Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Return to Beaufort, South Carolina

While Mike and Marg were visiting, we decided to take them to Beaufort, one of our favourite day trips. Unfortunately, Marg was feeling under the weather, so she stayed home to rest and we headed out.

This is a picture of Savannah from the other side of the river. The boat is one of the Savannah Belles Ferries, which run from one side of the river to the other and are free of charge. 

We decided to do the horse and carriage ride, which recounts the history of the city while showcasing some of the beautiful homes. This was our guide, Debbie. She couldn't have been more like Calamity Jane.

At first I couldn't absorb anything that she was telling us as I was trying so hard not to laugh. Her accent and her manner of speaking were hilarious, but once you got into her rhythm, it was good fun.

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Just one of the many beautiful trees in Beaufort, this one working its way over the road. Low clearance for sure...

A live oak tree whose branches touch the ground is called an "angel oak." Next year, I really want to visit the grandaddy of the Angel Oaks on Johns Island. Now that's a tree!

Debbie knew every house in town having grown up in Beaufort. She actually knew every dog in town as well, pointing them out on the porches as she saw them. There was a dog basking in the sun on the porch...

And then she pointed out the "guard dog" at this house. That was pretty funny as the dog wasn't the least bit  interested in us. I think they have become immune to tourists.

These are the "stairs to nowhere." Debbie had a story, which I honestly can't remember, but as usual these stories featured some ghost or spirit. I think the reality is the ruins of a house were finally completely removed as they had become a hazard, but the stairs were simply left in place. Not nearly as good a tale!

Once again, after the carriage ride, we went back and viewed a few of the houses on our own. We remembered this one from last year with the gardens that are simply amazing. I can't imagine how many tourists they see with their noses (and cameras) up against their fence. I hope they take it as a compliment.

My favourite house, The Castle...

It takes up a complete block and has 79 windows. An odd number...

No neighbours for them...just the picturesque marshes...

This plant looked so soft and fuzzy...

Our tour guide, Debbie, had mentioned several times that we had to go to the Chocolate Tree and get our free chocolate. "You don't have to buy anything. Just tell them Debbie sent you." Well, we hadn't heard about that on any of our other visits. Free chocolate...sign me up!

They are no dummies. I am sure very few people leave with just their free chocolate. It was really good and surprisingly inexpensive. We'll be back!

We wanted to show Mike the lighthouse on Hunting Island, so we zipped over there after our tour.

It was a perfect day for a lighthouse excursion. I love all the windows, perfectly placed on each flight of stairs to give you a chance to catch your breath and pretend you're looking at the view.


No, I cannot imagine lugging this up to the top. You are able to lift the can, so you can get an idea of the weight. The quote from the nephew of the lighthouse keeper says "I'd just go around and around until I got to the top."

A beautiful view...

A pretty nice lighthouse keeper's house...

I can only imagine how lonely the life must be, cut off from the rest of the world...

Jim had been down at the beach while Mike and I got our workout climbing to the top of the lighthouse. I was at the point of not wanting to go to the beach. Enough steps for one day...all beaches look pretty much alike, don't they?

OMG...no, they do not! I was so glad I walked down. How unique is this? Maybe this is what the Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island looks like.

It was definitely much warmer than when we were here last year. T-shirt weather this time...

A postcard picture of Jim and me. Thank you, Mike, for taking this photo. We love it!

These are palmetto trees, very hardy and resistant to salt, and water and droughts. That's quite a combination. They don't appear to have very large root systems though...

Another absolutely beautiful view...


I really wanted to go ask this couple for their email address and send them this picture. But they looked so content in their surroundings, that I decided to just let them enjoy their solitude.

Another spectacular day trip. This will always be on our list of things to see...


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Daytona 500...or Bust!

And we were off to the Daytona 500! I had been struggling to keep it a secret from Jim as it was a present for a special upcoming birthday. Finally, the time was right to spill the beans. Phew...a relief!

Lots and lots of motorcycles were spotted along the way...

We got goofy and made a sign for the window...

Welcome Race Fans! The hotel was close to the track, got pretty good reviews and the price was right. Even better, it was available.

Yeehaw! Roller derby tonight...

Hmmm...that's a lot of advertising for biker lawyers.



Sharing a drink with Mike and Marg, who I coerced into coming with us. None of us really know that much about Nascar, but the guys like cars and we were up for any adventure.

The next morning, we were up bright and early to get to the track.

Along with a whole bunch of other early birds...

You leave your car and walk to the buses that transport you to the track. They were running like clockwork.

Ta da! We're here...


All week they had been forecasting rain, but the skies were blue and it was going to be a hot one.

"Wow" was all we could say when we stepped onto the track. It was huge!

We got to sign the Start/Finish line...

Jim at the Daytona 500!

Barb lent me a sun hat, which was great, until I realized I couldn't put my headphones on over it. Next time I guess I'll stick with the baseball cap.

The Goodyear Blimp and brilliant blue skies. It couldn't possibly rain, could it?

Pit row is where everyone comes in for repairs or tires and gas. I have no idea how they can pick out their numbers in all the confusion.

Lots of tires. They looked completely bald to me...go figure!


This just looks like mass confusion, but somehow they work it out.

Luke Bryan was giving a pre-race concert. I honestly had to say I'm not familiar with any of his songs, and I was definitely in the minority.

Jim checking out Jimmie Johnson's car, the winner of the 2013 Daytona 500.


Jim and Mike...don't you love the checkerboard seating area?


Michael Waltrip (with the yellow lanyard) was broadcasting for Fox News. But strangely, he was also driving in the race. Now that's multi-tasking!

Checking out the cars...

I'm not sure whose pit sign that is, but it was pretty original.

I had decided I was cheering for Danica Patrick; you know, women sticking together and all that stuff. The lady, who was sitting next to me, nicely told me I'd be the only one. Huh!

The blimp, small planes, birds, planes flying banners...there was a lot going on overhead.

Now the stands were filling up...


The cars were lining up...we were getting close!

Luke Bryan performing to an appreciative audience.


What? Still 35 minutes to go?

Driver introductions...they came out to explosions of smoke and great fanfare. Danica Patrick...

Down the catwalk...they are the rockstars here.

Forgive me, real race car fans, if I have some of these names wrong. Tony Stewart...

Paul Menard on the left and the fan favourite on the right, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., or just Junior...


I think this is Jeff Gordon on the left with Kasey Kahne on the right...

Martin Truex on the left with Austin Dillon the right...

Dillon was going to be the first person to drive the #3 car since the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. It probably doesn't hurt that he is the race team owner's grandson, but he has definitely earned his spot.

Uh...where did our bright blue sky go? Yes, clear the ballfield...let's get this show on the road.

Those clouds were looking a little angry...

The national anthem was sung with a fly by from the Thunderbirds...

Drivers start your engines! You can't say Gentlemen anymore now that Danica Patrick is driving.

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And here they come being led by the pace car.

This was the problem...the track is so close to the stands, that you can't see them going by. Who am I kidding, I couldn't get a picture of them anyway. This was them going by slowly on the pace lap.


Amen for the screen right in front of us.

This was the only spot where we really could see them...

The track at Daytona is so big that you could barely see the cars on the backstretch.


A caution flag came out and everyone dove into the pits...literally. You can see Danica Patrick's green Go Daddy car colliding with another car as she tried to duck into her spot. I just loved the noise!

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Jim was listening to three drivers with his headset and heard Danica asking about the damage on her car. The response was something like "Get out there!"

It looked like our luck with the weather was running out...

At first the rain wasn't too bad. We were all still smiling...

But then it turned to torrential rain. We got an alert on our phone about a potential tornado and they asked everyone to clear the stands. OK, this was turning out to be worse than we had thought it could be.

After trying to hide under the grandstands (with a couple hundred thousand other people), it was evident the rain wasn't going to let up.

We stood in line for the buses as it thundered and lightning streaked down. Great with all those metal corrals!

We were absolutely soaked. Who knew jeans could absorb so much water! The rain delay lasted six hours and eventually they got the race in with the fan favourite, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. declared as the winner. We watched the race from the comfort of the hotel room.

So maybe it was a bit of bust...

But we had a great time and just being there was fun!