And it is quite a list, that which includes "everywhere." Part of that list, as I've mentioned in older blog posts, involves 1) seeing all the state capitals/capitols, 2) seeing all the National Parks, and 3) driving in every state. So, after a wet and cold spring, dreary and full of camper maintenance, we FINALLY hit the road to explore a bit more. We are (*hopefully*) down to the last 12 months here on the East Coast and we've still got a lot of places to go!
Our trip started on Wednesday May 9, and we headed to Medoc Mountain State Park, NC. It was the most beautiful, clean, cheap campground we've ever encountered!
Ruby slept most of the way (WOW...) and we made it there in time to take a small hike, and throw some dinner on the grill (shrimp boil packets).
And Ruby fell asleep that night by 8pm with no crying/screaming/fighting. Complete opposite of many of our trips last year, where she often fussed and was awake well past 9:30pm. COOL!
The next day we continued to venture south, and stopped at South of The Border in SC.
We putzed in the shops for a bit, and as my hubs said... "It is like being in an Oriental Trading Magazine."
If you've ever traveled out west on I-90, its like Wall Drug. Wall Drug is cooler, obviously, but this was quite a rest stop.
We got some postcards, and a few souvenirs, and tried the infamous Blenheim Ginger Ale.... Ruby loved it! Brock had memories of South of the Border from his childhood, and while Ruby may not remember this trip, he LOVED sharing this with her.
Next we made our way to a campground near Columbia, SC called Sesquicentenial State Park. South Carolina has a silly rule of two night minimum for campgrounds, even on weekdays off season. **Eye roll.**
However, this campground had a playground, and a SPLASH PAD. Ruby had a ball!! If you're ever in that area, you can pay a daily fee to use the park, and it would be worth it. Lovely park, and nice campground. Showers weren't as nice as the night before, but for $20/a day, one can't complain!
Day 3 of our trip had us exploring locally. We started at Curiosity Coffee Bar, in Columbia. Brock had a coffee and Ruby shared some very watered down portions of my honey lavender cold brew.
Honey lavender cold brew. Yes. It was phenomenal.
We also split a muffin, and Ruby had to have a bagel bomb. Service was outstanding, with plenty of southern hospitality. I 1000% recommend stopping here and supporting a great small local business!
Then a stop at the Capitol, in the Capital of South Carolina. Really, all we do here is pop over to the building and walk the grounds for a bit, snap the family selfie and some Ruby photos. We only go into the building if we have to pee!
We crossed off Congaree National Park from the list. We did NOT hike or spend much time here... it is a swamp, and it was 95 degrees with 100% chance of mosquitos. I got 4 bites walking from the parking lot to the visitor center. I suggest visiting this park in December instead, as I imagine it is quite lovely.
We let Ruby nap here, and ended with a quick dinner at a local place called Tacos Nayarit, so small that they don't even have a website for me to link. It was almost fast food, but with a local spin, and we did it because it was quick, cool, and early in the day (like 4pm). And that gave us time to get downtown and grab ice-cream at Sweet Cream Company, which was DELICIOUS. Ruby and I split a cone, and she chose lemon poppyseed. Not a choice I would have made on my own, but I couldn't believe how amazing it was.
We had enough time to do some splash pad/sand play before bed, and for the third night in a row, Ruby went to bed well.
The next morning, after a nice campsite coffee with Papa, we hit the road to head back north, headed to Raleigh, yet another capital to check out.
We grabbed a late lunch at The Pit, a recommendation from a co-worker of Brock. While not as dive-y as he would have liked, it was pretty amazing, and I would recommend it for sure. We didn't get any great photos, because we were all "Starvin' Marvin", but this sums up the mood quite well...
After a desert of chocolate (located conveniently across the street), we swung by the capitol, and again, snapped the obligatory photo.
Making our way to William B. Umstead State Park for the night, this campground was my least favorite this trip. Dirtiest showers, no playground (or splash pad), and while it seemed to have some nice hiking trails, we didn't have time to explore them so much.
And wow... was it HOT. Hence the mostly naked toddler.
And wow... were we hotter than normal. Not only were we in the south and it was anywhere from 92 degrees (in the shade) to 98 degrees, and humid, but the AC in the truck was apparently broken, undiscovered until this trip. Poor Ruby in the back, with no windows down... she was a champ though! The camper was really comfortable in the shade/during the nights, because Brock installed new fans (TWO! one for us, and one for R) and they're incredibly efficient.
Heading home the next morning on Mother's Day, it was obviously ideal to make a pit stop for a donut at Rise Biscuts and Donuts before hitting the highway.
We got lucky with traffic on I-95, and made it home by about 3pm, of course after an ice-cream stop at Carl's in Fredericksburg. Some say institution, I say genius: soft serve ice-cream stand in 4 flavors: no bathrooms to clean, no major overhead costs... the line was pretty long, but this little smile was worth the wait!
Was this the perfect trip??
Both of Brock's credit cards were compromised, and so we ended up also ordering new bank cards, just in case. Terrible? No. Annoying? Mildly. Easily overcome? Yep.
Ruby stepped in a nest of fire ants at a rest stop off of I-40 outside of Raleigh. Boy oh boy, that poor kid HURT. They massacred her little leg! She was just playing in the grassy area, in some tree mulch... climbing up the small mound made by the mulch, and jumping off... and apparently the fire ants had already laid claim to that tree mound. She survived, and the bites look much better now, BUT the downside is that she is TERRIFIED of all small things. Even lint on the floor that *could* be a bug is life threatening. I can't say I blame her.
Truck AC not working.... not ideal, but we all survived.
Other than that... it was fantastic to get out of the suburbia that is NOVA, and explore a bit. Plus, we got to cross 4 things off our list: two capitals, a national park, and a new state driven in. SUCCESS! Ruby D is back to Adventuring!
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