Exploring Chappells

One my posts that seems to get the most hits and generates the most discussion is the one on the Ghost Towns of South Carolina. In that post I mentioned that probably weren’t many true ghost towns, but only near-ghost towns — towns with a dying city center, but a thriving community around it. Monday … Continue reading Exploring Chappells

From Buzzards Roost to Chappells

Saluda River Paddle-24

With the long weekend I felt the need to hit the water. The challenge was to find a paddling venue that was relatively close, doable without killing the entire day, and not over-run by Memorial Day crowds. We found the perfect location on the Saluda River, below the Lake Greenwood Dam.

Our plans were for an 8-mile stretch of the river from Buzzards Roost at Highway 34 to the Highway 39 bridge at Chappells. I was a bit concerned about river access. I knew there was parking and river access at Buzzard’s Roost, but I couldn’t find any info about Chappells. All my resources indicated that it would be a throw-in, at best. Fortunately, Dave was able to do some advanced scouting, and concluded that it would be a challenge, but doable. We decided to go for it.

Dave, Alan, and I rendezvoused at Alan’s house early Monday morning and we headed on down. Our first stop was at the take-out at Chappells. A steep, rutted dirt road lead down to the river, and it looked like there was adequate parking, assuming one had four-wheel drive and could get down the initial hill. The bank down to the river did look steep, but not insurmountable. We decided to put all of the kayaks in my truck and leave Dave’s Land Rover at the take-out.

The shuttle for the trip was only about 3 miles. While the road goes east-west, the river takes a deep dip southward. Before we knew it we had arrived at the Highway 34 bridge and the area known as Buzzards Roost. The dam forming Lake Greenwood was completed in 1940 and was referred to as the Buzzards Roost Project. The name has been around much longer than the lake, but I haven’t been able to find any history on it. Continue reading “From Buzzards Roost to Chappells”

Balloon Chasing

Freedom Weekend Aloft Balloons-8

Memorial Day means Freedom Weekend Aloft is in town. This is the 29th year of the festival, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been around that long. We decided we would head down this evening and see if we could spot some of the balloons.

FWA started out as a July 4th holiday, and was held at Donaldson Center. It kept that venue and time slot for many, many years. Either because of expenses at Donaldson, declining attendance, or whatever, it was moved to Anderson for awhile. Then its date was moved from Independence Day to Memorial Day, and the venue moved to Heritage Park in Simpsonville. It seems to be doing very well on this date and location.

There was to be a mass ascension between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm, so we headed on down after an early dinner. We didn’t want to get mixed up in the crowds, nor did we want to pay a park entrance fee just to watch the balloons. After a bit of driving we found lots of folks in the parking lot of Bryson Middle School, and that’s were we set up shop, too.

It wasn’t long before the balloons started to appear above the trees. Some went up very quickly, others, just sort of skimmed the tree line at a leisurely pace.

Freedom Weekend Aloft Balloons-6 Continue reading “Balloon Chasing”

iPad – First Impressions

Our district purchased several iPads for special ed and for our ESOL teachers. I’ve had one for a week to put it through its paces and see how it might work, and how we might design some staff development. I can see the educational benefits of iPads in the classrooms, and I’ve seen some excellent results form kids working with them. However, from a personal standpoint I’m still conflicted as to whether I really like it, and how useful it might be compared to other options. Since I already have a netbook, Kindle, and iPod Touch, the device just seems redundant. Personally, I probably wouldn’t buy one, but if I didn’t already have these things, would it be a good choice? My very first thought was that it was just an overgrown Touch.

New iPad

Coming from a laptop/netbook experience, my first impression was that the shortcomings of the iPad are numerous…

  • No USB connections
  • No easy way to transfer files
  • No real GPS functionality for maps
  • NO FLASH!!

…and lots of other pesky problems that prevent it from doing what I think it should be able to do. The lack of Flash is especially bothersome, because it prevents me from using slide shows on Flickr, and even using the admin screens of this blog effectively. Aviary.com won’t work at all on it, and Google Docs is a real bother. Continue reading “iPad – First Impressions”

Rapturous Music

I’m falling a bit behind in my blogging. I would claim that it was, indeed, another busy weekend with concerts, birthday parties, family illness, and all the other things that go into keeping a person hopping. Actually, I thought about giving up blogging all together since the world was supposed to end last Saturday, but … Continue reading Rapturous Music

Aunt Grace’s 90th

Saturday was my Aunt Grace’s 90th birthday. My cousin John held a surprise birthday party for her at his house, and many of the Ellenberg cousins gathered for the bash. My mother, Aunt Ann, Aunt Lois, and Aunt Grace were all present for the event. Of course there was cake and munchies for the crowd. … Continue reading Aunt Grace’s 90th

Busy Spring Weekend

It seems like every weekend this spring has been a busy one, with kayaking, family visits, festivals, and performances. This one was no different. In addition to our outing Friday night to Northampton Wines, this was the weekend for Artisphere and Chip’s Big Pig Gig. I started Saturday morning by heading downtown. My first stop … Continue reading Busy Spring Weekend

Wine Tasting 101

Wine Glass Tilt Shift

Laura and I were ready for a date night. We had both been so busy that we needed an evening off to ourselves. Unfortunately, this was also the weekend of Artisphere, so we were pretty certain that most of our favorite downtown restaurants would be inaccessible.

I got home at my usual time Friday afternoon, and we still didn’t have a plan. Laura had noted that Northampton Wines was having their “How to Taste” wine tasting this evening, and that would have been fun if we’d had reservations. We’ve tried going to that tasting before, but even calling early in the week we would find that it was full. I didn’t hold out much hope for a spur-of-the-moment trip, but I called anyway.

Turns out that our timing was perfect. Everyone was at Artisphere, so there was room for us. They had already set the table for the tasting, but said that they could re-arrange to add to more.

The Tasting

We knew that dinner wasn’t included with the tasting – only wine and cheese. We had a few appetizers at home so that we wouldn’t be drinking on empty stomachs, then headed over for our 6:30 tasting. We were the first to arrive, and were ushered into the back tasting room, which was lined with bins and bottles. As we waited, six glasses were filled with enough to taste the sample vintages for the evening.

Wine TastingWine Tasting

The rest of the guests arrived, bringing the total to 17. Our speaker was Richard deBondt, and this evening would focus on the wines of France. He began by talking about sparkling wines and the proper way to open a bottle. We were then served a taste, and were instructed on the proper way to toast. Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101”

Brood 19

13 Year Cicada

Our outings lately have sounded like something from a season of the X-File. A couple of weeks ago we went in search of Blue Ghosts, and last night we went in search of Brood XIX of the thirteen-year cicadas.

I had heard these insects last Saturday on my kayaking trip on Lake Greenwood. The noise was amazing and was constant. It sounded more like the phasers from the original Star Trek series.

Hearing me talk about them, and hearing and reading about them on the news, both Laura and her mother wanted to find these things. So, late yesterday afternoon before it got dark we went in search of them. Continue reading “Brood 19”

Paddling Lake Greenwood from Souls Harbor

Saluda River Paddle-7

My father’s history with boats has been…interesting. Despite having served in the Navy during WWII, the boats he seemed to wind up with during later adulthood were quirky, at best. There was the time we went fishing and I wound up with battery acid eating through all of the life vests, as well as the jeans I was wearing. We didn’t catch anything. There was the time the passenger seat snapped loose, at speed. We didn’t catch anything that trip, either.

But what would life be like without these adventures, and the tall tales that they inspire? Some of my fondest memories are of exploring the north end of Lake Greenwood and the rivers that feed it. We took one boat far up the Reedy River, and another boat far up the Saluda. On one of these trips we watched a bobcat jump into the river and swim alongside the boat, terrified that it might take a notion to jump into the boat.

Saturday I was able to replicate one of those trips, this time from the relative safety of a kayak. I joined the Greenville Canoe and Kayak Meetup for a trip from Souls Harbor on Lake Greenwood up the Saluda River. Although there were no bobcats this time, it was still a 14 mile adventure. Continue reading “Paddling Lake Greenwood from Souls Harbor”