Alarm was set to go off at 4am, leave at 5am. No need as I was up at 2:30, excited and giddy as a kid going to Disney for the first time. The “what ifs” and anxiousness that started to creep in had subsided, and my confidence in myself restored with reassuring words from my insanely supportive husband reminding me that we’re capable, prepared, badass and tough! I’ve been waiting for this trail for months now! I can hardly wait! Let’s goooo! Jael and Ayva were equally excited, so there was no need to coax them out of bed. My girls were ready!
We got about 3 miles down the road and I thought I had forgotten my sunglasses. I intentionally bought a cheap pair to bring so as not to risk losing my Persols. I ran back inside the house, looked everywhere for 10 minutes to no avail. Defeated and slightly annoyed (WHERE were they?! I had packed and unpacked my bag 3 times!) I got back into the car. I had surrendered to the idea of risking my Persols only to find my cheap ones in my fanny pack…that I swear I checked before turning around. See? I knew I had triple checked everything…right?! Anyway, off we go for a 588 mile drive.
Google Maps said it should take about 8 hours and 34 minutes. That was determined to be a lie. Once we entered into SC, it was clear that there was no such thing as the “get out of the way and move to the left lane so faster vehicles can pass PLEASE!” courtesy up in this state. So, with a speed limit of 70mph, we averaged 55mph for most of the horizontal transverse across the state by way of I-26 (I think). Dodging potholes and people going 15-20 miles under the speed limit, we made our way to Table Rock State Park. (We have decided to go Eastbound: Oconee State Park to Table Rock State Park).
We purchased our week’s long parking pass as this is where we will leave our car. Table Rock is our end point. I drive over to the East side of the park as this is where we are directed to park the next day, and I like to be prepared and know where I’m going. It’s easy to find with a quick drive by. Great! We’re all set!
The timing is perfect as it’s now 3pm and we can check into our motel room at the famous Table Rock Inn. It’s incredibly convenient and only 1.5 miles away. It boasts an amazing view of Table Rock directly from the front of the motel. We already have the door code, so we dump our gear into the cozy and very clean room (highly recommend and worth the $144/night) and head back out to find food.
We settle on Aunt Sue’s Country Diner, less than a mile away, and have our last freshly cooked meal before our trek. Jael had a grilled cheese and salad. I had the nightly special of country fried pork, side salad, biscuit and fried okra. Ayva had a BLT and fried okra. We shared an order of fried pickles. It was delightful. We finish up and head back to the motel for an early night and a last minute check of our gear. We’ll have an early start the next morning as we’re meeting our shuttle driver, Taz, bright and early at 7am.
Story by Karen Delos Santos