Driving past tobacco fields and farmland in Northern North Carolina, we made our way to the city of Raleigh. After that Route 1 became the closest thing to a highway that we had experienced yet. As the speed jumped up to 65mph we found ourselves zooming through much of the state without much opportunity for sightseeing. We did catch a glimpse of a few golf courses and towering pines as we skirted the resort towns in the Sandhills region. Before we knew it we traded in North Carolina for South Carolina and were greeted by the first gas prices that we have seen for under $3.00 a gallon.
Just over the border in Cheraw lies the impressive Cheraw State Park, our home for two nights. We could tell upon checking in that South Carolina takes pride in its parks. Colorful posters advertised nighttime canoe trips and complimentary fishing equipment, while the office was well stocked with games and sporting equipment for visitors to borrow. We were pleased to find our campsite set up with electric, water, and a handy hook system for lofting food items. Other little details also set the campgound apart: a kid-friendly horseshoe set was outside of the retrooms for anyone to use, a bench swing invited passersby to take a moment to look out over the water, and a good collection of kayaks and canoes could be rented for very resonable rates. We set up our tent just feet from the water and drove a short distance to the park beach for a swim.
We started off the next day with a nature walk on the boardwalk which streched along the shoreline from the campground to the beach. On the brief hike we passed over the rushing outlet of the pond into a stream, read informational signs to learn about loblolly pines and dogwood trees, spotted turtles and dragonflies, and enjoyed lilly pads in bloom. When we arrived at the beach the park staff were hard at work emptying trash cans, raking the sand, and cleaning up from many Sunday picnics the evening before. For a popular beach with no day use fee, everything looked very clean and cared for. The younger Fives challenged themselves on the playground (with many “wooden” elements that blended nicely with the surrounding park) while Five Spice and Five String enjoyed a quiet moment on another well placed bench swing.
We returned to the beach area later that afternoon after devouring Five Spice’s tomato soup and seeing the sights in nearby Cheraw, including the birthplace of jazz great Dizzy Gillespie. As a thunderstorm passed through we spread out in an enclosed pavillion for a picnic dinner, baseball, and beanbag toss set borrowed fom the park office. When the thunder stopped we took a quick dip at the swimming area before returning to the campground for hot showers. While camping the little things can make all the difference, and Cheraw State Park does an outanding job offering an array of thoughtful extras to campers and park visitors alike.
The Fives’ Rating: 5 out of 5