I never realized when I first signed onto the CompuServe Online Service back in 1994 that it would change my life as dramatically as it has.  I did not realize how "real" online relationships would be for me, and how they would change how I lived my life – and sometimes become an integral part of my "Real Life"

Back then, we didn’t go onto the “internet”, per se, but remained within the “walls” of the CompuServe community, which consisted of various forums, or interest groups one could join.  One had an email address where you could communicate with others outside of the CompuServe service, but, at that point the percentage of people who had email was so small that my correspondence was basically reserved for those I met within the walls of CompuServe.  I also remember that in the very beginning one had to pay extra for emails above a certain amount – – and it was precious few per month – like maybe 30.  (Or was it 60?  Even that is not so much)  So — leaving for the internet, or communicating with others outside of CompuServe was not something I did.  One also had to watch one’s online time as you were charged by the minute.  So much has changed since then:  high speed internet instead of dial up, flat rate services for online use, much more use of graphics – – and more.

I cannot believe how many wonderful people I met through these forums despite the limitations of that system, though I didn’t see it as a "limitation" then.  As I type, I’m trying to count how many I actually met in Real Life, and have lost count.  I didn’t stay in touch with EVERYONE – yet it astounds me how many friends remain, and how close some continue to be!  My best friend, Claire started out as an online CompuServe friend, but has crossed over to be more of a "Real Life" friend, as we visit with each other several times a year, and a percentage of our communication has moved to cell phone.  After CompuServe sort of "gave up the ghost" (well – a part of it still exists, but it’s only a shell of it’s former self), I moved on.  In 2001, I began a blog on Live Journal, joined interest communities there, and have met a nice group of “blogging friends”.   More recently, though maybe not to the same extent, the same thing happened at “Flickr” which is where I upload my photos, which brings me to the point of this entry.

In the fall of 2008, just prior to returning to Hilton Head from Long Island, someone from Flickr discovered my photos – and, more importantly, that I lived in Hilton Head part of the year.  She, too, is from Hilton Head, and she contacted me, and we met for coffee.  It’s been wonderful to have a friend here – especially a friend who loves photography as I do.  She’s about my age (well – – maybe a little younger…), and many of our get-togethers end up to be photo shoots, where we go out to beautiful spots in the area specifically to take pictures.

She’s new to the area, too.  However, she is more adventurous, and has explored a lot more of the area than I have.  She has introduced me to a few wonderful spots here on the island, one of which is Fish Haul Park, located on Port Royal Sound, which, ironically is not far from where I live, but I didn’t know of it’s existence – nor did I know how to get to it.  At the time she lived near the entrance – and could walk there any time she wanted.  Last year, she invited me twice to come for some sunrise photography.  In all honesty, I’m not much of a morning person, but after those two photo shoots, I should become one.  It’s amazing what I miss because I’m sleeping through such beauty:

This is Fish Haul Park at sunrise – 5-8-09 – on a photo shoot with my Flickr Buddy :)  This will give you a clue to the beauty of our walks.

However, a few weeks ago, we went back, but not at sunrise.  Because wildlife tends to be more active at dawn and dusk, there may not have been quite the amount of photo ops of egrets and herons, but it was pretty, though different.

1.  The vista of Fish Haul Park as we walked onto the beach.

2.  The most interesting piece of driftwood ever!

3.  This is a fallen tree.  Not sure where it had been growing originally, but it has clearly become beach “drift wood”.  However, one can see the remnants of root system here in the picture

1.  Ah!  I found a Great Egret.  I crept closer to him … taking pictures as I did….

2.  Finally, however, I scared him, but got lucky and got a shot of him as he flew away.  Love that wing span!

3.  A Great Blue Heron hiding in the beach grass.

I’m writing this so late at night – and I need my sleep.  It’s probably why I’m not much of a "sunrise person".  But – I think I’m compelled to write because I’m itching for more outings like this, and have been missing out on them.  Writing about it is the next best thing!  Our weather this winter has been rainy and cold (well – – cold for here….!), and we have found precious few days when we can get out.  We have (hopefully) one more cold snap coming, then I think – – hope – – spring will arrive giving us more photography days.