Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beaufort and the Vanishing Island

The day after we went to Charleston we woke up to some really dreary weather. Our original plans had been to lounge around on the beach. However, it was raining off and on and overcast, so we decided to hit our backup plan, which was to drive in the opposite direction from Charleston and visit Beaufort, South Carolina.

I had visited there before, when my friends Roy & Cindi Aiken were there when Cindi was posted at the Naval base. But Carole had never seen it, so it was all new to her. We headed out and, as with Charleston, about an hour's driving took us to the marsh-side village of Beaufort.

It's a really nice place, I have to say. It's almost like a mini-Charleston in a lot of ways. There are lots of old houses and nice neighborhoods lined up in perfect grids of German precision. The marsh and water is very nice to look at, and the town itself obviously shows the pride of its citizens. The downtown has been fixed up first rate and there are lots of cool shops to visit and dozens of small restaurants along the waterfront.

We actually had a hard time finding the eateries, though. We'd heard that there were lots of good places to eat in Beaufort, but a leisurely drive down the main drag of the old town revealed only a couple of cafe's. Where were the restaurants. While I was parking the truck in a public parking lot, Carole asked a fellow about places to eat, and he informed us that the restaurants all face the water and are mainly invisible from the main drag. You have to walk the park along the waterfront to really see them. We were going to walk the park anyway, so we strolled along until we found a place that suited us. I can't recall the name of the place, but I had a nice cold beer and we both decided on the shaved prime rib sandwich, which was really, really tasty.

After that, we did a little shopping, returned to the truck and headed out for our next destination: Hunting Island State Park.

I'd been there once, also with the Aikens. But Carole was anxious to see the place and tour the big lighthouse located in the park. Since we were staying in the state park campground at Edisto Island, we got free admission to the park and drove straight over to the lighthouse. It's one heck of a structure, with 175 steps to reach the top. The view from the catwalk at the end of the stairway is exceptional.

One thing about Hunting Island is that it's eroding away. Lots of barrier island migrate, and that's to be expected. But for some reason Hunting Island is wasting away into the sea at an alarming rate. I suspect most of the facilities there will be in the ocean within a couple of decades (including the lighthouse). For this reason, Hunting Island is certainly not a very pretty park. So much of it has vanished into the Atlantic that the result is a pretty depressing (if oddly interesting) spectacle. Carole did not like the experience, at all, save for the lighthouse. I have to admit that it's upsetting to see forest land being rapidly gobbled up by the ocean. An image of things to come, I suspect.

Downtown Beaufort on the main drag. We really liked Beaufort. Nice town and good facilities. They had a good library where I found free WiFi for my laptop.

The spirits were playing games with the camera (before I lost it in the ocean). A nice view of the waterfront park, save for the camera glitches.

This lady was having pretty darned good luck catching fish. I tried to get a shot of her reeling one in, but just missed.

The lighthouse as we approached it.

Carole beginning the long climb to the top.

I took this one from the catwalk by holding the camera out over the railing.

The view from the top looking toward the slowly advancing oceanfront. I guess in a few more years the water will be all but lapping at the base of this lighthouse (unless some drastic actions are taken).

We then drove to the side of the island that's suffering the worst of the erosion. Along the way, this deer walked up to the truck looking for a handout (which she did not get).

The last time I was here, this cabin was teetering into the ocean. It has since been removed completely. Several other beach side cabins are in danger of the same fate.

This road once continued on around a bend which is no longer there. In fact, the last time I was here, you could drive a good bit farther. No longer. The road (and forest) has been gobbled up by the ocean. On the right were some pathetic state park cabins looking worse for the wear (but still being rented). I wouldn't stay there if you paid me.

This is the scene from your cabin porch if you were going to stay there. The oaks and pines and palms have all fallen into the sea and have been withered away by the pounding salt water, or washed completely out into the depths.


dogboy443 said...

Hanging the camera over a ledge at a great height is why you are not allowed to have a camera. And you wonder why you lose them.

HemlockMan said...

It was not quite as dumb as taking it onto a kayak in the ocean the following day and carrying it untethered. Now THAT was dumb...

The only digital camera I still own (my old Powershot A80) has been dropped from various heights onto rocks and boulders numerous times. It still keeps working, no thanks to me.