Brookgreen Gardens- Part 2

Ah, where was I?  Brookgreen Gardens, 9,100 acres of stunning beauty, so much so that it takes two posts to cover things, and I’m not even giving you much more than a glimpse.

Because the gardens are so large, we spent most of a day there, arriving early in the morning and leaving much later in the afternoon.  After our stroll through the gardens,

we took a break and ate a picnic lunch under the trees.  Why I didn’t decide to take pictures of that area, I’m not really sure.  I think I’ve gone through some stages with my photography over the years, I suppose like any hobby, everyone does that sort of thing.  If you didn’t, then it would get old and stale.  I used to take pictures of everything and everyone; when we came here, though, I think I was more focused on getting the shot of whatever flower or butterfly, forgetting to document our actual presence on the trip itself.  That said, I did take a few shots of us along the way,

(look at those missing teeth…this photo makes this trip seem like forever ago– how do they grow up this fast?!?)  as well as shots of some things that happened to us.

For instance, we didn’t eat our lunches alone.

Now, anyone who lives on the coast is used to seagulls on the beach– Finding Nemo‘s seagulls were pretty much dead-on accurate in my opinion.  And anyone who visits a park where the squirrels are used to daily rations of people food (ahem, SC State Capitol building) know that they’ll try to share your lunch with you whether you want them to or not.

But cardinals?

While you’re still at the table?

This guy was brave, and he wasn’t alone.

The bread was bigger than he was, but he took it.

I don’t know how long he actually kept it, though, since there were other larger birds lurking in the trees.  Again…no pictures of that.  I guess I wasn’t thinking about telling a story when I shot these.  Funny how that’s changed over the last year.

After lunch, we headed to the other side of the park where the zoo and butterfly house are located.  We decided to start with the zoo.

It was warm– late July, almost August– and Viv, who had started the trip out fresh,

was wilting a little at this point, but she was still in pretty good spirits.

Again, where does the time go???  She wasn’t even one yet, and now she’s running all over the place counting and singing.

Okay…where was I?  Oh, yes, the zoo.

You get to the zoo from the main parking lot by taking a stroll down some paths.  This one, in particular, ran past the farm animal area (if I recall correctly– it was a year and a half ago, you know).

The barn there and its fair share of spiders,

and farm animals.

The usual.

Then you walk through a series of areas highlighting different types of flora and fauna, one of which was the swampy, snaky, reptile area.  Notice the lack of pictures of that area.  I walked through it as quickly as I could and waited on the other side of the gate, bouncing on my toes.  Something about the lack of glass cages for the sakes and the one that was swimming on the water towards me that made me a little more than nervous.  Needless to say, have fun viewing that one for yourself.  No pictures here.

Now, this fellow wasn’t exactly behind glass, but there was plenty of space between him and us.

We were fortunate to come along when we did, because it turns out that it was his lunch time, too.

One of the keepers stopped by with a nice juicy rat for him,

and he was ready.

When he was finished– it didn’t take long– he went on his happy way.

The alligator had company during all this.

Wonder what he was thinking.

Further into the zoological area were the aviaries.  This eagle had a hurt wing.  I cannot remember if they were nursing it or if it was unlikely to heal.  [EDIT: Looking at their website, it looks as though he’s part of their rehabilitation center.]  Hurt wing or no, though, these are impressive birds.

There were other raptors, as well.

And owls.  Lots of owls who (ha ha) weren’t in cages.  For instance, this fellow was right off the path.

After the zoo area, we headed for the butterfly house.  I wish I’d taken some shots of the house itself, a large metal building– sort of a barn-like structure if I remember correctly.  Only a few people are allowed in at a time, and  they are super strict about behavior in there– not that my bunch is wild or crazy, but even we got the stink-eye once or twice.  Understandable, though, since the butterflies are so delicate.  If you’re a good person who isn’t used to being treated like the bad kid in class, you have to remember to take the gruffness with a grain of salt.  They’re probably used to having to rule with an iron rod.

The butterflies, though….

They were everywhere,

and they were more than happy to provide photo opportunities for everyone.

The hardest part was making sure you didn’t step on one– some of them blended right in to the background.

And others wouldn’t hesitate to land on you, if provided with the opportunity.

The butterfly house was filled with some of the most beautiful flowers.

After the butterfly house, we wrapped things up with a self-guided audio tour of the low country trail that told a story about what things may have been like for someone living and working at Brookgreen when it was operational as a plantation.

I no longer recall much of the story, but the views were breathtaking, with outlooks allowing you to stop and contemplate  nature for a moment.

And there seemed to be something new

around every corner.

Even the insects were impressive.

If you have the opportunity to visit Brookgreen, I cannot recommend it enough.  There’s so much to see and do.  My only suggestions are that you bring plenty of water, hats, and sunscreen.  You can eat in the park, either bringing your own picnic or eating at one of their dining establishments.  I’ve not eaten at one of those, so I cannot say much about them– there are three, and you may find more out about them, including menus here.  Since the ticket is good for seven consecutive days, I imagine you could leave for lunch and then return, if you wanted.

For events occurring at the gardens, you can check here.

As for me and mine, we hope to return there sometime soon.  It’s really a trip worth taking.

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