The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!
Here’s another blog just chock full of photos, and not all of them are nature. It’s all good though. We just had a long day of visiting a variety of sights and sites.
We set out early (for us), determined to see everything possible at Huntington Beach State Park. It’s across the road from Brookgreen Gardens, and features nature, birds, beaches, and a really interesting house that belonged to the people who used to own both the properties, the Huntingtons. Last year I saw better birds, but we still had a good time today.
We first went out to see the nature, where, of course, I spent a lot of time taking close-up pictures of plants. Lee says this is what I always look like.
I did find some pretty things to take pictures of, though some of them were Lee. There were many native berries, a spider, and the MOST exciting, a painted bunting.
From there, we headed over to Atalaya, the “castle” where the Huntington family lived in the winters. Folks, this is a really, really weird house. It’s all brick, even the floors, and all one story. It’s in the shape of a huge square with a very large courtyard in the middle. Every room, even the bathrooms, has a fireplace. I find that interesting, but it does get cold enough, even in South Carolina, to need some winter warmth.
My patience paid off! I have been scanning the ocean from our room every day since we got to Myrtle Beach. I mentioned before that it was oddly empty of…anything. Slowly, but surely, more things have showed up. I saw a couple of yachts, a kayak, and sailboats yesterday, and today there are parasailing boats, sailboats, jet skis and all sorts of activity. Maybe today is the first official day of “the season” or something.
What I was actually looking for all that time was dolphins. I knew they were there, but all I saw was a glassy sea. Today, though, I saw something black out there. I figured it was a sea duck or something, so I grabbed the binoculars (so glad I brought them) to check.
There was at least one, and maybe two pods of dolphins out there, playing and jumping. At one point, three of them were jumping together. It was mighty fine entertainment! I had a blast, and I felt like it was my Mother’s Day gift from my Mom and Mother Nature. What a full heart I had watching those families playing together!
It’s Mother’s Day in the US as I mentioned. It’s been hard since my older son stopped speaking to me, but I think he knows I love him anyway. Maybe I’ll hear from the other one today! I liked the new Facebook background that showed up today, of love cactuses. That’s how family is; you love them, even if it’s prickly.
Sometimes you lose loved ones, they don’t appreciate you, they don’t understand your motives, or they have challenges that make loving hard for them. I’m sending love to all of them, as well as to my own loved ones I don’t understand. I’m no saint about it, myself!
Hug someone you’re allowed to safely hug today, and enjoy whatever gift Mother Nature brings to you, my friends!
Um, that would be everyone, right? I’ve known I’ve needed to do it for quite a while, since we downsized our real estate work and parted (as good friends) from our Hermit Haus Redevelopment partners. Eventually all that internet stuff will get retired, though I need to figure out a way to archive our blog and photos of our work.
I’ve never liked using Gmail but it’s the best option for right now. My presence at Hearts Homes and Hands is very minimal, since I’m not beloved in all parts of our community. I’m no longer too concerned about it. Life at the ranch is good, and that’s what counts! Anyway, I’d only use that email account for business.
Still, it has boggled my mind when I realize how many logins, sign-ins and account names are tied to your email address! I spent hours this morning changing things, and I’m nowhere near finished. But, it had to be done, and I certainly don’t have many expanses of unbooked time at home!
After I at least got my major accounts and lists switched over, I tediously went through my Gmail account and deleted spam and ads from 2015 until today. 20,000 plus emails. Fun times. I didn’t want to delete them all, since there might be personal email in there. Yep, my sister, my friend Pamela, and two others had been sending me things I never saw.
Actually, that’s what prompted moving at this exact time. My sister, who is the latest person to say they are going to the Farm in Yorktown for a weekend and not returned, texted me to “check email.” Nothing like a cryptic text to get me concerned, you know? But I couldn’t find anything on my work or personal accounts. Was something wrong? Did I mess something else up? Finally I looked at Gmail. Whew. There was a message there. I’d forgotten to send some money in our confusing travel stuff.
All, right, I said, it’s time to start using that account and phasing the other one out. Once I figured out how to delete everything from a particular sender, it was only slightly unbearable. And at least I could look out at the ocean while deleting. It was fun mass deleting email from presidential candidates who won one and l0st another election. Quite a trip through time.
Now I have that account organized and set up to store email right. Still, I have to figure out what stuff I get on Hermithaus I want to keep getting. And I have to figure out why the new signature I made refuses to show up. This is why I didn’t want to embark on this task. Ugh
But, I’m at the beach, in the shade, and drinking a drink out of a bucket. And my ranch family is busy planning a swimming pool.
Everyone is saying my obligations can wait, so today is just Beach Day. Hope you’re doing well and handling what can be a hard weekend for some of us.
Today has been fun. We’ve driven all over the area and seen many things. As we approached our lunch venue, we got to enjoy watching a drawbridge open, one of the ones that turns sideways rather than going up and down.
The bridge had a cool bridge house on it, too. It was at a crossing on the Waccamaw River, which forms the Intracoastal Waterway here. The road was called Dick Pond Road, which gave us the giggles as we imagined the pond full of male anatomical parts.
We had burgers at a restaurant that specializes in them, River City Cafe, and Lee got a ridiculously large concoction featuring two grilled cheese sandwiches as the buns, two burger patties, mushrooms and other things, cheese, and two extra-large onion rings on top. No, he did not eat it all.
After that, we headed past a cute private zoo with very happy animals and lots of screaming peacocks. We didn’t go in, but looked at lots from the car, including a very young baby donkey colored like Fiona.
Our destination was a cruise down the Waccamaw River, Socastee Creek, and nearby creeks. Its a nice change from condo world.
All these waterways have a canal running through them, built by the Army Corps of Engineers, because the natural waterways are too wiggly for the yachts and sailboats who use the Intracoastal. Here’s a map:
Before the boat ride, I wandered around the grounds of the docks, which are nestled in a beautiful swampy area with many native flowers, trees, and shrubs. I was delighted to see some flowers I’d never seen in the wild before. The partridgeberry flowers were tiny, hairy, and delicate, while the swamp leatherflower was a happy surprise to find hiding in the iris foliage. That’s one of the prettiest flowers I ever saw! The spiderlilies I’ve seen somewhere else before, but their delicacy always takes my breath away.
I enjoyed chatting with the staff, all of whom live on the property, one of them on his boat. I could stand looking at that scenery every day plus having a zoo next door (downwind).
I enjoyed ignoring Rick, the guide’s, dorky stories (I know it’s their job to tell them and entertain people, but I’d heard most of the jokes already) and looking through my binoculars at giant turtles, flowers, cypresses, and tupelo trees. We only saw three watercraft other than ours, so it was satisfyingly secluded. I think it gets more crowded with rowdy boat partiers in the summer, so our timing was good (only saw one boat full of giggling women). The weather went from sunny to cloudy to raining to sunny, so there were always varied skies. Do click on them to see them enlarged. The reflections and clouds are lovely. (Also, when people click on every image my blog stats go wild!)
We saw lots of nesting ospreys, flying swallowtail kites, herons, and egrets, plus one small gator. People liked that. We got to see osprey drama, with one catching a fish and others chasing and yelling at each other. I’ve always enjoyed ospreys since I was a kid and we’d see them nesting in Cedar Key, on the Florida Gulf coast.
A highlight of bird watching was finding a prothonotary warbler flitting around. It also thrilled the nice little girl in front of me. Our guide told me he had some nest in his other boat’s cupholder. Since I was nowhere near close enough to get a photo, here’s one of Rick’s along with one of the babies in his cup holder.
All in all, the trip was worth the cheesiness, though we definitely had the worst seats on the boat (next time, get starboard, Suna!), next to the bathroom. But, we were polite and let everyone else get on first, so whose fault was that? We got the bonus of enjoying Bella, the owners’ large Rottweiler-style dog, who has a huge joy of living. Watching her play brought laughter and joy to us all, as she ran, flopped, threw a toy around, and spontaneously dug.
People who have a dog that nice can’t be all bad, so I’m glad we could contribute to their small business!
A Very Short Whine
I’m really trying to get to all the things I have to do, but I just crashed when I got home today, which may explain why I originally published the blog post full of typos and a missing paragraph. I have things to write, figuring out my social security and retirement plans, change over my email address to a boring personal one, and other riveting activities. But, after the stuff that’s been going on at work and home, I’m running on fumes.
I’m sorry I’m so behind on my volunteer work, but I’m wiped out by worry, disappointments, and frustrations (none of which you will read about in this blog or hear about in the podcast). I just wanted to remind you that not everything in my life shows up here. Which leads me to remind you and me both that we all have our unspoken struggles, so let’s choose kindness and patience, even when it’s a struggle.
However, we didn’t head to Woodstock; we went back to Brookgreen Garden. We rose with the sun and both worked hard today, so we really needed to take advantage of the multi-day tickets we had.
We headed in a different direction this time, and of course saw lots of flowers. I’m amazed at the variety.
There were, of course, many beautiful statues. My favorite was three women sitting on a framework of metal, just lounging around naked. Such ennui. It’s just what they do!
I also liked the Don Quixote statue, which was in a lovely planting of Texas plants. At least I think that’s what it was. I’ve seen all the plants there at home, anyway.
Eventually, we made our way to the BEST PART of the whole place. It’s a Low Country trail and zoo with native animals and farm animals that would have been on the plantations. My favorites were the river otters. I teared up watching them play.
I enjoyed goats, horses, an interesting cow, owls (lots of cool ones, but hard to photograph), a big ole alligator, and chickens. Bit by far the best exhibit was the aviary. I was in heaven there. So many of my my favorite birds, up close and personal.
The habitat was truly beautiful. You could watch the birds catch and stalk fish, interact, and even build nests! This was so much fun, and interesting. We saw a few other animals, like a little green frog, Canada geese, a pretty skink, and many more brown thrashers.
All that stuff was good, but I’d have honestly been fine just walking around looking at the ancient trees and the rice fields that are going back to nature. I feel so at home among the shadows and moss. I hope you enjoy some of my landscape images.
Anita, Stop Reading Here
And now for my final fun observation. I was really wanting to get some photos of the really interesting squirrels here. There were many fine gray squirrels, and sure, I enjoyed them.
I’d never seen the other kind of squirrel they have here, though. They are big, with long and curly tails, plus black heads with white noses. What cuties! So, I obsessively tried to get a good photo of one. Instead, I got a bunch of okay but blurry pictures.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard these were fox squirrels, the same kind we have in Texas. But these look so cool. Of course, I looked it up on iNaturalist. Sure enough, fox squirrels come in a bunch of different colors. They can also be black.
Hooray for me. I learned a new nature fact AND relaxed. It’s time to actually vacation, I think.
PS: Anita did NOT stop reading when she got to the squirrel part. I did warn her!
Yeah, many towns look exactly alike, with the same stores, same shopping areas, and same restaurants. But, still, you can find interesting local differences if you pay attention. Here are some random things we’ve been noticing in South Carolina.
A Pancake and Waffle Obsession
Apparently, these are most beloved. Photo by @lorenklein via Twenty20
There are many restaurants around the US that specialize in pancakes and waffles. However, I’m pretty sure this part of South Carolina has the most pancake/waffle eating options of any place, or at least of any place I’ve been. The Waffle House chain has been around a long time (why, since 1955, according to the website), and you see them at many highway exits and such. But, here, in a 30-something mile stretch of one highway, I saw five of them. Then I looked on the Google Maps. Whoa.
You don’t have to go far for a waffle anywhere in this region. And by the way, this is making a person who hasn’t had breakfast really hungry. Too bad I’m tied to my headphones (I started this post while waiting for no one to show up to my early book club AGAIN).
So, waffles are made in a waffle-maker appliance, while pancakes (or flap-jacks or many other names) are cooked on a griddle or large pan. Thus, “pan” cakes. I get it now. The people of northern South Carolina, or perhaps it’s the tourists coming TO northern South Carolina) apparently consume a lot of these.
Usually in the US, you see IHOP, which used to be the International House of Pancakes, but modernized its name, just like KFC is no longer Kentucky Fried Chicken. Fine, try to hide your roots! I can recall my brother really liking chocolate chip pancakes from there, while I always wanted some exotic “international” crepe or something. I actually still like to eat there once in a while, because I like their coffee and breakfasts, which come with a small number of pancakes that won’t kill me.
Here, though, there are so many pancake options you could eat at a different one for a couple of weeks without repeating. People here must really love pancakes, or maybe they just eat breakfast a lot, since they’re all on vacation.
I also notice that other restaurants, like Cracker Barrel, focus on pancakes in their local signs, though I keep missing my photo ops.
I’ll probably never figure this one out. But it’s got me looking for pancake and waffle restaurants everywhere! Austin has taco places on every corner. Cameron has Mexican restaurants. What’s overly abundant where you live?
It was a long day of “working from beach” today, but it was fun doing my individual meetings on the balcony. I still have things to do, but I’m plowing through them, and some of the stuff is getting interesting.
We had to leave for a while in the early afternoon, because they were going to turn the power off in the building for some test. We took that opportunity to visit the new and trendy Market Commons area, which is sort of like the Domain in Austin, but a bit prettier.
Lee was not impressed, but I’d have a lot of fun with Kathleen or Anita there. The shopping looked excellent, and there were many nice places to eat. We had sushi, and it was fresh and interesting. My lemon roll was divine, and I also had a yellowtail ceviche in a ponzu sauce. The air was just right for outdoor dining, too.
Of course, Lee found numerous plants to be allergic to, especially the gorgeous plantings of jasmine. But hey, he’s not allergic to azaleas! He says if he lived a hundred years ago none of this would be bothering him, since he’d have died from some allergy in childhood. Cheery!
When I finished working at 6, Lee wanted to go see small towns, so we drove on the inland road to Georgetown, SC. We passed many beautiful forests with hardwoods, Wild magnolias, and pines.
Much of it looked exactly like northern Florida from my childhood, including the many plantings of pines for harvest. All the big rivers and swamps we passed also made me feel at home.
As we approached Georgetown, Lee wondered if we were near the sewage plant. Nope, another memory from childhood blasted in and told me what I soon confirmed: there’s a large paper mill just outside of town. You can’t miss that smell.
Other than that, though, Georgetown is beautiful, one of the oldest cities in South Carolina. It currently has a scary looking old steel mill as another industry.
But, as I read one of the information signs around the boardwalk, I recalled where I’d heard of this place. Not only was it a center for growing rice (as evidenced by the rice museum in town), but it was also an early indigo growing center! I’d read about it in the book on indigo I read last year.
I must say, this is a gorgeous town, with a fixed-up downtown harbor area, a boardwalk, and many places to shop and eat. We had another outdoor meal, with a bonus of watching a Great Dane sit on a kid’s lap.
We are glad we will come back later for one of our boat rides (assuming I book them), so we can see more of the beautiful old homes and such.
Lee and I both are excited about our upcoming adventures! We wish we had folks with us, but wow, there’s a lot going on!
Once again, I’m thinking of all my friends and family who have been undergoing treatments and surgeries and such. Healing wishes to you all.
It’s a good thing folks back home sent me news, because I literally had meetings at 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the books today. Luckily one got moved and a few of them were short, so I had time to breathe. And I snuck in some content creation, too. Go beach me.
News from the ranch ranges to worrisome to great. What’s worrisome is that Apache still isn’t 100% and Trixie the farrier/body worker isn’t sure why. Even on his extremely limited pasture, he’s managing to put on weight, too (still seems thin to me). Sara is taking good care of him, and even got to ride him. It turns out though, that Apache’s favorite object is now Sara’s back massager. Trixie used it on him, and according to Sara, he “melted.”
We will figure out some way to get Apache’s diet right so he can feel okay again. That will be made better by the fact that I ordered a major ton of pipe yesterday, which will provide the foundations for our new world of fencing, pens, stalls, cattle working area, and expanded dog run (so the dogs can sit with us out front). This is going to be SO much work!
Luckily we had the equipment for dealing with this stuff. We heard the Kubota tractor could not handle the weight of the pipe, so the front-end loader had to come to the rescue. We just knew that purchase was a good one.
We also hear that the dogs are having lots of fun “helping” out on the project. I can tell Harvey is having a good time!
Over here at the beach, we’d wanted to go back to Brookgreen, but I had too much work! I did get a moment to pick up a thank-you gift from Irina, the lady who helped us get more condo time. She is the first person I ever met from Moldova, and she was so impressed I’d heard of her home country, that she shared some of her wine with us. Who knew that Moldova was “the wine country?”
I also got a tiny walk in between meetings, where I saw that workers were testing out some of the fancy new rides being set up near our condos. It looks like it will be a permanent installation amusement park, not a roving carnival. I will tell you this: I will not be getting on that roller coaster with a section that goes around and around in it.
It was really windy today, so we probably didn’t miss much not going anywhere to look at nature. Of course, I continued my hunt for natural beauty on Myrtle Beach, because I can’t help it. I found a rock with rainbow bubbles and a fresh little fish, soon to be seagull food.
But, the best thing we found were these jellyfish that washed up. They are just the most interesting creatures. It’s hard to believe they’re real when you look at them up close!
And now, it’s on to another evening of ocean watching, wine drinking, and eating delicious food (I made a huge piece of salmon last night, and seasoned it with crushed Doritos, since I’d forgotten to get any seasonings, and it was surprisingly tasty!).
We got to so many families enjoying themselves playing games together, got to watch a dog who couldn’t believe how lucky he was to find so much dirt to dig holes in, and even met a woman walking on the beach alone, wearing a tiara. It was her birthday, and she was rejoining her family in our building. I hope you are having fun enjoying the simple things, wherever you are.
Lee and I truly needed some time away. As much as we love the ranch, it’s easy to get in a rut. We’ve really been enjoying some down time to relax, while still doing our work. Ahh.
We have enough time to relax now and for the future. A nice retirement plan and the knowledge that we can travel when we want to. Not bad. It’s been a dream of mine, and I hope to share it with the family!
We have really enjoyed relaxing, watching birds, and letting the sea wash our feet. Sea bubbles are endlessly fascinating!
I did finally find some more birds! I found a house finch and a crow, but didn’t get the crow’s photo. I did enjoy some laughing and herring gulls.
We’ve been having the kind of trip we like, relaxed and full of nature.
Now, here’s something that’s pleasing me. I bought a new bathing suit, one of those “modest” ones. I got shorts, a tunic, and a long-sleeve top for sun protection. I did this because I really hate people staring at at me. And I just prefer for my curves and bumps to be for me.
I appreciate that so many people here don’t give a hoot and wear whatever they want to at the beach. I’ve seen people of so many shapes, sizes, colors, and styles on this trip. It’s great! But, for me, covering up feels comfortable. We each get to do what works for us!
I never thought of myself as modest. I think I’m just not interested in being “sexy” or flirty. I want to protect my skin and still have fun in water. This works for me. Right now, though, we are inside watching storms. It’s so pretty.
Take care, everyone, especially those of you dealing with losses and illnesses.
I’ve decided I really like taking a couple of weeks once a quarter or so and just going off and working somewhere else. It turns out I concentrate just as well, and it really refreshes my mindset, even though I miss the ranch a lot.
I guess you’ll get to enjoy more travel updates from me in the future.
Myrtle Beach, the tourism strip part, is pretty strange from a nature point of view. That’s because there just isn’t much to report. I’ve seen only four types of birds here (pelicans, seagulls, terns, and pigeons). I’ve seen no dolphins or fish, other than I think the gulls have caught some. And there is only a very narrow strip of dunes.
There isn’t much going on in the human-made flight or swimming, either. I’ve only seen two small planes, one towing a banner (of course, it’s a touristy place). And there has been ONE fishing boat. That is so weird, to only see one boat! No yachts, no tankers, no nothing. The one thing you can count on seeing, however, are red helicopters. At some times, they fly by every 30 seconds or so, giving people $20 rides. I am very glad Monday is a slow day, or maybe they are closed.
There are occasional black or white helicopters from the “other” service, but the red ones must be raking in the income!
Other than the waves, the helicopters and the occasional screeching child, it’s pretty quiet here. Or, it was until someone decided to set fireworks off between 10-11 pm last night. That seemed to be a weird choice of Sunday night activity, and sure did shake the building.
Since I’m working today, that’s about all I will have for you until later this evening. At least I got a lot of good work done today!
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
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