Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Sandy Side Of The Charleston Lowcountry Experience--World Class

There are a boat load of reasons why people choose Charleston, SC as their vacation destination. For one, it's the accolades. The readers of Conde Nast Traveller have named the Holy City the top tourist destination in the U.S. three years running. That is momentous. However, the preeminent reasons that have people raving about it is its illustrious history and distinctive character. Its world class restaurant's are sumptuous. Its Lowcountry cuisine is scrumptious. Its Southern hospitality is courteous. Its antebellum charm is gracious. Its American history is glorious. This is the brick and mortar side of Charleston.

But there is more, another side to Charleston. For a cohesive aggregate, you need water and sand. And Charleston is richly blessed with an abundance of the wet and grainy stuff. The Charleston Lowcountry is beautifully framed by water soaked, sandy beaches, all of which are located on nine different barrier islands fronted by the Atlantic Ocean from Edisto to Awendaw. Some have easy access by way of bridges, some are private, and some are remote, uninhabited sanctuaries that can only be reached by boat or ferry.

Grab your beach towels, spread your blankets, place your chairs, stick your toes in the water or take a tour. Here are some of my pictures that showcase the beautiful beaches of the Charleston Lowcountry.

Edisto Beach and the Pavillion Restaurant and Lounge--Looking for a nice vacation rental on Edisto try the Sea Island Cotton Cottage.

Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island--The Trials And Triumphs Of A Lowcountry Walkabout

Edingsville Beach is located between Botany Bay Beach and Edisto Beach. It is private, but has a great story--Now Barely A Whisper In The Wind With A Ghost Of A Story, Edingsville Beach Was A Haven Of Grandeur And Extravagance

At the present time, I do not have pictures of Bulls Island. I plan on taking the beach drop tour this spring. The island can only be reached by ferry or kayak. It is part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Preserve. If you want to learn more about Bulls Island go to Bulls Island Ferry, Charters and Kayaking. Dewees Island is private and can only be reached by ferry. You can rent homes on Dewees Island. For more information, go to Dewees Renntals. Seabrook Island is also private. For more information on rentals, go to Seabrook Island Vacation Rentals.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This Beauty Of A Play Is No Sleeper

Sleeping Beauty is opening at the James F. Dean Theatre on Saturday, April 18th for a two day run. A "not so classic of a tale" adaptation of the famous Disney classic, this beauty of a play is no sleeper. You don't want to miss it.

In this children's musical version of the classic fairy tale by Bob Hammond, Queen Bea and King Bumble the Seventy Second give birth to Princess Beauty. In desperate need of money, the royal couple make plans to marry their daughter to a rich prince when she becomes of age at eighteen, but the rhyming evil witch, Carabosse, has other plans for the princess when that time arrives and plans to put a curse on Beauty. The evil witch's Zsa Zsa Gabor-like counterpart, the Good Fairy, is asked by the royal couple to counter Carabosse's evil intentions, but says, "Nothing I can do, sweetie. I mean, if I knew what spell she is going to use, well...possibly. But otherwise...look, why don't you give me a little tinkle in eighteen years?" And so, the drama begins. Among the contenders for the princess's hand are the constantly quarreling Prince Eric and Prince Henry and the not-so-rich Prince Braveheart. A spell, a spinning wheel, and lots of singing and dancing follow.

Heather Pallay steps out from behind the front box office to collaborate with "Sound of Music" standout Sarah Farra as the plays directors. Working with Bob Hammonds open script, together they masterfully personalized it with their own blend of frivolity utilizing knock-knock jokes, popular songs of the past such as "I'm a Believer" by the Monkeys and bringing it home by inserting local names like Lincolnville, Knightsville and yours truly. Thank you for the mention Flowertown Players.

Patti Kelly once again did an artful job on the colorful array of costumes and the simple set worked well with the scene changes.

The hard working cast of local young actors pooled from the Youth Theater for this production of the Flowertown Players work their magic on you with their enchanting enthusiasm and energy. Each cast member projected the personalities of their characters skillfully. Their execution of the dance choreography was near flawless and delivery of the punch lines timeless. The climatic song and dance routine is well worth a standing ovation in itself and a $10 ticket.

Honorable mentions include King Bumble the Seventy Second(Trevor Bierdz), Queen Bea(Riley Hatch), Princess Beauty(Julia Maguire), Prince Braveheart(Jackson Barnard), The Lord High Chamberlain(Bailey Dorman), Chip(Grey Hohn), Kate(Caelan Barlow), Prince Henry(Andrew Hebert), Prince Eric(Logan Farless), Carabosse(Kyra Wood), the Good Fairy(Drew Janine), and Hobgoblins 1 and 2(Alanna Campbell and Caitlyn Campbell). Fairy Dance Troupe(Elizabeth Aylward-Jahn, Eloira Carls, Mia Helm, Tanner Spencer, and Alexa Tringali).

If you are looking for some quality family entertainment this weekend, the James F. Dean Theatre is where you want to be. This fairy funny version of Sleeping Beauty will lift your spirits. It will knock your silk bloomers off and royally enrich your hearts.

Ensemble Cast Members: Audrey Campbell, Julie Cox, Chandler Schaffer, Savannah Davis, Jada Gilbert, Tyler Hanson, John Moore IV, and Sydney Reich. Backstage Crew: Gia Darconte, Emma Maguire, and Reese Addison.

$10 Adults, $7 Children under 12
Sat, Apr 18th at 1PM and 5PM
Sun, Apr 19th at 1PM
Call Box Office for tickets (843) 875-9251

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Charleston Barrier Island Tour Highly Worth A Trip To The Past

Eagerly anticipating the arrival of this day, I woke to the sounds of the whelk singing in my ears and for this sort of occasion, the wished for weather was perfectly arranged--not by my hand. With a quick breakfast and implementation of the necessary preparations, I exited my home with camera in-hand and entered my heavily dew-covered truck. The anxious drive to my anticipated destination was marred with the typical nerve racking hustle and bustle of the early morning rush hour commute. Where I was going, such things are unheard of.

With only two minutes to spare, I arrived at the Isle of Palms Marina where the 49 passenger Caretta patiently awaited my presence--by now fully loaded with its precious sightseeing cargo. The last to board, I took a seat on the pontoon boat next to a couple from Murrells Inlet, David and Sharon, whom I bonded with on the excursion.

The Captain throttled the engine and we slowly pulled away from the weatherworn docks into the salty tidal waters of Morgan Creek. The high water marks on the wooden piles perched by pelicans and egrets indicated it was low tide. After entering the nutrient rich Intracoastal Waterway lined with boat docks and island homes, we steadily crept along the no wake zone and our tour guide began his enlightening narration.

Our first stop was an area in the Copahee Sound known to locals as the Shark Hole--a ninety foot deep backwater fish bowl scoured out by the surging tidal currents spilling through Dewees Inlet from the Atlantic Ocean. The open stretch of water is an excellent feeding ground for sharks and an ideal location for bottlenose dolphin sightings. The Captain's dog named Moses, a proficient dolphin spotter, barked wildly when he located a surfacing dolphin to alert the eager passengers attempting to get that one picture-perfect shot.

It was also an appropriate time for our barefooted guide to dispel the first of the many myths people have about marine life, such as, sharks and dolphins do hang out in close proximity to one another when feeding and yes, it is safe to swim in the ocean. Jessen rattled off a long list of things more deadly to us than sharks, like sticking a fork into a toaster or simply stepping off your porch. Mostly, it is a matter of mistaken identity.

After cruising the sun soaked waters of the inlet and satisfied we had seen all the dolphin we were going to see, Courtney accelerated the Caretta to top cruising speed and we headed toward the estuaries of Capers Island and our second stop, Eco Tours crab trap. The waterway was skirted by thick stands of salt grass, oyster mounds, and the occasional fallen tree. It was an idyllic time to absorb the peaceful beauty of the unspoiled surroundings.

With a buoy marking the location of the submerged crab trap now in sight, the captain brought the Caretta to a stop. The guide grabbed a long hook and with the assistance of some of the younger passengers, pulled it onto the deck of the boat. From the trap, he chose three specimens, two blue crabs and one stone crab. He spoke extensively about their habits and place in the estuaries diverse ecosystem. Holding up the blue crab, he asked, "How can you tell which one is the male and which is the female?" With a blue crab in each hand, he continued, "The male is marked by Washington's Monument and the female is marked by the dome of the Capitol Building." He paused and then revealed the punch line. With a grin, he continued, "Men go around doing monumental things, but we all know the female is in charge." Much of Jessen's narration was accented with well placed levity.

It was now time to move on to our final destination. At this point, a course change was made. Instead of proceeding to the southern tip of Capers Island, we headed for the northern tip through the winding and narrow Santee Pass to Price Inlet. With Bulls Island across the way and an eagle perched high above on a pole keeping a watchful eye, the Caretta slid onto the quietly tranquil sands of Capers Island and one by one we disembarked for an hour and a half self-guided exploration of the island.

With each step, the soft, water-soaked sand oozed through my toes and over my feet. I could feel and smell the fresh, salty island air as it encompassed me. Adding to the feeling of remoteness, I navigated around scattered piles of reddish-brown seaweed beached by the ocean's relentless waves. Undisturbed and protected, highly prized trinkets of the beachcomber bleached by the southern sun were randomly strewn about, among them the South Carolina lettered olive. A few pieces of old driftwood laid partially buried near where the sand met the grassy dunes and increased in frequency as I continued up the front beach towards the foremost reason I came to Caper's Island. About a half mile down the beach, I could faintly see the relics of past island erosion rising out of the intruding surf, shimmering in the bright sunlight--the monarchs of Bone-yard Beach. As I stood among the weathered and fallen wooded wonders, I was filled with a sense of fascination and awe. Seeing is believing and a picture truly paints a thousand colorful words.

A trip to Capers Island is like stepping back in time to an era before the colonizing tall ships of the early settlers came to this land and called their new home South Carolina. Barrier Island Eco Tours provides a relaxing and comfortable way to experience it, if you don't mind a little salt spray on a breezy day. Our naturalist guide and Captain for the excursion, Jessen and Courtney, were superb hosts. Jessen knowledgeably shared a balanced mix of information and humor that made it interesting and fun for young and old alike, Courtney handled the pontoon boat skillfully, and Moses kept eager little ones preoccupied. At $42 a person and children 12 and under $32, I highly recommend this tour for the whole family. You will come away with a greater appreciation and understanding for Charleston's versatile and delicate barrier island estuaries--a living wonder.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Nine Places In Changing Summerville You Will Want To Visit And Photograph

With a highly celebrated historical landscape, Summerville has plenty to offer the discerning amateur photographer looking for that cherished photo memento. As you stroll Hutchinson Square and beyond, surviving remnants from the town's past are there for you to discover and capture with the click of your camera. Don't hesitate, as quick as the shutter blinks, the scene of Summerville is changing, as it has and as it will. That is the nature of things. Freeze framing the moments are imperative.

Just imagine, if you dare, even the long-standing Angel Oak will eventually succumb to the powers to be. It will be a sad day when that happens, but for those who have preserved their visit to the oldest living thing east of the Rockies with a photo, its place in time will always be remembered. What will take its place in history, only time will tell.

Summerville has been richly graced with thick groves of tall pines and old oaks. Their cooling touch and healing scent was what enticed early plantation owners to take up residence on its sandy hills. From those very same trees, they constructed their simple homes. The community grew and the trees were declared sacred. In time, some of the trees bowed to the Pine Forest Inn and an era of prosperity was ushered in. Of the trees still around today, longtime residents nurture fond memories and tell stories of playing below their broad branches.

Located near the corner where W Richardson meets Central Ave and considered the oldest tree in Summerville, the old pine is scheduled for an appointment with the axman to make way for the highly contested Dorchester Hotel project. Ragged from time and weather, the trees glory days have past. People no longer come to Summerville for health, they come for the charm, the hospitality, and the history.

We could dignify the old tree the way the Hopelands Gardens in Aiken honored one of its prominent cedars when a portion of it came down. They carved benches out of the cherished wood and placed them on site for visitors to see.

Eventually, each pine in its time will succumb to the powers to be. The scene of Summerville is changing. Like the first settlers and early town planners, may we seize the opportune moments presented to us and take Summerville into another era of prosperity.

I have picked nine places in and around Summerville's rich-in-history landscape that have become my favorite framed souvenirs. I offer this list as a suggestion of places you may want to check out and photograph on your next visit.

1) Colonial Dorchester State Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. From 1697 until the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the trading town of Dorchester flourished along the Ashley River, inland from colonial Charleston. Abandoned at the start of the Revolutionary War, the town of Dorchester has all but disappeared, leaving only the remains of a brick bell tower from St. George's Anglican Church, the foundation outline of a colonial home and a the fort made of an oyster-shell concrete called tabby. More pictures.

2) Linwood Bed and Breakfast was built on a two-acre site in 1883 by Julia Drayton Hastie, heiress to Magnolia on the Ashley Plantation. Ancient camellias, azaleas, majestic magnolias and stately palms dominate the properties landscape. Elevated porches offer a panoramic view of the lush, more formal gardens. It has been a bed and breakfast for over 13 years, officially opening in 1995 with elegant guest rooms, private baths, secluded sitting areas, a large swimming pool, and wide porches. More pictures.

3) Guerin's Pharmacy was founded in 1871 by Dr. Henry C. Guerin after buying out Schwettman Drugstore and moving the business to South Main Street and Richardson Ave. The Dunnings later acquired the pharmacy in 1975. When they were remodeling the interior they discovered a white chalk message scrawled on a wall by Joe Guerin in an upstairs office. The message documented the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912. It is the oldest operating pharmacy in South Carolina. Today, you can order a float, milkshake, hot dog or lemonade from its fountain.

4) My favorite of the old inns, White Gables was built by the Peake Family somewhere between the 1830's and early 1850's. In the early 1900's, Sara Woodruff developed a fondness for the near 65 year old house located on the corner of Richardson Ave and Palmetto Street. What happened next gave birth to her distinguished story and White Gables fame. Both fascinating and amusing, it is a story unlike any other in Summerville history. More pictures.

5) Middleton Place on the Ashley was settled in the late 17th century with its main family residence constructed in 1705. The estate encompasses America's oldest landscaped gardens called "the most important and most interesting garden in America." The Gardens were started by Henry Middleton in 1741. In 1952, Middleton Place began welcoming visitors to its gardens year-round. Every year Middleton Place host the finale of the Spoleto Festival. In the spring from April to May, on Wednesday, you can enjoy the gardens and sample old and new world wines at the Wine Stroll...More pictures.

6) Arriving and departing guests of the Pine Forest Inn passed through these decorative columns for forty years, beginning in 1891. The inn was world renown and visited by many celebrities, a showcase among Southern inns. It was advertised as being "situated on the outskirts of one of the prettiest villages in the Southland." The columns are all that is left of the Pine Forest Inn.

7) In 1938 Elizabeth Arden bought a summer home in Summerville South Carolina. The house is located at 208 Sumter Ave. It was built in 1891 for Mr. Samuel Lord, a Charleston attorney. The house was built by A. J. Baird, the man who also constructed the Pine Forest Inn. The house is still standing, but the inn was torn down. Elizabeth Arden sold the house in 1954. It had 15 rooms with 12 foot ceiling.

8) The Canada Geese on Hutchinson Square is part of The Birds in Residence Downtown Summerville Project--a collaborative effort by Summerville DREAM, Sculpture in the South, and the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. The B.I.R.D.S. are located throughout Downtown Summerville for you to search out. Maps are available to assist you.

9) Bell Tower next to Town Hall in Downtown Summerville at sunset. I took this picture during a Third Thursday--Summerville's monthly party. Things to see and do around town.