If you’d never heard of Murrells Inlet (where we’ve been since flying in Wednesday morning), it’s quite the wonderful little place and yesterday Susan’s mom gave us a tour that included a walk around the saltmarsh, a cemetery visit, and a walk through the landmark Archer Huntington residence called Atalaya.

On the early morning stroll along the length of the Marsh Walk, we encountered not just the statue of apparent local legend Bubba Love (known as “the Mayor of Murrells Inlet”) but the man himself who’d just returned from a high-water oyster harvesting excursion and allowed us to take pictures of him as he was shoveling his susbtantial haul off his boat to be later put on today’s menu.

Among the avian specimens around the way we saw greater egrets, great blue herons, eastern brown pelicans, turkey vultures, grackles, gulls — and best of all: a bald eagle soaring overhead (click to doublify the digizoomtasticness):

eagle.jpg

Being a fan of cemeteries, the one we visited was especially enjoyable thanks to the huge live oaks growing there dramatically draped with Spanish moss. Unlike the walled-off cemeteries of Los Angeles, this one was like many found throughout southern communities: wide-open and accessible at all hours with residences situated just across the street.

Our last stop was the remarkable Atalaya Castle, the sprawling winter residence of Archer Huntington completed in 1933 (SoCal connection: Archer’s father was Collis Huntington whose nephew was Henry Huntington of the Huntington Library & Gardens in San Marino).

From there we got back with plenty of time to relax the afternoon away before an excellent prime rib dinner prepared by Susan’s mom.

This morning we’ll say our goodbyes and be off down Highway 17 southbound for Charleston where we’ll spend the day exploring that city’s remarkable history and then tomorrow tour the Magnolia Plantation before getting on a plane back for L.A.