Another Post about Birds, Beaches, and Beauty

Judging from my stats, people are getting tired of my beachy posts about nature in South Carolina. Unfortunately, that’s all I have right now, since the rest of my brain is in total shutdown mode, which has not made me popular with folks who want me to do things. But, I needed a break.

So, today was a real vacation day! Lee and I went on a long boat tour to North Island, an uninhabited place an hour by boat from Georgetown, from where we embarked. It was most definitely NOT a fancy boat, but it did the job.

It’s ocean worthy!

We were promised lots of bird sightings, and we did get those, though on the way out to North Island, the water was a bit choppy for photography. I did learn my lesson last time, and got a seat near the front of the boat. That meant a bit of splash got on us, but if you’re on a small boat, you need to expect to get wet at some point!

These guys were holding still, though.

They had a naturalist doing the narration, and she was not as cheesy as the previous tour guide was. She did have a few ghost stories, since she’s written three books on it, but really had a lot of interesting history of the area to share. There’s some old stuff in this area! She also shared a lot of information about rice plantations, so I feel full of the knowledge.

We eventually got to the island and embarked on an excursion on the beach. I found one really nice shell, then got sort of dazed by how many colors of oysters they have on that beach, and I did get a few of those.

A variety of oysters, cockle shells and a whelk or something. I am not a shell person.

I was there more to look at living things, and I was not disappointed at this interesting beach. I’m glad I wore my sandals, because the beach was littered with jellyfish, but also had a lot of fascinating patterns of water, since it was low tide. The most beautiful things I saw were blue crabs, though. We had a lot of fun looking for them among the rocks in the jetty. There was lots of seaweed, barnacles, and other interesting stuff. The weirdest thing, though, was this area of clay, really slippery clay. I am going to have to look up what’s up with that.

I really enjoyed watching the crabs crabbing along and interacting with each other. They are so blue! I also found a number of hermit crabs in moon shells, but I put them back in the water before taking any photos. I sure hope no one picked those up thinking they were empty, because they are in for some bad smells, and bad karma, I guess.

Blue crab under ripples. So beautiful

Of course, I wanted to find birds. I don’t think I ever saw so many pelicans in my life, and they were a lot of fun, splashing, diving, swimming, and flying.

Brown pelicans having fun

There were also many gulls, particularly laughing gulls, who were also swooping, diving, and swimming. They were quite loud. They are entertaining and beautiful birds.

Whee, gulls on patrol.

There were also many beautiful shore birds, but we didn’t see egrets and herons on the island (there were plenty on the beaches near the old rice fields, though). I think there were sandpipers and plovers, including another black plover.

There was one more bird we were promised a sighting of, and that was the bald eagle. You can sure tell they are on the comeback trail, because we saw multiple birds (plus a couple of ospreys and one juvenile bald eagle). No, these are not great pictures, but that’s all the ole iPhone X can manage.

It was nice to just ride along and look at the scenery, even though it wasn’t a really beautiful day or anything. I haven’t been on boats in the ocean but one other time, when Anita and I took that tour of marshes. I enjoyed the relaxation aspect of being on the water as much as anything else.

Oh wait, I forgot we got to see this lighthouse, which is still doing its duty, and has for hundreds of years. There is a lot of OLD stuff here.

Even the loud motorcycles didn’t ruin my mood. Going to the island was a really different and pleasant activity. I’m going to share a couple of more photos, just because the island was so ruggedly beautiful.

Driftwood

I hope this day brought you some peace and focus.

Weathered beach

Dolphins and Mother’s Day Wishes

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.

This time, there are dolphins in that glassy expanse.

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!

The black dot in the center is a dolphin heading down. Obviously I couldn’t get a real photo, since they were way out there.

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.

My sentiments.

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!

I did enjoy mothering my kids!

Hug someone you’re allowed to safely hug today, and enjoy whatever gift Mother Nature brings to you, my friends!

Who Hates Changing Email Addresses?

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.

My reward for boring as heck 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.

Speaking of the ranch, this will grow up to be the arch going over our cattle guard or second gate. It’s happening!

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.

I’d rather have been at the pool!

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.

I’d rather have been in the ocean. Yes I went in. No jellyfish got me.

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.

Pancakes: The Odd Thing about South Carolina Dining Out

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.

That’s a lot of waffle houses.

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.

MMM, absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever, the perfect American food. Photo by @shanti via Twenty20

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.

Heavens, that’s a lot of pancakes.

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.

Closest pancake to where we are staying.

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?

Evening Exploration

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.

I guess I’m relaxed

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.

Dining spot.

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.

Lemon roll.

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!

Lee wasn’t allergic to this palm flower.

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.

Speeding by woods

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.

Pine forest, thinned

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.

Stinky but cool.

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.

Steel mill

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.

And there are boats!

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.

Both of these families own Great Danes, so the kid was fine with him. He just kept scratching the dog, and the dog kept smiling.

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.

This old house is a museum.

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!

Sunset in the rear-view mirror and reflected on our vehicle. Artsy.

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.

News from Back at the Ranch and Seaside Sights

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.”

Happy horse time. More, Trixie, more!

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!

Look at all that pipe! And you can see dogs, too. Hi dogs!

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.

I can handle anything.

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!

I got to go for a ride.

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?”

Can’t wait to try this, though I’d like to share it with friends and family.

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.

Nope, not getting on that thing, ever.

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.

Some Couple Time

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.

Gazing at the ocean.

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!

I found some nature!

We have really enjoyed relaxing, watching birds, and letting the sea wash our feet. Sea bubbles are endlessly fascinating!

Shells and bubbles

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.

What? 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.

My swim attire

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!

Happy in the sun.

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.

Stormy weather.

Take care, everyone, especially those of you dealing with losses and illnesses.

Nature is so powerful.

This Travel Works for Me

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.

It was sort of a spooky morning.

I guess you’ll get to enjoy more travel updates from me in the future.

View up toward North Myrtle Beach. Many high-rises, not much nature.

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.

Looking down from my room, you can see there ain’t much of the dunes.
Thump thump thump

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.

One plane.

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!

To Do Things, You Have to Plan

So, Catherine of the comments section wants me to write more about what I’m doing, but still, we aren’t doing anything. That’s the nice thing about having a long vacation: you can actually get some REST, just stare at waves, and watch little kids running around on the beach.

Lots of pelicans to watch!

Here are the things I am currently NOT doing:

  • Stressing about work
  • Two blog articles for the Master Naturalist blog (sorry to them)
  • My newsletter for Friends of LLL (sorry to them)
  • Reading things I “have” to read
  • Worrying about family members or ranch animals
  • Getting a sunburn
I got to watch the moon rise.

Whew, that gets me tired already, just not doing all that stuff. I suppose we should get doing things. I have found a bunch of parks, nature trails, and THREE boat tours, one of which I actually already booked, so never fear, we will be doing some stuff!

The sun behind the clouds this morning looked practically icy.

While the immediate area where we are staying is pretty touristy and gets seedy if you aren’t careful where you go, there’s lots to do just outside of Myrtle Beach, in places like Murrel’s Inlet and Pawley’s Island. We will go to those places, including the excellent state park we went to last year.

I think I got enough wine. Actually, there are four more bottles of red, not in fridge. I drank one. (These are small bottles, by the way, about two glasses each, in other words, perfect for Suna).

After a morning of figuring out what to do, blogging, and struggling to get the podcasts sounding right, we are getting ready to exit the condo. It’s such a nice condo, though, you hardly want to leave, and since we stocked up at Costco yesterday (including twelve half-sized bottles of wine for my drinking pleasure), we certainly don’t need to eat out much (though I do LOVE to do so).

Plenty to eat; some of it even healthy!

I’m sure we’ll find plenty to do next week, even though I’ll be working, so a lot of the time will be spent Zooming and writing things, with an ocean view! I’m hoping the weather stays as nice as it’s been so far, neither hot nor cold, neither too sunny or too cloudy. It’ll be fine no matter what. I like working from alternate locations!

Take care and keep the comments coming!

A Day of May Day Rest, Darn It!

We are happily back at the same condos we visited last year just as COVID was hitting. There sure was a lot between those two trips. It was such a nice drive, and Lee and I thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. We’re really happy with our fancy room, with a spare bedroom just waiting for visitors.

The view from our bedroom is all ocean, all the time.

We took a few little detours on the way and got to see little towns, which we hope to do more of while we’re here. We almost got caught by the same GPS error that hit us last time, but that was okay, because it allowed us to see some really cool clouds with the sun peeking out from behind them.

Not bad for through a buggy windshield!

Last night we just relaxed and stared at the sunset for a long time, while enjoying some hard-earned adult beverages. It’s nice to see Lee relaxing. Since these condos have everything we need, including Lee’s portable sleeping chair, there’s little to complain or worry about!

So far today, all I’ve done is get Lee his breakfast and better coffee from Starbucks and take a walk down the boardwalk. After that, we are getting groceries and relaxing the rest of the day. Yes, a whole day of doing nothing, other than using the good Wi-Fi to update things, which we can’t do at home without using all our data. There are some advantages to being in a more urban location, after all!

They shut this thing down, but appear to be working to open it again.

Admittedly, I have a lot of podcasts to catch up on, as if people are just dying to know where I’ve been the past few days. It is a relief to have three non-working days, so I’ll be all geared up and ready to “work from beach” next week. The weather is so lovely I should be able to use the balcony a lot!

We are on the 18th floor of that tall building, in the part that sticks out.

I know this wasn’t an exciting or pithy update, but wow, it’s nice to NOT have anything major to say or worry about. We even got good news about our business, so we may start profiting enough to build up some reserves, now that more people are vaccinated and feeling more comfortable seeking help.

It’s not South Carolina without their palm trees!

And before I sign off, happy Beltane, May Day, or whatever you’re celebrating. It’s one of my favorite days, and by gosh, I’m gonna enjoy it!