Local Toyota Dealers and Jim Hudson Toyota handed me the keys to a 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro for the span of an entire week to travel and photograph my adventures throughout my home state, South Carolina. What an experience! What an opportunity! And what a joy to be sitting inside a truck I've wanted since my high school years. And the truck has the word 'taco' in it. I mean, come on? :)
I decided to hit up my two favorite parts of South Carolina - mountains and coast. What could be better? Best of both worlds and an argument others would have on which they favored more. I take pride in the hidden gems South Carolina has to offer and boy does it have a handful. I find such joy in getting comments from folks who will say, "I had no idea that existed!" or "How have I lived here for so long and didn't know about this place?" You don't have to to travel hundreds to thousands of miles to see visit beautiful destinations. Some may just be in your very own backyard.
So, with that, let's go places!
The first stop we made in the 'Taco' was to the only remaining covered bridge in South Carolina today, the Campbell's Covered Bridge. The Campbell’s Covered Bridge was constructed in 1909. Being able to witness this in real life feels as if you’re looking at a painting or stepping backwards in time. I dig it. I do believe every photographer in the world does fall minis here Dope spot, though. I’d recommend coming back when all the fall foliage is at its height and when the temps aren't unbearably hot.
For more info on Campbell’s Covered Bridge, click here.
The next point on our list is about 16 miles down the road from Campbell's Covered Bridge, which is Poinsett Bridge in Landrum, South Carolina. Poinsett Bridge is the oldest bridge in South Carolina and perhaps in the entire southeast United States. This bridge was originally constructed in 1820. Even though it’s no longer in use, I can only imagine the types of automobiles that traveled across this. It’s also said the dude who designed this also was the architect of the Washington monument. History is dope 😋✌🏻
For more info on Poinsett Bridge, click here.
Decided to head out towards TR, or what non-locals call it, Travelers Rest and throw down some food. Got a bit hungry. Drove the taco to get some, you know it, tacos - at Farmhouse Tacos. Definitely hit this joint up in you find yourself in this area.
After catching a bite to eat, we drove the taco towards downtown Greenville, which is one of my most favorite places and spots. I mean it is my old stomping grounds. I really miss this place. Along our way to Greenville, we noticed some writing on the road and decided to stop and snap a photo. Cause I mean, why not? We've made it (pun intended). Ha-ha! I’ve had so many folks ask me where this is. It’s the road that takes you over Paris Mountain, Altamont Road. It’s easy to miss, so watch for it.
After hitting up downtown Greenville, grabbing some dinner and seeing a few old favorite spots, we decided to call it a day. More spots around tomorrow! Downtown Greenville was crazy packed and there weren’t any decent spots to grab some shots, including the Tacoma, so here’s a few snapshots of downtown Greenville above this!
Before hitting the road and heading back home to Columbia, South Carolina, we hit up Table Rock Park. Not only does Table Rock Park have some pretty breathtaking views, but it’s home to some dope hiking, a handful of cabins and a few lakes to drop your kayak or canoe in.
And…WE SAW A BEAR…
Here’s the Taco with that sweet scene of a backdrop, Table Rock. Views don't get any better than this. Beautiful South Carolina landscapes and a beautiful ride. Nothing could be better.
Time to hit the road and head back to the center of the state, my hometown - Columbia, South Carolina. Out of all the places I've visited in South Carolina and shared here on my Instagram, this place is possibly the most I've been asked by others, "where is this place" and "how do I get there?" I still believe this is one of many of the hidden gems located right outside of Columbia, South Carolina. It's sorta in the middle of nowhere and out of view from the road. The entrance at least, is actually easy to miss. Once you come to the entrance, it still takes another mile or so to actually arrive at the bridge. (Pathway to the bridge in above photo).
This railway bridge was constructed in 1890, which crosses the Broad River. The original bridge was deliberately burned by the Confederate troops during the Civil War to "slow" the advance of Sherman's Union troops. You can actually view the remnants of the original bridge peaking on the surface of the water under this bridge. I'd recommend visiting this place if you haven't been - but in the fall when it's really pretty and not hot and humid as the pits outside. But some history directly in Columbia's backyard. So dope. 😎✌🏻
One spot you might always find me is the lake. Perhaps it’s from growing up through my adolescence in and around the lake. I think I’ve always been what some call “a lake baby.” I’m always down for sunsets at the lake and South Carolina surely doesn’t disappoint, with the vast amount of lakes it has. Brought the Taco to Lake Murray Dam, which is between Lexington and Irmo, South Carolina. I’ve definitely spent a large amount of time out here with my camera. The sights can be pretty dang beautiful. Gonna wrap up with Columbia and head for the coast tomorrow! Stoked!
Made it to the Low Country, which is one of my favorite places in this state. Our first stop with the Taco was Old Sheldon Church Ruins. This place is a historic site that’s located in northern Beaufort County, South Carolina, approximately 17 miles north of Beaufort in the Sheldon area. Sheldon Church, formerly known as the Prince William Parish Church, had its first service in 1757. It was one of the first churches to be built and constructed in temple form in the United States.
The church was set on fire in 1779 by British troops during the Revolutionary War. It ws rebuilt from the remaining between 1825 and 1826. Tradition states that on January 14, 1865 near the end of the Civil War, General Sherman’s troops burned the church a second time as part of his “March to the Sea” campaign. While the walls still refused to fall, the church was not repaired again.
The last visit I made here was maybe five or six years ago. I will say the photographer part of me was sorta bummed to realize there was a fence installed around the church ruins because it wasn’t here the last visit I made here. For those wide-angle shots, the fence is an eyesore. After researching online and asking folks on social media, apparently the fence was installed to help crack down on the recent vandalism and folks stealing bricks from the site. Sad and terrible.
One piece of advice I would give, if you ever make it out to this beautiful site.
BRING BUG SPRAY!
The mosquitoes are like dragons here. The form in herds. Dragons! Next up, Beaufort, South Carolina.
Whenever I’m visiting Beaufort, I always visit this spot. And if you’re ever here, then definitely make the extra trip to come to The Chocolate Tree. Their truffles are unbelievable. I believe my wife would probably be upset if I came home and didn’t have any chocolate from this place! Ha! This place is located right in downtown Beaufort, so you can’t miss it. And cool fact - The box of chocolates that was in the Forest Gump movie, they came from this place So dope.
After crashing in Beaufort, South Carolina for the evening, we decided to hit the next day early and pass most of our day at one of our favorite beaches in South Carolina - Hunting Island Beach. But before making it out to Hunting Island, we decided to finally visit this place. St. Helena Chapel of Ease is “sort of” on the way to Hunting Island anyway.
A “Chapel of Ease” was established to serve the plantation and island population in the area, since the parish church that was located in Beaufort, South Carolina was too far away for folks to travel. On November 4, 1861 Sunday services were disrupted by a messenger who brought news of the impending invasion from the Union army troops. Tradition states the Union troops used the church for services and as an outpost. After the Civil War, the church went forward to be used as an outpost by a variety of freedmen’s groups. The chapel was constructed in 1740 and destroyed by forest fire in 1861. The chapel was never restored.
The door of The Fripp’s vault was broken by the soldiers, and at some point it was decided to brick up the entrance. According to the story, workmen did a really good job of sealing the vault, only to return the following day to find the bricks removed and neatly stacked beside the mausoleum. This had occurred several times. Convinced that the supernatural was at work, the job remained unfinished. Local authorities had seen to it that no one had been in the area the previous night long enough to complete such a task. Today the vault remains empty, the door is half-sealed with bricks. I might find the experience of looking into the vacant vault more than a bit unsettling, if not downright eerie.
On that point are also stories from folks who have visited this site that have said it’s haunted with ghostly occurrences on the grounds. From reported “strange sensations,” to some accounts of actually seeing ghostly figures dressed in 18th-century clothing. And other stated they have heard whispers when walking inside the actual ruins of the church. Now I’m always down to check out some haunted or ghost-filled arenas, but sadly I have to admit I didn’t see, feel or experience anything while walking the grounds. Bummer! Ha! Maybe the ghosts were on summer vacation?
There’s just something magical about Spanish moss. And the low country is filled with it!
My kind of day - my favorite beach, no people and a taco. Nothing better.
The lighthouse at Hunting Island State park is a staple here. This is the only lighthouse in South Carolina that is open to the public. Even though the lighthouse is no longer operative, it is open to the public daily. Dropping down $2 will give you access to climb the 167 stairs to the observation deck. Views for days. I dig it. With my trip here shortly after Independence Day, the American flag placed a decent touch to the lighthouse frame.
One of my favorite beaches in South Carolina, Hunting Island State Park. The water was warm, the dunes were filled with sea turtle nests, the surrounding trees were incredible and the mosquitoes. Oh, the mosquitoes. Oh, and bring your hammock.
As you can see, there was hardly anyone here during my visit here. What could be better? Ha! It defintely beats some of the crowded beaches you sometimes find in South Carolina. Perfection. No better way to spend an entire day.
Heading towards Port Royal, South Carolina first today. More specifically, Sands Beach. This is a nifty little town and the area. And it’s the placement of the one tiny hidden beach in South Carolina, where you’re permitted to bring your vehicle right onto the sand and park it there. Folly Beach used to let you drive into the oceanfront sand, but those laws have since changed. I’ve journeyed to this place three times and I’ve never seen over 20 people out there. So nice! 😎🏝🌊🚘
Aerial view and shot across the water of Sands Beach. I enjoy a good marsh maze and the Low Country is filled with them. I also enjoy putting my drone in the air in this area. So beautiful and majestic. The Charleston and Low Country area are one of the drone-friendliest spots in South Carolina. I’m here for that!
Ah, Botany Bay! Such a neat and unique place! I could not NOT hit this place up while on the way to Charleston to wrap up the trip. After leaving the Beaufort area, it wasn’t too out of the way heading to Edisto Island, which is where Botany Bay is located. I haven’t visited Botany Bay since the summer of 2011 and it’s long overdue. The wife and I did try to visit a few years ago, but past hurricanes did some damage to it and Botany Bay is closed a lot due to hunting. If you’re wanting some history of this place, please click here.
To reach the beach of Botany Bay, you’ll have to walk a good distance after parking your car. If you do this walk during the summer or humid months, bring some water. It gets hot, fast.
Botany Bay is this untouched beach with millions of seashells, driftwood and bare trees that give the appearnace of some horror film. I’ve always heard and had photographer friends tell me the best time to venture out to the beach is at sunrise. The sun comes up over the horizon among the trees is such a sight to see. I can say I’ve never had the privledge to make it out here at sunrise - YET. Someday. Nevertheless, sunrise or not, this place showcases such a unique beauty all on its own. Another cool fact, the Patriot movie with Mel Gibson was filmed out here. I believe one of the plantation homes was their home in the movie. So cool. Defintely make it here if you haven’t. You won’t be disappointed.
And did I mention the seashells? There’s not a spot you can look on this beach and not see a shell. Large ones, small ones and even the really cool ones you can put up to your ear and hear the ocean that you only find in those gift shops. Ha!
One thing though, you can’t carry them with you when you leave. You have to leave them on the beach. It’s a $500 mistake (fine) if you do decide to attempt to pack a shell in your bag, in your pocket or wherever you decide to stash it. There’s a ranger station at the entry/exit to check your bags also. I will have to say I fully appreciate this. It maintains the character the beach has.
One of the nifty things people do is place the seashells on the tree branches, stumps and any other artsy place. You will easily see this once you step out along the beach. Shells for days. Shells for weeks. Shells for years. You get it - lots and lots of shells.
Angel Oak Tree. There’s SO much more to Charleston than just the downtown setting. If you’re ever down this direction, please make this a bucket list item. And arrive early (less people). 😁🌳✌🏻That’s one thing with this trip. I didn’t desire to hit up all the “hot spots” that most have traveled to or visited. I’ve documented my travels to Angel Oak prior on my Instagram and I found it tough to believe that folks who live in South Carolina and even in the Charleston area have never been here! That's the kind of stuff I love. I enjoy being able to showcase all the natural beauty South Carolina has to offer. Not merely the main hot spots, but maybe the hidden off the beaten path spots. Encouraging others to see all South Carolina has to offer. I dig it.
The famous Angel Oak tree, which is located on John's Island, near Charleston, SC. This massive beast is always a sweet sight to witness. It's a 1,500 year old oak tree, which its longest branch stretches 187 feet long. Crazy. The branches also produce over 17,000 square feet of shade. Wow. The stories this old oak could tell.
Aerial drone shot of the Arthur J Ravenel bridge at sunset.
No better way to conclude this trip up than with a Low Country sunset. I once had somebody tell me that it’s always golden hour in the Holy City. I believe it. The low country, bringing the stunning views. Never disappointed.
But just to be fair, all of South Carolina has beauty in its own little way. I’ve experienced so much joy traveling throughout the state and showcasing a bit of both - coast and mountains. This was such a privilege and dream opportunity and I’d like to a thousand percent thank Toyota, Southeast Toyota and Jim Hudson Toyota in Columbia, South Carolina for extending this to me. I had so much fun not only having the keys to such a sweet truck, but being able to experience and discover South Carolina at the same time. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through my travels and my hope is that you may one day visit one of these places, if you haven’t already.
I hope I have such an opportunity to do this again!