The swamps of the Francis Beidler Forest

 (Kathryn Wagner) (Kathryn Wagner)

“The Francis Beidler Forest is an Audubon wildlife sanctuary in Four Holes Swamp,blackwater creek system in South Carolina. It consists of over 16,000 acres (65 km²) of mainly bald cypress/tupelo gum swamp with approximately 1,800 acres (7 km2) of old-growth forest. It has an environmental education center and a 1.75-mile (2.82 km) boardwalk trail through the old-growth portion of the swamp. A free iPhone/iPod Touch app can be downloaded to provide information and images not available in the printed guidebook as well as species lists for plants and animals likely to be seen from the boardwalk. It is a favorite haunt of birdwatchers and is used for biological research projects by area schools. The Audubon Society which maintains the preserve has recently obtained funding with which to purchase additional adjacent land to expand the preserve. It is home to the largest virgin stand of cypress and tupelo forest, with some trees over 1,000 years old.” – Wikipedia

Sullivan’s Island lighthouse: The Charleston Light

 (Kathryn Wagner)

A man and his dog walk along the beach bordering a tidal pool in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina.

A few facts about the Sullivan’s island lighthouse pictured above in the background:

“Instead of having the traditional circular shape, it is three-sided, a feature meant to make it more wind resistant. The result is that it can withstand gusts up to 125 mph as demonstrated by its ability to hold up against Hurricane Hugo in 1989. It is the only lighthouse in the country to have both an elevator and siding. The light was the second brightest in the Western hemisphere with 28 million candlepower but was reduced to 1.5 million to accommodate Sullivan’s Island residents. It can still be seen 27 miles out to sea on clear nights. Originally painted white and red-orange (like that seen on Coast Guard helicopters), local residents petitioned the government to change the color to the black and white seen today.” -National Park Service

Charleston’s Gateway Walk: the Unitarian Churchyard

 (Kathryn Wagner)

A brick path winds between beds of wildflowers in Charleston’s Unitarian Universalist Churchyard, a part of the historic Gateway Walk.

As a professional travel photographer discovering hidden gems such as the Garden Club of Charleston’s Gateway Walk are a favorite part of the job. This peaceful, gorgeous meander takes one through several churchyards, and several hundred years of history in South Carolina. “While Charleston cannot boast as many oak-ringed parks as Savannah, the four-block Gateway Walk is just as beautiful, with a series of interconnected and semihidden gardens. The walk is lined with moss-laden oaks and takes you past the city’s most historically significant churches.” – 36 Hours in Charleston, The New York Times. This is the first in a series of garden images capturing this beautiful stroll. A guide to enjoying the walk firsthand is below, courtesy of The Garden Club of Charleston.

Pirates in the park?

 (Kathryn Wagner)

“In the course of five weeks, [in the Autumn of 1718] forty-nine pirates had swung from the gallows at White Point. Within a couple months, pirate Richard Worley and nineteen of his men met the same fate. While the leaves of White Point Gardens’ oaks calmly sway in the ocean breeze, their roots are feeding on the blood of pirates.” – Southern Spirit Guide


Knock, Knock – Charleston’s ornate front doors

 (Kathryn Wagner)

A historic home in Charleston, South Carolina displays an ornate door knocker on it’s front door. These functional ornaments are an interesting addition to the historic district streetscape.

“During the superstitious Middle Ages, door knockers took on gruesome faces, such as gargoyles, dogs and lions, to ward off evil spirits from entering the home.””Door knockers are pervasive throughout history in every culture. The doors of the Cizre-Great Mosque in Anatolia, Turkey, built in 1160, hold two dragon bronze knockers. Ancient Italians hung Medusa heads. English doors sported snarling lions.” -Ehow.

Rambling along Virginia’s Route 6

 (Kathryn Wagner)

The sun filters through an overgrown field along Virginia’s Route 6.

If there ever were a highway that held a special place in my visual heart it would be Virginia’s Route 6. Stretching along the James River from the Blue Ridge to Richmond, it was the scenic route most often taken to and fro, from college in Richmond to home in Charlottesville. I have always been fascinated by this stretch of highway, for in many ways it has remained the same as it was when the town of Columbia was a strategic outpost during the Revolutionary War. Stretching through much of the state and many historic towns in Virginia, Route 6 is a premium choice for a weekend drive.  View a map of this intriguing highway, and go for a ride!