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The Best South Carolina Beaches and Hammocks

I grew up traveling down to Pawley’s Island, SC each year for a week with my family. This wonderful destination is home to beautiful beaches, great surf fishing, and the famous Hammock Shops. As the name implies, this is where you can find the original Pawley’s Island Hammocks. Not only can you buy a hammock to bring home, but you can also watch craftsman weaving the hammocks in an open-air shop.

I am on my third Pawley’s Island hammock. This last one is strung between two trees in a shady spot in my garden. It has happily been there for three straight years spending our snowy winters outside. I had grown up with cotton hammocks, but my last purchase was one made from “duro-cord.” Duro-cord is some kind of blended fiber, and I find it to be softer than the polyester hammock they sell. And, I know from past experience that the all-cotton hammocks do not last very long when left outside in the rain and cold. Since I like to plop down into our hammock at any time of the year, I want one that can stay outside and handle the wear and tear from the elements. Now I have a hammock that I can enjoy all year long, come rain or shine.

 

What an evening at the beach at Pawley's Island

Are frogs and toads the same?

I was wandering down by the edge of the water with my son. We were skipping rocks and having a great time. Then he asked me one of those questions that I had never really thought about… “Are frogs and toads the same thing?”

Now I knew that they weren’t the same thing. I have seen plenty of frogs and toads in the wild and in exhibits at aquariums, like the amazing poison dart frogs at the National Aquarium of Baltimore. But I had to confess that I did not know exactly what made frogs different from toads.

Here’s what I found out:

Toads:
Do not need to live near water to survive
Have rough, dry, bumpy skin
Have a wider body
Have lower, football-shaped eyes
Have shorter, less powerful hind legs
Will run or take small hops rather than jump
Do not have many predators. (Lucky for them, they taste bad. A toad’s skin lets out a bitter taste and smell that burns the eyes and nostrils of its predators.)

Frogs:
Need to live near water
Have smooth, moist skin that makes them look “slimy”.
Have a narrow body
Have higher, rounder, bulgier eyes
Have longer hind legs
Take long high jumps
Have many predators (Sad for them, they taste good.)

Frogs and toads are very important to ecosystems. With frogs generally spending part of their lifecycle in water, and their moist skins are especially sensitive to pollution. We can all help to reduce the impact of pollution on frogs by preventing chemicals such as petrol, insecticides, detergents, and fertilizers from entering our waterways.

Fog on the water at Walnut Creek Park, Charlottesville, VA

Architectural details, flowers, and decorative elements

While you are moving through the world, pause to look at the small details that surround you.  Whether you are on a vacation or a business trip, or simply walking around the place where you live, slow down and see all that you can see.

 

 

It’s cold down there

I hadn’t visited a cave since I was really little and loved a recent trip to Luray Caverns in central Virginia. My breath was truly taken away by Mirror Lake in the caverns, where a few inches of water reflect the formations above it with such clarity that the lake appears to have no bottom. It is amazing!

We went a nice warm day, but I wished I had known to bring sweaters for the kids. I learned that caves stay consistently chilly since the earth insulates them. I had a wrap with me, but 10 minutes into the tour it was on my daughter and I was cold for the rest of the time.

I also learned that there is a serious problem is affecting and killing bats in caves in the eastern portion of the United States. I saw a request that visitors to caves should not wear the same clothes if they are planning to visit two different caves in one day. This is a small way to help keep bats healthy.

With caves and caverns in states across the country, it is easy to find one near you and take a trip down into a beautiful new, if not chilly, world.

 

Mirror Lake

Sharks’ teeth come in all shapes and sizes

I learned something new at the beach.  I learned how to easily find sharks’ teeth.

I have to confess that the first tooth I found literally washed up to my feet as I sat watching the kids play in the ocean. From that one tooth, a bit of an obsession formed.  I looked for small black teeth on the beach from then on.

Why do we find sharks’ teeth on the beach: 

Sharks continually shed their teeth, and some shark species can shed approximately 35,000 teeth in a lifetime. In order for these teeth to fossilize, they must sink the seafloor and be quickly covered by sediment. Rapid burial is important for fossilization for a number of reasons. First, the sediment acts to protect the teeth from the weathering, abrasion, and scavenging that could occur if they were exposed to open water and currents. Secondly, burial also limits exposure to oxygen and bacteria which are responsible for decay. The process of fossilization is a slow one that usually takes thousands of years. Depending on which minerals are present teeth can be found in a wide variety of different colors, ranging from blue/grey to black to orange/red to white to green. Fossilized shark teeth usually have a black root with a grayish crown.  Fossilized shark teeth can often be found in or near river bed banks, sand pits, and beaches. If the tooth was found in a creek 50 miles from the nearest ocean, it is safe to assume that the tooth is a fossil. When you find a shark tooth at the beach, you may need to look at its color to figure out its age.

How to find sharks teeth: 

Walking along the ocean’s water line, as the waves are rolling in and out, I look for a little black “ T ” or “ Y ”among the small broken shells.  The black fossilized teeth really do stand out against the yellowish sand and once you find your first tooth, it’s easier to know just what you are looking for. I did realize after a while, that I couldn’t find any teeth on days when the shells that were rolling in were large. I only found teeth when small broken shells were coming in and out with the tide. I think this has to do with the weight of the teeth, but that’s just my guess.

So next time you’re at the beach or even near a river, keep an eye out for sharks teeth. Happy hunting!

You can find big and small sharks teeth at the beech.