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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Riding the motor scooter in Wilmington this week, I stopped at the Arboretum for fresh air, peace, exercise and blogging. Iris
The New Hanover County Arboretum is free, and is run by Cooperative Extension Service, so they're very focused on helping people with their agricultural efforts - the vegetable gardens show different ways to grow veggies, for instance. There's a growing focus on habitat - the right plants in the right place.
I took the self-guided tour, which is a good way to make sure you see it all.
One of the cool things they do there is they have the Ability Garden, where they help disabled people get to play with plants. They have quite a collection of gardening tools that are easier to use, and raised beds accessible to people in wheelchairs, and what not. It's a neat program.
The center of the area is a large pond, Pond at Wilmington Arboretum complete with island, and water plants, and sculpture. There are wetland gardens and deck gardens and conifer plantings and Children's Gardena cool children's garden and desert gardens... and my favorite was the Japanese garden, Japanese Teahousecomplete with teahouse.
There were very very tall trees in the conifer planting, Pines reach the sky
and very very tiny trees (bonsai) in the greenhouse.BonsaiThere were lots of varieties of roses in the rose garden - and something very rose-looking in the greenhouse but actually it's a succulent. Echeveria look like roses It's name is Echeveria.
It was a most enjoyable afternoon.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

While walking around at the Carolina Beach Family Campground, Carolina Beach Family CampgroundI saw this little teardrop trailer. Tom Koehler's teardrop trailerTom Koehler, his wife Micky, and their dog Dude were traveling from Michigan. Tom, Micky, Dude, and the trailer open to the sleeping quartersTom, who built the trailer himself, was kind enough to give me the grand tour. The galleyThey get 30 mpg, more or less, going down the road, which is definitely a good thing.

Here's the link to Tom's website where he tells all about making the trailer.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana!

Tonight I went with my friends to see Flamenco dancing at one of Columbus County's schools. Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana has been doing workshops with the kids at Guideway Elementary this past week. The kids from the fourth and fifth grades each performed a dance they had learned, and then the people from Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana danced. I have a video I'm trying to post here, but blogger's having trouble so that will appear when it will upload.
Me gusta mucho!
The last time I saw Flamenco danced live, I was walking in a campground in New Jersey. A bunch of people were gathered at a campsite and a woman was dancing like that, complete with the appropriate clothing. It was quite impressive, and I wish I had not been so young and shy -
I'd have stayed and watched and asked questions.
Hampton Plantation/ Santee Coastal Reserve

Last month I was headed south of Charleston on the wrong weekend for efficient motorhome travel. This tends to produce adventures. I'd left Whiteville NC in torrential rain, headed for Surfside Beach SC. There were times I was driving 5 mph because I couldn't see to go faster, and hoping no one was going 10 mph behind me. I spent the night in Surfside Beach, and while I slept the wind blew the rain out to sea. On the road again.

The wind everywhere along the SC coast was horrendous. I don't ever remember actually trying to drive through wind that strong for that long, and just going from Surfside Beach through Georgetown had exhausted me. I was driving a sail and I needed to rest. Hmmm... Frances Marion State Park..... Historical marker.... Hampton Plantation, next right. Sounds like a winner.
Driving a road sheltered by trees was a major relief. I parked in the parking lot and checked the weather report on my Palm Treo. Wind all day. Darn. I made and ate lunch.

Next, I got out and investigated the grounds
allee at Hampton Plantationand toured the plantation house.

Hampton Plantation HouseThis Lowcountry plantation used to grow rice.
Wambaw CreekRice fields have to be built absolutely level and so they can be flooded and drained at appropriate times. remains of rice field border
Very labor intensive. Of course, the labor was slave labor,

slaves cultivating rice fieldsand the rice industry went down the tubes after the civil war. Hampton Plantation was also, later, the home of Archibald Rutledge, SC's Poet Laureate.

At Hampton Plantation, I was told about the Santee Coastal Reserve,
which is not far away off the other side of Route 17. Santee Reserve scenery
This 24,000 acre reserve is a haven for wildlife. There are nature trails, a canoe trail, and a bike/hiking trail. Santee Reserve scenery
There's a campground back in there, too. Their internet site says you need a permit. I dropped in but didn't stay - that's for another time.
Santee Reserve scenery
Took lots of pictures, though - I'm a sucker for moss-hung oaks.
Santee Reserve sceneryThese are things I would have missed if the wind hadn't been so awful.

Further along Route 17, approaching Mt. Pleasant, I began to wonder what the little stands were along the highway - small stands, not being used. And I noticed that in that area Route 17 is called Sweetgrass Basket Makers Highway. And then I saw occupied stands, even in that wind. I stopped at one to investigate. Lots of beautiful, beautiful baskets made of coiled grasses. sweetgrass basket top view
sweetgrass basket side viewOn days with better weather, most all the stands are occupied. Traditional sweetgrass basket makers, who practice a craft handed down through their families since the 1700s, have been selling their wares along Route 17 north of Mt. Pleasant, SC since the 1930s. The baskets were originally made for winnowing rice, but have evolved to the beautiful and useful household baskets of today.

I stopped in Mt. Pleasant, did my laundry and spent the night. NO WAY was I driving a motorhome over the bridges at Charleston in that wind.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Little Man's Zoo!

Barbara and I took Olivia to the Little Man's Zoo in Chadbourn, NC today.

Little Man's ZooThe zoo is named for a monkey they used to have. As I understand it, it started as a rescue operation - people get exotic pets and find out they are more than they can handle. Monkeys, for instance, are like permanent toddlers.

3 monkeys

I half expected these monkeys to do the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil thing.

The zoo has bears, water buffalo, birds, a black panther, sheep, goats, more birds, lots and lots of monkeys, camels, llamas, ostrich, emu, oh yes they're more birds...

I couldn't get a good shot of the bears, but there's one on the Little Man's Zoo website.

Turkey showing off

This turkey was showing off how big he could be.

Donkeys, a Zebra, and a Z-donk

Donkeys and a zebra - and the one on the right with the striped hindquarters is a Z-donk, a cross between a donkey and a zebra.

Kiss This! Camel's nose.

Camel wants a kiss.

Llama

Llama

Critters getting noses petted

Not all the critters here are pettable - but these are.

Island with housing for what?

Out on the island is a little house, wonder what's in there. Zoom lens will tell.

Ringtailed Lemurs?

I think they are ringtailed lemurs.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I must be working too much: I just realized I'd posted nothing about Carolina Beach State Park.

tent campers

It is very much oriented toward tent camping (See, Sue, there still are places!) No electric hookups, water available at centralized locations. They did have an RV dump station. These are NOT complaints, mind you - I'm perfectly happy camping without hookups. As long as I can find a fairly level spot to park and back in without clobbering the resident vegetation.

motorhome in campsite

It took 3 trips around the loop to decide this was the campsite, and it was excellent.

trees seen while I hiked

Then (still celebrating the lack of corn on toe) I made several more trips around the loop on foot.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Reasons why working at the beach this time of year is wonderful:

1. palm trees - I love the palmetto trees. When I see them, I know I won't get snowed on. palm tree2. beach / ocean / sunshine - especially watching the sun rise over the ocean from the beach - but the daylight is more abundant at the beach because the land is flat - and I get a bit of seasonal affective disorder - sunlight is my friend.
surfer at Carolina Beach3. architecture - most beach houses are up on stilts for coolness, large househave lots of porches and decks and come in lots of bright and pastel colors. colorful housesAnd they come in all sizes, too,
small house

4. friendly locals - It's too early for the tourist season and the people who live at the beach seem friendly, easy to talk with, relaxed.

5. outdoor living - maybe that's why. People are out and about, on the beach, on the decks and porches, on the sidewalks, at the park. Taking advantage of that sunshine.

6. attractions- aquarium, etc. On this trip it was an aquarium. aquariumThey were having a scales & tails event, with private collections of reptiles. tree frogNow I'm glad that when I was a kid and was offered a pet iguana, I declined.

small iguanaThey get quite big and challenging to care for. The label warns: he bites. There were pictures of the results of that, too.

big iguana I did get to hold a few snakes - my favorite was a python. snake7. shells - I picked up a few - some will be focal beads for necklaces, most of them I gave to Susan, another friend who does beadwork also.
shells on the beach