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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Center for Birds of Prey

A Christmas present from neighbors was some "Tourist in Your Own Town" passes. They are used during the tourist doldrums of January to maintain some traffic. The last post regarding Charlestowne Landing was one visit. Yesterday we drove up the coast on route 17 to the town of Awendaw. There we visited the Center for Birds of Prey. It's a non-profit using a lot of volunteer labor with the mission to rescue and return to the wild (if possible) raptors or birds of prey. In 2009 there were almost 400 with about a 50% return to the wild rate. Most had lost out in a conflict with a car. They do have a recently assigned non-raptor mission. They are also a federal avian oil spill center. They received some oil spill fines, and were asked to set up a treatment facility for birds that are victims of oil spills. They were selected for their location and their rehabilitation successes.
Basically, however, they only deal with the carnivores of the bird world. Since we spent a half a decade at the Air Force Academy, we have seen a lot of falcons and their performances. Most were peregrines, but we have seen every thing from kestrels to golden eagles. Yesterday was a bit different. We saw free flying owls and kites for the first time. An owl can fly low over your head and you will not hear a sound. Kites are birds that feed mostly on large flying insects, so their maneuverability and their ability to eat on the fly are different than most raptors. The last picture is a kite. We also learned more about the Cooper's hawk. Note that we live on Cooper's Hawk drive. The Cooper's hawk eats other birds, not rodents. It is a forest hawk. It doesn't soar over open fields. It, therefor, has smaller wings and is much more maneuverable than, say a redtailed hawk. The owl in the tree was taken while he(she?) was flying free. The kite picture is not as sharp as the others, but it was a challenge to catch him at all.
After the visit we went to the nearby Sewee restaurant. This place was a general store for fifty years and is now one of those iconic, down-home restaurants. Local, fresh seafood is their forte. Rustic it is. The rest rooms are entered from outside! Amongst other items, I had a few fried oysters that were simply outstanding. They were crisp and tasty on the outside and absolutely succulent on the inside.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Charlestowne Landing

Today we finally saw the return of some Carolina weather, so we decided to tour Charlestowne Landing. This is the site of the first colonizing settlement in the area in 1670. Ten years later they moved across the Ashley River to "Oyster Point" to establish what is now Charleston. Although it was no where near as good a deep water port as Charleston, the earlier site was more defensible. We probably walked four miles, so the pups won't get their after supper walk tonight.
The first two shots show an old plantation building as seen through the tunnel of live oak and Spanish moss. The next shows the scale of one of those oaks, and the last, of course, is the two pups. Belle turned fourteen today and still runs around the back yard (almost) like a puppy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

RV Status

What! A blog with no pictures? For those of you who may be interested in the status of the Allegro Bus, we returned it to the storage facility yesterday. It had been at ProTech, a truck/RV repair facility in North Charleston since we got back in October. The big issue was repairing the damage I did when I scraped a stone column on a side trip to the Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue League. Some canopy parts had to be replaced, some fibreglass work was needed on the upper passenger side. I also had them do a complete wash and wax. Other miscellaneous tasks included the replacement of the sacrificial anode in the water heater and the attendant flushing. I know, I know...I could have done it myself, but as long as it was there... The dash heater had failed as had a step solenoid. Another big step was to replace the four, lead-acid coach batteries with absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries. They have a greater capacity AND they are sealed! They were $200 each, but they eliminate the frequent chore of adding distilled water to that battery bank. So, it is back in storage at the RV/boat storage lot at Charleston AFB. We are not going to Red Bay, AL this spring, so the next outing will be Huntington Beach State Park in April at Murrell's Inlet, SC. Then there will be the annual visit to Gaffney, SC where the Freightliner chassis was built for standard preventive medicine. We'll head north in May with our first stop from the 15th to the 19th for a 50th reunion of my West Point class. It felt good to drive it again, particularly since everything is now in top notch shape again.