Category Archives: Nature

End of Season

With this past weekend, our waterfowl season comes to a close. While we didn’t go out with a bang, literally, we did have some awesome hunts in some brand new spots that we will be sure to work on next year. From the open waters of Lake Moultrie to the flooded timber of the old Santee and back to cypress swamps, we definitely covered some ground. Here are some of my favorite pictures I was able to take throughout this season either from the boat or the blind.

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And with the end of that season comes the start of the next for our us—home renovations! We will be refinishing and painting our kitchen cabinets, freshly painting all our baseboards and all in preparation for our brand new, beautiful hardwood floors that will be installed toward the end of this month. Talk about spring cleaning fever! Stay tuned for update pictures on these projects.

Jelly Palm Season

Just when it can’t get any hotter and the only vegetable still growing in gardens are peppers, my favorite short season fruit bursts onto the scene—Jelly Palm fruit.

The Butia type palm tree is what is mostly seen here in our part of South Carolina. I know there have been 2 massive ones at our beach house on Sullivan’s Island just about since my granddad built it in the early 60s. They line our streets and are in our yards and most people ignore the delicious little orange fruits that fall and litter the ground beneath. But next time, take note and try to beat the wasps because it’s the most intoxicatingly sweet little fleshy fruit around.

I like to compare it to a hybrid of a plum and a muscadine. The fruit itself is about the size of a ping pong ball. But it’s similar to a plum for the large, hard seed in the middle and for how thin the skin is, and muscadine for the fact that most people probably don’t prefer to eat the skin and would rather pop through to the fruit’s flesh beneath. However, because it’s so paper thin, sometimes you just eat it…

And in case you’re new to the sport, collecting these fruits and knowing when they’re at their ripest has a little trick too. You’re probably not going to pick super ripe fruit straight from the tree unless it’s the last bunch on the vine after most have fallen off. If you try to just pick it off the tree as soon as it turns yellow, it’ll still be too hard and slightly bitter. If you try to pick it off the tree once it truly has ripened—good luck fighting the yellow jackets and wasps for it. They’ll be so burrowed in the thick of the fruit cluster you’ll be playing with danger.

When you’re guaranteed to get it best? One-two days max after it’s fallen on the ground. Just let it fall and sit a day, then go gather it up and wash it off. Enjoy it straight off the vine, mash it into a yummy sauce or marinade, or even better? Make jelly:)

Fun Friday Part II—Edisto Treehouses

I mean there’s really not much more to say than Edisto and Treehouse. But I will….We’ve been wanting to book a trip to one of these treehouses since we first started dating back some three years ago. However, first note to future visitors—book early. Limited availability + your own crazy schedules in spring and fall (really the best weather to go)  make for a small selection of weekends each year. But it’s so worth it. Call in Jan or Feb for a late March to June booking and same for the fall, about 2-4 months beforehand for pick of the litter weekends.

Scott and Anne Kennedy own and run all operations of Carolina Heritage Outfitters. They are super lovely and welcoming and really ensure a fantastic trip for all levels of canoers, campers, whatever. Side note, they also provide just day trip canoe excursions on the Edisto.

And for those of you out of staters not familiar with our Edisto River, here’s the wikipedia link to it. And please, pronounce it EH-dis-to, and never uh-DIS-to, like The Weather Channel people so annoyingly do during hurricane season.

DEPARTURE
So we met at the outfitters Friday morning. There were 2 more groups headed down river that day as well so we waited one everyone to arrive. After loading our gear—pack in and pack out kinda trip (anything you need or use as far as clothing and food)— we all loaded in the van and took about a 30 minute trip up river to put in. Scott gives a brief but thorough review on basic paddling strategies, bumping into fallen trees, keeping an eye for wildlife, etc…And after that we were off (and really never saw the other groups again)!

And not 5 minutes after pushing off, our first snake and seriously a water moccasin cuts across river in front of us. About 10 minutes later, our second snake—just a little green snake swimming through—and then nothing but turtles, wood ducks, and kingfishers the rest of our trip. Not one alligator which was kinda nice but still surprising.

This stretch of river is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a 12-13 mile paddle down river to the treehouse island. With the Edisto moving around 2 miles and hour naturally, and the aid of paddling, we officially departed by 11:00 am and arrived at our treehouse by 3:00 pm. We were ahead of all other groups by a solid hour and a half. However, lots of people like to stop on sandbars and eat lunch and hang out. We were much more exited to find our tree house and roam the island all Swiss Family Robinson style before everyone else got there! The island itself is owned and protected and covers around 150 acres. So there’s plenty to roam and see.

ARRIVAL
Scott—who has lovingly built all of the treehouses by hand, along with everything else on the island—shared with us before leaving that we had the best treehouse. Number One. Numero Uno. The Original. It was the first treehouse he built several years ago. And while the others are larger, “this one has the most heart.”

Complete with hammock, split level tree house with a full picnic table and grill on the second platform and then our tree house above.

Once inside, it’s absolute charming. Tablecloth covered table for two, lamp oil filled votives all throughout the ledges of the interior wall, a two burner camp stove top, 3 huge jugs of fresh water, biodegradable dish soap, set of 4 plates, mugs, bowls, and a multitude of silverware and steak knives, percolator, dish pans, cards, games, visitor journal, and a full size propane fueled fireplace! Very awesome for the evening chill (only one or two windows can be closed, the rest is all screens when it comes to doors and windows).

There’s a full size futon downstairs with a laddered loft above (which you see the window for over the porch) with a full size cloth mattress. Add sheets and you’re set! Here are some interior pics.


As the smallest of the three treehouses, our slept a maximum of 4 people and for comparison, the largest one sleeps a of 5–8. It has a loft and two futons that pull out. As I’m sure many of you are wondering, our tree house and the large house share a set of outhouses. The middle sized treehouse is tucked away on it’s own at the tip of the island and you can’t really walk to and from it. Therefore it has its own outhouse. But they truly weren’t that bad. Very nicely built, they were cleaner than most portolet’s I’ve seen—and I don’t use many of those at all just by my own rule! And for those of you that have read my composting blogs—it appears  that yes, Scott basically breaks down everything first through an in-barrel composting system by adding leaves from the island and then we’re guessing (from self assessment only) that it’s then burned in the strategically placed metal barrel behind. Maybe that’s more than you wanted to know, but now you know!

After the whole adventure of arriving at our island (and my guilty pleasure of waking up at 5 am beforehand to watch the big royal wedding) throw a red meat dinner in the mix and when nature turned the lights out—it was bed time! We were probably asleep by 9:00 pm at the latest falling asleep to the river trickling, the crickets chirping and the owls hooting. And we slept a solid 10-11 hours of the most amazing sleep! People think they need double stuffed luxury mattress and the finest of linens following a spa day to get good sleep and feel rejuvenated anymore, but no…you really just need some nature kids! Spend a day canoeing and sleeping in fresh spring air to the sound of nature and save your hard earned money.

We cooked some fantastic sausage patties the next morning with some cereal and bananas, fresh OJ and milk. We repacked and cleaned up and hit the river by 10 or 10:30 the next morning for the next 10 miles of our trip. Before leaving though, here are some more pictures of the island itself and spans of the river as we were paddling.

Fun Friday Part I—Awendaw Passage and Birds of Prey

When last Friday came around, Good Friday to be exact, I figured it was time I owed  my husband a fun day. You can only garden, do yard work, build projects, help keep a house clean with two dogs, and general errands for so long before you gotta just get out! So I emailed him our itinerary a few days before and it was booked.

If anyone still remembers Good Friday, it poured rain! Poured cats and dogs kinda rain! Not that it changed our plans one bit. We piled up our bikes into the car with a change of clothes and headed down to Awendaw for a morning trail ride. A few diversions here and there that morning set us back a little on time, but we got there within an hour of our scheduled arrival. We pulled into the Buck Hall Recreation Area off of Hwy 17 N and directly on the Intracoastal,which allows ample parking and restrooms at the trail head for a small $5/car fee.

This is basically the sea portion of the Palmetto Trail’s Mountains to the Sea tagline. This is where it begins or ends based on your direction. Here’s an overview of the entire Trail of which we will now be completing leg by leg:
We left in a slight drizzle planning on an 1.5—2 hr out and back loop on the Awendaw Passage (minus the crossing Hwy 17 in the rain for .5 mile leg of this part). Not 20 minutes in the skies let loose and it poured. And it was awesome! It brought back all the pleasant memories of the mud run the weekend before—minus the yelling and the mud and more the playing like a kid outside in any element part. We made it to the last of 5 bridges which was just over 4 miles and were running out of time to do the last mile or so. But here are some great shots I could get on my iPhone as the rain gave us a few breaks.

Soaking wet and thankful we packed a dry change of clothes, we changed at Buck Hall and headed to a nice hot lunch at Sewee while the monsoon continued. Next on our list—Awendaw Birds of Prey.

Let me just say now, if you’ve never been, get yourself some tickets now. Absolutely amazing place. I’ve always heard about it and knew all about their operation but just had no idea how awesome a tour and demonstration would be.

Again, because of the weather and the holiday, we were the only people to arrive for the 2:00 pm tour. About halfway through our tour a family of four joined in late. And because of the rain, the birds won’t fly for the flight demonstration—but we gladly traded that for our upclose and personal encounters with some owls behind the scenes.

The tour started going from barn to barn (the most beautiful bird barns I’ve ever seen) all with unique custom habitats catered to each birds’ needs. Just about every bird that’s in captivity there and available to meet on the tour was injured in some capacity to where it can’t re-enter the wild. Whether shot accidentally, hit by a car while eating on the side of the road, you name it. So some only have one wing, some were “cared for” by “caring people” when found as a baby instead of being put right back in their nest and are now imprinted by people. The sweet little imprinted owl doesn’t even have his hoot right just yet because he’s been with people all his life instead of other owls in the wild to nail it. But he’s learning:)

The most beautiful birds are there and all so close and observable—numerous species of owls, falcons of all types, vultures, crows, hawks, bald eagles. It’s just awesome. And because we couldn’t see them fly in the rain, we got to meet this gorgeous guy behind the scenes. If I have my name correct, he’s an Asian Barred Owl—looks like a little monkey! And this precious 6 week old owl. Hope you all make it to to Birds of Prey—phenomenal facility and service! And I’m working on adding some live video of the birds to my vodpod player but it’s being funky right now. Later today hopefully. Now we’re off for a day of salt-water fishing with a blog to come on this past Friday’s Fun—Edisto Treehouses!