Close To Home

Is it just me or do gas prices always seem to rise with the temperatures? Summer is here and warmer temperatures are on the way, and my guess is that it is going to be a while before we see gas prices below three dollars again. That has a lot of people rethinking their vacation plans and looking for affordable ways to create summer fun and reconnect with family and friends. This month’s enewsletter highlights some great family fun activities and ideas for budget-wise summer getaways.

Too often we forget that some of the greatest places on earth are here in our own backyard. We think about far away beaches, mountain getaways, overnight stays in exotic places and trips that create enduring family memories. What if I told you about a place that’s “close to home” and has all the characteristics of a tropical rainforest, dramatic elevation changes, dramatic waterfalls and one of the most diverse plant communities in North America? Sound like a trip worth taking? Then take a close look at Jones Gap and Caesars Head of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. Got the ocean on your mind? Then consider a trip to the edge of the North American continent where the waves of the mighty Atlantic Ocean touch the sandy beaches of the Palmetto State. There are shells to be collected, oceanfront sunrises to be celebrated, marshes to be explored and pluff mud to squish between your toes!

After that, take a walk through history and visit places where presidents, heroes and heroines once lived and made an impact not only on our state, but our nation. Few states can boast a history as rich and diverse as our own, and the state parks offer you incredible opportunities to step back in time and discover the past for yourself.

In my travels across the state, and often when I speak to various groups and organizations, I am reminded of the amazing places we have here in South Carolina. I’m also reminded that all too often we take for granted what’s in our own backyard. I often hear phrases like “I didn’t know that was here in South Carolina" or “it’s been a long time since I went there. I remember doing that as a kid”. The same is true for me on my visits “back home” to Greenville I am constantly struck by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the how proudly Table Rock Mountain’s unmistakable granite face seems to overlook the entire state. This is a site I walked past every morning growing up, but never appreciated as I do now. And what about sunrise over the ocean? How many people dream of seeing such a spectacular site – but how many of us take advantage of the fact that we can see it right here in South Carolina?

Now back to those gas prices… here’s an idea: let’s rethink our plans for the summer and stay close to home. While that may not sound exciting at first glance, remember all the fun things and exciting places there are to see close to home --the mountains, the coast, beautiful lakes, winding rivers and countless places to reconnect with each other as well as with the natural beauty and robust history of South Carolina.

With so much to see and do here in your own backyard, there’s no need to go anywhere else! So this summer, create some timeless memories at home in South Carolina.

See you in the parks!

Phil