While traveling on long car trips, my wife and I listen to audiobooks to help pass the time. Over the years we have listened to many good books. I personally enjoy books written about places I have visited and books set in the vicinity of the South Carolina lowcountry. We recently listened to a book titled Bull’s Island by Dorothea Benton Frank. Ms. Frank has written many books set in the lowcountry such as Folly Beach: A Low Country Tale, Low Country Summer, and Return to Sullivan’s Island to name a few. Bull’s Island centers around a wealthy lowcountry family who covertly acquired a 5,000 acre barrier island north of Charleston, SC with the help of a U.S. Senator who altered the language in a funding bill so they could purchase this island that was originally given to the federal government for a wildlife refuge. They plan to develop this environmentally sensitive island into an enclave of extremely high end housing units and amenities that can be purchased for sale in the millions. Dislike among families reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, intrigue, and old secrets keep family members estranged for years only to have those secrets revealed in the end.
I mention the Bull’s Island book because we recently spent several days in Myrtle Beach, SC and returning home we passed the turn off for the Bull’s Island ferry along Rt. 17 about 15 miles north of Charleston, SC. We decided to follow the story lines in the book to the Garris Landing in Awendaw, SC that serves as the boat landing where the Bull’s Island ferry embarks and as the site of several fictional environmental protests described in the book. The ferry runs on a limited schedule depending on the season. Be sure to check the schedule in advance so you are not disappointed to find it is not running on the day you visit.
While the book is pure fiction as far as the plot goes the adventures one could have by visiting Bull’s Island are numerous. As part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Bull’s Island is one place we have put on our bucket list to visit. The 30-minute ferry ride includes an introduction into the wonders and history of this fascinating place. This uninhabited refuge boasts 16 miles of trails, 7 miles of coastline, and a place called “Boneyard Beach”. Boneyard Beach is a three mile stretch of beach littered with weathered oaks, cedars, and pines that reminds me of a stretch of beach on Jekyll Island, GA called Driftwood Beach that has hundreds of oaks and pines that have been weathered to a light gray by the sun and saltwater.
According to a volunteer we spoke with upon our arrival at the boat landing there are over 2,000 alligators on the island which covers over 5000 acres. He said it was the second highest concentration of alligators in the U.S. According to a brochure we picked up, Bull’s Island has been called the “Galapagos of the Eastern Seaboard” and “is managed for the protection of endangered and threatened species”. The island also is the second most significant nesting location for loggerhead turtles north of Florida. The volunteer said they had identified and covered with netting over 500 nesting sites this year.
While space is limited you can also immerse your self into the islands ecosystem by booking a 3 day – 2 night stay at the Dominick House This is a 1920’s era manor house with six bedrooms, a kitchen, showers, and a large gathering room. Your stay will include 3 days of guided tours by the Naturalist, low country cuisine, viewing sunrises at Boneyard Beach if you are an early riser, and plenty of time to relax. The volunteer told us that they are already booked for 2018 so I guess this is an adventure you must plan a year in advance, but it sounds like it is worth the wait.
As my wife and I continue to travel we will listen to more books about the lowcountry and those written about places that will inspire us to visit. Have you started your travel bucket list? If not, what are you waiting for?