The Upstate Minis have been organizing some fantastic trips, lately, and I’ve been trying to take part in more of these. A few weeks ago Laura and I joined them for their X-Files Mystery Tour to PARI. This time, Jeff Goodman planned a trip down to the “Boneyard” on Bull Island to do some dawn photography. Sadly, Laura wasn’t able to go with us because of work. So, on Friday I swapped the Subaru for her Mini and joined the rest of the group for the drive down.
We had a great, wildly diverse weekend in Charleston, from swamps to beaches to city church yards. When planning this trip, we intentionally stayed an extra night into Monday so that I wouldn’t think about work at all on my first official day of unemployment. That meant that we could take our time coming home, and we did just that.
Laura and I love taking the back roads to and from the low country. Our plan was to drive northeast out of Charleston, then turn north through the Francis Marion National Forest. There was at least one ghost town along the way, and I was sure other interesting places would present photographic opportunities.
As we headed north on 17 I mounted the GoPro to my windshield. I wanted to get video as we crossed the the Cooper River Bridge. The video itself that interesting, but I got a couple of interesting stills. Never mind the reflection of my GPS and XM radio on the dash.
It’s been years since we just hung out on a beach. We were definitely going to make it a part of this trip. Laura grew up just a couple of blocks from the Pacific Ocean, so any time that we get within range of an ocean, she has to see it. After leaving our Governor’s … Read More “A Day at the Beach” »
Charleston has long been known as the “Holy City” because of huge number of historical churches. Since we had some time in the city after our Governor’s School reunion, I wanted to check out a few of these. Specifically, I was looking for some of the signature grave stones that I’ve spotted in historic churches all over the state. Most of these sculptors lived and worked in Charleston, so I expected to find lots of them. I was not disappointed.
Charleston Unitarian Church
Our first stop was sort of spontaneous. On our way back to the College of Charleston from the restaurant where we had our reunion Cathy Ardry suggested a shortcut through the Unitarian Church yard. The passageway connects King Street through to Philips Street, and provides a shady respite from the Charleston Heat.
For our first post-retirement getaway, Laura and I decided to head to Charleston for a reunion of my class from the Governor’s School from 1978. The reunion was to be that Saturday, but we decided to make it a four-day weekend in the Holy City so we could get in as much as possible.
35 years seems like an incredibly long time ago. I was a junior in high school, and the Governor’s School was my first real escape from home. At the time it was a six-week program during the summer at the College of Charleston. My area of concentration was geology, but I also did quite a bit with music, performing at the Dock Street Theater at one point. I also had opportunities to to do things I’d never otherwise be able to do at home, such as crewing an Olympic-class sailboat around the Charleston Harbor.
To say that Governor’s School was a life-changing experience would be an understatement. It was the first real view I had of life beyond the limited confines of Laurens County. People in my community had preconceived notions about me, and if I tried anything beyond what was expected, ridicule was the order of the day. At GS I opened up, and was willing to give just about anything a shot. Nobody there cared about preconceived notions.
I’ve been able to take off on a few excursions over the last couple of months, but Laura really hasn’t had a chance to get away. With her mom in Florida, and since we had at least one day in common for this spring break, we decided to escape down to the Charleston area. However, we weren’t interested in the city itself, but the outlying areas to do a bit of bird watching. Our goal for the first day was the ACE Basin, and Beidler Forest for the second day.
Driving no the interstate was pure madness. It seems that everyone was out for a weekend away. We decided to get off of the interstate and explore some of the side roads. Laura’s comment was that “South Carolina is much prettier once you get off the interstate.”
We drove into Orangeburg, then headed south. On Highway 61 we saw a sign for the community of Sixty-Six. I’d never heard of it before, so we decided to check it out. It was an old railroad community that didn’t turn out to be much. I may have to do some further research. We did drive through Branchville, which has “the oldest railroad junction in the world.” Laura wasn’t sure about that claim, though, so I filled her in on the history of “The Best Friend” of Charleston, one of the first railroads in the US.
So far we had already had a great trip to the South Carolina Low Country. Yesterday we explored Beidler Forest and the ACE Basin, and the weather looked great for more exploration today. The day was already hot and humid, so we decided it would be more of a driving trek than hiking. The trek took us through a large swath of the Francis Marion National Forest.
We started the day by driving onto the Charleston peninsula and touring the area South of Broad. There was the obligatory drive along the battery, but what we enjoyed most was driving through the residential areas and looking at the stately homes with their enclosed gardens. For some reason, I wasn’t in much of a photography mood, so I don’t have any photos of that part of the trip.
From Charleston we crossed the new Cooper River Bridge into Mount Pleasant, then headed north on Highway 17. Eventually we came to the Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge. I had already checked online, and the ferry out to Bull’s Island doesn’t run on Sundays, so we walked out to the pier and watch birds and boat traffic out on the ICW.
We were worried. Not even a real thunderstorm, but the threat of one caused the power to go out for quite awhile. We attended the wine reception at the lodge without power (and AC.) When the large glass windows started acting like a greenhouse, we decided it was time to leave. Fortunately the power came … Read More “Middleton at Night” »
Laura’s goal for the day was to sit by the pool and read. While that would suit me for awhile, I was up for a bit more adventure. I changed into paddling gear and went to find one of the rental kayaks available from the inn. The boat I rented was a Perception Acadia tandem, … Read More “Paddling the Ashley River” »
We got up early enough for breakfast at the Lake House on the grounds. It was a bit odd. There was no one to greet or seat us. We just wandered in and helped ourselves to a very nice full breakfast. I guess they figured that anyone who was there belonged there. After breakfast we … Read More “Middleton Place” »