Category Archives: At Home

The Adventure Continues

That title is not to imply that we lacked for adventure last week when Hurricane Matthew had us in his sights.  We live in evacuation zone A on the South Carolina coast – that is the zone closest to the ocean and so the first to be evacuated.  On Tuesday, the governor called for all zones to evacuate to somewhere 100 miles from the coast.  By Wednesday she had modified this to a Zone A evacuation beginning immediately.  We made arrangements to evacuate to a friend’s house in Myrtle Beach about nine miles from the coast, but we were in no hurry to leave and kept hoping the forecast would change in our favor.  This led me to studying the new spaghetti charts (for those of you who don’t have to worry about hurricanes, the spaghetti charts are the hurricane path as predicted by some twenty different computer models) as they were updated every six hours.  These models kept predicting Matthew would turn out to sea somewhere around Charleston which would reduce the impact on us.  By Thursday, when Susan took her walk around the neighborhood, there were just six other cars left in the development (which  has hundreds of units).  Finally, we evacuated on Friday afternoon.  The roads were deserted, so my worries about being stuck in traffic with fellow evacuees were unfounded.

The wind and rain didn’t begin until the middle of Saturday morning.  We then started watching the hurricane coverage and didn’t stop watching until we lost power about eight hours later.  Matthew never made the predicted turn out to sea.  It actually made landfall a little north of Charleston and then plowed straight up the coast into North Carolina.  Normally, the winds are weaker after the eye passes you.  Do to an approaching cold front from the west, the winds were much stronger on the back side of this hurricane.  Things were settling down by about 6 PM, but the exit roads from our refuge were flooded so there was no possibility of returning home.

We went home Sunday morning with only a few minor floods to drive through.  Our home escaped essentially unscathed.  We had about 18 inches of water in the storage room on the ground floor which got into my bucket of tools.  There were a few shingles in the back yard, but they don’t seem to be from our unit.  And we had power!  The friends we had been staying with evacuated to our house Sunday night as they still had no power.

The HOA has cleaned the debris from the front of our unit.  It will be weeks or months before the coast will recover.  There are trees down everywhere.  Traffic lights are turned in the wrong direction.  Signs are upside down, crooked, fallen over, and gone.  Of the dozens of walkways to the beach in our immediate area, only one is functional.  The others are some variation of this:We lost about fifteen feet of dunes.  Still we are thankful that we came through it relatively well.

Saturday, we put Matthew behind us and head to Fort Lauderdale to board a flight to Prague.  We are well aware what would have happened to our plans if Matthew arrived a week later.  After a few days in Prague on our own, we will join an OAT tour of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.  At the end of the tour, we will stay in Budapest for a few more days before flying to Rome to join a Celebrity transatlantic crossing back to Fort Lauderdale.  Our friends Jean and Ron from Minnesota will be joining us for the entire trip.  While we have traveled together on five international trips, the Fort Lauderdale airport will mark the first time we have met in the USA.

As always, thank you for following our travels and please remember that we love to hear from you! 

On the Road Again

Well actually we will be on the road, plane, ship, raft, and doubtless other modes of transportation; but who’s counting?  On Wednesday we leave on an Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) trip to Peru.  We expect highlights to be Macchu Pichu and Lake Titicaca, where the people live on floating islands made entirely of local reeds.  I have been to Macchu Pichu twice before and it is at the top of my short list for “most beautiful place on earth”.  While I have seen most of Peru previously, it will be an entirely different experience doing it with OAT – more culture and more interaction with the people.  Another couple from the development where we used to live in Fort Mil, LouAnn and Robert, is joining us on the Peru trip.

Following Peru, we take a cruise on Oceania from Los Angeles to Miami through the Panama Canal.  We have heard a lot of good things about Oceania, so we are looking forward to an informative trip with a lot of good food.  My former boss and his wife, Win and Nancy, are joining us on the cruise.  We will also see Susan’s cousin Anita in Miami.

Next we fly from Miami to Mexico City where we will spend a week and a half until our house is a available in San Miguel de Allende (SMA).  Mexico City was not on our radar until we heard so many people rave about it in SMA last year. 

Finally we go to SMA for the months of February and March. We are really looking forward to seeing it again and getting involved in the numerous activities. We are very fortunate that seven different pairs of people in the friends or family category will be in SMA at the same time we are. This includes Susan’s sister Linda and her husband Arnie, our daughter Carrie and granddaughter Abreaze, longtime friends Andrea and Richard, fellow travel companions on numerous trips and repeats from last year Jean and Ron, fellow home free adventurers Kaye and Larry, fellow travelers to Myanmar this spring Ellyn and Ken, and fellow bridge players and friends from last year in SMA Lynn and Bill. We are truly amazed at the number of people we know that will be in SMA this year!  I am hoping I didn’t oversell SMA in the blog last winter. 

We will be blogging as usual, but posts may be a little less frequent as I am not expecting great wifi in Peru and we don’t spring for the expensive wifi on ships. Also, I will try not to be repeat past blog topics from last winter. As always, the thing we enjoy most about the blog is hearing from you – so don’t be bashful!

  The picture is from Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens. You are looking at a live oak tree with trunk and limbs wrapped in lights and reflected in a pond. The other lights you see scattered around the pond are floating candles. In addition to the electric lights, there are well over a thousand hand lit candles lighting the paths in luminaries, on stands, on trees, and in ponds. This has nothing to do with our upcoming trip, but I liked the picture and the tree.

Gullahs and the Sea Islands

The Gullahs are descendants of slaves who live along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia.  They arrived in the United States from many countries in Western Africa. Because of their relative isolation here, they developed a common culture based on their African origin; but also incorporated elements of culture from their new homeland. They have a verbal language known as Gullah.  

The sea islands on the Sourh Carolina and Georgia coast were originally inhabited primarily by the Gullah. Some examples are Hilton Head and Kiawah. In both of those cases, the Gullah have been displaced by resorts and developments catering to the wealthy.  However, a few of the islands still are occupied primarily by Gullah and their descendants. 

This week we went to a Boz Scaggs concert in Charleston (we both enjoyed the concert) and then went to Beaufort, SC the next day. Beaufort is the second oldest town in SC (Charleston is oldest).  We walked around the historic area of town with houses and live oaks from the 1700’s and 1800’s, toured the primarily Gullah island of St. Helena, and visited the beautiful Hunting Island State Park.  

 Beaufort has many beautiful old homes, but they are all partly obscured by live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss.  

 Many of the live oak limbs overhang the streets and require clearance signs.  

 The Spanish moss is so abundant it is hanging from the telephone lines. 

 The Penn Center on St. Helena island was founded in 1862 as the first school in the south for people newly freed from slavery. It is a sprawling campus with many residential and school buildings. It was reorganized as an industrial and agricultural school in 1901. Because of its remote location, it was a safe refuge during the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King stayed here off and on for three years and wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech here.  

 This was taken at one of the former plantations on St. Helena Island. The marsh views here seemingly went on forever. The bench is a popular design in the SC low country known as a joggling board. You sit on it and rock side to side.  

 The beach at Hunting Island State Park reminded us of the South Pacific. 

 Beaufort is also home to one of the few national cemeteries where both Union and Confederate soldiers are buried. 

We really enjoyed our brief stay in Beaufort and hope to return next year for their home tour. 

Doing Fine and Listening to Zydeco Music – 2

I have been having considerable trouble with the blog sending e-mails advising of new posts.  A few of you received multiple  notices on my most recent post over the last week.  Most of you received nothing.  Some of you were receiving duplicate notifications on past posts.  I have switched to  a new mail plugin and have consolidated into a single e-mail list.  If you receive this, it is a good sign that the new plugin is working. I think  all of you received a notice today for the previous post and this duplicate is because I wasn’t patient enough waiting for todays notice to be sent.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Thanks to everyone who asked how we were doing after Aquageddon. Someone far more clever than I came up with the name, but I think it appropriate and I have adopted it. I am happy to report that we are doing fine and that Pawleys Island was spared from the brunt of the storm. The most we suffered was two severe cases of cabin fever. Some of the roads near us were flooded briefly from the rain. We were never in danger of our house flooding and we never lost any utilities. We know we can travel between Charleston and North Carolina without difficulty.

The only problem after the storm is that our beach suffered severe erosion.  But this was due to the “king tides” that occurred simultaneously with the storm. The moon was at its closest point to the earth and the moon was full which results in higher than normal tides. The tide were certainly higher than any we have seen before. We are hopeful that the winds and natural sand movement will begin to rebuild the dunes over the winter.

 What used to be a sloped dune is now a sharp cliff that is as tall as I am!

 The tides from the marsh approached our patio. We had never seen tidal water beyond the shrub line previously.

It felt good to get out of the house again. Sunday, we went to Shrimpfest in Little River, SC on the border with NC. We were planning to go on Saturday, but we cancelled because of more heavy rain – just what we didn’t need. Our main reason for attending was to see Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas. We were hopeful that they would play Sunday after being rained out on Saturday and luck was with us.

 That’s Nathan on the accordion and be sure to note the scrub board player on the left. For an example of zydeco music, click here.  How can you listen to that music and not tap your feet, smile, and be happy. Et Toi!  Nathan is from Louisiana where (as he told us repeatedly) the crawfish have soul and the alligators sing the blues. Et Toi!

Today, we visited Brookgreen with our new travel, Facebook, and blog friends, Kaye and Larry. It is amazing how the common love of travel can bring strangers together and turn them instantly into friends.

 

Doing Fine and Listening to Zydeco Music

Thanks to everyone who asked how we were doing after Aquageddon. Someone far more clever than I came up with the name, but I think it appropriate and I have adopted it. I am happy to report that we are doing fine and that Pawleys Island was spared from the brunt of the storm. The most we suffered was two severe cases of cabin fever. Some of the roads near us were flooded briefly from the rain. We were never in danger of our house flooding and we never lost any utilities. We know we can travel between Charleston and North Carolina without difficulty.

The only problem after the storm is that our beach suffered severe erosion.  But this was due to the “king tides” that occurred simultaneously with the storm. The moon was at its closest point to the earth and the moon was full which results in higher than normal tides. The tide were certainly higher than any we have seen before. We are hopeful that the winds and natural sand movement will begin to rebuild the dunes over the winter.

 What used to be a sloped dune is now a sharp cliff that is as tall as I am!

 The tides from the marsh approached our patio. We had never seen tidal water beyond the shrub line previously.

It felt good to get out of the house again. Sunday, we went to Shrimpfest in Little River, SC on the border with NC. We were planning to go on Saturday, but we cancelled because of more heavy rain – just what we didn’t need. Our main reason for attending was to see Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas. We were hopeful that they would play Sunday after being rained out on Saturday and luck was with us.

 That’s Nathan on the accordion and be sure to note the scrub board player on the left. For an example of zydeco music, click here.  How can you listen to that music and not tap your feet, smile, and be happy. Et Toi!  Nathan is from Louisiana where (as he told us repeatedly) the crawfish have soul and the alligators sing the blues. Et Toi!

Today, we visited Brookgreen with our new travel, Facebook, and blog friends, Kaye and Larry. It is amazing how the common love of travel can bring strangers together and turn them instantly into friends.

The Adventure Continues

We begin our next adventure this Friday with another transatlantic crossing by ship followed by six weeks in Italy, two weeks in central France, and ending with two weeks in Switzerland. (See full itinerary here.) We are dividing our time in Italy with two week stays in apartments in Sorrento, Siena, and Vernazza (the Cinque Terre). France is going to be a two week car trip focused on Burgundy, Dordogne, and the Loire Valley. For variety, we signed up for a guided tour in Switzerland with an even split between hiking and sightseeing. Unfortunately, the trip has not met its minimum travelers yet; so it may be cancelled. If that is the case, we, plan to follow a modified version of the tour on our own.

You may recall that last year we did month long stays in the large cities of Paris and Seville. We both really enjoyed the two week stay in the smaller city of San Sebastián last year, so we decided to try that for our time in Italy this year. We also think we can get more exposure to the countryside from the smaller cities.

After living on the edge last year by flying to Florida the day the ship sailed, we are flying down a day early this year.  You may recall last year our plane hit a bird while landing in Myrtle Beach which triggered a mandatory mechanical inspection. It is really difficult catching up to a transatlantic crossing if you miss the ship, so we opted for a little breathing room this year.  We are spending the day prior to the cruise visiting family and friends in the area.

We don’t plan to spend the big bucks for slow internet service on the ship, so we will be out of communication for a while.  We may have limited internet at some of our port stops and we will try to post something if possible. However, don’t expect to hear much from us until we reach Italy.

We send all of you our best wishes for a wonderful spring and summer. Remember, the thing we enjoy most is hearing from you; so please write us once in a while.  

 On Our Deck with Marsh in Background

 

Plantation Tour

Last Friday we went on a tour of plantations in the area. We actually enjoy this tour more than the Charleston home tours because the grounds are usually as beautiful as the home. The weather forecast for the day was gloom and doom with rain forecast for the whole day. However, we awoke to partly sunny skies so we wolfed down our breakfast, put on our wrist bands, and headed out the door. You get a map that shows the houses open for the tour. This year there were seventeen properties on the tour including plantations(10), churches(3), houses in town(2), a former slave street, and a society hall.  We had decent weather until about 3 PM when the skies opened up.  Unfortunately, I got caught in the monsoon leaving one of the houses in town (Susan was smart enough to wait in the car). At that point we had seen all but 4 properties, so we decided to be thankful the rain held off that long and head home. Following are some pictures from the tour.  

 Most of the plantations had a live oak allee leading up to the house as seen in Gone With The Wind.  You may guess that I love live oaks – that is a type of oak, not a comment on their health.  

 Litchfield Plantation is now operated as a bed and breakfast.  

 I liked this sign at the edge of the church cemetery.

  This property has been owned by many famous names such as Pawley (we live  Pawleys Island), Allston (it seems like half the plantations were owned by an Allston at one time), Huger (a former congressman, host to President James Monroe at the plantation, and presumably related to the Revolutionary War general of the same name), and Vanderbilt (present owner and I think you have all heard that name) 

 The only rice winnowing building still standing in the area. This is where the rice grains were separated from the chaff.  

 You can’t have too many pictures of live oak allees.  This one is part of an old slave street. The plants growing on top of the limb are resurrection ferns. They turn brown and look dead in dry weather, but turn green when it rains.  

  Entry gate to a plantation. Most plantations are located down long dirt roads, and it is fun and surprising to see what is at the end of the road.  

 This has always been identified as a top of the line Sears kit house. 

 I have a bad case of patio envy! 

 This church ruin was not part of the tour; but I like ruins, so I included it. 

  A bonus owl picture from Brookgreen Gardens

Same Old Story

Last Wednesday we visited the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center just south of Georgetown. It has a history very similar to Hobcaw Barony, which I wrote about last year. The area was initially a number of successful rice plantations. After the end of slavery and a series of hurricanes made the growing of rice uneconomical, the plantations were purchased by wealthy northerners who used them as hunting camps. Ultimately, a far sighted owner would convert the properties to nature reserves.  The Yawkey Wildlife Center occupies fifteen square miles on three islands. During plantation days, the landward part of the property was used as rice plantations and the seaward side was used as homes for the planters to escape the summer humidity and bugs. The area is the first place that Lafayette visited in the US and was also visited by US president Grover Cleveland. 

William Yawkey, an industrialist and owner of the Detroit Tigers, bought part of the site in 1911. He used some of the grounds for an early form of spring training and Ty Cobb was among those who practiced there. William was the uncle of Tom Yawkey and adopted him when Tom’s parents died when he was young. William died at 43 and left his plantation and his holdings in mining, timber, tin, and oil to Tom, who was a millionaire at the age of 16. Tom followed in his uncle’s footsteps, and became the owner of the Boston Redsocks. He treated the team like his family, which perhaps explains why he never won the World Series. He was loyal to his players and kept them on the team after they were past their prime. 

Tom bought up all the adjoining property and created the wildlife reserve that bears his name. He gave the land to the state of South Carolina to use for research and education. There are only two tours a week and each tour is limited to fourteen people. You have to reserve a place on the tours months in advance. The price of the tour is right, it’s free!  While the reserve is owned and operated by the Department of Natural Resources, all expenses are paid by a foundation established by Tom Yawkey. 

  We saw a lot of alligators.

  Tom Yawkey built this church for the former slaves who still lived on the plantation.  

  The property was a mix of marsh, swamp, and forest – particularly long leaf pine forest.  

 Tom’s only house was at his SC plantation.  He stayed at a hotel near the ballpark when he was in Boston. He stayed in this modest house after his bigger, but still rather modest, house burned down.  

 Swans

 

Azaleas, Live Oaks, and Water: The Beauty of Georgetown County

Friday we took a day long tour of thirteen different plantations, homes, and churches dating from the 1700’s to very early 1900’s located in Georgetown County, SC.  This event is sponsored by one of the churches in Georgetown.  This is the first time either of us had explored this area of the county and we found it beautiful and fascinating.  In pre-revolutionary and  antebellum  times, the Georgetown area was one of the wealthiest areas of the country.  The wealth was based on rice, indigo, and long leaf pine.  Four of the signers of the Declaration of Independence came from the Charleston/Georgetown area.  One of the things that surprised me was the prevalence of gun clubs or hunting preserves in the area.  It turns out, the abandoned rice fields are very attractive to migratory birds.  There was one active gun club on the tour owned by six families that share use of the building.  Another home was a private home in the middle of a huge hunting preserve.  Another former gun club had been given to the state of South Carolina and is now a nature reserve.  We are anxious to return there to explore the boardwalk in a water bird nesting area and the walking trails.  We plan to go to Brookgreen Gardens this week to check out the azaleas there.

Following are a few pictures from our plantation tour.

Esterville Plantation Esterville Plantation Belle Isle Plantation

 

And So It Begins . . .

To our family and friends who will miss us, we know who you are.
To the curious, please follow our adventures and enjoy.
To the armchair travelers, we hope our photos and stories will be inspiring and fun to follow.

We welcome your comments as we are surely going to be homesick and missing family,  friends, and our beautiful Pawleys Island beach.

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