Action-Packed Saturday – Hampton Plantation, St James Santee, Bull Island, Milky Way, Road Hazards

Traveling down to Awendaw is always a treat, so many familiar and beloved places along the way. The Coastal Expeditions inaugural Milky Way trip wasn’t due to leave until 6:30 pm, so I meandered down in the afternoon.

First stop was Hampton Plantation, and of course St. James Santee next. Can’t do one without the other, they’re too close in proximity to pass either up.

Bat Nursery At Hampton

Roof work is being done on the house, good to see preservation work continuing. The separate kitchen building is unique, in that it is currently the state’s largest maternity colony of Rafinesque’s big-eared bats. They are endangered, don’t like being disturbed, and per the SC DNR, the building is closed April 1- August 1 and November 15 – February 15. Bats eat mosquitoes, so yes, bats!

The Cemetery Path at Hampton

I left the little red flower and white sprig in memory of John Henry Rutledge. So much loss and sadness at this spot, you can feel it. John Henry is buried along the path, within site of the main house.

At the end of the path is the family cemetery, on private property that the owners graciously make

Archibald Rutledge is on the right, Archibald Jr on the left.

There is still an active cemetery on the property. I like to stop there, I chatted with a lady once tending her family’s plot, and she told me about her loved ones and the history. It is a warm and beloved place, a place of perseverance.

I always pay respects to Archibald Rutledge, John Henry Rutledge, and Sue Alston whenever I visit Hampton Plantation.

St. James Santee. I didn’t see the Ghost Dog, but I heard her barking, out in the woods. Also saw ginger cat, bolting out of the building when she heard me approaching.

I spur-of-the moment pulled of the highway to grab a bite to eat. Got lucky at a place called Buckshot’s Restaurant, in McClellanville, SC. I almost never post a pic of food, it’s kind of weird, but…this was so good. Chicken, meatloaf, rice, corn, veggies, string beans – all piping hot, southern comfort food. With a sweet tea, of course. It was just what I needed to fuel the excursion ahead.

Bull Island – North Beach

I’ve been on a bunch of Coastal Expeditions excursions, all fabulous. This was a special, first time trip — and I am sure it will be back. Here’s how it was described:

“We’re headed out to Bulls Island at sunset on Saturday, September 24 for a special evening beach drop.  The dark skies within Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge coupled with a new moon will offer us a spectacular look at the Milky Way galaxy.”

We had some time to walk the beach, and we were treated to a spectacular sunset while we set up our spots for the evening

Unexpected treat – Space X launch, had no idea what it was at the time. Starlink.

Beach find of the day, a very nice sand dollar.

To anyone who enjoys my photos, my equipment is my iPhone XE. A combination of wanting to immerse myself in the Milky Way experience, and the inability of the iPhone to take decent night sky photos, and the fact that 2/3rds of my tour mates had professional equipment set up to capture photos – a long winded way of saying I don’t have any night sky Milky Way photos to share. When I see some posted, I will try to get permission to share here, and will update this post.

I will say that I thought I’d been in the dark enough to see the Milky Way clearly. Clearly, I had not. I have never seen so many stars in my life, they just kept popping, until the Milky Way itself was so thick, and so evident, it looked like clouds of stars. I set up on a rise, with the warm sand beneath me, crickets chirping behind me, waves crashing in front of me, and the sky unfolding above.

Even the trip back was great. Clear skies, beautiful weather, and a quiet, lights-out cruise across from the island back to the dock. The adventure continued on the dark drive home, through Wildlife Management Areas and Francis Marion National Forest – dark, and deer everywhere along the side of the rode. After a white-knuckled trip back, patting myself on the back for avoiding deer danger – about a mile from home ran over some road debris and blew out a tire. A tire that had just celebrated it’s six-week birthday. That I opted to forgo road hazard coverage on.

I was able to pull off in a safe place, AAA came super-quick, and I rode the sorry donut tire home. (Who invented that thing?) I’ve actually changed tires in the past, but I had a spare TIRE, not a tiny plastic-looking thing. Mavis Tire in Conway, SC (currently going by Halloween, SC) took great care of me today, making sure the rim wasn’t cracked – phew.

And yes, I bought road hazard coverage – you can teach an old dog new tricks.

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