Are you a person who thinks of the beach as a place for amusement parks, stores on every block crammed with cheap souvenirs, fast food overload and musical extravaganzas? Then you can skip this entry. However, if like us you crave long sandy, uncrowded beaches, waves crashing, shelling, local seafood and biking trails then read on. Edisto Beach has nicknamed itself Edislow and takes pride in its retro, small town atmosphere. The local food store is a small IGA. There are no McDonalds or Kentucky Colonels but wonderful local restaurants. A few small beach shops but no 3 story Wings on every corner. While some beach homes are large and modern many are small, modest structures reminding you of the day when non-millionaires could own waterfront property. There are as many bikes as cars here and the town is very walkable. Edisto, SC is located about halfway between Charleston and Beaufort on Edisto Island. We stayed at Edisto State Park which has two campgrounds, the Beach loop and the Live oak loop. The Beach loop as you might guess needs to be reserved well in advance. I’d made reservations for August in the middle of June and it was already full. The Beach loop only has 30 amp power which is fine for smaller rigs with one AC unit. At 35′ and two AC units which we definitely needed in mid August, we were happy to be in the Live Oak loop with 50 amps. The water at the state park tastes horrible so if you come have your own tank of water and/or plan to buy bottled water for drinking. The water is fine for cooking and household use. The town has a filter on their supply so no problem there. The beach was only a mile down the road. Getting into the campground with our rig was tight. There was one spot where we missed a tree at a corner by just a few inches. Our site backed to salt marsh and was very private. Now for some much needed down time. Is there anything better than a day spent lounging in a beach chair, jumping waves and swimming to be followed by an after dinner walk on the beach. Pets are allowed on the beach if leashed and of course you must pick up after them.
There were several bike trails that Opal and I used every morning for our walks and boardwalks over the marsh that served as platforms for birding. One morning I spotted a heron I didn’t recognize . It turned out to be a juvenile tricolor heron. Egrets, blue heron, roseate spoonbills and wood storks were also seen. We’d just bought an iPad and had downloaded an app for Sibley’s Bird Identification. Being full timer we needed to find an alternative to carrying all the books we want to read or use for reference. We did bring our library of travel books. While I’m thinking about it, we use the DeLorme Gazatteer map books for each state we visit. as guides for things to see and do. Oh, I forgot to mention that I have a new bike. I love it. It’s an Electra Townie seven speed. The pedals are set a bit forward for a more comfortable sitting position. Great for those of us with short legs! What a difference a good bike makes. Is there anything better than biking at the beach? The new bike is purple and Steve said all I needed now was a red hat to wear with it!
Our friend Liz from Charlotte came down for the weekend to continue our celebration. At the suggestion of another friend, we had dinner on Friday at the Old Post Office. For this area it is an upscale restaurant next to a very nice gallery. Saturday we bought crab , shrimp and some locally made crab boil (two types: spicy and really spicy). Later on in the week we ate at an ocean front restaurant called The Pavilion and a local dive called Whaley’s. Whaley’s is the type of place you’d see on Diners, Drive-in and Dives but oh the seafood is great and the portions huge. We bought fresh shrimp and made our favorite shrimp, green pepper and pineapple kabobs. The other local place we used was Kings. They have fresh vegetables, locally canned goodies and homemade prepared dishes. The farmland Kings owns has been in the family for six generations.
While Liz was with us, we drove to nearby Botany Bay. This nature preserve is on land donated from two old rice and cotton plantations. There is a ten mile drive through the property. Admission is free but you must sign in. The area is best known for its beautiful beach with massive shell beds and artful dead trees still standing in the water. We’d hoped to return for some picture taking later in the week but didn’t do so. You can see some pics from 2010 in our old blog under Charleston at http://www.vagabondpress.wordpress.com. Don’t think about removing shells or you’ll be hit with a $480 fine. Volunteers closely monitor the beach.
We did return to kayak a marsh area from the landing at stop #10 on the scenic drive. It’s tidal so time your trip for high water. We saw dolphins, kingfishers and lesser blue herons. On the way back the tide was starting to go out. We passed an oyster bed spouting water like the Trevi Fountain. If you go, take bug spray both for you and for the area. The mosquitos are bloodthirsty!
We wanted to do something special to celebrate the transition in our lives. A fishing charter seemed appropriate. Steve has been a fisherman all his life while Chari had been fishing only once since she was five years old. We met our guide at 8am and were out for four hours on the Edisto river and about a mile offshore. Our guide, Jimmy, hooked a fish and passed the rod to Chari. Whatever it was gave me a good fight for 7-10 minutes. I was thrilled when I landed a 29″, 12 lb. red drum fish. Instead of being dinner it had to be thrown back. The slot for keepers was 15″-23″. Larger than that were considered breeders. We did catch some trout and whitefish that made two dinners. Steve landed a 30″ skate after a fifteen minute fight. A ray kept running and broke his line. We both hooked small bonnet head sharks. What a fun morning! Hopefully we’ll get to do this again soon.
Have you heard about The Angel Oak on Johns Island? It’s a huge live oak estimated to be between 300-400 years old. That’s only 45 minutes from Edisto so off we went with cameras in hand. A very impressive sight. Many branches were covered with resurrection fern which gets its name because it dries up and turns brown in dry times only to ‘spring’ back to life verdant and healthy at the first rain.
As we were leaving Angel Oak Park, we saw a sign for an old church just about a mile away. So we turned left and headed off to find it. It was Johns Island Presbyterian Church. The original sanctuary was built in 1710 and expanded in 1823. Had we known about it we’d have scheduled our visit for Wednesday AM when they give tours.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye. We always kid about “when we come back…” but this time we really mean it. This stop is a keeper.