23 October 2016

Cape Romain Lighthouse Tour

Cape Romain Ligfthouse, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, McClellanville, SC  
The only reason I had the chance to snag a couple of the last tickets for the Cape Romain lighthouse tour was because it had been rescheduled due to the hurricane. The tours are only done four times a year. Lucky me!

Our tour started at the Seewee Visitor Center for a slide show and history presentation by Tommy Graham who has championed the preservation of the lighthouse and done much of the hands on work himself.  He had a wealth of historical information and photographs of the lighthouse keepers to share.
The Cape Romain Lighthouses are a pair of brick lighthouses on Lighthouse Island southeast of McClellanville. The first, built in 1827, and stand 65 feet in height. The second, built in 1857, stands at a height of 150 feet. Both survived Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and although no longer active, they still serve as a visual navigation point during daylight hours. They can also be seen on our department patch. These are truly treasuers of the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge.

Following the presentation we drove on to the McClellanville boat landing to board the Coastal Expeditions boat. The trip was six miles and we couldn't have had a finer day. We nibbled on our picnic as the lighthouses came into view. We had been warned that we might get our feet muddy walking to the lighthouse but to my surprise the boat ramp had us stepping off into water and slippery black pluff mud well over our knees. All the members of our group were good sports as water overflowed and filled boots. One lady took a slip but bravely held her camera high above the water and we all made it. 

Both of the light houses had been opened for us to explore at the base but the steps were too dangerous to climb. Renovation was in progress thanks to Tommy Graham's efforts. The foundation of the old Lighthouse Keeper's home, cistern, and old buoy and a few other items were still there to explore. Swarms of mosquitoes were out in full force and after exploring we waded back through the water (with a walking stick this time!) to the boat.  

There is one more tour for this year on November 20th. 

20 October 2016

Charleston Gardens

Charleston garden, Charleston, SC    
The older part of the peninsula with it's secret gardens, gates and quirkiness always makes for an enjoyable walk. One of the sad things about most new construction is how incredibly boring it is to walk past. In a car perhaps it isn't so obvious but on foot there doesn't seem to be much charm or difference to enjoy from the outside. These folks in the historic district had a lovely formal garden although I did take the shot before our recent wind storm.

Speaking of storms it breaks my heart to walk below my neighborhood West Ashley and see homes that had just recovered from the floods last October torn apart again. I know at least four people who had repeat floods. Two of them are from the Shadowmoss development and one of the ladies has flooded three times. What a sad mess.

My street seems to be mostly back together except for the giant piles of debris waiting to be picked up. I walked back at dusk this evening and almost tripped over a branch sticking out in the road. Ooops!

What movie shall I see tomorrow?

19 October 2016

West Ashley Farmer's Market

West Ashley Farmer's Market, Sycamore Rd, Charleston, SC   
This new Farmer's Market could be habit forming! It is an easy walk from my house without crossing a highway (yay!), the weather was perfect, there were even more vendors than the last time I went and I ran into so many people I know.

I grabbed a savory crepe and iced coffee for dinner and found a spot to eat with my friend Vera, West Ashley United was set up and Mayor John Tecklenburg and his wife Sandy made their rounds. I believe the market has been extended for a few more weeks. See you there my friends!

18 October 2016

Historic Rice Mill building

Historic Rice Mill, Charleston, SC  
It seems a lifetime ago but these pictures were on my camera card immediately before the recent wind storm chaos when I walked out on the dock after a lazy Sunday brunch at the Marina Variety store. It's always fun to pretend you stepped off your yacht to have breakfast with your fellow yacht owners overlooking the water.

The building in the photo is the historic rice mill building which appears to be used as an event and wedding space now.
West Point MillToday, the four-story Classic Revival mill building is obscured by heavily-trafficked bridge approaches, clusters of modern buildings, parking lots, and rows of yachts, but once it stood alone as one of the city’s most industrious endeavors.West Point was a small sliver of land protruding into the Ashley River in the 1830’s, when a steam-driven rice mill was built and powered by water from large areas of man-made pond. An 1859 fire destroyed the mill, which was replaced one year later with a structure that housed giant boilers and massive cylindrical shafts for grinding and brushing kernels into polished rice and flour. The 15-acre complex included separate shipping wharves, carpenters’ sheds and cooperage facilities, as well as new artesian wells for water supply. For more than half a century, the West Point mill was among America’s largest and most productive, annually cranking out hundreds of thousands of barrels, and when a foundering rice business finally forced the facility to close in 1926, much of the oversized inventory was bought by Henry Ford for display at his Edison Institute antique museum in Dearborn, Michigan.In the late 1930’s, remnants of the old mill ponds were dredged for a municipal yacht basin and planned as the site of a transatlantic seaplane terminal in an agreement made by the city with the German Air Ministry, but the coming of World War II shot the project down. The abandoned building remains Charleston’s only completely intact rice mill, and has been used for Chamber of Commerce headquarters, a restaurant and city marina offices, and the old mill pond area now supports high-rise condominiums and hotels, and approaches to Ashley River bridges, where the watery foundation is still evident in an undulating roadway surface.

17 October 2016

On the road - Portland

I didn't blow away! I had complicated travel plans lined up for October that had been tossed into the air by Hurricane Matthew's evacuation surprise. Instead of going directly to Portland, Oregon from a conference in Atlanta as planned, I had been in Augusta, back to Charleston and then scrambling to figure out if I could still change flights and pull off my trip west. I did! My goal was for a quick trip with my son out to visit my daughter in Portland. 

The crazy thing is that we landed there for one gloriously sunny day before tropical storm alerts were warning for the west coast. I have never set myself up to be a storm chaser. We made the most of our sunny day stopping at waterfalls along the Columbia river gorge. It is such a contrast to our lowcountry scenery I was in heaven with cool mist on my face. We had lunch at the pFriem Family Brewery and wandered the cute little Hood River town.

The rest of the visit was rain sprinkled but didn't hamper our pleasure. I love Portland's quirky neighborhoods and my daughter had all the best brunch and lunch spots lined up. I traveled lightly and left my big camera at home so have a few cell phone photos to share this time. We enjoyed the Art Museum and visits to the discounted Columbia and Adidas shops as well as IKEA. There is nothing better for me than to hear my two grown children laughing and enjoying each other's company.

The storm was hitting the worst the night I had a 3 a.m. airport cab arriving but I didn't have any trouble getting home. Thanks to the coastal Boeing locations we now have a non-stop Seattle to Charleston flight which is grand. I have one more lazy day to recover and then back to reality. I hope everyone has recovered from the storms on both coasts.

12 October 2016

Thanks Augusta!

James Brown statue, Augusta, Georgia
We made the most of Augusta, Georgia during our evacuation days. At first it seemed oddly abandoned and we finally asked why we were the only ones at what appeared to be a popular lunch spot on a lovely day. They looked at us strangely and said, "there is a hurricane coming, you know." Well, yes, I did know but this was our safe place. It hadn't dawned on me that their schools were cancelled as well.

By the next day everyone roaming and shopping were fellow east coast strays comparing notes and fears. I suggested that the antique store post a Welcome Refugee sign. My son got some work done and I listened in on periodic team meetings from home and in between we wandered the downtown, took the canal boat ride and caught a few movies. Thanks for the welcome Augusta.

10 October 2016

Time flies when the wind is blowing!

Quick update. I hope everyone in the path of Hurricane Matthew is safe and home to find minimal destruction. My son and I evacuated to Augusta where he found us a room at Hotel Evacuee on the Fort Gordon Military base. It was actually a Holiday Inn express but welcomed civilians and we were very grateful. Augusta was full of us east coast strays hiding out and sharing what we knew. Being able to stay in touch online was a godsend.

We left for home at the crack of dawn yesterday not knowing what we would find. My little house is low and close to a retention ditch. It did not flood inside! Yipee! I had a lot of debris and tree limbs and still have no power but I can't complain. I opened the windows, got my candles out and rolled my sleeves up and got to work feeling very fortunate.

I may not have power for awhile but all is well and I hope you are as well. Thanks for all the offers of help and shelter. Picture me blowing kisses to everyone!

04 October 2016

Calm before the storm

Charleston, SC   
Well phewy. Things are not going according to my master plan. I had intended to fly to Atlanta for a conference on Friday evening, work through the weekend into Tuesday and then continue on for a quick visit to my daughter out west. Now that we have a mandatory evacuation I thought I might be able to pull of my evacuation in an Atlanta hotel but there is an estimated two hour wait to even talk to a Delta attendant and I don't believe they will be flying anywhere out of Charleston at the end of this week.

I had also invited 45 teenagers to the hospital tomorrow night for a career night. Dang it.

I've taken in the lawn chairs and taken down the flag and bird feeder. Stay safe and dry kids, where ever you may be.