Bad girls at sea…the amazing story of Mary Read, Anne Bony and Calico Jack

John Calico Jack Rackham was an English pirate who ravaged the Caribbean shores at the end of the Golden Age. His nickname stemmed from the colorful calico clothes he wore. He is famous for being the only known captain with female crew members and for his skull and crossbones Jolly Roger, nowadays most popular piracy symbols.

Brave blood thirsty ferocious women sailors privateers

Ladies of steel, Mary Read and Anne Bonny


Calico Jack met Anne Bonny in the port of Nassau, in Bahamas. Although Anne was married to an informant for the British government, the two quickly heated off and ran away, thus committing adultery and also voiding Jack’s pardon.

One day, Calico Jack captured a Dutch merchant vessel and its crew that counted the incognito Mary Read.

Mary “Mark” Read was an illegitimate child from England, similar to Anne who was an illegitimate child from Ireland.

Her mother would dress her like a boy to obtain financial support from Mary’s paternal grandmother.

As a teenager, Mary ran away and joined the army, where she fell in love with a soldier. They married and opened an inn in Holland. After her husband died Mary decided to dress like a man and venture at sea.

Not knowing she was a woman, Rackham welcomed Mary Read aboard his ship to join his crew. Anne Bonny started to have feelings for Read.

Fierce female pirate in the 18th century

You should not mess with Mary!


Legend has it that Mary revealed her gender to Anne by exposing her breasts.

The two women became fast friends, and according to some sources, lesbian lovers as well.

Rackham, become jealous and threatened to kill Read. He reportedly burst in the cabin once, finding them partially undressed.

Others say that actually Mary fell in love with a male crew member. Her love was so intense that she defended him with her own life by killing another man in a duel.

Captain “Calico Jack” made a career of plundering small vessels close to the Caribbean coastline. This boldness proved to be his undoing. In the fall of 1720 he cruised near Jamaica, capturing many small fishing boats, and terrorizing locals along the northern coastline.

“Come up, you cowards, and fight like men!…”
Jamaican Governor Woodes Rogers (a former pirate himself!) ordered the capture of Rackham’s ship and crew. The drunken sailors retreated to their cabins after the British soldiers boarded the ship. Mary Read, Anne Bonny, and one unknown pirate stayed on deck attempting to fight off the attack.

Pirates of the Caribbean in 17 and 18 centuries

He died like a dog...hanged, tarred and gibbeted

Mary Read was enraged by the drunken cowardice of the crew and fired her pistol into the cabin, killing a shipmate.

After a mighty struggle, the British officers overtook the crew and brought them to shore to be trialed for piracy.

At Calico Jack’s trial, Anne Bonny was asked to testify on his behalf and she told the court: “If he had fought like a man, he need not have been hanged like a dog.”

Rackham was hanged at Gallows-Point in Port Royal on November 18, 1720. His body tarred, hanged in a cage, and gibbeted on display at main entrance to Port Royal, presently known as Rackham’s Cay.

“Mi’lord, we plead our bellies”
Anne Bonny and Mary Read escaped execution by claiming they were both “quick with child”. Mary died of a terrible fever during childbirth. Anne disappeared from all historical records, spurring much speculation regarding her fate. Some believe her well-connected father bailed her out of jail, and she moved to America and had a family. Others say she returned to piracy.

Captain Charles Johnson putted best in his book: “What has become of her since, we cannot tell; only this we know, that she was not executed.”

Ready to plunder the high seas? Go to the SC State Museum downtown Columbia and enjoy the blockbuster Pirates, Privateers and Buccaneers exhibit. It runs till January 2011!

Updates at Riverbanks Zoo: newest attractions, rental and food prices (what’s fun to do in Columbia)

This post is a follow up to my previous article on Riverbanks Zoo I wrote back in March. Three months later it’s worth noting Great photo with the train the zoo’s newest attractions and prices updates, especially on food.

Those of you new to the blog or just recently moved into town, Columbia Riverbanks Zoo is THE family attraction in the city.
Rain or shine, from spring to winter, this is the place to be if you have kids, or a bunch of relatives visiting for the weekend. For moms it’s the best and most affordable “baby-sitter”.

Things to know before you go

1. The most popular thing kids want to do now is riding the new “Spots and Stripes Railroad” miniature train located near the farm (where the pony rides used to be…don’t worry the ponies are still going strong at the zoo, just moved across the little bridge. It’s also 1 buck more ($5)). The train ride is $2 for EVERYBODY onboard (unlike the merry-go-around where only the child fare is paid). There are only 3 carts and lines to get in get very long quickly. My advice is to do the ride as soon as you get to the zoo, and if possible, early morning. The rides go from 10 AM to 4:30 PM.

2. Next thing kids love to do is watching the SpongeBob 3D movie. This is $2 (children under 5 get in for free) and it runs every half an hour. The movie is pretty lame and only lasts for 20 minutes (you do get to keep the glasses)…but hey I’m not the intended audience 🙂 My 4 years old daughter saw it twice already. Girls enjoying the cooling fans However there is something interesting to see inside the theater: the rat moles exhibit. The baby rat will put on a show as you wait for the movie to start.

3. The cooling fans spread throughout the park, although not an attraction per say, it’s the zoo’s best idea ever in these hot Carolina summer days: The ones by the bird show cabin are just irresistible. Babies, kids, parents and grand-parents come here to catch a well-deserved break. Also two thumbs up for the one by the playground near the carousel.

Admission Fees
• Adults $9.75
• Children (3-12) $7.25; under 3 get in FREE
• Military (with ID) $8.50
• Seniors (over 62) $8.25

Safari Bucks

You get 10 for $8. They are only sold in sets of 10, good for 6 months and are accepted at all retail and food locations (beware they will not give change back to the safari bucks).
• Pony rides 5 bucks
• Train ride 2
• 3D theater 2
• Carousel 1
• Giraffe and lorikeet feeding 1

Kenya Cafe summer prices

Snacks
• Small popcorn $2.25
• Pretzel 2.50
• Nachos 3.25
• Cotton Candy 3
• Peanuts 3
• Medium drink 2.50
• Dipping dots ice-cream cup 4

Stroller Rentals
Require $5 deposit and there is 7% sales and use tax on top of rental price
• Single 6 bucks
• Double 9
• Wheelchair 6
• Wagon 11

Happy Safari at the Riverbanks Zoo!

“I feel lucky!” gem hunting fun at Cowee Ruby Mine in Franklin (things to do with kids near the border and Foothills Trail)

Unleash the “Indiana Jones” in you and go hunting for rubies, sapphires and even gold in Franklin, NC less than an hour drive from Oconee State Park, Caribbean-like Lake Jocassee inside Devils Fork State Park and the adventurous Foothills Trail. Who knows you may be the next “romancing the stone” star!

Tips to know before you go

1. Stop at the Visitors Center in Franklin to get the free “Guide to Rockhounding” little brochure with a map and summary description of all the gem-mines and shops in the area. Showing off the prizesIt really helps plan ahead and will save you time and headaches.

2. Whichever mine you decide to visit, if you have little kids, avoid the drama and get the “enriched, sure find” kid-friendly bucket. It provides them with a rainbow of big and colorful stones they’ll be eager to show off later. At these mines the rubies and sapphires are very small in size and quite dull looking. I almost threw one away, luckily the guy at the flume alerted me about it (and saved my “fortune”!)

3. If you got to Franklin after a long drive and need to unwind stop by the nice Big Bear Park playground on the Little Tennessee River Greenway. It’s conveniently located off of Hwy 64, and allows children to relax before (or after) the big hunt.

Here are the highlights and the customized Google Map with some of the gem mines

Cowee Mtn Ruby Mine and Shop – this is where all these photos are from.
• Free admission. Opened daily 9 AM to 6 PM from March to December 15.
• Free mining Getting mining instructionsinstructions and stone identification;
• Gem cutting and mounting on jewelry for extra price.
• $5 for dirt bucket; $10 kid souvenir bucket
• The whole thing goes by pretty quickly. We finished in about 15 minutes (we got the souvenir enriched one)
• More info at www.coweemtnrubymine.com or by phone (828)-369-5271.
Address 6771 Sylva Road Franklin, North Carolina 28734

Jackson Hole Gem Mine and Gift Shop (not the ski resort!)

• Likely the mine with the most scenic location: on Hwy 64 near the Cullasaja Falls and the locals’ favorite rock-sliding and swimming spot.
• Claims to have cleanest mine around “ free from the red clay mud”
• Open all year around
• $10 for the 5 lbs bucket
• Custom mount in 14k gold or sterling silver jewelry
• More info at www.jacksonholegemmine.com or by phone (828)-524-5850. Address 9770 Highlands Road, Highlands, NC 28741

Sheffield Mine

• The most famous (featured on the Travel Channel) Huge ametist inside the shop at Cowee and one of the few native mine in the area. It’s also the most crowded. Likely you will need to wait in line to get your turn. Better be there early.
• Open daily 10 AM to 5 PM from April thru October. Last customer for native mining is accepted at 3 PM (it takes 2 hour to do the real thing)
• $15 admission ($10 for children and seniors) includes 2 starter buckets. Group discounts available (requires advance notice)
• More info at www.sheffieldmine.com or by phone (828)-369-8383. Address 385 Sheffield Farms Road. Follow the driving directions as noted on their website.

More Area Attractions

Highlands Botanical Garden, arts and crafts and Playhouse Theater

Gold panning (and gem mining) at Gold City Mine located between Franklin and Sylva. May be too tedious task for younger kids.

• Waterfalls – Issaqueena, Whitewater, Table Rock, Raven Cliff, Bridal Veil

• Dillsboro Great Smokey Mountains Railroad – Fun themed train rides

• Dupont Forest State Park – easy access to waterfalls and hiking trails

Happy and lucky mining in western North Carolina!

Durham Life and Science Museum is THE undisputed family weekend gateway in RTP area

Rain or shine the fun is divine at the Life and Science Museum in Durham, NC. Cloud Machine When I lived in RTP that was our weekend Thing-To-Do. My little one learned about tornados, space shuttles and earthquakes before she did her ABCs. We spent hours outdoors exchanging funny faces with the lemurs, trying to spot the cute black bear cubs on the TV camera and getting wet from head to toes at the water pumps.

Highlights
• See how it feels like inside a real Apollo space capsule
• Train ride on a scale replica of the historic 1863 Huntington locomotive
• Start up a 13-foot tornado
• Stare at the live Gigantic Fox 6 foot wingspan bat
• Wonder at the “Play to Learn” learning and interaction area for infants and toddlers.

Tips to Know Before You Go
1. Go visit Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday to avoid the big crowds. Playing drums The busiest day is Saturday followed by Wednesday when Durham county residents get in for free. Best to visit in the morning (museum opens at 10 AM) when it’s cooler, there are less people around and the kids will be less cranky. The animals are usually more active as well.

2. Start your visit outdoor with the Wild Animals exhibit or the Train Ride and work your way to the front. Leave the indoor exhibits last; the building is air-conditioned so you can go there anytime. Besides most visitors get stuck in there and rarely make it outside.

3. If you live in the Research Triangle Park get the membership; it pays for itself after few visits and you will not find a better entertainment in the area.

4. The Grayson’s café has great selection including plenty of healthy food choices. There is a covered patio if you prefer to eat outside (or you have rambunctious kids :-))

Example Day Schedule (worked well for my toddler girl):
1. First thing get on the train ride to get that out of the way

2. Tour the zoo then cool off at the duck pond and let kids chase around the fake tadpoles. If needed pit stop at the restroom.Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles...
3. Turn around and have lunch at the Grayson’s café. Visit the Butterfly House (never get tired to watch some skin-crawling worms!). Most people herd around the tropical exhibit showcasing butterflies and hummingbirds. That’s nice for the first few visits. The real action is in the giant cockroaches’ room.

4. Say Hi! to all the farm animals. My favorite was the cow listening to classical music and Lana loved “talking” to the wild turkey.

5. Spend half an hour at the Loblolly playground. You get to rest, maybe read something, while kids are busy making friends at the sandbox or trying their acoustical skills at the drums station.

6. Go home if kids are acting up; otherwise get indoors to checkout the interactive exhibits. Required stops at the bubbles station, cloud machine and the balls gravitation exhibit.

7. If an extra person is around go to the 2nd floor. Here we try unsuccessfully to build an earthquake-proof machine (my husband is convinced otherwise…but it got to last for at least 15 seconds!) and we snap sounds from outer space. Building an earthquake proof structure I always get mesmerized watching the giant ant colony at work with their intricate society, distribution of labor and astonishing teamwork.

8. By this time we are all at each other throats so is time to say goodbye. If you’re lucky you can avoid a trip to the museum store otherwise settle for some stuffed animal most likely the dog will end up playing with.

Best for infants and toddlers
“Play to Learn”, train ride, sandbox and drums, “Carolina Wildlife” and the outdoor “Explore the Wild” zoo.

Best for young kids
Apollo Space Capsule (this is the real thing), the 13-foot tornado and earthquake simulation exhibits, the Farmyard and the Magic Winds Butterfly House.

Best for older kids
All the interactive physics exhibits on the 2nd floor, like landing on the moon and outer space radio communication. The water pumps at the splashing zone and being a boat captain “Catch the Wind” a 5,000 sqft sail pond.

Where
Durham Life and Science Museum Toddlers in the sandbox outside Admission fee is adults $10.85, seniors $8.85, children ages 3-12 $7.85 and for children under 3 is free. Military personnel $8.85. Train rides are an additional charge of $2 per person.

The museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, except on Sunday when is from noon to 5 PM. After Labor Day, museum closes on Monday to the public (members can still get in).

Here are links to the museum exhibits, current events, an indoor map and the Google Map to the museum location.

Let your imagination run free at the Life and Science Museum in Durham!

Fun and affordable weekend activities with kids in and around Charleston

Here is a 2010 updated list with some of the most interesting things to do with children while visiting Charleston. At least that’s what I found to work best with my 5 years old daughter for the past three years.

Free activities

1. The Waterfront Park is the most popular place for kids to splash around. Here you can enjoy fantastic views of the Charleston Harbor, have a nice picnic, read a book or just relax after touring the city.

Waterfront Park splashing fun

The best free family entertainment downtown Charleston

2. Folly Beach is Charleston’s most romantic getaway located close to James Island State Park.

The main attraction is the breathtaking, 158 feet tall Morris Island Lighthouse. Built in 1872-1876 the lighthouse now stands hundreds of feet into the water and is undergoing erosion control and stabilization efforts.

Isle of Palms Conch Prints
Isle of Palms is a family oriented beach near Mount Pleasant.

Nearby are the Isle of Palms County Park with its awesome zip-line equipped playground, the historic Fort Moultrie and the magnificent World War II USS Yorktown aircraft carrier.

3. Fort Moultrie – heroic Revolutionary War battles, ingenious Palmetto trees defense system, intriguing WWII radio communication and incredible vistas of the Ravenel bridge.

2009 update there is now a $3 admission fee for adults, still free for kids.

4. The South Carolina Artisans Center in Walterboro –
See traditional and indigenous folk art and contemporary crafts from over 240 of the finest South Carolina artists. The center features educational exhibits, craft demonstrations and live performances by artists. This is a great opportunity to introduce children to art and to shop for standout gifts.

5. Self guided tour of Charleston’s most outrageous murder scenes, famous ghost sightings and unsolved mysteries (you may want to this at daylight only!)

$10 and under activities

1. Charles Towne Landing – birthplace of Charleston and South Carolina. Clothing in the late 1600s - Charles Towne LandingHere you can play archeologist for a day, tour the Historic trail featuring The Adventure, a 17th century trading ship, the Legare House and the Horry Plantation ruins. Watch buffalo, puma and black bears at the Animal Forest natural habitat zoo and keep an eye on alligators roaming freely throughout the many ponds in the park.

2009 update – Here are all the fun activities the kids can enjoy inside the park, including a tour of The Adventure and a wild stop by Pillory and Stocks!

2. The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry (CML) – Let your imagination run wild at this everyday party land for kids and parents who like to act like kids! The museum is close to the Visitors Center and Charleston Museum.

3. Edisto Island State Park: take the night beach walks to spot Carolina’s most famous reptile the loggerhead turtles nesting and hatching along the shores. Discover the thousands years old Spanish Mound and visit the Interpretive Center for a live show on native marine wildlife.

While in the area stop by the Edisto Island Serpentarium ($12.95 adults, $9.95 children 6-12, free for those 3 and under) to see enormous alligators, giant turtles, venomous snakes and feisty lizards in their natural habitats

4. My 2009 favorite, the American LaFrance Fire Museum in North Charleston.

Fire simulator at LaFrance Fire Museum in North Charleston

Fire rescue simulator at North Charleston Fire Museum


Drive a real fire truck, slide down a fire pole, learn how to prevent fire in your house and check out the country’s largest collection of LaFrance fire trucks.

5. The Cypress Gardens and Swamp – The “No Mesquitoe swamp” home to many famous films like “The Patriot”, “North and South”, “The Notebook”, and “The Yearling”.

Just for kids: Butterfly House, Aquarium, Reptile Center, Crocodile Isle and Aviary, and even a small replica of an inland rice field.

6. The Charleston Museum – Play pirate, dress-up in colonial clothes and see the incredible skeletons of a right whale, an extinct Carolina crocodile, a giant leatherback sea turtle and the 2nd largest bird to ever fly.

Adults will love browsing through an extensive Civil War collection of pictures, artifacts, letters and original documents. It’s not the America’s First Museum for nothing!

7. The Audubon Swamp Garden at the Magnolia Plantation – Enjoy

Spring love at the Audubon Swamp

Spring love at the Audubon Swamp

one of the most diverse ecosystem in America, a mysterious black water cypress and tupelo swamp garden.

There are boardwalks, dikes and bridges that allow you to observe a variety of birds, mammals and reptiles in their natural habitat:

Bald eagles and red-shouldered hawk, blue herons and white egrets, rabbits, otters, turtles, snakes and alligators.

Touring the swamp takes about 1 hour, more for the nature enthusiast. Best time to observe wildlife is late afternoon.

$15 and under activities

1. Fort Sumter – Witness the start of the Civil War. For nearly four years, seven millions pounds of metal were furiously shot at it without success. Watch out for Daniel Hough’s ghost, an unfortunate Union soldier.

2. USS Yorktown – World’s most imposing military aircraft carrier during WWII. USS Yorktown
With the admission ticket you can also visit the Clamagore submarine, the award-winning Congressional Medal of Honor Museum and the Laffey destroyer.

Most popular Yorktown attraction is the Fighter Jet Simulator.

3. Hunley Submarine – the Confederate submarine built to help break the Civil War blockade and the world’s first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship.

4. Magnolia Plantation – Enjoy thousands of beautiful blooming flowers and plants

Walk and bike path under old oak trees

Walk and bike path under old oak trees

in the oldest and most famous public gardens in America!

Kids love digging for dinosaurs bones, petting donkeys and horses, winding through the maze and spotting alligators, turtles, egrets and snakes.

Here is a customized Google Map with great family attractions in and around the Holy City that are either free or cost less than $10.

The Hunley Submarine mystery and replica operation video (things to do in Charleston and Columbia)

To this day we don’t know what happened to the H.L. Hunley, the Confederate submarine built to help break the Civil War blockade. We do know it disappeared on the night of February 17 1864 after it sunk the Union ship the USS Housatonic (the world’s first submarine to do so in combat!)

If you are visiting Columbia you can see a full size replica at the SC State Museum downtown. Of course, nothing beats the original, which can be admired in Charleston at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center (here is a Google Map with the location). Tours are offered Saturday from 10 AM – 5 PM and Sunday Noon – 5 PM. Tickets are $12, seniors, military and members pay $10, and kids under 5 get in for FREE.

Hunley submarine replica

While in the area and you’re hungry for more military adventure go visit the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. It has dozens of “little” war planes waiting for you to play with!

Interesting Hunley trivia
-Built in Mobile Alabama and hauled by train into Charleston
-Operated by 9 crewmen from one extraordinarily tight room…truly seating like sardines
-Prohibited to travel underwater by the Confederate commanders after 13 crewmen died in two accidents
-Reached the amazing speed of 2 knots in calm waters!
-Its observation ports had to be kept above the surface for the pilot to navigate.

Inside Hunley sketches at the State Museum

Let your children experience our country history in amazing South Carolina!

UPDATE!

Check out the latest clues uncovered at the Hunley recovery project. It’s about the sub bilge pumps!

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Out of “what to do this weekend” ideas? How about taking the kids to Jumps N More where they can safely burn energy bouncing and jumping and running around? It’s only $6.

Brookgreen Gardens photos (educational things to do with kids)

Take a sneak peak into Brookgreen Gardens, located between Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island and about an hour drive from Charleston, featuring the world’s largest outdoor collection of sculptures by American artists. For aproximately the price of a movie ticket you can enjoy for 7 consecutive days the amazing sculptures, exquisite gardens, the Lowcountry zoo and much more.

Get more information and travel tips at my previous post on Brookgreen Gardens.

That’s a family outdoor recreation, art and history children education definitely worth shouting about!

Learn the Lowcountry history and enjoy the beautiful South Carolina outdoors!