The Carolinas– We spent several weeks spanning from September into November winding our way through the Carolinas and dodging hurricanes and storms as we went. From coastal to mountain towns, to bustling Urban centers and lively college towns, we came to appreciate the diversity and vastness of the Carolinas! Throughout our journeys, here are a few things that unexpectedly stood out about the Carolinas along the way:
Electric Scooters, everywhere!
Most major towns in North Carolina have at least one major university, and with it, a vibrant youth culture scene. Which was apparently no coincidence, as every major town we visited in North Carolina not only had lots of young people but also, a clusterfuck of electric scooters (e-scooters) dumped all over the sidewalks. Our tour of the lower Atlantic Coast just happened to coincide with the mass release of e-Scooters, as these became a constant presence throughout our explorations. While they offer cheap and efficient transportation, they also become frequent sidewalk roadkill, and are an added obstacle to dodge while on the road.
North Carolina has a long-standing and antiquated law in the books that requires bars that don’t get at least 31% of its receipt sales in food to be “members only” establishments. This means there can’t effectively be a public bar that just serves drinks (brewery tasting rooms get a special exemption). Many places have found creative ways to “comply” with the law while circumventing its inconvenience. Some, for instance, charge a minimal $1 annual membership fee. Others, allow members to “sponsor” guests (a.k.a. that stranger in the bar has become your unwitting host). But, jumping thru these hoops is still a silly endeavor and state residents must be tired of keeping a massive wallet on hand to store all these one-off “membership” cards.
Really diverse landscape
We loved having the opportunity to explore the diverse landscape of North Carolina. From enjoying the peaceful seaside towns along the Atlantic Coast to the dramatic Mountain landscapes in the west. North Carolina offers slow-paced fishing villages, resort-style boating towns, endless hiking options, and a plethora of waterfalls to visit and explore throughout the Highlands region. Truly, a geographically diverse and breathtaking state.
What is that sweet, sweet smell???
Even though it was Autumn (not typically a blooming season), we were constantly encountering a sweet lingering smell as we would walk through the towns of South Carolina. It became a fun expedition of smelling trees and bushes to try to identify the source of the smell. Jasmine? Plumeria? We weren’t sure. It took asking several passersby if they knew the source of the sweet smell, and we were finally told by one confident docent at an arboretum that it was Sweet Olive. Sweet Olive is not indigenous to the US, but apparently, it has become a very popular addition throughout South Carolina and thriving well in its temperate climate. It has such a unique and intoxicating fragrance that I have come to miss it while venturing in other parts of the country.
As unpleasant as they sound. Encounters with biting ants had become a very unexpected and unwelcome encounter throughout South Carolina. Mounds of raised dirt littered the terrain throughout the state, indicating their pervasive presence. We frequently got bitten, especially when near grass, which is just about every campground. Bites often resulted in blisters on our feet and legs.
Take me to Church
South Carolina has a lot of history, and some of the ruins and relics from the past have been left to stand their ground. We stumbled across a few different sites containing the ruins of old churches open to the public. Stunning to view, and great spots for photography and admiring architecture from the past. I have often said that churches provide some of the best-preserved windows into history because they tend to be the forbearers of art and architecture for their period, and these ruins did not disappoint.