south carolina

Congaree National Park | In My Travels

by Jamie Sanford on July 21, 2016

To see all of my travel posts, click here. All images taken with the Sony NEX-6. (The previous link is an affiliate link, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using this link.)

I am dreadfully behind on posting our story and images from Congaree National Park. We drove back from Florida with only Congaree on our official list of places to visit. I booked us a stay in the nearby Hampton Inn Columbia (I was committed to maximizing the HHonors Points on this trip), and we got up early to check out the park.

It turns out that we didn’t pick the best time to visit Congaree National Park, because it is a floodplain forest, and it was very flooded. We had no grand intentions, but were unable to walk the entire Boardwalk Loop trail, because certain parts of the boardwalk were totally underwater.

We spent some time in the visitor center, watching the film about the park and getting a map and some information on the accessible boardwalk areas, we were off on our way.

As we had just learned, it is all about the trees! Congaree National Park is a rare group of old-growth trees in the United States, the largest existing tract in the country. The initial development of the US contributed greatly to a lack of old-growth forests, since many of them were cut down to create early homes and buildings.

It was incredibly humid when we were there, and quite warm for December 29th.

Here we are, taking smirky selfies at the end of the accessible boardwalk. You can see the water right behind us.

I don’t have that many photos, because nothing captures this beautiful place! This picture gives you a small idea of the scale of the trees in Congaree National Park.

As with many other places, we really like visiting things in the off season. While it was unfortunate that we couldn’t walk the entire trail due to flooding, we got to experience total immersion in an amazing old forest. There were only a few other small groups of people around on the trail, which was still long enough for us to split up and feel like we had it all to ourselves.

Congaree National Park is beautiful, and the importance of it as the last remaining old-growth forest in the US is exactly why the National Park system is necessary. All of my photos can be seen here on Flickr.

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Savannah Bee Company, Charleston | In My Travels

by Jamie Sanford on March 14, 2016

To see all of my travel posts, click here.

All images taken with the Sony NEX-6.

After dinner at 82 Queen, we walked past the Savannah Bee Company. I was devastated that we were too late to shop, since it was so exciting. We are very big fans of honey and all of its variety, it is a wonderful pairing with our love of cheese. Luckily, we steered back that way the next morning while we were exploring the historic district of Charleston and were able to visit.

The store is beautiful inside, a combination of charming design and lovely products.

The tiny door!

The amount of products that result from a mutually-beneficial relationship with bees is wonderful and fascinating.

The Savannah Bee Company does make many products of their own, but they also have other bee-centric products.

Honey gear behind the HONEY TASTING BAR! We tried a number of different types of honey, and again, if you haven’t done this, I highly suggest it. Different honeys from different bees that were exposed to different plants are incredibly varied!

The perfect lighting.

I didn’t even know where to look first. How beautiful is this display?

Remember when I mentioned about charming design? Part of that is putting humanity into the store. Handwritten signs, and the honesty on the sign for the “not square” honeycombs all add to the happy feeling I had in this store.

Thumbs up for their branding and packaging.

Just more honey photos, because I couldn’t stop!

The different shapes of the different bottles also added to the visual impact. I especially like the tall and skinny large bottles.

Naturally, the window was decorated beautifully as well.

I recommend stopping in at one of the Savannah Bee Company locations whenever you get a chance.

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Carolina Cider Company | In My Travels

by Jamie Sanford on March 7, 2016

To see all of my travel posts, click here.

All images taken with the Sony NEX-6.

On our way to Jacksonville from Charleston, we took as many local roads as possible, trying to avoid I-95. I am so glad we did, because we stopped immediately when we saw the Carolina Cider Company.

The sign outside still says Cherry Company, but all of the updated branding replaces Cherry with Cider.

Apologies for the slight blur!


I love the gas station feel outside.

The inside, however, way way better! We didn’t know where to look first. So many products to look at!

I cannot recommend the strawberry cider enough. Be warned, it’s very sweet, it tastes like jam! It is so delicious though.

Frog jam is a blend of fig, raspberry, orange, and ginger!

I’m not sure how much I’ve talked about my love for local honey, but I find it hard to resist at all times. Seriously everyone, read the label before you buy honey at the grocery store! So much of it is from another country, which is not necessary. Find a local beekeeper!

I cannot say enough about how this small stop on the road was so unexpected and wonderful! We bought strawberry and peach cider, as well as some vidalia onion dressing, and some benne wafers. I could have/should have bought 100 more things, because everything we took home with us has been incredibly delicious.

In addition to the product quality, the entire in-store experience is worth the trip. It’s beautiful inside, and so many of the products have beautiful branding as well – which many know that for me, heightens the experience even more.

I am disappointed in the online shopping experience – which I have discovered while trying to link to the Carolina Cider Company‘s website and products. In addition, there is no easily found email address or social media links to connect with them, which is a big miss. This is the sort of business that could do amazing gift basket business, and there isn’t really any opportunities being taken for that. There is even a gift basket category on their website with nothing in it to purchase, which is a poor showing for a business that is so clearly primed to do well in that category.

I am interested in their wholesale business as well, and how that should be presented. If they are available in other locations or chain stores, it would be great to offer that information here – I know we are not the only people who don’t live in the area, who randomly came across the store and stopped in.

Product Quality: 9.5
In-store Experience: 9.5
Online Experience: 5

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Charleston, South Carolina | In My Travels

by Jamie Sanford on February 15, 2016

To see all of my travel posts, click here.

All images taken with the Sony NEX-6.

I had only visited Charleston once before we stopped there again in December. The first time, it was a stop where we drove around, got out of the car, looked around, took photos, enjoyed the experience, and then got back in the car and continued on our road trip. We had always planned to come back, and it took until our road trip to Florida that we made it happen. We spent a lovely day traveling only 2 hours from Myrtle Beach to Charleston, stopping at Huntington Beach State Park on the way. We arrived at the Doubletree in the Historic District, handed over the car keys, and ventured out pretty soon thereafter. We were not able to get a dinner reservation on a Sunday at Husk, but we did manage to have a nice dinner together at 82 Queen.

The next morning, we requested a late check-out, and ventured out in the daylight to check out the historic Charleston City Market, and the surrounding area.

Everything was decked out for the holidays, naturally.

Caviar & Bananas for breakfast.I loved the organization and branding of this cafe in the market!

I love this picture that I took while we were waiting for our coffees.

The buildings aren’t connected throughout, this is one of the crossing spots.

I need to fix whatever mindset I’m in when I am in a different place that says “no you don’t need that thing that seems really specific to the place you are in,” because why didn’t I buy the pork rinds? I don’t really think I want pork rinds, but from a legit bbq purveyor? Those were probably amazing.

I loved this sassy mannequin.

I think we have now added Charleston to our list of favorite cities in the United States.

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To see all of my travel posts, click here.

All images taken with the Sony NEX-6.

On our way from Myrtle Beach to Charleston, back in December, I saw a sign for “wildlife viewing area” and immediately turned off of the road. It turns out that we had arrived at Huntington Beach State Park!

Our first stop was Atalaya:

Atalaya Castle, also known as Atalaya, was the winter home of industrialist and philanthropist Archer M. Huntington and his wife, the sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, located in Huntington Beach State Park near the Atlantic coast in Murrells Inlet, Georgetown County, South Carolina.

After walking the exterior and enjoying all of the original ironwork, we paid a mere $2 for entry into the house.

There was no lack of opportunities for dramatic lighting.

This is the interior studio space of Anna Hyatt Huntington – it was her tuberculosis that led to her husband, Archer Milton Huntington, building this home in the south to avoid the cold winters in New York.

This tower contained a large water tank, stored high to provide pressure to deliver water throughout the home.

Apologies for the darkness on one side of this panorama of the interior courtyard. This reminded me of the courtyards at The Cloisters – my dream home would have some sort of outdoor space “inside” the house!

Here is another – the base of the tower in the center of the walkway that splits the courtyard in two is in the center.

On our way out of the park, we also stopped at the park’s manmade marsh.

The full set of photos from Atalaya can be seen here, and the full set of images from the marsh can be seen here.

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