murrels inletWe hung out in the rocking chairs on Bubba’s patio for a while,  watching some marsh goats while we sipped our beers.
rockin at bubbas marsh goats at murrels inletOnce we finished our drinks, we walked over to Wahoo’s Raw Bar and Fish House, where I had what was probably the best sushi I had ever eaten. It was way better than the night before. YUM.

On Wednesday, we had tickets booked to go to Hopsewee Plantation. We got there a little early, so we spent some time wandering the grounds, since they weren’t included on the tour.

hopsewee  2 hopsewee 1

Then, the tour of the house started. It was interesting, but honestly, probably not worth the $20/person price tag. I wish we would have toured Magnolia Plantation by Charleston instead, but this was still informative and fun.

On the upstairs balcony -- the floorboards and railings are still the original, 200-year-old wood.
On the upstairs balcony — the floorboards and railings are still the original, 200-year-old wood.

After the tour, we went to the plantation’s tea room for lunch. This was the best part of the tour. They have a traditional tea option, but I opted for a salad, and J and I ordered a bottomless pot of tea to share (you could try as many of their teas as you wanted).

hopsewee 5

After lunch, we drove back up to Myrtle Beach; we’d been here several days and had yet to visit actual Myrtle Beach and its famous boardwalk. We walked the boardwalk for a while, but honestly, we were underwhelmed. It was basically just crowds, a ton of tiki bars and junky tourist shops. Meh. We did ride the famous Skywheel, though, and that was fun.

view from skywheel skywheel j 1After the Skywheel, we headed back to our resort area, fed the turtles, and had dinner, then cruised back to the condo and crashed.

Thursday was our last full day, so we wanted it to be as vacation-esque as possible. We tried to sleep in (our bodies don’t understand that concept), I ran, we had a leisurely breakfast, and then we headed out for one more beach day. We’d asked a local to recommend a quiet beach, and her recommendation didn’t disappoint.

SCUnfortunately, when you’re a ginger, you start to sunburn after a few hours, regardless of how diligent you are with the sunscreen and cover-ups, so by mid-afternoon, it was time to say farewell to the ocean. Sigh.

Luckily, La Belle Amie Vineyard was nearby, so we wandered around the beautiful vineyard and cute gift shop, tasted some wine, and then hung out on their porch in more rocking chairs. I think I need to get a porch rocking chair.

photo 1 (4)After the wine, we went back to the condo to clean up and went out for one last nice dinner. It decided to rain buckets that night, but that’s okay; we enjoyed our last fresh seafood feast anyway.

borther shuckersFriday was pretty uneventful; we had an evening flight out of Florence and had planned to spend the day exploring that city — after stopping to feed the turtles once more, of course. Turns out, there is nothing to do in Florence, South Carolina. We stopped in the small town of Conway, which had a cute riverwalk and downtown area, then wandered around in Florence for a while before heading to the airport for another late-night flight, which was made even later by a delay in Charlotte.

We made it back home around 2:30 Saturday morning and promptly passed out. That’s way past this grandma’s bedtime. But it was absolutely worth it for the fabulous vacation we’d just had!

What? You want one more beach picture? Oh, okay.
photo 3 (2)

What would you most like to do on a South Carolina vacation?

It’s never to early to start thinking about next summer’s vacation. Where should we go?

 

 

 

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South Carolina Trip: Part 1

This is the first of what will likely be several vacation recap posts. It’s also the least photo-filled, but you’ll understand why as you read. The good pictures are coming later!

Though all our information said vacation started Friday, it technically started Thursday night for us. We left the house around 8:00 to make sure we had time for a quick Target stop, parking, and checking in for our 1:00 a.m. flight. Yeah, that part was rough… but it saved us a significant amount of money, so whatever.

After a  night of fitful (i.e. nonexistant) airplane sleeping, we landed in Charlotte for a 2.5-hour layover (in hindsight, we should have just driven from Charlotte. Next time, we will know), during which I was super classy and stretched out on the airport floor for a catnap. A short flight later, we landed in Myrtle Beach (I love landing at airports that make you feel like you’re landing in the ocean. Is that weird?), grabbed our rental car, and vacation truly began!

photo (1)

It was too early to check in to our resort, so we instead found some lunch (with an ocean view, of course), then checked out the shopping center near our resort. It was built over a lake, and in that lake lived a ton of turtles.

photo

There were dispensers all around in which you could drop 50 cents to get a handful of turtle food. Feeding those turtles was seriously one of the highlights of the trip for me. We may have stopped here almost every day to feed them. They’re just so cute and turtly!

Anyway, I eventually had to stop feeding turtles so we could go buy some groceries and check into our condo. We really like to stay in condos or cabins with kitchens when we travel. That way, we can save money on breakfast and lunch, then have a nicer dinner out… which we did that night, at the House of Blues. There was no live music that night, but it was still fun!

The next morning, we slept in a little to make up for the sleepless plane night; then I got up and went for a run. I was a little sad that we weren’t staying near the beach, but running along the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway each morning was nothing to complain about!
intercoastal waterwayWhen I got back, J and I whipped up some eggs and ate them on our patio, where we discovered that there were more turtles living in the pond outside our condo, along with some rather aggressive ducks. This one bit J’s toe when we wouldn’t share our breakfast.
toe duck
Once we finished breakfast, we were ready to hit the beach! But first we had to hit a local farmer’s market, where we were pretty excited to buy some fresh strawberries and cantaloupe (which we won’t have here for another couple of months). We then smothered ourselves with sunscreen and cruised down to Myrtle Beach State Park, where we spent the next several hours enjoying some long-awaited ocean time.
beach toes at mbspOnce the sun got a little too powerful for my uber-pastiness, we decided to head back up and see the boardwalk. Yeah, bad choice. Turns out, it was “Bike Week,” which meant that thousands of crazy motorcyclists were swarming Myrtle Beach, weaving in and out of cars, creating all sorts of stressful traffic. It took us three hours to get from the south end to the north end of town, and we didn’t even try to go to the boardwalk. It was nuts, and definitely the least-fun part of the whole trip.

By the time we got back to our resort area, we were just happy to get out of the car and move around … and when we saw a wine shop advertising tastings, that sounded like exactly what we needed, so in we went. As we tasted, we talked to the proprietor, who explained that by Monday (Memorial Day) afternoon, all the bikers would be gone, and getting around would be much  easier. She suggested that the next day (Sunday) we head up to North Carolina instead of fighting to get back down to the Myrtle Beach stuff.

After leaving the wine shop, we had a delicious fish dinner at Flying Fish Market (my goal for this trip was to eat fresh seafood every night. I’m proud to say I met that goal), then headed back and crashed hard — the sleeplessness and the long drive caught up with us, at last!
jordan at flying fish restaurant
The next day, we took the wine lady’s advice. We had a great time in North Carolina on Sunday… but I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, as this post is getting pretty long.