We made three main stops between the Smoky Mountains and David’s Grandma’s house in Casey Key (excluding a side trip to Bend): Charleston, Savannah, and St. Augustine. After some cold weather in the Smoky Mountains I was so excited for some sunshine and warmth. I’ve always thought while living in Portland and enduring gray winters that I’m unaffected by the weather. I’ve told myself I don’t mind cloudy or rainy days as you can still bike or run and the rain just makes Portland green. However, our time in the van has me seriously rethinking my emotional connection to the weather. I find my mood darkening on overcast days and disappointed when rain ruins our plans or results in wet shoes and clothes in the van. In contrast, I feel such a lightness and realize myself subconsciously smiling on sunny days. In the van we are so much more influenced by the weather and connected to the outdoors. While the van feels cozy at night with the sound of rain on the roof, in the daytime it just feels dreary. This realization has me nervous about the winter and searching for ways to cope. One strategy we’ve pursued is joining Class Pass. For a monthly fee of $29 we get 15 credits to use at gyms and fitness studios. A drop-in pass at a gym is typically 1-2 credits, while a yoga or barre class might be 3-4 credits. Class Pass seems to be in almost every city and gives us options almost anywhere for getting in a workout or rejuvenating yoga session. I’m already hooked. We are also developing a big network of people to ski with, thanks to another van couple we met early in the trip who has started an Instagram group for vanners with the Ikon Pass.
My aunt Laura lives in Charleston and we enjoyed staying with her and her partner Keith during our time in Charleston. They also kindly watched the van while we left it for a side trip to Bend. We largely spent our time wandering around downtown Charleston and eating some of David’s favorite foods – donuts and BBQ. I loved looking at the old houses and huge trees covered in moss. We also visited the McLeod Plantation Historic Site, which we choose since we read it provides a more honest account of plantation life and the perspective of enslaved people. I think what was most striking to both of us is just how recent the history of slavery is. There is a tree on the McLeod property that is estimated to be 600 years old and it is hard to think how late in the tree’s life the plantation was in operation.
Neither of us knew much about Savannah but it seemed like a logical place to spend a night given our route. We were both so impressed by all the parks, greenery, art, and historic buildings.
David read somewhere that St. Augustine is one of the most European-feeling cities in America. The narrow pedestrian streets, Castillo de San Marcos fortress, and old architecture definitely made me feel like I could have been in a European city.
A Bend Side Trip
We made a quick side trip to Bend to see my family (including Lauren and her dog Pip!). I think we both realized how much we miss the mountains and the west coast. We had the best time hiking, biking, doing yoga, drinking beer, and playing games with my family. Oh and seeing our cat Scout was of course the best. How I have missed that little fluffer.