Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mom's Day at the Zoo: 5'18

To  celebrate Mother's Day  we took a short road trip to the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia, South Carolina.

The Riverbanks Zoo has the usual collection of  exotic animals 

both large  and small.

Out personal favorites were the birds  all of which looked healthy and happy.

The flamingos were so pink  and perfect they looked like animated statues,

and their King Vultures were so pleased with their habitat

that they posed for photos for their fans

But the attractions didn't stop at the wildlife exhibits.
There is really something for everyone here

For the little one there is a demonstration farm complete with a barn where the little ones can pet baby farm animals or take a pony ride 

For the middle school the is a rock climbing wall 

and a water park

And for seriously athletic big kids there is a tree high jungle gym ,

or a hiking trail that takes you across the Saluda River,

complete with historical markers posted along the way.

For  the culturally minded there is a  grassy slope which is perfect to picnic while listening to  an open air concert. 

CC's  personal favorite part of the Riverbanks Park is the Botanical Gardens

To get there you take a short tram ride a through a lush ravine along the Saluda River.  The main garden is divided into two portions:

On the right as you enter is a  cottage garden  filled with antique roses,

beautiful cut flowers,

And lots of nooks to sit back and enjoy the setting.

On the left  is a formal garden set out in a pattern of geometric plots

filled with colorful exotics.

We arrived at a time between seasons.   To keep the portions of the garden  visually interesting, while  waiting for the summer foliage to fill in, the staff utilizes a lot of colorful garden crafts,

and  lots and lots of bold foliage potted plants

In fact, art and craft  is used throughout the entire grounds of both the  zoo and gardens  to enhance  otherwise utilitarian  objects, like: 

 directional maps, and  signage,

 and as barriers to keep people from walking of the official path.

Arts, crafts, lots of exotic plants and animals.... it was CC's idea of the perfect  place to spend Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Hawaiian Rumble MiniGolf:5'18


To kick off the Mothers Day Weekend festivities, Bruce treated me to a round of miniature golf  at Hawaiian Rumble in North Myrtle Beach.

It is the #1 rated mini golf course in the WORLD, and  host the World Masters miniature golf tournament playoff every October.

 This 18 hole mini course is centered around a tropical Hawaiian garden,

complete with  tropical  lagoons and waterfalls

and a massive 40 foot volcano  in the middle with the relaxing melodies from the best Hawaiian musicians.

But don't let that serene setting lull you into complacency. Every twenty minutes that volcano starts shooting off steam and erupt into a massive fireball that can really throw you off your game.

The course is in pristine condition.    While the grounds are set up  for large tournaments, each hole is largely isolated from the rest, so in spite of the presence of bleachers for tournament fans,  you do feel like you have the place to yourself.  Even though each hole is very  short, several of the holes are quite challenging. For Bruce and I that made it all the more fun to play. We will definitely be returning to this course again.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It's time to celebrate: 4 '18

 About 9:30 pm (EST)   Bruce decided we should celebrate  surviving  NOT JUST ONE but TWO TAX DAYS by going somewhere to get  some drinks, appetizers and listen to live music.  Easier said than done in a town that turns off the lights and rolls up the sidewalks an hour after sun down.  But I was game to try, so off we went in search of an open pub with an actual kitchen and a live band.  After passing 10 miles of empty parking  lots and darkened buildings, we finally found what we wanted.  Quigley's, our favorite local craft brewery/restaurant, was still open.  They even had  live music.  But  you'll have to click on the link below and watch the short video below all the way through to see Bruce's reaction.  

Our Day Off - Samworth WMA: 4 '18

Today is our day off from the phones.  It has been a long  time since we had a day off together, and  last week was quite stressful.  We both felt like we really needed to get as far away as possible, from tax talk,  phones calls, and all the other routines of tax season.  When we suddenly realized we both had been re-scheduled to have the day off together,  we  wasted no time in taking advantage of this unexpected  blessing.  All chores were put on hold, and  we headed off  to explore the low-country  west of where we live.  

(Above) The small yellow house on the right lower side of the screen represents starting point our home ( above the 708 Springs) while the  blue car in the upper center of the screen  is where we wanted to go. The area is  by-n-large  an un-populated tract of wetlands under the control of various wildlife management organizations.  

In particular, we wanted to see the Samworth Wildlife Management Area which is located 7 miles due west of us ( as the crow flies).

To get there we had to head South on Highway 17.  Turn west via  the bridges which cross the Waccammah , Black and Pee Dee Rivers at Winyah Bay. Then circle back to the north via Highway 701.

From there  we veered off on  a series of successively smaller  paved county roads  which took us past interesting civil war ruins

and  through beautiful cypress swamps filled with waterlilies in full bloom.

Even though the Samworth WMA is only 7 miles due west of us, we had travel 24 miles to cross all the rivers creeks and streams, and it took us a full 40 minutes to reach the well graded road  leading into the WFA.
 ( *see footnote ant the end of this post for specific directions from Georgetown SC)

It was time well spent.

The Samworth WMA was a gift to the sportsmen of South Carolina from Thomas G Samworth   The original 500 acres of the property has grown to 1588 acres though acquisitions and additional conservation grants.  About 1300 acres are  wetlands, 200 acres are uplands and agricultural fields, and 88 acres are long leaf pine. From February 9 to  October 31,  the WMA facility is open  9 am to 5 pm EST to the public for fishing, bird-watching, hiking ( a 2.8 mile nature trail),  canoeing- kayaking, and plantation tours.**

To the right of the end of the road  stands the original colonial era plantation home.  

To the left is a large  picnic area  shaded by centuries old  heritage oaks

Some of which are truly impressive even by South Carolina standards

This one even boasted an osprey nest  in its crown

At the Northern end of the picnic area is a boat ramp for launching canoes and kayaks    It too is surrounded by massive centuries old Tupilo Cypress.

There is also a brand new dock to facilitate  loading, unloading, and landings. 

Both  facilitates allow easy access to  a small tributary of the Little Pee Dee River.

Other than the historic plantation house, there was not a human structure or sound  to be seen along the river.  One could get lost in the peacefulness of this place. Hopefully not literally,  as we intend to try kayaking  here.
But for the present, this trip certainly satisfied our desire to get away from it all.
We came rested and feeling at peace.

* Directions from Georgetown travel 15 miles north on US Highway 701.  Once crossing the Black River Turn Right onto SC-S-22-4/ SC-S-22-52 and travel approximately 6 miles and turn right onto Samworth Loop road.  Follow to stop sign and turn left.  Travel about 300 feet and turn right onto Dirleton Road arriving at Samwort WMA.

**  ( For an interesting 3 min. video tour of the Samworth WMA see:

***From February 9 to  October 31,  the WMA facility is open  9 am to 5 pm EST to the public for fishing, bird-watching, hiking ( a 2.8 mile nature trail),  canoeing- kayaking, and plantation tours.  For safety reasons, the WMA facility is closed to foot- traffic from November  1 through February 8 to allow public hunting of waterfowl, deer  feral hogs and doves.