The weather has finally cooled down into the mid 80's so, it seemed like a perfect day to ride south and explore Beaufort and Hunting Island State Park. I had been down here before but didn't go further than Beaufort. This time I'd check out some more of the Sea Islands.
We passed through Beaufort. Not much going on. I thought the farmers market would be on but I guess it's another day. I was hoping to get some boiled peanuts, but it was not to be. I wanted to find some shade and have a snack but it seems the entire town was covered with paid parking spaces. I run hot dog carts in Charleston and spend my day feeding parking meters. I refuse to do the same on the weekend so I headed down the road, they weren't getting my damn quarters!
As we drove onto the islands the landscape changed from marshy with little islands to large stands of pine mixed with palms. This landscape reminded me of the woods around Northern Florida and the Ocala National forest.
As we drove along I saw a dirt road that paralleled they bay. I love exploring dirt roads especially by the water so, I decided to check this one out. It had a nice tree canopy and on one side was the river and the other was the salt marsh.
At the end of the road was a dirt boat ramp. Next time I come down I'll bring my kayak. There was fish jumping all over the place. In the background the sign says don't feed the dolphins. There must be plenty of them if they are telling you not to feed them.
Now I know you can't see it in the photo but there was a pod of dolphins fishing right out in front of us. The bridge goes to Fripp Island, which is private. South Carolina is covered in marshes but it actually has very few beaches. Every time I see a gated community blocking off public access to the beach it makes me cringe. I'm not sure why South Carolina decided to sell so many of it's beaches to the highest bidder. I would assume that public beach use would bring in more revenue, than having it locked behind a gate for a chosen few.
After exploring the dirt road and taking a loop past the visitors center we passed by a few boardwalks like this one. These are nice as they allow you to get out into the marsh without a boat.
Here is the entrance to the State Park. The forest surrounding it looks wild, like at any moment a dinosaur would run past. You could see a lot of little hills back in the woods. I'm guessing these were shell mounds left by the indians.
We drove around the park just checking things out. A really nice one way road winds through the park. It's very narrow and cuts right through the forest. You are close enough to the woods that it feels like you are hiking but still on your bike.
When we got the the beach it was nice and quiet. Just a few people walking along and collecting shells. There was a lone dolphin out in the surf as well. We watched him for a while then changed and body surfed for a while on a stretch of beach that had some decent waves.
There was lots of flowery bushes along the shore and they were covered with butterflies.
After a few hours of swimming we decided it was time to dry up and explore the park a little more. I had heard there was a lighthouse and I thought that might make a good photo tag for our local tag-o-rama game. So here we are back on the cool twisty road through the woods.
We passed this cool wagon. I love old wagons and vans. This one had been converted into a surf mobile.
We followed the winding road as it went past some holiday cabins and eventually led to a dead end. Right before the dead end I saw this little stretch of sandy dirt road. I'm a sucker for dirt roads especially when they end at the beach, so I decided to head down it.
We got to the end and it was a really pretty spot. The beach was empty except for a couple who had rode down the beach on bicycles and set themselves up under the shade of a couple of palm trees. There was lots of drift wood and parts of old palm trees sticking out of the surf. I imagine during a hurricane this stretch of beach would take a pretty good beating. Next time I come down I plan on walking this stretch, it looks like it would be excellent for finding shark teeth and shells.
The sand was pretty thick and deep so my wife jumped off while I attempted to turn the bike around. At one point I had to get off the bike and gun the engine to get it to float over the sugar sand. After a bit of sweating and cursing I got back onto the road.
Before leaving the park we stopped by the lighthouse. As far as lighthouses go it was a good looking one, surrounded by a forest and still just a few yards to the sand. You can climb to the top, we saved that for the next trip.
Leaving the park we headed back towards Beaufort and home. Here you can see how the low country gets it's name. Much of the roads are bordered by salt water marshes. Even if you are 20 miles inland the marshes give the air that nice salt water tang.
Coming into Beaufort we passed this DIY house boat project.
There isn't much elevation in the low country so going over bridges is always pretty fun. Here we are crossing the Woods Memorial Bridge over the Beaufort River.
Heading home we passed the Marine Corps Air Station. They had some cool looking jets out front.
So that's it for my first ride report. Next time I plan on getting off the bike more and taking more pics.