Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lowcountry, South Carolina

In our travels throughout the south we made a trip across the Lowcountry. Good thing the tide was out or…just kidding. The Lowcountry is made up of many islands on the eastern coast of South Carolina.  The distance to travel in the Lowcountry is measure by the number of bridges you cross, not by the distance traveled. The steepest part of the Lowcountry is the ramp up the bridges. Originally the areas were labeled inhabitable because of the many marshes and swamps on the island. We visited two of the four major islands: Hunting, Hilton, others we didn’t visit was Edisto and Fripp Islands.


In the past centuries some settlements were settled on a few islands but most are still labeled wildlife reserves today. In the 20’s wealthy families built large winter homes along the coast of a few island. Once used as the hunting reserves for wealthy plantations families. Hunting Island was renowned for hunting parties that lasted several days.


The Lowcountry that are not in a reserve are renowned for its historic cities and communities. Beaufort and Hilton Head are two of those. They are known for their natural beauty and unique cultural heritage. Discovered by English sea captain, William Hilton, in 1663, Hilton Head Island boasts some of the most luxurious accommodations in the country.  Beaufort was captured by Sherman during the Civil War where several of the plantation houses were used for hospitals.


In our drive from Beaufort to Hunting Island State Park we saw many roadside stands selling Blue Crabs and shrimp. There was a sign where you could pick your own tomatoes. The country stores advertised black cherry and peach cider. We saw several fields of collard greens and cabbages.  In Savannah Peggy enjoyed a southern dish of shrimp and grids.


A notice at one of the plantations gave a list of the movies that were made in the area: Forest Gump, The Big Chill, The Great Santini, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The Prince of
Tides to name just a few. The "park bench" scene which opens the 1994 film, Forrest Gump, was filmed on the north side of Chippewa Square between Hull and Perry Streets in downtown Savannah. The real bench was just a fiberglass prop, rather than an actual city park's bench. This prop is on display at the Savannah Visitors Center. The plantation home of Forest was filmed at the Bluff Plantation north of Hilton Head, South Carolina.  In another scene he ran across the bridge at Beaufort.


The Gullah is the descendants of enslaved Africans who live in the Lowcountry. The Gullah people and their language are also called Geecheem. The Geecheem have preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage. The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor extends from Wilmington NC to St. Augustine FL. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords. The Gullahs express their art through traditional crafts including making baskets, quilting fish nets and iron works. We saw several Blue Trees were made by the Geechee to kill flies and bees. They were taken from the rice producing regions of West Africa to tender the rice corps on the plantation in the south.


Hunting Island State Park is home to five miles of pristine South Carolina beaches, thousands of acres of marsh and maritime forest, a saltwater lagoon and an ocean inlet. The Light House rises 130 feet above the ground where you can take in the breathtaking, panoramic view of the Atlantic Coast and surrounding maritime forest.  

Happy Feet Low Country Travel,

George (plus Peggy and Coco)


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