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.

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!

Meet Alabaster, the Albino Alligator

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Alabaster” a seven and-a-half foot long 92 pound Albino American Alligator swims in his tank at the Blackwater Swamp Exhibit in the South Carolina Aquarium.

Did you know that alligators are a native predator species in the South Carolina Lowcountry? And that you can adopt Alabaster the Albino American Alligator?

A few more Fun Facts:  There are only two species of alligator in the world – the American alligator and the Chinese alligator American alligators have a lifespan of 35-50 years, and have been known to live up to 80 years in captivity Alligators can stay underwater for 45-60 minutes Alligators will go dormant (not a true hibernation) when the weather gets cold 80 – 100 teeth may be in the mouth of the alligator.  When teeth wear down, new teeth grow in.  An alligator may go through 2,000 – 3,000 teeth in a lifetime

South Carolina Aquarium’s River Otters

 (Kathryn Wagner)

A North American River Otter swims through the sunlight in the Mountain Forest exhibit at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, South Carolina.

Fun Facts About the North American River OtterThey can swim up to 12 mph and can run 18 mph. Otters swimming beneath ice for long periods of time are known to use trapped air bubbles to continue to get oxygen. River otters close their nostrils and ears while underwater, and can hold their breath for about 4 minutes. The maximum known time for an otter to hold its breath is 8 minutes. Otters view their environment with a variety of senses, but their whiskers are very sensitive to physical sensations, and are important in hunting.

Interested in supporting the South Carolina Aquarium? Become a volunteer or “adopt” an otter today.