“I’m too foxy to eat” meet the Nile Crocodile diva at Cape Fear Serpentarium

Must see TV, entertainment it’s free for me! That’s the attitude of the Nile Crocodile, Cape Fear Serpentarium’s MVP.

We were told His Majesty is the zoo most intelligent resident. He loves to watch the weekend live feedings of his neighbor snakes.

It took some convincing but in the end the belly won and the crocodile accepted the “bribe”. Part of the show I bet 🙂

While in Wilmington visit the “The Showboat” North Carolina, the most beloved and decorated WWII battleship. It will lift your spirit!

If alligators, giant crocodiles, Galapagos turtles and green anacondas are your thing, then Alligator Adventure “The Reptile Capital of the World” is your answer. Best time to visit is April – October when the gators are “awake”.


Riverbanks “Lights Before Christmas”: Snow, marshmallows, Santa, train rides and dazzling lights magic

Every year we come to Riverbanks Zoo to experience the Lights Before Christmas. It’s a fun evening, especially for kids. The whole park is lit up, there is laughter, joy and the smell of Christmas.

Christmas Village

Christmas Village

What kids love to do at the zoo
1. Play in the “snow” and chase falling snow-soap flakes. This is as close as it gets to a white Christmas around here.

It's snowing mom!

It's snowing mom!

2. Ride the mini train. Here is the Spots and Stripes Railroad video from last summer ($2 per person)

3. Ride the Merry-go-around ($1 per kid)

4. Cooking marshmallows over the coal burning fire. You get 4 on a stick ($2)

Marshmallows Time!

Marshmallows Time!

5. Run, climb and slide at the playground. In fact that whole area is great to let your kids loose. There is also the carousel, marshmallows fire, restrooms and food stands.

Fun things for parents
1. Get a Starbucks coffee or hot-cocoa. The hut is strategically positioned right by the entrance.

2. Stay in line with the kids for a moment with Santa. It seems grown-ups are more enchanted photographing their prodigy in Santa’s lap than the children do. When asked what she wants for Christmas mine replied “A lollipop!”…now you tell me?

What you want for Christmas?

What you want for Christmas?

3. Cooking marshmallows…yep we like it too!

The Lights Before Christmas event is open till December 30 every day until 9PM (except on Christams Eve and Christmas Day). Admission is $8 adults, $6 children 3-12 and free for kids under 3. Members get a one time free entrance to the event.

Lion King at the zoo

Lion King at the zoo

Merry Christmas!

Hunley’s mystery continues…the more clues, the more questions

The H.L. Hunley submarine drama continues to fascinate us centuries after its tragic Civil War combat disappearance.

June 2011 update: Hunley comes to life!
Almost 150 years after its sinking the beloved sub is finally sitting in an upright position.

“It’s as if you are looking at the submarine for the first time,” said conservator Paul Mardikian. “Before it was more like a mass of inert metal. Now it looks like something that had a life.”

Since it was raised in 2000, the Hunley has been kept at a 45 degree angle for conservation purposes. After years of preparation and two days of small incremental rotations the sub is now sitting upright (video courtesy of The Post and Courier).

So close yet so far away…
According to Hunley archaeologist Maria Jacobsen “we are seeing some tantalizing clues on that side,”. However no breakthrough emmerged from a first look at the hidden hull. More info and new Hunley photos here.

Research shows the Hunley’s pumps were not set to bilge, suggesting the crew was not frantically pumping water out of the 40-foot sub’s crew compartment as previously believed. “There doesn’t appear to be a lot of movement,” said Maria Jacobsen, lead Hunley archaeologist. “That’s either because they were unable to move, or whatever happened, happened so fast they didn’t have time to react.”

Fascinating Hunley Facts

Operating the Hunley - State Museum replica

Operating the Hunley - State Museum replica

• World’s first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship…only to perish hours later!

• Found in 1995 it took 5 years to raise it safely for studying…“What we found was that these fellows were drowned, the bodies floated, they decomposed and slowly sank.” – Maria Jacobsen.

• Despite being submerged under water for ~150 years it had an almost intact interior including the eight crewmen remains. More than 3,000 artifacts were collected, most valuable being people’s fingerprints and soft brain tissue still present inside the skulls!

• 3-D laser mapping technologies were used for the first time in an archaeological project to reconstruct the interior at the time of the sinking.

• Hunley had 2 pumps, one forward the other aft. Normally the forward pump drained the forward ballast tank and the aft the back tank. But the men who built the Hunley “rigged the system” so either pump could control the water level in the other tank. A neat safety net that makes understanding the sub all the more difficult…

The Sinking Theories…

• The crew sat the sub down on the ocean floor waiting for a favorable tide and ran out of air.
• The explosion from the charge carried on Housatonic also damaged the sub, flooding and settling the Hunley to the bottom.
• The Canandaigua, another Union war ship that came to aid Housatonic, swamped the Hunley because its hatches were open to allow fresh air into the hull.
• Mother Nature did it…

So where do we go from here?

H.L. Hunley Submarine

H.L. Hunley Submarine

For one, take the pumps apart to figure out what was going on in the submarine. Scientists have already tried peeking with microscopic video cameras, but both pumps are filled with mud.

Some day, with the help of better technology, put the crewmen fingerprints to use. “What we can do with them we don’t know” said Paul Mardikian, senior conservator at the Hunley project.

Meanwhile you can visit this fascinating submarine at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at 1250 Supply Street (on the old Charleston Navy Base) in North Charleston. 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. Check the website for details and live Hunley photos.

You can also “play around” at its full size replica on display at the SC State Museum downtown Columbia. Admission to the museum is only $7.

In 2010, I finally got to visit the Hunley. Here are the pictures and the stories of the most amazing artifacts discovered inside the submarine.

Help solve the H.L. Hunley submarine mystery!

Columbia’s Sesquicentennial Park mountain bike trail in photos

Kids and parents come enjoy the mountain bike trail at the Sesquicentennial Park near downtown Columbia. The are 4 miles of outdoor beauty through an amazingly diverse terrain, from dense forests to desert like hills, from wide sandy paths to rocky curves that will challenge even the most experienced bikers.

Get more information and tips from this post on the Sesquicentennial Park mountain bike trail.

It’s fun, healthy, outdoor and practically free (only $2 per vehicle to enter the park). What else can you ask for?

Bikers of all ages unite in beautiful South Carolina!

Fort Sumter: Family Day Trip in South Carolina History

Located in the middle of the Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter marks the start of “The War Between the States” (as it is called here since was nothing “civil” about it), when Confederate artillery opened fire April 12, 1861. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later. Union forces would try for nearly four years to take it back.

Fort Sumter entrance signSeven millions of pounds of metal were furiously shot at it without success. Amazingly, the Confederate losses only counted 52 killed and 267 wounded. The fort suffered major destruction with the right flank wall and the gorge wall all but vanished. For the next 100 years it remains a garrison but with limited military significance.

In 1948 Fort Sumter was transferred to the National Park Service and became a national monument and a popular family attraction.

Things to know before you go
1. Fort Sumter is open year round except for New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. The fort is open 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM from April 1st to Labor Day, at other times call (843)-883-3123. Entrance to Fort Sumter is free, however you must pay for the ferry ride to get there. For more info see: Fort Sumter accessibility and visit hours.

Bridge to Fort Sumter Charleston2. You can access Fort Sumter by ferry or privately operated boats. The concessioned ferry leaves from two locations: Liberty Square (340 Concord Street in Charleston), and Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum (40 Patriots Point Road in Mount Pleasant). Tours usually depart every 2 hours and the ride takes about 30 minutes. The ferry has a snack bar and restrooms. For ticket info call 1-800-789-3678.

3. If you depart from Liberty Square make sure to visit the Charleston Aquarium; if you depart from Patriots Point, reserve 2 hours to explore the wonderful USS Yorktown aircraft carrier with its dozens of war planes, the submarine and the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum.

4. You can’t get to Fort Sumter from Fort Moultrie. Pets are not permitted at Fort Sumter or on the ferry. Pets accompanying private boaters must remain on the boat, and must not be left unattended.

Big Canons at Fort Sumter Charleston5. During the ferry ride you can capture amazing photos of the Charleston’s Harbor and Ravenel bridge, so make sure you bring your camera and plenty of batteries along.

6. Kids have fun checking out the big canons spread throughout the fort and chasing each other through the maze of tunnels.

Fort Sumter little beach

7. If traveling by ferry you will have about 1 hour to wonder around. Save yourself some hustle and bustle and conveniently get loose from the “family group” by sunbathing on the grass near the flags; you will enjoy breathtaking ocean views and can quietly soak in all the history around you.

See more family day of fun at Fort Sumter on this slideshow

Enjoy your vacation in South Carolina!

EdVenture Children Museum: In Pictures Education and Fun

At the EdVenture Children Museum in downtown Columbia, kids of all ages have lots of fun playing with all the science exhibits, driving the fire truck, anchoring the news, exploring exotic Earth places, playing with the band on TV, being doctor for the day, creating music, or just climbing Big Eddie up and down.

You can read my detailed post, for more information about the museum.

Let A Day at EdVenture photos speak for themselves: