Always look on the bright side of life... hum along with me if you recognize that Monty Python tune. Silly movie, but a poignant statement about our attitudes when we are presented with less than desirable situations.
For example, this weekend I went camping and could have focused on the fact that I slept in a tent in freezing temperatures or I could remember the beautiful sunrise that greeted me every morning. I could complain about the sand covering almost everything I touched or be happy I didn't have to drive back and forth to the beach and pay for an expensive hotel.
Also, I could have been upset about the raccoons and squirrels that kept coming after my food but... you know what, I was not only annoyed but totally freaked out by these little pests. They had no fear and were freakishly strong. I watched as the raccoons lifted the lid on an ice chest even after I sat a heavy log on it. As I ate, squirrels dove from trees above to get the food sitting next to me at the table. They truly put the wild in wildlife.
Crazy woodlands creatures aside, everything has a bright side. What is my point? South Carolina Parks is celebrating its 75th Anniversary.
Back during the Great Depression Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the New Deal Program to provide people with work. One such program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was responsible for developing many of South Carolina's state parks.
Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina's most popular park, was developed through the CCC program. The 3,000 acre park is a barrier island near Beaufort with beaches, marshes and lagoon. The park is also home to the last publicly accessible lighthouse in South Carolina.
The island lighthouse, first built in 1859, was destroyed during the Civil War. After picking a new site due to erosion, the lighthouse was rebuilt and finally decommissioned in 1933. While the state parks are celebrating 75 years, the lighthouse will be enjoying its 150th anniversary this year.
The lighthouse sits right off the beach and is surrounded by many of the original buildings used during its operation. The climb to the top is worth the trouble to get a view of the beaches and marshes along the island.
The lighthouse was about a mile up the beach from the campsite, but was inaccessible while the tide was up. During that time, the beach was basically empty except for a few morning walkers. As soon as the tide rolled out, it exposed about 50 yards of extra sand and a path to the lighthouse.
As soon as the tide was out, everyone rushed to the beach. The sand was perfect for bike rides since it was compact and wet.
Many visit the park this time of year to escape the harsh temperatures up north. I met one couple who were retired and living at the campsite. They work part time for the park and spend the rest of their days soaking up the sun and scenery.
The park is also a popular destination for equestrian riders. The beach is open to horseback riding December through February and throughout the day a group of riders could be seen galloping by. Those who were not as fortunate, stopped to watch and take pictures as the horses ran through the water and across the beach.
The park also offered trails through the forest and around a lagoon and marshes. The trails are perfect for biking as well. Cooler temperature meant no bugs as I navigated the marshes and forest.
While bike riding through a site designated for cabins, I met one gentleman who had recently had to tear down his cabin due to erosion. Because the park is a barrier island, the north side of the beach is disappearing at the rate of about 10 feet a year, he said. Since the cabins are placed at the north end of the island, many are concerned about the erosion and have a website dedicated to the preservation of the island.
The only thing bothering me at camp were a few rodents mentioned earlier. The first night I could see them from my tent actually lifting a lid on the cooler even with a 20 lb. log placed on it. A bag of chips was all it took for them to try and get into my tent. These raccoons were looking rather big so life must be good at the park. The next day the squirrels kept me on my feet as well. A fellow camper passing by said they put everything in a car because nothing else will prevent the animals from getting to the food.
The campsite is right on the beach and lines of campers sit among the pine trees. Moon light strolls, falling asleep to the sounds of waves and every so often the faint scream of raccoons as they fight for food. Beautiful.
As I said, always look on the bright side of life. Had the Great Depression not happened, we might not have all the state parks in South Carolina. And if there were no parks, the raccoons and squirrels would not be so plump from camp food. Like I said, there is good in everything.
Just remember...Life's a Beach.
Paul Zoeller is a freelance photographer new to the area. Do you have an idea for a new blog or a question about a current blog? If you do contact Zoeller at firstname.lastname@example.org.