Saturday, March 22, 2008

Edisto Beach State Park

I was among a group of three intrepid residents of Ottawa who decided enough was enough- this year's record snowfall was no laughing matter. We took the reins and planned a road trip to the sun. In this case, our final destination was Savannah, the legendary city in Georgia that has inspired many writers and travelers alike.

However, on the way we made several show-stopping discoveries, not in the Columbus sense, I'd never be bold enough to make such extravagant claims, but nice new places to return to in the future.

Besides the Outer Banks of North Carolina (Kitty Hawk, Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke Island), the most glorious spot on the map that we played at was Edisto Island, South Carolina. In fact, we camped for two nights in Edisto Beach State Park, a wonderful place to spend a few nights. If I had had the time, I think my entire week would've been spent in Edisto camping among the Palmettos and warm spring Atlantic wind.

The park itself has two separate campsites. One is down by the beach, but be prepared to book spots way ahead of time here. The other is only a couple of kilometres away, adjacent to a salt marsh. We stayed at the latter, and explored the 5 kilometres of trails in and around the large marsh. The one downside about our site were the over-excitable mockingbirds, which in my opinion, should pipe up only when spoken to.

While the camping and beach were great, my stay in Edisto, and perhaps in the South more generally, seemed haunted by the silences. It seems everywhere I went in Edisto- the general store, local pub/restaurant, state park, etc- I was served by African-Americans, even though to my admittedly un-trained eyes it seemed like none lived near the beach, a place reserved mostly for wealthy landowners and vacationers. This area of South Carolina was once world-renowned for its Sea Island cotton, and the large plantation-style houses speckle the drive along Highway 174 onto the island.

My next trip to Edisto will include an extended discussion or two with local residents about this particular history, and the contemporary segregation that exists in the area. The unsettling feeling nibbling at my mind demands such future inquiry.