Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Old Friends and New Friends

Wow, what big rain we just had!  There is standing water everywhere and the skies are still full and mean looking.  Some of the lightning-thunder strikes were less than a mile away and they startle me so that I always make noise with them and that scares poor Jake even more.  Actually he is pretty good with thunder.  Most dogs quake – he just gets a bit uncomfortable.

Before the rains came we got in our walk for the day and it felt so good.  Of course the mosquitoes are out in force and the sky was threatening but we didn’t have any problems – just fun.   Yesterday we did the trail on our bikes which was nice except that way Jake doesn’t get his exercise.

So anyway – we have had a couple of days of friends and fun.  On Monday evening we invited our camp host, Pat, to join us for cocktails and dinner.  Pat was the host here last year when we visited and I have followed his very entertaining blog ever since.  He doesn’t write when he is living his everyday life in Columbia, SC but when he travels in his sixteen foot Casita, he writes about his exciting adventures in his blog.  He somehow manages to make even mundane things like cleaning the public restrooms here at the campground interesting!  And we found out that we have more in common than just Buck Hall Recreation Area.  Our politics are similar, we all love to travel and he spent his life as a professional photographer.  You will enjoy his blog so check it out HERE.  Dinner lasted until we couldn’t handle the insects any longer so actually, given better conditions, we would have built a big fire and enjoyed some after dinner adult beverages.  Next time….we have another week here!

Yesterday we met up with longtime friends, Ray and Lucy.  You will remember them from our travels last summer in Idaho and Utah and then again when we met up in Bullhead City, AZ for a reunion.  Our friendship always just picks up where it left off and there are always many big laughs and lots of hugs.

They brought with them some new friends for us – Jack and Juanita who are from Nebraska but, like us and Ray and Lucy, they are full-timers in their RV.  (It really is hard these days when someone asks us where we are from.  Is it South Carolina where we lived for 5 years, California where we were born and spent the majority of our lives, or is it Arizona where we spent this past winter?  I don’t know!!)

So the six of us met at Red’s Ice House on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant.  Red’s is an all-time favorite for Kirby and I and we have enjoyed many hours there in the past.  We didn’t bring Jake this time but we usually do as they are so dog friendly on the patio.  It was too hot and humid to leave him in the car while we ran some errands.  We enjoyed a good lunch and then they came back out to Buck Hall with us to check it out.  Hopefully before we leave here next week they will be able to spend some time here.

And for now, the rain is still around and I am still hearing some thunder so I guess we are in for more of this big storm.  Already everything is a brighter green.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Palmetto Trail

We walked a bit of the Palmetto Trail from the trailhead again today and I took too many photos as usual and now can't decide what ones to publish.  It is so beautiful and I want to share it so hang with me here, OK? (I will keep most of them small so remember that you can click on them at any time to see them larger with more detail)
As you know, this is my usual view - Kirby's back.  That is a good thing as today I spotted and swatted a big mosquito on his shoulder.  The mosquitoes were terribly thick.  We had sprayed repellent before leaving the camper and it did help.
This is just one of the areas where the mosquitoes are growing.
The ferns are growing wild everywhere.  Living most of my adult life in Southern California where ferns only grow in pots in an atrium I am continually delighted to see them in their natural state.
I love the boardwalks that get us over the bogs and marshes.
There are some areas where these waffle boards have been laid down to help hikers stay out of the wet. We will shortly come to really appreciate them!
This is one of my favorite spots on the trail.
This doesn't capture what I want too well but I hope you can feel the denseness of the forest.  It is true, you can't see the forest for the trees.
More delicate ferns.
OK, I can recall seeing this last year when we were here.  It is a mystery.  A tumble of broken bricks and mortar with some remaining foundation. Of course I want to solve the mystery or at least come up with a plausible story about it.  So, this is what we decided it used to be - a very well hidden illegal STILL!  Just a little Moonshine Maker!  What do you think it might have been?
 I love this forest!
Now the mud was coming and we were glad for the waffle boards.
This is where we had to turn around a few days ago because there was a total pond covering the trail.  Today the water had receded just enough to make it passable.
You can see the waffle board making our way easy over the muck.
Kirby held Jake close by because the other day when we were here, as we discussed a way around the water, we looked and there was Jake laying in it.  Ah, nice cool water!  Dogs!!
Finally we were completely thwarted in our attempt to get to the Intracoastal Waterway via the Palmetto Trail. Way too much mud and water.  We had to turn back again.
Isn't this little bridge charming?
Almost back home......just a few more ferns!

Sunrise at Buck Hall

I missed the sunrise yesterday because I slept too late and was too lazy to get out there with sleep still in my eyes and this morning I didn't think there would be much of a sunrise but there was!  I just had to be patient as it kept getting better.  Then a fisherman launched his boat and I thought, "there go my pictures", but was I ever wrong.  Just look what his wake did to the reflections. 

(In case anyone is wondering about my camera - I use a Nikon D90.  This picture is straight out of the camera but I did shoot it in the "Vivid" mode which enhances the color a bit.)
As the fisherman passed by he yelled at me to take his picture.  So I did -
This little guy was watching the sunrise also.  Notice that this tree is just now leafing out and so many others are already in full leaf.  We all grow and change at different speeds and different times.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Palmetto Trail

Each day we walk a bit of the Palmetto trail.  It runs about 50 feet from our campsite so it is very easy to get to.  We would like to walk more of it but after about three quarters of a mile the trail is in the middle of a small pond!  We tried and tried to find a way around it but it was hopeless.  Maybe if we can keep the rain away for a few days more it will dry up enough that we can get past it.  But in the meantime we walk the part that we can. 
This is the only thing blooming right now.

There are ferns EVERYWHERE!

With all of the rain and damp, the mosquitoes are in full force.  Lots of insect repellent in necessary!

Jake is in heaven here!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sunrise at Buck Hall

I have noticed that when we were here last year it was about a month earlier and the sun rose further south and was easier to photograph.  But how beautiful is this?  I am in heaven here.  Bike rides, walks in the woods and mornings like this on!  I love my life!
 It is the weekend and boats have been keeping the loading ramp busy since before sunrise.

Friday, April 25, 2014

No Hitchikers Allowed

This is what I saw this morning out our back window.  At first I thought it was so cute and grabbed my camera because she didn't see me at all and I could get real close.  Then she disappeared on me and I found her inside my bike bag.  Making a nest!!  I panicked!  We will only be here two weeks and not only that - but I will want to use my bike.

So I made the tough choice to go remove the bag from the bike.  It was already almost a wonderful nest.  They had worked very hard on it.  What a great home they had found for their babies.

I barely got back inside the camper when I saw them both sitting on the handlebars looking for the nest.  Oh, did I feel rotten.  I still do.  But better to have it happen now rather than later.  I hope they find a new home soon.

Post Script:  I just felt so badly for the birds (I researched - they are Carolina Wrens) that I took the bike bag and hung it from a lantern hook.  It didn't take long before I saw some activity in it! I guess I will be needing a new one!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Arrival at Buck Hall Recreation Area

Getting all set up for our stay
I just told Kirby, I need to write my blog because we moved and I am so happy!  We are all happy!  We are back to Buck Hall Recreation Area where we have spent so many happy hours in the past years.  It just feels right and feels natural.  The lawns are green and the trees are that amazing spring green.  The water is in the Intra-Coastal Waterway just like it is supposed to be and our favorite camp host is here like he is supposed to be!  I can hardly wait for morning as so often there are wonderful sunrises over the water. 
This was taken last year when we were here at Buck Hall
 We left our great spot at the SRC (Scientific Research Corporation) parking lot.  What an experience that was.  We got wonderful visits with friends and had good family time. During the week there were cars zooming around all over the place and constant trains moving around.  The weekend was very quiet.  Last night the trains seemed noisier than usual and I don’t think any of us slept that well.  Well, tonight it will be awesome quiet!

We arrived here just before check in time and found our Camp Host, Pat, right there to greet us.  Pat was the host last year when we were here and I have kept up with him on his blog for the past year.  His writing is so fun and interesting.  Please check it out!  Click HERE.

And we are in the same site as last year – number 4 – our favorite of course.  Our door opens to a small lawn area and then the woods.  And the trail begins right behind the trees.  I think it is perfect.  We also have a view of the water.  I took Jake over to the water tonight on his walk and watched a cruising sailboat glide along.  I tried to get Jake excited about it but he really had no interest.  Kirby and I always get excited when we see sailboats….it brings back such good memories.

We took a walk along the Palmetto Trail after we got all set up.  Not too long but long enough for us to enjoy the fresh blooming trees and the gorgeous ferns sprouting up everywhere.  And long enough for Jake to encounter a large wild turkey and chase it up into the trees.  Scared the heck out of me and then I was so excited when I realized what it was.  But not as excited as Jake was - he felt really good about himself after that.  Sorry, Turkey, but that is what dogs do.
The Palmetto Trail is just a little bit down this trail which begins right next to our site.   Love this place!
We plan to be here for another two weeks so you will hear more about Buck Hall, I can promise you that!
We had a very nice sunrise while we were staying in the SRC parking lot.  Paper mill on the right and cranes at the loading docks in the background with the mist rising from the warm earth.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

West Ashley Bikeway

This morning we loaded up our bikes and drove into West Ashley (an area of Charleston).  I had read about the West Ashley Bikeway and wanted to give it a try.  Ah, but I do love being retired and being able to do these things during the week.

We parked the truck near Wappoo Road and found the little bit of paved road that headed east.  The trail is short - just two and a half miles but it is beautiful.   Parts of the trail are very rough where big tree roots have taken over and crumpled the asphalt.  I didn't want to go too fast!  But we road along a small creek for a bit, saw lovely ponds and bridges and ended up at the Ashley River.  What we didn't see were other bikers.  Only 2 walkers the whole way and back.

I only carried my pocket camera so the photos aren't what they should be.
No, Kirby is not falling off his bike.  He spotted lots of turtles and stopped to enjoy them.

Charleston Visit

We haven't stopped since we got here!  We continue to stay in the parking lot and that is working out really well.  The weekend was awesome as it was so quiet.  But of course it rained all weekend.  But now the sun is out and we are enjoying some absolutely perfect Charleston spring weather.

We have filled our time with family and friends.  And running a few errands in familiar territory.  We had pre, pre Easter with the family and then we had pre-Easter and then finally Easter.  Lots and lots of family time and it has been fantastic!

We now have some young women in the family.  Carey, me, Hannah and Christie.
Grandson Brendan and his sweetie, Carey.
Grandson Casey and his sweetie, Hannah.
We had a blast dying Easter Eggs.
Living in the back parking lot of the company I used to work for has it's benefits too.  We have had a nice steady stream of visits from old friends.  Some of these folks I haven't seen in over a year so we have had fun catching up on each other's lives.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Full Circle

Thirteen months ago we headed out in our fifth wheel, leaving behind our home of almost 6 years, many friends and our family.  I have no idea how many miles we have traveled but it was A LOT.  Now we are back right where we started from.

We even went back to the same RV park where we spent the winter.  Same management, same bad water and same high prices.  But we were only at Oak Plantation for one night this time and now - now we are parked in the parking lot of the company where I used to work.  And it is pouring rain outside!
This picture was taken yesterday shortly after we got set up.  In the background is the place where I worked as Executive Assistant.  The owner of the property gave us permission to camp here.  It is just over the bridge from our daughter!  It was her idea and I think it is working out quite nicely so far.  First off, some of my former co-workers stopped by for cocktail hour.  And, one of those was my former boss who was/is just one of my very best ever friends. I was so fortunate to be able to work for such an incredible person and it warmed my heart to see him drive up.  I got good hugs from him!

Then it was a quick trip over to my daughter's home.  None of us could wait to see the dogs reaction to seeing each other again after a year.  Let me tell you - they don't forget each other!  They were all so, so happy and excited!  After about 45 minutes they finally slowed down and relaxed. 
Now this is some yellow dogs!  From the left - Socks, Lacy and our Jake. They really do love each other.
The rain has come and will be here for a couple more days.  In the meantime we will sleep here and then hang out at Christie's home.  We are making curry for everyone tomorrow.  I am so happy to be here!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fernandina Beach and the Palace Saloon

So which pirate do you think is the most salty of the two?
Well, we did make it into Fernandina Beach today even with all of the rain.  We just dressed accordingly and headed out. (that means that I wore boots and a rain jacket with a hat.  Kirby just dressed as Kirby) 
We both have camo hats!
Kirby got very excited when he saw that the Palace Saloon had one of his favorite IPAs - Sweetwater.  I had a Shock-top which was light and nice.  Most of the time we were the only ones there.  Lonely bartender.  We were a bit confused at first because we remembered a doorway to another room.  Sure enough - there it was, covered by a very large piece of furniture.  Sealed off for some reason or the other.
My picture does not do this bar justice.  It is beautiful!
One of the things that I noticed was a cigarette dispenser.  I haven't seen one in years and years.  They may be out there but I haven't seen them.  What blew me away was the price.  $7.00!  That is amazing!  $.35 per cigarette!  Oh, my!  How can anyone afford them?  Maybe it was just a prop. But it looked real.

After we enjoyed our brews, the rain had pretty much stopped so we wandered down to the marina and enjoyed viewing where just seven short years ago we sat on our boat.  We miss that life so much.  So, after drying our tears we found the fish market and picked up a pound of very, very fresh shrimp for dinner tonight!  A bit of shrimp and a Caesar salad with a nice bottle of wine - it doesn't get much better than that!
This was us once upon a time!

We never, ever tire of being in a marina round the boats.