Somewhere on Cumberland Island the good lens - the 70 - 300 mm with vibration control gave out. The lens won't find focus anymore - probably because it has taken well over 100,000 shots now. It is an expensive lens - $ 750 for a replacement, and luckily an opportunity to "kill a couple of birds with one stone" opened up.
My license plates renew in January, so I returned to Charleston and attended an annual men's retreat on Seabrook Island that I have been to the last six years. I love the beaches on Seabrook - if you are able to go there be sure to visit the North Beach at sunrise.
All manner of things wash up - some I can identify, some I cannot.
Here is one that is both common and easily identified -
The horse-shoe crab is an ancient species whose blood is valued in surgical procedures to this day. The blood immediately changes color when it is exposed to bacteria, so when applied to the outside of an incision it gives the surgeon a rapid warning if conditions are becoming contaminated.
I was also able to get Les out of the nursing home a couple of times. His sister Lisa from Augusta GA was visiting at the same time, so we were able to spend some time together and compare notes about Les's progress.
One of the trips with Les was up to Rusty's office, Network Neurology in West Ashley. Here Andrew Bienkiewicz, one of the office's neuro-feedback technicians works with Les.
Progress is slow but steady - I have been able to observe Les reading some pretty complex things. He is able to read and grasp difficult concepts, but often you can see him struggle to get the concepts from brain to mouth. His sense of humor is back - dry as ever. This trip gave me hope for the first time that Les just might make it back to a life with some semblance of normalcy one day.
Anyway, back to that lens. Just as I was finishing The articles on Cumberland Island I got a call from a dear friend - John Cato. John owns a cabinet business in Charleston, and it turns out he had caught wind of a job in Tallahassee Florida that needed done.
John Cato with "Barabbas" - the boar mounted on the wall.
It seems this apartment complex had been inspected by HUD and there were numerous issues with cabinets that had to be fixed immediately. So I drove to Tallahassee and photographed the units that needed work - 19 in all.
Sinks were rotting out from water leaks, drawers were missing (it seems when some people move out they just take the drawers with them, rather than messing with those pesky boxes,) in couple of units the cabinets had come loose from the wall, sink tops were loose and other general issues.
I returned to Charleston, and John oversaw the manufacture of all of the various pieces and parts that would be needed to fix the problems.
Among all the other things, we ended up making a whole mess of drawers.
A brief stop in St. Mary's to repay Mardja and Barbara for all their help saw me painting a picket fence.
Actually, painting the fence was a blast. Mardja's bed and breakfast (Goodbread House) sits right by downtown St. Marys. As each passer-by approached, I would start whistling and looking real happy. I would greet them as they got near, and tell them how much fun it was painting this fence - a genuine deep south picket fence at a historic antebellum home.
I then informed them that they too could experience the joy of this - they could paint 2 pickets for only $ 1.00 or 5 pickets for $ 2.00. There were those that just politely rushed by, trying to avoid this mad-man, but more than half got it and were very amused. I made some friends but collected no funds - I guess I have to admit Tom Sawyer is a better salesman than I.
Then it was on to Tallahassee for four days of cabinet work, and now we arrive back on the trail in Florida.
One thing that is a bit baffling is gas prices. What wild swings you see on the road !! Here is the lowest I paid, outside of Bluffton SC.
From highway exit to exit they can jump thirty cents - but in general they are 2 cents more in Georgia than South Carolina, and another twenty cents higher in Florida. I paid $1.79 in SC and $2.29 in FL to fill up on the same day. That's a 30% swing !! Maybe Tom Sawyer got into the petroleum business...
So we pick back up where we left off at the St. Johns River.
As we saw, there is a ferry that crosses the river close to its mouth, but if you travel inland a few miles there is a bridge that Closely resembles the one in Brunswick Georgia.
These big suspension bridges always amaze me.
They really are pieces of art. Perhaps along the way we will come across one under construction and learn a bit more about how they are put together.
Along the river is a large port authority, and it is evident that a lot of aggregate (various rocks) are shipped out of here.
A large dry dock has what appears to be a naval vessel under repair.
The huge Ro-Ro's are all around - they are so named because you can "Roll on and Roll off" cars and other wheeled vehicles.
There are a few signs of some shrimp industry - and the boats don't seem to be in too bad a need of repair.
I loved this approach to a "house boat." Someone took a boat - and literally framed a small house on it.
I got all excited when I saw there was a Tiki Bar - I have never been to a Tiki Bar before.
But when I finally figured out where it was, it was closed. Kind of. Anyway, it wasn't what I was expecting a Tiki Bar to be.
So we cross the St. John's River, and arrive at a very historic place. Welcome to St. John's Bluff.
This was one of the few spots that the French put down some roots on the east coast of the United States. This was home to what was called Fort Caroline, established in 1564.
Today there is a mock-up of what the old city looked like. It wasn't very big, and it didn't last very long.
In 1562 a fellow named Ribault claimed this land for France by placing a large stone marker on top of the bluff.
He left some colonists behind and returned for supplies. But on his arrival back in France he was arrested over the religious wars, so the original folks all returned to France the next year. These original folks were beset by tragedies, among which was being reduced to cannibalism on the return trip. They were finally rescued in English waters.
In 1564 a new group of 200 settlers came, and were joined Ribault a year (upon his release from prison) later with some additional settlers and supplies. However, just a few days after his landing the Spanish decided they didn't want the French here, and slaughtered most all of the settlers. Oddly, they let a few musicians and others they thought would be useful live.
One of the things the French gave us was pictures of how they saw the native Americans here. This first drawing showed Indians hiding under deer skins to hunt deer.
This next one shows a large procession - perhaps for a wedding or anointing a new chief.
But, as we journalists are prone to do, exaggeration creeps in. Here, natives are shown impaling an alligator the size of a greyhound bus.
And take a wild guess what type of creature this one is? Notice the young it is carrying on its back. Pretty ferocious looking, huh?
Here is that ferocious 'possum in real life. Don't get too close or it will fall over and play dead. (photo courtesy of the museum)
There are about five miles of walking trails here also - they run along wetlands and out onto the river. It really is a nice area to hike.
The angle of the bluff gives a good vantage point on the wildlife - the area is teeming with birds.
That brings us to today's "Faces in the Crowd" photo . . .
. . . and today's parting shot.
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