County: Jasper

Point of Interest: Sergeant Jasper County Park

Jasper County is located right next to Beaufort County off of interstate 95, so we did not have far to travel. This 321 acre park has many different ponds that you can fish. It happened to be Father’s Day on the day of our visit, so it was enjoyable for Bryan to be able to fish with his two older girls. We first checked out the playground and then headed down a path to one ponds. There are definitely alligators in the ponds as evidenced by the many signs, so we kept a good lookout as we walked. We found a pond that did not look quite so swampy and cast the lines. Luckily, Avery caught a brim so I consider the fishing trip a success. Another attraction of this park, is the 18 hole disc golf course which we did not try but seemed to attract a number of people.

County: Hampton

Point of Interest: Hampton County Watermelon Festival

Hampton County is also located pretty close to Beaufort.  During a week in June every year they have a Watermelon Festival that is actually the longest standing festival in the state of South Carolina with the first one being held in 1939. They have an entire week of events that include a fishing contest, pet contest, parade, kids day, carnival, movie night, tractor contest, 5K, melon judging, pageants, lots of live entertainment, and an arts and crafts contest. The whole town really gets into the watermelon spirit and residents decorate their yards and businesses decorate the windows of their stores with watermelons.

The girls entered the craft contest and made watermelon pieces of art–Avery made a clothes pin wreath and Leslie made a papermache bowl. They came in 1st and 2nd place!! They were very excited and received a ribbon as their prize and we then enjoyed some pieces of watermelon in the park.

On our way home from Hampton we made stop in Beaufort County, at Old Sheldon Church. The church as been burned down twice, but the ruins still stand today. It was interesting to walk through the grounds and admire the beautiful church and read the dates on the old graves that go back to the 1700’s. Unfortunately there is now a fence around the church due to vandalism.

We just wrapped up visiting part of the midlands of South Carolina with Kershaw, York,and Richland Counties.

In Kershaw County, we were able to visit Goat Daddy’s Farm located in a remote part of Kershaw on 25 acres of land. This family owned business was participating in the AG + ART festival that was going on Kershaw this past weekend. The AG + ART festival takes place throughout the month of June throughout 10 different South Carolina Counties (Chester, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Newberry, Union, Richland, Spartanburg, and York).

This is a self guided tour of locals farms and farmers markets. At Goat Daddy’s Farm we were able to walk through the woods and see goats, mini horses, chickens, peacocks, and pigs. Since this is was a family owned business with the family living on the farm with the animals, we were at their house which made it feel like an intimate and unique experience. Many animals such as the peacocks roamed freely. Avery especially loved feeding the emus and Hunter enjoyed pointing at all the wildlife. We picked up some goat cheese as we left and it did not disappoint! The girls also left a blessing bracelet at the entrance for someone to find. Another popular activity that happens in Kershaw is the Carolina Cup that takes place in the town of Camden. This is a horse race and social event at the end of March/beginning of April. Bryan and I have previously enjoyed attending with friends but have yet to take the kids.

Next stop was York County where we have family, so we stayed a couple nights to visit and checked out the area. We first visited a park in Fort Mill and played with our cousins. Then, we had ice cream at Springs Farm Peach Stand and picked up some local peaches grown in York county and grits because we love making shrimp and grits. After enjoying our ice cream and leaving a blessing bracelet, we headed to Anne Springs Close Greenway, a nature preserve in York County. We toured the small nature center and then walked down to the pond. On the way back the girls took a path with their cousins and saw a deer and snake which was Leslie’s highlight and has inspired her to want to walk on more nature trails. On the way home, we stopped at Puckerbutt Pepper Company, home of the World’s Hottest Peppers, the Carolina Reaper. Bryan did a quick taste testing some of their hot sauces, and we brought home some Carolina Reaper salsa. It was so nice to spend this time touring York with our family. Another interesting stop in York that we want check out on our next visit, is the Tatanka Bison Range, a 215 acre working ranch, that uses holistic management tools to produce 100% grass fed and grass-finished Bison.

And finally, we wrapped up with Richland County. The capital of South Carolina, Columbia, is located in Richland, so we drove through the capital city and by the State House. We also checked out my office, which happens to be the tallest building in South Carolina. Then, Bryan and the girls headed off to the Riverbanks Zoo while I did some work in Columbia. On Tuesdays throughout the summer, the zoo is having a BOGO special on tickets if you donate canned foods. So, we were able to get one free ticket! All the girls loved seeing the animals and they even ran into their friend Riley, who was visiting the zoo with her summer camp. A blessing bracelet was left in the Columbia at the feet of a colorful rooster. Whenever we come back to Richland County, we want to take the girls to Congaree National Park, the only National Park in South Carolina.

Four counties down, 42 to to go!! We continue to welcome suggestions you may have of places to go or places to eat throughout South Carolina.

For the last 14 years, we have experienced most of what Beaufort has to offer, which is a lot! Time and time again Beaufort, SC is ranked in different publications as the “Best” of some kind….small town, place to visit, most romantic, southern town, etc. I would not argue with any of these “titles.” After traveling up and down the east coast as far as Annapolis and as south as the Keys, visiting just about every coastal town in between, I feel Beaufort really has earned its top-ranked spot. Beaufort includes a number of popular towns, such as Hilton Head, a popular destination with all the activities associated with a coastal resort community. However, there are many interesting experiences that Beaufort can offer locals and tourists alike that are free or low-cost that are not as well known. Below are some ideas that we have done in the past that I would recommend.

Merrick Daffodil Farm is located in Bluffton. The kids can pick daffodils when in season for 25 cents. I would suggest arriving early in the day so you can have a field full of flowers to chose from. We recently had a great experience with our girl scout troop on a mini horse farm on St. Helena Island. Mobile Mini’s opened up their farm and mini horses for an afternoon of grooming (with bows), reading to the horses, and feeding them. It was a very unique and fun time! Hunting Island State Park has been a favorite for our family for a number of years and we recently had a first camping experience at the park’s campground. The park offers a very natural beach experience with lots of drift wood and if you get there early in the morning you can find some large shells. The Port Royal Sound Foundation is located between the town of Beaufort and Bluffton. They have a variety of eco-themed children’s programs throughout the year. We recently went to the Pollination Festival where we learned about native plants, sampled honey, and the girls had their faces painted. Morgan Island, also known as Monkey Island, for moneys that live there can be a fun visit if the monkey’s feel like being active. You can only view the monkeys by taking a boat close to the shoreline, and if you are lucky, you can get a glimpse of them swinging from the trees. And speaking of boating, there are a number of barrier islands that can be visited by boat such as Daufuski or Bull Point. One of the last remaining drive-in theaters, the Hwy 21 Drive In , is also located in Beaufort County and features two movies a night on the weekends. Beaufort is also known for its many festivals. During certain times of the year their are multiple festivals across the county going on during the same weekend. Some of our favorites are Beaufort Water Festival, Night on the Town, and Shrimp and Grits Festival. Eat, Sleep, Play Beaufort is a great website resource that could help you find all the local events and attractions.

When I tried to think of the experiences that we had not yet done with the girls, I came up with a few options and let the girls pick. Surprisingly, what they picked is a rather normal and ordinary attraction. They decided on the food truck at the local library. While a library is certainly not a unique attraction, some of the different experiences that libraries offer can be. While living on the boat, libraries in the towns we visited were a frequent stop and we participated in a number of activities from yoga to story walks. Currently, the Beaufort library, like other libraries across the country, is having a Summer Reading Program with lots of great giveaways. Also, through various partnerships, a food truck will be serving free lunch every weekday this summer at the library to kids. Yes, a FREE lunch. So, we headed to the local library to check out the free lunch and some books to help us with our research about South Carolina and where we want to visit.

The girls were interested in the food truck, so they immediately got in line and received a hot ham and cheese sandwich, tater tots, and pears with a side of milk. Avery enjoyed the meal, while Leslie was less than thrilled. After they cleaned up, we headed in the library to grab some books. We found a selection of books about our state and have been reading them and finding out some interesting facts. We learned South Carolina was the first state to have a free public library in the country, located in Charleston, making our “library trip” more relevant to South Carolina. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn of all the other offerings the library had this summer such as reading to dogs, STEAM night, lego club, mini golf and more. So, I’m sure we will be heading back soon.

The two choices that the girls did not choose were visiting Old Sheldon Church and visiting Parris Island, the Marine Corp recruit depot. Our house is literally across the water from Parris Island and we hear shooting practice in the morning. We were also married on Parris Island, so I foresee a trip out there in the near future. As for Old Sheldon Church, it is very beautiful and historic, but probably not as interesting for kids. Since it is located on the way out of town in order to get to the highway, I see this as a stop on the way to somewhere else.

The girls also left a Blessing Bracelet selectively placed next to a family cruising book in the library while on a follow up visit to return our books!

It has been over a year and a half since we last wrote on this blog and at that time, I really did not think we would continue to keep the site active. The site has sat untouched (but prepaid for three years), yet much has changed since the time we said good bye to All In.

Hunter Wynne arrived on January 5, 2018 during a crazy snow storm we had in Beaufort. She has been pure joy and a perfect addition to our family. Soon after she was born, I started to feel the need for a little more space for our growing family. Completely unexpectedly, we bought a house about three months after she was born. The house seemed perfect, we actually did not even look at any other homes. We moved in the beginning of April and have been living here ever since. We look out over the Broad River/Port Royal sound that leads to the ocean. The same inlet we entered (and exited) a couple years ago. Avery and Leslie are days away from finishing kindergarten and first grade. Despite soaking up every second of their childhood while on the boat, I am still shocked at how fast time flies and my little 3 and 4 year old who lived on a boat are now very independent 6 and 7 year olds who have a toddling sister at their feet.

One day old!

On a side note, All In was bought by two wonderful people who have since taken her back to the Bahamas and have continued to have incredible adventures aboard. We feel so lucky to have been able to keep in touch with the new owners and swap stories. They have just come back to the east coast, so we hope to catch up soon.

So, with the purchase of a house and addition of a baby (now toddler), we are settled comfortably back into life on land. The road trip I referred to in the last blog never happened. I think I was still high on adventure and wanting to continue that lifestyle. Of course, I still do, but realize the scale must be much, much smaller while the kitty restocks, and the next boat trip can be fully envisioned. We want to continue to have “mini adventures” with our children.

First camping trip earlier this year!

Which brings me to the reason for re-starting the blog. First, I have missed writing about our family experiences. This blog was a great platform to document our adventures and a way for me to reflect. We are living in a beautiful town on the coast of South Carolina, it would take us about 3-4 hours to get to the farthest portion of the state, which is very doable with our family. I want to teach the girls about where they live and all the unique and interesting things the state of South Carolina has to offer. South Carolina has 46 different counties and we are setting our goal to visit them all. By visiting, I do not mean just driving through them, which I am sure we have already done through the past years. The point of this “tour” is to explore free or low cost landmarks, activities, and events that are unique to each county, such things that are “off the beaten path” and are not your typical tourist destinations.

My hope is that this will be a great family summer learning experience. While I am not going to place any limits regarding the time frame to complete all 46 counties, I am hopeful that we will knock out the majority of the list this summer. We will blog about the locations and activities that each county has to offer. I am in the process of making a South Carolina passport book that the girls will use to journal and document their experiences and what they saw and learned about. Maybe this will give other families some ideas of different things they can do that are close to where they live. We also started making Blessing Bracelets again and plan on leaving one in each county we visit.

Bracelet making in progress.

As we begin to plan and research the different areas of the state, I would welcome suggestions from any other South Carolinian’s who have ideas about places to visit. I have also found through my beginning research that not all counties are “equal” in the number of things to do, the areas along the coast and the upstate appear to have more options. So, I would greatly appreciate any input from others. Feel free to leave comments below.

We have been off the boat for 4 months now and the official ending to this chapter in our life is eminent, in fact just days away.   I knew this day would be coming soon, yet it does not make me any more prepared to officially close out this chapter of our lives with the sale of All In.  While the common saying goes, that the two happiest days in a boat owners life are the day you buy and sell your boat, I am not having that same feeling with selling our floating home.  We have moved on and are living in a house now and started our land life, but All In has been a comfort knowing she was just down the road sitting on her mooring ball.  Of course, she has also been a liability and costing money every month with no use from us, so we do want her to have new owners who will care for her and take her on new adventures.  So, the day has come and she will be officially handed over.  The memories and lessons that were had with All In are more than I could have ever dreamed would have occurred over the last year.  My family is forever changed by the experiences we had together as we move forward to our next adventure. 

Hurricane Irma swept through last week and kept us on our toes with preparing All In.  Thankfully for us, the storm moved further west making the impact on Beaufort and All In minimal.  We spent the morning as a family on All In after the storm making sure all she fared well and everything was in order.   I am now realizing this will probably be the last time all four of us will have been on her.  This was an emotional time, as all the memories of our life came flooding over me.  Walking down the companionway, into the 37 ft of space we lived on, brought back all the sweet memories and fun times.  Even the most challenging times such as when we ran aground and had to be off the boat for three weeks while the rudder was repaired evoke such strong and positive memories since the experience turned into an amazing road trip and invaluable lessons were learned as we moved forward cruising.  I was able to spend the precious and fleeting younger years of two of my children’s life side by side with them, without having the distraction of traditional work.  No doubt it was and is challenging, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges.  The bond between Bryan and I have has grown stronger and healthier than I knew could exist.  The future for our family seems so wide open and the possibilities endless.  I have no doubt that one day we will find ourselves back on the water cruising and experiencing new places.

Some have asked if it difficult to start over with very little and rebuild life on land.   Surprisingly, it has not been too difficult.   The biggest challenge came when our family was in flux during the summer moving off the boat and traveling and not having set up our “land” home yet.  We all felt a little homeless during this time.  But as we started setting up our home, the next steps have all come together very naturally.    As I have learned over the past year, very little material things are needed to be happy.  I have thoroughly enjoyed all the modern conveniences of living on land.  And I have enjoyed starting to put comforting touches throughout the home such as cruising pictures that decorate the living room and fabric scraps from our time in the Bahamas that hang in the girls closet.  I continue to cling to keeping a minimalist and clutter free feeling in our home.

Over the last months, Bryan has been busy building our new kitchen (in addition to building beds for the girls and for us).  He has ripped everything out of the old kitchen and started fresh.  He has done everything himself, not only saving us money, but allowing him to learn different aspects of home building. The next big project will be expanding our townhouse by enclosing the deck and making it our living room.

I have started my company, All In Educational Services LLC, and have not had a shortage of business since beginning.  I am looking forward to expanding and helping more families as the months continue with the edition of a new website.  Avery has begun kindergarten and really loves school and her teacher and classmates.  She appears to be growing and her interest and curiosity in learning new things always amazes me.  Leslie goes to school three days and week and stays home with Bryan or me the other two days.  She has already picked up where she left off with her little group of friends.  Both girls are preparing to be big sisters in January and I continue to grow and feel the little feet kicking inside me.  Overall, everyone has adjusted and transitioned well as we say goodbye to All In and re-create life they way we want to live.  The timing seems to have lined up rather perfectly confirming my belief in the subtle signs that surround us everyday. 

As I have mentioned before, the itch to start a new adventure continues and no doubt adding another little girl (yes, three girls!!) to the family will be a challenge and adventure of its own.  But, we have started the beginning phases of our next family adventure with the purchase of a map of the U.S that will soon be hanging on the walls of our home.  The scale of travel will not be as large and significant as it was with living on All In, but we have learned with a dream and a plan, we can make something happen!  So with fondness and sweet sadness I close this chapter and probably this blog, and open a new one as a family of five planning a summer road trip across the US.