Hey Everyone! Hope you're doing great today. This week I want to tell you about a weekend trip me and some other "Photo Nuts" took to South Carolina to Congaree National Park. If you haven't heard about it don't feel bad I hadn't either. My friend Robert a partner in Photo Crimes , had suggested the trip and he always seems to have good trips planned. So after saying yes I started a little research. The first place I went was YouTube. I'm a big fan of YouTube and like to see what other people say in a review of a place. Well the first couple of reviews talk about Congaree as the worst National Park in the US. That was not what I wanted to learn about this park. Located about an half hour drive from the eastern side(right side of the map) of Columbia SC. It is mostly a swampy National park great for Kayaking and exploring through the swampy land. But as a hiker it had some trails but it also has a 2.5 mile boardwalk over the swamp to the Congaree River. Now I love National Parks and want to visit as many as I can and this summer I'll add six more parks to my been there list. So if nothing else it will me a tic mark on my list of National Parks. We, Me and Robert and another "Photo Nut" Mike decided to leave Friday night stay in Columbia do some night photography and go to Congaree in the morning. Robert and Myself were going to do about a 7 mile trail and Mike was going to shoot some wildlife stuff near the water. This park is known for flooding and the forecast was for rain. Not looking good. But that was the Plan. Here is what happened.
Friday- Left home about 1:30ish in the afternoon for a 31/2 to 4 hour drive to Columbia. We started our trip and it was interstate driving most of the way so kind of boring and crowded. But we passed the time cutting up and having fun conversations as three retired Military Vets would have. You know War stories and the such. When we got to Columbia it had started to rain. We found our hotel for the night near Ft. Jackson and put most of our things in the room. We donned our Rain Coats and headed out to our first destination. A man made waterfall at a park. It was really coming down now. When we got to the park the water was cut off to the waterfall and it was raining hard. We decided to go eat and see if it would let up. We went to Quakerstate and Lube and automotive themed restaurant that was a Sports Bar theme to it. We ordered Burgers and Wings and after we finished we were stuffed. I mean loosen the top button of your pants full. We decided that the night was a wash (literally ) and to make plans for the next day.
Saturday- We had called the park Friday and found that some of the trails were under water. So we figured we could at least show up , get the fridge magnet, T-shirt and call it a day and head to an alternate place Santee State Park. When we got to the park there wasn't too many cars in the parking lot of the visitors center so we got out and started to explore. We found the Boardwalk and started to see how far we could go. Let me tell you it was gorgeous , lush and green and some of the trees were enormous . There are some champion trees here, Loblolly Pine , and Birch. Champion trees are the largest of their species. Pretty Cool. We did come to where the water overcame the boardwalk and had to turn around. I actually didn't think that I would get anything good here but I was happily surprised. Our last stop in the park was the visitors center where we got our National Park Passports Stamped and souvenirs. Our next stop was Santee State Park a South Carolina State Park. It was an hour or so drive there from Congaree. When we arrived we went to the Camp Store and walked out on the dock and could look upon the Lake Marion. We then went on a hike that was suppose to be a 1/4 mile hike but ended up to be about 4 miles or so. We got a little off course. After the unexpected hike we were hungry and tired and a little sweaty. We went to a BBQ joint called Lone Star. It was absolutely fabulous . A comfort food home style cooking in a Buffet. What could get better. We did it again and ate too much but you can't pass on Banana Pudding. We then drove home about a 4 hour drive.
The whole trip we were cutting up and having a ball. And it goes to show you that when your going on a photography trip you have to be flexible and you might find something better than what you had planned. It was a great trip and I got some good photo's to boot. So until next week go out and explore and take a friend you'll have a blast. Here is a link to a trip video by Robert O'Sullivan Congaree Trip Video