Thursday 19th January – Wiping the Slate Clean

In the end, I had no issues with camp, but it didn’t make me feel any better. I reversed out the way I’d come, trying to avoid as much overgrown bush as possible and was out on the road and away soon enough. I didn’t want to go very far since I didn’t really know where I was heading and after taking a few roads, I stopped at a pullout behind a roadhouse for my morning ritual. After a wash and some food in me, I was on the up and after a consult of the Lonely Planet guide which told me South Carolina consists only of Greenville (which I was close to) and Charleston (which I was heading to) I was happy I didn’t have to worry about missing much in between.

I set my navigation to the centre of Greenville, determined to turn over a new leaf and do a bit more planning to prevent a repeat of last night’s camping fail. Once near Greenville, I stopped at the first coin laundry I saw, then decided to drive on because I didn’t like the look of their clientele. After a few misses at dry cleaners that weren’t coin laundries, I asked at the second dry cleaner where I could find a coin laundry and she put me on track. This one was deserted so I couldn’t pass judgement on any clientele.

For $3.50 I did three loads worth of washing, no I didn’t overload the machine Mum, it was a triple washer! In the dryer for twenty minutes and I had clean clothes, underwear, sheets and towels. In the washing/drying time, I managed to drop my car keys between two washing machines which are bolted to the floor, so I had to get a piece of wire and fashion a hook to fish them out. With that problem sorted, I decided to finally tackle my door handle issue. I didn’t have an excuse anymore since the weather was sunny and almost t-shirt status. Apprehensive and scared of failure as always, I took off the door trim and set about my task.

It was so fiddly I had to use every inch of my fingers and patience when I dropped nuts down into the door. At one point I actually taped a piece of wire to the end of my finger so that I could put the nut where I wanted it. I’m just glad I have the tools for the job! The old handle and broken bits came out easy enough and after a lot of tender fiddling and fussing, the new one went in ok. I checked everything was tight and there were no nuts or bolts left over, then I shut the door. My fingers tingled as I went to open it. All tickety-boo! I couldn’t hide my excitement, a huge smile spread across my face and I took a video of the restored door function to send to Dad. It was a pretty easy job in the end, I finished before the dryer was done!

Every time I do some laundry is a good excuse to tidy the van, which I did, enjoying the fact that I’d be able to get in and out using the driver’s door from now on. Home sweet home, I was ready for lunch. I’d decided I’d treat myself to a bought lunch somewhere in Greenville’s downtown area, but after wandering around a bit, nothing really took my fancy, so I went back to the car, cooked myself a wrap, then took it with me on a plate to the Falls Park literally right in the middle of the city. The falls are natural, but the city has built a lot of park infrastructure around it. It is really pretty and on such a nice day too, there were buskers out and not too many people about which made it feel very local.

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I sat on a piece of grass right next to the flowing water and people watched while I ate, then wrote yesterday’s blog as the sun came out behind the clouds and I felt warm sitting still for the first time since the Nevada Desert. While in my grass office, I consulted freecampsites.net for a good place to camp. I decided to take the scenic route to Charleston which would skirt the South Carloina/Georgia border. There was a nice waterside spot to camp just inside the Georgia border that I figured I’d aim for. I also decided I was ready for an audiobook so downloaded “The Giver” and got listening after I’d left Greenville. The roads I took meant I was one of only few on the road which I enjoyed and I was driving through small towns and farmland. Everything was very green here and it appeared it was spring as all the baby animals were following their mothers through the fields.

I suffered a rip-roaring headache as I drove and listened to my new story and I knew it was probably due to lack of sleep so I did my best to ignore it and drank plenty of water. When I neared my planned camp, I was hopeful that since it was a paid campsite, there would be other people there that I could socialise with. As beautiful as the spot was, unfortunately there was no one there. I gladly paid $8 for my stay, excited to make a mends for last night and while a little disappointed I had the place to myself, it iss a gorgeous spot. One of my best camps and I was happy to have arrived just past 4pm. That gave me plenty of time to collect firewood as I talked to Mikey, start a fire, then set up and lay in my hammock to watch the sun fall behind the huge dam I was at the bank of. I couldn’t stay in the hammock long because keeping the fire alive required most of my attention. While there was plenty of wood around, a lot of the big stuff was moist so didn’t burn too well without constant attention.

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By the time the sun went down I had some good coals to get cooking. I put some potatoes in the coals and got onions and sausages cooking on the grill. About an hour later, I had a delicious dinner, made ever more yummy by the charcoal and smoky flavours.

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After I’d got to camp I was feeling lonely and sat, looking out over the water wondering what it is I’m doing and wouldn’t I be happier surrounded by friends and family? I’ve had brief moments of doubt before, but this time it seemed to be sticking. Once I got to cooking and tending the fire, these feelings ebbed and knowing that I’m the only one that  can make me happy, I’m going to stick with this for a while yet. I’m still getting used to the casual lifestyle, so I’ve yet to complete my training in how to relax and do nothing. It’s hard for me because I love a challenge and I love talking to people. It would have been really nice for a mate to be around so I could lie in my hammock and chill out while someone else tended the fire! Still, if these are my biggest worries, I’m doing great. It’s better than working, I must keep reminding myself of that.

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Enough deep and meaningful, I’m looking forward to a very slow start tomorrow morning and a comfortable night’s sleep during which I won’t have to worry about anyone kicking me out. I might be making more of a habit to stay in paid campgrounds, if not for the company of other travellers, for peace of mind and a sound sleep.

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