Is there anything more excruciating than sitting through a slideshow of a vacation you did not take?
This is not a rhetorical question. Really, I’d like to know just how much discomfort I’m about to subject you to.
Because although Untamed Lowcountry is primarily about showcasing, appreciating and educating readers about the natural wonders of Beaufort County and the surrounding area, I’m going to show you some photos from a recent trip to Hawaii.
Then, because I’m the quintessence of fairness, I’ll give you a chance to retaliate. (More on that in a bit.)
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Anyway, if you’ve happened upon this blog more than once, you probably know I don’t write every entry. I’m what Internet hipsters would call a “curator” — I occasionally write, but mostly, I keep a sharp eye out for news about birds and alligators and water spouts, then bag it all up here for those with abiding interest in such things.
The problem is, when I take a vacation, little gets curated — and blogs that don’t provide regular information have a way of losing their readers.
So, to be honest, the photos I took in Hawaii is my get-off-easy way of adding enough content to keep the ball rolling until I plow through the 50,000 or so emails that clogged my inbox while I was away. Once I’ve clawed back to the top, I can get back to curating.
Besides, if you like the outdoors, Hawaii’s Big Island is up your alley. My step-daughter recently moved to Hilo, on the island’s northeastern side, and my family day-tripped from there for nearly a week, covering a little more than half of the island.
With an area of 4,028 square miles, the Big Island is larger than all of the other islands in the Hawaii archipelago combined. And with roads that are borderline rotten when you venture off major arteries, it can take so long to get from point A to point B that the island feels expansive.
In reality, the Big Island is just 92 miles across and only about an eighth of the land area of South Carolina. Yet remarkably, in that small area is a staggering diversity of plants, animals and landscapes. (It reminded me of Costa Rica in that regard.) In one direction out of Hilo, you can drive through tropical forest at sea level to a lava flow at 4,500 feet in about 25 minutes. In the other direction, you can take the Saddle Road that runs between the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanos and see desert and grasslands that look far more like Big Sky country than the tropics.
And, of course, you can see lava fields and volcanos.
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Some Big Island wildlife is familiar. We saw several species of sparrows and northern cardinals, which we have here, as well as enough feral pigs to make one of our Jasper County hunting guides feel welcomed. At certain times of year, dolphins and whales are abundant, and green sea turtles frequent the beaches.
But I left with plenty of unfinished business.
We never got over to the white-sand beaches of the more touristy Kona area; neither did we see the green-sand beaches of the island’s southernmost tip. As for the wildlife, I saw several mongooses, but those are quick little boogers, and they escaped my lens. I didn't see a sea turtle at all, although my step-son saw several while fishing the rocky shores of Hilo Bay. And I snapped a few frames of the state bird — a goose called the "nene" — but only from a distance.
Anyway, if there’s anything worse that looking at a slideshow of someone else’s vacation, it must be reading a description of that slideshow. So I’ll end this here and direct you to the gallery that accompanies this post.
Now, about your chance to retaliate.
I got to thinking about all the great travel photos submitted for our “Your Photos, Your Life” galleries. Surely, some of you enjoy photographing the wildlife in far-away places as much as I do. So, I’m asking you to go here to upload photos you would like to submit. There are a few caveats:
The photos must be of flora, fauna, natural features or natural landscapes. No photos of cityscapes or man-made landmarks, please.
The places depicted must be outside the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire, which we’ll define as the Georgia coast, and Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Dorchester, Berkeley, Charleston and Colleton counties.
Please provide your contact information with the photos — only your name will be published, though — along with a description of what is being depicted and when it was shot.
We’ll bag up these photos into a gallery, and I promise to prop my eyes open, Clockwork Orange style, and scroll through the whole thing until all weekend long.
No, seriously. I really will bag up all the photos into a gallery, but other Untamed Lowcountry readers are going to want to see this. So I’ll make sure you can see the submissions, and I’ll even let you vote for your favorites.