The Birds Are Back!! - Saturday - August 27, 2011

Nancy here: Yes, it is me again.  One of these days, when Mr. Retirement finds time, he will be writing the blog again! You know it is very difficult being retired and sometimes he just needs to take a little break ;o))

As we have already reported, Miss Irene cleared out of here earlier today.  After dinner, Bill suggested we go down to Huntington Beach SP and see how things looked there.  When we got there, we checked the beach, but it was high tide and there was no beach to walk on.  So we drove over to the salt marsh causeway and walked out on the middle board walk.

It only took a moment to realize that the BIRDS ARE BACK!! What was really interesting is that the first birds we saw were Wood Storks.  These birds are not usually here until the colder weather sets in.  However, they were everywhere.  Perhaps escaping Irene further north!!02b - Woodstorks - Everywhere

02c - Woodstorks - ClosebyWe watch this fellow walk around and kick up the bottom to see what he could find to eat,02d - Woodstorks - Feeding
Eventually, he took off and join the others further up in the marsh.02e - Woodstorks - Flying

As we headed off the boardwalk, we spotted this deer in the marsh grass.03 - Deer in marsh grass

Here is another bird, a Willet, which we don’t usually see.04 - Willet

Next, we walked across the causeway.05 - Causeway - View of Marsh GrassThe marsh grass looks fine.  Hard to believe a hurricane was here less than 24 hours ago.

05b - Causeway - Snowy Egret on GrassThe Snowy Egret above and the Great Egret below were fun to watch as they battled over the prime fishing spot:o))05c - Causeway - Great Egret on Grass

05d - Causeway - American BitternAbove is an American Bittern which we rarely see around the park….cool!!

Further out the causeway, we spent quite a bit of time watching this Wood Stork cross the causeway. This is when I wish I had a video camera…
06 - Crossing Causeway - Wood storkUp on the sea grass…
06b - Crossing Causeway - Wood storkUp on the rocks…
06c - Crossing Causeway - Wood storkCheck out the side walk…
06d - Crossing Causeway - Wood storkJust duck under the rail…
06e - Crossing Causeway - Wood storkStop traffic for a couple minutes…
06f - Crossing Causeway - Wood storkDo the ducking thing again…
06g - Crossing Causeway - Wood storkInto the water and hopefully, better fishing!!06h - Crossing Causeway - Wood stork

07 - Snowy Egret crossed the causewayLove this photo of the Snowy Egret with the wind blowing his hairdo around.

By now, the sun was setting 09 - Sunset -which means the bugs were getting bad, which means Bill has headed to the car, which means it is time for me to stop taking pictures. 

Of course there is always time for ONE more ;o))09b - Sunset - Woodstork

Bye Bye Irene - Saturday - August 27, 2011

Nancy here: Yesterday at 9:30am we were at the beach greeting Hurricane Irene.  At that time the rains started and the winds began to blow.

Well, exactly 24 hours later, the winds have died down and the rain finally stopped.  We are please to say, it was a mild storm here in Murrells Inlet, SC!!

Prior to the storm, Bill moved all the furniture into the screen room.01 - Pre Hurricane Prep
The biggest threat is the back of our house which butts up against the golf course.  Between us and the golf course is a buffer of mostly Pine Trees.  We do worry about one of them coming down on the house.  However, nothing like that happened, just lots of twigs and water. 
02 - Patio twigs03 - Patio twigs

We live in a development called Pebble Creek.  However, there is no creek…that is until today.  Irene left us with a small creek behind the house along the golf course ;o))04 - Creek behind house

If you look out front, you would have no idea we had ever had a storm.05 - Front of house no damage

Twenty-four hours after she arrived, the sun is beginning to break through the last bands of Hurricane Irene.06 - Last Bands Sun Coming OutShe was a big storm with medium winds and lots of water.  Fortunately the damage was minimal here.

As we watch the last bands head north, we will ask her to be just as gentle on our friends and family in her path!!
07 - Bye Bye IreneBYE  BYE  IRENE!!

Hats and Hurricanes - Friday - August 26, 2011

Nancy here:  Our plan was to Kayak with the tides and test out our new hats today.  However, Hurricane Irene made us change those plans somewhat.  Since we couldn’t kayak, we decided to go down to Huntington Beach and greet Miss Irene as her first rain bands came on shore.  Our hope is that if we greet her with a smile and open arms, she might be kinder to all our friends further north ;o))

We arrived at Huntington Beach about 9:30am and headed across the causeway.

01 - Huntington Causeway - northeast viewView to the northeast – rain bands are coming!!

02 - Huntington Causeway - southeast viewView to the southeast – no birds to be seen!!

It is said that when the birds leave, we should leave…03 - Huntington Causeway - Camper Leavingglad to see this camper had heard the same thing!!

Just as we got parked near the beach path, the rains started.  So on went the NEW HATS…we just knew we would get a chance to test them out ;o))04 - Huntington Causeway - Parking Rain Starts

05 - Huntington Beach - Choppy SurfWe arrived at the beach to see Irene was already stirring up the waves.  The surf is usually like a lake!!

06 - Huntington Beach - Bill and HatHats working!!    Jim Cantore eat your heart out;0))

07 - Huntington Beach - Nancy and HatDry head, spotless glasses … perhaps a chin strap???

The test was a success, we are happy with the hats.  Just need to check them out in the SUNSHINE!!!

We took a drive through the campground on our way out.  So glad to see that most campers had left the area.09 - Huntington Beach - Empty CampgroundNormally the last week before school starts, this place would be packed like sardines... empty today :o)))

10 - Huntington Beach - Causeway out no birdsAs we headed back across the causeway, I thought to myself, “hard to believe this is the same place we rode our bikes on Sunday and saw all the wildlife!!”

11 - Huntington Beach - Causeway out  waves on salt marshIrene’s winds were even making waves on the salt marsh!!

Definitely time to go home, hunker down and just wait out the storm.

However, we had one more important mission to accomplish.  Bill and I are tomato lovers ;o))  Our garden tomatoes have been done for some time.  But we know of a special place to get the best tomatoes ever…JERSEY TOMATOES!!! 
12 - Lee's Farmers MarketSo one last stop at Lee’s Farmers Market.

13 - Lee's Farmers MarketApparently a lot of other folks have the same idea ;o))

Just in case, Irene decides to take all the tomatoes for herself as she passes over New Jersey… we got a few of these one pound beauties to enjoy!!14 - Jersey Tomatoes

It is noon here as I finish typing this blog.  The rain is getting heavier and the wind has picked up some.  Irene is making her presence known.  Our thoughts are with everyone further north… we hope everyone is in a safe place and out of harms way.


Cycling Again!! - Sunday - August 22, 2011

Saturday night, we decided that Sunday morning would be a good day for Nancy’s first bike ride since her shoulder surgery. Her doctor advised her not to fall down for at least six weeks as her shoulder needs some time to heal properly (duh). Well, it’s not quite six weeks, but Nancy was anxious to go, so we did!

I pumped up the tires, oiled the chains, cleaned the bikes up and loaded them in the Tahoe Saturday evening. We left the house just before 6am and drove to Huntington Beach State Park. It wasn’t even sunrise yet – yeesh! Anyhow, within minutes it was light enough to start pedaling with the lights on the bicycles flashing.

02 - Riding before sunriseRiding before the sun rose.

04 - Salt Marsh to Oyster Cove at DawnView across the salt marsh at dawn.

06 - Bill ahead on causewayCrossing the Causeway at Huntington Beach.

We were very careful not to pedal too hard and we stopped frequently so Nancy could take pictures of the wildlife. We saw the usual birds and gators.05 - Salt Marsh at dawn05b - Salt Marsh at dawn - alligators05d - Salt Marsh at dawn - egrets everywhere05c - Salt Marsh at dawn - birds05e - Salt Marsh at dawn - breakfast club

We road the bike path and turned onto Sandy Island Road where we had to stop and let a family of wild turkeys cross. 08 - Turkeys crossing Sandy Island Road

When got to Sandy Island Boat Landing, we rested again and of course, more pictures. 09 - Rest Stop at Sandy Island Boat Landing

09b - Locals Boats at Sandy Island Boat LandingBoats used by the Island Residents to go back and forth.

09c - Canal to Sandy IslandView down the canal to Sandy Island.

Took it nice and easy on the way back.  We love riding Sunday mornings as we have the road to ourselves.  Well almost... here we shared it with the Geese. 10 - Geese crossing the road

We returned to our starting point and got the bikes loaded into the car.  Nancy needed one last photo.  This is what we see from our parking spot.
11 - Back to Start AtalayaAtalaya Castle – One of these days we will take you on a photo tour of this interesting place!

But for today, it was time to head home. It was a great 17 mile ride and Nancy’s shoulder gave her no problems :o))

After getting cleaned up and a late breakfast, we drove to North Myrtle Beach to visit Tanger Outlets and Bass Pro Shop. We were on the hunt for a couple of wide brimmed hats we can use for kayaking and hiking. We both agreed that we needed them to protect us from the sun, rain and insects. Neither one of us normally wears a hat except visors, so this was going to be out of our comfort zone. We tried on tons of hats and laughed ourselves silly. Nancy said everyone she put on felt like a lampshade!! Finally, both of us found ones that were comfortable even though they really don’t make a fashion statement…well, on second thought, maybe they do ;o))01 - Nancy and Bill Hats Regardless, as Nancy stated “we are long past the age of looking cool – let’s get hats that are practical.” We hope to test drive the hats this coming Friday on our planned kayak trip. Hurricane Irene may change those plans ;o((  However, we are ready for her with our NEW HATS :o))  We also bought some socks and underwear. I guess we now have all the important stuff covered ;o))

We rarely go clothes shopping and it is just as rare that we go out to eat. Today, we did both. After a meal at McAlister’s, we headed home laughing about the “hat” adventure. It turned out to be a wonderful Sunday, sharing lots of laughs, particularly about the hats.

What a great day!!!