Without a doubt - nothing really could be finer than a birthday visit to Carolina - if LD is down there waiting with a pan of smoked pork shoulder and a fine crumb birthday cake for TheQueen. Even the day we left was the first cool blue sky day after weeks of hot hot hot surprise September weather. In fact, the only reason to leave such a day as this would be to go see PABDOS.
We took Callie with us. I'm not a fan of taking pets along on trips. The changes in environments, the territoriality of dogs, the danger of them being spooked by sudden noises or worse - not a good idea. But Callie has been pretty clingy since Jack died and LD's dog Buster is an old friend. There was lots of nuzzling - like this
Or great outdoor companionsip - like this
The home team is the Red Foxes and you'll see lots of red fox signage dotting green front lawns.
Saturday morning dawned fairly cool with a mackerel sky and low humidity. We headed off to run the dogs in the sand hills - the Carolina Sand Hills National Wildlife Refuge. Which is mostly long leaf yellow pine - planted in straight rows, with very little undergrowth - designed to promote the Red Cockaded Woodpecker - which we never saw. But if this is what they like - there are acres and acres and ACRES of it.
Here are two seedlings ... planted at the grass stage. Cute, aren't they? I think they look like elf hats or maybe fairy tutus.
We hiked through this sandy forest for about 6 miles or so.
It was a glorious day in SC too - and I couldn't resist snapping shots of LD - silhouetted against the sky
Or this one of Buster, in the tannen dark water of a stream. Both dogs got lots of good dunking wet time on this walk.
Unlike our loblolly pines, the long needle version is prone to some pretty weird twisty shapes. I loved this one - imagining it as Apollo's unstrung lyre.
After a great hike we moved from the national refuge to Sugar loaf Mt. State Park - just across the road and past this lake. We saw half a dozen camping groups scattered around this park.
We also laughed till we cried at the idea of being told to climb the stairs when traversing the mountain.
Close to the summit was a wonderful rock, perched in an odd and perhaps precarious angle. Both LD and I could crawl underneath and once there we realized there was a hole in the rock ... with daylight coming through!
At the top was a rocky spot and a square viewing stand with benches.
And What a view it was! Enough to tempt one to perch - and to gaze at something bigger than the usual - vast, blue, glorious. We really savored this breezy mountain top.
There was another smaller mountain right next door - Horseshoe Mt. It had caved on one side, leaving only U shaped rim. We climbed it too and explored the shapes, paths, and steps.
Especially the shapes of the gnarly long leaf pine trees. They'd make perfect Ents, wouldn't they?
Then it was back down to the lake and back to LD's house where we had lunch before heading out in search of HAILE'S GOLD MINE! Which will be tomorrow's post.