Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bald Head Island and Brookgreen Gardens

Hello from Bald Head Island!

Now it's time to divulge the glory that was our trip to the east coast! I figured I'd better get this posted sooner rather than later so I can move onto studio work. I can only focus on one thing at a time, and with beaches and Brookgreen buzzin' around in my brain, well...I had to exorcise that before I could move onto little stock stallions, paint jobs and Haffie mares! So...onward!...

As I said -- family vacations of this magnitude are the stuff of legend, and this trip certainly lived up to that promise. In a word, it was brilliant. Great company, great sights and great experiences. And enough artistic inspiration to fuel my creative yens for years to come. Like I said, I need an army of clones. Anyway, again I'll indicate my own images with a "*" so you can tell them apart from the general links. Also, each of the photos has additional commentary to add detail to this post. (And family? -- I'll be burning off CDs for each of you, with family photos which aren't contained in most of my images presented here.)

So onward!...Sunday the 11th, we head off at 4am to catch our flight. I
t was going to be a long day involving four airports -- ugh. I'm not a morning person by any means, but I was so excited, I popped wide awake at 3am. Happily, it all went smoothly and we got to Wilmington, North Carolina and our hotel without a hitch. Hubby hasn't been on many planes, unlike me, so it was fun to watch his fascination with flying through his "fresh eyes." As for Wilmington, it was our night stop (before taking the ferry in South Port, North Carolina to get to Bald Head Island the next day) and it was cool to think we were at Cape Fear! I'd seen both movies (though neither of them were filmed around Cape Fear -- poop!), and the history behind the place was interesting, too. Downtown was very nice, and very quiet, but having arrived on a Sunday, practically everything was closed for dinner. We ended up at the Hilton at the Ruth's Chris Steak house. It was the only place open! Ironically, though -- none of us ordered steak! However, we did have a marvelous meal of crab cakes, salad and roasted, stuffed chicken. And boy -- did we crash out to sleep that night. Luckily, we had time during our brief stay in Wilmington to wander around downtown with my Uncle Mike and his wife, Mary Teresa and here are some *photos I snapped.

The next day, another family member arrived, Mary Ann, and we all shuttled off to South Port to catch the ferry to Bald Head Island from the Deep Point ferry dock. To folks from the desert, the idea of taking a ferry to an island was thrilling, at least to me!
A remote island that only had ferry access! Yes. So of course, myself, Hubby and Mom perched at the bow of the ferry, outside, snapping photos like mad and enjoying this exotic experience. Little did we know that big wakes from other boats could cause the ferry to bob up and down like a bucking bronco, and splash the sea over the bow of the ship! We missed getting soaked by mere inches -- it was a hoot, like the log ride at Disney land! We were silly and goofy, and of course having a ball. We must've looked like a bunch of greenhorn tourist dorks, but we didn't care. We got to Bald Head, amidst great excitement, and caught the complementary golf cart shuttle to our "cottage." I gotta say...if where we stayed on the island was what anyone considered a "cottage," I have to see what they consider a "house!" To my delight, I saw there was a hammock strung up on the top patio deck, looking out to the ocean. I instantly had big plans to sleep on it one night, but alas....Mary Teresa was just didn't happen! (ha ha!) Even though the nights were surprisingly warm, I was just too tired to tromp up there and plop into it. Hubby and Uncle Mike got accustomed to the golf carts (as they were our designated chauffers), and I have to say...Ham got a real gleam in his eye while driving it! Motoring around in those things was a blast! We joked that we should have golf cart races, but alas...that never came to be. Here are some *photos I snapped during the chaos of the day. I think there was a total of fourteen of us all there, so you can well imagine the typical family mayhem throughout the week. Amen!

The next morning, Ham and I had to get up at o-dark-hundred to catch the early ferry back to the mainland in order to trek off to Brookgreen Gardens to meet Lesli and Addi for the day. We would have to spend the night in Myrtle Beach since there was no way we would be back to the Deep Point harbor in time to catch the last ferry back to the island that day. Ham also wanted to case the beach since there's a gigantic biker rally there that he wants to go to some day soon. Poor Uncle Mike was drafted to schelp us to the ferry landing at the break of dawn, but soon as he left to return back to the cottage, we see my cousins already there at the dock! They had a boat to go fishing for the day! DOH. Poor Uncle Mike! Anyway, I was glumly expecting to freeze my hinder off in a golf cart in the wee hour of the morning, but was stunned to find it was comfortably warm! Hazzah! we go on our ferry, get our rental car and start our adventure to South Carolina to meet up with the dynamic duo. *Here are some photos I took during the day, before and after Brookgreen (since my Brookgreen pix have their own folder). So...we get to Brookgreen.


If any of you have seen The Beatles animation film, "Yellow Submarine," (one of my very favorite movies!), and if you remember the description of the undersea kingdom as,
"An unearthly paradise...called Pepperland." Well....We found Pepperland.


'Youth Taming the Wild," by A.H. Huntington. A huuuuge stone sculpture, exquisitely sculpted and brilliantly composed.

I'll just say this -- if ever there was a place in all the world designed for the animalier's
delight, this is it. If you have even the slightest opportunity to go - GO. Seriously. No -- SERIOUSLY. You can read more about Brookgreen Gardens here and about Anna Hyatt Huntington (one of the co-founders) here and here and here. She is one of my heroines! Aside from her remarkable talent, what I admire about her is her drive to bring people together to enjoy realistic sculpture and promote the art form. Anyhoo, you can read and see more photos on Lesli's and Addi's blogs here and here. (Lesli is going to post a bigger report on her Brookgreen experience with us, so stay tuned on her blog for more!) As for myself, I've uploaded about two hundred images both Ham and I took (slimmed down from the 1,000+ images we took there!), which you can see *here. It'll take some time to savor these images, so grab a cuppa and enjoy! Again, each image has commentary to add detail, and feel free to download any image for your own reference or enjoyment.

The naturalistic energy and perfection of this African Elephant bronze sculpture totally blew me away. Alas, I forgot to record the artist! Shame on me!

"Scratching Horse" by Amory C. Simons, bronze. The genius of this humble little piece took my breath away. I was left stunned and amazed.

Another view of this master work.

"Adonis" by Eli Harvey. Consummate perfection. Truly extraordinary.

Now you may be thinking -- gosh, with all these photos, I've seen everything at Brookgreen! There's no point in going! Oooooh no. No way, Jose! Not only do none of the photos capture the true genius of any piece we shot, nor do they present all the sculptures on display (there are 1,200 works in the collection!), but the place itself is an experience. Being there is where you catch the magic! And studying the pieces up close, in detail, is mind-blowing. To see the vision, technique and personal touch of each artist is truly inspiring. We were also delighted to find out that Brookgreen has sculpting workshops! So my wee brain instantly thought -- what a grand excuse to return!

The entire week's weather was predicted to be rainy and ooky -- except for Tuesday! Somehow the planets aligned and we were at Brookgreen on the one glorious day of that week -- and glorious it was! Amazing! And I must say, the experience was made even more fabulous by the terrific company Lesli and Addi provided! It was great having Lesli as our tour guide, too. We spent seven hours walking around the place -- we closed the place down! I filled up a whole 4GB memory card and half of another with my camera -- blorg!

Hello from Brookgreen Gardens!

And I had wanted to see spanish moss while in the South (by gum), and boy -- did I see spanish moss in the Gardens! Yes. The gardens themselves were breath-taking!

A stone griffin in front of old oaks, dripping with spanish moss

There was even a little zoo of native wild and domestic critters, and I included some photos in my album. I've long wanted to create a series of equine native land races in America, and seeing the Marsh Tackys was a real impetus to churn ahead with that project. So enjoy all the photos and consider Brookgreen Gardens a destination you must visit at some point!

Beautiful Marsh Tacky mares

Through the "dog gate," a fitting end to an unbelievable, wonderful day!

After we had ravished the Gardens, we headed to Myrtle Beach to check into our hotel and get some dinner (you can read a bit about our dinner adventure on Lesli's blog). Then we walked about two miles down the beach, and back again (as if we needed more walking, but hey -- it's a beach!) -- then crashed in bed. We all met for breakfast the next day, said our good-byes and we headed back to Deep Point harbor and Lesli and Addi headed back to Charlotte to cook more shiny ponies. We had some time before the next ferry, so we decided to catch some lunch in South the Surfers Restaurant.

The local blue-hair hangout. Good food and good senior specials!

OK -- now it would seem like a totally hip local place, but we walk in and it's full of "blue hairs"! We look at the menu and see a whole host of "senior specials"! No wonder. But (not surprisingly) the food was delicious! I had my first hush puppies, and my shrimp burger was fabulous and Ham really enjoyed his homemade pulled pork sandwich. I guess those seniors know where the good food is at! We also got four pounds of head-on giant shrimp (which were turned into a tasty jambalaya for the family dinner that night!), which you can buy from vendors on the side of the road who catch them in their shrimp boats the night before. Anyhoo, here are some *photos I took of Wednesday. What as really cool about this trip (too!) was that my Aunt Christine and Uncle Jerry celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary! HOW COOL IS THAT? Congratulations! We all got verklempt with the wonderful slide show their kids put together for them. Then Susan and Chris shared a slide show of their trip to the Galapagos Islands! Holy moley, was it cool! What a tremendous experience for them! Thank you for sharing all that with us!

Thursday we spent hangin' out with the fam and seeing the sights on the island. First we took a tour of the island's lighthouse, "Old Baldy." I'm bonko over lighthouses. Always have been. I've long wanted to take a coastal tour down each coast of the lighthouses, and hopefully I can do that eventually. Anyway, Old Baldy was terrific! Quite a character, out on his island overlooking the Atlantic. What a grand old guy!

"Old Baldy," the quirky old lighthouse on Bald Head Island. Ya gotta love him! And yes -- we climbed to the top. GACK. Got some great shots of the island, though, which you can see in the link to my photos.

Then we toodled off to go fishing with the "other kids" (even though "us kids" are in our 40s, to the older generation of the fam we're still "the kids" -- love it!). I gathered more shells while Ham and the rest of "the kids" fished. We then took a hike through the forest on the island, which was unexpectedly exotic and full of surprises, such as seeing gigantic, beautifully twisted oak trees, and we even saw a deer (though don't ask me how deer got onto the island)! Susan pointed out an incredible big, colorful spider, which I couldn't photograph since my camera couldn't focus on it (dang it -- I forgot about my macro setting!). Ham quickened his pace away. "NO! NOT interested, thank you!" he politely retorted. We then got back in time for more fishing into the evening (Ham caught four fish!), then dinner. My cousin Amy introduced Ham and me to the game "Apples to Apples," which was a riot to play -- there were six of us in this raucous game! I must get it -- we love fun board games! I almost won the first game (Susan beat me by one card!), but I won the second game -- yes! We got back to our "cottage," packed up to leave the next day (since Friday was when we had to head back to Wilmington for that night, to fly out on Saturday to home), then crashed to the sound of the waves. To see photos of Thursday, please go *here.

*Friday we saw a wonderful tugboat (I love tugboats) called "Captain Alex." My brother's name is Alex, and so he'll probably never hear the end of it. Sorry little bro! We got to our hotel just fine. Mom and Dad were bushed, so Ham and I decided to got out to dinner and bring something back for them. We ended up going to Sticky Fingers, since Ham loves ribs and BBQ, and it was within walking distance of the hotel. And when in the South!...BBQ is king! We got the dry rub ribs and oh my gosh -- were they good! Ham devoured them in reverent, grunting silence. I particularly loved the sweet potato casserole that came as a side. We headed back to the hotel, dropped off the food to Mom and Dad, and crashed, watching the Syfy channel (the latest episode of Sanctuary and Stargate Universe -- yes!). But what struck us as completely insane about the area was the total lack of sidewalks! The hotel and restaurant are on opposite sides of a very busy main thoroughfare, where cars are going about 40 miles an hour, and there are no sidewalks to cross the street! WHAT?! Even the signal lights aren't timed for people crossing the road at the corners. So you just have to run! So we were the frantic chickens who crossed the road -- twice -- in order to get to Sticky Fingers and back to the hotel. We asked everyone we met, "What's the deal with no sidewalks?" and they were as incredulous about it as we were! Totally nuts.

Saturday we got to the airport via a rather eccentric taxi driver. "Everything here kills you -- alligators, biting flies, mosquitos
, water moccasins, sharks...this place is hell." Ok, then! We got home just fine (though we almost missed our connection to Phoenix! Yow!). Man...were we completely wiped out. I don't know what it is about plane travel, but it's exhausting. Thank goodness for my iPod. I listened to the Mediaeval Baebes, Loreena McKennitt, Siouxsie, and PJ Harvey (now there's a mix!) all the way there and back. I threw in a bit of The Clash, as well.

Ham shot this photo of the setting sun while we flew over Prescott Valley, AZ. We said, "Hi Uncle Mike and Mary Teresa!"

What a tremendous time! Holy cow! Thank you family for a fabulous trip, and thank you Lesli and Addi for your wonderful company! And thanks Hammy -- it's always a treat to share adventures with you!

We've been in a goofy post-vacation daze ever since we got back. Watching DVDs of one of my fave anime shows, Lupin the 3rd, has helped jostle my brain back to normal activity. When you have that kind of stimulation overload, all you really want to do is stare at a wall for a couple of days. Regardless, we were sure surprised to see that Fall greeted us off the plane! Hello! We leave green trees and come back to Fall in our faces. It's gorgeous here, and I'm starting to get into the holiday mood. I wonder when the first snow will fall? Time to think about my 2009 Christmas Rune Deer...

"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for." ~ Joseph Addison

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