Thursday, April 28, 2016

Marshes and Myrtle

We spent Wednesday in and about Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. To be honest, we had no expectations for this sprawling beach resort. We’d heard of it, of course, but did not know what to expect. And in some ways it is similar to Virginia Beach, our last stop, but mostly were you to hang about in town, which we did not do.

Interestingly, part of our itinerary came from a server in one of the restaurants at the hotel where we stayed. The rest was of Sharon’s devise.

We began the day at Brookview Gardens, which was pulled together out of four old low country rice plantations in the 1930s by Archer and Alma Huntington, of the railroad family. It was initially meant to showcase Alma’s sculpture but would then grow beyond that. Today it bills itself as the world’s largest sculpture garden.

But what interested us most was the Lowcountry exhibits which presented lowcountry life and work on the rice plantations of the 18th and 19th centuries and, of course, slavery and the lives and culture of the African and African-American slaves.

Amazing range of foliage colors

A statue and an egret

The bird takes wing, statue (out of frame) remains

Interestingly it is hard sometimes to see the sculptures in these images, they are easily enjoyed in three dimensions

The gardens interpret the plantations' rice growing history by presenting the lives of the workers (through markers)  alongside a recreation of the rice fields as they would have been in the first half of the 19th century. In those days the work was quite literally killing
Today the fields commemorate the lives of the slaves and make for great Kodak moments

Apart from walking the lowcountry, visitors could also take a boat ride through the creeks to learn more about rice culture

And wildlife, in creeks

and on land

From there, we decided to explore Huntington State Beach. There we were able to walk along a boardwalk into the marshes. The vistas and wildlife were a treat.

Coastal marshes that are just across the creeks (and today's highway) from the Brookgreen and other plantations that make up the Huntington's gardens

The state of South Carolina is working to restore the oyster beds which you see here

View of the marshes

The marshwalk allows you to peer down into the oyster beds and to see them and the crabs that are so plentiful

Colonies of tiny crabs. How many can you see??
A cormorant preens

Oyster beds in the marshes

This large crab, feeding on a dead jelly, drew a crowd

Next came dinner  at Murrell’s Inlet, which had been suggested at the hotel, and from there we concluded the day with a drive along the beaches up to the city of Myrtle Beach itself. The area sprawls across several beach resort communities and some of it rivaled Gatlinburg and Virginia Beach for pure honky-tonk, but over all the gorgeous setting trumps (you should pardon that word) the pitiful human attempts to degrade nature.

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