Glorious sky

It is against lots of quide lines as how to compose a photo, but this all about the glorous sky. I captured these shots from a moving car.

Tybee Island

From the cemetery we were off to Tybee Island and another lighthouse. Tybee Island Lighthouse we only saw from the outside.

Significant events in the history of Tybee Island: During the Revolutionary War, Tybee was the staging area for French Admiral D’Estaing’s ill-fated 1779 “Siege of Savannah”, when combined multinational forces attempted to defeat the British held Savannah. During the War of 1812, the Tybee Island Lighthouse was used to signal Savannah of possible attack by the British.

Tybee Island light station

1958 two U.S. Air Force planes collided in the air and one of them had to dumb a nuclear weapon (hydrogen bomb). The lost weapon, known popularly as the “Tybee Bomb”, remained a security concern for several years, although the Air Force claims the bomb lacks a nuclear capsule and does not pose a serious threat.

On August 17, 1960, eleven African-American students were arrested on Tybee Island at Georgia’s first wade-in protesting the Whites-only public beaches. The commemorative plaque of the wade-ins can be seen by the Tybee South Beach. The plaque was installed only last year, 62 years after the event.

The weather was quite windy in Tybee and therefore we sat for a while in one of the swings by the dunes.

Later, we walked along the pier and watched the fishermen. One of them caught a small stingray. Unfortunately, the stingray got the hook stuck very deep inside of it. The fisherman was holding the sting with pliers while the bait shop keeper was trying to pry the hook with other pliers, without success. Eventually they had to cut the fishing line and the shop keeper took the stingray in his shop to be killed.

Walking on the beach we got some nice shots that I will post in an other post as this is already overloaded with them. These photos are shot with both of my cameras and also some are with mobiles.

And that was that. Soon we had to start thinking about driving back to Boynton Beach, Florida. It was a seven hour drive with one stop in Daytona Beach exit to get gas and eat at the Popey’s Chicken Restaurant, which proved to be nice surprise.
The traffic was fairly heavy once again but we were able to maintain an average speed of 75 mi/120 km, by following our friend Bob’s advice – stay in the pack. Go too fast and you’ll get a ticket and if you go too slow, you’ll get honks from the horns and you’ll cause hairy situations.

Savannah – Old Time Trolley Tours

After breakfast we took the Old Time Trolley Tours Hop-on Hop-off busses. We were able to use our hard-earned vouchers from Hilton Head Island ��. The tickets were $51/person, so I felt like a winner. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the Ghosts & Graves Tour. There was so much to take it during the tour – old historic buildings, squares and parks and the bus drivers/tour guides were such a wealth on information. We rode with three different guides, and some parts of the tour were the same, but the stories were a little bit different according to the guide. The most entertaining driver was an African American woman named Red . She was a barrel of laughs. All her stories were in a told tongue-in-cheek style, but I have no doubt they were all true, all the same.

First hop-off at the Forsyth Park were we also had lunch in the café. The park had plenty of artists and Jehova’s Witnesses. Luckily the JW people don’t bother you anymore on the street. I guess they have different approach nowadays or they save the push tactics to home visits. There was a filming of another tv-program or movie on the way in one city block.

Didn’t see any famous actors. Quite a few movies have been made in Savannah and guides pointed out, for example, where the bus-stop for Forrest Gump was situated and renowned Six Pence Pub on Bull Street is where Julia Roberts’ character and her on-screen husband play out a significant film scene in Something to Talk About.

Can’t forget the Mercer House, the home of songwriter Johnny Mercer, where the events for the 1994 novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt and the movie by the same name by Clint Eastwood, happened. I’m not going to list all the historical buildings or places where we stopped but needless to say Savannah is a true Southern Belle.

Needles to say these are just some of the beautiful old buildings in the city.

Hilton Head Island

Driving from Charleston to Hilton Head Islandille took us couple of hours. We set the navigator to Coligny Beach. We barely got out the car when a trolley driver, Zanden, offered a ride to the beach, which happened to be only 200 meters from the parking lot.
We hopped on and right away Zenden started asking if we would be interested in having a vacation costing only like 20 dollars per night. I smelled time-sharing and told him that we are not interested. Then he asked where were headed and hearing Savannah he offered free city tour and Ghosts & Graves tour for two, if we were willing to hear Palmeras Resorts sales pitch. So, we ended
up going, knowing full well what was ahead of us.

So we went to see a condo close by with the sales person Taquian once she had done the surveys of us and told us the rates – $29,900 for 60 months. After the tour of the condo, she asked if we were interested, and we said – no. Then she had to ask
for her boss to come and ask the same question. And the answer was still the same but only the boss could sign for our Savannah Tour vouchers. They claimed that about 20 percent of the people that listen the sales pitch sign up. I very much doubt it.

Anyway, after about waisting 90 minutes of our time we got the tour vouchers in a envelope that read Mr. Sillauwaki. I guess it’s understandable to turn letters n and m upside down if you have dyslexia or something?

Eventually we made it to white sands of Coligny Beach. The beach was very easy to walk because close by the water the sand was quite hard. By the beach there was a bar that had an excellent three-piece band. At first, I thought they had a female singer because one of the voices was so high tuned.

Beach Band
Please do not walk on the dunes

Sand fencing collects windblown sand to create new dunes and the beach plants help hold the new dune in place with their roots.Stay seaward of the fences and don’t store or leave anything in the sand fence area.

  • Dunes provide important storm barriers that protect upland property from the effects of wave energy, and can store storm water in the troughs between the dune peaks to minimize flooding. For these reasons, we need to protect our beach-dune system and encourage the formation of new dunes.
  • Many of our native species have habitat which is only found in dune fields including dwarf live oak, prickly pear cactus, sea oats, six-lined racerunner lizards and Spanish bayonet.
  • Our beach and dunes provide important wildlife corridors that can get animals from one end of the island to the other without crossing roadways.
Harbour Town with its light house

Next stop on the island was the Sea Pines area. It was sort of a gated community and you had to pay $9/car to get in. It was worth the visit because the area included Harbour Town with its light house and the Heritage Links Golf course. I not a golfer, so the world-famous 18th hole of the links meant nothing to me but the view from light house to the 18 th hole was nice.

Last pit stop in the island was at Salty Dog Cafe in Sea Pines Beach.

Charleston – Shem Rock Boardwalk

The lovely Shem Rock in town of Mt. Pleasant. Had a late lunch at Tavern & Table by the creek and prepared ourselves for the sunset. We walked along the Shem Creek Boardwalk, the boardwalk is a total of 2,200 feet long, it offers panoramic views of the marsh and Charleston Harbor to catch the glorious sunset.

The sunset was lovely changing colors depending were you looked, from warm tones to cooler ones the later it got from the sunset.

Charleston – Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge,

Later in the afternoon we drove over another spectacular bridge, Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, to Shem Rock in town of Mt. Pleasant. Had a late lunch at Tavern & Table by the creek and prepared ourselves for the sunset. We walked along the Shem Creek Boardwalk to catch the glorious sunset. I will post these photos in the nexrt post as this is already an overload of images.

The Arthur Ravenel Jnr Bridge was opened in 2005. The bridge, which stretches gracefully across the Cooper River. The bridge is the tallest structure in South Carolina and the longest stayed bridge in the area. It, connects the Mount Pleasant Towns to Charleston and was designed to withstand natural disasters like earthquakes, and hurricane winds, as well as incorporating two diamond-like concrete towers. With the sunset as a background the bridge looked great as did the sunset.


Because we only had one full day in Charleston, we had to get busy in the morning. Having booked a sightseeing tour the previous night, we had couple hours in the morning to cruise the city. First stop was Philadelphia Alley in the French Quarter, one of the beautiful historic alleys in Charleston. According to legend the alley was a popular place for duels, and it was once known as
Duelers Alley. Legend has it that that at least one dueling victim still haunts the alley. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any ghosts or anything paranormal. We saw a tranquil and beautiful alleyway with nice yards, cobblestone and old brick warehouses.

Our tour started at 11 am and what a wealth of information that was. I tried to jot down few notes of the most memorable things I heard but I must confess I missed most of it. Somehow, only interesting stories stick to my mind and not facts itself.

Charleston has over 400 churches, the most of any city in the USA, of quite few different denominations. Reason for the multitude is that early on if you rounded up seven or more people, you could start your own church and build on the land the city gave you.
Charleston is full of iron gates, fences, etc. Iron works on your house were the marks of wealth. They don’t let you forget the bricks made in Boone Hall Plantation that a lot of old houses are made of. Four million bricks were made at Boone Hall yearly during slavery. One of the saddest places was Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Dylan Roof committed his heinous mass murder few years back. Roof killed nine people after the service but left one person alive, so the person could tell others that this sick person wanted to start a race war. He was given the death penalty and because of the forgiveness of the church and the city, no race war was started, or any violence was instigated.

Luckily for all of us the city of Charleston is very well preserved, and the Preservation Society of Charleston will keep it that way. If the house is 75 years old or older it can not be torn down or as they like to say here: Cannot be taken down by hand of people, only by hand of god. And not just houses are preserved but cobblestones, sidewalks, lamppost and old stepping-stones to
help you to cling on carriages. And you can’t renovate your old house by yourself. You have to have it inspected by the Society, that will also decide who can do the renovations. Also, tall buildings are not allowed. A certain church steeple sets the height limit.
Because of the aforementioned rules historic Charleston is and will stay a very beautiful place to visit.

The tour took us through the famous Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. My first sight was two cadets halfway running. It looked funny. At some point they were almost walking and then they speeded up once again. I just thought that they we in a hurry to get to the class. Then our guide told us that the freshman cadets or so-called gutter rats are not allowed to walk on the sidewalk, and they were not allowed to walk at all, but they have to do double time. Citadel was all male college until 1995 when Shannon Faulkner was able to enroll after a successful lawsuit. The suit alleged that the Citadel, which received state money, was “denying her equal protection under the Constitution”. The reception for her was not the best when she entered and she had to be escorted to Citadel by United States Marshals. During the so called “hell week” Faulkner suffered a heat stroke and eventually dropped out citing emotional and psychological abuse and physical exhaustion. However, she won the lawsuit and now women comprise approximately 9% of the Corps.

Another historical tidbit that stuck to my mind was the story of single houses in Charleston. During colonial times the inhabitants found out that traditional rowhouses did not work out because they were storing heat and the summers in South Carolina coastline and hot and humid. The idea for single houses was copied from the Caribbeans. Single houses were constructed to according to direction of the southernly winds that are blowing in the area. The houses are well-suited to long, narrow lots which were laid out in early Charleston. Although not a part of the earliest single houses, later buildings had two- and three-story porches,
known locally as piazzas, added. Houses had hospitality doors. They were social signs for neighbors and friends. If the porch door was propped open, it meant that the family inside was ready for you. If the door was shut – stay away.

In front of the Museum of Charleston we saw the replica of submarine H.L Hunley, that the South used in the Civil War. Hunley looked very small, but guide told us that the replica is, surprisingly enough, actually too tall. The replica was made before they found the actual submarine in 1995 and the boat was not lifted up from the sea until 2000. I know people were shorter and smaller in those days, but it was amazing they were able to fit eight men into it. And the boat only had oxygen for 2 hours. What is more amazing how they were able to find men to go into that death trap in the first place. And not only one crew. During two test rides 13 out of 16 men perished and during the only actual war mission all 8 died. During the only mission they were able to sink USS Housatonic with its crew of 155 men. Only 5 of those 155 died, so H.L. Hunley killed 21 of they own and only 5 of Northern troops.

Charleston was famous for its slave trade. 48 per cent of the slaves came through and was sold in Charleston and that comes to total of 250 000 slaves. The biggest slave plantation was Magnolia. Nine of the wealthiest persons of the colonies lived in Charleston area. The first shot of the American Civil War was shot by and cannon from Fort Johnson to Fort Sumter in 1861.

The bus tour lasted only 90 minutes we had plenty of time to drive around the historic downtown. First stop was Waterfront Park and the famous Pineapple Fountain. Afterwards we learnt that the Pineapple Fountain was only built in 1990 but to us it looked like it belonged and had been there for ages. Pineapple represents hospitality. American sailors would place the pineapple outside of their door to show that they had safely returned. In Charleston the woman hung the pineapple from the door to show that her husband had returned. Maybe to show the other gentlemen callers not to bother for the time being?

After Pineapple Fountain we took a nice break in the White Point Garden in The Battery and droveby the Rainbow Row.

Later in the afternoon we drove over another spectacular bridge, Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, to Shem Rock in town of Mt. Pleasant. Had a late lunch at Tavern & Table by the creek and prepared ourselves for the sunset. We walked along the Shem Creek Boardwalk to catch the glorious sunset. I will post these photos in the nexrt post as this is already an overload of images.

The Palmer Home (Pink House) in historic Charleston is one of the Holy City’s most iconic mansions, frequently photographed and often depicted in paintings of the grand homes along the Battery. Built between 1847 and 1849 by John Ravenel, a wealthy merchant and president of the South Carolina Railroad Company, the home remained in the Ravenel family until 1953.

On the way back to the hotel we visited the city center once again. The center was very easy to navigate even in the dark without the navigator because it has been built into a grid. Naturally because it was off-season the traffic wasn’t bad either. Sometimes the one-way streets caught us off-guard but the clear grid saved us.

Next stop Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall Plantation in Mt Pleasant was founded in 1681 when Englishman Major John Boone came to Charleston area. Major Boone was quite respected and he was elected to the colonial Grand Council during the 1680s, but was removed twice because he illegally trafficked enslaved Native Americans, became associated with pirates, and concealed stolen goods. However, having slaves in general was no problem, as we have learnt from history books.

The Grand Avenue of Oaks that was first planted in 1743

The house on the plantation the third of its kind, built in 1935 and not your typical antebellum house. But the plantation is one of the oldest plantations still in operation having produced agricultural crops for over 320 years. Much older are the brick slave cabins located along Slave Street which date between 1790 and 1810. Only nine cabins are left. Some of the bricks from cabins that have not been saved were used to build a serpentine wall for the main house.

Talking about the bricks! By year 1850 the slave laborers were able to produce 4 million bricks on a yearly basis. Most of the historic buildings in the historic downtown of Charleston were built from the bricks of Boone Hall and Fort Sumter, as well. Not that we saw any, but the fingerprints of these workers are still visible in the bricks of many of these historic sites.
The agricultural tour didn’t go too much into slavery or anything unpleasant but some anecdotes made you wonder how hard living for the slaves must have been and the life expectancy must have not been too high. Times have changed but it still makes you wonder how that was even possible and did the owners ever think this is not right?

Unfortunately photographing was not allowed inside the house and the second floor was completely off-limits, as well. However, the stories presented by the guide were very colorful and entertaining. John Stone the man who had the latest house built liked to entertain he had many famous visitors to his big parties, like the composer George Gershwin, if my memory serves me right?

Driving into the plantation couldn’t be more beautiful with the grand Avenue of Oaks that was first planted in 1743 and completed by the in 1843. The avenue consists of 88 live oak trees and one magnolia.

When we arrived the the sky was still blue and the avenue was in totally different shade than when we left, the sun had already started to set and the avenue turned into beautiful yellow and orange tones. I took so many photos and trying to choose the ones I liked best was hard as you can see from the amount of photos I have here.

January probably wasn’t the best time to visit when you think about the surroundings. The Avenue of the Oaks might have been even more beautiful if the Resurrection Fern would have been in bloom. But you can’t do anything else but to love the Spanish Moss hanging from the trees. It gives the plantation or any surroundings such a lovely and eerie backdrop.

Even though arriving late afternoon we were able to manage to take part of house tour and the “agricultural tour”, meaning the tour of the grounds. Boone Hall Plantation consists of 738 acres. The landscape includes areas of cultivated, seasonal crop fields, preserved wetlands, creeks, and ponds. Boone Hall is still very active operator in the area in not only caters to tourists, but they
organize many events to locals as well, for example, Halloween events. In the beginning the main products of Boone Hall were indigo (used for coloring the uniforms of British troops), rice and cotton. The production of cotton was discontinued in 1880 because the plantation could not compete with other plantations that were using machinery.

The cotton dock on the river had been rebuild lately.

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively who were married at Boone Hall Plantation in 2012. Ryan Reynolds have regretted having the wedding there because of the historical reasons.

Driving from Boone Hall towards Charleston during sunset was treat. We hit a traffic jam but on the other hand taking pictures of Wando River and Don N. Holt Bridges became much easier. Especially Don N. Holt Bridge provided a nice back drop for the orange sunset. Driving across the bridge we experienced very familiar smel,l to us Finns, like rotten eggs. And sure enough we saw a paper mill. Later on, I read from online news that the mill has become one of the dirtiest polluters in the United States since being acquired by an investment group led by Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots football team. Go team!

St. Augustine

Unfortunately we got to the town center after 5PM so we did not have much light time to take photos of the buildings, also there were so many people around that getting a shot was a challege. This is clearly a tourist area with lots of shops and restaurants and bars in these old buildings.

The 29th Annual Nights of Lights was still going on so the there were plenty of lights. Our stop in was quick, one night only so we did not see all that much of the city. We ended the evening looking at the moot at Castillo de San Marcos

You can’t stay in in St. Augustine without visiting the Castillo de San Marcos, “St. Mark’s Castle”. It is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. The construction started in 1672 and finished in 1695. The fortress is made of coquina stones.
The fort was declared a National Monument in 1924, and it was deactivated in 1933 after 251 years of continuous military possession.

St. Augustine Lighthouse

Hardly a day goes by without checking out a lighthouse. So, before going into the historic city of St.Augustine we hit the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The climb to the top was exactly 219 steps. The view was spectacular.

The first lighthouse or should we call it a watchtower was built in 1589 by the Spanish colonials. Sturdier structure replaced the wooden tower in 1737 and it was made or coquina (shell rock) and wood. The current lighthouse was finished in 1874.

Lighthouse Keepers house was worth visiting, also, with its historic displays. It was early January so the Christmas decorations were still there, not really my thing, so they limited a bit of what I photographing as I did not want seasonal photos.

We were told that you could get the best shot of the lighthouse from the pier, unfortunately due to the backlite the shots from the pier did not turnout the best, but I understand that during an other time of the day that would have been the case.

My husband Mara Sillanmäki provided most text

The Society of the Four Arts

The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach garden, Florida. Such a lovely spot to take a break, I don’t think a really appreciated all the different gardens- or to be honest noticed them, but it was a lovely spot to visit. See some art. There were several people there reading, stretching and drawing and just sitting in the shadows of the pergolas

.Originally designed in 1938, the Botanical Gardens are demonstration gardens that educate residents and visitors about the diversity of plants that thrive in South Florida’s climate. The gardens are divided into themed spaces that reflect popular architectural and planting styles in the area: Chinese Garden, Fragrant Moonlight Garden, Palm Garden, Bromeliad Garden, Jungle Garden, Spanish Facade Garden, Formal Garden, Tropical Garden, and Madonna Garden.

My favorite was the Chinese garden and I found the statues and art to be lovely.

The different areas of the garden were lovely also even if it was winter.

There were several statues in the garden I took photos of some of them.


The first day of out holiday to US we were in Florida and went to visit Wakodahatchee wetland park.

We were already at the Wakodahatchee Wetland (Delray Beach) just after 10am. We toured the Boardwalk and saw e.g. four alligators enjoying the sunshine, great blue heron, egret, wood stork and double crested cormorant, and tricolored heron and a turtle. The birds were reportedly preparing for mating and nesting, the woodstocks were very active making the nest but otherwise it was a pretty lazy day for the animals.