Saturday, September 15, 2012


I gotta tell you, I still haven't recovered fully from the past three weeks. Sleeping way more than usual, but still not resting. Thinking about a memory foam mattress topper, but reviews and ratings are all over the place online, and since I have a chemical-free house and am bothered by the scents in the laundry detergent aisle at the supermarket, I'm really reluctant to buy something that seems to inherently have a bad odor that may or may not go away. Alas. But, I digress.  The title promises Beaufort, so let's get at it.

I've been in love with the idea of Beaufort for countless years. So many books by Pat Conroy and Anne Rivers Siddons are set in the area, and their tales and descriptions made it seemed like the ideal place for me. I can't remember if I ever mentioned the idea of moving there anyplace on this blog, but when I first began thinking of coming back east, Beaufort was on top of the list. I did lots of research, but couldn't afford a real visit. In the end, I opted against it because I thought it couldn't possibly live up to my expectations, and because it just didn't seem wise to move sight-unseen. After this visit, I have to say that the reality lived up to every possible romanticized expectation I ever had. I'm a water gal, let's just face that. I like being on or near or in sight of water -- as in oceans and bays and such.

The approach road to Beaufort goes through rural areas and then, finally, up on a raised causeway that gives infinite views of water, sea grasses, old wooden docks, islands, and more water. To me, it was utterly breathtaking. I fell in love instantly. A few more of these causeways take you over other islands and you finally reach Beaufort. Since I had no maps or anything to guide me, and since it was too early for the visitor's center to be open, I followed the road across a lovely bridge to Lady's Island and then St. Helena Island.

When I passed this intriguing old ruin, I simply had to stop and take a closer look.

A close up of the walls, showing the old-style building material of this area, which I believe is referred to as 'tabby'. That could be a memory error, but as you can see it's mostly seashells and sand.
This is what the ruin is. I just love all that lovely moss hanging everywhere!
So, after I toured this site, I headed back to town where I found a parking lot at the city marina then headed out on a walking tour of the famous section of beautiful old homes, many of them with waterfront locations. I walked for an hour and a half, following the outer maze of streets that led to water. Lots of dead-end streets that end at the water, and all thankfully preserved for public use and view by the City of Beaufort.

This photo was actually taken on Lady's Island, not far from the bridge back to Beaufort, but it's so evocative of the area that I have to include it.

This is part of a beautiful park that fronts the river near the marina. The bridge to Lady's Island is in the rear.

Another view of the same bridge, from a smaller park across the highway, at the beginning of the residential area.
I believe this was from the same small park, looking in another direction.

One of the many beautiful homes fronting the river.

Another -- with an intriguing garden.

From the end of one dead-end street or another.
These long, wooden docks abound, and I loved them. Almost every waterfront home has one.
Yes, this is on the water too, but it's generally not possible to get a photo of both the house and the water view.
This canal ran from an 'inner' area of the residential section on out to the river.
You probably think I've gone overboard on the beautiful old houses, but the ones I'm showing are only a fraction of what's there. This one is not waterfront, but it's a beauty!

Some are so well hidden by landscaping that it's impossible to get a solid view with a camera, but then, the landscaping is so lush and beautiful that it's not hard to look at! This was waterfront, to the rear.
I know -- another dock. But they are such a big part of what makes this area so intriguing and picturesque, to me. Lots of crabbing and shrimping and fishing and just plain fun happens on these docks!
A prime example of fun, although you can barely see any people (intentionally, on my part). There was a large group gathering. Kids jumping into the water, big party apparently about to happen. Did I mention it was Labor Day? As I walked away from this, I met a couple headed in that direction hauling a cooler and other stuff on wheels. I said something about a fun day in the making, and they told me there were FIVE birthdays being celebrated.

Yep another dock. I couldn't get enough of the entire scene.
Back at the city park by the marina, I was captivated by the lush, colorful and beautiful flowers that thrive so well in this semi-tropical climate.

Because it was approaching noon, and because I planned to have lunch in Savannah, I reluctantly left Beaufort behind and didn't explore more than the immediate downtown area. In retrospect, I should have done just that because when I got to Savannah it seemed as if half the world had decided to visit. Traffic, hordes of cars and people everywhere and not a parking space to be found. After 11 days in the quite of the meditation center, and a day in the quiet peace of Beaufort, it was all too much for me so after giving up on a parking space, I drove on out to Tybee Island, which was unfortunately just more of the same. I'll take Beaufort any day!

I'm not sure how realistic it is for me to even think about moving there. I spoke at length to another retired woman who lives on social security (and a part-time job), and she told me I could make it, offered a name and phone number of a friend who runs a real estate office out on Lady's Island. I haven't called yet, although I suppose I should do that before making any final decision. Still -- while Beaufort has the water that speaks to my heart, it won't be much different from where I am now in many ways: still a long drive from Bhavana in West Virginia, still conservative politically, still not likely to have the Buddhist community I seek. Asheville is the most logical in terms of all of these -- and it has mountains and the Nantahala River. But there's no way around the fact that it has colder winters, often with snow and ice. Beaufort has a fabulous year-round climate. So, lots to consider, but I have lots of time to do all that consideration so no need to make any decisions now. I do expect to head up to Asheville in the next couple of weeks to look at some of the possible places to live, get my name on some waiting lists.

But for right now, I'm still content to be right where I am.

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