My dog is named after a plant, so it only made sense that Fern and I would venture to the Outdoor Festival and experience the James Island County Park.
Fern is just shy of two years old and is a coonhound mix. My little plant dog is afraid of everything: bees, the sound of plastic containers, loud noises, stairs, food scoops, middle aged men. I can tell that she wants to hang out with other dogs, but she sits and stares at them forlornly, feeling like an outsider.
I only know all of this because I am nosey and read her diary.
And so, I went along with my friend and her roommate’s dog to the Outdoor Festival in the hopes of socializing my dog.
The first step to any good Charleston adventure is to grab the most unhealthy breakfast you possibly can. Do this especially on super hot days, you will have all the energy in the world and absolutely NO regrets.*
*Regrets were had. Sweat was made. Panic all around.
We attempted to swing by this cool new place that has mini waffles, but the line was long and patience was thin, so Bojangles it was! Perhaps next time I will be able to tell you about the amazing mini waffle place. I will save you the torture of hearing about my Bojangles breakfast because a) Bojangles is Bojangles, b) Grease is grease, and c) no one needs to know how bad my eating habits actually are.
With this breakfast of champions, we set off for James Island County Park.
I had never been to a bonafide dog park before. The ones I frequented with my skittish plant were small and fenced in, rarely having other dogs. To be honest, it looked like we had been put into a pen at a zoo. Fern would sit in the middle of the empty grass and look at me in that disappointed way that said, “why the hell did you bring me to this lame poop garden?”
But Fern was very pleased when we arrived at the dog park. First, it was huge. Giant sprawling lawns of green with trails, woods, and Fern’s new favorite adventure, water. Muddy water, lapping water, cold water, still water, moving water - my plant’s deepest desire (again, I only know this because of her diary).
That day, however, the lake was littered with kayaks, canoes, paddles, and many people happily stuffed in neon life jackets. Lyna - the black lab accompanying me and my plant - was bouncing off her paws to sniff every oar. Fern, however, was a bit overwhelmed, and so was I.
A little known fact: kayaking people love kayaking. They love to show you their kayak. They get excited to tell you about kayaking. They want you to join the kayaking cult, and start wearing their jean jackets bedazzled on the back in rhinestones that spell out “Paddle Pals.”
And yes, I may have seen that jacket on this outing.
Intrigued but slightly timid, I walked Fern by the lake where she met two spaniels. So shocked by the wagging tails of sopping wet fur, I actually did not notice the human who was sitting on the coast. She wore a fisherman’s hat and boots that had obviously been muddied from reigning in her dogs.
“They love the water,” she told me, laughing as one ran a muddy paw down Fern’s back.
Further along our walk, we saw a herd (Flock? School? Army?) of kayakers testing out products in the lake. They had hanging poles they were using as obstacles to weave in and out. Not a single person wasn’t laughing or dreaming about their next design for their rhinestone jacket. They waved to us with their paddles, and I waved back, feeling insignificant using only my hand. I contemplated picking up Fern and waving her body, but even that would be too aggressive by Southern Hospitality standards.
We followed our trail into the woods where the hot spring day was cooler beneath the shadows of the trees. The dogs enjoyed getting to explore the “wilds” of Charleston, even chasing a lizard (which scared the heck out of me).
We kept walking, finding more picnic areas and green spaces. I was amazed at how big this park was and how green it was. It actually reminded me of my days spent abroad in Dublin, looking out at the Irish countryside. Of course, there are fewer leprechauns and more she-crab soup in Charleston - a positive, if you ask me.
We befriended a chocolate lab that was busy playing with a ball in a soccer field. I am sad to report that it does not seem like Fern will become a sports star anytime soon, seeing as she ran away from the ball as it rolled slowly toward her.
The park was a great Charleston find for my energetic pup! If you bring your dog on vacation with you, I would definitely let them roam around for a few in the big, green pastures at James Island County Park.