Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Oldest ... Everything!

  We have driven past St Augustine, Florida, dozens of times and wished we had time to stop. Last week we made a special trip to see The Oldest Continuously Occupied City In America.  Hm, not only is the city “the oldest,” but so was every other little thing in town!  I’ll show you what I mean but first a little history.

  The area of St. Augustine was claimed for Spain by Ponce de Leon (statue on the right) in 1513.  Fifty-two years later Pedro Menendez de Aviles set sail in 11 ships with 2000 people, including 1000 soldiers, 200 sailors and some 250 wives and children, to establish a proper town.  Due to mass defections along the way, only 800 arrived to do the work!

  In 1586, British pirate Sir Francis Drake paid a visit and sacked and burned the town.  After that and several other devastating fires, a fort and new city walls were completed, built from (fireproof) coquina, a rock formed under the sea made of tiny little coquina shells.

Above, a coquina city gate built in 1739. 

Left, coquina rock construction.  The mortar was made using lime from burnt crushed oyster shells and sand.

  Next we have the Oldest House in St. Augustine.  The first house on this site was built around 1650; this one was built of coquina stone construction and cedar beams in 1702, or parts of it were anyway.  There have been quite a few additions and changes over the years.  

Aviles, The Oldest Street in St. Augustine

 Probably the Oldest Cat in St Augustine, on a very old coquina garden wall.

  The afternoon we arrived, the sun was shining and the temperature was 84 degrees.  The next day, our sightseeing day when we had a tour booked, it was pouring rain and the temperature had dropped into the 40s!  You seriously didn’t think a little rain and numb fingers would stop us though, did you? Of course not.  For 2 1/2 hours our tour guide regaled us with stories of The Oldest This, The Oldest That, and The Oldest Every Other Thing.  We held back the giggles until we were walking back to our hotel and saw this sign.

Come on, St Augustine!  The Oldest Mini Golf Course — TOO MUCH!  

Entrance to the Bridge of Lions

 The history was fascinating and St Augustine is beautiful town.  My photos don’t reflect the wonderful architecture because it was a gloomy, rainy day and hard to take pictures.  

Friday, February 15, 2019

Every Day Should Be About Love

  We had a little Valentine getaway this week so today I am catching up on laundry and reading blogs. I will be back in a day or two to write about our trip, but I wanted you to see this house in St. Augustine, FL, decorated for Valentines Day.

Did you notice the little sign in the foreground?  

  We saw similar signs in the windows of businesses in Flagstaff, Arizona last summer, and now in yards all the way across the country, in St. Augustine, Florida, and wondered about them.  

  Come to find out, there is a neat story behind them. In 2017, a little Jewish boy made the sign for a protest at O’Hare Airport in Chicago of Trump’s attempted Muslim ban.  A photographer caught him and a young Muslim girl exchanging smiles in the photograph below and the photo appeared on the Internet.  It has inspired a campaign against hate that has spread across the U.S. and all around the world. 

  The Hate Has No Home Here Project encourages  communities to declare their homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship to be safe places where everyone is welcome and valued.  

  Their website tells you how to download or obtain free signs if you are so inclined, and you can buy them on Amazon.


What a wonderful message of love, 

for Valentines Day and every day of the year!


Friday, February 8, 2019

The Glendale Mill

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Winter Woods Geometry

  We have taken advantage of three sunny days (in a row!) to get out and enjoy nature minus the bugs and heat of the rest of the year, and minus the rain we have been inundated with since Christmas.

  We tend to work in the morning and then around lunchtime, throw some food in the cooler bag and ask each other, where do you want to have lunch?  Today we settled on Hampton Plantation, a state historic site, and a walk in the winter woods. 

 The camera eye loves the skeletal lines revealed in the winter landscape.  Woodland geometry becomes art with parallel lines of brown, bisected randomly with slim pine and holly branches, and a solitary piece of fence that surely once had a purpose.  Our hike takes us past the remains of the foundation of an old slave cabin, down along miles of overgrown rice fields, their dikes invisible in summer revealed now by the editing of winter.

 Cypress trees have seized an opportunity, taking root  where the golden rice once grew.  The one in the grouping of trees to the right, like no other, has developed with a saddle that split into two trunks.  

We’re in no hurry and meander, stopping frequently to raise our eyes up, up to the birds.  The Writer spots an eagle soaring overhead, I focus my glasses on LBJs (Little Brown Jobs), a flock of tiny feathered puffs, darting near us all along the trail.  They are warblers but the only ones I can identify are Yellow-Rumps (or Butter Butts, as we like to call them).  We sit down by the foundation of the slave cabin to watch a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker searching up, down, and around a tree for his buggy lunch.  


Soon it is time for our lunch — “eating out” without the guilt!  No added salt, sugar, or fat to worry about, no expensive food or tip to leave.  No reservations to call ahead for the best seats in the house, and Bob is welcome, too!  

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Backroads Burger Find

  We always like to take the backroads when we travel because we stumble upon such interesting stuff.  On the way to Edisto State Park, in a little wide spot in the road called Hollywood, SC, we came upon this place.

  It was closed for the winter but I bet it’s a popular spot to eat in the summer (which may or may not have anything to do with the fact that it seems to be the only spot to eat for many miles around!).  

  The “smallest eatery in town” with “the biggest taste” serves up burgers and dogs with a side of humor (“Ketchup!  You’ll RELISH the flavor”) and a dollop of religion (“TASTE and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8).

Or you could  “Pop in” for the “freshest salad in town.”

The artwork is a treat, too, with an imaginative rock waterfall rising straight up from the ocean and the elegant white styrofoam container showing off the fresh salad. 

  You wouldn’t mind sharing the picnic table with a burger, hotdog, and fries, would you?  

  I think we might have to return next summer when the Burger Hut is open! 

Monday, January 21, 2019

The CCC, Segregation, and Edisto Island State Park

Edisto Island State Park is a little piece of heaven on the coast of South Carolina, undeveloped forever, and available for all to enjoy the beach life.  

It gets crowded in the summer, but on a beautiful 68 degree January day it was all ours. Well, we did have to share a few crumbs from our picnic with this guy — obviously an experienced beach bum and fearless beggar!  

We didn’t mind a bit!  

Edisto is one of the first state parks open in the state, one of 16 built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which gave jobs to 3 million Americans in public works projects during the Great Depression.  

The beautiful original bath house still stands behind the sand dunes, having survived some mighty hurricanes since it was built.  

As everywhere on the SC coast, sea turtles are a protected species. Especially vulnerable during the hatching season, nests are carefully protected by the Turtle Patrol which even has its own park vehicle!  

Today all are welcome to enjoy these public lands, but I was surprised to discover it wasn’t always that way.

From their conception until 1966 (1966!!) blacks were not allowed to use the parks in South Carolina.  In 1956 a lawsuit was filed demanding access for blacks.  When it became apparent that the state would lose the lawsuit, rather than complying they simply closed all the state parks completely to everyone!  
For 10 years!  

(A couple state parks opened inferior facilities and small “special areas” for blacks.  Edisto remained closed.)

It wasn’t until 1966 that all South Carolina state parks were reopened with equal access to all citizens.  

I am rather amazed at my Northerner ignorance about segregation.  It never occurred to me that Nature — the ocean, the woods, lakes, beaches, boat landings, paths — could be subject to segregation.  

Today, Martin Luther King Day, seems a good day to think about it.  

MLK at the Penn Center, St Helena Island near Beaufort, SC, where he stayed for 9 months  and worked on his famous I Have a Dream speech. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Gray Days of Winter

Sunday was a gray winter day, damp from two days of cold rain. Happy to get out of the house, we set out for an early morning walk on the Palmetto Trail.

“Winter is the woods' grumpy editor, insisting trees drop all pretense, opening up forgotten vistas, demanding the winding road stay in sight a little longer. 

“Winter cuts all the showy metaphors and the sappy sentimentality of spring and summer, letting the stark landscape and the mustiness of fallen leaves speak for themselves. 

“Winter wants a spare style, browning everything ...

except a bright tangle of bittersweet, a crimson strand of Virginia creeper and the dark green of a lone pine deep deep in the trees.” — Tommy Hays

This tree intrigued me.  The trunk up grew at the edge of Awendaw Creek, then bent out and over the water, then back upward again. At the same time, its thick roots grew up the bank, above the ground rather than underground, developing bark in the process.

This portion of the trail ends in a Francis Marion National Forest campground.  We were surprised to be met with a closed gate and stop sign.

It says the campground is closed “due to the hurricane”.  This can’t be true!  It’s been months since hurricane Florence, the campground received no damage from the hurricane and has been in continuous use since until now.  

We suspect it is closed because of the government shutdown and no one available to keep up with trash pickup and toilet cleaning.

Why blame an old hurricane???