Coast to Coast [and Back]

[Many apologies if the photos load slowly…there were too many to fit and I fear not being able to post frequently enough to cover any ground.]

I was hoping to post much earlier than this, but grad school and moving to California decided against it.

This post is heavily focused on the ocean, both Atlantic and Pacific.  Of course the differences between the two are easily noted, and I was expecting that, but seeing an angry Pacific wave crash was far more fierce than anything I had seen on the Atlantic–even on heavy surf days.

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First, the Atlantic. Specifically, Botany Bay Plantation on Edisto Island, South Carolina. [I am currently indecisive and can’t limit down the photos any further, so here’s the South Carolina set:]

On a StrollGathered WhelksCut PluffKnobbed WhelkKnobbed Whelk in OrangeShallows
Undrifted StumpChannel to the SkyDriftCamoflaugedSand, Water, and Wind PolishedTangled Driftroots
DriftwoodStill StandingSnag ShadowsHolding Against the WavesPath to the BeachTucked in the Trees
White BuildingDaffodilsMarsh ViewSpanish Moss-covered Live OaksField's EdgeGreat Blue Heron

Botany Bay Plantation, a set on Flickr.

Via Flickr:Edisto, South Carolina

Though the Atlantic is more ‘tame’ than the Pacific, the tree boneyard is a testimony to the power of water, no matter the temperament.

Botany Bay Plantation, a former working plantation, is currently managed for game and wildlife.  While the beach is accessible, there is a guard standing watch to ensure that no one takes any shells, since shelling is prohibited.  The difference between this beach and the shelled beaches is astounding…you can nearly visibly see the difference in the sand’s composition.  Beach visitors are surprisingly thorough at removing nearly all sizable pieces of shell on heavily visited beaches!

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On to the Pacific! Specifically, Samoa, to the Lost Coast, to Trinidad, and near Orick, California.

I must say, I could have stopped in Utah or Nevada–such beautiful and stark scenery, but the views here are outstanding in other, and greener, ways!  We’ve been lucky with the weather so far, but this area *isn’t* where the phrase “sunny California” originated.  In fact, the ‘Redwood Curtain’ thrives on all the moisture that falls here, either in the form of rain or dense fog.

It was shocking to us to see waves  rolling through one side of the harbor entrance that are large enough to trouble decent-sized boats. We’re still very shy when it comes to the Pacific, not wanting to meet a sneaker wave, but we’ve enjoyed the tide pools, sea stacks, and harbor seals. It still takes my breath away when a wave crashes up a tall sea stack!

An amazing feat seems to be the survival of the tide pool animals. The tides’ schedule here deviates from the Atlantic’s.  There is one large and one small high tide, with corresponding low tides, so some animals won’t see water for 18 hours or so. That’s a long time to hold your breath!

Of course, future posts will cover the tide pools and redwoods and banana slugs and I am overly eager to explore more, but this summer I am taking a brief detour to New Hampshire to work a park there, so the scenery of this blog will change yet again…it feels like the middle of everywhere!

Crashing the BarrierPassing BySamoa-side of the HaborWaving HarborSurfing in the HarborKeeping Watch
Coast and Sea StacksBeach DebrisDSC_0988Memorial LighthouseTrinidadBreak in the Clouds
Sneaky WavePouring, But Not RainingWet Rocks Aren't SafeCrashing WaveTree SpineBeached Buoy
Edge of the Pools

Pacific, a set on Flickr.

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Birds and Beach

I have managed to pry myself out of the grasp of homework a few times over the past two weeks. Those rare moments can be grouped into three categories: Birds, Beach, and Edisto [which will be the next post].

We’ll start with birds:

We walked the short trails of Patriots Point State ‘Park’ and found an abundance of robins with a smattering of other feathered species.

The Noisy Robins

I’m at a loss on this one…a duck.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Cedar Waxwing

Yellow-rumped Warbler

And transitioning from birds to beach, here are some birds at the beach:

Double-crested Cormorants

Willets

Willet again

Piping Plover [I think the same individual I saw last winter]

And more rare [down here] than the Plover, a Snow Bunting! They aren’t often found on SC beaches. Thanks to BirdChick for the ID.

On to the beach:

Click to enlarge.

And just to prove it hasn’t been cloudy the whole time:

The Yorktown at sunset.

Apologies for the super long post!

Picasa Album: https://picasaweb.google.com/sniehans/20110201GrandmaAndBirds#5573750912795129538

A Year’s Difference

I think this is one of my favorite trees of all times. It’s in my header photo on this blog, I like it that much! The first three photos are from February 23rd of last year, so not exactly a year ago, but three cameras ago…that’s hard to believe! Anyhoo, the photos are all of the same, lovely dead tree.

Take note of that piece of bark on the right hand side as well as where the tree is on the beach.

The tree is nearly center in the photo.

These photos were taken on December 5th and 24th, 2010 and January 15th, 2011.

Remember that piece of bark mentioned above? It looks like a bird now at the top of the branch now [just above center-left in the last shot].

Within less than a year, all the dunes around the tree have been washed away, a not so gentle reminder that life is impermanent by its very nature.  I’ll be very disappointed when I visit Folly and find the tree gone.

While barrier islands are ever-changing, this change has most likely occurred due to the jetties created outside of Charleston Harbor. While the jetties ensure a mostly calm harbor–good for shipping and commerce, they have choked off the sand deposition supply that comes from the North. Generically and very generally speaking, sediment travels from the northern end of an island to the southern end, and then on to the next island. The jetties block this flow, diverting it farther out to sea, into deeper currents and essentially causing the sand supply to Morris Island and Folly Beach to skip over them.

A Little Gem

Even though we are not brave enough to venture out on the trail where our ‘incident’ happened nearly a year ago, I still love this park.

Palmetto Islands County Park has something for nearly every interest: horseshoe pit, off-leash dog area, crabbing and fishing docks, kayak launch, observation tower, a very new playground, paddle boats, trails, a water park…I’m really not sure how they fit it all in there!

Their website: Palmetto Islands County Park

Even as jam-packed as this park is, you still get amazing views.

I am grateful that it is so close by, especially days when it is too cold and windy to walk the beach. It’s a lovely respite from homework!

A Simple Sunset

Two shots from last night’s sunset with the new camera. I caught another photographer catching a “LOLO” [Load-on, Load-off] container ship leaving the lovely port of Charleston. The second has a palmetto log buried in the sand, the same tree was used on nearly the same spot for the earliest version of Fort Moultrie. The palmetto logs absorbed cannon fire very well.