Tonight we found ourselves cloud watching again while heading into town. Rain clouds are always interesting and never roll in the same!
Tonight we found ourselves cloud watching again while heading into town. Rain clouds are always interesting and never roll in the same!
We were treated to a free air show from our front yard in Cheyenne, WY while the USAF Thunderbirds performed their annual air acrobatics as part of the 2019 Cheyenne Frontier Days celebrations.
My sister-in-law and her husband were in town to see the bull riding competition and stayed with us during their trip. As they prepared to leave, we heard the tell-tale sound of loud aircraft overhead and went outside.
These photos were taken as we sat in the grass and watched the show. They flew northward towards our home over and over as they used the area to prepare their formations and fly over the airshow viewing area (this year at F.E. Warren Air Force Base.
The precision flying on display was nothing short of amazing and was a treat to get to enjoy unexpectedly from the comfort of our own home. The skies were blue with just the faintest clouds here and there; a perfect day for an air show.
My husband and I traded off the mobile and SLR cameras as I bounced back and forth between taking photos and taking videos. Ultimately my husband snagged most of these photos (because he’s pretty handy with photography). We both loved the opportunity to get shots of the jets flying in front of and around the moon still visible in the late morning sky.
This shot was similar to the jets in formation above, but the contrast was terrific against the clouds and if you zoom in, you can almost make out the pilots in each cockpit.
I can’t fathom the knowledge and training that goes into making performances like these look so smooth. Undoubtedly, it’s a lot of skill and trust amongst teammates.
Even with a strong telephoto lens, this guy was wayyyyy up there.
By the time this formation finished, it looked almost like the outline of a morning glory in bloom. The timing was exact and each jet was in identical position from each of the four points while a fifth jet flew straight up from the middle.
All in all, a really fantastic opportunity to get to see the USAF Thunderbirds in action and be in awe of a tremendous team of airmen. We look forward to seeing them again next year hopefully!
That time of year for interesting weather nearly every day. Makes for fun cloud watching though!
We spotted this juvenile robin calling for its mother in our back yard this afternoon. It’s feathers weren’t grown out yet and it could only hop about as it tried to stay hidden next to hedges and tree lines while it waited for lunch to be delivered.
A sweet little sign of summer.
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.
Gathering storm clouds roughly a mile from arriving at our home are a foreboding picture. It’s storm season here in Cheyenne, WY!
When things are good, Fury can go without her cone and safety suit under careful supervision. We try to do it as often as we can for short moments to let her groom herself and just feel good. I don’t blame her for getting a little wiggly and crazy in these moments 🙂
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Everywhere we walked, there was a small scene happening in every corner or outcropping.
The sense of tranquility here translated to the tourists. Despite having a large number of visitors strolling about, it was still very quiet.
Who doesn’t want a red bridge flanked on both sides by planers of overflowing flowers in their own back yard?
Walking pathways went on and on in a chain of discovered serendipities!
Ok, really, I could just build a little cottage for us right here on the water.
It also just so happens that Magnolia Gardens has a petting zoo of a myriad of local animals, including several peacocks!
The stillness was a welcome respite.
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.
The turtles were equally entertaining as they were brave, given that they sunned themselves with the constant threat of nearby alligators.
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.
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.
The swamp garden was a bird watcher’s delight!
And speaking of all things related to birds, who knew Audubon himself frequented the plantation so often?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
The plantation still serves as an events center and houses polo horses.
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!
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.
Most 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
A collage of photos depicting some of the restoration work before and afters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😉
Next up, our final day 3 of our trip…
It has been far, far too long since we went on a vacation. Thus, a few weeks ago, we decided to simply book tickets and head to a mutually-agreed upon locale that would offer military history interest for the Mr. and flowers and nature for the Mrs. Charleston, South Carolina it was!
We stayed in nearby Mount Pleasant which was only a short drive from historic downtown (and frankly, much easier to navigate when driving).
Our visit to Fort Sumter was surprisingly interesting. I say surprisingly as I went along with my husband thinking I had the general knowledge of what occurred here and it’s place in history. As is the case with many historical sites one visits, there was much more to be learned.
The first impression I had was how bare the fort was. After so many years of destruction and reconstruction, there are only brick walls and a small number of cannon. On one level it’s very much what you expect.
This Rodman cannon is massive. You could easily place a basketball into the firing end. The size of the entire body is mind boggling that it could even be manipulated, turned or maneuvered. I can’t fathom what it was like to fire.
These brick passages offer some of the only shade against the relentless sun and heat.
The views of the expansive Charleston Harbor and open ocean contrast with just how dug in the soldiers must have felt, making their final stand in such a small piece of land.
This illustration caught my eye depicting what the harbor might have looked like on the outside as well as the interesting viewpoint of how the siege may have been watched from Charleston.
Historic Downtown & Rainbow Row
We decided to try to fit in some walking around historic downtown Charleston in an afternoon. This was a weather-based and traffic-based decision as it was evident this day was the coolest day of our vacation and competition for parking would only get worse into the weekend.
For me, the real beauty of the historic homes were the doors, gates, gardens and details. The homes were gorgeous and obviously well-cared for, given their age. But the details made the house. Diligent attention had been paid to each shrub, gate, light and entry way. Just beautiful.
Naturally one can’t go to downtown Charleston and not see Rainbow Row. The trees, being Spring and all, hid parts of these lovely ladies. But their colors were true to every photo I’ve ever seen of them.
The streets were quite narrow, and there was no room to stand back further to get a wider view. (Note to self: Buy a wider lens!). But it was really a pleasant scene with carriages coming and going, the sound of an ice cream truck tinkering along and these serene rainbow homes.
White Point Garden
It was at this point in the day that this fair blogger had been in the full-on sun of Ft. Sumter half off the day, and had been walking in the hot rays in downtown after parking in a public deck. Shade was required. White Point Garden was the last on the day’s list as it was just a few blocks south of Rainbow Row. And the park was just perfect with the strong sea breeze coming off the harbor.
While we strolled around, we found historic statues and old cannon positioned outward toward the water. It was really such a perfect spot to end the day. Birds roosted overhead and chattered happily and it gave us the welcome shady respite needed to make the return trek back to the car.
Up next: Day 2…