Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cypress Gardens

The weekend of April 9 Donna and I visited Cypress Gardens near Moncks Corner, SC. It is comprised of a swamp full of lily pads and and cypress trees surrounded by beautiful vegetation, as well as a butterfly house and a swamparium. The entrance fee is a bit steep at $10, but it is worth it.

We started in the butterfly garden, where we were surrounded by lots of beautiful flowers and butterflies, as well as a wood duck wandering around, a goldfish and koi pond, and some guinea fowl and their chicks. Very nice display.

We then visited the swamparium, which is comprised of several aquariums containing various species of fish, amphibians, alligators and snakes. The alligator in these photos is a small one, but there was one that was absolutely monstrous; I couldn't get a good photo of him to depict just how large he was, but man - he was frightening!

This guy seemed pretty peeved.

We then walked a two-mile or so loop around the swamp. If you're so inclined, you can borrow a canoe for no charge and paddle through it. We did that the last time we visited but passed on it this time and just enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the perimeter.

This wall is from the grave site of the former owners of the land, the Kittredges.

After leaving Cypress Gardens we headed to the ruins of Biggin Church, easily found by heading north/east on Hwy 17 through Moncks Corner and then turning south on Hwy 402; the ruins will be right up the road on your right. The church was first built in 1711 and burned in a forest fire in 1755. A new building was built in 1761 and was burned by British troops in 1781. It was rebuilt once again and burned in yet another forest fire around 1890; the remains of the 1890 fire are what stand today.

There's a cemetery adjacent to the church with some pretty old graves, including the grave of Stephen Bull, the man for whom Bull Street in downtown Columbia is named. I really liked the simple inscription on this tombstone:

From there we continued down Hwy 402 and turned right on Dr. Evans Road, which lead us to Strawberry Chapel, built in 1725.

And one more church before leaving the area - we stopped to see the Taveau Church on Dr. Evans Road heading back to Hwy 402; it was built in 1835.

We were quite famished after our day of adventuring, so we headed up Highway 6 to Santee to eat at the Lone Star Barbecue and Mercantile, always a good place to eat, though I must admit, we were a bit let down with this particular visit. The prices have gone up, the formerly complimentary coffee is now sold separately, and the food wasn't of as good a quality as we're accustomed. I still recommend a visit there, as it is quite an experience, but I think I'll take a break from them for a while.


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