Saturday, June 29, 2013

Magnolia Gardens

On June 9 Donna and I visited Magnolia Plantation and Gardens near Charleston. Since 1676 it has been in the Drayton family's possession and is the nation's oldest public gardens.

The first area we visited upon our arrival was the zoo and nature center, a nice open area where visitors can interact with several species, several of which wander among the guests.

We then took a pontoon boat tour over the flooded area that was once the rice plantation; we saw several types of birds and a few alligators along the way.

After the boat tour we embarked on a the many paths leading through the gardens. The size and assortment of vegetation is quite impressive!

Along the way we spotted a few more alligators.

I love hydrangeas! We had blue ones like these at my home when I was growing up, and I've always had a fondness for them. I need to plant some on my property.

We didn't take the optional tour inside the house (built prior to the Revolutionary War, it's around 250 years old!) but we did explore it from the outside and spend a bit of time on its huge wraparound porch.

While watching a few horses off in the distance this lady wandered over to visit them, and I thought the combination of her and the horses and the greenery was quite nice and made for a nice photo.

Cool owl atop a gazebo.

I thought this bridge was really pretty. I love bridges.

A few flower closeups.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Quarry Tour

Donna and I recently spent an afternoon at the annual Olympia Fest; Olympia is a community just south of downtown Columbia that was a vibrant cotton mill community, home to 4 mills, in the early part of the 20th century. We enjoyed checking out the usual festival goodies - various food and craft vendors and a music stage. They were also running tours down into the nearby Vulcan granite quarry. Lots of Columbia residents probably don't realize we have a giant hole right on the edge of downtown; there's another one across the river run by Martin Marietta. Here's a Google satellite view of it. We did one of the tours; it was very cool seeing it from the inside! On the ride over a long-time Olympia resident shared with us a great deal of fascinating Olympia history, and once we began our descent into the quarry, a Vulcan employee shared with us all sorts of interesting information about it and the operations. One of the things he mentioned is that within the next 10 years the pit will be so deep that it will be financially unfeasible to continue mining, so they will abandon operations, and it will naturally fill with water and become a nice lake right on the edge of Columbia!

Following the tour we kicked back in our lawn chairs with a couple of cups of incredibly good Italian ice from our friends at Paradise Ice and enjoyed some great music from a local band we really dig, The Restoration.