Tardy Greetings - Easter 2018

Hol­i­days — Oppor­tu­ni­ties, Some Realised, Some Missed

Published: 20 January 2018

 Images from Bel­fast, Maine and Hilton Head, South Carolina


It's Easter; the year is no longer new and showing signs of wear. We need to catch up on getting this out. Still, despite our tardi­ness, we wish you a Happy Easter and hope that the bal­ance of the year treats you well. Here is a short update on our 2017 highlights.


Avid read­ers of these columns may remem­ber that I com­plained about a lack of hol­i­days in 2016. So, it was good to return to our Fall and Christ­mas hol­i­day routines in 2017. We got two weeks in Maine in the Fall and two more in the Low Coun­try over Christ­mas and New Year.

The Maine Event

We drove 675 miles through Baltimore, New York City and New England to Maine, enjoying even the New York portion. We ren­ted a large, well-appoin­ted house on many rur­al acres in Waldo County.

It was a short drive from the house into Bel­fast. Home to sev­en thou­sand people, it's not a huge place. We spent a day there on a pre­vi­ous trip and looked forward to more time to get to know the town better.

It's on the estu­ary of the Passagassawakeag  Locals save breath and call it the 'Passy as it flows into the waters at the head of Pen­ob­scot Bay. It's a big nat­ur­al har­bor. Pleas­ure craft, work­ing boats and fish­ing boats are everywhere on the water. We had expected that but soon discovered there is more to Bel­fast. The people are resource­ful, hard­work­ing, friendly and enga­ging. There is a palp­able and per­vas­ive pur­suit of excel­lence and ori­gin­al­ity almost everywhere. Many of the folks there seemed to have 'Scotch Irish' heritage. Hun­dreds of farms in the town's hin­ter­land contribute to its character as much as the surrounding water. It has the usual supermarkets, chain stores and fast food joints on its periphery, but the town centre is lively and full of life. If there is an empty storefront anyplace, we didn't see it.

These three establishments caught our imagination during our stay;

Chase’s Daily

A fam­ily run café cum res­taur­ant cum flower and veget­able store with an integral art gallery. The pro­duce comes from the family farm in Free­dom ME in the hin­ter­land. It was a James Beard Found­a­tion Out­stand­ing Res­taur­ant Semi Final­ist in 2017. It serves mainly vegetarian dishes using the produce from their farm.

Chase Farm and Chase's Daily

Farm­ers’ Mar­kets

The United Farmers Market of Maine operates a big cus­tom-built facil­ity that opened for business in 2017. Open mid morn­ing to mid after­noon every Sat­urday. Sev­enty stalls with an amaz­ing range of locally produced food­stuffs and artis­an­al items. The quality of the produce blew us away.

Colburn Shoe Store

It opened for business in 1832. It is the old­est shoe shop in the USA and is still active in the ori­gin­al site. It continues to serve the local community, selling a range of footwear that meets the needs of farmers, boatmen, fisherfolk, and everyone else who endures the long, brutal Maine winters every year.

Getting the Dogs Walked

After a few days of looking for an excellent place to walk our dogs, we found ourselves at Sears Island Nature Reserve. There are miles of wooded paths, tracks, and roadways connected to the mainland by a short gated causeway. But the trustees ban cars. It was ideal for our purpose and significantly impacted the holiday. If the dogs are happy and get exercise, we are delighted and get exercise, too, so there are no losers. We met other dog walkers, and watching the dogs play with each other was good.

Headed for Hilton Head

We spent Christmas and New Year on Hilton Head Island, SC. It's in the Low Country close to Beaufort and Fripp Island, where we have spent holidays before. Posher than neighbouring towns and well organised, it's replete with smart gated communities and golf courses. I hadn't previously realised that the beautiful Hilton Head beaches are dog-friendly. Dogs are allowed out of the summer season at all hours and off-leash, provided they are 'under control'. So we enjoyed all that. The beaches are well organised and tended daily.

Winterization of the HVAC
Winterisation of the HVAC

The cold spell lasted most of the last week, so the Vizslas and we had the beach to ourselves. We were fine except that the heating arrangements for our rented house stopped working one night. Karen discovered that the melt from snow and ice on the roof was falling into the HVAC (heat pump). It re-froze into icicles, which prevented its fan from turning. We broke the icicles off and placed a large beach umbrella over the unit to divert the roof melt away from it. All was well, and warmth flowed back into the chilly house.

Leamington Rear Range Lighthouse
Leamington Rear Range Lighthouse

The downside of HH, for me at any rate, was the lack of photographic opportunity imposed by all the gated communities. Getting access to almost any place is tedious. For instance, the historic Leamington Rear Range Lighthouse is exciting and the last remaining in SC. Range lighthouses had forward and rear lights some distance apart. Shipping approaching the nearby Port Royal Sound sets a course to align one behind the other and thus be on the correct heading. The forward light was on the beach but is now long gone. Sadly, public members can only reach the remaining rear light by transiting through one gated community to the nearby gated community, where its tower stands on a golf course. I would need multiple visits to work out how to get a good image, have a good sky behind it and so on.

Fairy Tale Harbor Town Lighthouse
Fairy Tale Harbor Town Lighthouse

Harbor Town Lighthouse is better known than the Leamington Light, but it was built in 1969 as a tourist attraction in the marina. There is a manned gate to negotiate to get to that. I couldn't be bothered. It was never a lighthouse and would be more at home in Disneyland.


In the event, I was drawn more to Bluffton. It's a small town of great character close to HH. It's on the mainland on the bank of the inter-coastal May River. Its lively character and eclectic mix of buildings and storefronts make it more our kind of place. I made several trips to the Church of the Cross in the town. Both the building and its location are remarkable. Consecrated in 1857, the church was constructed almost entirely with heart pine (Cypress). The wood in the interior has a beautiful patina. The church stands on a bluff by a vast stretch of the May River. The grounds are replete with Live Oaks and Palmettos but afford unhindered views over the river. The sunsets over the water are glorious and attract many visitors to the church grounds.

The Bluffton Oyster Company lies just a little up the May River from the Church of the Cross. It may look shabby from the outside, but it serves up and sells Oysters, Shrimp and other seafood harvested in local waters. This short film about the restaurant and seafood store is well done and has excellent views of the river and inter-coastal system.

Bluffton Oyster Company Film

I wanted to photograph the shrimp boat docked outside the restaurant. I rose before dawn and drove up there. I intended to get images just before sunrise and a full moon over the river. Sadly, I hadn't considered the giant orange floodlight they used to light the exterior of the dock and premises during dark hours. So I hung about in the frigid temperatures on an adjacent dock until the sun appeared on the horizon and the orange floodlight turned itself off. The full moon had fled the scene by then. I eventually got some images but will have to photoshop out large intrusive contrails that disrupt the sky. Jets are always overhead in most places on the East Coast. I would have returned but left it too late; the holiday had ended.

I was chilled to the bone and shivering. I hadn't brought warm clothing; it was South Carolina. However, it didn't end badly. I had one of the most welcome breakfasts for a long, long time in the Corner Perks Cafe in the town after that. A big mug of coffee, an egg and sausage banjo and a bowl of cheese grits. Simple pleasures are the best.

 Ye Wee Blogger

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