On Monday morning, November 3rd, before departing Myrtle Beach State Park we made our first visit of the season to a nearby Waffle House for a quick breakfast. For the most part Waffle House food is decent and it’s hard to beat their prices, particularly from the $5 menu which includes a beverage! (And yes you can get a lot more than Waffles).
Once we returned to the state park, we performed our usual departure tasks as we readied to leave bound for our next destination – James Island County Park in Charleston, SC. Yippee, it would be a relatively short 2 or so hour drive at only 99 miles from Myrtle Beach.
During our pre-coach trips to Florida, we had driven through Charleston several times but never really spent any quality time there – so it was on our bucket list to see more of the city. Plus we had met quite a few people who raved about the campground at nearby James Island County Park. We had tried to make reservations here last year but there was no availability. So we were really looking forward to our stay there this year.
After leaving our campsite, we stopped for one last time near the beach to hitch up the toad. Rob did the work while I snapped a few last photos of the beach. When we left RI, I wasn’t sure I wanted to come here again, primarily because the area is so touristy but I’m glad we did – we had a very enjoyable stay.
Within a few minutes, we were ready to hit the road. As we made our way out of the park, there it was again – that big ol’ tree we gasped at last year still steeply angled over the roadway. At least they have a marker post in the road as a reminder to move over away from the limb. Lean to the left, lean to the left I said to myself, just lean a little bit more so it won’t hit our roof! Whew, it didn’t! I don’t know why I always duck or lean in these types of situations, after all it won’t keep us from hitting anything but I guess it makes me feel as though I’m helping in some way.
Turning left onto Route 17 South we would follow this four lane divided highway the entire way. Traffic wasn’t bad although initially it was a little congested around the traffic lights and various shopping areas. Further on, Route 17 took us through the Francis Marion National Forest so driving was easy.
We finally took the exit to SC-30, the James Island Expressway. It was here that the GPS didn’t give us enough warning for a left hand turn so we ended up in the wrong lane and having to go straight but after several miles, we eventually were able to make a turn and found our way back to Folly Road. After a short distance on that road, we then made a turn onto Central Park Road.
Note: Our faithful (not!) Rand McNally GPS insisted we take I-526N to I-26S to loop around Charleston. We actually followed that advice because we were unsure of what 17 would be like going thru town. In retrospect we should have just stayed on 17, the I-26/526 loop brought us about 14 miles out of our way.
Oh, no, here we go again – huge live oak trees draped with Spanish moss with their huge limbs overhanging the road creating a mysterious and romantic looking umbrella. Very picturesque but when you are driving a big rig beast on a narrow road with oncoming traffic, it sure doesn’t seem all that lovely. Instead it made for a rather nerve wracking drive as I listened the “boing” of our FM and CB antennas and the occasional branch scraping the roof . Rob had to deal with that plus me muttering expletives! Rob says the antennas are really too tall and he is going to shorten, remove or relocate them.
Finally we took a very tight left onto a heavily treed Riverland Drive which wasn’t any better than Central Park Road, then took a right on James Island Parkway, arriving at the campground around 2:30 p.m. As we turned into the main entrance, we were surprised to see they had already started decorating for the holidays!
That’s right, we forgot that they were having their 25th annual Holiday Festival of Lights beginning on November 14th through January 1st. None of the lights were turned on but that didn’t matter it was fun just seeing all of the unlit displays everywhere. Since we could only get a reservation through the 7th, we would have to imagine how all the lights would look when lit! Turned out that wasn’t the case, but more about that later.
Located a short drive from Charleston, the 643 acre James Island County Campground has 124 sites with full hookups, a fire ring and picnic table and 10 vacation cottages along the Stono River marsh. Other amenities include a store, activity center, free wifi, bathhouses and laundry facilities. For recreational activities, they offer miles of paved trails for walking and biking, 16 acres of freshwater lakes with fishing, a seasonal splash zone water park and spray play fountain, pedal boat, kayak and bike rentals, a playground area, tidal creek fishing and crabbing dock, meeting facilities and picnic areas and an off-leash dog park. They also offer a round trip shuttle service to the Charleston Visitor Center for $10/person. Lots to do here!
When we arrived at the registration office, Rob unhitched the toad while I went into the office to check in. When we made our reservation, we had selected site #81 which was just a short drive from the office. Once we maneuvered our rig into our site (fairly easy), we quickly settled in. Gary and Nancy, our neighbors at Myrtle Beach when we were on site #208, also had reservations there – they had arrived earlier in the day. Their 5th wheel was parked just a short distance from us.
Our site had the all the utilities way at the rear and even with the back of the coach touching the brush, our 15′ sewer hose required and extension to reach the sewer fitting. Other than that electricity and water were good. We were able to get all the primary networks on OTA TV although that required a bit of antenna fiddling. Even more surprising, despite the heavy tree cover our Trav’ler satellite DISH picked up both the 119 and 129 Western Arc birds – wow! Verizon 4G LTE was reasonably strong. The other sites at the campground are variable in regard to privacy, hookups, access and other amenities as there is not a consistent layout for each. Maneuvering within the park was relatively easy with decently wide interior roads.
Maybe our expectations were set too high by the people we had met who raved about the campground but initially we were a little disappointed. There was little privacy between our site and our neighbors and a fair amount of noise from James Island Parkway that circles around the campground. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that it wasn’t the campground that everyone raved about, but the rest of the park with all of its amenities.
Once we settled in, we started to explore the park. Stay tuned for more!