What Goes Up Must Come Down

High Time In The Rockies

High Time In The Rockies

We’ll apologize up front for the length of this entry but it does cover  5 weeks and almost 2,000 miles!

After our week in Durango we began our travels eastward. We began in the Rockies from a high point of 12,126′ at Cottonwood Pass on the Continental Divide while taking a day hike. For comparison that’s 42% up Mount Everest. From there it was all downhill to Charlotte, NC at approximately 750′. We spent 3 relaxing days at Elk Creek CG in Blue Mesa NRA before moving on to Boyd’s Lake SP in Loveland, Colorado

Our stop in Loveland was primarily for RV warranty work on our slides and stabilizing the refrigerator. We also wanted to see why our batteries were not charging while we are driving. That turned out to be a problem with the truck so off to the Chevy dealer. We are finding getting anything but emergency items addressed under the manufacture’s warranty while on the road difficult. Everyone is “too busy”. Maybe I’m getting cynical in my old age but I think it’s really because they don’t get paid for it. More work needs to be done but we’ll wait until this winter in Arkansas. Next was Opal’s overdue visit to Banfield for her yearly checkup. She’s doing great for a 12 year old dog. The visit was a pleasure for both Opal and the vet… NOT! Then there was laundry, groceries and Walmart. All work and no play? Not us! We took in The Bensen Sculpture Garden, enjoyed a 10 mile bike ride on the bike trail at the park and ate at 2 Triple D spots. The restaurants were 451 in Fort Collins and Foolish Craig’s in Boulder. 451 was an upscale spot with good food but more pricey than the usual Triple D places. Foolish Craig’s was an eclectic spot with delicious crepes and other main dishes.

We drove to Rocky Mountain NP twice hoping the pass was open but had to settle for short hikes around Bear Lake and enjoy the elk bugling. On our second trip we stopped at the Colorado Cherry Company and fell in love with their tart cherry juice. We found spots in the RV to carry four gallons with us. We also took a long drive around to the south entrance to RMNP through the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. We stopped at the Forest Office and as luck would have it talked with the lead ranger who is also the volunteer coordinator. Turns out that his wife is the volunteer coordinator for RMNP too. We exchanged cards for a possible future work camp position.

Traveling East Fall 2016

Traveling East Fall 2016

Bear Lake At RMNP

Bear Lake At RMNP

Girls Day Out

Girls Day Out

Can you Hear Me Now?

Can you Hear Me Now?

Wanna Play?

Wanna Play?

Moving into eastern Colorado we left the beautiful mountains for the open plains. A dramatic contrast to be sure. Here we stayed at John Martin State Park on the Arkansas River. This park has the longest pull through sites we’d ever seen. There is electricity at the site but common water. Steve devised an easy way of refilling our water tank by immersing a marine bilge pump in a 10 gallon container then plugging it into the truck cigarette lighter port. BAM! Only 50 seconds to transfer water. We took time to select photos for our annual gift calendar and relaxed. We did visit 2 National Park sites: Sand Creek Massacre and Bent’s Old Fort. Both were very interesting. Sand Creek Massacre is a relatively new park and in the early stages of development. They have just received funding for a Visitor Center. We were fortunate to arrive just in time for a ranger talk about the event. He was one of the best interpreters we have heard. I wish more people would visit these smaller parks. They are hidden gems. Having been raised on the east coast we never studied or read about these formative events in our country’s history. Bent’s Old Fort was the first permanent settlement in the area and served as trading post and social gathering place in the first half of the 19th century. The building today is a recreation of the fort from plans sketched by a visitor. The rangers are not in the trademark uniform but wear period costumes and give informal talks. The two sites contrast each other: one a site of Manifest Destiny and military might overpowering native people and the other a thriving settlement where traders, mountain men and Native Americans coexisted peacefully.

Sand Creek Massacre Location

Sand Creek Massacre Location

Native American Monument At Sand Creek

Native American Monument At Sand Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View Of Bent's Old Fort NHS

View Of Bent’s Old Fort NHS

A Demonstration Of Knife Making

A Demonstration Of Knife Making

Trading Post At Bent's Old Fort

Trading Post At Bent’s Old Fort

Now we move on to Kansas. We found a fabulous place to stay at Cedar Bluff SP. Some sites offer full hookups for $19/night. It is a busy park in the summer however in late October only lightly used. For most of our stay we were the only RV in our loop. Opal enjoyed her off leash walks. Now, being the only dog in the park is the way I like it! (Opal) Many folks simply rush across Kansas. This is our third visit to the state and we have found interesting things to do each time. The closest town of any size is Hays, KS. On our way there for errands we noticed a sign for the Walter P. Chrysler Home Museum. We stopped in Ellis on our way back to see it. Turned out to be a great small town museum to their most famous son. We didn’t know much about him but after touring his boyhood home and learning about him we’d like to read a biography. Two of the most interesting displays were his own car (#6 off the line) complete with wooden wheels and his desk.  Another “self made man” story. 

Museum In Ellis, Kansas

Museum In Ellis, Kansas

Chrysler's Car

Chrysler’s Car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desk Used By Chrysler

Desk Used By Chrysler

One More For The Reading List

One More For The Reading List

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in the central western area of Kansas we also visited the Santa Fe Trail Museum, Fort Larned NHS and Nicodemus NHS. The SFT Museum detailed travels of pioneer families during the westward migration of the mid to late 1800s plus those who used the trail before them. Well worth stop. Fort Larned is another of the NPS sites dedicated to the series of forts built as protection and evidence of ownership as what was thought of as “The West” moved onward. At first you look at all the names carved into the buildings as graffiti but later realize this is an archive of those who passed through here. Before the NPS took over and restored the site locals came here often to picnic so many names are post fort and early to mid 1900s. The site is large and beautifully equipped with all the items one would find at an active post of its day. Nicodemus is a relatively new NPS site about former slaves who formed settlements in the midwest and west post Civil War. There are 5 remaining buildings of which 2 are open to the public.

Fort Larned Architecture

Fort Larned Architecture

Graffiti Or History

Graffiti Or History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larned Harness Shop

Larned Harness Shop

Fort Larned Hospital

Fort Larned Hospital

Quarter Master's Office

Quarter Master’s Office

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Commissary

Post Commissary

nicodemus-vc

Nicodemus NHS

Our final stop was for dinner in Hays. The area was originally settled by German immigrants and still has strong ties to its heritage. We decided to try a local micro-brewery/restaurant called Gella’s Diner. Steve had sauerkraut soup and a bratwurst platter while I enjoyed a potato soup and local specialty called a bierock. What’s a bierock, you ask? It is a meat, cabbage and onion mixture in a pastry. It is served with a sharp cheddar/ale sauce. MMMmmm good! We certainly do a good job of traveling on our stomachs!

Gella's Diner In Hays, KS

Gella’s Diner In Hays, KS

Next stop: Oologah, Oklahoma. This is our first trip to the state of Oklahoma. Now we only have 4 states left in the lower 48 to have the RV. Our reason for coming here was to visit two of Steve’s cousins. Unfortunately one of them was in the process of moving and not able to come. We had planned to stay closer to Tulsa at a USACE park but at the last minute noted on the website a comment about low branches. Oh no! Been there, done that. So we chose Hawthorn Bluff USACE CG on Lake Oologah. We’d hoped to stay a week but the campground was closing down for the year on 10/31. So we quickly booked three nights at another USACE park on Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas. Besides seeing relatives we visited two sites about Oologah’s most famous son, Will Rogers. The first was his birthplace and the other was the Will Rogers Museum. I know who Will Rogers was but didn’t know much about him other than his witty sayings.  He began as a trick roper and later added his trademark humor and wit at the suggestion of his wife. He was always very proud of his Cherokee heritage. He progressed on to lectures and newspaper columns until perishing in an airplane crash in Alaska with Wily Post. The museum is huge and has some fantastic videos of his roping tricks. You can easily see why he “never met a man he didn’t like”.

He Never Met A Man He Didn't Like

He Never Met A Man He Didn’t Like

Will Rogers Birthplace

Will Rogers Birthplace

Will Rogers Statue

Will Rogers Statue

Will Rogers Museum

Will Rogers Museum

 

 

Extensive Exhibits Can Be Found Inside

Extensive Exhibits Can Be Found Inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course we had to go when we found there was a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives spot nearby called Clanton’s. The owners are the fourth generation to run this Route 66 cafe since 1947. Known for their fried chicken and chicken fried steak, you best go early or plan on waiting in line. On our way home I spotted a sign for a Folk Art site. Steve asked “Do you REALLY want to go? He was hoping Chari would say no (meanwhile thinking of Lucas, KS). Yes she said. So off we went. The “artwork” by Ed Galloway was several concrete sculptures including the world’s biggest totem pole. The totem pole is 90′ tall, 18′ in diameter and displays 200 carved images. It took eleven years to build. We were there only a few minutes when the caretaker had to leave on a family emergency. Steve was VERY relieved!

Clanton"s Cafe On Route 66

Clanton”s Cafe On Route 66

This Is Triple D All The Way!

This Is Triple D All The Way!

He Liked It!

He Liked It!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World's Largest Totem Pole

The World’s Largest Totem Pole

More Ed Galloway Art

More Ed Galloway Art

In The Eye Of The Beholder

In The Eye Of The Beholder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Corinth, MS we finally caught up with our reservations made before leaving Utah. We were there visiting Chari’s relatives. Previously we had stayed at J. P. Coleman SP. However, knowing the park we felt our new trailer would have difficulty maneuvering into the sites even though they were technically long enough. So we chose Piney Grove CG, a USACE park on Bay Springs Lake. The lake is part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Canal project built during the late 70s for barge traffic. While it has never seen the volume of traffic hoped for it does provide a wonderful recreation area. 700 acres of my first husband’s family farm was purchased for what is now called Crow’s Neck. There is an environmental Education facility there.  The RV sites at Piney Grove are large. The only downside is the thick tree cover making TV reception minimal.

We were lucky enough to have arrived for the Grand Illumination Celebration. This used to be an annual event in Corinth but with budget cutbacks it had not been held for three years. The Grand Illumination acknowledges casualties from the Battle of Shiloh and both Battles of Corinth for control of the railroad by placing 6,000 luminaries around town and at the NPS Civil War Interpretation Center. Each luminary is a casualty of the conflict. This year the Interpretation Center had a speaker on the topic of “The Role of Camels in the Civil War”. That’s right… camels. So here is the tale of Old Douglas. Old Douglas arrived by ship from the middle east in the 1850s. He was purchased to work on a plantation. When his master joined the Confederacy so did Old Douglas. Don’t get the idea he swept into battle Lawrence of Arabia style. His job was to carry the regimental band instruments. Old Douglas was in Vicksburg when he was shot and killed. Vicksburg had been under siege and soldiers were reduced to eating their boots. Let it be known Old Douglas did not die in vain. One thousand pounds of meat was a blessing to soldiers and civilians alike. We also visited two of the five Civil War era homes that remain in Corinth.

luminaries

Then we had the last two long driving days to get to the Charlotte, NC area. Our overnight stop just north of Atlanta was a very nice USACE park named McKinney CG on Allatoona Lake. We’ll remember this one for a future visit to the Peachtree state. Likewise our stay at Ebenezer County Park near Rock Hill, SC was great. We cleared out our storage unit. All of our worldly possessions now fit either in the RV, truck or a 3’x3′ storage cube.

Lastly we headed to Chambersburg, PA for Thanksgiving with Steve’s family. Our only non family activity was a visit to Gettysburg Military Park and the Eisenhower Farm. We didn’t know that this was a special weekend celebrating the anniversary of the declaration of Emancipation. The park had several authors of historical fiction on hand. Steve met one of his favorite authors, Jeff Shara. The town of Gettysburg had a parade with over 500 re-enactors dressed in a variety of uniforms and period dress.

Gettysburg Diorama Scene

Gettysburg Diorama Scene

Abe, Mary and Winfield Scott

Abe, Mary and Winfield Scott

Drummer Boy

Drummer Boy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Long Parade

A Long Parade

Union Troops

Union Troops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Confederates

The Confederates

women-in-parade

Women Marchers

Zouave Unit

Zouave Unit

 

We packed a lot into our trip east and hope you have enjoyed this leg of our travels as we visit the icons and hidden gems across the USA.

London Bridge Isn’t Falling Down

Lake Havasu City

View Of Lake Havasu City From The London Bridge

So far our Spring travels through Arizona had been full of mishaps. So as we headed to Lake Havasu City on the AZ/CA border would it be third time is the charm or three strikes and you’re out? We are glad to report that all was well and we had a fabulous week. Our campsite at Lake Havasu State Park was one of the best we’ve ever had. The weather was glorious and you can see why this is another snowbird Mecca. You are immediately identified as a visitor if you say Lake Havasu as the residents simply slip over the the second A and say Hav-su.

London Bridge, Arizona, history

1831 London Bridge At Lake Havasu City

The icon of the area is the London Bridge which was moved here from London during the early days of development at Lake Havasu and opened in 1971. The developer needed a bridge from shore to an island resort. Hearing the London Bridge was for sale he purchased it, built an inner structure of steel then moved the exterior blocks to Arizona and rebuilt it. Each solid granite stone was numbered, transported and reinstalled. Some numbers are still visible. I had the bridge tour on my list of things to do. I thought it would be very touristy and trivial but being a “good hubby” I agreed to go. The tours are given only a few times each week and last about 90 minutes. It starts with a bit of history. Here we learned that there have been several London Bridges over the centuries. The children’s song “London Bridge Is Falling Down” refers to when the Vikings came up the Thames and rammed the bridge causing it to fall into the river. Then we walked around and over the bridge while our British tour guide gave a very good talk. We learned that the lamps on the bridge were fabricated from Napoleon’s cannon after his defeat by the British. There is even a spot where two American G. I.’s carved their initials during WWII. Much to my surprise the tour was excellent and well worth taking. Told you so!

Architectural Drawing Showing Numbered Blocks For Demolition And Reconstruction

Architectural Drawing Showing Numbered Blocks For Demolition And Reconstruction

Old Drawing Of London Bridge Opening In 1851

Old Drawing Of London Bridge Opening In 1831

Walking Across London Bridge

Walking Across London Bridge

From Guns To Lamposts

From Guns To Lamposts

Picture From The London Bridge Visitor Center...What Fool Would Be Out Here?

Picture From The London Bridge Visitor Center…What Fool Would Be Out Here?

We did also enjoyed the local community theatre production of Sweeney Todd, local ice cream and did some shopping as we’d be heading into sparsely populated areas in the near future.

We visited the Bill Williams NWR and planned to return for a kayak trip but then got busy with other things and never returned. A good reason to return if we need to have an excuse. The refuge is located with the Visitor Center on the lake side and wonderful wilderness trails across the road in a desert area. What a contrast!

Bill Williams NWR

Bill Williams NWR

Six months ago Chari had reconnected with her second cousin, Kathy, who lives near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although they have been e-mailing they have not seen each other in forty years. Kathy and her daughter, Emily, were spending a long weekend in Las Vegas which was about three hours away. We decided to meet halfway in Laughlin, NV. Kathy has become the Manchester family genealogist and has discovered lots of interesting history. I never knew I had an ancestor from Switzerland or that there was a family farm in New York only 100 miles from where I grew up! We met for brunch and had a great time.

Desertscape Walk

Desertscape Walk

Kelso, Mohave Desert Preserve

Kelso Depot At Mohave Desert Preserve

Another day Steve and I went for one of our “day trips” of 150 miles or so to visit the Mohave Desert Preserve NPS site. We were enchanted by the desert landscape and spoke with the ranger in charge of volunteers about the possibility of working here during the winter of 2017. We’ll stay in touch. We only had time for a quick visit but did watch the park movie which shows the varied areas of the park. Kelso Depot is an old train station (1924) from the days when the town of Kelso was a thriving community. Kelso was where trains headed west stopped to pick up their “helper” engines to climb the steep terrain of the Providence Mountains and reload with water for the steam engines. The depot was also used by Union Pacific RR workers as a dormitory and recreation facility. Kelso faded away after WWII when the more powerful diesel engines became commonplace and was closed in 1985. The depot was saved from demolition and became the NPS Visitor Center in 2005. During WWII Kelso was also the home of workers from the nearby Vulcan Mine (iron ore). Between the RR workers and the miners Kelso had many drunken residents who wound up spending a day or two in the town’s jail. The jail had been moved to the backyard garden of some Barstow residents after the depot closed but was returned and donated when NPS took over.

jail

The Kelso Jail

Kelso Post

Kelso PostOffice

Rt. 66

Opal And Steve On Rt. 66

Another day of exploring took us to one of the best preserved sections along former Route 66 between Kingman and Seligman in Arizona. As we approached the town of Oatman, which had been touted as a picturesque town on 66, we found several creosote bushes with decorations left from Christmas. A local custom we presumed. We arrived in Oatman and parked in the city lot. You need to pick your way carefully through town as one of the “attractions” are the “wild” burros. The burros are used to being fed hay cubes you can buy and are not shy nor are they reluctant to leave the remains. Step carefully! When we arrived a show for all the tourist buses had the one and only street blocked so we checked out some shops. Only one description is needed for this place: Tourist Trap!!! When the road finally opened we continued along Rt. 66 and did find some real wild burros, great scenery, Yucca plants in bloom and an interesting remnant of days past called Rock Spring. It was a former gas station along Rt. 66 now a convenience store and museum. There was a lot of interesting memorabilia here. It has retained a lot of its character because, much to the owners dismay, the tour buses can’t negotiate the tight turns between Oatman and Rock Springs.

Rt. 66, Arizona

Leftover From Christmas

Tourist Feeding Burro In Oatman

Tourist Feeding Burro In Oatman

 

 

 

 

 

Yucca In Bloom

Yucca In Bloom

 

 

humor

Roadside Humor On 66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Burros On Rt. 66

Wild Burros On Rt. 66

Rock Springs Drawing

Rock Springs Drawing

Cars From The Past On A Road From The Past

Cars From The Past On A Road From The Past

A Pegasus On 66

A Pegasus On 66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Springs Gas Pumps

Rock Springs Gas Pumps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rt. 66 Memories

Rt. 66 Memories

Time to leave Arizona for this trip. Next stop is Lake Mead National Recreation Area which is only three hours away.

Our Top Ten Campgrounds For June 2012- June 2013

Today is the first day of summer and everyone’s thoughts are turning to spending time outdoors. So we thought we’d share the top ten campgrounds we’ve used this past year. These are not in any order of preference just listed as we thought about them. We hope you get to enjoy them.

beach, SGI

St. Georges Island State Park

St. Georges Island State Park

   Appalachicola, Florida

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Bandit's Roost On Kerr-Scott Lake

Bandit’s Roost On Kerr-Scott Lake

Bandit’s Roost COE (Corps of Engineers) Campground

Wilkesboro, North Carolina

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kayaking, photography, Kentucky

Energy Lake At LBL

Piney  LBL Campground 

Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area

Kentucky and Tennessee

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Atalaya, architecture

Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

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wildflowers, Vermont

Winhall Brook Campground

Winhall Brook COE Campground

South Londonderry, Vermont

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Assateague Island

Assateague Island

Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island, Maryland

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Near Camden Hills SP

Near Camden Hills SP

Camden Hills State Park

Camden, Maine

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Georgia Veterans State Park

Georgia Veterans State Park

Georgia Veterans State Park

Cordele, Georgia

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Promised Land State Park

Promised Land State Park

Promised Land State Park

Greentown, Pennsylvania 

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Historical Site Near Fishermans Memorial SP

Historical Site Near Fishermans Memorial SP

Fishermans Memorial State Park

Narragansett, Rhode Island

Can This Be January?

We took all day to drive the eight hours from Cordele, Georgia to our next stop at Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. We would truly be snowbirds here as our stay would be for a month. We are taking advantage of a special winter season discount rate offered at five South Carolina coastal parks. Normally stays are limited to 14 days at this park. To attract winter campers the park allows one 30 day stay at a discounted rate. The campground has 135 sites. When we arrived only 30 or so sites were occupied. This is one of the few times of year you could expect to get a “walk in” vacancy. When beach weather hits this park is booked solid months in advance. Over Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend that number doubled. We were able to get a site with 30 amp electric, water and sewer for the equivalent of $18.23 per night. Our site is large and open allowing for a lovely sitting area near the campfire pit and excellent satellite TV reception.Sites with only electric and water are more secluded with trees and bushes separating the sites. Since being here the weather has been unseasonably mild with temperatures in the 50s-70s. I’m walking around in capris and sandals! No, make that shorts and sandals. Can this really be January? This is why I moved south. The only snow I want to see is on TV! I just looked and for the first time in 2 weeks we’ll be having 3 days this coming week where highs are in the mid forties and nighttime temps in the upper 20’s. Yes, that is coastal South Carolina in January.

Google Earth, South Carolina

Google Earth View Of South Carolina Coast

Some states use the term Resort Park for their flagship parks with numerous amenities. While South Carolina doesn’t use this term Huntington Beach State Park would certainly qualify. It is located 30 miles south of the highly developed area of Myrtle Beach and about the same distance north of historic Georgetown, South Carolina. Charleston, SC is only an hour or so away if we run out of things to do but that isn’t likely. Although I’ve been to Charleston several times and always enjoy it, Steve has not been to historic Charleston so we plan to go at least once to see the Battery , the Aquarium, the Charles Pinkney NHS and the Hunley. Huntington Beach has 2 public access beaches but as campers we have several short trails to the beach. Dogs are allowed on the beach on leashes. While not “allowed” many owners do let the dogs off leash as long as others aren’t close by and dogs are under control. Kite flying on the beach is easy as the wind is almost guaranteed. Biking is popular and a 4 mile ride within the park can be supplemented by the Murrell’s Inlet to Litchfield bike path. A causeway over wetlands is a very popular birding and photography spot. Other trails lead to shelters for viewing the many pelicans, herons, egrets, ibis, sandpipers, gulls and an occasional eagle. The park was established from land originally owned by Archer and Anna Huntington when they built their winter home, Atalaya, here in the 1930s. Atalaya is maintained by the park and open for tours. More about this and Brookgreen Garden later. Kayaking is popular and while there are no put-ins at the park there are public landings very nearby.

Atalaya, South Carolina

Atalaya Courtyard

beach, South carolina

Beach Walk

beach, travel

Steve At Huntington Beach

beach, photography

Sand Patterns

photography

The Long And Short Of It

Murrell’s Inlet calls itself ‘the seafood capital of South Carolina’ and the waterfront along US 17 BR is dotted with locally owned restaurants and seafood markets. Looks like we’re in for another oyster, shrimp and fish fest! Adjacent communities of Litchfield, Pawley’s Island and Georgetown also offer many excellent local restaurants, beaches and wetlands for birding. So far we’ve eaten at Nance’s. They claim to be the oldest and largest seafood restaurant in Murrell’s Inlet.

Our time here will be a lot more relaxed than many of our stops. We have some maintenance and personal errands to catch up on and friends visiting from North Carolina. There will be time to see Le Miserables and perhaps an IMAX movie or stage show in Myrtle Beach.

kites, beach

Can $3 Be This Much Fun?

shells, beach

Shell Fragment At Huntington Beach

Slowing Down At Edisto Beach

Are you a person who thinks of the beach as a place for amusement parks, stores on every block crammed with cheap souvenirs, fast food overload and musical extravaganzas? Then you can skip this entry. However, if like us you crave long sandy, uncrowded beaches, waves crashing, shelling, local seafood and biking trails then read on. Edisto Beach has nicknamed itself Edislow and takes pride in its retro, small town atmosphere. The local food store is a small IGA. There are no McDonalds or Kentucky Colonels but wonderful local restaurants. A few small beach shops but no 3 story Wings on every corner. While some beach homes are large and modern many are small, modest structures reminding you of the day when non-millionaires could own waterfront property. There are as many bikes as cars here and the town is very walkable. Edisto, SC is located about halfway between Charleston and Beaufort on Edisto Island. We stayed at Edisto State Park which has two campgrounds, the Beach loop and the Live oak loop. The Beach loop as you might guess needs to be reserved well in advance. I’d made reservations for August in the middle of June and it was already full. The Beach loop only has 30 amp power which is fine for smaller rigs with one AC unit. At 35′ and two AC units which we definitely needed in mid August, we were happy to be in the Live Oak loop with 50 amps. The water at the state park tastes horrible so if you come have your own tank of water and/or plan to buy bottled water for drinking. The water is fine for cooking and household use. The town has a filter on their supply so no problem there. The beach was only a mile down the road. Getting into the campground with our rig was tight. There was one spot where we missed a tree at a corner by just a few inches. Our site backed to salt marsh and was very private. Now for some much needed down time. Is there anything better than a day spent lounging in a beach chair, jumping waves and swimming to be followed by an after dinner walk on the beach. Pets are allowed on the beach if leashed and of course you must pick up after them.

There were several bike trails that Opal and I used every morning for our walks and boardwalks over the marsh that served as platforms for birding. One morning I spotted a heron I didn’t recognize . It turned out to be a juvenile tricolor heron. Egrets, blue heron, roseate spoonbills and wood storks were also seen. We’d just bought an iPad and had downloaded an app for Sibley’s Bird Identification. Being full timer we needed to find an alternative to carrying all the books we want to read or use for reference. We did bring our library of travel books. While I’m thinking about it, we use the DeLorme Gazatteer map books for each state we visit. as guides for things to see and do. Oh, I forgot to mention that I have a new bike. I love it. It’s an Electra Townie seven speed. The pedals are set a bit forward for a more comfortable sitting position. Great for those of us with short legs! What a difference a good bike makes. Is there anything better than biking at the beach? The new bike is purple and Steve said all I needed now was a red hat to wear with it!

Our friend Liz from Charlotte came down for the weekend to continue our celebration. At the suggestion of another friend, we had dinner on Friday at the Old Post Office. For this area it is an upscale restaurant next to a very nice gallery. Saturday we bought crab , shrimp and some locally made crab boil (two types: spicy and really spicy). Later on in the week we ate at an ocean front restaurant called The Pavilion and a local dive called Whaley’s. Whaley’s is the type of place you’d see on Diners, Drive-in and Dives but oh the seafood is great and the portions huge. We bought fresh shrimp and made our favorite shrimp, green pepper and pineapple kabobs. The other local place we used was Kings. They have fresh vegetables, locally canned goodies and homemade prepared dishes. The farmland Kings owns has been in the family for six generations.

While Liz was with us, we drove to nearby Botany Bay. This nature preserve is on land donated from two old rice and cotton plantations. There is a ten mile drive through the property. Admission is free but you must sign in. The area is best known for its beautiful beach with massive shell beds and artful dead trees still standing in the water. We’d hoped to return for some picture taking later in the week but didn’t do so. You can see some pics from 2010 in our old blog under Charleston at http://www.vagabondpress.wordpress.com. Don’t think about removing shells or you’ll be hit with a $480 fine. Volunteers closely monitor the beach.

We did return to kayak a marsh area from the landing at stop #10 on the scenic drive. It’s tidal so time your trip for high water. We saw dolphins, kingfishers and lesser blue herons. On the way back the tide was starting to go out. We passed an oyster bed spouting water like the Trevi Fountain. If you go, take bug spray both for you and for the area. The mosquitos are bloodthirsty!

We wanted to do something special to celebrate the transition in our lives. A fishing charter seemed appropriate. Steve has been a fisherman all his life while Chari had been fishing only once since she was five years old. We met our guide at 8am and were out for four hours on the Edisto river and about a mile offshore. Our guide, Jimmy, hooked a fish and passed the rod to Chari. Whatever it was gave me a good fight for 7-10 minutes. I was thrilled when I landed a 29″, 12 lb. red drum fish. Instead of being dinner it had to be thrown back. The slot for keepers was 15″-23″. Larger than that were considered breeders. We did catch some trout and whitefish that made two dinners. Steve landed a 30″ skate after a fifteen minute fight. A ray kept running and broke his line. We both hooked small bonnet head sharks. What a fun morning! Hopefully we’ll get to do this again soon.

travel, fishing, Edisto

Beginners Luck

Have you heard about The Angel Oak on Johns Island? It’s a huge live oak estimated to be between 300-400 years old. That’s only 45 minutes from Edisto so off we went with cameras in hand. A very impressive sight. Many branches were covered with resurrection fern which gets its name because it dries up and turns brown in dry times only to ‘spring’ back to life verdant and healthy at the first rain.

South Carolina, Angel Oak

Steve gives perspective to the size of the Angel Oak

travel, photography

Resurrection Fern

nature, photography

A Captivating Site

As we were leaving Angel Oak Park, we saw a sign for an old church just about a mile away. So we turned left and headed off to find it. It was Johns Island Presbyterian Church. The original sanctuary was built in 1710 and expanded in 1823. Had we known about it we’d have scheduled our visit for Wednesday AM when they give tours.

history

Johns Island Presbyterian Church

All too soon it was time to say goodbye. We always kid about “when we come back…” but this time we really mean it. This stop is a keeper.