First Light Paddle 2016

First Light Paddle-58

We have built up several New Years traditions over the years. If we’re at home, we have a fondue dinner on the Eve while watching the year roll in. The morning rings in with a breakfast casserole and mimosas. We watch the Rose Parade (per instructions from the Californian in the household) while taking down the Christmas tree, and have nachos while watching the Rose Bowl Game.

That’s a normal year. However, the past couple of years have been anything but normal. Last year I started the year by myself as Laura had to be with her mom. I took the opportunity to watch the sun rise from the highest point in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain. This year I was in Florida for New Year for the first time ever. Since I had missed my usual Winter Solstice Sunrise paddle, I decided to do a First Light paddle. Continue reading “First Light Paddle 2016”

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

Avalon Beach-001

Wow. November is gone, and now we’re on our way into December. The depth of my writer’s block increases. I’ve only made two posts all this month, and one of those was a copy-and-paste job. Maybe I’ll get out of this slump, but we’ll have to see.

I think I’ve realized that I don’t have to write a documentary-styled, viral-ready article for every post. This blog used to be just that – a blog of the random stuff I encountered. I decided to get back to that, just so that I’m writing again on a regular basis. So, expect more of the mundane, with an occasional gem sprinkled in. In that vein, I’m starting with Thanksgiving, even though it was exactly a week ago as of this writing. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Wrap-up”

Blue Ridge Getaway

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Laura has a birthday coming up, but finding a time to celebrate has been problematic. We had decided to go a getaway the weekend before her birthday, but nature dealt us a blow. Our original plans were to head to Charleston and visit the ACE Basin, then head up to Beidler Forest. Obviously, with all of the flooding in the lower part of the state, that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, we decided to head north. I got us tickets for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Turned out to be a peak fall color weekend, and a great getaway, even though it wasn’t Charleston. Continue reading “Blue Ridge Getaway”

The Tobacco Trail – An Introduction

Highway 301 Banner

On our last Lowcountry Unfiltered kayaking trip on the Savannah River Larry Easler and I drove back along Highway 301.  We were amazed at the number of old motels and abandoned tourist spots along the way.  I knew it had to have once been a major thoroughfare, now bypassed by I-95, but I wanted to know more about it.  What was its history?  How did this highway through one of the most desolate parts of South Carolina become such a major route?  The answer turned out to be much more interesting than I could have possibly imagined.

In a previous post I wrote about the old auto trails that predated the US Highway System, and the business associations that promoted these routes and the tourist amenities along them. Here’s the story about how Highway 301 became known as The Tobacco Trail, one of the most important north-south routes along the Eastern Seaboard. Continue reading “The Tobacco Trail – An Introduction”

Key Largo Get Away – Part 1

Key Largo Evening-2

It’s been a stressful few weeks. We have been making trips to Florida to help out with Laura’s mother. While I’ve been able to make the trip to Ireland, Laura hasn’t had a vacation. So, on this latest trek down to Florida we decided to extend trip a few days and head down to Key Largo for an escape.

We drove down on a Monday. The drive from Fort Pierce to the Keys is not the most exciting stretch, until you reach the end of the Turnpike. There, US 1 takes over, and the two-lane route leads over wetlands and mangroves. While beautiful, the area is fenced, and there is nowhere to stop. Eventually we reached the bridge crossing Blackwater Sound and arrived at Key Largo. Continue reading “Key Largo Get Away – Part 1”

The Big Business of Piracy

Vero Pirate Fest-25

We were running errands up in Vero when I spotted the following sign along US 1:

Family Friendly Piracy

Hmmm….”3 Days of Family Friendly Piracy.” Sounds a bit…oxymoronic to me. Truth be told, I’ve always thought that the Disney ride “Pirates of the Caribbean” was a bit weird, long before the movie series even came out. I’m not a prude, but a ride celebrating raping and pillaging just didn’t seem quite right. Sure, the real violence has been sanitized into something suitable for kids, but given historical realities and real incidents of piracy off the African coast, I’m often left scratching my head over the popularity of pirates.

We had some free time away from household duties, so we decided to check out the Vero Beach Pirate Fest. Continue reading “The Big Business of Piracy”

Pubs and Music

Fitzpatrick's Pub-003

On our way back from Ireland Stephen asked me what my favorite thing was about the trip. I had to say that it was the pubs and music that impressed me most. I loved the atmosphere and life that radiates from those places. While they all seem similar and familiar, each is unique. If I could do one thing over, it would be to spend more time in the pubs listening to traditional music. Granted, we did quite a bit of that anyway. Continue reading “Pubs and Music”

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