Yard Critter

A few days ago I saw what I though was a chipmunk flitting through the grass under our bird feeder. On closer inspection, I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing when I noticed the striping down this little guy’s back. But sure enough, on searching the internet, I had a thirteen striped ground squirrel! Who knew such a little critter existed. Now to hold out hope he or she doesn’t have friends or family currently tunneling into our yard.

A Palmetto State Vacation (Day 3)

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens: On our last day of vacation after the previous day, we started off at what was my top pick of places I wanted to see (based on the brochures).

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As someone who is happiest slowly exploring all that nature’s flora and fauna have to offer, Magnolia Gardens was at the top of my list. We elected not to tour the actual house as we were trying to fit in both the gardens here as well as another plantation later in the day.

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The gardens were expansive, including swamps, waterways, gravel pathways lined by specimen trees and flower beds and a variety of other unique elements. I could have likely posted a gallery of 30-40 floral shots; there were flower beds and gardens galore.

When walking the many trails through the gardens, the trees were the epitome of Southern beauty. You can’t help but just look up and enjoy the visual feast.

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A memory that brings a chuckle is the several alligators we encountered while walking. There are swamps here: Where there are swamps, there are gators.

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They kept to themselves mainly, only venturing near if an edible target was close by in the way of frogs, turtles or such tasty morsels. Most of them were small.

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I can just imagine if I lived here I’d be seated on the banks of the small lakes and water features every day just taking it all in (being mindful of the alligators of course).

Being the epic Southern plantation gardens it is, beauty and flowers abounded (magnolias included).

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Everywhere we walked, there was a small scene happening in every corner or outcropping.

 

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The sense of tranquility here translated to the tourists. Despite having a large number of visitors strolling about, it was still very quiet.

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Who doesn’t want a red bridge flanked on both sides by planers of overflowing flowers in their own back yard?

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Walking pathways went on and on in a chain of discovered serendipities!

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Ok, really, I could just build a little cottage for us right here on the water.

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It also just so happens that Magnolia Gardens has a petting zoo of a myriad of local animals, including several peacocks!

 

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The stillness was a welcome respite.

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My favorite part of the entire day at Magnolia Gardens was the Audubon Swamp Garden (of all things, a swamp!?).

We tackled this last and I had small hopes. It was the high point in the afternoon. It was hot. I was tired. I had sweat through my shirt and hat. And we still had another place to go after Magnolia this day. And it said “Swamp” on the sign.

But truthfully, though, this was the best part.

 

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The turtles were equally entertaining as they were brave, given that they sunned themselves with the constant threat of nearby alligators.

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This one kept floating lazily in circles around the bases of trees in the water, waiting for any fledgling birds to topple out (none did while we were there, thank goodness).

The birds though! One section of the swamp was just teeming with rooks, herons and a myriad of other local birds. The constant calls of mates to one another and chatter of juveniles hungry for the next arriving parent to the nest were a continual musical of swamp banter. Trees jutting out of the water contained no less than 5-6 large nests each. It was a wonder to watch.

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Most of the trails through the swamp were heavily shaded and simple to follow. We found a perfectly-placed bench right by the water and settled in to watch and listen.

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The swamp garden was a bird watcher’s delight!

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And speaking of all things related to birds, who knew Audubon himself frequented the plantation so often?

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As we exited the property to the parking lot, we passed by this petite little house surrounded by a small but thriving garden center. On pausing to read the sign by the path, reading this endearing story was our last piece of the plantation. Somehow the story of Grandma Tena was just right, even to a stranger.

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It’s nice to think that everyone who passes by sees her picture and can read this story.

Boone Plantation: We ended up our day, and our vacation, at Boone Plantation on the last of our tour days before we flew out the next morning. On arriving onto the property, imagine having this for your driveway! It took over 200 yrs for the oak trees to manage to arch over to one another.

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We had just finished a full day at Magnolia Plantation and were pretty worn out and had reached our maximum sun exposure for the most part. We elected to tour what I was mostly interested in: The gardens of course!

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When the husband asked what I wanted to see here, I asked just to see the gardens and grounds. We had been running full tilt at this point for three days and were also nearing the max point of comfort for how much we had been in the sun this day.

Our first point of exploration was a butterfly garden held within a small, netted structure. It contained a plethora of tropical plants and local flowers complete with fountains (but the fountains were unfortunately being maintained and had been drained while we were there).

The gardens, while much smaller vs. Magnolia Plantation, were worth the drive over.

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My lens might have been overused a bit, snapping pictures of nearly everything in bloom. It’s a bad habit I have when around growing things. But how beautiful the colors are!

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We rounded up the day by taking a tractor-pulled wagon narrated by tour guides of the entire plantation. The wagon was covered by a tarp, and was very much the shade we needed at this point. Unfortunately, the ride was a bit bumpy so I elected to simply sit back and listen to the history. But I did walk over and snap a picture of these older tractors on display near the area where we waited for our tour.

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The plantation still serves as an events center and houses polo horses.

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It was a FULL three days with a day before to fly in and a day after to fly out. But it just goes to show how much you can fit in when on vacation. And even better, I got to see all these places with my favorite guy. ‘Til next time, South Carolina!

 

A Palmetto State Vacation (Day 2)

2019-05-18 Moultrie 1 Fort Moultrie: Carrying on after our first day of vacationing in the Charleston, South Carolina area took us to start day two at Fort Moultrie. I was really impressed at the museum that is situated across the street from the fort itself.

Firstly, it was a cool, dark oasis from the toasty trek that awaited us across the street at Moultrie. The staff were wonderful and welcoming to all who ducked into the building. The displays and information available strolling through the museum were really well done and engaging to all.

2019-05-18 Moultrie 12Most of what I saw while touring the museum gave a sense of wonder at how anyone stationed here back in the day functioned in the heat. You get an impression that it was sandy, hot and spartan. When you begin to contemplate having to manage huge cannon and ammunition in those conditions, it boggles the mind.

While in this place of imagination, I came upon this poster encouraging women to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps. While it seemed out of place being one of the few colorful pieces in contrast to everything else, it gave a nod to women playing a role in the non-combat roles available then.

Venturing outside to the actual fort, armed to the hilt with my wide-brimmed straw hat and 70 (yes, 70) SPF sunscreen, our first surprise awaited us. Evidently, Native Americans taken prisoner in the area then were relocated and imprisoned at Fort Moultrie. This included Osceola and on his passing, he was buried here.

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We likely could have spent much more time here, but as it was respectably hot and the sun was beating down, we made tracks from one site to another. This made investigating the many hallways and ammunition storage rooms a respite.

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Walking around the perimeter of the Fort is actually a nice stroll. It’s a comfortable distance and there is access to the shore you can head over to and the breezes coming in off the water were definitely appreciated.

There are interior structures and I was quite surprised with how cool the lowest level hallways and storage rooms were.

I found a small flower growing alone out of the exterior brick wall – an interesting little find among the cannon lined up and pointing out to sea.

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Can you even imagine having to put hands on and manipulate cannon as huge as these in the heat of the day here? No doubt they had a heck of a kick when fired.

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The views looking out into Charleston Harbor were really beautiful. I could almost imagine how many young soldiers stood in this very spot admiring the sea over the years as well. (Fort Sumter isn’t in the shot, but is just to the right of this view).

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Following my other half through the hallways and doorways.

2019-05-18 Hunley 1 The Hunley Project – A perfect indoor activity for the hot weekend was a tour to see the restoration of the Hunley submarine.

On entering the large facility that houses the restoration work and guided tours, we found a plethora of intriguing stories of the Hunley itself and the crews assigned to it. The staff who work and volunteer there were obviously passionate about this history and made our experience all the more engaging.

We could have easily spent hours here; its money well spent to visit and help support the ongoing work.

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Our tour guide mentioned that when it was first located, the Hunley carried over 10+ tons of extra weight due to concretion that had occurred to its frame over time while it laid on the ocean floor. It was relocated to a special tank that was filled with a special solution for years (and is still happening) to pull the salt out of it little bit by bit.

It’s amazing to consider that this huge tank (over 70,000 gallons) is filled and drained regularly to help release the salt out of the hull…for years. When the tank is empty, works are able to continue restoration.

 

 

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Some of the models were really impressive, showing what the Hunley would have looked like fully whole. Since everything on the submarine was hand-powered or manually operated, the explosive weapon was mounted on a lance on the front of hull that the crew could aim roughly and ram into a target.

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Seeing a visual representation of just how tight the quarters were for the crew to work in was fascinating. Seven men crammed themselves into a hull so small that even sitting upright was impossible. They sat in a row as shown in the model above and operated a hand crank that powered the submarine.

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A collage of photos depicting some of the restoration work before and afters.

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This map showed the mystery of the Hunley in as far as it’s intended mission to attack the USS Housatonic. It sank the Housatonic and then no one knows what happened to it. There are several hypothetical scenarios, but no clear evidence why it sank and why it ended up much farther out towards sea than where it was thought to have gone down.

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One of the final stories we learned on exiting the tour was Lt. George Dixon’s gold coin. The odds of a story like this one are amazing.

The Hunley project facility was one of the best things we did. The mystery of what really happened to this ill-fated submarine will likely never be solved.

Patriot’s Point

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What would be a visit to Charleston, without stopping by the USS Yorktown? We elected to come back here after taking off from the same point to ferry over to Ft. Sumter the day before. Having put in a solid day of touring around already, our visit here was admittedly short in comparison, but we already had an idea of what we wanted to see and where it was.

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This was my husband’s field of expertise. Being a bit tuckered at this point in the day and the heat, I might have unabashedly found an oasis in the shade standing under the wing of one of the aircraft.

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The story of Scrappy the dog was the most endearing short story to happen upon while walking among the aircraft, displays and photographs. It’s possible this may have been yours truly’s favorite part of the visit here 😉

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Next up, our final day 3 of our trip…