Thursday, April 28, 2011

Being 60, Dreams Do Come True #46-50

by Donna L. Watkins

When I began this idea of finding 60 new adventures to focus on for my 60th year of life, I didn't know how easy it would be.  It caused me to stay more alert to what was around me, looking for new species, since that's the ultimate adventure ... getting to see another piece of art created by my Heavenly Father, and the majestic representation of Him that it gives to me as I view it.

My focus on seeing the new helps me to leave the old behind also, and that's a good thing to do in life.  Always looking ahead makes you wonder what God has in store every day.  It's important to live for the present and the future, not the past.

Now I'm nearing the 60 mark and I will definitely have months before my next birthday in September to continue seeking new adventures, but I'll have to consider whether I keep counting ... or wait for another birthday to begin again.  And should I begin again at all with these posts?  I don't think I will stop looking for adventures whether I write about them or not.  What would you do?  What are your thoughts?  Let me know.

And now ... here's the continued journey.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Sunrise Over The Ocean
Myrtle Beach, SC
#46 of 60 - Myrtle Beach, SC - Compass Cove Resort - We are not beach folks so we've never had any desire to go to the popular Myrtle Beach area, although I'd always wanted to see Brookgreen Gardens which was a half hour south of there.

When I saw a travel deal for one of the resorts in Myrtle Beach for March, the perfect season for us and the beach, I grabbed a unit at $38 a night and we began to look forward to a dream fulfilled and a few new adventures to add to my list for this year.

When I was growing up and as a single woman I had loved the beach, islands, oceans, water of any form that I could be in. My granddaddy used to say I was part fish. At 26 I was diagnosed with vitiligo and told to stay out of the sun.  Thanks to that, I fell in love with forests, which for me, far surpass the value of the ocean.  After all the Bible says there will be no seas in Heaven (Rev. 21:1), but there will be trees.

We checked into the resort not sure what to expect for such a low rate, but the room was great and the balcony was ocean view. It was on the side of one of the buildings of the Compass Cove Resort so we had a city view and a beach view with the sunrise aiming right at us. View photo album for Myrtle Beach.

© 2011 Randal J. Watkins - Donna at Peace Fountain
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, SC
#47 of 60 - Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC, was more marvelous and amazing than I ever imagined.  The sculpture garden and facilities portion of Brookgreen is over 300 acres and is considered a wildlife preserve also.  We walked it for 6 hours and loved every minute, but I had to Tei Fu down before I left and when I got back so I wouldn't have screaming joints.

Filled with over 1400 sculptures, from over 350 sculptors, tucked here, there and everywhere from small to building size, we were delighted at every twist and turn of the multitudes of paths, garden gates and arbors as we strolled about imagining being left here to live for the rest of our lives ... walking with God.  There was also poems and prose etched in various stones, but my favorite was one I viewed on the video shown in the Welcome Center:

"Pause friend, and strip from out your heart all vanity, all bitterness, all hate; Quench for this hour the fever of your fears.  Then, treading softly, pass within this gate.  There, where the ancient trees wait, hushed and dim, May you find God, and walk awhile with Him. " -- Pearl C. Hiatt

The photos are titled with detailed information on the sculptures and garden features, along with information on the historical plantation life of the land. Read my article about Brookgreen Gardens and the couple who created it and/or view the photo album of Brookgreen Gardens.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Common Yellowthroat Warbler,
Immature Male - Brookgreen Gardens, Myrtle Beach, SC
#48 of 60Immature Male Common Yellowthroat Warbler - While visiting Brookgreen Gardens we came upon a group of birds foraging on the ground that looked like cardinals since most were the same shade and there were a few red birds also.

They were probably tanagers thinking back, but my eye caught one in a tree nearby so I focused on getting a few photographs of that one, which turned out not to be the same as the ones on the ground at all.

After seeing the bird in the photo program I knew I'd never seen this bird before and eventually figured out what it was with a friend sending me the Sibley Bird Guide page number and getting emails confirming it from a bird identification forum.  How excited I was to add a new adventure of a bird God made that I've not seen before.  I delight in seeing every new artistic work He has made that I have never seen.

As if once wasn't enough, we did an overnight stay near the Virginia coast for our 34th anniversary so we could visit the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.  The only unknown bird we saw there was a male Common Yellowthroat Warbler flittering about near the water in the thicket.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Pond Overlook
Myrtle Beach State Park, SC
#49 of 60 - Myrtle Beach State Park is one of South Carolina’s last stands of easily-accessible, oceanfront maritime forest. It has a nature center with programs and natural history displays which wasn't open while we were there but we spent some time in the wildlife habitat area watching the birds.

We chose the Sculptured Oak Trail to experience the woodlands through a forest of oaks, wax myrtles, hollies, poplars, and magnolias, and walked out to the pond overlook but didn't see any alligators. The Red Maples were gorgeous since they were "blooming" and brightly colored. It's a swamp species of maple, so it was new to me. Read more about Myrtle Beach State Park and/or view the Myrtle Beach State Park photo album.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant
Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC
#50 of 60 - Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet, SC has 2500 acres and is also the site of the Spanish-style castle, Atalaya, mentioned above. The park is land donated by the Huntington's and the parcel is adjacent to Brookgreen Gardens which was my ultimate adventure on this trip.

More than 300 species of birds have been recorded at this park. The boardwalk on the salt marsh was great. Our first wildlife encounter after we headed down the paved trail to the lagoons was to see a snake across the path. Later I found out it was a Yellow Rat Snake which was very exciting since I'd never seen one so it added another adventure to my list. Read more about Yellow Rat Snakes. Read more about Huntington Beach State Park and Atalaya Castle with links to photo albums.

Continue the adventure journey with me .....

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