two-week family vacation this year started in Grundy,
VA with a five-day mission trip to help the Mountain Mission School.
From there, we drove through NC, stopping a few times on the way to Wilmington. (We had seen
a lot of NC three years ago.) From there, we saw a good bit of SC. (We didn’t
go down the coast past Charleston.
We hope to see the areas between there and Savannah some other time.)
Grundy part of the trip was rewarding. The Mountain Mission School is a residential school, mostly for kids living in poverty or dealing with other
difficult family situations. Our former Sunday School class had been two other
times, but we were unable to go because of my teaching schedule. It fit my
schedule this year, so we were excited to join them.
in the family was able to help—Tonia helping to run a music camp and working
with the little guys to clean the dorms; and the big boys moving stuff to another
building and watching the little kids. I had fun tearing down walls (drywall
and studs), removing door frames, and swinging a sledgehammer. But I also
enjoyed balancing that with helping to build a walled vegetable and herb
garden. An economist might call it “creative destruction”—or at least a nice
combo of destruction and construction.
also met with the folks at New HopeChristian Church who are using DC. They’ve finished a DC group or two—and have started a total
of five groups for men and women in the community. Bill Neeley is the pastor
there and we had not met yet, so that was a smile. Bill and his folks were
gracious in hosting our DC’ers for a cook-out. It was really good to be with
them! And then, providentially, I was able to meet with Harry Gill of the Virginia EvangelicalFellowship. His mission is
to disciple church leaders—among other ways, through a dozen monthly reading
groups across Virginia.
He was in town for his monthly meeting with local church leaders. His vision is
quite similar to DC, so I’m hoping we can partner with VEF in the years ahead.
itself was interesting, especially the economic development of sparse land in
narrow mountain valleys. Usually, the land was about 150 yards across at the
bottom. This typically included a small river, a railroad, a two-lane road, and
a row of houses or businesses on one or both sides of the street. The
multi-story movie theater and three-story WalMart were the most notable—and of
course, you could see why a lot of people would live “in the hollers”.
Grundy, we started our vacation proper with Mt. Airy, NC
on Friday afternoon—the home of the Andy Griffith “museum”. It was probably the
most disappointing part of the trip, since the museum is mostly a collection of
memorabilia—photos and posters—with little explanation of his life and work. But
within that site is a small museum devoted to Chang and Eng—the original
“Siamese twins”. Born in Siam
and brought to the U.S. as a
sideshow, they settled in Mt.
Airy, became profitable
businessmen who owned slaves, and fathered 21 children with their wives. (The
two were sisters and they have more than 1,500 descendants today.) We also
drove around and saw the Andy Griffith buildings and the world’s largest quarry
of some sort.
got to Charlotte
on Friday evening, in time for a solid dinner at the South-21 Drive-In (the
first of three meals from recommendations on the Food Network) and a trip by
the Metalmorphosis sculpture. We didn’t get to see it move;
I wish I knew the schedule! On Saturday, we visited the Aviation
Museum (really nice, especially for its
exhibit on the plane that “Sully” landed in the Hudson
River) and the Billy Graham Library (wonderfully descriptive and
there, we drove to Wilmington,
staying at the condo of a friend’s mom and step-dad. We enjoyed Ft. Fisher
and its Aquarium (getting a discount from our membership with the Louisville
Science/Zoo). We also spent good chunks of time at Wrightsville and Carolina Beach.
had intended to see Alligator Adventure and maybe do putt-putt in Myrtle Beach (otherwise
avoiding the tourist trap), but heavy rain moved us inside to a great place
called WonderWorks. We stayed at a nice, older motel in Murrells Inlet (the Brookwood
Inn) before heading to Brookgreen
Gardens the next morning.
Again, weather intervened and we weren’t sure how much the kids would like it
anyway, so we just moved down the coast.
Charleston was great. A lot to do and see—with a nice mix of
history, architecture and nature. We also hit some great restaurants: Early
Bird Diner was one of the ten best meals I’ve ever had; and Santi’s was an
excellent Mexican spot. We started with Ft.
Moultrie (good stuff) and skipped Ft. Sumter
(expensive and time-consuming, given the ferry). Patriots Point is a must-see
with its three ships. For a nice little stop, we enjoyed the Dental Museum
and Waring Historical Library. Cypress
Gardens was gorgeous. We
skipped the flat-bottom boat tour given the intense mosquitoes since we didn’t
have bug spray. We also visited Folly
Friday, we started to wind our way westward—with the first stop in Cottageville
at Bee City. It was one of the highlights of the
trip, including an amazing petting zoo where one can feed all sorts of monkeys
and handle a number of amphibians and snakes (if Dennis is around; call
ahead!). We stopped for lunch in Santee at LoneStar
BBQ, which had great atmosphere and some great food (e.g., tomato pie), but
ironically, the worst BBQ I’ve ever had (grisly and tepid with sauce that Tonia
characterized as Catalina dressing). In Bishopville, we saw two amazing little
sites: Pearl Fryar’s Topiary Garden and Dalton Stevens’ Button King Museum
(call ahead to make sure he’ll be there).
Saturday, we started in Greenville with the Shoeless Joe Museum
(only open 10-2 on Saturdays) and their Fenway-park-replica ball field. We
traveled to Seneca to see Duke Energy’s World of Energy (hydroelectric and
nuclear power). Then, in Walhalla, we saw the Stumphouse Tunnel (the longest
unfinished tunnel) and Isaqueena Falls (nothing special, but nice enough when
you’re already at the tunnel).
stopped in Knoxville
for another DC-related visit. This time, we had dinner with John Waters and his
family. John heads up the DC ministry at Laurel Church of Christ. And in
addition, they plan to start the first DC group at a university this Fall
(UT-Knoxville)! Again, they were remarkably hospitable and it was a pleasure to
meet him and visit with him and his family.
few notes on what we did not do. First, we skipped white-water rafting
for the first time in four summers. The kids decided that a trip to Holiday
World was a better use of money and vacation time.
here’s a list of other things that looked good enough to make my list, but
ultimately didn’t get done for a variety of reasons:
Huntersville, NC’s Energy Explorium (we did Seneca SC
Rock Hill, SC’s York Co Museum (decided to spend more
time at the beach);
Hamer, SC’s Blenheim Ginger Ale factory tour (not open on weekends);
Battleship NC (we saw the USS Yorktown in Charleston
rescued birds (only open certain days) and the See Wee restaurant;
Charleston’s CSS Hunley submarine tours (only on
weekends); a walk on Ravenel
Bridge (too much given
the weather and the younger kids); and a number of promising restaurants (Bowen
Island Seafood, Glass Onion, and Breck’s);
Orangeburg, SC’s Fish Hatchery and Duke’s BarBQ; and
Grits & Groceries.
we did not have time to range south of Charleston.
At some point, we hope to do that, since there looks like a lot of interesting
stuff to see/do: Edisto Island (including its Serpentarium); Parris Island
(including the USMC museum and a graduation); Hunting Island State Park (beach
and lighthouse); Bluffton (for a hotel instead of Hilton Head); Daufuskie
(looked awesome but expensive for a family); Tybee Island and Savannah.
from our experience in C’ton and my research on the rest of it, the entire Charleston-Savannah
area looks like an excellent vacation area for adults. (It was really good for kids/families,
but would be terrific for adults, given their greater interest in history,
plantations, architecture, restaurants, etc.) I’d recommend a three-day weekend
in Charleston or Savannah—or better yet, a week for the whole
a note on the weather: we had significant rain (if not big storms) every day.
It was, on net, a big blessing. It helped the paler Schansbergs avoid the sun’s
influence and kept the temperatures quite moderate. (I don’t think it got above
85 degrees the entire trip!)