Category Archives: Travel

Tidbits about Charleston, SC

The city won a key, early battle in the Revolutionary War. 300 men in Fort Moultrie defended the city from multiple British warships that outmanned and outgunned the small group of South Carolina soldiers. The critical factor for their success was palmetto logs. Apparently they absorbed the shock of the British cannon balls preventing damage to the fort while allowing the newly independent Americans to fight back.

Charleston is the 6th wealthiest city in the U.S.

The oldest building in Charleston was built in 1670.

Charleston was the center and peak of the slave trade up to 1865.

The first shots of the Civil War occurred between Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie.

The original settlement was several miles up the Ashley River, but the settlers moved to the peninsula because there were fewer mosquitoes and less malaria due to the ocean breeze.

40% of the Charleston peninsula is land fill.

It’s called the Holy City because it has so many church congregations.

The people are incredibly and genuinely friendly.

The best way to tour Charleston is to eat your way across. The food is wonderful!!

Rice was the main crop grown in the surrounding farmland as it got too cold for sugar cane. Most of the early fortunes were based on rice.

Michael

Goats, Plantations and Swamp Flowers

Yesterday, Erica and I visited Magnolia Plantation which lies a few miles north of Charleston, SC.  Originally it covered 3000 acres but its area is now around 500 acres. The grounds around the plantation are a wonderful mix of very old gardens, wild areas, meadows and miles of paths with the Ashley River meandering along one side. Magnolia is one of the few plantations that are still owned by the heirs of the original family that build it over 200 years ago. I believe it is the 13th generation of the Dratyon family.

The current plantation house is the third one erected and is somewhat smaller than the original one. The first one burned. The second was destroyed in the Civil War. The majority of the furnishings are all antiques and from the early 1800s. There was also a room that displayed a lot of old photos, maps and documents detailing the history of the plantation and its owners.

Erica and I spent several hours touring the lush forests, swamps and planted gardens. We decided to visit a small petting zoo that contained farm type animals; goats, peacocks, roosters, chickens, pigs and turkeys to name a few. At the gate we were greeted by a very precocious chicken that Erica dubbed Henrietta. She was obviously looking for food, but we pretended she was there to welcome us to the zoo.

After entering, we walked around a bit. I turned and saw one of the goats coming up to Erica. Erica had an expression of excitement as she thought a friendly, cute goat was coming to say hello. But, before she could blink an eye, the goat grabbed out of her hand our map to the plantation, the ticket to get into the plantation house and my receipt for the entrance fees. I tried to grab them from the goat, but he was too quick. After laughing for some time, we made our way to the plantation tour where Erica had to explain that a goat ate our ticket. Apparently, they believed her as we were not the first to meet the same fate!

Rain started to come down after lunch, but we decided to tour the Audubon Swamp to view the lovely cypress trees and vibrant yellow flowers blooming all over the swamp. It was quite nice to walk in the rain with the umbrella. A peaceful feeling enveloped us during the 1 ½ mile walk. It was very relaxing and a wonderful end to a fantastic day.

Michael

Enjoying Charleston

Erica and I are in Charleston, SC for a few days. Neither of us had been here before, so we arrived in high expectation.

The city is situated on a peninsula surrounded by several rivers and islands. Walking the streets, gives you a New Orleans French Quarter feel but it would be remiss to compare completely. Charleston has its own flavor. It has a deep colonial history going back to the 1600’s.  It was a key city during the civil war.

The food here is amazing. Some people we met suggested that we eat our way through Charleston. In other words, go to one restaurant to eat appetizers, go to another restaurant to eat the entree, and finally choose another one for the dessert. It seemed like a good plan. The food we have tried up to this point has been amazing. Our favorite restaurant so far is place called FIG. Strangely enough, it stands for Food is Good. And indeed it was.

Charleston is a great walking city with lots of nooks and crannies. The people are very friendly. The art scene is huge. There’s a lot of history. We’ll do and see as much as we can in the short amount of time we have. It’s a tough job, but we are up for it.

Michael

Passion for Travel

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move. – Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. – Lao Tzu

My passion for travel is neck and neck with my passion for photography. When I combine the two together, the feeling is close to overwhelming!

Travel has become quite an addiction for me. It doesn’t really matter where I go or how far. I love seeing what is around the next bend or over the next hill. Though I may have a destination in mind, I especially love what happens along the way.

Unlike photography, my intense love of travel began much later in my life. But, I’m working hard at catching up for lost travel time. Really, though, I haven’t lost any time. I’m fortunate to have visited 45 of the 50 U.S. states, 16 countries, and four continents to date.

The people I meet, the new foods I get to try, the incredible places I visit, the experiences I have that change me for the better and the sheer joy of the journey are why I’m passionate about travel.

Here’s to the next trip.

Michael

New Car

Well, after more than 3 weeks waiting for the insurance settlement, I’ve finally purchased a new car; new for me, but slightly used. It has a little less than 7000 miles on it.

This was also a record for me in the amount of time it took to purchase it from a dealer. It was only about 3 1/2 hours, which beats my old record by 2 hours. I’m still not sure why it takes so long. If I think back, it just seems to blend all together. :-)

I always believe that things work out if you keep your attitude high. I had started to get impatient for the settlement, so I had to focus on being more patient. Waiting for 3 weeks to buy another car paid off as I was able to get exactly the car I wanted, the features, the colors and the price.

So, I end the first day of June very happy; tired, but happy. This is another example for me that things really do work out.

Michael

Recovery, Farewell and No Regrets

With a heavy heart I left my daughter and her boyfriend in Yosemite. Unfortunately, I have to fly back to New England tomorrow on a very early flight.

I’m a very lucky father in the fact that I have a fantastic daughter. We also share a love of nature and the outdoors. Hiking with her is fun because we both love the details of the hike; looking for unusual things, animals, plants, rocks and simply enjoying the experience overall. It’s fun to share that kind of activity especially with family. We are already planning our next adventure.

Before I left, my daughter’s boyfriend asked me if I regretted doing the Upper Yosemite Falls hike. I said, “Ask me in 72 hours. That’s when I expect the sore muscles to be back to normal.”   :-)   Truly though, I don’t regret it one bit. The difficulty of the hike was more than rewarded for the sense of accomplishment and the view that very few people get to see.

I have learned to regret very little now. I don’t find it a useful thought process or emotion. Regret implies that we have made a mistake. If you are moving through life, trying out new things, endeavoring to have new experiences, how can you have any mistakes? If something doesn’t work out or you don’t like it, then you have more information than you did prior to that experience. You simply move on to the next logical step whatever that might be. There are no mistakes. Bumps in the road maybe, but no mistakes.

No regrets! Throw that phrase out of you vocabulary. You’ll be much happier for it.

Michael

The Top of Yosemite Falls

Top of Yosemite

Top of Yosemite

I had promised my daughter that I would hike the very steep Upper Yosemite Falls trail. It’s 6.8 miles roundtrip with a 2700 feet elevation gain in 3.4 miles and it starts at 4000 feet elevation. That translates to strenuous. Physically I probably wasn’t ready for this one, but I really wanted to do it.

I had inspiration from a book I was reading, thanks to Nat, called 3 Cups of Tea. More about that book later, but basically the main character in this true story overcame immense personal difficulties in a part of the world that is very remote. I used his story for inspiration while hiking.

If I had thought about what this hike would entail for me, I wouldn’t have been able to complete it. So, what I did was break down the hike into hundreds of small goals. For example sometimes they could be as simple as getting to the next turn 50 yards ahead. Even though the big goal was far away, I decided to focus on the present and making that next step. I also tried to not look too far ahead. This helped me to concentrate on the task at hand which was to get the next step completed.

For the next 4 ½ hours I completed my hundreds of goals and made it to the top of Yosemite Falls. It was worth every minute. We saw deer up close and personal. We got views of Upper Yosemite Falls that people in the valley never see. We saw wildflowers. We were able to connect to the other groups making the trek to the top. They were from all cultures and races. It was quite amazing. We all had one thing in common and that was reaching the top. Where we were from wasn’t that important anymore.

The way back was a completely different set of challenges. The steep downhill grade made for a difficult trip and was harder than I had imagined. I limped down the last mile as my leg muscles were over taxed. I had to use my technique again to make the final push.

This technique is what I talk about all the time on this blog. Have a future goal in mind, but focus on the present. What are you doing right now to propel you towards where you want to go? Each thought each step is important, especially the thought. That’s where it all begins.

I’m glad I was able to hike to the top of the world’s 5th highest waterfall. That felt good! Total trip time: 8 ½ hours. Phew!

Have a great day!

Michael

New Paths in Yosemite

Yosemite Falls taken with iPhone

Yosemite Falls taken with iPhone

Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. – Ansel Adams

My daughter and I started the day off by taking paths in the valley that she had not taken before. I wanted her to see the valley from a different perspective. We were rewarded with some great views of Yosemite Falls with the Merced River in the foreground.

The rest of the day was spent finding little areas of the park that we had never explored. We saw several waterfalls and streams on the north side of the valley that were gushing with water right now that were not known by most people.

My goal today was to see popular attractions from slightly different angles. I was rewarded with some lovely views; some were simply from a different angle while others were expressed in unusual reflections.

It’ really important to step out of our regular habits and views periodically to explore what else the world has to offer. Sometimes all it takes is to move over a few feet and the perspective changes completely.

I’m glad our intentions were the same today. All of us got exactly what we were looking for; more natural beauty in low traveled areas of Yosemite Valley. The park is amazing in its vastness. Don’t just see what everyone else goes to see.

Have a great day!

Michael

Loving Yosemite

El Captan (taken with iPhone)

El Captan (taken with iPhone)

Yosemite is as wonderful as it always has been for me. The thrill of seeing the 3500+ foot sheer granite cliff of El Capitan rising from the valley floor always sends me to a place of instant quiet and reflection.

As my daughter and I stood there looking in wonder, I told her that it never gets old for me. She agreed. We usually stop at the same place near Bridal Veil Falls to stare for a few minutes or longer sometimes. This short stop always sets the stage for me for the rest of my experience at Yosemite. It starts great, ends wonderfully and the middle is filled with adventures.

The benefit I gain mentally, emotionally and spiritually from traveling to this unique place lasts for many weeks and months. It only takes a few moments to regain those feelings through remembering my experiences here. Just thinking about this natural wonderland makes me feel calm and peaceful.

I’m glad to be back here especially with my daughter. We’ll celebrate her birthday during our trip!

The sky is inky black. Thousands of stars shine down on us. It’s time for bed to get ready for tomorrow’s adventure.

Michael

Back in California

I left Boston this morning at 6:00 a.m. on a flight to San Francisco. I traveled here to visit my daughter. We are going to take our annual spring trek to Yosemite National Park.

I love flying into San Francisco. Today was one of the best as it was partly cloudy and you could clearly see the azure green waters of the bay stretching for miles. Mt. Tamalpais loomed north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The familiar skyline of downtown San Francisco was a welcome sight. It was a perfect spring day.

After grabbing my luggage I walked to the tram to catch a ride to the rental car facility. Once outside, I immediately noticed the crisp, cool ocean breeze off the Pacific sweeping briskly through the airport. I caught a strong scent of cedar, fir and redwood. The smell was intoxicating and I immediately felt a wave of exhilaration. I was back on the west coast!

It’s amazing to me how a place can really get under you skin. I’ve always felt that about northern California.

More about my adventures as the week progresses.

Michael