Thursday, July 17, 2014

Best of the Low Country 7/17/14

     The Low Country.  Characterized by rice plantations, hunting grounds, hundreds of islands and European culture dating back to the 1500's, it has been a beautiful piece of earth.  I have shared 156 articles featuring over 3,000 photos over the last 7 months.  The photo above is the last stretch of tidal marsh - the spit of land on the left is Garden City, the beginning of the Grand Strand.  Just out of the frame on the right is Murrell's Inlet - the northern end of the Low country.  

     Yes, it has incredible natural beauty, with centuries old oak trees festooned with Spanish Moss, countless rivers and creeks and bayous and cypress swamps and harbors and bays and inlets and tidal marshes.  Yes, this area with all of its tidal estuaries is known as the incubator of life in the Atlantic. Yes there are beautiful hardwood coastal forests and much land that has been preserved for nature.  But this is not the primary story I take away from this land.  The primary story I see here is the people - an incredibly resilient people whose world-wide reputation for courtesy has been forged in the fires of centuries of hardship.

    Many of these towns have been wiped out by on catastrophe or another an average of once every decade or so for centuries.  Yellow fever killed huge swaths of the population, and what it didn't get malaria plagued.  Earthquakes have leveled buildings, and hurricane after hurricane has battered the coasts.  Indian wars wiped out many - in one war every person in Beaufort was killed except one.  Wars have taken an incredible toll - one of the Indian attacks on Beaufort killed every person but one.  The revolutionary war saw many dead and much burned, followed by the War of 1812 and the Civil War.  Until 150 years ago, the majority of those who came here were either slaves or indentured servants which only compounded the difficulty of their struggles.  And after the civil war, much of this area was left in ruins and most lived in deep poverty.  And yet, the people have rebuilt, time and again.  They have picked up and marched on, and to this day they exhibit a level of hospitality rarely seen anywhere. 

    Let's review a few of the highlights of the last 7 months. 

     The southern end of the Low Country is just before Skidaway Island.  I would argue that the above scene - the entryway to Wormsloe Plantation, is the southern gateway.

   Next up is Tybee Island, a delightful ocean-front community with the strongest level of community volunteerism I have seen anywhere.  Pictured above is historic Ft. Pulaski that sits just up the Savannah River.

     Ahh- and Savannah.  What a jewel of a city, with its dozens of parks, architecture, historic theaters,  ghost stories and awesome folks.  We did 20 stories in Savannah alone.  (Archive dates 3/26 - 5/4/14)

     And Daufuskie Island - we spent a full two weeks there exploring and meeting an intriguing and eclectic group of people.  And don't forget the haunted hotel.

     Hilton Head's Colleton River gave us a lot of great photographs. . . 

     . . and Bluffton shared her small river town charms with us.

     The long line fishing crew was a great experience in Port Royal, as was Oystering.    

     We spent 3 days on Bray's Island, learning about old rice plantations and hunting grounds.

     And Dataw Island - one of the nicest private communities on the coast.

     And lovely Beaufort - there were two weeks of stories here including Suthurn Rose Tours, the old church, the back-roads of St. Helena Island and many others.

     Next to the north was Edisto Beach and Botany Bay.

     Then Seabrook Island, who like Dataw seems to have it all going for it.

     The resort island of Kiawah... 

     . . . and the easy island charm of Folly Beach.

     Magnolia Plantation on the Ashley river graced us with her charms.

     Past Charleston, we saw Sullivan's Island. . . 

.. and Isle of Palms.

     Shem Creek yielded some great shots..

     And then we were on to Capers Island.  This begins a stretch of uninhabited beach that runs clear past Georgetown - some 50 or 60 miles of unspoiled coastal territory.

     Next up the coast is Bull Island, with the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on the east coast of the United States.

     Cape Romain brought us the Birds of Prey and the Red Wolves.

     McClellanville brought us a good bit of history and beauty.  By the way, if you want to view all of the lighthouses of South Carolina, just click Here.

     Georgetown was a great week, in which we saw Hobcaw Barony and got a glimpse of the hundreds of square miles of unspoiled land and waterways surrounding her.

     Pawleys Island and Litchfield showed us an area in transition along with areas that are preserved including the beautiful Brookgreen Gardens.

     And so we arrive at Murrell's Inlet, the north end of the Low Country.  I have put 11,000 miles on the van when to drive straight from Murrell's to Skidaway is only a 204 mile drive !!  But in total we visited or viewed well over 100 islands and had a great time.  The low country will always have a special place in my heart.  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

     I had to take a few days off - sleeping in the van in the heat means that if it is over 75 I get about three hours sleep.  The end of last week I was in utter exhaustion and starting to make serious mistakes.  One particular night I dropped and broke my good tele-photo lens, locked the keys in the van and then deleted that whole day's photos !!

     Just when I needed it most, a friend sent me an email introducing me to a lovely local lady that everyone calls "Momma Carol."

      Carol let me stay with her for a few days, of which I spent at least half my time sleeping.  She has an awesome goldfish pond on her porch pictured below.

     And just a heads up - when you are passing through Pawleys Island look close for the little mail box below.  It is the only signage for the place the locals go to eat.

    A dirt road runs back to a cute and comfortable little spot with great food.  Tell 'em Carol sent ya - after all, it is her daughter-in-law that owns and operates the place.

     And today's parting shot - one of the first houses on the "Grand Strand" - which we will be exploring on our journey northward.

Have an awesome Friday everyone !!

If you have no idea what this is about, Click Here and Here.  If you can contribute a few dollars to help with this journey or to the foundation, click Here.  Click Here to email me, and if you want to read today's meditation just click Here.  Thanks for your interest and support !!

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