One might ask “Why South Carolina at the very end of June when it’s hot and muggy?” Well, simply because my son– who at the age of 23 decided to join the National Guard while his wife was away in Afghanistan (she was already in the National Guard) — called and wanted us to come to his final graduation at Ft. Jackson . While I wasn’t happy with his decision to join the National Guard, I am very proud of him for making it through Basic Training and AIT. I really became excited when I looked up where Ft. Jackson was because it is in Columbia, South Carolina, which is a capital city that I had not seen the capitol building yet. So begins my journey to attend his graduation in South Carolina at the end of June.
My hubby, who works as a letter carrier, actually managed to get a week off so we decided to make this a vacation rather than a quick fly-down-and-leave-right-away trip. The next decision was whether we should fly or drive. Because I like to camp and we had a full week, we decided to drive so we could bring all our gear.
As I got on Google maps and looked at routes and possible places to stop on the way, it just became overwelming! Friday night after Hubby gets off work we could drive 3 1/2 hours to my mom’s house in Illinois to help break up the long drive. We just did not have the time to do all the things on the way I saw to do. We wanted to go to the outer banks in North Carolina; hubby wanted to visit Ft. Bragg where he spent many wild times in his youth; I discovered Shenandoah National Park was on the way to the outer banks and wanted to get a national park stamp for my passport book; we wanted to stop off at Myrtle Beach where we had camped when the kids were young (that was May/June though); Smokey Mountains NP…..and the list went on and on.
Hubby says to me (I think to shut me up), “Let’s not plan anything. Let’s just drive to Columbia, and if we see anything on the way, we can just stop.”
I quickly debunked that idea because we’d never make it out of Illinois if we did that and certainly never make it to the ocean which is the one thing we wanted to do for sure since we were that close anyway.
However, that did get me to thinking of places I’ve always wanted to stop at on the way on previous trips southeast. One place was the Daniel Boone National Forest. I checked the route and it appeared to be about halfway on the way home so eventually it was added to our schedule on the return trip. I also discovered not only would I get to see South Carolina’s capitol building but there is a national park near it — Congaree National Park.
SO …drum roll…final itinerary is:
- Friday Night – Illinois
- Sat. long drive possibly all the way to Columbia but do not have reservations so we can stop on way down if tired
- Sun-Wed Columbia SC (with one day trip to Beaufort, SC)
- Wed night-Friday early morning Cumberland Gap State Park, Kentucky (Next to Daniel Boone NF)
- Friday night be home for hubby to go to work Sat.