Abbey Foy Moore Nature Preserve

Today was scheduled to be another fun day…so after Connie did a bit of work in the AM we had lunch and then headed off for our hike at the Abbey Foy Moore Nature Preserve about 30 mile southwest of the campground. After a 9 mile drive just to get to the far side of the base we crossed the New River and turned onto US-17 toward Wilmington another 22 miles then arrived at the preserve. This is a low key nature preserve maintained by the North Carolina Land Trust and is adjacent to Poplar Grove Plantation which is one of those tour the old plantation grounds and house sort of places. We parked in the plantation parking lot and after figuring out where the hike started…there was a slight miscalculation in where we parked and the directions to the trail from our All Trails app which assumed we were in a different parking lot…set off on what turned out to be a 2.7 mile hike total.

Connie noticed this afternoon that she was coming down with some sort of lung crud which gave her a fever and made her feel bad…but she decided to bore on and just deal with it. We shortened our planned hike a bit since she wasn’t feeling all that great though. Not much wildlife to be seen…just a couple of turtles and a dragonfly as you can see from the photos. We spotted a couple of cardinals but none of the photos were worth posting.

Nonetheless…it was a nice walk through the woods on a beautiful, cool day and we did get a few nice shots of the walk and the pond we crossed towards the end.

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We got back to the car…changed out of our hiking boots and headed back to the base. We were a little early for the opening time of the Heroz sports bar which was planned for dinner so browsed around in the Marine Exchange store for awhile then headed over to Heroz. We split a pitcher of Yuengling and 16 wings…and Connie was fading fast so we paid up our bill…all of 21.00 including the tip…and headed home. After a quick shower we sat down for some TV for the remainder of the evening.

More hikes planned tomorrow…but we’ll have to see how she feels in the morning before making a decision on whether to go or not.

Cyas.

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Fort Macon State Park and Cedar Island NWR

Wednesday dawned with things looking like it would be a pretty decent day so after some breakfast and coffee we headed off for our planned Fun Stuff© activities for the day. Our first stop was to visit Fort Macon which is conveniently located in Fort Macon State Park and guards the entrance to Bogue Sound and the harbor at Beaufort NC. It was about an hour or so away and we wanted to be there for the Civil War musketry demonstration at 1000. It turned out that we had left too early and were there shortly after 0900…so we wandered into the visitor center to learn something about the history of the fort for a bit. The fort was constructed in the early 1800s to replace an earlier fort that had washed into the bay due to erosion and was designed to defend the port of Beaufort NC. At the beginning of the Civil War it was occupied without a shot by Confederate troops and remained in their control until 1862. Union troops showed up in early 1862 and commenced laying siege to the fort but didn’t actually attack until April 1862. By the time the attack started…the Union had discovered that although the fort was fairly well armed with cannon it had no mortars…the difference being that cannon are great for shooting at ships out on the water but not so much for shooting at emplaced artillery on land. The latter requires a mortar which lobs shells on a high arc and hence is able to attack enemy artillery positions. Once this was discovered…the Union brought in the relatively new Parrot 32 pound artillery pieces. The Parrot was the first rifled cannon and hence was more accurate and delivered a greater blow to enemy defenses and the Civil War was the first time that rifled cannon were used. With the fort having been built 60 years earlier and designed to absorb round shot from what was then the standard artillery round…combined with having no mortars for counter battery fire against the Union artillery…the Union was able to emplace artillery about 3/4 of a mile away. The Union also had some gunboats and floating artillery on the seaward side of the fort…but those had no effect on the battle as the fort’s cannon drove them off early in the engagement. Union bombardment of the fort started early in the morning of April 25 and fired about 1050 rounds with 560 of them hitting the fort or exploding overhead over the next 11 hours. The gunboats and floating artillery were driven off early in the engagement but the fort’s 60 year old 5 foot thick masonry/earth walls proved no match for the rifled Parrot artillery. With the walls breached and the fort’s magazine in danger of being detonated by enemy fire the Confederates surrendered and the fort remained in Union hands for the remainder of the war. Casualties were pretty low however…18 killed and 40ish wounded among the defenders and 1 killed and 8 wounded on the Union side. 

After the war the fort was manned up through 1877 as a military prison then it was abandoned with a brief occupation during the Spanish American war in 1898. It was then abandoned and transferred to North Carolina as their second state park in 1924…then was taken over during WWII as a coastal artillery defense post with naval artillery installed then returned to the state after the war.

We headed over to the fort for the scheduled 1000 musketry demonstration about 0945…and discovered that it was almost over as the ranger had started it early due to a school field trip. What’s the point of having a schedule posted on your website if nobody is going to follow it…it was irksome but we did get to see the last couple of minutes of the demonstration and firing. Connie was surprised by how loud the musket was going off just about 15 feet away from us.

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We then wandered about the fort for an hour or so taking photos and checking out the displays which included both Civil War, prison period, and WWII era artifacts.

An example of the mortars the fort did not have during the siege of 1862.

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And one of the anti-shipping artillery the fort did have along with a panoramic view of the positions facing the entrance to Bogue Sound. The ocean is towards the right and the harbor to the left, back during the fort’s active use the ground between it and the water was cleared to provide an adequate field of fire for the artillery which had sufficient range to reach the far shore of the entrance about 2 miles away.

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The interior of the fort from behind the seaward facing pieces in the second photo above.

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Connie got a close up of one of the 32 pound pieces emplaced in the fort…these are believed to be the original artillery from the Civil War.

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Down in the interior of the fort…a shot of what would have been a brass monkey if this was a shipboard artillery piece rather than land based…although the stacking would have been the same. Land based shell stacks used wooden bases whereas shipboard used a metal plate with holes drilled in it to support the lowest layer of the stock…the plate was known as a monkey and was frequently made of brass so as not to have corrosion between the rounds and the monkey. Unfortunately…brass having different thermal characteristics then iron shot…when it got cold the brass contracted at a different rate then the iron shot and when it got real cold the rounds would come out of the holes, the stack would collapse, and the shot would roll across the decking…hence the term “cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey”.

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A shot of one of the storerooms and one of the hot shot furnace which back in the days of wooden vessels in the early part of the fort’s history was used to head round shot to red hot before firing it at the enemy…the idea being that round shot frequently stuck into the enemy vessel and would set it on fire.

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The in between the walls section of the fort. Very similar in concept to the moat of medieval European forts it served to concentrate assaulting troops in the grassy area between the lower outer walls and the higher inner walls. This design improved on that of the moat however…by having counter-battery gun positions located underneath the outer wall and aiming down the trench. These gun positions had small charge cannons with grapeshot…essentially huge shotguns designed to provide area clearance of any invaders that got into the trench but with insufficient power to damage the walls while taking out invading infantry.

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This is a carronade which is a small naval gun that originally mounted on small warships. Since the Confederate defenders had no mortars but did have some of these smaller, shorter ranged carronades…they were mounted on angled carriages in an attempt to provide some mortar like defenses to the fort with the ability to lob shells into enemy land based artillery…they were only able to emplace 4 of them and with their small shot size they were insufficient to effectively attack the Union artillery.

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With that our visit was ended and we headed off to lunch and our visit to the Cedar Island NWR about another hour away.

Lunch was at a very nice place on the water in Beaufort named the Channel Marker Restaurant…you can see the namesake Marker 8 just above the railing in this shot Neil took of Connie at the table.

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We each had their combo lunch with a cup of soup…clam chowder for Connie and she crab soup that was better than the other night for Neil…and a half oyster po’ boy sandwich along with a hard cider for him and a glass of wine for her…most definitely a great lunch looking out over the water.

After that we headed off to the Cedar Island NWR which is as far as you can go along the NC coastal islands heading north…it’s right at the bottom end of Pamlico Sound which (along with Albemarle Sound) is between the Outer Banks and the coast. There’s a ferry landing adjacent to the NWR which you can catch over to either Ocracoke Island (the last one in the Outer Banks or to Hatteras Island which is connected via causeways and bridges to the remaining islands up through Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and then back onto the mainland.

Didn’t see much wildlife…one canvasback duck that had no place to stop on the road and take a picture and we get get a couple of shots out at the end looking over toward Ocracoke Island. It was a nice day but after the almost 2 hour drive back home we were ready for a rest. We had a nap then some Linguini with bacon, onions, garlic and pecans for dinner…quite yummy as well.

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Today Connie’s working and after lunch we have another hike scheduled down south towards Wilmington a bit…then wings and brews for dinner at Hero’s on the base.

Cyas.

 

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Out and About at Camp Lejeune NC

Today was a pretty interesting day. In the morning…after coffee and breakfast Neil went down to the bath house/laundry in the campground and ran two loads of laundry. While that was going on Connie worked and got some of her immediate jobs done as we’re planning on a day trip for a hike and lunch tomorrow. After that we had a couple of sammies made out of left over lemon pepper chicken from the other night.

When she wad done working…we headed out for a walk on the beach…we figured we would just walk a mile or so down the beach and back. Mostly we figured it would be exercise…but we forgot we were on a military base and hence we actually saw some Marines out training with their helicopters and boats.

Our first spot for the day…and this one was thanks to Neil and not Connie the wildlife spotter…was the extremely common Blonde on the Beach…we saw probably a hundred of this species today.

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We continued on down the beach to the south and pretty soon came upon the Marine training I mentioned before. There were a couple of CH-53E Sea Stallions doing swimmer deployment training close to the beach. The Sea Stallion is the primary USMC heavy lift helo with the ability to carry up to 55 marines in ferry mode or 37 in combat rigged mode. It’s due to be replaced in the next few years by the V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft but will likely continue in service until at least the mid 2020s. The helo would hover down to about 10 feet from the surface then the embarked Marines would push out their boat then jump into the water after which the aircraft would leave and the Marines would board the boat and motor to the beach. Once there they carried their boat over a quarter mile or so to the landing area and re-boarded for another round of fun. These two helos started about none and were still at it at 2030 when we got back from dinner. Here are a few shots Neil got of the troops in action.

Passing overhead.

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Landing to load more Marines.

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Deploying the raft out the back of the aircraft.

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Followed by deploying the Marines out the back of the aircraft.

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Heading to shore. You can see the boat approaching the beach just outside the surf zone.

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One of the Marines coming ashore from the boat. I think she forgot her rifle!

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Along the way we also spotted this shore bird…a sandpiper we think; along with a shot of Connie checking out something she found on the sand and a shot of a laughing gull in flight.

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About this time we headed back and got back to the rig with about 2 miles of a nice walk down the beach and back. After sitting out in the recliners for awhile we headed off to the Church Street Irish Pub for dinner…they turned out to be closed for some A/C work so we went next door to the Saltwater Grill instead. We tried a beer flight which gave us 4 different beers in 4 ounce sizes. We tried a stout, a peach ale, and 2 brown ales. This allowed us to pick out what we wanted to have another point of and we ended up with a pint of the stout and one of the brown ales. All 4 were local craft beers and all were pretty good. To go along with it we had a bowl each of she crab soup (this would be crab bisque anywhere else but in the Carolina’s it’s called she crab soup instead) which was pretty good. After that we split a couple of appetizers…seared tuna and cheese steak egg rolls. The tuna was great and the egg rolls were good but not outstanding. After that we headed home.

Neil spotted these two pictures in his twitter feed today…the first is a half man, half woman creature and the second is a bathroom where you need really long arms.

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He thought both of those were pretty funny.

Finally…a couple of photos that really bring home the fact that we’re staying on a military base. We noticed earlier in the week on the way in that both of the Marine bases we’ve been at they have signs at the gate that say “Pardon our noise. The sound you hear is the sound of freedom at work.” That was the first way we knew we were in a military town and then on the base today we saw a couple of road signs that really brought home the military base nature of our current surroundings. Ya don’t see signs like these every day…we saw the signs yesterday but got these shots on the way back into the campground this evening after dinner.

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We can definitely agree that there are artillery firings in the area…we heard them most of the morning…every couple of minutes there was a boom in the distance.

Tomorrow is hike/lunch day. We’re off in the morning to a nearby fort area where there’s a Civil War musketry demonstration and then we’re doing lunch over on the beach and have a hike at Cedar Island NWR in the afternoon.

Cyas.

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Transit to Camp Lejeune NC

Monday was a scheduled travel day from Parris Island SC up to Camp Lejeune NC. It is a pretty long travel day for us…about 365 miles site to site…so we needed to head out early. Neil had dumped our tanks and unhooked the sewer hose Sunday evening in between the rain showers (well, he actually had to be out during the rain showers but it was in between the heavier rain periods we could see on the radar) so all we had to do was pretty much hitch and leave.

We were up and Connie started coffee at 0600 and Neil made us some oatmeal for breakfast. We got dressed and started actively leaving about 0700. Neil finished up the utilities and our outside checklist stuff while Connie did the inside checklist per our usual routine and we pulled out of the campsite right about 0825.

We stopped in the Florence area for lunch at Taco Bell in a Pilot and also filled up BAT with fuel…we got a special deal with 5 cents a gallon off until the end of the month so even though we coulda made it up to Camp Lejeune without filling up there is no cheap fuel nearby…hence we took advantage of the discount and filled up 38 gallons worth. That should give us enough for our next two travel days to Dam Neck VA and Centreville VA.

Our trip was pretty much all on 4 lane highways or the freeway and we got here right about 1600 after our 367 mile trip. After a quick check of the available sites we chose site 12 and Neil quickly backed in and parked. Again…we followed our routine and Neil did the outside while Connie the inside…our floor really needed vacuuming this week. Here’s a shot of our setup in site 12 and also one of the dune that borders the beach…you can see it in the center back of the second shot. Nice covered picnic table but whoever laid out the campsite was clearly not an RVer or an engineer…the power pedestal was in the usual place but rather than the water being right next to it the water spigot was over behind the picnic tale for the adjacent site…about 20 feet away. Good thing we have a long hose. We also can’t put the awning out due to the covered picnic table…but it’s too windy anyway.

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Onslow Beach Dunes

Both of them are fully back into travel mode now…although we continue to use our pre-underway checklists to make sure we don’t forget anything it’s mostly a do it and then double check using the checklist sort of thing by now. The first move out of Fort Myers seemed a little non-routine, leaving Jacksonville was almost normal and leaving Parris Island we all felt fully back into traveling mode. That seems to happen more quickly with each passing travel season…last year it didn’t really seem normal for about 3 or 4 weeks.

Connie’s working this morning while Neil did some laundry and we’ll go over to the beach later on…with dinner plans yet to be finalized. There’s an Irish Pub 12 miles or so north in one of those quaint little towns…or she might find something more quainter to do instead.

We saw a couple of cute signs on the way through the base yesterday…even though we were on an official NC highway the portion inside the base is government use only…but since it’s an official road it has to have official road signs. I’ll grab some shots of them today on our way out for ya.

Cyas.

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Hanging Out in Beaufort

Well…we ended up with a pretty fine dinner Friday evening. We decided to go on over to the 11th Street Dockside Restaurant and got there about 1740…getting a seat at the bar pretty quickly and we had a couple of Yuengling’s then a couple of a local amber ale named Palmetto…it was quite a tasty brew and we enjoyed it immensely. To go along with the brews we had some 3 appetizers to split…Oysters Rockefeller, South Carolina Hushpuppies with Honey Butter, and a crab cake. All were yummy and we sold at least a half dozen of the Palmetto’s to folks coming to the bar and wondering what to drink.

Here’s a shot of our Palmetto, hushpuppies, and oysters. Mighty tasty I tells ya.

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After dinner we stopped by Lowes to get something for our kitchen slide to come in over and slide on…our floor is getting gouged by the refrigerator base a little and we figured that we need something to protect it. Neil found a cover for a recessed ceiling light about 2 feet by 4 feet…it’s slick on one side to sit on the floor and the other side has a little texture but if necessary we’ll cut some strips off the end and glue them together on the textured side to give a nice sliding surface. We’ll try it without first and see how it goes.

Saturday turned out to be a bust. We got up and the forecast was for off and on rain all day and even worse a bit north where the NWR we were going to hike is…so we cancelled that to sit around. A couple hours later it was bright sunshine where we are and 0% chance of rain the rest of the afternoon…so we considered putting the hike back on…but a quick check of the radar showed it still raining up at the NWR at 1100. 

Sunday was church and getting ready to go in between the rain showers.

Cyas.

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Beaufort SC Area Apr 2015

Karas Take On

 





Beaufort, SC

 

Introducing a new content area on the blog…it’s known as Kara’s Take On…and will be her ruminations and ramblings on sights, hikes, eats and such at various areas as we travel around. It will be a regular

Hmmmph says Gunther…we’ll see about that. We love her and all…but her reliability for repetitive things is well…checking the Magic 8 Ball here…don’t count on it. Or as we used to say back when we wuz in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club when looking at depth soundings on charts from the early 1900s…existence doubtful. We’ll see how regular it will be…but maybe it just depends on your definition of regular. Webster would say “arranged in a constant pattern with the same space between individual instances” but Kara marches to her own cadence as ya know so her definition might be just a leeetle different from ours…who knows.

section on the site and isn’t intended to be a comprehensive overview of the area but just those places we went. 


Hikes/Natural Areas

 

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge – We only hiked a small portion of the refuge, but it was one of the best we’ve visited.  The area around Ibis pond was one of the best birding areas ever. It hosts a large egret rookery. There were large numbers of egrets, ibises, blackbirds, and even alligators. Definitely worth a visit! Free admission.

 

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Hunting Island State Park – The weather wasn’t ideal the day we went, breezy and overcast, but we still had a couple of nice small hikes and could have had others if we had the ambition. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, but the scenery was fantastic. In the Lighthouse area (worth a look in itself – extra admission of $2 if you want to climb), the trail led to a forest of downed trees on the beach in fantastical shapes. We also took the Marsh boardwalk trail. It has potential in the morning/evening to be a good wildlife viewing area as it overlooks salt marsh. Its also said the west facing dock at the end of the trail (less than a mile) is a great place to take in the sunset. There are also a number of other trails in the park going through woodland and bordering a lagoon.  Snacks/sodas are available at the Lighthouse gift store and a store at the Campground. Oh yeah…there’s a large beach area for those so inclined. Admission is $5 per adult, less for children and SC seniors.


 

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Downtown


We didn’t spend much time there, but took a drive through the area. The Houses in the vicinity of downtown are spectacular. Many antebellum homes surrounded by oaks and Spanish Moss. I just oohed and aahed my way though the area. You could easily think you’ve been transported to a previous time. [They were just houses says G.]

Museums

 

Port Royal Sound Maritime Center – This is a recently opened museum that focuses on the historical, environmental, and biological aspects of the Port Royal Sound (a salt water area which is why it is called a sound). There are no fresh water feeds into the area, just tidal flows. The museum is a little minimal, about 3 rooms, a porch, and two docks. So, it doesn’t take much time to go through, but was interesting in its own way. The day we were there, the weather was nice so we sat on the porch for awhile and spotted some dolphins playing near a sailboat. They said they saw them regularly and also a lot of rays are in the area. Admission is free.

 

Restaurants

 

Fat Patties – Great place for a casual meal. Mostly Burgers and sandwiches are on the menu. But great Burgers they are! You can construct your own or go with some of their gourmet concoctions. They also have a wide selection of craft beers on tap. We liked the Newcastle Scotch Ale best.

 

Fillin Station – This place is not for everyone. In fact, don’t bring anyone under 21 there as there are multitudinous signs indicating they cannot enter. It’s a dive bar [Dive as in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…not dive as in actual diving says G.}. There is a great view of the water and an outdoor seating area, if the weather allows. There’s a pool table with a continuous tournament going on, it seems. The food and value can’t be beat though. Some locals tipped us off to the place while we were at Fat Patties (see above). They have pork chops on Thursday night, Steak on Friday night. We went on Thursday and for $5 each we were given a large plate with two breaded chops each about 8” in diameter, a large portion of Green beans, Mac and cheese, and kernel corn. Honestly, the plate was overflowing. We ate on the leftovers for two lunches and a dinner where we added some leftovers from another meal. The cook/waiter just comes around and asks if you are eating dinner, takes your money (have to have over $10 to charge, so bring cash) and delivers your meal. Bottle beer only. Come early…we got there at 5:15pm and got the next to last place to sit inside (weather wasn’t permitting). The place was packed!

 

11th Street Dockside – This was a great seafood place, which also had great views of the water. There are two locations:  one in Port Royal (where we went) and the other is actually next to the Fillin Station. The food was excellent! We dined on several appetizers: Oysters Rockefeller, hush puppies with honey butter, and a crab cake. We loved all of them. It also was packed (Friday night), so again, arrive early. We found nearly the last spot in the parking lot. Bottle beer only, but we had a craft amber ale called Palmetto (from Charleston) that was excellent. [The beers wuz excellent too says G.]

 

11th Street Dockside

 

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This is not intended to be a comprehensive look at the area, but a report on those places we actually visited while in the area. I didn’t bother with the details of the places (I’d have to look them all up again), but I figure you all have Google or equivalent, so can look up any you are interested in if you should visit the area. That’s my take on Beaufort, SC!

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Hunting Island State Park Hike

Another fine day yesterday. On getting up and having coffee…Connie took a look at the weather forecast which…predictably…had changed and now Thursday was supposed to be dry and Friday rainy. So…we decided to have our Fun Stuff© day on Thursday instead. That left us with the decision to visit Hunting Island State Park on either Thursday or Saturday and our final day out at Ace Basin NWR for the other day. After a bit of discussion we decided that Hunting Island would be much more crowded on the weekend as it’s at the beach so decided to head out there Thursday.

After breakfast we packed up and headed out for the 25 mile or so drive to the location which was again fewer crow flies miles due to the swampy areas here in the low country…lots of rivers, marshes, and barely above sea level areas here and the roads have to route around them. We took along some snacks…and while we did wear shorts we also put on something long as it was cool, breezy, and damp with highs only expected to be in the upper 60s and we’re not sure it made that.

On arrival at the park we paid our 10 bucks entry fee and wandered down some pretty narrow roads to the parking lot for the Hunting Island lighthouse…we passed on the additional 2 bucks a person to visit the top and went for nice shots of the outside. We noticed that the lighthouse was made of metal instead of masonry…sort of different looking to us.

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We also got a couple of shots of the entire lighthouse which is 200 or so feet tall.

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Once we were done with the lighthouse we headed down the half mile each way nature trail which went pretty much right down the beach. Along the way we spotted a bunch of downed trees right on the beach…they must have had a storm here in the past that knocked down a lot of them down. We also spotted an Osprey sitting on it’s nest but couldn’t tell if there were eggs or not.

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After this we turned back as we were stopped by a creek flowing into the bay…we coulda gotten across as it was only 8 or 10 inches deep but there wasn’t anything on the other side that made getting our feet wet worth it. So we headed back to the car and off for our second hike of the day at the Marsh Boardwalk at the other end of the park. About the only things we saw there were a couple of Laughing Gulls and the marsh itself…but as it was low tide there wasn’t much to see other than the marsh.

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With that we decided to punt the remaining 2.5 mile hike we had originally planned on as it was another 12 miles or so away and the wind was getting cooler and windier and we decided we were just a skosh underdressed. We stopped by the electrical supply place and picked up a couple of fuses we ordered on the way home then lazed the rest of the afternoon away.

Dinner was our previously scheduled pork chop night at a local place named Fillin Station. I don’t think it was ever an actual filling station like Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City is…but it’s on the water just across the bridge from downtown Beaufort. And we’re talking dive…unless it had been recommended to us even we would probably not have stopped in. Good thing we did though…as the food was outstanding. We sat at the bar and watched the locals play 8-ball on the pool table while we had a couple of Killians Irish Red Ale and dinner…dinner cost all of 5 bucks apiece and we got a 12 inch plate with 2 huge batter coated and deep fried pork chops, mac’n’cheese, corn and green beans. Mighty darn tasty…we had 1.25 pork chops left over from our 4 as well as enough fixins for a side dish later on. Made some mighty good pork chop sammies for lunch today and have enough for some more tomorrow. We forgot to get a shot of the outside of the place…hopefully we’ll be nearby before we leave and I’ll try to remedy that shortcoming.

Dinner tonight was what we call “under dynamic observation” until about 2 minutes before I wrote this…a place named Shrimp Shack was also recommended to us but it’s mostly shrimp which means Connie can’t eat there. They do have clams and oysters but she’s decided we’re skipping it and heading out to the 11th Street Dockside over in Port Royal followed by stopping by Lowes for a couple things.

Cyas.

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