Thanks to Phil Leventis of Sumter for sharing a look at something special in Beaufort.
Leventis retired last year after serving 32 years in the state Senate. At the Statehouse, he became good friends with the late Harriett Keyserling, a longtime state representative from Beaufort, and her son, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling.
The former fighter pilot and retired brigadier general served in the Air Force from 1969 to 1974 and the South Carolina Air National Guard from 1974 to 1999. He volunteered to serve in Operation Desert Storm at age 45, leaving his wife, four children and an exchange student at home. He flew 21 combat missions over Kuwait and Iraq and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. During his service, he amassed more than 3,600 hours of flying time, mostly in the F-102, A-7 and F-16.
"I thought your readers might be interested in my letter," he said. "I often travel around the state and beyond. I always take note of the places I enjoy, would recommend to others and intend to revisit. That is what this letter is about."
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"A GRAND PLACE"
By Phil Leventis
I visited Beaufort recently for professional pilot training with my friends Doug and Bonnie Carmody. I was in your fair city for several days. The training was great as usual. The food and Bay Street were wonderful, as usual. But this time, I found something new, which is the reason I write.
I discovered the Spanish Moss Trail. What a grand place and a wonderful reason to come back to visit soon.
I saw the trail as I was driving down Allison Road, and it piqued my interest.
Later, I accessed the trail from Rising Tide Road and walked the entire trail north of there. I walked up to the Beaufort Bookstore and got a book on CD, which I listened to on the way home in my car.
I really enjoyed the old train service building toward the end, near Hermitage Road. Some of the old fittings for the doors are wonderful to look at. It's so heavy gauge and sturdy. The (Depot) building almost speaks for itself. You don't need a lot of explanation.
It was particularly pleasant passing other folks on the trail -- ladies walking, a father and his daughter jogging and a lady taking pictures of her two boys, a baby and a toddler, as she tried to hold on to the family dog's leash.
The highlight of my day on the trail was crossing the bridge near Ribaut Island at sunset. I sat on the bench and watched the sun sink below the trees across the water and marsh. It would be worth your effort to walk the trail just to see this grand sight, but you must plan to be there at just the right time. In my case, it was just luck that I was there at sunset, but it is a view I will always remember.
Thanks to all those in your community in government and in the private sector who had the vision to create this wonderful place for your citizens as well as visitors. I know I'll be coming back with my wife to show her the Spanish Moss Trail.