Hello from Ocracoke

My absence from attending this blog is not permanent, I hope.  When I return in a few days, I’ll have photos, stories, and some ideas to share.  Thanks for reading, and please do come back soon. 

 Have a great new week.

Published in: on October 29, 2007 at 9:25 am  Comments (2)  

A Pause for Perspective

Just so you know…anyone who uses the phrase “old school,” isn’t!

Published in: on October 23, 2007 at 9:17 pm  Comments (6)  

Things that Slither at Church

Walking from my office back to the house today, one of our new residents caught my eye between the choir room and sanctuary. This lovely four-foot Black Rat Snake has been hanging around for a few weeks, now. I missed it when it first appeared, but a conscientious church member used a long-handled implement to remove it to the weedy field behind the kitchen. (No, it wasn’t the candle lighter!) It prowled around the prayer garden area for a while, possibly looking for a lunch of Five-lined Skink, which are always here.

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Isn’t this a beautiful animal?
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Reflected in the eye is some of the roofline of the church buildings.
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Here you can see more of the overall length. It has been so dry that I wasn’t sure if it has been able to find enough liquid. I put out a bowl of water in case it was desperate. Frankly, I don’t know if snakes drink regularly or just obtain their liquid from their prey.
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It disappeared up into a hollow vertical catwalk support. When the church secretary was leaving at noon, I told her where it went, and she doubled over in laughter, imagining Sunday morning when it pokes its head out at one of the little old ladies.

Published in: on October 23, 2007 at 8:39 pm  Comments (5)  

I Like Walking in the Rain

And the opportunity to do so was upon us at the latest Body Challenge, Spirit Challenge gathering. Overall group motivation for such a thing, however, was impressively low. So instead of taking the boat to Bull Island for a day of genuine wilderness wandering, the five of us, physical and spiritual juggernauts that we are, covenanted in other ways:

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We went to a local cafe and had a second breakfast. We explored a canoe launch site for future use. We strolled around the Sewee Coastal Retreat Center grounds when the rain stopped around noon. We were eaten and chased back inside by hoardes of mosquitoes and sand gnats that emerged after the rain. We sat in an air-conditioned room and had great conversation for a few hours. We harrassed by telephone another of our members who was on his honeymoon in Arizona. We went to Barnes & Noble. We had an early supper of fantastic seafood. And we went to the home of one of our members to watch Game 5 of the ALCS (Boston beat Cleveland).

Although I was disappointed at first, it was a day of fine friendship that was much less stressful than the hours of life-sucking misery we would have endured after the rain stopped on an insect kingdom like Bull Island. It was a good day.

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Published in: on October 22, 2007 at 9:12 pm  Comments (4)  

For Those Who Would Paddle

In a recent comment back to a reader, I mentioned the likely frustration someone would encounter while paddling through the Landsford Canal State Park section of the Catawba River. People do it, but here are some photos to demonstrate why it’s not a smooth activity.

This shot is from the trail bridge over the upstream entrance to the historic canal. The line of rocks that interrupts the flat section of the river is an old diversion dam to create flow into the canal back when barges were in use here.
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This is near the upper end, or beginning, of the shoals.
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You wouldn’t want to bring a composite boat through this!
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Part of the problem in a place like this is that the water can be very shallow. Most people end up having to get out and drag until the channel opens up again.
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Someone told me a story of trying to take a johnboat down the river, and then back up, through all of this. It took most of the day. Many of the plants here are Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies, the endangered plant mentioned in some of my earlier postings. The species is only found in South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. A few were blooming when I was there Saturday, something I was not expecting for October 13! Their main season is May/June, when they cover the river in a sparkling blanket of white.
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The two white birds here are Great Egrets, even though the one in the middle is in an odd posture making it look more like a Cattle Egret — but it’s not. There are a few lily blossoms in this photo, too. The thick plants and rock coverage make great foraging habitat for waders like herons and egrets, but it’s a real challenge for people trying to float it.
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Now…having said all that, I need to find a plastic creek boat and give it a try!

Published in: on October 16, 2007 at 10:17 pm  Comments (3)  

Camera’s Return

I went to Landsford Canal State Park this afternoon to test the Olympus E-300 since getting it back yesterday. The park is located on the Chester County side of the Catawba River, several miles northwest of the town of Lancaster. (That’s South Carolina, if you’re just tuning in.) Here are some scenes from the lovely autumn day.

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During my four hours on the trail, 34 bird species revealed themselves. Here’s a Scarlet Tanager.
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Two male Black-throated Blue Warblers showing their bellies
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And there were vines.
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Published in: on October 13, 2007 at 9:57 pm  Comments (7)  

Boat Cousins

Here is a photo from one of my kayak outings this summer. My kayak is in the background, being tried by another paddler. The two yellow ones in the foreground are made by Enlightened. I just learned today that both Enlightened Kayaks and QCC Kayaks have the same designer, naval architect John Winters. The ones shown here obviously represent different design priorities: volume (Enlightened) and speed (QCC).

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It might be hard to see the rope in this Flickr-fuzzed photo, but the husband and wife in the yellow boats were practicing their towing skills.

Published in: on October 8, 2007 at 11:24 pm  Comments (5)