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Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

What I would do to wake up to this view each morning…on this porch…in this house…ok, stopping before I depress myself. Images like this are the reason my first trip to Biltmore left me feeling both exhilaratingly inspired and extremely poverty-ridden. I had never felt so poor in my life.

We’ll be taking in all that the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition has to offer this weekend, particularly the Dock Dogs competition at Brittlebank Park.  Get out and enjoy a very spring-ish weekend, Charleston!

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Just a short 35 minute drive north of Charleston lies a wonderful bastion of natural seclusion, Bull Island, which is contained within the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.  We decided to spend our Saturday morning amongst the gloriously isolated wilderness the island affords.  Accessible only via a ferry that launches from Garris Landing, we were treated to a nice 30 minute boat ride through a maze of tight water passages that meandered through what appeared to be an endless marsh of spartina grass.  Throughout the trip, our captain, William, gave us a comprehensive description of the complex ecosystem we were buoyantly skimming over.  It was very evident that William was in love with his choice of employment as you could discern honest exuberance in his voice when he spotted rare waterfowl, dolphins, and the like during our ferry crossing to the island.  His excitement was contagious and, truth be told, made me pretty envious of the fact that he legitimately enjoys what he does for a living.

And very well he should, as hiking Bull Island is an absolutely majestic experience that should be undertaken by all admirers of this Lowcountry environment.  The island is classified as a Class 1 Wilderness, meaning impacts by man are either non-existent or have had negligible consequences.  In terms of Bull Island, the only evidence of impact is confined to a solitary structure built during the 1920’s, the dock used by the ferry to transport visitors, and a network of trail features.  As a result, the environs contain some of the cleanest air and water in the entire country.

We were exceptionally ambitious (read: foolhardy) with our initial plan of attack to see as much of the island as possible.

Bull Island is massive.  It was quickly apparent that we would need to water down our expectations for the day as we set off through the upland forest towards the observation deck.

Bull Island is spectacular.   Its natural beauty coupled with the distinct sense of remoteness one experiences while exploring its forests, pristine beaches, and ponds is very unique for an area that otherwise seems obsessed with overdevelopment of critical environmental areas.

Bull Island’s mosquito population is also massive and their own feeling of remoteness resulted in the single worst swarming attack of the annoying blood-sucking pests that I have ever experienced, which is saying something.  To be fair, I have always been a mosquito magnet.  I can’t remember one instance in my entire life where I was the one in a group of people who was getting attacked the least by these little idiots.  Regardless of location, if a mosquito exists within a 3 mile radius of my location, it will find me and it will subsequently destroy me. A defense of copious amounts of bug spray is always for naught.  Suzanne ended up with about 4 bites on our trek through one particularly breeze-free portion of the forest.  I ended up with 4 billion bites and about 30,000 other marks from Suzanne’s slaps in her futile attempt to help me out.  Misery.  The mosquito attack did dampen our spirits a slight bit, but it shouldn’t dampen the expectations of other visitors to the island, as it seemed others were not nearly as bothered by the beasts and I always have an exceptional affliction with them anyway.

Following our speed walking adventure through the Rectory of Satan’s Mosquito Hell, we found ourselves in the aptly named Alligator Alley, a portion of the island that includes numerous ponds filled with the intimidating looking reptiles.  Suzanne’s uneasiness quickly turned to fascination, as we spotted well over 30 alligators in the ponds along the trail.  We delighted in our newfound bravery in regards to being in the company of these animals, unaware of the danger that would befall us 30 minutes later upon our walk back to the dock (check back tomorrow).

The ferry ride back to Garris Landing was a lot different from the first leg of the crossing due to the fact that we were the only two visitors aboard and this time were not subjected to horrible attempts at humor painstakingly dished out by a scruffy guy from Tennessee.  This allowed us to engage in a very intimate discussion with William that included more in-depth explanations of the various wildlife patterns we saw on the island, as well as some helpful advice on where to find a good Mexican Coca-Cola in the Awendaw area (again, check back later).

Bull Island is definitely on our list of places to return for multiple visits, only perhaps later in the fall when I won’t have to fear losing all of my hemoglobin.

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With the number of visitors we have had in town since March, Suzanne’s house may actually qualify under the definition of ‘accommodations’ within Charleston city ordinances.  Time to pony up some tax dollars, I guess.  This past weekend, Matt and Erin made a rare trip to Hotel De Wentworth.  Friday night, we were fortunate enough to take in the southern rock stylings of Crowfield, my favorite local band, at the season finale (and subsequently 10th anniversary) of Rockin’ on the Point, an event whose name I can’t for the life of me grow to not find painfully lame.  A great show from a band whose propensity for being better live than on recording makes them definitely worth the price of admission and whose ambiance was only enhanced by the omnipresence of bumping and grinding Taco Bell mascots.

The rest of the weekend, we settled into a typical itinerary of beach, Poe’s, Red’s, dinner downtown, Fat Hen, and lots of walking around while I pointed at things.  This time, however, our trip to Red’s inspired a different outing for Sunday, as instead of just remarking upon how great it would be to kayak Shem Creek, we actually kayaked Shem Creek.  I have been paddling through different waters around Charleston previously but none whose established routes take you near a wildlife refuge sandbar with a decidedly Hitchcockian ominousness (think thousands of birds brawling with each other) or playful dolphins who would nudge the bottom of your hull before blasting out of the deep as you sit for literally an hour watching.

This weekend, we’ll host Harper , in on a pitstop as she returns to Raleigh from a summer in Tampa, and Caroline, whose presence means Fin will actually leave me alone for more than 10 minutes at one time.

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