This is a long tale of an adventure. Rated R: Language
Nicknames have been used to protect the guilty.
Day 1 . . .
High school graduation was in sight, and the gang decided we needed to do something special to commemorate the occasion. We chose to spend a weekend camping at a quaint place on the coast called Hunting Island State Park. In my head, this was good, but it wasn’t enough. My brain was full of fancy tales of great adventures and the daring do of some lone sole. Frodo, Don Quixote, Kwai Chang Caine, Louis Wu, Arthur Dent, and countless others filled my mind. And beyond all those fanciful thoughts was the idea that I needed to prove something to myself. Everyone graduated. I needed to do something more.
The Saturday after graduation, two of my clique and I packed a tent, a portable stove, clothes, and whatnot into Uffy. Uffy was the name that Smed gave to his prized, bright orange VW Super Beetle, as its first license plate had the letters UFY. We adorned one of Uffy’s windows with a handmade sign, “Frogmore or Bust.” Off we went. Frogmore is a small town south of Beaufort, and about 25 miles north of Hunting Island. Hunting Island is about 120 miles from home as the crow flies, and probably closer to 160 by roads, a large portion of which are back country roads, especially so back in 1974.
The guys, Smed and Corn, were a little curious. Along with my things, I had stuffed a backpack into Uffy. Once well on our way, I explained that I intended to walk back. Needless to say, they both looked at me with a combination of, “What the Fuck?” and “You’re an idiot!” I explained that I might hitchhike, but that I wanted to walk some of it. To be alone with my thoughts. To see what I could do. To test myself and see if I could handle the stress and the situation. To learn, about myself as well as the country and state we lived in.
I think their opinion of me changed a little at that time. But we were still on the high of graduation, and I hadn’t walked one step yet. There was a fun weekend ahead before this notion could even begin.
There were long stretches of nothingness on the way down. That is the way SC is, or was. Farmland and forest land, mile after mile. The interstate highway, which worked well for a large portion of the trip, disguises reality. Who really knows what lurks beyond the tree barriers. Eventually it becomes necessary to leave the interstate and get on country roads. A small hamlet here and there. Farm houses, and land. Lots and lots of unused land.
At the edge of the island is an area called Beaufort, which has an old airbase. It is, or was, marked with an old fighter jet. As we passed this sight, heading south, I thought it would be a good landmark and logged the idea in the back of my mind.
Closing in on Frogmore, but still within Beaufort, our tummies began to grumble. Beaufort wasn’t a big place, at least not then. Enough services and homes to take care of the airbase, and that was about it. There really wasn’t anything else in the area, Beaufort just being a stop on the way to sun and fun. We found a fast food joint, the only one on the road at that time, and stopped for a rat on a bun and something cool to drink, and then continued on our way.
We arrived at Hunting Island State Park in the middle of the afternoon, rented our camp site, and pitched our tent. We took a large piece of palmetto tree bark, and mounted on it another hand made sign, “Girls Wanted. Inquire Within. Streakers Welcome.” With the campsite ready, we began enjoying the tan sands of the beach.
The first night was a quiet one. We huddled in our tent and passed the pipe, well Smed and I did, and everyone enjoyed some wonderful food cooked on my portable stove. The real world spread out around us, the dark country sky revealing the true brilliance of the stars, as our home worlds drifted far, far away.