South Carolina – April, 2016 We are enjoying our spring visit to South Carolina immensely. We have been here since mid-March and plan to continue to stay in the vicinity through much of May. We have chosen to idle here for good reason.
Thanks to the generosity of my father, we own a little piece of property just off I-95. He and my mother visited the area almost 30 years ago and liked it so much they bought a half acre thinking it would make a great jumping off point for visits to the east coast. When I told my father several years ago that Jim and I planned to retire soon and RV full time, he offered to give me the lot they had never gotten around to using.
It really is in an ideal location. It is about an hour from some great destinations; Charleston, Savannah, and several beaches. So we plan to make it a nice place to park for a few nights or a few months. We plan to stay 10 weeks this visit because there is so much we want to do but also because we are enjoying a brief rest after traveling 30,000 miles last year. We’ve been staying 4-5 days a week on the property and then going to places within a few hours’ drive for a couple days most weeks.
We visited the property for the first time in 2014 and found out that the state of SC would put us in a driveway approach for free. We took care of the paperwork during that brief visit and when we visited South Carolina last fall we finally got to see the approach for ourselves.
Since the approach allowed us to drive across the ditch on to our property we were able to boondock in front of the tree line (left in the above pic). During that visit we had the electric company supply power to the property and started clearing the drive back into the trees.
When we arrived here this spring we were anxious to continue clearing the drive so we could park in the shade and enjoy more privacy. Jim was very motivated to get this accomplished so he got the main drive cleared in just a couple days. He then ran the power underground to the site and set a new power post. As you can see, we are now parked comfortably under the pines.
We originally planned to build a deck but decided on a patio instead. The patio didn’t require a building permit from the county like the deck would have and it turned out to be a bit cheaper. It also is hardly even noticeable when we are not here, which we like. And if we change our mind about how we want camp set up the patio could be disassembled and reassembled in a different spot.
After clearing away some of the unattractive brush at the front of the property we wanted to plant something that would provide us privacy in a few years. The conditions here are ideal for growing azaleas so we planted 6 of them in varying colors across the front. They don’t lose their leaves here so they will provide privacy all year and hopefully we’ll have beautiful blooms each spring. These varieties should eventually get 5-8 feet in height. This cutie hasn’t stopped blooming since we planted her.
They will get morning sun and afternoon shade which should be ideal. I figure there is a 50/50 chance they can survive the summer under these conditions without watering. They were fairly inexpensive so we thought it was worth the gamble. I may offer the neighbor some money to water them if they have any periods of prolonged drought this summer. I also planted an azalea and some hostas near the patio.
Speaking of neighbors, we have some pretty good ones. The subdivision is a few miles from the interstate and town and it has about 10 homes in it. At least half are manufactured homes. A couple of bachelors live next door. Their drive is right on our property line so we can hear them come and go and they can hear us if we are outside. They have stopped by when we were working in the yard a couple times to ask if we need anything.
Across the road is a vacant, overgrown lot, which screens us from many of the neighbors. On the other side of us a couple owns several acres and they built their home way on the other end. We met them the first time we visited. The other neighbors waive if we walk around the block or they drive by but no one has bothered us or indicated we are bothering them.
Some day we may build a carport and/or put in a well and septic. For now we want to explore nearby a few days every week so we just dump and refill when we do. If we want to stay for longer than that we can take a quick trip to a campground just a few miles away. They want $26 to dump our tanks and refill our water which is a bit high (it’s the same price as one night’s camping fee) but you can’t beat the convenience so we will likely use it occasionally.
The money we are saving is helping offset the cost of the improvements we are making. Our electric bill has averaged less than $3 per day so far but as it gets hotter and we run the AC more I expect it will be closer to $5. We are still paying camping fees somewhere most weeks and most of those places cost well over the $20 per night we budget. On average we are spending about half our weekly campground budget on these trips. But we are also saving a lot in fuel while we are here so we will just wait and see how it all pans out.
I was concerned that moving in to the middle of a forest that has never been developed would result in a lot of meetings with creepy crawly things. So far nothing more than an occasional ant has invaded our home. We haven’t seen a single snake but have seen a cute little lizard or two. This guy was on our gas can.
We set up our screen room which has helped with the mosquitos in the early morning and late afternoon. The closest thing to an invasion we have encountered is a whole lot of caterpillars. Jim found this beauty on the screen room one day.
And this little fellow kept me company on my camp chair one afternoon.
So far South Carolina has lived up to its slogan; Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places. We love it here!