Sunday, April 26, 2015

Landing Brave - March 13-14, 2015

I wake in the morning knowing this is our last day in Florida,  I will miss without question the sunshine and warm riding days we have enjoyed. I throw my leg over the saddle and follow Andy back to Kidani for one last look at the little lion cubs and to kiss their rosey cheeks farewell.  We are off by noon waving goodbye from the van window to all the "cast members" at Kidani. With bikes in tow behind us I soon shake off the blues of saying goodbye by focusing on our next stop, Charleston South Caroline.

Reaching our destination is an all day ride. With the sun already set  we decide to find Landing Brave, the next Whispering Giant on my list, before we settle in so we have a game plan in the morning. We follow the GPS diligently. It points us to the historic Charles Towne park entrance at which  we are notified that it closed at sundown. We proceed anyway. No one stops us. The trees now but black silhouettes against an even darker sky sway in the breeze. Their moss covered branches looking like the strips that slap against your vehicle in a car wash. Left right, left right, left right. My skin begins to prickle.  It's very eerie and the winding path seems endless. 

We finally emerged into a spacious parking lot, but still the GPS directs us until the van can no longer follow. With GPS in hand and set to walking mode, we follow a service road to a grassy area surrounded by a split rail fence. Our eyes adjusting to the gloom we both see the Giant simultaneously, pointing in unison. We swing our legs over the fence, and gingerly and with great stealth slip over to Landing Brave looking over our shoulders for signs of life; mostly of the badge and gun toting kind. We are in the clear. 

With our small and trusty LED flashlights we look Landing Brave up and down. We scan the perimeter in the beam of the LEDs looking for a way in for Blaze. We see a paved path at the far end. Andy suggests that maybe there is a way in along this path so we go for a look. We walk along this path for a few moments when I realize there are small signs posted in the grassy area to the left and right. I stop and point the light at one of the small signs. "African Burial Ground" it reads. I'm frozen to my spot for a moment. My skin is now so goosebumped I could sand a plank smooth. We both decide it doesn't feel right or respectful and make our way back to Landing Brave. Before I cross where I shouldn't I flash the light on another sign "Wild Animal Refuge". Now I'm really out of here.

Back over the split rail, we decide that if we get back early enough in the morning, we can park Blaze near the split rail at the end of the service road and get enough of a photo to suit the contest requirements. We call it a day and head for the motel.

In the morning we do arrive before the park officially opens. We pull up near the service road, and with daylight in our favor are able to see more clearly the landscape around us. Nothing is open yet, but we see a grounds keeper and approach him. I tell him about the contest and ask if there is a way in through the walking path. There is, but at this hour the gate is locked, and he doesn't believe we'd be permitted. I ask about the posted signs for the burial grounds. He tells us that at one point a plantation stood on this spot. Just before the old woman who owned it turned the property over to become a park, she hired some boy scouts to clean up the place. This was back in the 1960's. The boy scouts did a fantastic job, including pulling up at disposing of all the burial markers of the plantation slaves who were buried there. This hallowed ground now has unmarked graves, but is represented by the posted signage we had seen in the dark. 

With that still weighing on my mind, he then points us to the wild animal habitat area and the surrounding fence. "I don't know how" he's saying, "but one morning I came here and a 12 foot alligator had made if over the fence and was wandering around the enclosure." My eyes are saucers at the thought of me stomping around in here last night. 

After our unscheduled guided tour by the grounds keeper, we finally ask if pulling the bike up near the fence along the service road will be OK. It's OK with him, but if anyone else asks, he never talked to us. With that authority, we got Blaze off the trailer, took her photograph with Landing Brave and back on the trailer before the park  officially opened at 9:00 am.

You can just barely see the statue behind Blaze. Look just above the saddle.

Commemoration Plaque

Landing Brave

With several more Whispering Giants along our route we depart Charleston. The weather has other ideas. The sky darkenes and torrential rain begins that would follow us back to New England. There would be no more Whispering Giant visits this trip.  Snow and sleet begin pelting our windshield just as the "Bienvenue" to New Hampshire sign comes into sight. Bienvenue indeed!


SonjaM said...

It looks like all good things must come to an end. I am going to miss the whispering giants. Thanks for taking me along on your trip. I very much enjoyed it. said...

Have no fear! I have a few more Whispering Giants on my list to visit. I expect to travel to one next weekend if the weather is favorable. Thanks for the comment, and check in again soon.