Travel Terrifies Me, But I Do It Anyway
When I watch a horror movie, I jump at the slightest sound. I get shivers up my spine. I break out in a cold sweat. I cover my eyes with my hands and I stuff my thumbs in my ears to block out any sound. Even Jurassic Park gives me nightmares.
When I’m out of my comfort zone, I get the same reaction. It doesn’t matter what I do. A road trip, a canoe trip or a flight on a plane. I get nervous and worry that dire consequences will occur when I venture out of where it’s safest.
This makes me wonder why on earth I chose to take a trip to South Carolina, in 2012. As uncomfortable as it seemed, I wanted to venture further into the USA than I had ever done before.
To this point, I had driven from New Brunswick, Canada through the Berkshires in Western Maine. To New Hampshire into Vermont and came by way of Cornwall, Ontario, with my ex.
I shopped in Niagara Falls New York with friends.
I took a trip with my children to Great Falls, Montana. We drove 4500 feet up the side of the mountain on the Going-To-The-Sun road through Glacier National Park. It was a day trip from Waterton National Park, Alberta.
My Road Trip to The South
Be brave young soul.
I’d always wanted to travel south for the March Break. A wicked adventure. I was game.
My Adventure to South Carolina
It was a dream come true. Travel during the winter months to a warm exotic world. I could remove the winter jacket and walk in the great outdoors in a t-shirt and shorts. Excitement permeated my veins.
I love to travel and going by car is so personal. You feel the land and the inhabitants of that country. I am an avid explorer. I never tire of driving.
On the first day, I drove my sister in my H3 all the way to Greensboro, North Carolina. We stayed overnight at a Super 8.
Sounds great, even though I felt as though I didn’t belong there. I had always heard that American police shoot first and ask questions after. What would happen if I got pulled over for speeding?
The Changing Scenery
The landscape changed as the temperature rose — from snowbanks in Ontario to green mountains in West Virginia. As we drove through the blasted out tunnel of Walker Mountain it fed the excitement in me. Would the tunnel collapse on us?
The drive down Fancy Gap into North Carolina, where the Blue Ridge Mountains came into view, was beautiful. My sister told me they have runaway ramps for trucks if they burn out their brakes on the I-70. Nice for me to know.
After a quick breakfast the next morning, we finished our drive to the ocean-side hotel on the Isle of Palms.
Charleston, palm trees and beaches here we come.
The Stress of Our Arrival
We arrived but had to park a block away. This was a major issue because neither of us had ever gone this far into another country. I yelled in frustration at my sister, why didn’t she tell me? My nervousness created an awkward beginning to our arrival. We soon found a parking spot outside of our hotel.
The place wasn’t as busy as we expected because tourist season on the Isle of Palms begins in May. Alot of amenities weren’t available. However we enjoyed the beach in shorts and a t-shirt without huge crowds.
Big waves crashed on the beach and the sound took some getting used to. They lulled us to sleep. As those waves continued to thunder, they woke me at 2 in the morning. Startled I left the room to see what major catastrophe had occurred. Nothing, just small waves on the beach. Returning to our room, my sister was dumbfounded by my actions. I identified the sound, now I could sleep.
Tomorrow a tour of Charleston call us.
My sister was writing a book. It was set in Charleston, SC and that was how I chose our destination. I knew if I chose that location she would jump at the chance to join me on my adventure. I had the money to pay, as I had sold my home the previous year.
Part of her story included a nighttime chase through Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. That was our first stop. We took our own tour, she knew what she was looking for. The caretaker did warn us that there was a small alligator in the pond. We never saw it. Although, I kept an eye out for it, while my sister spent the next 4 hours reading gravestones.
I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued by graveyards. Sure they’re eerie but I enjoy looking at old gravestones. Do you ever wonder if spirits of the dead will attach themselves to you as you wander between the graves?
My sister took tons of photos there. We uploaded them on the laptop, daily. Of course, we saw spirits on one of the mausoleums she photographed.
We returned to our hotel where we spent the rest of the day walking on the beach and getting some sun.
We did a 2-hour tour, on a wagon, of downtown Charleston, the next morning.
We learnt about the 7.0 earthquake that hit it in 1886. It shook the eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida as far west as the Mississippi for 1 minute. It still is the talk of the town because of the major damage it caused. It was the most devastating earthquake ever in Southern USA.
We learned of the false entranceways on porches. There is color called “haint blue” painted on porch ceilings and some houses to keep evil spirits away from the homes. Such a ghost-riddled town.
Such a beautiful place. So old-fashioned and quaint. They have a replica of the H. L. Hunley, a submarine used during the Civil War.
We left for a 9 am tour at Drayton Hall early the next morning. It’s a beautiful old home built in 1738. It’s the only one of its kind that still survives along the Ashley River. Free of furnishings it was in need of extra TLC to repair it. It’s incredible that it lasted through the Revolution and the Civil War.
I imagine the long hot evenings in the humid weather and feel my version of a romanticized era. Walks in the garden. Breakfasts and teas in the morning. Love the thought.
The grounds are gorgeous and immense. This is where I learnt how much the Carolinan forests resemble the ones in Southern Ontario. The vines that wrap around the trees are much thicker in the Deep South.
I’m sure the forests there have many spirits, and in death, the slaves never left. To this day they lay in graves, unmarked.
Walks At Low Tide
Most afternoons we enjoyed exploring and tanning on the beach.
We found an array of different shells. The largest shell we saw housed a horseshoe crab. It is about 15 to 16 inches long from its round horseshoe-like shell to the tail. It has 9 eyes and 6 pinchers. The female is one third larger than the male. There are small spikes on it.They’re creepy.
The other weird thing we saw were rectangular black pouches with tendrils at each corner. These are egg cases and hold skate embryos. Skates have no cartilage and are from the same family as the sharks and rays.
I found a large beautiful shell but when I turned it over the largest snail I had ever seen, was looking right at me. Certain it would bite me, I didn’t hold back and I hurled it as far away as I could.
As we walked along the beach , we watched a guy throw a stick in the ocean for his dog. I worried that Jaws would strike right out in front of us. We learned that 12 species of sharks prowl along the coast of South Carolina, including Great Whites.
Another Road Trip
We did everything my sister wanted to do. So I decided we should drive to Florida for lunch.
I loved Florida, but had never been. This was my opportunity.
What you may not understand is my way of thinking. When I travel I have 2 beliefs:
- I may never pass this way again. A 3 to 4 hour drive one way isn’t too far when you are this close to a place you never thought you’d visit.
2. Do it all. Always do the most you can do, because you may only get one chance.
We woke early the next morning and headed off to Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida. I was so excited.
4 hours later we sat at Sandy Bottoms Bar and ate lunch. We bought t-shirts and swam off the coast of Florida. Awesome. I loved every second of my time in Florida. I still get excited about that side trip.
On the way back to Charleston, we stopped at a visitors rest-stop, along the highway. The women there thought we should go to Savannah,Georgia. I regret I’ve never been. I’d like to. Next time I’d stop there on my way to Miami.
By the time we got to South Carolina, the sun was down. It was terrifying to see how inky black it was by the roads leading to the plantations. I imagined how horrible it would’ve been for a runaway slave. First you’d be alone as you ran into the forest in the pitch black. Down to the swamps where alligators and cottonmouth snakes await your arrival. Never mind whatever else was out there.
If you didn’t make it and got caught they’d whip you or worse. The slave owners would be sure to use you as an example for others.
My heart went out to them as I drove on in the inky darkness. The ghosts of their spirits locked in a horrendous time.
The Wrap up
We spent the next morning scouring the shops for trinkets for home. The afternoon was spent on the beach. We were almost ready to head out from a very delightful vacation. We picked up some sweet tea, a staple of the South. It’s much sweeter than ice tea in Canada.
After a last walk on the beach we headed back to Greensboro, North Carolina for our last night in the States. It was uneventful until I cut-off a trucker. That was the first time I encountered road rage. He tailed me for quite some time. He was at my back window for more miles than I care to remember. I tried to lose him when I stopped for gas, but when I went in to pay, he blocked me in. I looked him right in the eye, such a miserable old man. He smiled a greasy grin at me. If I could’ve I would’ve destroyed him where he stood. How dare he intimate me like that. I had enough.
What he didn’t realize was that a H3 has a smaller body and can manoeuvre out of tighter areas. He chased me back onto the Interstate.
Talk about scary. I felt so out of place. Where could I go? We knew noone there. People carry guns in the USA. We don’t do that in Canada. You can’t freak out and walk away.
All those weird horror shows crept into my brain. What would he do if he caught us? I remember reading about a trucker who tortured women he caught on highways. Who knows what kind of people you end up around when you travel?
Finally we neared a hotel and I pulled off when the trucker got caught up behind another trucker. We were thankful when we watched him continue up the highway, I know he did not see us. I often think the other trucker knew we were part of a cat and mouse game with the other guy. In my books he saved us from that idiot.
How do you help the one who won’t say they need your help?
Really I can only tell you how I feel and have felt, but not how to get you to know I need you.
We had a good night’s rest and left the next morning. I had a couple of stops to make before we crossed into Canada.
New River Gorge Bridge
When I travel and I see something of interest I love to stop. I’m always up for a hike. This trip was no different.
On our way to South Carolina we went drove over a long bridge and I decided to stop on our way back. We visited the Vistors Centre. It had a staircase that went halfway down the gorge. It is in the Appalachian Mountains, near Fayetteville, West Virginia. The bridge is 876 feet above the New River. Which is the 2nd oldest river in the world. It is impressive. It was something we woudn’t have seen if we hadn’t stopped.
Blackburg West Virginia
I needed an oil change because of all my travel. We chose a Firestone shop in Blackburg, West Virginia. I called ahead and they took me that day.
Very odd things happen to me when I travel. I choose places and then discover it’s close to where tragic events occurred.
We found out we were only minutes from where the deadliest school shooting in the USA happened, in 2005. Seven minutes down the road at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. So very tragic.
It’s almost like the stars deem that I pass that way.
The strange part is that I go to great lengths to avoid places where many deaths occur. I sense that if I do go close, a spirit may attach to me to speak to their loved ones. I know I’m a conduit. So I choose to stay away.
Over the Border We Go
Later that afternoon we crossed the border into Canada. We arrived home by 5 pm. It was an incredible trip with lots of bonuses.
What I Learned from My Trip
• The worst highway on that trip and all the way to Florida, began at home. The QEW and the 401 are busiest with the craziest drivers, the trucker was the exception.
• I’m capable of driving all the way to Florida.
• I would go again.
• The more I do the braver I become.
• In spite of my fears, I can do alot more than I ever thought I could.