…Greenville, South Carolina! 😮 Some of you may be saying “Really? Greenville? Why there?,” where others might be less surprised. But before I got into how we ended up making this decision, I have to share a little more about the journey to get there. Between Kansan City and Greenville we made two stops, one just west of St. Louis, Missouri and the other on the east side of Nashville, Tennessee. Both spots were lovely in their own way. We also ran into quite a bit of storm activity, which made for some white knuckle driving days. 😬
Dr. Edmund A Babler Memorial State Park
We had a fairly uneventful first day of travel from Kansas City to the Dr. Edmund A Babler Memorial State Park in Wildwood, Missouri. We arrived on a Monday, so the campground was quiet, and we had an easy spot to back into, with a nice view of the woods behind us from our kitchen window, and a beautiful view of the sky from our patio area.
Our stay was only for one night, but we did walk around and checked out the shower and bathroom facilities, which were really clean, especially for a state park. We also saw playground equipment for the kiddos on the way back. I wish we were staying a little longer because they have a decent number of trails, but the stormy weather prevented us from venturing out. If we travel back this way, we will have to stop for a few days to enjoy this park.
Nashville East/Lebanon KOA
Our next day of travel the storms kicked up a bit more. In fact, at one point we stopped underneath an overpass because the wind was whipping and it was raining so much that we couldn’t see hardly anything in front of us. Thankfully, this passed quickly, the storms thereafter were less worrying, and by the time we got to the Nashville East/Lebanon KOA, the sun was shining brightly. However, about 30 minutes after we arrived another thunderstorm hit us hard! ⛈ 😬
This KOA has really friendly staff, and even though it was right next to a freeway, I was surprised how little traffic noise you could hear. They have shower and bathroom facilities both next to the office and in a centralized area in the campground. The centralized campground location also has coin op laundry, with six washers and six dryers, $2/load. The bathrooms and showers looked clean and well kept. This is another location I would return to if we were to travel back to the Nashville area.
Even though we were only in the Nashville area for a night, I really wanted to check it out and have dinner since I had never been. We didn’t go to downtown Nashville, but instead went to East Nashville to a restaurant called Lyra that serves Mediterranean style food. When looking for restaurants, East Nashville popped up on a lot on “Best Places to Eat” lists, so it seems to be a part of town that is up and coming.
We LOVED our food choices. Everything we ate and drank was superb, and I would definitely go back. One of our favorite dishess is muhammara, a roasted red pepper dip, so we had to get that. The pistachio whipped feta was served with refreshing cucumber slices. The seared halloumi salad was also well balanced between the saltiness from the cheese, pepperiness of the arugula, nuttiness of the candied walnuts, and brightness from the apple and vinegar.
Their fish kibbeh reminded me of hush puppies, but they didn’t have a lot of flavor, to be honest. The last dish was a flaky filo (phyllo) pastry filled with spiced lamb that rounded out the meal perfectly. 👍 The only issue we had was that it was really loud in there. The ceilings were opened up to the rafters and they don’t have anything in there to absorb sound, so it doesn’t take long for you to have to shout across the table just to hear each other. 😂 If it isn’t storming, I recommend sitting outside instead, and will definitely do that if we go back.
Final Day of Travel
Mother Nature had it in for us on our final haul from Nashville to Greenville. We had experienced storms the day before that were pretty wild, but thankfully they didn’t last that long. This day the storms were constant for 2/3 of our travel day. Storms in the east are no joke, so if you haven’t been through these summer soakers, here is a little bit of what it’s like:
First, you start to see this ominous, heavy gray cover of clouds ahead, and you know the storm is almost upon you. Next leaves start floating in front of you, followed by a thrust of wind pushing through right before the rain hits you and you’re covered in a sheet of water. It’s as if you are being watered by a soaker hose, and soon there is rain swirling all around and you cannot see more than 20 feet ahead. Occasionally, the sky is punctuated by a bolt of lightning, followed by the low drumming of rolling thunder above you. And then it’s over. Repeat this at least a dozen times and you are exhausted by the successive adrenaline rushes that inevitably come with each passing storm.
At times you come across sections in between where the asphalt is dry, the sun is shining, and it’s as if the whole episode was merely a figment of your imagination. Only the patterns of green, yellow, orange and red on the radar can confirm that you are not hallucinating. It’s not exactly what I had in mind for our last day on the road, but it certainly made me grateful that it was the final push before we could heave a sigh of relief and take a beat before our next chapter begins.
So why Greenville, you may ask?
We visited Greenville back in March of this year, and it was our first destination we were seriously considering as a potential new home. I was able to connect with friends of friends who lived in the area, having moved from both the west and east coasts, getting their impressions of what it was like to live here and asking why they decided to stay. Between these experiences and our general feel for the area, we left with a really positive feeling.
The mayor has revitalized the downtown by transforming an area with waterfalls that used to be covered by a freeway into a large park, called Falls Park. They are also in the process of finishing another public space next to the Reedy River called Unity Park, which honors the fact that this used to be a park for black children during a time when parks were segregated and acknowledges the sordid history of this land’s degradation over time. These notable parks and several more are strung together by the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile greenway that stretches from Travelers Rest through Greenville and is slated for continued expansion.
Between the bike- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, the mild climate in the winter, and access to the Blue Ridge mountains, former pro cyclist George Hincapie has attracted several pro cyclists to this area and it has resulted in a burgeoning cyclist community for people of all levels. And with the mountains nearby, there is ample hiking and camping, and numerous lakes and rivers give provide plenty of water activities as well. As such, this is a great place to experience outdoor life.
Greenville is a growing area, with the city of Greenville being approximately 75,000 people, and the metro area has a population of around 500,000. There are several colleges and universities, plenty of job opportunities, and it is centrally located, being in the “Charlanta” (Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia) corridor. Greenville is also just an hour from Asheville, North Carolina, and about four hours to the Atlantic coast, where you can visit notable places like Charleston, South Carolina or Savannah, Georgia.
If this isn’t enough of a reason to move here, they have a great food scene, you can experience their southern hospitality, and the locals have made us feel welcome. When visiting other areas, we noticed they weren’t as enthusiastic about people moving into the area from different parts of the country and felt more contention from the locals with the changes taking place. The people of Greenville have been so nice and have made it easy for us to ease into the area without feeling like we weren’t wanted here. That is never a great feeling when trying to start over somewhere new. Last but not least, there is plenty of sunshine here! ☀️ Coming from Portland, Oregon where there is only 144 days of sun per year on average, we wanted to live somewhere with at least the national average of 205 days of sun, and Greenville has 220 days of sun. So if you’re tired of the gray, come on down and soak in the rays! 😃
Only time will tell if Greenville will be our forever place, but for now we feel good about the decision we made and are excited to settle in, get off the road and make this place our home. This does mean that I won’t be posting as frequently on my blog since we won’t be traveling as much; however, I will post occasionally with updates on places near here that we explore and like for leisure activities and dining experiences.
I hope you have enjoyed hearing about our adventures and perhaps have earmarked a few new places to explore yourself. We have been so fortunate to meet new people along the way, including Scott, Tali, and their awesome boys, Mike and Carrie, and Beth and Roy, all whom we hope to keep in touch with and see again. You helped make our adventures memorable and we are so glad we met you all. 😍 Stay tuned for one more edition of cooking on the road and thank you for following us on our journey across America. We appreciate you and wish you happy travels. 💗