Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Review of Folly-A Folly Beach Mystery Book

My Photo of the Morris Island Lighthouse

I just read a book that has all the elements that I find fascinating.  First let me tell you I am a photographer whose favorite subject is lighthouses.  I also enjoy mysteries. This book has all of those things along with a cast of quirky characters that make the book a real page turner.

Summary of Book

 I started reading this book and I was hooked on the very first pages when a photographer sets off to take a photo of the sun rising over a lighthouse.  It just so happens that this lighthouse is the Morris Island Lighthouse, a lighthouse that I too have photographed.  As he is walking down the path to the shore  I can vividly remember myself walking down that same path.  Needless to say my interest was captured right from the beginning.

In this delightful first book of the Folly Beach Mystery Series Chris is taking a month long vacation in Folly Beach South Carolina, a beach town near Charleston.  While Chris is on his first outing to photograph the lighthouse he hears shots fired and discovers a dead body.  The rest of the book is filled with Chris meeting the residents of the small town and discovering some delightful characters along the way.  

When Chris's first rental house is burned he begins to suspect that someone thinks he saw something at the murder site.  Chris does not know what it could be but he becomes determined in discovering who the killer is and why they are targeting him.

Along the way Chris meets a reporter who shows him the sights in Charleston and a love interest develops.  He also meets a quirky character, Charles who calls him "Mr. Photo Man".  

The book has lots of interesting people and wonderful descriptions of both Folly Beach and Charleston.  If you haven't been there they will make you want to go and if like me you've been to both places they make you long to go back.

The Book on Amazon

Here is a link to the book on Amazon.  I highly recommend it for a relaxing and fun read.  As soon as I finished I went and bought book 2 in the series and I can't wait to get started.



My Photos on Zazzle

Here on Zazzle are several of the photographs I took when visiting South Carolina.






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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Charleston South Carolina Historic Vacation Reviewed

South Carolina Folley Beach Pier
South Carolina Folly Beach Pier

 If you're planning a vacation in the new year and you love history, or maybe you just like to relax on you're vacation, consider Charleston South Carolina.

We’re lucky enough to have family living in Charleston. If we didn’t have family living there I don’t know if we would have ever have considered taking a vacation there. What a mistake that would be, as we’ve traveled there many times to visit and every time there is something new to see and do.

As you know this is where the Civil War started, when confederate soldiers fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, which was occupied by Union forces. This was known as the first shot fired in the Civil War. Okay, enough history; you can read this anywhere online. What I want to tell you are some of the fun things that we like to do when we visit Charleston.

Folley Beach

Folly Beach is on James Island, we always make it a point to visit this beach in the morning. We walked to the beach and collected some beautiful seashells. We’ll later use these seashells to do some crafts with our grandchildren.

The beach is so very peaceful in the morning, and if you can get there early enough to see the sunrise it’s a beautiful sight. Although we didn’t do this every day, come on, I’m on vacation right. If you miss the sunrise, the sunsets on Folly Beach are epic.

Charleston the downtown market

Baskets in the maket place

Take a day to visit the huge outside market in downtown Charleston, we like walking through and stopping to see the many vendors and their wares. You’ll find everything here from fine art to the smallest trinket to take home as a keepsake. There are some very talented people, who hand weave these baskets. Well, it’s hard to see the people in this photo, but I really wanted you to see the baskets.

As you walk through, you’ll see people throughout the market crafting and weaving their baskets. We have purchased several; after all, you can never have enough baskets, right? Some of them are a bit pricey, but most time the vendors a willing to make a deal.

Carriage Tours

Once you're downtown take some time to check out the carriage ride guided tours of the city. These tours have so many different routes around the city, and you can take a different one every time. It’s a beautiful ride through the streets of Old Charleston, the tour guides are well versed in the history of the city, and the horses are very friendly too. If you’re going to visit Charleston, put this on your things-to-do list, you won’t be sorry.

 This is the tour that we have taken a couple of times. The Palmetto Carriage Tour is an hour-long carriage ride through the city. I love the history on these tours, I learn something new every time.

Plantation
Walk around the city just to enjoy the beauty and architecture. Soak in the history of Old Charleston. 

Walking along the Battery off in the distance, you can see Fort Sumter. Very often you can see dolphins jumping around the shoreline.

As I walk through the streets of this historic city. I can’t help but think of all the generations that have lived in these homes. Homes that have been here for hundreds of years, the history just pours out of them. After the war, Charleston didn’t have a lot of money to rebuild so they restored and restored, keeping the old buildings for us to enjoy.

This is my favorite thing to do as I see something new every time we take a walk around the city. These are some of the things we like to do when we visit Charleston. There is so much more to enjoy here, with so many wonderful restaurants and parks to visit.

Charleston Where History Lives

Find more Travel Reviews here: ReviewThisTravel.com

Charleston! Charleston!: The History of a Southern CityCharleston! Charleston!: The History of a Southern City

 




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Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Review Of Londons Attractions The Big Eye and River Thames


The London Eye By Raintree Annie

Have you ever visited Londons' Big Eye? I am a country girl at heart but my granddad was born in London, United Kingdom within the sound of the Bow Bells.

So I am a quarter Cockney and have a bond with London, UK's capital city. 

I love to visit London when I can which tends to be only once or twice a year at most. When we do go it is always lovely to take a walk by the Embankment which is my favourite part of London and one of the amazing attractions there is Londons Big Eye and the River Thames Embankment area. 

The last time We visited The London Eye it was a cold crisp winter's day yet there was a huge number of people there to see and experience this wonderful attraction.

 

So what Is The London Eye?

The London Eye is essentially a large Ferris wheel with a difference. It has acquired many names along its relatively short history. These include:

The London Eye

The Merlin Entertainments

London Eye

London's Big Eye

The Eye

London's Eye

The Big Eye

Millennium Wheel


The London Eye - A Temporary Structure?

The London Eye was finished in the year 2000 and was only supposed to be a temporary structure to celebrate the Millennium. 

It was originally called "The Millennium Wheel". It was designed as a Ferris wheel in order to represent the turning of a new Millennium. 

It is massive, standing at 442 feet tall and designed by Architects David Marks and Julia Barfield, of Marks Barfield. It opened to the public in March 2000 and was only given permission to be open for 5 years. However, in 2002 the London Eye was given permission to be a permanent attraction in the capital city. It is a wonderful structure and great fun so I am glad it has stayed. 

 

The London Eye by Raintree Annie

As you can see from the photos I took here The London Eye is essentially a huge wheel with 32 capsules, representing each London Borough, holding up to 25 people each. So up to 800 people can be on the flight at any one time! 

To my relief, you don't sit with your legs hanging down like on a normal Ferris wheel but sit in each enclosed capsule. As the wheel rotates, the capsules also rotate so they always stay horizontal which is clearly a great design for passenger comfort and security! 

For an additional special price you can book a capsule just for your family or party and some people have even got married on the flight!

The London Eye from the road by Raintree Annie

Book Ahead For The London Eye 

As you approach the London Eye we saw crowds like we had not seen before along the whole stretch of the embankment. 

We do not like to spend valuable time visiting London waiting in queues like that so if you feel that way too I would strongly advise booking ahead for a specific time so that you don't have to queue for so long! 

By the way, you don't book a ride on the London eye you book a "flight"! 

It is open every day in normal times except for Christmas day and when it is closed for a week in January for annual essential maintenance.

It is an amazing flight and I would recommend it if you are traveling to London. 

Once you board your flight each rotation takes around half an hour and it does move at a slow speed, so it is not like a thrill ride. Rather it allows us to take in the surroundings and sights of London city in a leisurely manner. In fact you can see as far as Windsor castle which is 25 miles away! We loved it and will book again the next time we can visit London. 

 If you are interested in London and may even be planning a bit there in the future I would recommend this book to learn about the many beautiful and interesting attractions and life in London.

Fodor's London 2020 (Full-color Travel Guide)

 

The Embankment And River Thames, London

The area around The London Eye is one of my favorites and it is well worth spending some time there. If you take a walk down the Embankment towards the London Eye it is a fascinating sight of street artists, doing incredible gymnastics, painting, making music on steel drums. 

There are people dressed as statues that stay as still as can be, being looked upon in awe by some people and others trying to get them to move! If they do move often after a long period of time it can be quite a shock!! 

All manner of people are there and it is very crowded, yet the atmosphere is one of busy friendly activity and simply enjoying what is there. There are also outdoor food stalls, indoor and outdoor restaurants, and a wide variety of wonderful live music. 

I find it a very relaxing yet stimulating place to be. 

 

River Thames & Big Ben from Embankment,by Raintree Annie
 

The River Thames flows by The Eye and is a huge dominating river. In clear sight is the "Gurkin" and other sights of interest. 

You can even take a boat trip along the river, which, especially if you are new to London is a really good way of seeing more of this area of the city in a relaxed manner. 

It is also a lot easier on your feet as London is a huge city to walk around and pounding the pavements and crowds can become quite relentless and tiring! 

Relaxing on the river is a lovely way of taking it all in and is a lovely break from the inevitable bustle of a big busy city. We had a lovely day in the area and could have easily stayed a lot longer.

Boat Trip The River Thames , London UK by Raintree Annie
 

Londons River Thames

Here is the River Thames, embankment from nearby The Eye. You can see the famous Big Ben in the distance! 

Even on a grey day it has an attraction for me. There is a majesty and history to this river and it is such a lovely place to chill out and relax from the hectic pace of London. 

This capital city is a full-on place to be and the area around the Embankment is no exception. Yet if you can find your nice place to sit or stand and just look there is a peace about it too.

London Eye Capsule &Big Ben by Raintree Annie

 

I love this part of London, I think the river is lovely and the buildings are amazing and there is a special atmosphere about this area, which is hectic yet friendly. I always enjoy visiting and have many happy memories I savor on my journey back home to the countryside. 

Have you visited London, taken a flight on the London Eye or do you feel it would appeal to you?




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Monday, November 16, 2020

Travel: The Choptank River Lighthouse

I have visited Dorchester County, Maryland many times over the years. I've visited Blackwater National Wildlife refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical park, and a pavilion area on Fishing Bay during a tropical storm. But I had never seen The Choptank River Lighthouse in Cambridge - until recently.


It was a drab and rainy day. We were driving around, exploring. We had visited Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge again but with the pouring rain, it was difficult to get photos of the birds. There were plenty of birds to see... being water birds, they didn't seem to mind the rain.  We also drove around the small town of Cambridge, Maryland. 

We ended up in Long Wharf Park. With the heavy rain, the birds outnumbered humans. And we had a perfect view of The Choptank River Lighthouse from the comfort of the Jeep.




The Choptank River Lighthouse, Cambridge, MD

This lighthouse is a replica of historic, river lighthouses of Maryland. Specifically, a replica of one of the Choptank River Lighthouses that were at Choptank River Station. Yes, "lighthouses" plural at that original site. The first lighthouse at Choptank River Station was built in 1871. After that structure was destroyed by an ice floe, a different lighthouse was moved to the site in 1921. Then in 1964, that lighthouse was removed and replaced with a modernized flashing light.

With visiting the current Choptank River Lighthouse, I learned that it is a screwpile style lighthouse. I have seen many photos of this style of Maryland river lighthouse but never thought about the architecture.

This structure also houses a small lighthouse museum. It is normally (pre-pandemic) open to the public, no charge but donations are welcome. The space (also during normal times) can be rented for events. 

I definitely plan to visit again on a sunny day so I can sit and watch the boats sailing in and out of the marina.


Dorchester County, Maryland is a wonderful place to visit. It is a rural area teeming with wildlife, migratory birds, and recreational activities related to water. Every single time I visit I wonder about Harriet Tubman's life and marvel at her bravery walking though these marshes and forests. 

Related Links:

Our Mary Beth is the Review This lighthouse contributor and photographer. If you love lighthouses, be sure to look for her lighthouse reviews and her photography store. I enjoy touring this wonderful lighthouse parks through her stories and photos.

If you are unable to travel to Maryland's eastern shore in person, and enjoy reading historical fiction I recommend Chesapeake by James Michener. You can see my book review here. The area and it's rich history makes my visits even more meaningful.

For more information about the history of the original Choptank River Lighthouse, it's replacement, and this replica in Cambridge, refer to Choose Cambridge: About the Lighthouse.

For more information about types of lighthouses, including the screwpile style and Alexander Mitchell refer to Chesapeake Chapter United States Lighthouse Society: Types of Lights.






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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Visit Missouri- Review of Frontier Park-St. Charles


Located on the Missouri Riverfront in St. Charles you will find a wonderful park, the Lewis and Clark Boathouse Museum and a delightful nature center.


Lewis and Clark Boathouse Museum



The Lewis and Clark Boat House and Museum is a wonderful way to spend time reviewing the history that took place in this area.  There is a wonderful display on the Lewis and Clark Expedition with maps for you to follow the paths taken.  There is a replica of a keel boat used during the expedition times and many other artifacts from the era.  

The  museum also gives a lot of information on the Missouri River ecosystem.  

Outside the museum you will find a wonderful nature center.  It is a small area but packed with informational signs and lots of beautiful flowers.  I particularly like to photograph the sunflowers.  

Here are some photos from a late July visit to the area.


 




I was delighted by all of the colorful cone flowers that were in bloom on this visit.






Frontier Park

Just east of the museum area on the riverfront you will find Frontier Park.


The park covers 16 acres and is a wonderful way to spend a leisurely time watching the boats on the riverfront, watching events on the stage, visiting the old railroad depot, or taking a walk along the Katy trail. Here are the features of the park according to the St. Charles Parks website.

  • 16 Acres
  • 15 Foot Lewis & Clark Statue
  • MKT Depot
  • MO Dept. of Natural Resources Katy Trail runs through Frontier Park
  • Outdoor Jaycee Stage
  • 2 Picnic Shelters
  • Paved Hike/Bike Trail
  • Rest Area (Benches)
  • Restrooms are open year round.


From <http://www.stcharlesparks.com/park/frontier-park/



At Christmas time the city celebrates a "St. Charles Christmas Traditions".  One of the traditions includes a parade featuring Santa's from various countries.  At the end Santa Claus stops at the railroad depot above for children to visit and have their photos taken with Santa Claus  A couple of years ago my two youngest granddaughters were visiting before the holidays and I took them to see Santa.  The depot was a wonderful spot for this tradition.  



The St. Charles area features a lot of festivals held in the area and the stage seen above is often the place where entertainment is featured. People can bring their lawn chairs and sit in the grassy areas surrounding the stage.  Some of the festivals include an Independance Day Celebration, Festival of the Little Hills, Craft Fairs and much more.

This area along the Missouri riverfront in St. Charles is a real treasure of the city and an area I never tire of visiting.

Zazzle Products from my Photographs





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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Visit Missouri-Fort Zumwalt Park


We have several parks in our area, but my favorite is Fort Zumwalt Park.  This 48 acre park is both scenic and historic.  It has a wonderful 3.5 acre lake and lots of trails and paths to enjoy nature.


Newly Renovated

The lake named Lake Wetsel, after a board member that championed the lake, was completely dredged during 2019.  At that time several small bridges and a walking path were added.  This makes it a wonderful place to take a stroll or go for a more energetic walk.




Historic Features


I love seeing the fort each time I go to the park.  It is a wonderful recreation of a log cabin from the late 1700's.  Here is a quote about the Zumwalt home from the O'Fallon city website.   https://www.ofallon.mo.us/fort-zumwalt-park
"It’s hard to imagine the O’Fallon area as the leading edge of the American frontier. But in 1799, when Daniel Boone and his family settled just a few miles away, the area was a wilderness in which Native Americans hunted, fished and trapped game.
At about the same time that Daniel Boone arrived, Jacob Zumwalt and his extended family settled in the O’Fallon area circa 1798, building a large log home. A few years later, when the War of 1812 set off deadly guerilla raids with Native Americans ambushing and killing American settlers, local families fled to the shelter provided by the Zumwalt’s home, which is said to have been fortified with a stockade fence.  A spring, which is now Lake Whetsel, supplied water.
Zumwalt’s Fort, as the fortified house came to be called, was one of 35-plus “settler forts” that once stood in Missouri. Boone’s Fort at present-day Matson, Missouri, was the largest.
The reconstructed Zumwalt’s Fort opened in 2015 as a gift to the City from the O’Fallon Community Foundation. It is the only rebuilt War of 1812 settler fort in the state.
Interpretive signs at the site provide structural details and information about the people who lived here in the days when the O’Fallon area was part of the American frontier."

Another historic house in the park is the Heald house.  It is a large brick home built near the fort on a hill called "Stony Point" .  It was first built in 1884 and was renovated by the City of O'Fallon in 2001.  I love taking photos of the flowers around the house.



Wildlife

Wildlife abounds in the park both in the woods surrounding the lake and in the lake itself.  I particularly like watching the colorful ducks in the lake.




















Here is an Iris I photographed along the lake.

Other Activities at the Park

The park features many other attractions and special events.  Here are a few of the most popular.
  • Picnic Areas
  • Pavilion for Group Gatherings
  • Large Playground
  • 18 Hole Disc Golf Course- this scenic 18 hole course winds it way through the park.  The course is free for open play and scorecards are available near the first tee.
  • Celebration of Lights- each December the park hosts a annual celebration of lights.  This celebration features a drive-through display of seasonal lights.  It also has nights set aside for a walking tour and some nights there are carriage rides available.
  • Founders Day Celebration-The park hosts this celebration in May with live blue-grass music, hands on activities and heritage demonstrations.
  • The Park is the host for The St. Charles Model Railroad Club.

Photo Shoot

I love to do photo shoots with my granddaughters and the park is the perfect place to take their photos.  Here are a few from their recent visit.






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Monday, July 20, 2020

Travel: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge - Wildlife Drive

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. We spent our time on the Wildlife Drive. Despite the heatwave and oppressive humidity, it was a wonderful experience. I am writing this review because I highly recommend this destination for birdwatchers, wildlife lovers, bicyclists, hikers, photographers, travelers, and anyone who appreciates being immersed in nature.





Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Cambridge, Maryland


Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is located in south eastern Maryland - the region commonly known as the eastern shore. The refuge is over 30,000 acres of tidal marsh, forests (hardwood and loblolly), managed freshwater wetlands, and croplands.  It was established in 1933 as a refuge for migratory birds.





The Wildlife Drive


With 30,000 acres of refuge, Wildlife Drive was a manageable chunk of area for a brief visit. We paid our nominal fee and entered that portion of the refuge. 




The drive includes a paved road (approximately 4 miles in length) with a few branches of unpaved - but wide - walking trails. Due to the heat and our limited time, we remained on the roadway.  

Our first stop was the observation deck and viewing area. Had we more time, I could have remained in that area for hours.  A raised wooden walkway and deck were positioned in the middle of the marsh. Two benches were available as were two free/permanent binoculars.






We observed fish swimming in the clear sections, a large number of Red-winged Blackbirds and dragonflies, and in the distance we easily spotted what appeared to be a Bald Eagle nest and two eagles perched in nearby trees.

As we left that area, I spotted what I believe to be a Green Heron in a tree (I am a beginning bird-watcher so please do not use my guesses of species as factual). I was so excited! I believe this is only the second time I've spotted a Green Heron since I've begun to list birds I've spotted.




In the distance, I saw a little marsh "Shack". Of course I was intrigued. If you know me, you know that I have my very own Shack.  This shack turned out to be a permanent viewing blind!






Along the road, we pulled over at various spots to observe turtles, ducks, Great Blue Herons, Osprey nests, and a Great White Egret (again, I'm only sure of the identification of the Great Blue Heron and Osprey).










Wildlife and Marsh Seasons


The pamphlets that were available at the entry gate included quite a bit of helpful information. Including a general "Wildlife Calendar".  From January to December, the refuge is a living and changing community of wildlife.  As we there in July, the time frame (depending on weather) generally includes swallows, kingbirds, and flycatchers feasting on the huge amounts of insects. Hibiscus begins to bloom near the end of the month and the Osprey babies begin to leave the nests. We were fortunate to find that the Ospreys were easy to spot on their nesting platforms.





If you are a bird watcher, you may want to refer to the migration information to increase your chances of seeing the species you'd like to see. For example, I believe we saw Teal. Whether they are "blue-winged" or "green-winged" I'm not sure. I'm not even fully confident they are Teal. But Teal is listed as a species that is traveling through the area during this time on their migration from North to South. 

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is definitely worth a visit for any outdoors person or birder. And the Wildlife Drive is a scenic and comfortable front seat for Mother Nature's show.






Related Links:

Eastern shore, Maryland has many great places to visit and things to see. Assateague Island (home of wild ponies) is my favorite place in that region. For more travel information check out VisitMaryland.org.

I recently read Chesapeake by James Michener. During my entire time at Blackwater National Refuge I thought of the people depicted in that historical fiction. From the Native American peoples, to the slaves and the slave owners, to the pirates, and those who worked hard to survive in the marshes of the Eastern Shore... they were all on my mind as I wandered the refuge. Read my review of that epic novel here.

Harriet Tubman lived in this area. I have seen the home that she was born in (from a distance and during a tropical storm). I have also visited the Harriet Tubman underground railroad state park. For more information about additional Harriet Tubman sites in the Dorchester County (Cambridge, MD) area, click here



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