Hello everyone and Happy New Year! I realize I’m about two weeks late with my New Year’s Greeting, but I’ve been away on Christmas break and yesterday was my first day back at the shop. Carol and I travelled to South Carolina over the holidays to visit her daughter and son-in-law. Corrie Anne and Kevin live in beautiful Mt. Pleasant, just outside Charleston. Although Carol had visited here before, it was my first trip to the “Palmetto State.” We had a wonderful time visiting and were able to see some interesting sights. There was no shortage of things to see and do. The only shortage was the time needed to do all the things on our list.

Isle of Palms Sunrise. A popular beach, fifteen minutes from Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Sunrise on Isle of Palms. This popular beach is located a few minutes from Mt. Pleasant.

One of our first “tourist stops” was The National Audubon Society’s Francis Beidler Forest, located in Four Holes Swamp. It’s a neat place, filled with all the things you would expect to find in a swamp. While strolling along the boardwalk, I was hoping to see an alligator. After all, we were in a swamp. Shouldn’t there be a gator lurking behind every tree? Perhaps there would be one basking in the sun along the shoreline, just around the next corner. It turned out there were no alligators present that day, but we were able to see some of the other inhabitants of the forest, mainly small birds of various description. We also admired 1,000 year old Bald cypress trees. That was cool. Did I mention, no gators? No lizards, either. They must have known I was coming.

Other than seeing them on television (National Geographic and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom), I’d never encountered a live alligator before. Prior to our trip, Corrie Anne and Kevin informed me that gators inhabit some of the small freshwater ponds scattered throughout their lovely community, including one such impoundment just outside their backyard. Apparently, sightings of these reptiles are quite common in this part of South Carolina. One afternoon, Kevin suggested we go look for some. I followed him closely as he opened the back gate. Kevin knew exactly where to go, and I was happy to let him lead the way toward what I hoped would be an alligator-infested pond. We crept stealthily and quietly through the dense forest and within moments arrived at our destination. Unfortunately, Mr. Gator and family were not home. Over the next week, we checked out all the other local ponds, hot-spots for reptilian activity, but it was as if they had all disappeared into thin air. Sure there are alligators in South Carolina … and we have them in Crowsnest Pass, too! We didn’t encounter any gators anywhere during our trip, but saw lots of other wildlife, including egrets, herons, turtles and even a couple of raccoons. And while crossing one of the bridges between Charleston and John’s Island, I saw a  dolphin as it broke surface. It appeared to be in a hurry and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was fleeing a hungry alligator.

Folly Beach Lighthouse

Folly Beach Lighthouse

Our vacation came to an end all too quickly, but before departing for home we toured Boone Hall Plantation , a “must see” when visiting the Charleston/Mt. Pleasant area. Other highlights of the trip included visiting the Angel Oak Tree, a live oak tree estimated to be 1,500 years old. That’s roughly twice as old as the “Burmis Tree, ” the famous limber pine located along Highway 3 in Crowsnest Pass. The Angel Oak has a diameter of spread reaching 160 feet, a circumference of nearly 25 feet, and covers 17,100 square feet of ground. And it’s still alive, too. Now that’s what I call impressive!

Carol, Corrie Anne, Kevin and I also had dinner at Hyman’s Seafood, a well known restaurant located in downtown Charleston. During our meal, which was awesome by the way, owner/manager, Eli Hyman stopped by our table to say hello and to make sure our food was to our liking. Eli spent a few minutes talking about the restaurant and also answered questions regarding some of the famous personalities that had recently dined there. The restaurant walls are adorned with photos of countless numbers of celebrities that have enjoyed dinner at this establishment. Everyone from Neil Armstrong to Judge Wapner have eaten here. To see some of the places we visited, click on the links in the above text.

Shem Creek Shrimp Boat. South Carolina is famous for its shrimp.

Shem Creek Shrimp Boat. South Carolina is famous for its shrimp.

While I didn’t have a chance to go fishing, I’ll be sure to bring my gear next time. There’s some excellent fly-fishing available around Charleston for redfish, Jack crevalle and other species. Over the years, I’ve had quite a few people tell me Charleston is a wonderful place to visit (or live) and that the people here are very friendly. After visiting, I couldn’t agree more. Special thanks go out to Corrie Anne and Kevin for their hospitality. Should I have the opportunity to visit you again, perhaps I’ll also have the good fortune of encountering an alligator!

Crowsnest River January 11, 2010

While I didn’t fish during our trip to the States, I managed to get out, albeit once during my time off. Peter and I fished the Crow for a few hours Monday afternoon. Crowsnest Pass had been in the midst of a Chinook for several days and conditions were almost spring-like outside. Wind warnings had been issued earlier in day, with predictions of gusts up to 100 km per hour. Temperatures climbed to a balmy 8° Celsius by mid-afternoon and while it became extremely windy at times we managed to find a couple of corner pools that were ice-free and somewhat sheltered from the wind. The river was in great shape and it was fairly easy to get around. Some of the ice shelves along shore were unstable and you had to be careful when walking along the river’s edge. Upon reaching the river, we noticed cougar tracks in the snow. There were also deer tracks nearby and I suspect the big cat was out and about looking for its next dinner. The fishing was okay, considering the wind and all, and we managed to catch a few nice rainbows. Here are some photos of the day.

P.S. A quick reminder. Now that we’re back from vacation, the shop is open Tuesday through Saturday – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. By mid-May, we’ll be open every day, once again. Hope to see you soon!

Peter fishing a deep run

Peter fishing a deep run

Peter with a nice Crowsnest River rainbow trout

Peter with a nice Crowsnest River rainbow trout

One of the rainbows I caught. Lightning Bug nymphs were the fly du jour.

One of the rainbows I caught. Lightning Bugs were the fly du jour.

My fly rod laying on a natural ice bridge over the Crowsnest River

My fly rod laying on a natural ice bridge over the Crowsnest River