Friday, October 21, 2016

We didn’t see fish, but roses instead.

Tom getting into the act!

Tom and his Dad rode around with Garrett, the Biologist, for a few hours this morning, checking hog traps but they didn’t find any hogs.  I went to the Post Office to mail our absentee ballots and then to the grocery store.  I was happy to find that there is a grocery store in Santee – Food Lion – it’s not a really big store, but has a pretty good selection.  The Walmart in Manning is a little further away, but nice, too.

We all got back around noon, and had some lunch before setting out to visit the Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery, about a half hour away.

When we arrived, though, we found that they were still trying to clean up their hurricane damage, and in fact, are waiting for one of the maintenance guys from Santee NWR to come over there with the heavy equipment needed to clear out downed trees. So, the Fish Hatchery was closed . . .

OK, Plan B . . . the lady I talked to in the office recommended that we check out Edisto Memorial Gardens.


The park is operated by the city of Orangeburg, and located in the center of town.  There’s a small parking lot across from the rose gardens, and then a driveway up to a another really large parking lot . . . they must host some larger events to need that huge parking lot!


Rose Fountain


We parked and crossed the street to the Rose Gardens,

Rose Garden

A beautiful day in the Rose Garden


It was a beautiful day, and almost all of the roses were still in bloom, although many were starting to fade.

We walked among the roses and I practiced my photography skills on roses and butterflies.


The butterflies loved the purple flowers on this bush!


A collage of many of the roses we saw today . . .

Garden of Roses

From the Rose Garden, we followed the boardwalk through the Cypress Forest,

Cypress Forest










Tall trees


where there were many large trees – cypress and live oak, and magnolias.

Cypress Tree

The boardwalk took us towards the river,

Boardwalk along the Edisto River

and it looked like it followed the river for some distance, but it was blocked off – must be hurricane damage here, too.

There was a water wheel in the river,

Water Wheel in the river

and as we stood there watching it, the wheel started to move, scooping up water and re-depositing it into the troughs at the top, where it ran down and flowed back into the river.

Moving water











We weren’t sure what its purpose was, but it was pretty cool.

Circling back around to the Rose Gardens, we walked over a bridge between two ponds where there was a group of geese and ducks hanging out,











Two males standing watch

including one ugly duckling!

Ugly Duckling

Along the banks of the pond, there were statues of children, which looked very realistic.

Kids feeding the ducks

This looked like a peaceful spot for real people to sit and feed the ducks, too . . . so pretty!

Such a pretty spot next to the pond











The geese weren’t as friendly as the duck as we walked past them – they stood their ground and were hissing at us.  I’m just glad they didn’t come after us!



We made it past the killer geese, and back to the Rose Gardens.  It was a beautiful day in a beautiful garden!


Monday, October 17, 2016

Exploring more of Santee National Wildlife Refuge


After mass and grocery shopping on Sunday, we had some lunch and I talked to both of the boys for a while.  Work is going well for Nicolas and Bryce’s classes are fine . . . his football team isn’t doing too great, though!

We wanted to get out for a while and explore some more of the refuge, so we decided to go out to the Cuddo Unit for the Auto Tour Drive.


Nicolas did this drive last winter and saw alligators, so our hopes were up that Dad would get to see a gator!

During the first few miles of the drive, we were in a dry, grassy area, so we were on the lookout for birds – we did spot some turkeys and a large hawk, but nothing I could catch in a picture.

As we got down close to the water, in an area called Alligator Alley, we kept our eyes peeled for gators.













The environment looked like a perfect habitat for gators, and the signs were promising . . .











Tom and I got out for a better view of the water, but Dad wasn’t stepping foot out of the Jeep!  Smile

Still no gators!


We continued on and didn’t see any wildlife, but we did see lots of hurricane damage.

Lots of hurricane damage here, too!

Driving the Auto Loop











There was a deer and hog hunt in the Cuddo Unit last week, so they got the area minimally cleared as quickly as they could so the hunters could get in, and there is still quite a bit of cleanup to do.

Tree down over the river











Maybe the cleanup will be part of Tom’s volunteer activities; we’re not sure yet.

Towards the end of the drive, we passed by a beautiful pond,

Beginning of fall colors

Great white egret


and finally spotted some wildlife!  A great white egret flew by and landed in a tree across the pond.  There’s a canoe trail that goes from this pond out to Lake Marion, but it was currently marked as closed.  Maybe we’ll have a chance to get on the water – hopefully in something bigger than a canoe!


Back at the Visitor Center today, we talked to Garrett, the Biologist, and he assured us that he could take us to places where we’ll definitely find gators!

Tom and I have been going out for bike rides every night after dinner . . . and each time the sunset has been spectacular!



Sunset_October 17th


I love the reflection of the sun on the water!



Saturday, October 15, 2016

Arrival at Santee National Wildlife Refuge

Our home for the next 3 months

On Thursday, they had finally gotten things cleaned up enough from the hurricane for us to arrive at the National Wildlife Refuge.  It was an easy 160-mile drive down from Rock Hill, and we arrived just after noon.

We met the Park Manager, Marcie, and got set up on our volunteer site.

Our volunteer site

It’s a really nice site – we’re in a clearing surrounded by pine trees, with a grassy area on our patio side.  There’s a 2nd volunteer site next to us (on the driver’s side), but there won’t be anybody on it until mid-November.  Behind the RV is a trail through the woods to the Visitor Center. 

After we got set up and had some lunch, we walked over to the Visitor Center to talk to Marcie and take a tour.  After showing us around, Marcie gave us a jetpack to use in the RV, keys to the gates and the Visitor Center, and an opener for the front gate.  She told us to spend the weekend getting familiar with the area, and we’d catch up next week.  I think it’s going to be very laid back around here!

There are 4 areas to the Refuge – the larger areas were closed this week for hunting, so we started out by exploring the rest of the Bluff Unit on Friday.

There was quite a bit of hurricane damage along the main road,

Hurricane Damage

and there are still a lot of trees to be cleaned up.  They had just gotten the road opened on Thursday, and haven’t even gotten started on the trails yet.



We stopped at the historic site at the end of the road.  In 1200 – 1400, the Santee Indians used this site as a ceremonial burial ground for their chiefs.  The Indian Mound remains, and there is an observation deck built around it.






Indian Mound Burial Site

We climbed to the top to check out the view.

View of Lake Marion

View from the Observation Platform










Revolutionary War Fort


Later, this site was used as a British Fort during the Revolutionary War, Fort Watson.  It didn’t last long, though, and the Fort was quickly captured by General Francis Marion.







Remains of the British Fort

Dad spent some time studying the plaques.

Dad exploring the Refuge

After our little bit of exploration, we went back to the RV for lunch, stopping for a look at the lake on the way.

View of the lake

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing outside and enjoying the beautiful weather.  I started a new book, and Tom & Dad just relaxed.

Relaxing outside

After dinner, Tom and I took a bike ride down the road.  We stopped at the Visitor Center to enjoy the beautiful sunset.

Sunset_October 14th

Sunset_Oct 14th












The sunset over the water was beautiful!

Beautiful colors over the water

One last shot!


It was a beautiful end to our first day at the Refuge!

On Saturday, we drove down to Nicolas’ apartment so Grandpa could see where he lived, and then we all went to a Flea Market down the road.

Flea Market

This one wasn’t quite as large as Flea Master’s in Fort Myers, but it was still a pretty good-sized market.  Grandpa had never been to one before, so he was pretty amazed by all the stuff people were selling there! 

There was even a guy with exotic animals, including this turtle that just wandered around!

Giant turtle at the flea market

The only thing we bought was a little bit of fruit and vegetables.

After getting some lunch, we went back to Nicolas’ apartment so he could get ready for work, and then we headed back to the Refuge.

Nicolas and Grandpa

It was a nice first weekend, and we’re looking forward to spending more time with Nick before Grandpa goes home at the end of the month.