Murrell’s Inlet SC, SC
November 16, 2009
The time has come to move south. We told Kate that we would probably be gone when she returned from school today so we got big hugs and kisses before she left. We will miss her bright and cheery little face and the company of her mom and dad. It has been a delightful week+ and knowing we may not seem Matt, Sue and Kate again for a while weighs heavy but we take comfort in knowing they are in a supportive community with caring and good-hearted neighbors.
Our target for tonight is Huntington Beach State Park just south of Myrtle Beach SC. The golf courses seemingly begin at the NC/SC border and are back to back. We see our first Spanish moss hanging from the trees and re-enter a growing area with farmer’s markets popping up along the highway. It is tomato season and we could not be more thrilled, the roadside thermometers read 75 – 79 degrees depending on what side of the road they happen to be mounted, sunshine, seafood, garden tomatoes and sweet potatoes, it doesn’t get much better than this.
As we drive into the campground with a salt marsh on one side and the ocean on the other we see the warning sign ALLIGATORS and as we register Nancy asks the ranger what we need to know about gators. Without so much as a blink we are informed that because of the cool weather (75 degrees) their metabolism has slowed down and so have they; we can feel comfortable just walking by them – not likely! Then she adds proudly that they have not had an incident in 30 years, and Nancy is thinking not one that they will talk about. Regardless, the marsh is beautiful in the late afternoon light and we are both thinking early morning bike ride.
We drive the 3 miles back into Murrell’s inlet for a very late lunch. As we finish eating the light from the setting sun turns the marsh and waters a golden color, needing a photograph we finish eating and stroll the boardwalk, gorgeous and peaceful.
November 17, 2009
Sunshine first thing in the morning promises a good day. Breakfast completed, the bicycles are ready and we are off to explore the park. A quick visit to Atalaya the home of Archer Huntington, son of transportation magnate Collis P. Huntington, and Anna Hyatt Huntington, noted sculptor. A somewhat strange building as Mr. Huntington directed its construction without plans to resemble the Moorish architecture of Spain. It was constructed over a period of three years. The home was a quiet place for her artistic pursuits and later their winter retreat. They lived simply here and oddly, the servants had carpets and plush furniture in their quarters while the Huntington’s had wrought iron furniture and bare floors. The home has been abandoned for a number of years and is a state of disrepair with large cracks in the walls and foundations.
The bicycle path follows the roadway across a man-made salt marsh that is home to waterfowl, alligators and many marine inhabitants. High tide conceals the muddy bottom, so a low tide return will be in order.
On the west bank we spot a bare limbed tree loaded with white egrets awaiting the low tide to provide them dining opportunities. A conversation with a couple of bird watchers reveals a bicycle trail of about 3 miles or so that loops around the camp. We find what we think is the trail, paved and well covered with pine needles as it weaves through the park boundary but we could not find where it looped back into camp so we followed it on into a residential area in the next little community, North Litchfield. Two surprises await our discovery; first on a road detour we find a cottonmouth water moccasin warming itself on the asphalt. Oh my, what a big mouth you have my dear… Nancy is impressed! Later on our return trip she spots a nice size alligator eyeing us just off of the bike path and again Nancy is impressed!! Enough exploration for one long morning and enough wildlife; we return to the Murrell’s Inlet waterfront for lunch, a grouper sandwich, she crab soup and a delightful beverage . . . Yummy. Entertainment from a herd of goats on an island in the marsh, highlighted by a fine Billy goat with a long white beard is free of charge. The goats are tended by a man named Bubba, that is really his name and as he crosses to the island by boat they scurry to meet him, he brings their food each day but not this trip, just a photographer for close-ups of the goats.
The last stop of the day is at Murrell’s Inlet Seafood for fresh caught local shrimp and some home made key lime wasabi cream sauce. Oh hurt me, fresh seafood on my plate again!
As we cross the causeway to the campground low tide reveals a number of herons, egrets, spoonbills, wood storks and assorted small shore birds feasting in the shallow rivulets of water as the setting sun casts a glow upon the marsh, it is a beautiful sight.