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Work can ease the mind while exhausting the body

in Cherimie Crane/Contributors/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

There are days when I long for simplicity, joy found in unexpected corners of normalcy and moments of innocent humanity flowing through the labyrinth of chaotic days. 

Society progresses further into the technical realm while my home-grown soul retreats in thought when impossible in circumstance. 

Often I wonder how many others dream of dusty dirt roads, necessary tasks and work that eased the mind while exhausting the body.  

Old, rusty and built to promote injury, was my grandpa’s manual push lawnmower. Real wood and powerful steel wheels with the ironic stamp of “run easy” was a magnet for my childish determination. Tormenting Mississippi temperatures did little to discourage my mission.  

Humored and equally curious, my papaw would appease my quest on occasion, always proclaiming my choice of toy to be odd at best. 

Weighing at least four times my weight, standing almost twice my height and equally matched in stubborn motion, my old rusty friend and I would pace up and down the field. 

The smell of grass and the scent of accomplishment kept me going row after row. The threat of loss of limb held my attention while the proof of achievement fueled my desire to push forward. 

In retrospect, dolls would have been far less hazardous; however, the quiet cooperation between me and the torturous device calmed my busy mind and eased my restless nature. Push, pull and repeat to accomplish a goal. There was no confusing nuance, no socially unacceptable approach and certainly no reason to document my every move.

If there was an instruction manual, I didn’t need it. No motor, no noise other than the crickets and Momma constantly screaming off the porch at all the reasons I should choose dolls. 

Thankfully there was no neighborhood traffic to encourage passersby to call in concern over child labor; actually there were no neighbors. There was no political correctness to dictate appropriate age and no forum for accusatory judgment by those with more time and less will. 

Just a field, a little girl and a job that needed to be done. 

Papaw would giggle as he treated me with mason jar tea, always patting my sweat drenched hair while offering his amazement at my refusal to stop. 

Part defiance, part compulsion, I would push and pull, up and down until the grass bowed in defeat. 

It wasn’t simple to do but it was simple to understand. A task needing to be done and a tool capable of completion with a little girl that appreciated the irony in “run easy.” Sometimes I think life is easier with a simple push-and-pull. 

Cherimie Crane Weatherford, owner of SugarBelle boutique, real estate broker and observer of all things momentous and mundane, lives on Lady’s Island with her golfing husband, dancing toddler and lounging dogs.

A $20 tomato provides a lesson in gardening

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By Lee Scott

One day, a few years back, a gardener who was helping with the yard work gave me some good advice about lawns, gardening and fishing. He followed up with “you have to be really dumb to starve here in the Lowcountry.”  

He was referencing all the good vegetables you can grow and the fish available.

This year, we finally decided to plant our own vegetable garden and we discovered, we are not too smart, because we have now officially grown a $20 tomato. 

Why, you ask, would someone want to grow a $20 tomato? Obviously because we are too dumb to do it correctly.

We started with our three little tomato plants. We bought a bell tomato plant, a grape tomato plant and another kind, which for the life of me, I cannot remember. 

We bought cages for them so the deer and rabbits would not chomp on them. We watered the plants, tested the soil and we waited. But the plants appeared to have stunted growth. 

We researched the problem. We retested the soil and added tomato fertilizer.  We made sure they had enough water, but not too much. We read that we should pinch off the suckers (we didn’t have any). 

Finally, it happened. Five little grape tomatoes. They were beautiful. 

But that was it. 

Our poor little plant gave it its best, and that was all. The second plant did not even bother to produce anything. 

But the bell tomato plant finally started to grow. Out came its one lonely prize: an orange/red tomato that looked beautiful. We cut it up, sprinkled some Italian dressing on it with some fresh basil and ate it. That was all. Our $20 tomato – gone in minutes. 

The plant it came from expired from all the effort. 

I thought back to what that guy told me. What happened? We are not dumb. Our problem is that for the better part of our lives, we did not have a garden and obviously do not have green thumbs.  

Then it occurred to us: We do not have to grow our own vegetables. All we have to do is drive down Sea Island Parkway and buy any fresh vegetables in season. The gardener wasn’t talking about us doing it, but the local farmers.    

As for the fish, well, you can find places up and down U.S. 21 for shrimp and any fresh fish in season.

Yes, eating that $20 tomato was great. But as we calculated the cost of everything, we could have bought a lot of vegetables for that same amount of money. Maybe we are not so dumb after all.

To run or not to run? That is the question

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

By Bill Rauch

’Tis apparently the season for prospective candidates for local public office to make up their minds whether it’s “Go” or “No” for them in the upcoming election season.

I know this because I have heard from several who are making up their minds.

Depending upon how experienced they are and how well I know them, my advice has varied a little, but not much.

Here’s the short course.

If there’s something you believe the community needs, and you have the fire in your belly to clear all the hurdles to get it for them, then run. Tell the voters what you’re going to do for them, how you’re going to do it, why they need it, and how they can help you. If they agree, they may give you the job.

The candidates who step into office with clear direction find the job the most rewarding.

Next in line in terms of personal satisfaction are the ideologues. These are the ones who know precisely what the world needs — e.g. government spends too much, or society will be better if the poor get a firmer hand up, or the environment needs protecting at all costs — and they won’t be deterred by alternative arguments. Since ideologues know they are always right, they derive relatively little angst from the difficulties of leadership and thusly find satisfaction in it.

Then there are those who bring with them a special skill set that they believe — probably correctly — the government needs. They may be experienced in running government or in the proper protocols at the intersections of government and business. Or maybe they know from long experience the workings of state or federal agencies that implement transportation, or environmental or business development policy. 

These candidates are problem-solvers, and government can always use problem-solvers.

These are the ones, listed in the order of the satisfaction they’re likely to gain from their service, who should run. Let’s call these three groups — the directed, the ideologues, and the problem-solvers — collectively the “above the line” groups.

These are the ones who are most likely to get things done for their constituents. And, betraying my own prejudices a little, to me getting the things done that the constituents want done is what it’s all about. 

Then there are the three groups who should not run. Members of these groups will seek to disguise themselves as members of the “above the line” groups, but when you query them closely you may find you are not fooled and they in fact belong more appropriately to one or more of the three “below the line” groups.

What are the “below the line” groups? 

First, it’s important to know that their members are just as eager — perhaps even more so — as the above-the-liners.

A few of those who seek elective office do so because they want to enrich themselves. Sometimes they make a little money, but then they get found out and defending themselves often costs more than they made. Certainly it costs them their reputations. Most importantly, since it is not their priority, they accomplish little for the constituency.

Others run because they seek fame, and while they may gain some celebrity the question will soon become, “For what?”  If there’s no “there” there, then they become known as what? An empty shirt. 

Finally the most frustrated of all the below-the-liners are the ones who wish to be loved. Some of those you serve will be obsequious around you of course because they naturally — and justifiably — fear the government, and now you are the government’s face. But not all.

The stark tragedy for this group is when they meet a hundred people and 99 smile at them and say kind things, the one they remember is the one who sniffed at them.

And there are always more than a few of those.

These slights may cause these officials sleepless nights, but what about their constituents?

Getting things done in government means inevitably someone somewhere will be made unhappy. There are no solutions that benefit absolutely everybody. Accordingly, the ones that want to be loved by everybody don’t accomplish anything for the constituency. 

Ultimately they are then unhappy because someone slighted them, and the constituency is unhappy because time and again when the official was about to get something done, he flinched.

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

Retirement accounts take good planning

in Business/Contributors/Wells Fargo by

The popularity and accessibility of retirement plans has resulted in Americans holding a significant portion of their assets in 401(k)s or other employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs.  

For many, these accounts represent the largest portion of their wealth outside of their homes. 

If you’re like the majority of individuals you will likely need income from these accounts during retirement, or you may have accumulated sufficient other assets to sustain your lifestyle and wish to preserve your retirement assets for your heirs. 

An important first step in preserving these assets is to understand the rules regarding retirement plans and IRA beneficiaries to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. The rules affect who inherits the assets, how quickly they are paid out and the tax consequences. While you should consult with your tax and legal advisor for advice regarding your specific circumstances, the following provides an overview to help you get started. 

First, inventory all of your retirement accounts and make sure the beneficiary information is up to date. It’s also a good practice to designate both primary and contingent beneficiaries. A contingent beneficiary will inherit assets only if you have no surviving primary beneficiaries at the time of your death or if they disclaim or refuse the inheritance. Additionally, you can name more than one primary or contingent beneficiary and specify which percentage of the account they should receive.

It’s also a good practice to review your beneficiary designations periodically. Situations affecting designations include death of a beneficiary, divorce, marriage or the birth of a child or grandchild.  Remember, a will does not supersede your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts. 

Common beneficiary designation options include naming your spouse, a non-spouse, or an entity such as your trust, estate or a charity. Whenever possible, you may want to avoid naming an estate as your beneficiary as this requires your assets to enter the probate process.  

For married couples naming a spouse may be the natural choice, but there are other reasons why this makes sense. When an IRA passes directly to a spouse, it avoids probate and qualifies for the unlimited marital deduction. Additionally, your spouse has the option to move the assets into an inherited IRA or roll the assets into an IRA in his or her own name. Which option is better depends on the ages of the deceased and surviving spouse and when the surviving spouse may need to take money from the IRA.  This ability to roll the assets into his or her IRA is available only for spouse beneficiaries. Both spouses and non-spouses can move the assets into an Inherited IRA.  

While it is typical practice for most IRA owners to name a spouse as the primary IRA beneficiary and their children as the contingent beneficiaries, this may require the surviving spouse to take more taxable income from the IRA than he or she really needs. If income needs are not an issue for the spouse and children, then naming younger beneficiaries (such as grandchildren or great-grandchildren) allows you to stretch the value of the IRA out over one or perhaps two generations.  A stretch IRA is not a specific type of IRA, it is simply a wealth transfer method that attempts to maximize the tax-advantaged potential of IRA assets by leaving them in the IRA for as long as the law permits. Stretching an IRA simply refers to the ability to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) over the beneficiary’s single life expectancy (term-certain).

Another important point is to understand the difference between the “standard” and “per stirpes” beneficiary designation. Most IRA contracts have a standard designation where your beneficiary must be alive upon your death to inherit his or her share.  Some IRA contracts offer a per stirpes designation in the event a beneficiary predeceases you or refuses the inheritance, then his or her share would pass to their descendants, usually their children. For example, you have designated that your two children are to equally share your IRA assets. If one of your children dies before you do and you have not updated your beneficiary form, without the per stirpes designation, your surviving child would receive 100 percent of the assets. 

While this information offers you education and guidance to get started, you should keep in mind how your retirement accounts fit into your overall retirement income and estate plan. We recommend that you meet with your financial and tax advisor to receive personalized recommendations and create a plan for distributing your retirement assets that suits you and your legacy. 

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Katie C. Phifer, a financial advisor in Beaufort. She can be reached at 843-982-1506.

The no bar zone is a no man’s land

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

It is amazing how accustomed we have all become to today’s technology. 

This was the revelation I experienced when I found myself without phone and Internet connection for two days.  

We were traveling along in a boat when I picked up my phone and there in the upper left-hand corner was the message: “No service.”

How could I not have service? Don’t all those ads on television say things like: “We have the best coverage throughout the United States,” and “Never have a call dropped.” 

Not only did I not have service, I could not even make a call to get dropped.

Oh, heaven help me. I was in “no bars zone,” the 21st century version of the “Twilight Zone.”

As it turned out, we were in a very rural area and my spouse informed me that where there are no people, there are no cell towers and thus – no bars.

I wrote an e-mail to family and friends. “I am in “no bar zone. If you get this message it is only because I could receive one lonely stray bar for a moment which allowed this message to be transmitted.”

It really is astonishing how spoiled we are with our communication abilities. 

We call ahead and make reservations for motels and restaurants. We chat with people who are hundreds of miles away, as if they are next door. We can video conference, send pictures and links, and generally obtain any information.

But not in “no bar zone.” In this vast wasteland, you must relearn new skills, like talking to the person next to you, or reading a book or enjoying the scenery. You do not have the luxury of looking up the history of a country, finding out the current weather conditions or even downloading music.  

As we sat there contemplating life without Internet and phones, we decided we would just talk to one another (what a concept). 

“So,” asked my spouse, “what would you be looking up if we had any bars?”

I laughed and responded, “I would look up: ‘What do married people talk about when there are no bars?’ ”

After two days, our phones suddenly lit up. There were texts and e-mails. It was wonderful! We were connected to civilization again.  

The experience made me realize how much I love, and enjoy, all these electronic devices. But, as it turns out, the “no bar zone” can be a comfortable place to reside at times and having an uninterrupted conversation occasionally is not so difficult after all. Especially now that I have looked up “The art of conversation” on the Internet.

This is why I live in Beaufort

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by
Young Henry Futch

Photo above: Henry Futch in 2003. Photos courtesy of Diane Futch.

By Bill Rauch

Henry Futch was just 5 years old when he left Beaufort in 2004.

But the boy and Beaufort went through some tough times together, the kind of tough times that bring out the best in the best.

When Henry was 4 and in Mrs. Clancy’s class at the Sea Island Presbyterian Pre-school, his parents learned he had a rare form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. 

Initially the doctors said the cancer was just in his throat, but then they said it was Stage 3/4 because it was all over the boy’s kidneys too.

Henry’s mom and dad, Diane and Lee Futch, then Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort’s comptroller and a very recently retired squadron commander at MCAS-Beaufort respectively, moved little Henry up to Charleston to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to fight the fight. The doctors there said, “We think if he can survive the chemotherapy treatments, he’ll survive the disease.”

The fight to eradicate the 4-year-old boy’s cancer  — including sky-high chemo doses and many, many blood transfusions — went on for about six months in late 2002 and early 2003. 

“We had always gone to church and prayed before meals,” Diane Futch recalled last week, ”but this strengthened our faith. It brought our lives into perspective. Our faith brought us the strength we needed.” 

Beaufort joined in. 

One Sunday school class all reached into their pockets and pooled their change, which they gave to Henry’s mom explaining: We know how it is at hospitals, you need lots of change for those vending machines. Others brought covered dishes by, or took treats with them when they went to Charleston to check on Henry and his family.

Col. Harmon Stockwell, MCAS-Beaufort’s commanding officer, cut his comptroller innumerable breaks during this period so that she could be at her son’s bedside.

Henry was hanging in there, the doctors reported.

The Futches lived at Burckmyer Beach and their neighbors there, organized and drilled by that consummate doctor’s wife (and doctor’s mother), Sue Collins, became family. 

“I can’t tell you how the community embraced us … supported us,” Henry’s mom said last week. “I cannot imagine going through something like that anywhere else.” 

In the midst of his treatments Henry came home for Christmas. He was very weak. But as always, he was upbeat, smiling and optimistic.

Clancy’s husband, Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy, who was in 2002 a major with the department, arranged to get a police department uniform for Henry and an official-looking police ID with Henry’s name and photo on it. 

With Santa riding shotgun in his PD SUV, the day before Christmas Matt Clancy drove out the Futches’ house at Burckmyer where Santa fitted Henry out with the uniform and ID, and Major Clancy swore in Officer Henry Futch. Then the group went on patrol over to the Lady’s Island Airport where they had arranged for the PD’s plain clothes victim advocate to run a stop sign.

It was up to Officer Futch to decide whether to throw the book at the offender or give him another chance. Characteristically citing the joy of the Christmas season, Henry wrote the stop sign runner a warning.

Then it was back to business in Charleston — but now always in uniform.

Rank, as we all know, has its privileges. The Burger King by MUSC extended to Officer Futch their first responder discount, and the nurses and doctors snapped off salutes to him when they passed him in the corridors.

About six weeks after Christmas the boy turned the corner. The doctors said he was clear, and he’s been clear ever since.

Where is Henry now? On a hunting trip with his dad to mark his graduation last week from the Cedar Creek School in Ruston, La.

Set to report later this month, Henry Futch has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where by tradition he will be sworn in by one of his U.S. Marine Corps-retired parents.

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

Henry last week as he graduated from high school.
Henry last week as he graduated from high school.

Letter offers new perspective on childhood

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

While cleaning out the attic recently, I found an old box of letters written to my late mother. One letter was from her sister. My Aunt Bernadette ended the letter with “And how are the two little hellions?”  

I looked at the date of the letter: 1958. Was she talking about me and my older brother (he beat me into this world by a mere 14 months)? We were only 5 and 6! What was she talking about? I called my older sister. 

“Was Aunt Bern referring to Sandy and me?”  

“Of course” she responded, “you two were a handful.” 

Now my personal memory of my childhood was that Sandy was definitely a handful; but me?   

Then I realized that Aunt Bern would only have written the question as a response to my own mother’s letter. Yet, I do not remember either of my parents describing us that way. 

This letter has altered my perspective of my entire childhood. It is true, Sandy and I did drive our tricycles under the storm windows which were leaning against a wall.  I have scars along the back of my neck to prove it.  

We did disappear, with some cousins, picking blueberries one summer; but I only remember great pancakes the next morning, not any repercussions.  

We did make our Robinson Crusoe rafts out of the local farmer’s cornstalks. But I really would not classify any of these as the activities of little hellions.

Fortunately, for our parents, we lived in the country during the 1950s. Instead of keeping us indoors, they just sent us outside to play. We would come back hours later with filthy hands (mud pies), straw in our hair, (jumping into bales) along with an assortment of cuts and bruises.   

Looking back now, I suppose we were a handful. My parents raised eight children and Sandy and I were in the middle of the pack. Maybe their preoccupation with our siblings allowed us the freedom to explore.  

As it turns out, Sandy and I grew up to be hardworking adults (although he is still a bit hyperactive). He loves to fish, play softball and go boating. His little sister loves writing, reading and boating. 

And although he and I have not “played” together for a long time, we were lucky to have found companions with the same energy levels.  

So, during this period between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I would like to offer a prayer of thanks to my parents. I am glad you let us channel all that energy, mom and dad.  And I am glad you never told us we were your little hellions. 

Beaufort is truly the little town that could

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By Lee Scott

There is an old poem about a Little Blue Engine that was asked to pull a train up a small mountain.  

The poem, written in the 1930s, was meant to capture the meaning of optimism and hard work. The little train had toys and wholesome food for little boys and girls but it had broken down. When the town asked the big engines to help, they refused because they were too important to help the little train. 

But the Little Blue Engine decided to help, despite her small size. She said to herself, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”  

As I was reading The Island News recently about all the things going on in Beaufort, I thought of that little engine.

There are so many events and programs being held in Beaufort which one would not expect for a small town.  

The city proper only has around 13,000 residents (as of the 2015 count) and yet it puts on large events all the time. 

Think of the International Film Festival which brings in participants from all over the world. Then there are all those festivals downtown at the Waterfront Park.  

I feel like Bubba talking to Forest Gump. There’s The Shrimp Festival and Taste of Beaufort, Music, Arts and Seafood Festival; The Beaufort Water Festival; The Light up the Night Boat Parade Festival. 

Sweet Lord! How does such a small town get the energy and volunteers to accomplish all these things?

Don’t the people that run these events have other jobs? Don’t they have families? I mean even the number of volunteers in the community is limited. 

But the town is like the little engine. It thinks it can. No, it is not Savannah, or Charleston. It is just a little community; yet I could fill up every night of the week with events, programs and festivals to attend.  

How does such a small community put on so much? I think the answer lies in the old poem. It is all about optimism and hard work. The people that championed the Waterfront Park and the volunteers with the historical society are credited with the present success of the town.  

But it is the rest of the citizens that spurred these leaders along. To me, they are the main reason why the town was recognized by Southern Living as “The Best Small Town in the South” for 2017.  

And just like the Little Blue Engine said, “I thought could. I thought I could. I thought I could.” 

Taxpayers got snookered on Lafayette Street

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by
Lafayette St.

Photo above: The Lafayette Street Cottages as they appeared last week: no curbs, no sidewalks, no street lamps.

By Bill Rauch

The PALS baseball season is in full swing and the Beaufort Police Department is doing their job patrolling the parking at Pigeon Point’s Basil Green Complex.

That’s news because this year there is no parking there. In 2012, the city of Beaufort sold — no, excuse me, GAVE AWAY — the city-owned Lafayette Street parking area back in the days when the mayor’s message of the season was that the city needs “workforce housing.”

It did and still does.

It has taken five years to see the buildings go up there, and over that period there have been many excuses offered for what finally became a political fiasco. But now this baseball season with buildings on the old parking site there’s no place to park. Adding insult to injury, the buildings are not, as was promised, either “workforce” or “affordable.”

There is still one townhouse there available … for $279,500, according to the Beaufort County Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. A couple of the ones that are now under contract were sold for $300,000-plus, real estate professionals say.

The median sales price for a Northern Beaufort County home in April 2017 was $217,500, according to the Beaufort County Association of Realtors’ website.

So what do we know about what went wrong with the city’s workforce housing project that turned out to be a luxury housing project?

First, for reasons that have never been adequately explained, the city put the project out to bid and then when the bids came in they didn’t take the high bid. In doing so they left at least $50,000 of the taxpayers’ money on the table, according to people who are familiar with the project’s bids.

That’s just the beginning.

The property that was the subject of the bidding was four adjacent Lafayette Street lots, or nearly an acre, facing on a park. If the city had wished simply to liquidate the ball field’s parking area, they could have auctioned it off and gotten up to $200,000, real estate professionals say, especially considering that those bidders would have been assured by the city, as were the bidders who answered the 2012 Request for Proposals (RFP), that the four lots could be subdivided into six.  

The city took the haircut (in that they received nothing for the land, the transaction might better be described as a “head-shaving”) because its leadership thought — or at least they said they thought — they were subsidizing a workforce housing project, meaning broadly that the townhomes to be built there would be affordable for nurses, or firefighters or teachers. 

The 2012 RFP is replete, for example, with affordable housing guidelines, definitions and other related financial information.

The city clearly provided the $200,000 subsidy so that the end product would be affordable. 

But bona fide workforce or affordable housing price points would be 35-45 percent of what the Lafayette Street units are selling for.

A 2014 city press release that was bragging on the results before the final sales prices were known tells it all: “City leaders, through the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission, in 2012 sought proposals from developers to create affordable and appropriate housing on the then city-owned vacant land.” 

As the project bogged down and became increasingly embarrassing, later portrayals sought to spin the project as one that was initiated by the city’s Redevelopment Commission, but the 2012 RFP is careful to state that “Final approval (of the bids) rests with the members of the City Council of the City of Beaufort at their sole discretion.”

Apparently there were no timelines or purchase price ceilings placed on the deeds or into the final contract of sale. Or if there were, there’s been no word to date of any lawsuit to be brought by the city to recover damages based on those breaches.

The 2012 RFP also called for streetscape improvements — e.g., streetlights, curbs and sidewalks — but there’s no sign of them either.

With all the expertise that is available to City Hall, real estate professionals ask, how could the city have gotten such a simple transaction so wrong?

The taxpayers may care, or maybe they’re used to it.

But the Basil Green fans really wish they still had a place to park when they go to watch the youngsters play ball.

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

This isn’t something you see every day

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by
An elephant and a dog play in the water. Photo by Lee Scott.
An elephant and a dog play in the water. Photo by Lee Scott.

By Lee Scott

Recently, my spouse and I did a boat delivery from Beaufort up to the Chesapeake Bay. We have done this trip numerous times and for some reason, it never gets boring. 

It seems like there is something always going on like, dolphins playing in the boat wake and unusual birds sitting on the side of the marsh. Then there are kayakers, paddle boarders, and jet skis gliding by as you pass through their territory. 

No matter how many times we make this trip, something happens, and this time it was something totally unique.

I was at the helm of the sailboat and my spouse was below looking at the chart book. As I looked down the river, it appeared that a bunch of boats were gathering around some object in the water. At first I thought it was a large inflatable raft, but when I looked with the binoculars, I thought I saw an elephant in the water.

Now, I do not take drugs, nor am I on any medication, but this was unreal.  

“Uh, honey!” I called.

“Yes.” 

“I believe there is an elephant playing in the river ahead of us.”

“A what?” he asked.

“An elephant. And I am pretty sure there is a black Labrador dog on his back.”

My spouse came up from below, looked through the binoculars and casually said, “Yup, that is an elephant with a lab on his back.” (As if we see this sight all the time) 

He took over the helm and I grabbed my camera and started to take pictures. The two animals were frolicking in the water and people were everywhere laughing and enjoying the scene. 

The dog would climb on the elephant’s back, then the elephant would stand up and the dog would leap off into the water. They had this routine down well. 

I started sending texts out to my family and friends and received an e-mail from my son-in-law, Matt.  “Check out the YouTube video. That is Bella and Bubbles.”

Evidently, the two are part of the Myrtle Beach Safari.  

Bubbles was adopted as an ivory orphan in 1983. She grew from 300 pounds to 9,000 pounds and the Safari decided to have a pool built for her. 

In 2007, the contractor who was building the pool, abandoned a little puppy at The Preserve. Before long, the two became close buddies.  

If you get a chance to see the video check the two out playing ball. And if you happen to be traveling down the Intracoastal Waterway and see an elephant and dog in the water, don’t worry. It is just Bella and Bubbles. 

To see a video of the two, Google “Bella and Bubbles.”

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