4TH OF JULY AT JAMES ISLAND COUNTY PARK
Every year for the 4th of July, Richard gets to pick a camping destination of his choosing because his birthday also falls the week of the 4th. Double the pleasure, double the fun. This year it was decided that we'd hit the lowcountry, the always-a-good-call town of Charleston, SC. Being a native of Atlanta, I grew up going to Charleston fairly often, but I still love the southern charm and grace (and pralines, seriously, the pralines!) of the city. A few of my college friends also call Charleston home so we jumped on the opportunity to spend the week catching up with friends, celebrating handsome hub's birthday and enjoying the holiday weekend.
We got incredibly lucky by snagging a last minute site at James Island County Park – a real treasure of a campground. Let me tell you, Charleston County Parks and Rec know what's up. The campground itself is fairly large but books up quickly due to the 10 minute proximity to downtown Charleston. Very friendly and accommodating staff/rangers. Perhaps one of the most awesome features was the off-leash dog beach, located within the campground. If you're a dog owner, you know how fantastic (and rare) this is. Gussie is a big boy and needs off leash time, and when you're out and about on the road it can be challenging to find off-leash dog parks. So we were super pumped about that. There's also a fabulous little water park, yes, within the campground, too. Normally we're not ones to frequent water parks. "Splash Zones!" and "Lazy Rivers!" and such, well, they might as well be called the "E. Coli Express!" or "Urination Station!", but when it's 90-something degrees out with almost 100% humidity, I will get in that water all day long. All. Day. Long.
So, in theory, we had lots to do to entertain ourselves for the week. But there are few things that put a damper faster than a week in a coastal city like rain. Continuous rain. The kind of rain that makes campsites muddy (and paws, too). Rain so non-stop that the inside of the Airstream starts to feel a little moist (eww, I hate that word) and you have to keep the AC blasting to keep humidity levels at bay. So what does one do when faced with inclement weather and only three local digital TV stations? They go out and eat. Yep. That's what "they" do. Luckily for us, Charleston is a fab-u-lous place to dine. So many great places; it can be tough deciding where to go. I'd been to Husk, Jestine's and Bowen's Island on a previous trip over Mother's Day weekend, so we stuck to some casual tried-and-true places, although we did hit Jestine's again. That place is crazy good soul food. Catfish and grits with hot pepper sauce and mac-n-cheese. YES. (You will wait in line. It's worth it.)
Your experience at James Island County Park might differ based on where your site is located. Our original site was quite small and very challenging to get into, so much in fact, that we requested another site and the office graciously moved us even though the campground was packed and it was a holiday weekend. It was also on a loop that just felt cluttered and cramped and I'm pretty sure it was just a matter of time before our site neighbors cranked up Freedom Rock. We loved the new site and even had two Airstream neighbors across the road from us. Love that. When we visit again we'll be sure to do a little more research on the site numbers.
The very last day, the sun peeped out and we hightailed it to the beach at Kiawah Island (also dog friendly but only on leash) and it was such a pleasure to have one day of sun.
Gus is not a water dog despite our efforts to convince him he should be, but he ain't havin' it. We did manage to get him in the ocean up to his belly but I don't think he loved it. He much prefers hanging under the shady umbrella with Mama and Daddy, paws in the sand, looking around at all the beach goers. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.
Even with the abundant rain, we still had a ball and a change of scenery is always a positive thing. Especially when you can relish the sun going down over the marsh with that Spanish moss in the breeze. Heavenly.