When you’re living in March and planning for October, it seems you have lots of time – in fact an entire summer – to plan your itinerary. It’s crazy how quickly a summer flies by!
My daughter-in-law, however, was on it! She and my son, Ben, had reserved an Air B&B in Folly Beach, South Carolina, back in March when they invited us to join them.
So in September I began planning our part of the journey. My husband and I decided to leave a few days early and head east into Virginia to see part of the country we’d never seen. We headed out, traveling through Columbus, Ohio, and Charleston, West Virginia, before arriving in our third state capitol —Richmond, Virginia. Richmond is abundant in both Civil War and Revolutionary War history. While there we visited the amazingly preserved home of Maggie Walker. She was an extraordinary African American woman who became a social leader in Richmond at the turn of the 20th century. This particular home is unique in that it has been in the hands of her family since her death in 1934. While most preserved homes that are run by the National Park Service do their utmost to decorate historic homes with period furniture, everything in this home was actually owned by Maggie and her family. She was the first African American to charter a bank in the United States, and the first woman to sit as president of a bank in the U.S.
We also visited a Confederate Civil War hospital site now preserved and operated by the National Park Service. While navigating the streets of Richmond, we drove past St. John’s Church, where Patrick Henry gave his most famous speech (“Give me liberty or give me death!”) to the 2nd Virginia Convention in 1775. Following our time in the city, we drove out to Yorktown, where General George Washington and French General Rochambeau defeated the British to win American independence. “The world turned upside down,” as asserted in the musical “Hamilton”.
After Richmond we drove east to Newport News, Virginia, on the Chesapeake Bay. The further east we went, the denser the traffic became. Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach are just 130 miles south of Washington, D.C. This traffic may tell of the crunch that is east coast living.
From Virginia we then traveled south along I-95 to South Carolina. At home the days had gotten a little cooler and temperatures dipped into the 30s at night. We found summer again in this part of the country. We drove into the Charleston, South Carolina, area on a Sunday afternoon. The skies were blue and having been in this area before, we could take time to marvel at the architecture and wonderful old-world charm of this magnificent city. Just below Charleston we drove out to Folly Beach.
Folly Beach is an island community with a varied and laid-back vibe. A residential island, Folly is a natural habitat for all kinds of creatures. It is a hatching beach for lagerhead turtles. Lighting ordinances are in effect in October and November each year to ensure that the hatchling turtles are only drawn to the moon as the brightest source of light. This allows them to navigate toward the ocean.
We saw pelicans, sandpipers and seabirds of all descriptions while walking and driving the paths and roads on the island. One day while swimming, our granddaughters got to see dolphins just offshore.
We stayed in an AirBnB. The entire upstairs of a renovated house belonged to the six of us for four glorious days. There were four bedrooms, a living area, an enclosed porch with three couches, and a full kitchen with a dining table large enough to accommodate 8 very comfortably. Shared with the two apartments below us was a courtyard with two sand showers, a Tiki bar, tables and chairs and a hammock. As we walked down the stairs to exit the house, we only need walk about 50 yards to be literally at the water’s edge! We paid close attention to the tide times, as high tide made it nearly impossible for us to be on the beach. Thankfully, low tides provided lots of play time and space from the youngest to the oldest of us.
The town of Folly Beach is a typical seaside resort. Vendors of beachwear, beach toys and jewelry line the main street, intermingled with bistros and small local restaurants. On one day we rented a golf cart so we could tool around town to whatever length we wanted. Our youngest granddaughter, Violet, was happy to discover ice cream at a local 24-hour store called “Bert’s”.
One of our excursion days found us in Charleston — just 20 minutes away. We spent part of the day riding a horse-drawn draft wagon. Our tour guide obviously enjoyed telling about the rich history of the part of Charleston through which we were driving. His stories included ghastly ghost stories from the old jail house, built around 1802 and operated until 1939. This jail housed Union officers during the Civil War and other notorious criminals through its long history. According to the tour guide, however, none was more notorious than those Union officers. His tale-telling occasionally gave way to pro-Southern rhetoric which made us quietly chuckle and slightly cringe. It’s exactly this type of social interaction which makes travel so enlightening for us.
After four days in our lovely Southern surroundings we said our goodbyes and headed for home. The change in the October foliage after just one week was incredible! Heading up through Columbia, South Carolina (our fourth state capitol this trip!), we marvelled at the yellow, rust, orange and red colors on the Appalachian Mountain range.
As we crossed the Ohio River back into our home state, we were grateful for a safe trip. It’s always good to be back home!
Jan and Darrell Campbell lives in the Lima area. The trip described in this article was taken October 7 through Ootober 15, 2022.
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