Well, we’ve gotten our first little taste of what a Southern summer is going to feel like…and we’re a little scared. Just 2 weeks ago I was wondering when it’d be warm enough to go without a jacket, and now sun dresses are the only thing to help me stay cool! So I guess spring weather down here lasts like 2 days. Now, if you think Arizona’s dry heat is too much, come and bask in our Southern sun – and find yourself drowning in your own sticky sweat. That is, if you can stand the gnats and mosquitos for that long! The extra fun part is that around certain parts of the military base, they fly different colored flags to show what the weather conditions are, and they’re only green right now. The days of yellow, red, and black flags are coming! My only solution for this is to be outside as much as I can right now to hopefully adjust to the temperatures as they grow warmer and see if that makes the summer more tolerable. As of today – May 1 – we haven’t used the AC yet this year, so we’ll see how long we can keep that up. On the plus side to all this, we finally don’t have to worry about a freak freeze happening and killing our garden anymore! 🙂
Anyway, with all the heat and humidity last week, the only thing that seemed appropriate was to go visit a new beach this weekend! Our destination this time was Botany Bay on Edisto Island. No dogs allowed, so poor Charlotte had to sit this one out. It was pretty nice to have it be just Curtis and I though, I guess every once in a while we do need a “date” without the dog! Botany Bay is about an hour and a half away from Charleston, and has no admission fee. The beach is the main attraction that draws in visitors, but there is also a driving tour where you can learn about the history and environment.
One thing that sets this beach apart from other beaches we’ve visited is that collecting shells is illegal. Because of this, they are all over the place – literally. People take the really cool whelks, giant shells, and sand dollars that they find and display them on trees and driftwood. Yes, this is also a driftwood beach! It was getting to be near high tide when we arrived, which left very little beach exposed and made our walk more interesting. As we were strolling down the half mile trail that goes over the swamp land from the parking lot to the beach, the majority of people we saw were heading the opposite way. I guess by missing low tide, we also missed the crowds, and were almost always alone on our long walk. I’m not sure the exact distance, but we walked far past the driftwood section, into the great open area and probably made it halfway back to Charleston. 😉 We still say that Hunting Island is our favorite beach down here though – this one was pretty cool, but Hunting wins on account of Curtis being able to metal detect! We also have fond memories of it because there were hardly any people there when we visited – however, that was back in the winter, and I guess not everyone goes to the beach when it’s winter, so it could very well be just as busy if not busier than all the other beaches are now.
When we were finished walking, we made our way back over the swamp to our car. As we walked, we enjoyed seeing the little fiddler crabs with big pinchers crab-crawling all over the ground on either side of the trail. They were so funny to watch! It was getting considerably warmer and more humid and becoming rather uncomfortable, even with the ocean breezes. We decided to do the driving tour, and only stopped to see one of the stops along the way.
So for a little brief history on this area: This land was once made up of 2 different plantations: Bleak Hall Plantation and Sea Cloud Plantation. Today, all that’s left of the mansions is a brick foundation for Sea Cloud, and the ice house and gardening shed of Bleak Hall – the mansion itself from the early 1800’s burned down. Bleak Hall was developed by the Townsend family 1798, and they occupied the plantation through the generations until the 1930’s. In the mid-1800’s, John Townsend bought the Sea Cloud Plantation, and turned the whole area into a thriving cotton plantation. However, during the Civil War, the island was evacuated and occupied by Union Soldiers, and the whole island suffered from this. The Townsends labored diligently to rebuild the booming plantation they once had, but in the 1920’s the boll weevil destroyed the cotton industry in all of South Carolina. In the 1930’s, the land was bought by Dr. James Greenway, who renamed the whole area Botany Bay. The last man to own the property was John Meyer, who purchased it in 1968.
How did it become a wildlife preserve owned by the state of South Carolina? Because Meyer illegally built a pond on the land, and in order to get away without repercussions, he made an agreement with the state that once he and his wife passed the land would all be given over to the state. They took good care of the land after that, and that is how Botany Bay came to be!
The driving tour takes you past both of the ruins. We stopped to see the ice house and gardener’s shed – there is also a trail here that leads to a memorial and lookout over the Edisto River. We started to take the trail, but decided not to go all the way because humidity and mosquitos were so bad! This proved to not be a waste of time, however, because we found $12 on the trail. Free lunch! Haha. After that, we continued the drive around the ponds and past the Sea Cloud Plantation ruins before making our way back to the mainland. The road to the plantation is gorgeous though – it’s all dirt roads through a lush green canopy of trees and Spanish moss hanging over the road.
After our visit here, we decided to make one last stop for some letterboxes at Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge. It’s further inland, so humidity was more of a concern especially without the ocean breeze and waves hitting our feet, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. We walked down a long path to see a Civil War era house. Apparently it’s open for tours during the week, but this weekend we were all by ourselves. The area was so serene and lovely. There were giant oaks spread out far enough apart to make the grounds feel open, yet they were so great and full that the area was almost completely shaded. Curtis searched for the missing box while I took pictures and videos to remember this charming spot. It started warming up more as we made our way back to the car, but we were thankful for our time away and the new things we’d seen. After this weekend’s adventures, I think we’ve seen all the main big attractions on Edisto Island (we visited the state park with Curtis’ family at the beginning of April) but then I could be wrong…we always find more places to go see 😉