Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Very Excellent Birthday Surprise

The Writer planned a birthday surprise for me on Saturday, a boat trip to see the Georgetown Lighthouse and the wreck of the Harvest Moon, a pre-Civil War steamer, and shelling on a small island in the Atlantic accessible only by boat, appropriately called Shell Island.

It was so much fun!


Heading out of Georgetown Harbor you can see the working boats, a shrimp trawler (the rest of the fleet was out shrimping) and the local watercraft tow service, the small red boat to the left.


Four rivers converge in Georgetown to become Winyah Bay (the Waccamaw, the Black, the Pee Dee, and the Sampit) and empty in the Atlantic. In the distance is the bridge over the Waccamaw River that takes us out to Waccamaw Neck and Pawleys Island.

Shell Island





A horseshoe crab scrapes its slow way back to the sea.






Tidal pools with crabs and other interesting creatures


The jetty formed by black granite boulders brought down from New England extends 3000 feet out into the sea and protects the shipping channel into the Port of Georgetown.

The shipping channel was dredged out by steam-powered dredges in the 1800s. The sand that was pulled up created a series of small islands along the channel, including Shell Island.


People in the photo are looking for large shells using their feet to find them in the sand.



After a 45 minute walk on the beach, we boarded our boat for the trip back.






A pod of dolphins followed us for miles. You can just see the fin of one in the photo but there were many more, including a mother and calf that swam right alongside the boat and treated us with great views.


No one on our trip found anything like this. It's a whale vertebrae and was found on Shell Island by someone on this boat a few years ago.

Returning to Georgetown Harbor four hours later . . .


A mallard family

greeting committee/guide flotilla

in place







It was definitely worth getting a year older!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Huntington Beach State Park

Just up Ocean Highway from Pawleys Island and its beaches, in Murrels Inlet we have another wild and wonderful place to walk and bike, Huntington Beach State Park. It's a nice bargain for seniors, half the normal price for the year for our car and whoever we want to bring along. And that includes acres of beach, nature programs, hiking and biking trails, and tours of Atalaya, the home of the couple who gave the park lands to the state in 1960.

The road into the park passes through a freshwater marsh lined with wood storks in the trees with many more fishing in the water. On either side are trails and observation platforms occupied by birders laden with their big scopes and camera lenses.


Something caught my eye along the path at the edge of the marsh, a "log" that was moving in the water.

Just don't get too close to the "log"!

You can see another young gator behind and to the right.



This beautiful cedar was on the path to the beach.




I wonder how many storms it has stood through and survived through the years.














I thought I would give you a break from beach pictures so we will just stop here in the parking lot.

I agree!


Friday, September 16, 2016

I Can't Help It!

I am smitten with The Salt Life!



I need to get a shirt.





Oops! Maybe not that one!




This one?

Perhaps a window cling for the car?


Anyway, I admit my obsession and apologize in advance for MORE pictures of the sea.


We've had another tropical storm yesterday and we chose Huntington Beach State Park, about 25 minutes up the coast, for our morning beach walk.

Tropical Storm Julia

"Lose your heart to the sea and you will find your soul." - Anonymous

"The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."

-Jacques Cousteau

"Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone." Anonymous

Last night we were returning home from a history lecture. The full moon was playing peekaboo with the clouds, we were going right past the turnoff to the beach. We had to stop. The second visit in one day!

We heard the boom of the surf before we even got out of the car.

The waves were wild and loud and pounding right up to the dunes. The brilliant light reflected in the roiling water was like a million twinkling stars.

We were mesmerized.


"When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea,

and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise,

and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused."

— Rainer Maria Rilke


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Peculiarities of Older Houses

When we bought our "new" house, it came with several features that were probably quite modern and classy back when it was built. Now they are dated, undesirable, and in a some cases, useless. Take for instance our built-in, fall-out-of-the-cupboard-when-you-open-the-door ironing board.

This one is not ours but it's close to it. The Writer removed the ironing board (made of wood with heavy black iron legs) from the cupboard before I could get a photo, but this is what it looked like. It was dark and dusty and old.


Maybe if I looked like this when I ironed the two items a month I iron, I would have kept it.

(By the way, do real people sit down to iron? I stand and move all around the ironing board to get the best angle on the piece I'm ironing. Maybe that's just me!)






Now, what to do with this odd space, only 3 1/2 inches deep.




I got an idea!

It's now very useful. Unlike in a deeper cupboard, you can see what you have.

Another peculiarity of the house: see the smoke alarm on the right? It is at the beginning of the hallway which is 20 feet long. In that 20 feet of hallway there are three smoke detectors and one carbon monoxide detector.

To be sure to be sure!


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pawleys Island Beach This Morning


Our new beach ensemble!

Chairs with canopies? None left anywhere at this time of year. Chairs at a height that we can gracefully arise from the sand? In September this is the only color left within a radius of 30 miles in any direction of Georgetown.

It does make it easy to spot our chairs when we come back from walking.

The umbrellas attach to the chairs and are semi useful, as long as there is no wind to blow them inside out.

I could hear this plane flying along the beach before I could see it. It made a heavy thrumming sound in the air you could feel as well as hear. The engine is on top of the plane and the propeller is behind the engine. I tried to look it up and the only thing I can find that looks like it is a "top secret Navy Seal" seaplane. You think it could be?


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Reduced! Now Only $11.5 Million!

We were wandering some back roads around Georgetown as we do and came upon this old rice plantation on the Pee Dee River. Upon looking up information about it, we found out that it is for sale. And even better, the price was reduced from $15 to $11.5 million! (Nothing gauche like a For Sale sign in the yard at those prices!)

Chicora Wood Plantation was first established about 1732 and in 1809 inherited by Robert F.W. Allston.

In 1838 Allston had the original house enlarged and remodeled for his wife Adele and their nine children.

Robert Allston became one of the South Carolina's most successful rice planters with seven rice plantations on the Pee Dee River -- 15,000 producing acres and 630 slaves -- before the Civil War. Allston also became a state senator and representative for 24 years, and South Carolina's 67th governor.

" The manor house and eight existing dependencies were meticulously restored as close to the original as possible based on Allston family records," according to Sotheby's ad for the property.

This photo of the drawing room is from their ad.

Besides 1000 beautiful acres on the river, the property includes: a former school house and caretaker's cottage restored as guest houses overlooking the river, tennis courts, formal garden; the summer kitchen, smokehouse, driver's house, carriage house, rice threshing mill, rice shipping barn and various other barns, and the gatekeepers cabin, all restored to their time period with "the utmost care".

Here is a little more description from the ad:

"Entering the main house the foyer greets you with a grand staircase, a large formal drawing room to the right and an exquisite dining room to the left, each with massive doors, ornate chandeliers and elegant window treatments. The drawing room is a bright and cheerful gathering place with large jib windows that overlook the formal garden and the peaceful Pee Dee. The formal dining room, elegantly embellished, overlooks majestic live oaks adorned with Spanish Moss. The kitchen has a cozy fireplace, abundant cabinet space and opens to a lovely breakfast room. Beneath the house is the “winter” kitchen with original fireplace, mantle, bread oven and root cellar. Through the breezeway is the former servant’s hall, now a large brick-floored bedroom with bath and fireplace. "

Well? Are you getting out your checkbook? Are you ready to move in?

Just a bit more about the Allstons. Too old to fight in the Civil War, Robert Allston continued to produce rice in spite of the fact that the Union blockade of Southern ports made it nearly impossible to get the rice to market. He died in 1864, and when the war ended, the family fled. The property was heavily mortgaged and ransacked and damaged by the freed slaves. However, Adele, his impoverished wife, managed to regain Chicora Wood eventually with the help of one young daughter, Elizabeth.

Interestingly, the daughter returned to the plantation and tried herself to return the family's fields to production of the rice. The fields were overgrown and badly damaged, rice seed, fertilizer, and implements for planting gone, but Elizabeth was determined -- and desperate to keep the land she so loved. A young Southern Belle, she was a woman very much out of her element in farming and running a business, "surviving in a man's works and in a society in upheaval."

In spite of her efforts, for several reasons (a main one being the lack of skilled laborers because freed slaves had no interest in returning to the backbreaking work even for wages) rice was never again a viable crop in South Carolina.

Impoverished and in another effort to save her home, Elizabeth Allston Pringle wrote two books, Chronicles of Chicora Wood about growing up at Chicora and A Woman Rice Planter about her years of trying to bring the rice back into production. I am about half way through the first book and I want it to never end! She is a wonderful writer. Here's a little sample:

"At the end of May my father's entire household migrated to the sea, which was only four miles to the east of Chicora as the crow flies, but was only to be reached by going seven miles in a rowboat and four miles by land. The vehicles, horses, cows, furniture, bedding, trunks, and provisions were all put into great flats, some sixty by twenty feet, others even larger, at first dawn and sent ahead. Then the family got into the row boats and were rowed down the Pee Dee, then through Squirrel Creek, with vines tangled above them, with water lilies and flags and wild roses and scarlet lobelia all along the banks, and every now and then the hands would stop their song a moment and call out, 'Miss, a alligator!'. And there on the reeds and marsh in some sunny cove lay a great alligator basking in the sun, fast asleep. As soon as the sound of the oars reached him, he would plunge into the water, making great waves on which the boat rose and fell in a way suggestive of the ocean itself.

" The way was teeming with life; birds of every hue and note flew from tree to tree on the banks, here and there on top of a cypress, a mother hawk could be seen sitting in her nest looking down with anxious eye, while around, in an ever-narrowing circles flew her fierce mate, with shrill cries, threatening death to the intruder. No one who has not rowed through these creeks in the late spring or early summer can imagine the abundance and variety of life everywhere."

Elizabeth lived on at Chicora Wood until she died in 1921.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

My First Hurricane (sort of), Hermine

Thursday night the first hurricane of the season, and my first hurricane ever, was poised to hit Florida from the gulf side of the state and continue across Florida and up the Atlantic coast with Georgetown targeted for the heaviest rainfall.

Thursday night we enjoyed an ice cream cone and free music in the park along with lovely cool breezes from the harbor.

Sandbags were stacked in a trailer, at the ready in case the storm surge threatened to send water over the docks and onto Front Street.

By the time it hit here in the early hours of Friday, Hermine had been downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm.

The downpours of rain continued all day and by noon the wind began to blow. We lost electricity several times during the day.

Sometime in the night Friday the storm swooped on up the coast leaving us with lots of puddles, branches in the yard, one of the neighbor's shutters blown off, and on Saturday the most beautiful day you can imagine. The sun shining, humidity gone, cool breezes blowing ... what a reward for weathering the storm!

We headed for the beach at Pawleys Island early, but we weren't the first ones there. Several people picking up shells, fishermen, and a few surfers beat us.

We brought our coffee, walked, and then sat and read for an hour, enjoying the dry, cool air the storm had left us with.

These two big horseshoe crab shells had been brought in by the tide. The largest one is abut 14 inches long and maybe 10 inches wide.

Horseshoe crabs are fascinating creatures. First of all, they aren't crabs. And they have been here since before the dinosaurs and haven't changed much since.

The pointy tail thing is not a stinger, it's a rudder and is especially useful for righting themselves when they get turned upside down.

If you have ever had a shot, you can thank a horseshoe crab that you didn't get an infection. Their blood contains amoebocytes that the FDA uses in testing drugs and surgical implants for bacteria, a procedure that has saved millions of patients' lives (though that's not true for the crabs; fifteen to 20 percent die in the process). Each quart of horseshoe crab blood costs drug companies about $15,000.

The one on the right is probably a female as they grow to be larger than the males. They are 10-11 years old before they are mature and ready to reproduce.

This is a holiday weekend in the States, Labor Day -- sort of the official end of the carefree of summer. Families celebrate with a 3-day weekend of picnics, last days at the lake or the beach, and the children all go back to school on Tuesday.

Happy Labor Day, American friends!