Le Puy Camino – via Podiensis: First Few Days in Le Puy-en-Velay

Colorful buildings surrounding the Place du Plot in Le Puy-en-Velay
March 25 – 26, 2023

After our first night’s sleep in Le Puy, we had some decisions to make first thing Saturday morning. We only had a one night stay in the current lodging and needed to make a plan. Since we arrived in Le Puy earlier than expected, we needed to alter some previous reservations. My sister-in-law had secured lodging in another chambre d-hôtes but we needed to alter the dates since we had bypassed Paris. Luckily, we were able to change our arrival date at Chambre d-hôtes La Maison du Loup and – a bonus – they would allow us to drop our packs there until check-in time later in the day so we would not have to walk around all day with loaded backpacks. After breakfast at Chambre d-hôtes La Prévôté, we got ready for the move.

The Chambre d-hôtes La Maison du Loup is located in a 16th century building within the historic district of Le Puy and a short walk to all amenities.

Along with arranging accommodations for our stay in Le Puy, we also had some logistical items to cross off our list. We both had some additional supplies that we needed for the walk, and I needed to find an ATM so that I could start the walk with some euros in my possession. I determined the best way to access cash along the chemin was to set up a debit card account and use ATM machines that are prevalent in the larger towns. I was nervous about doing this as I’ve never used a debit card before! It was a tad unnerving the first time I inserted the card. I had visions of the 24-hour ATM machine eating my card but all fears were laid to rest and I found it incredibly easy to manage my money this way throughout the whole trip. Planning Tip: Most of the gîtes and chambre d-hôtes along the chemin only accept cash (or an ANCV Cheques-vacances – which is a paper checkbook for use in the European Union). I found it only necessary to carry a few days worth of cash to pay for accommodations and lunch food. It was important to be aware when and where the next ATM machine was located.

After attending mass at the Cathedral Notre-Dame, we headed off in the direction of the historic shopping district to get our bearings and shop. Since I was limiting my luggage to carry-on items only, I could not bring my hiking poles on the plane from Montreal to Paris. I found a cheap pair of poles in a tourist shop that would serve me well for the walk. I also wanted to get a small Swiss Army pocket knife with scissors to carry along with me for lunch and first aid needs. It took awhile to find but eventually I located a shop that had just what I wanted.

We ended up eating lunch on Saturday at the same restaurant where we had eaten dinner the previous night. Our dinner had been a true multi-course culinary delight so we felt sure lunch would be just as awesome! Comme A la Maison is a French restaurant that I highly recommend if you find yourself in Le Puy-en-Velay.

After spending time wandering the cobblestone streets of the historic district, it was time to head back up the hill to our accommodation so we could check-in and get settled.

Ascending yet another stone spiral staircase to our room at La Maison du Loup, we noticed a small staircase leading up another small flight of stairs to a common room in the “tower” that afforded a terrific view of the town. If you look closely, just below the tower window is a “wolf” (or le loup, in French) protruding from the stone. Our host told the us that it seems likely one of the original owners of the building was a wolf hunter by profession. Common prior to the 19th century, wolf hunters belonged to a special corps called the “louveterie.” They protected livestock and people from wolves and by the 20th century wolves were completely eradicated from France. There is evidence that wolves are making a come-back now due to their protected status in modern times.

Sparsely furnished tower room at La Maison du Loup
Our room at La Maison du Loup – wash day!

After settling in to our room, we went back into the historic shopping district in search of dinner. We landed at Aux Beaux Thés du Monde, a small crêperie that proved to be excellent food at an incredibly reasonable price. Planning Tip: We quickly learned that “tipping” in restaurants is not common or expected. I actually loved this concept! It kept things much simpler. We also realized that waiters do not bring a check to the table. When you are done with your meal and ready to leave, you simply go to the register counter and pay for your meal.

The next day (Sunday), I spent a leisurely morning figuring out how to arrange accommodations each night for when we start walking. I wanted to have a least the first few days of accommodations reserved. Everyone approaches this differently. Some pilgrims choose not to reserve in advance so they have the flexibility to walk further if they feel okay or stop earlier if they are struggling. Others reserve their entire walk in advance. Then, there are those like us who were choosing to reserve just a few days in advance. I was using a spreadsheet that I secured from a website maintained by an American school teacher who has done may Camino trips. It quickly became clear that we would not be able to start our walk until March 31st for two reasons.

It was early in the season – really still the shoulder season – and many gîtes and chambre d-hôtes were not open yet. Some were set to open on April 1st and others, not until April 15th. The second reason that delayed our departure day was the availability of luggage transport. My sister-in-law wanted to have one small duffle bag that would be transported each day from one accommodation to the next by a luggage transportation company so that she could lighten the backpack she would be carrying every day. Many people carry everything they need in their backpack. Most recommendations are to carry no more than 10% of your body weight. That is ideal for walking extensively over many weeks.

Since most people are using gîtes and chambre d-hôtes for lodging, there is no need to carry a tent, sleeping bag and multiple days worth of food. I was able to limit my pack to around 15 lbs. – which was close to the weight recommendation. Since my sister-in-law was going to use a luggage transport company, I agreed to share the cost and put a ziplock bag of some of my extra clothes in the duffle. It was nice to utilize this service but not necessary for me. We used a company called La Malle Postale. We showed up at their office in Le Puy make arrangements and found out that they did not start transport until April 1st. I had already made reservations for March 31st but they kindly agreed to start a day early for us. It also became clear that they only transport luggage to accommodations listed in a particular guidebook (that we had not purchased yet). Since one of the accommodations on the spreadsheet was not in that guidebook, I was already altering reservations! Planning Tip: For subsequent walking trips, I would not use a luggage transport company. They were great to deal with – this is not a reflection on them. For those who just cannot walk with a burdensome pack, it is a great service. It makes the pilgrimage more accessible to more people. But, using them limited where we could stay and also limited our flexibility. I think it best – if you are fit and able – to make sure your pack weighs what you can carry and avoid the limitations placed on you by a luggage transport company.

After countless hours of planning, I was ready for a break! It was time to get some exercise and see some sights! Rising up high from the top of a rock outcropping, I had been seeing the Chapel Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe from a distance and was eager to make the steep climb to view it up close and personal. It was built in the 10th century on top of a “volcanic plug.” I was so impressed with the chapel that I visited it twice while in Le Puy. It became my favorite spot in the city. The chapel was built by Bishop Godescalc of Le Puy-en-Velay in celebration of his return from his own pilgrimage on the Way of Saint James. The chapel is named after Archangel Michael.

Chapel Saint-Gabriel

As I started to climb the 268 steps, there was a sweet, small little chapel near the base that I detoured to first.

Interior of the Chapel Saint-Gabriel

Some of the 268 steps leading to the Chapel Saint-Michel with a view of the Statue of Notre-Dame of France off in the distance. The inside of the chapel was simply furnished and so peaceful. The ancient frescoes on the ceiling and walls were spectacular – as were the stained glass windows. I sat on a bench inside the chapel quietly for a long time – taking in the incredible beauty of this place.

I had read that there was a fresco of a hand above the door to the chapel that many believe represents a blessing for pilgrims as they exit the chapel. It actually took me awhile to find it!

Below are some close-ups of the artwork in the chapel. Stunning!

Until next time….final preparations and our jumping off day!!

Le Puy Camino – Via Podiensis: The Start of My Journey

Colorful rooftops of Le Puy-en-Velay
March 22-24, 2023

After months of preparation, it was hard to believe that the day of departure for this incredible journey was upon me. Walking for six weeks in rural France along an ancient pilgrimage route was a dream come true.

Day of departure!

The first leg of my journey started with a Greyhound bus ride from Montpelier, Vermont to Montreal, Quebec, Canada where I would hook up with a traveling companion (my sister-in-law) who was flying in from Vancouver, Canada.

We spent a night and a partial day in Montreal waiting for our overnight flight to Paris. It was fun to explore part of the old city, enjoy a fantastic lunch at Chez Suzette and get used to hearing French spoken all around us! Now that I’ve spent 6 weeks immersed in the French language, I see more visits to my northern neighbor, Quebec, in my future as a good way to practice my new language skills.

Wet streets in Montreal’s old city
Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal

From Montreal, we boarded an Air Canada flight to Paris. Due to the political upheaval in France and the protests and strikes plaguing Paris, we opted to cancel our plans to spend 4 days in Paris. Instead, we reserved train tickets from the Charles de Gaulle Airport train station directly to Le Puy-en-Velay – where we would ultimately commence our walk. As it turned out, the train we were to board was cancelled due to the strike but, luckily, we were able to catch another train departing that same day with available space. Whew! We were on our way!

St. Etienne Train Station – colorful architecture!

It is not a straight forward train ride from Paris to Le Puy. We had to change trains in Lyon and then switch to a bus in the town of St. Etienne. At one point, we disembarked the train at the wrong stop (blaming it on the language barrier!) and almost made a costly mistake. We realized our error just in time to hop back through the train doors before they closed! After more than 24 hours of travel via air, train and bus, we arrived in Le Puy-en-Velay early evening on March 24. During the train ride, we arranged accommodations for our first night in Le Puy at the Chambre-d’hôtes La Prévôté – one of many options within the village.

Housed in a stone building converted from an ancient convent, the lodging proved very nice and we quickly got a lesson in protocol that would be repeated numerous times over the course of 6 weeks. Because of the number of pilgrims and walkers who pass through this region, certain procedures have been adopted to minimize the onset of the dreaded “bed bugs” issue commonly found in shared housing along the Camino routes. All backpacks and shoes were left in a communal area of the accommodation. We were issued plastic tubs to put items in that we would need and we carried only that tub to our bedroom. Everything else was to remain with the backpacks. While inconvenient at times (there was always that one item left in the pack that I needed!), I was happy to comply if it meant avoiding those pesky little critters!

Entrance sign to our accommodation the first night

Our first night accommodation ended up being directly behind the Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Puy. Sebastian was an excellent host and a typical French continental breakfast is included with the cost of the room. Our stay here represented what I would categorize as typical lodging for us along the Le Puy Camino with the exception being we usually paid extra for an evening meal to be included – referred to as a demi-pension.

There was an ancient stone spiral staircase that led to the accommodations – very cool! I felt like I had stepped back in time! The rooms were simply furnished but clean, bright and inviting. Below is the common room where breakfast was served and our bedroom – where we happily collapsed that night after so many hours of travel. The first photograph on this post was actually the rooftop view out our bedroom window!

A little history….

Le Puy-en-Velay is the capital of the Haute-Loire department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes région of south-central France. The town has its origins in medieval times and was a major diocese of the Catholic church. Le Puy has been considered a major starting point for the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella since before the 10th century. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Puy was constructed between the 5th and 15th centuries and is located on the highest point in the town. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with many other historic sites along the Camino route.

Rising high above the village – the Cathedral Notre-Dame du Puy
Cathedral Notre-Dame du Puy

It is the jumping off point for the Le Puy Camino. Each morning, a pilgrim mass is conducted in the church followed by a special blessing. Pilgrims then descend a hidden staircase from inside the church down to the cathedral steps to start the walk towards Santiago de Compostella – a distance of over 1500 kilometers. We would be executing this rite of passage in a few days and I could not wait to begin the journey!

In the meantime, we had several days in Le Puy to sightsee, do a final shake-down and pick up any additional items we might need for the walk. Next up – our fun-filled days in Le Puy-en-Velay…..

View of the city of Le Puy-en-Velay from a high point

Big Bend Hikes: Long Chisos Basin Loop

Mexican Blue Jay atop an old agave flower spike

My last hike before ending my season at Big Bend had to be one more walk in the Chisos Basin. Since I’m in training for a long walk in France, I chose to do the long loop around the top of the basin – going up the Laguna Meadow Trail and connecting to the Pinnacles Trail via the Colima and Boot Canyon Trails. The weather was ideal with temperatures just right for the 11-mile hike! Love these mountains so much!

On the Laguna Trail looking back towards the Window

We decided to do the long loop in a counter-clockwise direction. The Laguna Meadows Trail is a more gradual ascent and we followed this trail to its junction with the South Rim and Colima Trails. Along the way, I grabbed some pictures of some of the plants I love that inhabit this mountain environment.

Peeling bark of the Texas Madrone
Madrone leaves catching the light

After about 4.5 miles, we came to the junction of the Blue Creek Trail which descends steeply towards the Homer Wilson Ranch and is part of the Outer Mountain Loop. The Outer Mountain Loop is a popular 3-day backpacking route that skirts the base of the Chisos Mountains and climbs into the mountains. At some point, it would be fun to try completing this difficult hike. When Jim and I reached the Blue Creek Trail, we came across a couple eating lunch who were just starting their Outer Mountain Loop backpack trip and getting ready to head down the Blue Creek Trail. We spent some time chatting with them and talking about their other backpacking experiences. The woman shared that she has hiked the Appalachian Trail a section at a time and still has to complete the Vermont leg of the trail near us.

After leaving those folks, we forged on to the end of the Laguna Meadows Trail where it meets two trails – the South Rim Trail and the Colima Trail. Although I would have liked to hike out to the South Rim, it would have added 4 miles to the distance and meant getting done near dark. I was content with just viewing the South Rim from the Laguna Meadow Trail! 🙂

Looking towards the South Rim from the trail

The Colima Trail is a connector trail that leads to the Boot Canyon Trail and the East Rim Trail system. In this area, there is a corral and cabin used by the park trail crew. We noticed the corral just off the trail and could not resist checking it out.

Corral for park mules and horses

The short mile-long Colima Trail brought us to the Boot Canyon Trail. We hiked this same loop a number of years ago and I was reminded how much I loved this part of the hike through the magnificent canyon terrain with sweeping views of the desert and Sierra del Carmen range in the distance.

Boot Canyon view
Another angle – with the Sierra del Carmen range in the far distance
Landmark geologic formation up close

The Boot Canyon Trail is dramatic and breathtaking – a highlight of the hike for me! It winds around Emory Peak and through the canyon with some short, steep climbs and drop-offs punctuated with amazing views.

Jim climbing up the Boot Canyon Trail

Along with Texas Madrone, the Chisos high country is peppered with several varieties of Oaks, Pinon Pines and Juniper trees. There is an incredible diversity of plant material here. It has taken me a few years to really learn and appreciate this unique plant life.

Pinon Pine branch
Drooping Juniper

Once we reached the junction with the Pinnacles Trail, we were well past the half-way mark of the hike and had just the 3.5-mile descent to go. I always feel like descending is easier but, honestly, the Pinnacles Trail loses elevation steeply and really does wear on the legs!! Thank goodness for hiking poles! We stopped for a few breaks along the way and I got side-tracked with trying to capture a photo of the Mexican Blue Jay that was taunting us on our descent!

View of Casa Grande from the Pinnacles Trail
Rare photo of me taken by Jim! Do all photographers hate getting their picture taken?
Juniper Flats along the Pinnacles Trail – love the grasses in the foreground!

The Juniper Flats area along the Pinnacles Trail is really pretty and there are several back-country campsites here. Next trip to Big Bend, we decided that we would spend a couple nights up here. It is a short hike from the parking area with a backpack and I can imagine the night sky must be spectacular!

As we neared the end of the trail, I caught these two nuzzling each other!

This Mexican Blue Jay was following us down the trail – looking for a hand-out I assume! Every time I would get close to snapping a good photo, he would take off before I could get focused! Finally, towards the end of the hike, he perched on this agave flower stem and stayed put – allowing me to capture him up close and personal. Such a tease!

The final stretch of the trail…

I have much more to post regarding our 5-month stay in Big Bend and will continue as I find the time. I am somewhat pre-occupied with planning for an upcoming spring trip to France and the start of an adventurous trek along the Way of St. James – Le Puy. I purchased a lighter weight travel camera for this 460-mile walk and hope to be able to document my journey! Au revoir, à bientôt….

Big Bend Hikes – Blue Creek Trail

Red Rocks along Blue Creek wash…

If you’re looking for something a little different and less travelled, the Blue Creek Trail has a lot to offer. The trail starts in the Blue Creek wash near the Homer Wilson Ranch ruins and climbs up into the Chisos Mountains – from desert floor to mountain vistas all in one hike! The round-trip hike is about 11 miles.

We got a late start on the day we hiked the trail, and chose to do a 6-mile hike which would take us past the red rock hoodoos and into the foothills leading to the mountains. If you want to just get a look at the red rock formations, then you can shorten the roundtrip walk to 3 miles.

Heading into the arroyo near the ranch, the trail follows the wash winding past impressive, stories high red rock formations.

After leaving the red rocks behind, the trail climbs up out of the wash and starts its ascent to the intersection with the Laguna Meadows Trail high in the Chisos. If you take the trail all the way to its terminus, it would be about a 2600+ elevation change. We hiked well into the foothills before turning around.

The trail starts to climb towards the Chisos Mts.

Our return trip towards late afternoon offered some beautiful vistas looking out towards the Rio Grande River valley and the cliffs that line the river.

The late afternoon light was really illuminating the red rocks on our descent and casting interesting shadows. I was amazed at the plant life that survives on the steep cliff walls!

Back at the start of the trailhead, we wandered around the historic ranch ruins admiring the architecture of the buildings – including the artistically laid flagstone floor in the house. The house and buildings in this location were used by a foreman named Lott Felts. The main house for the ranch was located a few miles away in Oak Canyon. I had the pleasure of talking with a descendant of Homer Wilson a couple of weeks ago. He mentioned that Homer Wilson was his grandfather and he was headed to Oak Canyon to visit the site of his ranch. I love it when people with real connections to the park come back and tell me stories about their ancestors. Pretty cool!! 🙂

Remnants of the old ranch
Blue Creek headquarters

What a wonderfully peaceful and picturesque spot! Can you imagine living here?

Big Bend Flowers

Rock Nettle Eucnide bartonioides

Towards the end of January, we drove to a small parking area along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to hike down the wash that leads to Horseshoe Canyon. I was so surprised to find some plants in bloom!! The above rock nettle was cascading down the canyon walls in drifts!

Drifts of rock nettle on the canyon wall

Of course, perhaps the most famous flowering perennial in Big Bend National Park is the Big Bend Bluebonnet – a common name for the plant Lupinus harvardii. Towards the end of January after some rain, this perennial started blooming in some warmer microclimates throughout the park.

Big Bend Bluebonnet flower starting to emerge

Along the wash mixed in with the blue bonnets were numerous Desert Evening Primroses – Oenothera primiveris.

Desert Evening Primrose

It was a sweet little walk along an unmarked trail. The canyon was unique with its unusually rough rock surface. We will need to go back and explore deeper into the canyon on another day! 🙂

View of Mule Ears rock formation from the wash

Big Bend Critters – Tarantulas

A tarantula minding his own business along the Croton Spring Trail

On our previous trips through Big Bend National Park, we never saw a single tarantula. This winter they are everywhere!!

Big Bend Hikes: Balanced Rock

Looking through the balanced rock

It’s been a long time since I posted. My cell data speed took a beating last month when I was trying to watch some FIFA soccer matches! So, had to wait until it reset with the monthly turnover! 🙂

One of my favorite short hikes in Big Bend is the trek to the “balanced rock.” Officially called the Grapevine Hills Trail, the trailhead is accessed via 6 miles of dirt/gravel road leading to a small parking area.

I hiked it again this year after reading the book Death in Big Bend: Real Stories of Death and Rescue in Big Bend National Park, by Laurence Parent. (This is a great read, by the way) There’s a story in the book about a young man who ventured out on this easy, 2-mile trail and got lost, eventually suffering from heat stroke and perishing in the hot, desert sun. Part of the trail follows a wash and hikers must pay attention to the markers indicating when the trail leaves the wash and takes a turn leading back to the parking area. This particular hiker was on the trail on a blistering hot day in early summer and was probably already suffering from heat stroke and disoriented as he was returning to the parking area from the end of the trail at the balanced rock. He missed the marker where the trail exits the wash and, instead, continued down the wash. That was his fatal mistake.

One cannot see the parking area from the wash as it sits lower in elevation where it passes the lot and, is therefore, hidden from view. The hiker overshot the parking area by a few hundred feet and, in his disoriented mental state, kept walking in the wash. A mile or so beyond his car, he perished.

Grapevine Hills area

I was curious about how this could have happened and, once we returned to the parking lot, I walked down the road which descended steeply to the wash and saw where he must have crossed the road. There would have been no indication at the time that the trailhead parking area was nearby at this juncture. The park service has now placed a directional sign in the middle of the wash at this crossing with an arrow pointing to the parking area. It was very sobering to realize just how quickly one can be overcome with heat and lose their way – even on the easiest of hikes. What’s the lesson here? During the hottest times of the year, carry plenty of water, hike during the coolest parts of the day and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.

View of the trail in the wash from above near balanced rock

Big Bend Hikes: Pine Canyon Trail

Trail heading towards the canyon

Thanksgiving Day in Big Bend National Park started off crisp and clear, eventually warming up in time for a nice mid-day hike into Pine Canyon.

The Pine Canyon Trail starts at the end of Pine Canyon Road and is reached via 6 miles of rough, rocky dirt road travel. While high-clearance 4×4 vehicles are recommended, it is possible for higher-clearance all-wheel drive SUV’s to make the cut – just drive slow!! Those wishing to take the extra effort to reach the trailhead are rewarded with a nice 4-mile roundtrip hike through diverse vegetation on a lesser trafficked trail.

The route starts at the end of the small parking lot that defines the terminus of the road. For the first 1.5 miles, hikers are traversing through a lush desert environment characterized by sotol, beargrass, juniper and pinyon pine. As the trail enters the canyon, the vegetation changes drastically and the trail begins a steep ascent to the Pine Canyon pour-off where it ends at a seasonal waterfall. Plants found in the canyon include several varieties of oak, big tooth maple, pinyon pine, madrone and Arizona pine. The deciduous trees were exhibiting some nice fall color! I found evidence of longspur columbine plants along the trail deep in the canyon. I can only imagine how beautiful they are in bloom!!

At the pour-off, the maples were turning some brilliant yellows and oranges!
Colorful Big Tooth Maple leaves

Amazing how much cooler it was in the canyon compared to the exposed desert portion of the trail!! One of the benefits of an out-and-back trail is the alternative views you experience on the way out. Walking back to the parking area, we were rewarded with some stunning views of the limestone cliffs of the Sierra del Carmen Mountain Range in the distance.

The Sierra del Carmen cliffs in the background!

It was a great hike! Hard to believe that I would come down with Covid the very next day!! I had no symptoms on Thanksgiving Day at all. Covid hit me hard and fast Friday night and put me in bed for several days!! After 3 years of avoiding the dreaded virus, I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually contract it. I’m on the mend now and furiously washing and disinfecting everything in sight! 🙂

Edisto Beach Moments

Colorful chairs on Edisto Beach house porch

Our annual family trip to Edisto Beach occurred one week later in November than normal. It meant that we missed the late-season hurricane that came up the coast but had to endure less than ideal weather from the backlash of the storm. It was cloudier and cooler than usual even by local standards. We still managed to get a couple of beach walks in and some side trips to local attractions. Our trip in photos!

Beach Time

Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall Plantation was established in 1681 by Englishman Major John Boone. It has realized several transfers of ownership over the years but has continued to produce agricultural crops throughout its long history. The current owners, the MacRae family, purchased the plantation in 1955 and opened it to the public a year later.

Oak Avenue planted in the mid-1700’s lines the driveway to house
Slave quarters for the “house” slaves – not typical. During a period in the 1800’s, brick was produced by slaves from clay on the property to be used in many buildings around Charleston
The main house on the plantation – remodeled in 1936
Fall theme throughout the plantation!
The gardens on either side of the main house are arranged in the pattern of a butterfly – visible only from above!

Mepkin Abbey Creche Festival

Mepkin Abbey was established in 1949 on the grounds of the former Mepkin Plantation. It is inhabited by Trappist monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict by devoting their lives to “prayer, spiritual study, work and hospitality.” For 18 years, the abbey has hosted a Creche Festival – displaying close to 100 nativity scenes from artists around the world. Friends of mine who live near the abbey invited us to join them for a tour of the festival. It was absolutely a wonderful experience. While most of the nativity scenes were located indoor, there were a few outside displays where I could take pictures. They were all so very unique in their interpretation of the nativity!

Georgetown, SC

We try to choose a new town somewhere within a couple of hours from Edisto Beach to explore during our visit. This year, the choice was Georgetown, SC. Founded in 1729, the city quickly became a registered port of entry allowing trading to occur directly from the city rather than all trade going through Charleston. Early on, indigo was the main crop traded in the port. Later, rice and lumber were major exports. Today, the outskirts of town are dominated by International Paper. The town itself was a surprise. A walkable downtown center along the historic Front Street with restaurants and shops is surrounded by old, well-kept neighborhoods of Victorian-style homes. The marina no longer supports large ships so the shipping industry has died here, but there appears to be a healthy population of tourists and leisure boaters enjoying the harbor.

Fun wall mural along Front Street
Harbor in Georgetown
Waterfront condos and shops in Georgetown

From the Porch on Edisto Beach

Memorial to a Friend

Tear Drops on a Rose

While visiting Edisto Beach, South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, my extended family and I visited Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. The day before this visit, I learned of the passing of a friend and former colleague. Joe Wright was a man of many talents – one of which was his love of roses. I spent some time in the rose garden at Boone Hall that day contemplating my friend and this photograph says it all.

Joe – I’m thankful to have known you.