Road Trip 3: The Carolinas, 2002

I can’t think of anything really interesting to post about today – it was a pretty low key day, all things considered, and nothing really leaped out at me that PO’ed me or made me really happy. Ran for the first time in several days, which was nice. Even if the treadmill was conspiring to kill me with its rattling…

So here’s Road Trip 3: North and South Carolina, 2002.

A prologue to this trip: we had discovered geocaching a year before, so we were all set to do that. Also, my dad had decided that he was tired of the long drives, and since I was nowhere near being able to drive, we did a hub-and-spoke fly/drive trip, with Charlotte, NC as our “home base.”

Day 1 (August 8, 2002): We flew from Baltimore to Charlotte, North Carolina. We got there early enough in the day that we could dip down into South Carolina to get the first two stamps of the trip, Kings Mountain NHP and Cowpens NB. We did a fun virtual cache at Kings Mountain that led us around the park.

Day 2: We spent the day geocaching around Charlotte, and found five geocaches (which was mind-blowingly amazing – and remember, this is papered caching as well), and probably did something else semi-interesting.

Day 3: Shabbat. This was (admittedly) a mistake. We had only incorporated Shabbat into our plans once before, and that was all the way back in 1999, when we spent it in New York City with family. This time around, we were a) in a hotel, b) in a hotel in Charlotte, NC, and c) in a hotel in Charlotte, NC in the middle of nowhere. Seriously. We couldn’t even walk around outside the hotel grounds because we were surrounded by highways. So, naturally, it was boring and sort of wasted.

Day 4: Back in the saddle. This day, we went to Columbia, South Carolina to get the Congaree Swamp NM stamp and do some geocaches around town. Congaree Swamp was exciting for me because it was the first real “natural” park we’d ever seen on our trips and it was nice to visit somewhere and not be inundated with history and exhibits. We walked on an elevated walkway through the forest and saw a bunch of lizards, big and small. We also saw the SC state capitol, complete with a statue of (then-living) Strom Thurmond. We capped off the day with geocaches in Sesquicentennial Park, including one that was a complex multi.

Day 5: The direction of the day was west. In the morning, we hit up Carl Sandburg’s home in Flat Rock, North Carolina – a town that is actually much prettier than it sounds. I remember meeting a fellow Passport stamp collector in the gift shop and reveling in the fact that I had way more than him. It was still early afternoon, and we didn’t have anything else to do, so my dad asked if there were any other nearby stamps. Great Smoky Mountains National Park seemed a little far, but off we went anyway, and got there relatively quickly. The scenery was gorgeous and I fell in love with the mountains. It was strange, however, entering the town of Cherokee. Cherokee is on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and is not only pretty but pretty poor. It seemed like everyone was depressed, selling stuff, or both. Some of the signs were in Cherokee rather than English which was interesting. Once we made it to the visitor center, however, we were both so hot and it was so crowded that we just wanted to leave. I got my stamp, but unfortunately we skipped most of the exhibits because it was too hot. We poked around the reservation a little bit and bought some souvenirs, and I thought it was cool to tell people that I visited an Indian reservation over the summer. Fortunately, we saw plenty of the Smokies from the car, and that was satisfactory enough.

Day 6: We stopped in the morning at a history museum, but it was super boring since nothing ever happened in Charlotte. Then we flew home.

Ranking this trip, it probably fell somewhere between New England and Ohio. Seeing Carl Sandburg’s home and the Great Smoky Mountains made up for the boringness of Charlotte.

Our next trip was on the New England level of fun: Chicago, 2003, followed by our last official trip – Kansas City, 2004 – before I graduated high school, went off to college, and the tradition died off.

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