Saturday, November 10, 2012

Alligator, Angel, Beach...Oh My!

There have been a couple of times that I have confessed to being a bit uncomfortable with something we did and there were times this morning that would fall into that category. We returned to Magnolia Plantation to walk through the Audubon Swamp on the grounds. We brought The Girls along...for protection you ask? Hardly.

Much of the walk was on boardwalks with heavy wire fencing attached to the side rails to prevent alligators from accessing the boardwalk, so that felt safe. From there we enjoyed the tupelo trees and the swamp water covered with duck weed. Duck weed is the green plant that we wrongly thought was algae before taking the tours here two days ago.

The low lying yellow flowers that grow in the swamp are Sticktight Sunflowers.

Here's a closer look at one. Can you tell me what that insect is?

But the boardwalk ends in places and sometimes there is wire fence to keep alligators from climbing onto the dirt or gravel path; sometimes there is in the photo below. I'm sure you noticed Rich and The Girls standing across the swamp from me but did you also notice the two alligators in the photo? Look closely. At the bottom left and bottom right you can see the heads of two small alligators sticking up from the duck weed. There was another one closer to the bank on the side where I was standing. Uncomfortable? Kinda! Extremely aware of our surroundings every second? You betcha!

But, after all, this is what we came to see. Here is a much bigger alligator in a section of the swamp where there was fencing along the shore.

We were amused by the number of turtles lying on the tail of this alligator and the large yellow-bellied slider turtle lying beside it. Somehow they must be aware that they are too large to be eaten by this small alligator.

It was such a beautiful walk along the boardwalk.

I first spotted this lizard on the handrail of the boardwalk and took several pictures as he ran slightly ahead of me. When we got to the end of that boardwalk section, he hopped onto this nearby tree.

We took a path out of the swamp that ended at the plantation's exit road. As we walked along the road to our parking lot, we saw a few more alligators...and there is no fencing there!

I think this shot is kinda cool. See the head of another alligator in the background? Obviously we were fine and did not see any snakes or other creatures so, again, I am happy to have swallowed my slight fears and enjoyed this experience.

After dropping The Girls off at home, we drove to James Island to see the Angel Oak in a secluded park where it is fenced and there are staff making sure that folks don't climb on it or damage it in anyway. It is magnificent!

Angel Oak is a Live Oak native to the Lowcountry, estimated to be 300 to 400 years old, stands 65 feet tall, and its 25.5 foot circumference shades 17,000 square feet. Its largest limb has a circumference of 11.25 feet and is 89 feet long. Now that's quite a tree!

From there we drove out to Folly Beach. Wherever you go in this area you cross bridge after bridge because there is water everywhere!

When we got to Folly Beach, the Wich Doctor caught our attention when we were looking for a place to have our very late lunch...where do the hours go? It was selected as The Best Hole In the Wall by the Charleston newspaper this summer.

I had this. It is a savory cheesecake with chorizo, poblanos, black beans and a tortilla crust served with an avocado salad. I was already living on the edge today so decided to try a Lychee drink with my meal. Everything was absolutely delicious! Rich had a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with roast beef and mushrooms. Cute place...unusual menu...perfect!

Folly Beach County Park remains closed after all the damage it sustained from Hurricane Irene in August 2011. We parked and walked down there along the beach. The view to the west was breathtaking as the sun was going down.

This structure was a dune walkover from the parking lot to the beach at Folly Beach County Park before that hurricane. As you can see...there are no dunes now. This was a really cool place when we were here a few years ago. It still is, but it is dramatically changed.

Walking back to our car along the street, I saw this large gorgeous plant; it is at least four feet across. The leaves appear fern-like to me but I have never seen anything like this. The part growing in the center is so delicate. Those curly, feathery leaves are pure white and the bulbs or fruit inside is pink. I spent too much time online this evening trying to identify it, to no avail. There are a couple of you who are experts in the field. Can you identify this? I would love to know what it is!

 Lovin' Life ~~ Savoring Memories of Another Great Day

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