Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Travels with Sasha Day 8

The hotel is left at 9:30 a.m. for the day’s adventure at Magnolia Gardens and Plantation. This plantation is known for having the first public gardens in the U.S. The day is overcast with the temperature at 42 degrees. The wind makes it feel much colder. 

Gas is purchased at a Kangaroo station at $1.89 gallon and Rte. 61 continues on towards Summerville. The busyness, businesses, and stores eventually give way to a more rural section and the highway narrows to two lanes (my kind of driving). The trip from the hotel is only half an hour.  

This was my favorite place from the 2013 trip. That time was cold, too, but the wind this time has me donning heavy winter coat and gloves. I don’t want to do every tour again and choose the general admission, tram ride, and swamp walk. The tram isn’t until 11, so I wander through the petting zoo until a deer tries to eat the feathers on my walking stick. “Hey, let go!” It is cool to actually pat a deer and have her not be afraid.  

I sit in the front seat of the tram. There’d been a sign stating that people with bad backs shouldn’t ride the tram, but I am willing to risk it. Patrick, the driver, gives me a blanket and it is definitely needed. Any attempts at note taking are a lost cause. I do find out my favorite flower, camellia, is pronounced with a long e and is actually called camellia japonica (also known as the rose of winter). Patrick explains it blooms November to April. Blossoms drop when there’s a frost and new buds will bloom. Unfortunately, there was a frost last week and most the flowers had dropped. I am very disappointed. I was looking forward to seeing these beautiful flowers. 

We drive some of the old dikes between what had been rice fields. Duck weed fills the pond each summer attracting thousands of birds migrating for the winter. There are a few full-timers here. In a few months, the birds eat most of the duck weed. Coots, rails, teal, ducks, Canada geese, and more have easy pickings… when the alligators are dormant and don’t pick them off.  

Only two alligators are seen because it’s an overcast, cold day. Patrick says they mostly hibernate these winter months, though a few will put in an appearance on warm, sunny days. He points out troughs where the ‘gators have moved from one pond to another or from the Ashley River to a pond. We see great blue herons nesting in trees and I also take photos of white ones. 

I head out on the trails after the tram ride. I love the little bridges that cross wet areas and ponds. A path along the river is followed. There are daffodils in bloom and pansies have been planted. I miss the camellia. The river is beautiful with huge live oaks bending over the water with long strands of Spanish moss drooping from the branches. 

The boat ride area is at a crossroads. There are no boat rides in the winter, but the trail looks interesting. A great heron is near the shore and as I’m taking pictures of it, two women coming from the other direction are taking photos of a great blue heron. We stop and chat. They are both transplants from the north and love living in South Carolina. They have a membership here and come once a week to walk. Wow, I’d do that! 

They tell me the trail past the boats is a long way around – a very long way. I decide not to go in that direction and continue on the previous path. I take lots pictures and cross other bridges. The paths wind in and around and along the river, ponds, and various gardens. It’s easy to get turned around.  

Suddenly my back goes into spasm. Owww! What’s with that? And it’s not the side that I pulled the other day. Nor did I make any odd movement. I am just walking. I push on and my back periodically does one of those spasms. An observation tower is reached, but I am hurting too bad to even think about climbing all those stairs. I turn back taking another path and by the time I reach the bamboo garden, it hurts to even walk. I pass many benches pushing myself forward.

I make it back to the ticket booth. There is no way I can do the swamp walk. I have been here four hours. The attendant says I can come back tomorrow to do the swamp walk and I head back to Charleston. The sun had come out and it is warmer.

Rte. 61 is followed back to the city. I took Rte. 61 to Magnolia and figure it would be a straight return. However, when Rte. 171 veers to the left and I stay on 61, I see a sign that says 17N and as 61 goes up and over, I see the hotel off to the left. Uh oh, the directions didn’t say to take 171 on the way back, so when I get to the next set of lights, I pull in to change directions. The bridge is re-crossed, but there’s no access to 17N. Crap, a little further to a set of lights to pull in and turn back around. Hey, this turn comes out on 17 at a set of lights so a left can be taken.

I’m back at the hotel within a few minutes. I hurt, can hardly walk, and am not feeling so well. I hobble inside and take the elevator to the room. There’s not water in the taps. The front desk said there’s a plumbing problem and would be fixed in a couple hours. After a short rest and work on the laptop, it’s time for happy hour and I head for the lounge for more comfy chairs, gorgeous views, and a mai tai which doesn’t need water to make.

Later I have the chicken parmesan with string beans and linguini. I’m stuffed and can’t eat any more half way through. What a waste. I’m sorry.

I can’t wait until morning to import the photos and see how they came out! Some day I want to visit Charleston and the plantations in the spring when more flowers are in bloom. They say March and April are good months... but with the choice between getting out of snowy, cold New Hampshire or waiting until spring is coming...
I'm sure glad I'm not home now!





No comments:

Post a Comment