Parting is such sweet sorrow, or We’re so over this “old tree” crap

Blog posts will be a bit hit-or-miss until we get up to Beaufort (rhymes with go-fert) North Carolina for the weekend.  Another storm’s on the way so we need a few longish days.  Starting Monday when we left Georgetown on the Waccamaw River.

The Waccamaw is a darn cool river, although it seems to defy the physics of hydrology.  We timed things perfectly given the tides but still fought current pushing in the wrong direction.  Or maybe everything we thought we knew was just so much poo.  However, the scenery reminded us of Canada.

What else reminded us of Canada?  Those honk-honking poo-pooping geese.

We’ll take more pelicans and fewer geese please.

Of course, there are more cypress trees with Spanish moss in these parts than we saw in Canada.

On such a beautiful travel day, most everyone was out sunning.  Dana invaded their privacy with her camera.

One absolute truth about boating is that the perceived size of a wake is directly inverse depending on whether one is on the giving end or the receiving end.   Doug is quite confident Misty Pearl barely causes a ripple.  The slobs along the way who yell at us seem to disagree.  Regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, nobody can dispute that we need more folks with a sense of humor.

 

Anyway, we pulled in to The Marina at Grande Dunes.  Nice stop.  Mellow  Mushroom is always a good choice when Mallory’s along.  This one happened to be one we hit up last time she was with us in Myrtle Beach.  One last evening of cards before she followed Shannon’s lead and headed back to school.   We’re always sad to see them go.

This morning, the four remaining Belknaps turned north under the Grande Dunes bridge and headed for Southport.

This stretch looks nice, right?  Just about the same as yesterday, right?

Nope.  This is known as the “Rock Pile.”   Because there’re rock ledges all along the sides.  Underwater.  For about ten miles.  And it’s narrow anyway.

Well that sucks.  What else sucks?  Having the nickname “Poo” stick with you your whole life.  That’s what happened to the local dude who recently had this swing bridge renamed “Captain Poo” in his honor.

Even worse than that?  Having a nice home in a sedate neighborhood but then Gypsy Rose moves in next door.

We know Gypsy Rose lives here, because she plastered her name all over the place.  She’s probably not even a real Gypsy, since they prefer to call themselves Romani.  Either way, her house is damn ugly.  There goes the neighborhood indeed.

Just before Southport we passed the place where channel markers go to die.  RIP old friends.

The ICW around here runs much closer to the coast, which means periodic views of the Atlantic, without the waves.

After a second day of mostly fighting current, we docked at Southport.  Now we’ve officially seen every state we’re going to see on the Loop.   As a prize they stuck us on the fuel dock, unprotected from jackasses on the ICW who don’t appreciate the size of their wake.

Now about this tree nonsense.  We thought the Lovers Oak was impressive enough to walk a mile, take a picture, and then devote valuable blog space to discussing it.  After all, it was over 250 years old.  And had a commemorative plaque and everything.

Then we hit Georgetown.  The Champion Oak.  Nearly 600 years old.  It also had a commemorative plaque.  We felt foolish about once thinking Lovers Oak was special.  So we devoted valuable blog space to putting Champion Oak on its rightful pedestal.

Except Southport has Indian Trail Gnarled Oak.  The damn plaque says it’s over 800 years old.

This time we looked it up.  This isn’t even the oldest tree in North Carolina.  Some cypress someplace supposedly sprouted in about 350 A.D.  Why do these people bother with plaques at all?

So we’re done with trees.  Unless we find one with imbedded fragments carbon-dated back to The Big Bang, we ain’t giving up any more valuable blog space.

Tomorrow off to a destination as of yet undetermined between here and Beaufort.  North Carolina.  Not South Carolina.  We’ve already been to that one.

If a tree falls in your backyard can it still be a “champion”?

A pretty quiet few days here in lovely Georgetown, South Carolina.  We’re about to start a push up to Mobjack Bay, however—where we’ll leave Misty Pearl with Zimmerman for a few small service issues—so quiet days may be hard to come by for awhile.  We’ll take ‘em when we can.

Basically Georgetown is comprised of a Mayberry-like main street and a non-Atlantic City-like boardwalk.

The charm here is the history, of course, rather than the bustle.  For example, the iconic clock tower is Georgetown’s signature building.  Been here since 1842.  Built by slave labor.  Used for about every municipal function as possible.  Very cool that it remains as a monument to all sorts of things.  Plus the clock was accurate.

South Carolina was the ringleader of secession in large part because of rice.  Rice—planted and harvested and milled by slaves—made this state—and particularly this part of this state—fabulously wealthy.  Secession provided the best path to maintaining the rice-based economic system.  Not surprisingly, therefore, Georgetown has a Rice Museum.

The museum is located in what used to be Kaminski Hardware.  Old Man Kaminski’s dusty ledger books from the plantation days still line the shelves.

In 1971, a diver stumbled upon the oldest existing commercial boat built in the U.S., or so the tour guide claimed.  The smart people think it sunk around 1730, which indeed would make it pretty old.

The boat was just about the same size as Misty Pearl, but doesn’t look nearly as comfortable.

Speaking of Misty Pearl, the girls arrived for Easter.

This made the boys and us quite happy.  We annoyed all of them by pausing Forrest Gump every time something happened at a site we’ve visited.

Remember that post in which we marveled at Lovers Oak, which has been around since the Declaration of Independence?  Boy do we feel silly.  Here in Georgetown we found the Actual Certified Oldest Tree in South Carolina.  Fittingly it’s called Champion Oak.  Champion Oak isn’t just a few years older either.  At some 580-years-old, it’s more than twice as old.

The weird thing is that it’s just there in someone’s backyard.  The sign is out by the sidewalk.  Does having a protected Champion on your property make that property more valuable or less valuable?   Do you lay awake at night worried that the dude who owns the second-oldest tree will sneak up and pull an “Al from Dadeville” on it?  We also find it odd that in 580 years none of the property owners needed firewood or decided a tomato patch would be preferable to an old tree that sheds leaves all over the place.

The day it rained sucked from an exploring perspective, but we did get to play a lot of cards.

Saturday night, Georgetown hosted a Shag Festival, which would’ve been great if we were in Great Britain and we were 35 years younger.  But we weren’t either of those and it was cold and it was windy, so we stayed on the boat.

Today we took Shannon to the airport.  Time for that final end-of-the-school-year push.  Tomorrow we’ll head up to Dirty Myrtle.  Mallory leaves Tuesday morning.  It’s always great to see them, and always sad to lose them again.

What’s in a name?*

St. Johns Yacht Harbor pretty much looks like some dude had some swamp land and he couldn’t find a use for it so he built a marina.

It’s a perfectly comfortable marina and the folks are handy and quick to please, but there’s no way to walk to anyplace of consequence without getting leaches and snake bites.  Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration.  But maybe it isn’t.  Fortunately it all worked out, mostly because we rented a car and people came to visit.

First up were Mallory and Shannon, who decided at the last minute to stop by on their way from Washington D.C. to St. Petersburg.  We were quite happy to see them.  They’ll be back with us tomorrow, which is a good thing because the only documentation of their visit on Sunday is a shaky video of them acting about as un-college-age as possible while eating pie and playing cards.  Hardly the stuff we want to show off.

We spent a good chunk of Monday with Greg and Mary Jane, Doug’s friends from his Knoxville days who now live on Kiawah.  They invited us over.  Nice back yard.

Greg was fairly dismissive of our fondness for pickleball but then we found out he does yoga so pretty much all of his efforts to belittle Doug fell miserably short of the mark.  We all came back to our house and then they treated us to a great dinner.  We enjoyed them immensely.  Hopefully they’ll find time to travel with us a few days when we get back up north.

Tuesday brought a beautiful morning to travel.

Except The Lower Place almost hit bottom—again—at Isle of Palms a couple of days earlier while traveling at low tide.  Charlie doesn’t let things like low tide get in his way.  Charlie is the man.  We aren’t the man, so we had to wait to leave until 2.  That meant stopping at the marina on Isle of Palms, which was only a couple of hours away.  There’s a great restaurant at the marina.  Let’s just eat a light snack for lunch and then Doug can gorge himself at an early dinner.

Basically the only interesting thing between St. Johns Yacht Harbor and Isle of Palms Marina is Fort Sumpter.  Every schoolkid knows that on April 13, 1861, then-Major Robert Anderson surrendered Fort Sumpter to the newly-formed Confederate Army.  Then a bunch of stuff happened and the Union took it back over so that tour boat operators could make an honest living.

Anyway, we made it through the shallow bits at highish tide.  Time to eat.  “Hey wait,” says Dana.  “If we keep going we can make McClellenville on a rising tide just before dark.”  Why wasn’t this on the table for lunch, instead of those measly snacks?  Oh well, let’s keep going.  The person handling the phone for the Leland Oil Company Dock said there was just barely room for us behind a Looping catamaran.

The delicious restaurant at the marina slid past while Dana warmed up rice in the microwave.

At least we’re better off than the boats over there in the weeds.

Actually they’re happily at anchor up a small river.  Those aren’t buzzards.

Just before we turned up the Jerome River towards that Misty Pearl-sized spot, a small boat zoomed past us.  We didn’t give it a thought.  We eased on up, only to find that the dudes in that small boat had decided to block us.  And they were no place to be seen.   No way we wedge 43 feet into a 40-foot opening.

What the hell?  We’re going to have to go back and anchor in the weeds?  In the dark?  Curse word curse word.  Wait.  Here are the nice catamaran folks.  They ran up and caught the guys from the small boat just as they were fixin’ to roar off in their truck.  Crisis averted.

What seems like years ago, we met Tiki Queen in Delaware City.  Leland McClellan was a very funny guy.  He’s one of the McClellanville McClellans.  As mentioned, we stayed at the Leland Oil dock.  Dana walked through town and found a memorial to all the Lelands and McClellans who died in The Great War.  There may or may not be family trees around here with branches too twisted for Cousin Wendall to decipher, but we don’t judge.  Either way, thanks for your service.

Today on the way up to Georgetown, the scenery mostly looked like this.

But we made it to Georgetown.  Mallory goes to Georgetown.  A different one.

Another storm’s a-brewin’ so we’ll stay here over the weekend.  The girls probably will eat pie and act juvenile while playing cards.  Good thing their parents are above that sort of thing.

What else is in a name?  On April 9 we commented on Runaway Negro Creek.  Odd name for a creek here in the Year of Our Lord 2019.  Literally the next day, the creek officially was renamed “Freedom Creek.”  Who knew the U.S. Board on Geographic Names followed our blog?

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* For anyone who thinks references to country songs make us unrefined and references to Monty Python sketches make us sophomoric, we now give you Romeo and Juliet.  That’s Billy Shakespeare baby.  Once and for all proving—contrary evidence notwithstanding—that we’re damn classy.

The Loop is like a box of chocolates

After two years or so of running “for no particular reason,” Forrest Gump was accosted by reporters as he crossed what purported to be a Mississippi River bridge.   Here’s the bridge.

It’s right close to our marina, so actually spans the Beaufort River.  We know this because we passed under it yesterday on our way out and we were on the Beaufort.

Looks just the same as in the movie, minus the fake sign.

But wait.  There’s more.  Here’s Tidalholm.

The Great Santini lived here.  Then a few years later—after Alex committed suicide—Glenn Close, William Hurt, and the rest of their college friends chilled out big here, giving us Jeff Goldblum’s classic line—which Doug uses on just about every camping trip—about nature being one giant urinal.

Also in Beaufort?  The source of almost all plastic kazoos found in the world: the Kazoobie Kazoo Factory.  We couldn’t make the tour times work, but did stop in.

In the hands of a real kazoo player, they’re not even all that silly.

Perhaps in a clever nod to whatever governmental forces shut down its competitors, the kazoo factory is located on the corner of Industrial Village Road and John Galt Road.

Begging the obvious question, “Who is John Galt?”

Before leaving Beaufort we had a last meal with The Lower Place and Lesson Plan.  We also confirmed once-and-for-all that we weren’t docked around the corner from the real Santa Maria.  No electric lights back in the day.

Yesterday morning we helped a couple of boats depart in tricky circumstances before we slid out easily, thanks to the early exit by the sailboat in front of us.

We took a slight detour on the Coosaw River so that Dana could get a photo of the dock area where Lieutenant Dan honored his promise to become First Mate if Forrest ever got a shrimp boat, which just about then crashed into a dock that isn’t still there.  But this is the spot.

We knew the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff was shallow but didn’t have much choice in timing.  Low tide at the entrance—green 185—was at 10:26.  We arrived at 10:26.  Someone had told us to stay off 185.  We did.  And found mud.  Somehow we backed out to wait for more water.  About then The Lower Place and Dixie Belle steamed up.  Charlie gave it a go, found four feet, and turned around.  Lee stood down.  Miss Patsy arrived to the party while we all were just treading water.  She also went in, found four feet, and turned around.  After (1) waiting an hour and (2) a tow boat with a six-foot draft plowed through the muck coming towards us, Miss Patsy led us through.

Seagulls apparently like those day-glo cheese-balls that come in what Robin described as a 55-gallon drum.  Charlie surprisingly had enough left to share, which explained things to those of us wondering why the birds were so interested.  Maybe that’s why they call him the Birdman of Starkville.

Shortly thereafter we passed The Lower Place on our mission to get to Charleston.  We’re afraid we may not see Charlie and Robin again for a long while, which is quite sad.   For two reasons.  First, we really like them.  Second, we’re horrified at the thought of this being the last image we have by which to remember them.

Hopefully the bride and groom didn’t have to witness that.

We made it through the four shallow cutoffs but had one more stretch that Navionics showed as a red danger zone.  Very narrow channel, but we hit it well past mid-tide.  Should be fine as long as we stay in the channel.  Wait a second.  What the hell is this?  An apartment building and he’s coming straight at us.  Doug hailed the American Star captain on 16. “I need the whole channel,” he cheerfully offered, “but I’ll do what I can.”  Gulp.

We passed close enough that we could’ve seen what the tourists were watching on tv if we hadn’t been glued to the wheel and the depth gauge.

We don’t usually travel on the weekend, so we don’t usually see the locals doing their local things.  So we took a picture.

Anyway, a long day of traveling got us to St. John’s Yacht Harbor.

From there, an Uber got us to a really satisfying Italian joint.  The girls just stopped by for the night on their way to Eckerd.  Tomorrow we’ll see Doug’s old friends Greg and Mary Jane.  Very happy times.

 

 

Semper Fidelis*

Sunrises are the only silver linings around the dark cloud of getting up early, which makes it good that Dana has a camera.  Otherwise we’d have no photos, because Doug tries to avoid those silver linings.  Anyway, we had another good one yesterday morning at Thunderbolt.

We pulled out just after The Lower Place passed us, which almost proved immediately disastrous as Charlie wandered off into shallow water apparently just to see if we’d follow.  We did, but fortunately realized our foolishness in time.

Normally we have no issues with bascule bridges because the horizontal clearance is wide enough for at least two boats our size.  It becomes a tad more dicey when one arm is broken, which has been the case more than a few times so far.  We managed to sneak through, but just barely.

A couple of hours or so into the day, Charlie radioed back to let us know something big was coming around the corner on the Savannah River.  Yup.  That’s big.

We entered the river just off his stern.  Yup.  That’s big.

The captain said he wasn’t the boat we needed to watch.  A different Evergreen cargo ship was heading the other way.  We shot across the river—meaning we crawled across the river—as fast as possible.  Whew.  Hey, is this red channel marker in the right spot?  It can’t be.  It’s way too close to the shore.  Nope, it’s correct.  Just have to squeeze through.  The Lower Place made it so we followed them on in.

Just then we looked behind us and saw a cityscape where there isn’t a city.  The second Evergreen container ship.  Look closely.

Onward, past a bunch of Hilton Head marinas and mansions and stuff.

Just before Beaufort (rhymes with Viewfert) South Carolina, we skirted Parris Island.  Home of the Marine Corps training base.  Collectively we know it’s a forge, spitting out modern warriors.  We know this because Doug has watched a lot of war movies.  Marines are awesome.  Thanks for your service.

Thanks to the perfectly-timed slack tide, we docked up easily in a spot that normally is filled with rushing current.  Gonna take some planning to get out of here, but we’re confident, even if unskilled.

This morning on our way to breakfast the Santa Maria was on the fuel dock.**

That was interesting, but not the best part.  The best part was when they tried to pull along the riverfront dock after fueling and got caught in the current and spun around unintentionally.  That caused the crew to run around—literally—to change the fenders from port to starboard as the ship careened towards land.  They all were yelling in Spanish so we couldn’t understand them, but the tone suggested profanity of the type Misty Pearl’s crew uses when the same thing happens to us.  Then they got off the boat and acted like it all was intentional.  Just like we do.

Here’s the thing about Beaufort.  It’s chock-full of history.  For example, the local Anglican church dates to 1724.  Anglicans are funny because their head is the Archbishop of Canterbury.  “Archbishop of Canterbury” is even funny to say.  But the church and the old graveyard are pretty cool.

The first official germ of secession was planted inside the Maxcy-Rhett House just across the street from our marina.  That’s pretty cool.

The union army took over another home to use as Beaufort headquarters.  It’s also still here, along with nearly a hundred antebellum buildings.  Thank goodness Sherman didn’t get down this far.

We went around to look at a bunch of the historical stuff but there’s still more exploring to do.  Plus we need to go to Target.    We’re planning to head up to Charleston on Saturday if the weather allows it.

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* The original title for this post was “You’re so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece.”  Dana said it was a dumb title because absolutely nobody but Doug knows lines from Full Metal Jacket or would get the connection to our travels.  It’s possible, of course, that some people don’t recall the entirety of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman’s epic speech welcoming newcomers to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.  It’s worth watching again.  Although not by anyone offended by graphic vulgarity.

** Not the Santa Maria that served as Christopher Columbus’ flagship, of course.  That one didn’t take diesel.  Plus it sank in 1492.  This is just a neato Spanish replica, manned and womanned by what appeared to be Spanish college kids.