Category: The Backyard Tourist

CULTURE | The Backyard Tourist

National Treasure, Part 2

The Backyard Tourist Takes a Photo Safari of Ted Turner’s Former SC Retreat Story and Photos by Mark Shaffer (Editor’s Note: Read part one of Mark Shaffer’s conversation with Park Superintendent J.W. Weatherford about the challenges of overseeing both Hunting Island and St. Phillips here.)

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National Treasure

Hunting Island Takes On Ted Turner’s Former Island Retreat Interview and Photos by Mark Shaffer Remember that old line about never looking a gift horse in the mouth? Now, apply it to a gator and bug infested barrier island once owned by a flamboyant billionaire, with no development potential, critically limited access and resources and you’ve got the horse the state park system just handed over to JW Weatherford to whip into shape. Weatherford had barely broken in his desk as the new superintendent of Hunting Island State Park when, after months of top secret negotiations, the state’s prestigious new acquisition landed in his lap, as well.

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The Holy City Bucket List

The Backyard Tourist Finds 100 Things to Do In Charleston By Mark Shaffer The late Pat Conroy waxed poetically about the Lowcountry and Charleston. South of Broad was his love letter to the city (calling it “the Mansion on the River”) and many of the places mentioned in the novel can be visited through his words.   – From 100 Things To Do in Charleston Before You Die by Cele & Lynn Seldon

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Taking Wing with History

Up and Away with The World-Famous GEICO Skytypers Story by Mark ShafferPhotos by Mark Shaffer and courtesy of the GEICO Skytypers Once again I’m sitting in the back seat of an airplane built to train the pilots of the Greatest Generation, staring at an instrument panel that makes my car look like a starship. It’s a blustery day in the Lowcountry as we prep for to take off from the Marine Corps Air Station to fly wing-tip-to-wing-tip with the world-famous GEICO Skytypers. This is the second of three media flights scheduled for the day and all four planes have a reporter strapped into the backseat sporting a 40-pound parachute and a life vest.

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Hit the Trail

Walk, Run, Bike and Fish Along Beaufort’s Spanish Moss TrailStory by Mark Shaffer with Sissy PerrymanPhotos by Tony Pierro courtesy of FSMT “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out until sundown: for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir

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Respecting The Fish

The Backyard Tourist Hooks Up With Cast Away Charters Story and Photos by Mark Shaffer “There it is!” shouts Captain Tim. After 30 minutes of fishing I’m pretty sure he can sense the fish before it hits the bait. That’s been the trend, anyway. Before the words are out of his mouth the tip of Susan’s fishing rod snaps down.             “Fish on!”             The early November morning is cool and the air is sweet with the scent of marsh grass and oysters waiting for the incoming tide. A soft breeze barely ripples the surface leaving a near perfect mirror to reflect the lipstick smear of sunrise. We’ve been fishing the mouth of a tidal creek in Port Royal Sound since just before sun up and the Speckled Trout are running.

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Scent of the Season

It’s beginning to smell like fall; the Backyard Tourist follows his nose… Story and Photos by Mark Shaffer Southerners have an inborn appreciation of the autumnal equinox for a number of reasons. It signals the gradual demise of summer’s stifling tyranny – a time when our primary occupation is staying cool and still as possible. With the cooler weather talk turns to football and weekend oyster roasts. Overnight the oppressive murky haze that blurs the summer horizon is gone, replaced by a brilliant blue. The breeze off the marsh is crisper, fresher even as the brilliant green of the spartina grass begins to drain away. The scent of wood smoke hangs in the air.

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Museum & Library Hold Lecture Series

The Beaufort History Museum (BHM) is partnering with the Beaufort County Library to create and present a lecture series that will focus on the fascinating history of the Beaufort District. The series, which is free to the public, runs from September 2016 through May 2017 and features two lectures each month.

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Museum & Library Hold Lecture Series

The Beaufort History Museum (BHM) is partnering with the Beaufort County Library to create and present a lecture series that will focus on the fascinating history of the Beaufort District. The series, which is free to the public, runs from September 2016 through May 2017 and features two lectures each month.

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The Cousteau Effect

Story and PRSF photos by Mark Shaffer (Shark photos by Peter Cram) The Jaws get you every time. These very, very big jaws hang over the eastern end of the main gallery in the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center. On the opposite end of the room red drum and sea trout shimmer in the 3,000-gallon display tank on a constant voyage to the Chechessee River just beyond the window. Overhead the sound’s native predators cruise through imaginary waters. The Sound is home to 17 native species of shark including hammerheads and tigers. The PRSF is actively involved with the SC Department of Natural Resources’ ongoing research efforts. “Chessie” (left), a 12 foot long, 1200 pound tiger shark was tagged not far from here in 2015. She is the largest of her species ever tagged on this coast, yet she would be little more than a morsel to the owner of the jaws on the wall.

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In the Cradle of the Sea

The Backyard Tourist Boards the Spartina With Capt. Amber Story and Photos by Mark Shaffer “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir The day is spectacular. The sky is a perfect pale turquoise seeded with a sprinkling of cotton ball clouds. A light breeze ripples the surface of the May River and rustles the spartina grass and ruffles the feathers of the shore birds stalking the edge of the salt marsh. It is the kind of cool spring day that we Lowcountry dwellers embrace with a hint of trepidation – a modicum of suspicion, even.

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Gear Up & Get Out(side)

Story & photos by Mark Shaffer Higher Ground’s been the heartbeat of the local paddling community since its doors first opened in 2004. After nearly twenty years of selling sporting gear for someone else, Tim Lovett (left) decided to go into business for himself and bought the shop in 2010. Beaufort native Leslie Norris signed on soon after. Tim first took up paddle boarding that same year and immediately sensed that SUP was the next wave in water sports.

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Stand Up Guy

The Backyard Tourist’s Ego Takes a Paddling Story by Mark ShafferPhotos by Mark Shaffer & Tim Lovett Just before I hit the water – in that time-bending moment of suspended animation – two thoughts run through my head: A) This is going to be cold, and B) Did I forget to secure my glasses? A third thought might have flitted past in that nano-second, something along the lines of “What the hell am I doing out here?”

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Going the Distance

The 8th Annual Beaufort Twilight Run Sets Record Pace By Mark Shaffer “If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”  – John Bingham

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Anchorage 1770

The Queen of the Bay Rules Once Again By Mark Shaffer   If Frank and Amy Lesesne had to choose a theme song for their inn, Willie Nelson’s “I’d Have to be Crazy” seems appropriate. Friends and family wondered if they’d gone insane (rhymes with Lesesne) when they decided to flee successful careers in Atlanta and start a new life on the Carolina coast. But when they set their sights on transforming this storied 18th century tabby behemoth into a luxury inn, well…

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A Sound Foundation

A conversation about the Port Royal Sound Foundation with director Jody Hayward Interview and Photos by Mark Shaffer On a breezy Saturday in mid-May a mob of people gather at the old Lemon Island Marina in the shadow of the 170 bridge at low tide. The once derelict property has recently been transformed into the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center. Today an unprecedented number of volunteers have turned out to build a huge oyster reef along the shoreline of the Center’s Chechessee river waterfront. Made of bagged oyster shell, recycled crab traps and specially designed concrete blocks, the reef will serve as a living research project and classroom as it rebuilds a strip of long lost marsh habitat. It is also a metaphor for what the non-profit Port Royal Sound Foundation is all about, says Director Jody Hayward.

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Backyard Tourist on Staycation

Story and Photos by Mark Shaffer I recently had a series of conversations with friends who mentioned that for one reason or another an actual summer vacation just wasn’t in the books this year. This got me thinking about the original concept for this column, essentially a local behaving like a tourist and doing things most natives and residents take for granted or simply ignore.

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Setting the S.C.O.R.E.

South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement proves habitat forming   Story & Photos by Mark Shaffer It’s a perfectly beautiful June morning on the edge of Hunting Island’s Russ Point. A steady stream of boaters stream by from the nearby landing to get a look at this curious group of people working in a line that stretches from the road to a strip of mud and sand at the shoreline. These volunteers – about 50 in all – heave sacks of recycled oyster shells out of a trailer and down the line where experts from the Department of Natural Resources’ SCORE program put them in place.

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Farm Stand

Why a tiny, cutting edge urban farm could be the biggest thing to hit Beaufort in decades   “The definitive relationships in the universe are… not competitive but interdependent. We can build one system only within another. We can have agriculture only within nature, and culture only within agriculture. At certain critical points these systems have to conform with one another or destroy one another.”         – Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

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The Real Salt Life

On the water with oyster farmer Frank RobertsStory and Photos by Mark Shaffer  As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.             – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast  

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