Pretty Place

Recently, I came across this picture of Symmes Chapel aka “Pretty Place”. I think it is one of the most beautiful chapels I’ve seen, at least judging by the photo, and I can’t wait to visit it someday (very soon, I hope).

IMG_3998
Photo Credit: Dave Allen

 

I did a little research on Pretty Place and found that it is located in a very small portion of South Carolina that lies within the Blue Ridge Mountains. Constructed in 1941, it sits on the property of the YMCA Camp Greenville. Mr. Fred W. Symmes donated the chapel for the enjoyment of children who camp at the YMCA during the summer, but visitors are welcome to visit the chapel during daylight hours and the chapel can even be booked for special events like weddings.

 

If you’re interested in seeing a schedule for the chapel, click here or you can call ahead  at: (864) 836-3291.

 

I know that this is one destination that has found a spot on my bucket list.

 

Happy Easter, all!

Advertisements

Hammocks Beach/Swansboro

It’s been a while since I’ve written about an excursion. Things have been complicated lately, and other thoughts and concerns have presented distractions. That’s ok. Life happens. But this morning when I got up and saw the sun shining on a beautiful day,  I decided that it was time to go exploring. I called one of my favorite sidekicks, and started the conversation like I often do, “I know it’s late notice, and it’s fine if you’re not interested but…” About two hours later, we were on our way to Hammocks Beach State Park near Swansboro, NC.

IMG_3932

Hammocks Beach consists of 1520 acres. It includes a mainland area that offers a visitors center, lookouts, a launch site for canoes, kayaks and ferries and a hiking trail. It also consists of four barrier islands: Bear Island, Huggins Island, Dudley Island and Jones Island which are accessible by ferry or private boat. Bear Island is the biggest attraction of the four. It is 4 miles long, has a south facing beach and contains hiking trails, as well.

IMG_3934

The history of Hammocks Beach is an interesting one. Originally, it was inhabited by Native Americans. Once the Native Americans migrated northward, pirates moved in and roamed the waters and the islands around the park. During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers used Bear and Huggins Islands to defend the mainland and during WWII, the Coast Guard used the area to monitor for German U-boats. In the early 20th century, the island was acquired by a neurosurgeon from New York named Dr. William Sharpe who willed it to the NC Teachers Association, an organization of African American Teachers. In 1961, they donated the park to the state of North Carolina. Originally intended as a park for minorities, the park was opened to everyone after the Civil Rights Act in 1964. 

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammocks_Beach_State_Park)

Since we were at Hammocks Beach Park during the off-season, my friend and I were unable to take the ferry over to Bear Island. We stayed on the mainland, strolled around the museum in the visitors center and went to the lookouts on the grounds. We found the hiking trail but a controlled burn prevented us from walking the entire length of the trail.

We turned our sights to downtown Swansboro which was only about 8 minutes away, and found a restaurant close to the water named Boro. I had delicious Brazilian chicken in a tomato basil wrap with sweet potato fries and slaw. My friend had a burger and fries. The price was pretty affordable as we both paid about $11 and some change for lunch.

Afterwards, we walked the length of Front St where the restaurant was located. Quaint shops lined the street along the water. We found a candy shop called Candy Edventure and I bought some peanut butter chocolate fudge.

IMG_3944

They also sold scorpion suckers…

IMG_3945

and ant suckers…

IMG_3946

but I opted not to try those. (I can’t think why) (Eww).

With fudge in hand, we strolled back up the street and slipped into a coffee shop/bar named Bake, Bottle & Brew.  I figured that a cup of coffee would go really well with my dessert. It ended up being my favorite place on that little strip.

IMG_3947

With our bellies full and our sense of adventure satisfied, we headed home. I’m thinking that I may go back during the summer to see what those places are like during the busy season, but I really enjoyed hanging out there today while everything was kind of quiet, too.

Until next time..:)

Foggy Beach

One day last week, I visited the beach on my lunch break. It was just a day or so after a snow. The snow had melted, but I was treated to a misty midday fog by the ocean. There were only a few other souls out there, a sharp contrast to the crowds of summer. They, like me, were wrapped up in their scarves and coats, braving the cold just to be near the water. I could not see them til I was right up on them, and as soon as we exchanged polite nods, if that, we faded from one another’s views as the mist enveloped us.  I felt as if I had the beach to myself as I walked along in silence through the fog.

IMG_3841IMG_3844

Tractor in the Snow

This past week, we had a rare snowfall on the coast of North Carolina. While visiting family, I noticed their tractors covered in snow out in the yard. I liked the look of them so I went outside to take some pictures. I got the photo below of a weathered Massey Ferguson belonging to my step-dad. Just one of the many ways I enjoyed our snow days.

IMG_3778

Habits for the New Year

One of the things I decided to do this year is consistently set aside time for daily reflection. I didn’t really set New Year’s Resolutions, but rather decided to form a few low pressure habits that I felt would help me to center myself and develop clarity.  One of the biggest problems I have is feeling like I’m being pulled in too many directions. Some of those feelings come from the fast-paced culture we live in. Some of them are self-imposed. It’s hard for me to know where to focus. 

I’ve been trying to read through the entire Bible for years. I’m up to the book of Luke. Last year was going to be my year to complete it. I even listed it as one of the books on my book club challenge under the religious book category, but I didn’t finish it. This year I’ve decided to keep working on it, but to keep it low pressure. I’ve decided to read it for at least 10 minutes a day then pray/meditate for 10 minutes a day and finally journal for 10 minutes a day. That’s not very much, only 30 minutes a day. I can do more if I want. Sometimes I’m sure I will, but the point is to establish consistency, to establish a regular pattern of reflection, and see what comes of it.

The first day I did it, I ended up reading Luke Ch.18:1-8, not for any particular reason other than it was simply the next passage in my Bible. It was a parable about an old widow who visited an unjust judge to ask him to avenge her against some adversaries. I’m not sure what the backstory was. That information wasn’t provided. But the bottom line is, she wanted justice. The judge wasn’t really interested in her. He actually blew her off, but she was persistent. Eventually, he realized that she was not going to go away and would continue to seek his help. So in order to avoid the nuisance, he acquiesced and gave her the justice she desired. The moral was that if an unjust judge who cared nothing for that woman would help her due to her persistence, how much more would a God who loves a person and actually cares about him/her do for that individual?

Ok, I thought. If I’m going to pray about something consistently, what should I pray for? I thought of three things I wanted the most, not possessions or anything like that, but three things I wanted most for my life; and I decided to include those things always in my prayers and meditations. Where it goes remains to be seen, but already I can’t help but notice…some signs of focus. I was able to shut down some of the internal chatter by simply asking myself, If I were to ask God for three things…what three things do I want the most?

I’m interested to see where this will lead. Time will tell.

Black and white photos 2017

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/2017-favorites/

I’m an amateur photographer at most. The busyness of my life and my scattered interests has not made it easy for me to focus in detail on the more technical aspects of photography; but in some ways I’ve delved a little deeper into the world of pictures this year. A while back, I experimented with transforming some of my color photos into black and white. This simple act produced more than one aha moment as in many cases, I could actually see more depth in my photos in black and white than I could in color. At the very least, it altered the dimension in such a way that it gave me a different perspective on the experience I had when I took the photo. Some of my favorite transformations are below.

IMG_3109

 

A Day in Charleston

Recently, I took a day trip to Charleston with a couple of friends. It was not our original plan, to be honest. We had originally planned to go hiking in Dupont Forest. Mother Nature had other ideas, however, and it rained at Dupont during the time of our trip. It did not, however, rain on the coast that day so we re-calculated and went to Charleston instead- which of course was still a lovely day.

 

On our excursion, we stayed around the downtown Charleston area. There is so much to do in that area that we found plenty of sites to see on our day trip. A friend of mine arrived prepared, having printed a map of downtown Charleston, and from there we made our selections. We parked near Waterfront Park and met at the Pineapple Fountain. From there, we wandered down to Rainbow Row then decided to tour the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

 

Afterwards, we started looking around for a place to eat. One of my friends was a vegetarian so we walked from restaurant to restaurant reading menus on windows until we settled on the Sweetwater Cafe.  I had a delicious tuna melt on sourdough with a side salad and sweet tea. My friends both had breakfast dishes. We discussed our next move over lunch. The City Market was close by so we decided to go there next. There were hundreds of vendors at the market with a plethora of unique and beautiful items, including the famed sweetwater baskets of Charleston. I bought a couple of small gifts. I might have bought more but I was traveling on foot and knew that I would have to carry the bags.

 

After the City Market, we went to visit the horses. Charleston, like so many historic cities, offers carriage tours. We had heard that the public was welcome to visit the horses-carriage ride or not-just to say hello so we found a stable and met this beautiful guy, who was resting when we stopped by.

IMG_3557

 

The remainder of our trip was pretty much a self-guided walking tour to view old buildings that we thought might be of interest. We saw some churches

FullSizeRender (54)

cemeteries

FullSizeRender (55)

and an old prison.

FullSizeRender (56)

We also saw some beautiful historic homes. One thing I loved about Charleston is that, even though the homes are beautiful, they aren’t always uniform. There’s a “Charleston style” that carries throughout the city, but I literally saw homes side by side of different styles and colors, and the effect was charming.

IMG_3565
Before we ended our day, we treated ourselves to a Belgian Gelato. I chose chocolate hazelnut. It was delish! Full of gelato, we wandered back to our cars and prepared for the drive home. I looked at my phone and saw that we had walked 7 miles throughout the day. I guess we got in our hike, anyway.