Author Archives: Bill Barber

My Home Murrells Inlet

This is a repeat from a post from 3 years ago. I thought some newcomers might enjoy it and others would enjoy it again.

Murrells Inlet

Murrells Inlet is my home! Everybody likes to brag about their home, and guess what — Murrells Inlet is legendary!   It’s the place where hushpuppies were invented, where Blackbeard and other pirates of the high seas stashed their ill-gotten booty. It’s the place where local and visitor alike have reported the chance meeting with one of the Inlet’s local ghosts.   History in our community began writing itself long before this area was officially named Murrells Inlet by the post office in 1913. The origin of this name remains a mystery with theories resting in passed-down legends of pirates and fishermen and incomplete records of landowners, plats and maps. 

By the 1700s, scores of pirates had taken to the high seas to intercept cargo vessels and make off with the goods.  The South Carolina coastal waters were especially productive for pirates. The coves and inlets along Murrells Inlet provided great hiding places for those marauders.

Pirates who became local legends include Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard because of his coal-black beard, and Drunken Jack, who was left behind on an island with a huge stash of stolen rum (and died with a smile on his face).

Our history includes Native American tribes, 16th century Spanish explorers and English colonists.  By the 1800s successful rice plantations were producing almost 47 million pounds of rice and were more successful than the tobacco  and cotton plantations of the Southeast.

People who summered in Murrells Inlet in the 1800s generally traveled by steamboat docking at the Wachesaw River Landing.  The river steamboats were known for excellent food. Many of the steamboats’ cooks settled in Murrells Inlet, giving the area a reputation for savory cuisine long ago.

Yep – Murrells Inlet is where I call home! If you have not ever been here, you owe it to yourself to visit at least once. Put us on your “bucket list”!

Click on any image for larger view.

 

GardenCity-Seen-across-Murrells-Inlet-web DSCF0014 Kathy2-web EgretOnFence-web

Posted in murrells inlet, Waccamaw River

Smallest Drawbridge

Somerset Bridge is a small bridge in Bermuda. Connecting Somerset Island with the mainland in the western parish of Sandys, Somerset Bridge is reputedly the smallest working drawbridge in the world.

The original bridge was built in 1620, and much of its structure remains, although the bridge was largely rebuilt in the mid 20th century. The original bridge was cranked open by hand, whereas the current bridge consists of two cantilevered half-spans, separated by an 18-inch (46 cm) gap bridged by a thick timber panel. The entire width of the drawbridge measures 32 inches. The panel is removed whenever a yacht wishes to pass beneath the bridge, allowing the unstayed mast to pass through the gap. A captain must wait for a passer-by to assist in opening the drawbridge.

On a series of Bermudian dollar banknotes issued from 2009, the bridge is featured on the reverse of the pink five dollar note, along with Horseshoe Bay and opposite an Atlantic blue marlin.

Nearby buildings often take their name from the bridge, such as a post office a park and, until October 2008, a sports club.

This image was shot during our visit to Bermuda May 2014.

Smallest Drawbridge

Worlds Smallest Drawbridge

Posted in photography

Creamed Chipped Beef

OK, this is not my normal blog post but I ran across this on www.dustyoldthing.com and felt the need to share this recipe for Creamed Chipped Beef.

Creamed Chipped Beef is a classic American dish that originated around WWII. It was (and is) an easy recipe to make, consisting of only five ingredients, and it was perfect for the times because it called for dried beef, so soldiers didn’t have to worry about it spoiling. In the Navy we called it “S*&% on a Shingle”

Dried beef is not the same thing as beef jerky or beef that’s been left to dry out; it’s a type of meat that looks like salami, but needs a little TLC to get it tasting as good as possible. That’s where the sauce in this recipe comes in. The chipped beef is cooked in a sauce that’s similar to béchamel and they each get something from the other–the salty meat flavors the sauce and the sauce gives moisture and creaminess to the meat. The perfect relationship. Creamed chipped beef is an American classic, and absolutely worth making from scratch!

Creamed Chipped Beef

Creamed Chipped Beef

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 oz.) jar dried chipped beef
  • 3 1/2 cups half-and-half (or milk or cream)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Tear chipped beef into small pieces and add it to the butter.
  3. Cook beef for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges begin to curl. The meat will release some of its salt as it cooks.
  4. Gradually add flour to the pan, stirring until a thick paste forms.
  5. Pour in half-and-half and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until thick and creamy.
  6. Cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency is reached.
  7. Toast 4-6 pieces of bread and set aside.
  8. Once desired thickness is reached, bring sauce back up to a boil and whisk vigorously for 1 minute.
  9. Taste and season with pepper (salt is probably unnecessary) and place a combination of beef and sauce over toast.
  10. Serve immediately and enjoy.

 

Posted in Food Tagged |

Oahu – the last stop

Our final stop on this fantastic adventure was the island of Oahu. Both of us had been there before; Liz for a brief visit and I was stationed there ’73-’76.  The Solstice docked early in the morning and our flight outbound was not until later in the evening. We decided to sign up for a tourist trap bus tour of southeast Oahu.

From the Hawaiian monarchy to the attack on Pearl Harbor, an exploration of Oahu’s history reflects the key influences that have impacted all of Hawaii. In 1795, King Kamehameha I led his forces in the legendary Battle of Nuuanu near the scenic precipices of the Nuuanu Pali Lookout. This pivotal battle resulted in the conquering of Oahu and the eventual unification of the Hawaiian Islands under one rule in 1810.

Seven Hawaiian monarchs followed after Kamehameha the Great. King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) permanently established the Hawaiian Kingdom’s government on Oahu. King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho) and his wife Emma’s summer retreat, the Queen Emma Summer Palace, can still be visited in Honolulu’s Nuuanu Valley today. King Kalakaua, also known as the Merrie Monarch, built the majestic Iolani Palace in Downtown Honolulu. Queen Liliuokalani was Hawaii’s last reigning monarch after American colonists overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in a controversial coup in 1893. In 1898, Hawaii became a territory of the United States.

The 1800’s were a time of great change for Hawaii. Christian missionaries became influential after King Kamehameha II (Liholiho) ended the traditional kapu (taboo) system. Many of the historic churches on Oahu are reminders of Christianity’s influence, such as Kawaiahao Church in downtown Honolulu, which was a place of worship for Hawaiian kings and alii (royalty). Soon, new commerce emerging from whaling, sugar and pineapple industries resulted in an influx of western settlers.

As agriculture boomed in the late 19th century, plantation owners found themselves in the midst of a labor shortage. Immigrants from Japan, China, Korea, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Russia and the Philippines arrived to work in the plantations. Today, this mix of ethnicities is the source of Hawaii’s multicultural population. Visitors can step backward in time to explore this era at Waipahu’s Plantation Village. You can also still see the smoke stack of the old Waialua Sugar Mill as you drive toward historic Haleiwa town.

In the early 1900’s, agriculture began to wane and Hawaii’s visitor industry began to grow. In 1901, the Moana Hotel opened on the beach in Waikiki. Today the Westin Moana Surfrider is Hawaii’s oldest resort still in operation. The Halekulani Hotel opened in 1917 as a cottage colony and was rebuilt as a luxury hotel in the 1970s. The Aloha Tower opened in 1926, and was the tallest building in Hawaii for four decades. In 1927 the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened and was nicknamed the “Pink Palace.”

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor pushing America into World War II. The surprise attack was aimed at the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy and its defending Army Air Corps and Marine Air Forces. The attack damaged or destroyed 12 American warships, destroyed 188 aircraft and resulted in the deaths of 2,403 American servicemen and 68 civilians.

In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States. Completed in 1969, the Hawaii State Capitol is located in Downtown Honolulu, behind Iolani Palace.

From the largest museum in the state, Bishop Museum, to the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, Oahu is home to numerous landmarks and significant points of interest that shed light on the fascinating facets of Hawaii’s past.

Rabbit Island away from Oahu

Rabbit Island

Waimanalo Bay Beach not like Oahu

Waimanalo Bay Beach

Waimanalo Bay Beach

Waimanalo Bay Beach

lighthouse

Makapuu Point Lighthouse

Kaluahole Channel

Kaluahole Channel

Halona Cove

Halona Cove

nuuanu pali pass

nuuanu pali pass

Lookout

Nuuanu Pali Lookout

Hawaiian Chicken

Hawaiian Free Range Chicken

Posted in Hawaii, lighthouse, photography, travel

Bora Bora and Maui

I am combining our stops to Bora Bora and Maui because our stop in Bora Bora shoud be called Poura Poura! It rained hard all day long. We did take a tender from the ship to shore but quickly saw that we would soon resemble drowned rats if we stayed. We got underway early that evening and after five sea days arrived in Maui!

The last time I had been to Maui was in 1975 and I was looking forward to going up to the Haleakala crater.  The island of Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Native Hawaiian tradition gives the origin of the island’s name in the legend of Hawai’iloa, the navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. According to that legend, Hawai’iloa named the island of Maui after his son, who in turn was named for the demigod Maui. The earlier name of Maui was Ihikapalaumaewa. The Island of Maui is also called the “Valley Isle” for the large isthmus between its northwestern and southeastern volcanoes and the numerous large valleys carved into both mountains.

Haleakala Observatory is one of the most important observing sites in the world. Lying above the tropical inversion layer it experiences superb seeing conditions and dominant clear skies. The University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy has managed this site for over 4 decades as a location for conducting dedicated astrophysical experiments. In most cases these are programs that could not be conducted anywhere else on Earth.

The Silversword is an exceptionally rare and endangered plant native only to the island of Maui and the Big Island of Hawai’i (all other occurences being introductions). Silversword is itself a very unusual plant. A very striking silvery-light-green color, this almost metallic looking plant consists of very dense rosettes of yucca type leaves that radiate out from a base. The leaves are thick and taper to a point at the ends. These rosettes can range in size from a few inches for babies to three or four feet for mature healthy adults.

However, what is really strange about Silversword is how it flowers. Silversword will live for 40 to 50 years before flowering once and only once. When it is time to flower the leaves seem to invert and bend upwards and out of the center rises a huge 4 to 6 foot stalk from which radiates hundreds of drooping yellow flowers. The entire result is something that resembles a narrow 6-foot tall mushroom – a very impressive sight. Once the plant has flowered a single time, the entire plant dies.

We left Maui late evening and set sail for Honolulu where our cruise ended. Stay tuned!

Welcome

Welcome

Park Sign

Park Sign

Silver Sword

Silver Sword

Silver Sword

Silver Sword

Observatory

Observatory

Observatory

Observatory

Crater

Haleakala Crater

Crater

Haleakala Crater

Crater

Haleakala Crater

Posted in art and entertainment, Cruise, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Maui

Moorea – Tahiti’s Little Sister

Moorea

Believed to have inspired the mythical Bali Hai from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, Moorea is one of the most scenically striking islands in French Polynesia. Despite her immaculate beauty, she is far from unapproachable. Possessing a relaxed vibe and welcoming spirit, Moorea is just as warm and inviting as the Tahitians lucky enough to call this island home.

Located only ten nautical miles from Tahiti, Moorea is easily accessible by ferry or plane from Papeete. This proximity, coupled with the island’s receptive and neighborly nature, makes Moorea a favorite destination for couples, families and even locals. Still, Moorea has managed to maintain its small island feel despite this popularity and the presence of a few internationally branded resorts.

The attraction toward Moorea comes as no surprise; the island is a geographical marvel. Eight voluminous mountain peaks rise from its translucent lagoon, creating a distinctive and rugged silhouette visible from the western coast of Tahiti. Splitting the northern shore are two symmetrical bays: Cook’s (Paopao) and Opunohu Bay. The island is roughly shaped like a heart from overhead; and in the theme of love and romance, Moorea is one of the top honeymoon destinations in Tahiti—second only to Bora Bora.

Moorea is the pride and joy of French Polynesia. She may be considered Tahiti’s little sister, but she steals the spotlight every time. The island is a true reflection of the laidback Tahitian lifestyle and the warm, welcoming character of French Polynesia and its people.

solstice

Celebrity Solstice at anchor

Harbor

Harbor view

docks

View from docks

BOP

Yellow Bird of Paradise

Bali Hai

Bali Hai through the clouds

Tiki

Carved Tiki

 

Posted in Bird of Paradise, French Polynesia, Tahiti, travel

Next stop – Tahiti

Tahiti – Queen of the Pacific

The heart and soul of the South Pacific, Tahiti is the largest in a chain of islands that make up French Polynesia. The name can either refer to the main island or the entire destination. Commonly referred to as The Islands of Tahiti, French Polynesia is a collection of 118 islands and atolls scattered across an impressive nautical surface area the size of Western Europe. Still, these tiny islands—many of which remain uninhabited—make up a total landmass of only 1,600 square miles (4,100 sq. km).

The Locale

You may be wondering, where is Tahiti? The islands are situated halfway between Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia. They are in the same time zone as Hawaii and located just as far south of the equator as Hawaii is north. Since the word often conjures up visions of a distant, unspoiled paradise, many assume them to be far away; but in all reality, Tahiti is only eight hours from Los Angeles.

The island of Tahiti is divided into two parts: The larger portion to the northwest is known as Tahiti Nui, while the smaller, southeastern peninsula is known as Tahiti Iti. Tahiti Nui is dominated by three extinct volcanic mountains including Mount Orohena, the tallest in French Polynesia; Mount Aorai, known for its incredible views; and Le Diadème, which appears to crown the island as the rightful queen.

Home to the capital city of Papeete, Tahiti is the economic center of French Polynesia. Tahiti strikes an interesting contrast to some of the more quiet, secluded islands in the region; with a selection of wonderful and convenient resorts available.

The Allure

Papeete is a vibrant and multicultural city with busy boulevards and a bustling harbor. The downtown municipal market, Le Marché, is an exciting place to purchase all things Tahiti including vanilla beans, monoi oil and colorful pareos. Just down the street at Le Centre Vaima is the Robert Wan Pearl Museum, which is a great place to start if you’re hoping to purchase a Tahitian black pearl during your stay. To live like a local, head to Vai’ete Square after sunset. This waterfront promenade comes to life at night when gourmet food trucks, Les Roulottes, open their windows to serve a range of affordable meals including Chinese food, French crépes, steak frites, fresh fish and pizza.

Recreation

Beyond the city atmosphere, Tahiti is also a scenic island with lush landscapes and large abounding waterfalls. Leave the more developed areas behind and you will find shady hiking trails, pleasant beaches and calm waters. This unique juxtaposition makes Tahiti one of the most diverse islands in French Polynesia. We recommend exploring these interior peaks and valleys on a guided hike, ATV or Jeep Safari tour.

Other popular activities include snorkeling, Jet Skiing and surfing. Experienced surfers should visit the famed Teahupo’o and bear witness to one of the world’s most intense waves. Beginners can surf or take lessons at some of the more mellow beaches around the island. You can also enjoy a day of golfing at the Olivier Bréaud Golf Course, one of only two courses in French Polynesia.

Garden

Garden

Garden

Garden

Lotus

Lotus

Ocean going canoe

Ocean going canoe

King Otoo

King Otoo

Religious Marker

Religious Marker

Ancient Head

Ancient Head

Torch Ginger

Torch Ginger

Waterfall

Waterfall

Posted in art and entertainment, Tahiti, travel

Auckland

Auckland stretches over volcanic hills, sitting between the twin Waitemata and Manukau harbours. Often known as The City of Sails, Auckland has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world. With so many bays, beaches and islands, glistening waters seem to beckon from every point.

Maori people are first thought to have settled in the Auckland region approximately 650 years ago. Auckland would seem to have been a highly sought after area due to its rich and fertile land. The name given by the early Maori for the area, ‘Tamaki’, meaning ‘battle’, would seem to confirm this.

The volcanic cones that are dotted all over Auckland became natural sites for pas, or fortified Maori settlements. Several of the best known lookout areas in Auckland, such as Mount Eden and One Tree Hill, bear the traces of these pas.

Fierce inter-tribal conflict in the 1820s led to there being little organized Maori resistance to European settlement, and by 1840 the British had either beaten or bought out (generally for a few trinkets) the Ngati Whatua tribe.

The onset of systematic European settlement can be traced to 1840. New Zealand’s first governor, Captain William Hobson, chose Auckland as the capital. Hobson decided upon the name Auckland, in honor of his patron and former commander, Lord Auckland (at that time, the viceroy of India). Many of the other place names in Auckland bear the influence of Hobson’s patron. Lord Auckland’s family name was Eden, and a great many parts of the city bear this name.

Auckland is New Zealand’s center of commerce and industry, and is perhaps the most vibrant, bustling and multicultural city in New Zealand. Auckland is the biggest Polynesian city in the world, and this cultural influence is reflected in many different aspects of city life.

Welcome Sign

Welcome Sign

Sky Tower

Sky Tower

Rocky Shoreline

Rocky Shoreline

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill

View from Mt Eden

View from Mt Eden

View from Mt Eden

View from Mt Eden

Marina

Marina

Maori Statue

Maori Statue

Bayside

Bayside

 

Posted in art and entertainment, New Zealand, photography, travel

Bay of Islands

On the next day of our adventure, we checked out of our hotel and checked on to the Celebrity Solstice to begin our cruise. The Solstice was docked next to the Sydney Opera House and as we set sail (after dark) we were able to get some nice nighttime images, one of which is shown below.

Our first stop was at Bay of Islands, New Zealand.  The Bay of Islands is a subtropical micro-region known for its stunning beauty & history. For those that love beaches and water activities, it’s paradise.

The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealands great holiday destinations – enjoyed by ‘Kiwis’ and international visitors alike. This is authentic New Zealand – both stunningly beautiful and historically significant.

With a sub-tropical climate, you can enjoy beach and water activities, go exploring one of the many nature walks, swim with dolphins, charter a boat to go fishing or to explore the 144 different islands in our bay.

The Bay of Islands was where the first European settlers arrived, and where they forged the first relationships with local Maori – not always a friendly experience! The famous Treaty of Waitangi became the founding document for our new nation, and is celebrated every year here in the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Each town in the Bay of Islands has it’s own unique culture and lifestyle – from the more up-market lifestyle focus of Kerikeri, to bustling Paihia with its focus on providing a great visitor experience, to the calming historic atmosphere of Waitangi and the Haruru Falls, and the beautiful and sometimes quirky sea-side town of Russell.

Further afield is Kawakawa with its famed Hundtertwasser toilets and Gabriel, its lovingly restored steam train. And you will gain a completely different perspective in Kaikohe, which is the farming and commercial ‘hub’ for the district and has its own Pioneer Village museum.

The Puketi Kauri Forest is a conservation estate just a few minutes by car north of the Bay of Islands. Here you can walk through our Kauri Forests looking as they did when the settlers first arrived. After the loss of much of the native bird life as the result of introduced pests, our native birds are once again returning to thrive in their natural habitat.

The Bay of Islands is a great base for exploring all of the Far North. Further west is the Waipoua Kauri Forest, home of Tane Mahuta – often described as the 2,000 year old ‘Lord of the Forest.’ You can travel north to Cape Reinga – the light-house where the Pacific ocean and the Tasman sea are in collision – the place the ‘spirits’ in Maori legend depart to return to their ancestral home in Hawaiki.

 

Next stop – Auckland!

 

Sydney Opera House at night.

Sydney Opera House at night.

Mother dolphin and calf

Mother dolphin and calf

Tourist Boat with tourists

Tourist Boat with tourists

Random cove

Random cove

Random boat at anchor

Random boat at anchor

Rugged Shoreline

Rugged Shoreline

Beautiful but ruged shoreline

Beautiful but rugged shoreline

Mother Nature at work

Mother Nature at work

Gorgeous scenery everywhere

Gorgeous scenery everywhere

More vistas

More vistas

Cape Brett Lighthouse

Cape Brett Lighthouse

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Zane Grey Hole in the Rock

Otehei Bay

Otehei Bay

Me, Liz and Makayla from Australia

Me, Liz and Makayla from Australia

Posted in New Zealand, travel

Sydney – Day Three

Our next day in Sydney was a wonderful day spent touring Sydney from top to bottom. Liz and I and two other couples had arranged a tour with Scott Ricketts. It turns out this was the best thing we could have done. Scott runs a tour business named Your Sydney Guide and you can check out his business and even arrange your own tours at his website here.

As I indicated, Scott took us to as many different areas of Sydney as we could possible fit into one day. This included a stop for lunch at a wonderful sea-side eatery.

Here are some of the sights we saw this day:

A Different view of Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

A Different view of Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

Cloudy Sydney Harbour from Fairfax Lookout

Cloudy Sydney Harbour from Fairfax Lookout

Farifax Lookout

Farifax Lookout

I had to shoot this because our neighbor loves this eatery.

I had to shoot this because our neighbor loves this eatery.

L-R Mario, Laura, Karen, David, Liz & Me

L-R Mario, Laura, Karen, David, Liz & Me

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Observatory

Sydney Observatory

Posted in art and entertainment, Australia, Sydney, travel