My Road Trip to the End of America!
Did you even know there was a place referred to as the ‘End of America?’ Well, I did not until my BFF, Theresa, who had been scheduled for a cruise, called to tell me her cruise had been postponed due to the Omicron virus and she had 10-days free and absolutely did not want to stay home! She then asked me … “Want to go on an exploration road trip to the end of America, with me?” We would leave about a week out. I hesitated and said I would let her know. Two days out, I said a resounding “YES!” My seasonal Wholistic Wellness Webinar – Winter Session was scheduled for that Saturday morning, the day she wanted to leave. Needless to say, I was up late packing and preparing my food. Because I eat primarily organic vegan I knew I needed to prepare enough food for 10 days! My webinar ended at 10:00 a.m.. By 10:30 a.m. we were on the road to what would become one of the most fun, free flowing and adventurous 3,000 mile road trips either of us had ever experienced!!!
A little bit about Theresa … she loves to travel. She subscribes to various travel magazines and browses through them regularly. When she sees something that is of interest to her, she tears the page out and puts it in one of her folders, i.e., U.S. Travel, International Travel, Food. Although this was an impromptu trip, she knew places she wanted to visit. Theresa is a planner and coordinates great groups trips. This trip, though impromptu and loosely planned, she confessed, was her first time traveling like this … no specific itinerary. And, did I said she drove … she did all the driving.
Theresa retired from the Army after 22 years of service. She was a Master Sergeant. This is important to note because she is very detailed and very organized and very time conscious. She is a realtor, property manager and caregiver. I must mention that caregiving was not in her plans, but she does it because she has such a good heart and compassion for her business partner. I will have her featured as a guest blogger to share about some of her travels! BTW, Theresa is 69 years young!
Now, a little bit about me … As a 73 year old, I love to be adventurous and try new, fun activities. These ventures include backpacking in the Rocky Mountains, hiking in the North Georgia Mountains and the jungles of Belize, kayaking, whitewater rafting, spelunking, zip lining and almost any other adventure you can think of … notice, I did say almost! There will be more on my outdoor adventures in future blogs. Getting back to the adventure at hand … we were off! Quite frankly, all I knew is that our primary destination was the end of America! I trusted Theresa, as I have been on many of her group trips, so I was not concerned at all about the itinerary. Besides, on this exploration trip, we would evaluate destinations for a future group trip.
I too, organize group trips, plus fun outdoor activities. I usually plan big trips for my birthday. My last big trip was 14 days in September 2019 to Africa, including stops in South Africa, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Soweto, Victoria Falls, a Kruger National Park Safari, a Riverboat Safari on the Zambezi River where we saw crocodiles, elephants, hippos and other wildlife, among other destinations … I will have a future blog about the South Africa trip. I have a monthly online newsletter and three Meetup groups, i.e. Atlanta African American Adventurers, Atlanta African American Baby Boomers and OPALs – Older People with Active Lifestyles. I am also a community partner with AARP Georgia for whom I lead Weekly Wellness Walks, DeKalb County Parks and Recreation, REI and the Georgia Conservancy. I also volunteer with the National Parks Service, Atlanta Regional Commission, Georgia Golden Olympics, and the National Senior Games Association. You can learn a little more about me at my website, CarolynHartfield.com. So, you can see, I keep myself pretty engaged!
The Journey … Our first stop was Charleston, SC. We scouted the area for possible hotels in which we could stay with the group. Additionally, we went to the ‘City Market’ and looked for other activities in which we could engage with the group. We traveled 420 miles on our first day. We stayed overnight in Waterboro, SC. One of the good things about this road trip, because we were not on a tight timetable, we made sure Theresa was well rested. We got back on the road at 8:30 a.m. for Day 2.
We continued on to Beaufort SC where we crossed the ‘turning bridge’ (see the photo) and made a stop at the Gullah Geechee Visitor’s Center and then on to Penn Center on St. Helena Island. I was very happy to stop at Penn Center. When I was still in my hometown, Detroit, Michigan, I worked with Dr. Charles H. Wright, the founder of one of the first cultural institutions of its kind in the United States, The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. I had visited his first African American Museum that he opened in 1966, which was housed in a trailer. I bought a charcoal drawing of Paul Robeson, which I still cherish. The museum eventually moved to a much larger building and then to the magnificent edifice that houses it today. Dr. Wright referred to me as his ‘Girl Friday.’ Understand that he was 30 years older than me, so him referring to me as his ‘Girl Friday’ was an endearing term which meant he turned to me to do many different things for him. It was my pleasure and honor to work with him and his wife Dr. Roberta Wright on several projects including campaigning for a Paul Robeson U.S. Postal Stamp which was released in 2004, and adopting one of the buildings on the Penn Center grounds that provides housing for those who stay on the campus. Audrey Johnson, who I worked with at Michigan Bell, worked there as one of the directors. I must add, Audrey is also the reason I relocated to Atlanta, GA. So, you see, it was quite enlightening and brought back many memories to visit there again, after more than 20 years, and to see how it has progressed.
We visited Hilton Head Island where the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park is located. We took the Self-Guided tour to learn about this first self-governed town of the formerly enslaved in the United States.
Day 2 took us to Savannah Georgia where we visited a potential hotel for the group stay. It was a very good visit. The manager of the hotel shared some great information about local tours that cover the African American culture in the area.
We continued in Georgia where we visited the Brunswick African American Culture Center to view a new mural painting of Ahmaud Aubry by Marvin Weeks. Today we only traveled 186 miles. We did a lot of sightseeing, and as always, although our trips are fun and adventurous, we also make them educational. It was a wonderful day … 606 miles traveled so far with more than 2,400 miles to go for our road trip!