Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part Four

Jocassee from Bad Creek Overlook

And so it was only two of us left. Chip had to get back to family, and Stephen had to get back to church. Houston and I got up, had a quick breakfast, then packed up the mountain of remaining food and gear into our trucks. At the Devil’s Fork State Park store we checked out and each bought souvenirs. We both bought copies of Claudia Hembree’s “Jocassee Valley” book, and I bought two more stickers for my kayak.

Sometimes after weekend like this it’s nice to step back and do an overview. We decided to do that quite literally. We left the park and headed up Highway 130 toward the Bad Creek Project. We had taken Laura’s mom up here for a picnic sometime back, and it has fantastic views of Lake Jocassee. This time, on our way up, we encountered a family of turkeys.

Wild Turkeys

At the overlook itself we had clear views of the places we had paddled the day before. We could see where the Whitewater River enters the lake, and even had a view of the Lower Falls. We could also see where we had stopped for lunch and other places along our paddle route.

Jocassee Panorama 2 Continue reading “Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part Four”

Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part Three

Chip, Houston, and Stephen

As we suspected, after our long haul we were not going to be up for a late-night trip. Our nephew, Chip, joined us after work, and we set about the task of putting together dinner. It seems that each of us had brought enough snacks for all of us. There was more food than the four of us could possibly eat. Stephen had prepared venison spaghetti for us, and we followed that up sitting out on the deck of the villa telling family tales and enjoying the evening in general.

The next morning we took our time getting started. We fixed a huge breakfast with grits, eggs, bacon, toast, and more venison, this time in sausage format. It looked a little off-putting, but tasted fine.


Sausage or something else??

With such a gluttonous start, it was hard to imagine another paddling trip, but we headed out anyway. Stephen, Houston, and I walked down to where our boats were chained and set out. We would meet Chip at the boat ramp, where he would have his boat and the rest of our gear for the day. Continue reading “Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part Three”

Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part Two

Typical View on Friday's Trip

…or “Becoming One with the Water”

Houston and I got up early, thinking we might do an early paddle.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating.  It started pouring, and I kept checking the weather radar app on my phone.  It looked like it was going to clear up soon, though, and it did.

Stephen got an early start and met us at the villa.  After greetings, pleasantries, and settling in, we were anxious to get on the water.  We decided that rather than dragging the boats down the trail to the beach, we would toss them on Houston’s truck and drive around to the boat ramp reserved for the villas.

Down at the ramp we readied the boats, as low clouds hung over the mountains to the north.

Preparing the Boats

Lake Jocassee from Boat Ramp

For this trip we decided to do a route Houston had done before, and I had done several times. We were ging to paddle up to Wright Creek Falls first, then see where we could go from there. The weather was still iffy, so I didn’t know how far we might make it.

Out on the lake there were loons – and not just the ones in kayaks. There was the distinctive loon call, and the birds proved themselves to be amazing divers. Stephen and Houston thought one had drowned given the amount of time it was under. Continue reading “Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part Two”

Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part One

Jocassee Clouds

It was Stephen who first suggested it. The three Taylor brothers needed to take some time away for a multi-day paddling trip. We would pick a long route and camp along the way. Then reality set in and the plan got altered somewhat. Having slept on the hard ground enough in our lives, we decided that renting a villa at Lake Jocassee would be even better. A weekend in March was appointed, and I called and reserved our villa at Devil’s Fork State Park.

Having to plan that far in advance can be fraught with unexpected peril. I had work issues that I was afraid would delay me. Stephen had pastoral obligations that delayed his arrival and Houston had…cats. I finally got all my gear packed and arrived at the park at about 3:30 for check-in.

The term “villa” was a better choice than “cabin” when the park named these things. They are quite nice (as well as being reasonably priced.) We had a full kitchen, two bedrooms, fireplace, and even satellite TV. This was a far cry from when I last stayed up here in a tent with Houston.

Jocassee villa

Villa interior Continue reading “Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part One”

She Blinded Me with Science

Thomas Dolby

Last night Laura and I went to see Thomas Dolby at The Handlebar. It was the first band we had seen in a long, long time – a great show, and a throwback to our college days.

Dolby is currently touring the country in his “Time Capsule Tour.” The show features lots of steam-punk kitsch, and a mocked up “time capsule” in which visitors can leave a “30 second message for the future” (basically a webcam uploading to YouTube.) The time capsule is a mini camper tricked out with steam-punk accoutrements.

TD Time Capsule

Thomas Dolby at Handlebar

Continue reading “She Blinded Me with Science”

Happy Pi Day

3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510 5820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282 3066470938446095505822317253594081284811174502841027019385211055 5964462294895493038196442881097566593344612847564823378678316527 1201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587 0066063155881748815209209628292540917153643678925903600113305305 4882046652138414695194151160943305727036575959195309218611738193 2611793105118548074462379962749567351885752724891227938183011949 1298336733624406566430860213949463952247371907021798609437027705 3921717629317675238467481846766940513200056812714526356082778577 1342757789609173637178721468440901224953430146549585371050792279 6892589235420199561121290219608640344181598136297747713099605187 0721134999999837297804995105973173281609631859502445945534690830 2642522308253344685035261931188171010003137838752886587533208381 4206171776691473035982534904287554687311595628638823537875937519 577818577805321712268066130019278766111959092164201989 Pay no attention to those Ides, 3.14 is the true March holiday for geeks.  Pi has been around for nearly 4000 years.  The ancient Babylonians and Egyptians knew about it, and Greek mathematicians refined the concept. Supposedly the concept … Continue reading Happy Pi Day

Colleton Museums and BBQ

Colleton County Museum

We had made a successful escape from Donnelley WMA. The ACE Basin was behind us, but not forgotten. We would be back, and we would conquer it, haints and curses be damned. However, on this particular Saturday, we still had lots on our plate. That phrase turned out to be truer that we could imagine.

Upon escaping Donnelley, our first objective was food. We drove through some very historical areas of Colleton County without stopping to admire them. Our target was Duke’s BBQ, located just off of Highway 15 to the northeast of Walterboro.

Dukes BBQ Signs

Dukes BBQ Exterior Continue reading “Colleton Museums and BBQ”

The Curse of Boynton House

The Curse of Boynton House

Boynton House sits abandoned and forlorn in a remote corner of the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, part of the ACE Basin. It was once the main house for a vast rice plantation. Now the wooden filigree is falling apart, and bat guano fills several of the rooms. On this particular trip, we also found out that it is cursed.

Normally we do a paddling trip the second Saturday of each month with the Lowcountry Unfiltered group. This time we decided to do something different. One of our members, Rob Dewig, has a new job with the Colleton County Museum. We wanted to check out his new digs. We also planned to do a bit of bike riding in the ACE Basin.

I got up far too early on Saturday morning and drove on down to the Lowcountry. Five other hearty souls joined me at the main kiosk for Donelley. It sounded like a disciples convention – Thomas (me), Matthew, James, John, James, and a young guy whose name starts out C-h-r-i-s-t. (Christian, Jimmy’s son). Yeah, we were in for trouble of Biblical proportions. Continue reading “The Curse of Boynton House”

Camera Obscura – Part 2

Last time I gave a brief introduction to the camera obscura, describing what it was and a tiny bit of the historical background.  This time I’m going to cover my personal experience with these systems.

I started playing with cameras when I was about 9 years old.  My first was a hand-me-down Brownie Box camera that I got from my sister, Glynda.  Unfortunately, none of the photos I took from that era survive, but I still have that camera.  That old camera wasn’t much different from a pinhole camera – just a basic light-tight box with an aperture and some sort of capture medium (ie, film.) As a teen I spent one summer making actual pinhole cameras with my brother, Houston.  We experimented with various styles made from oatmeal boxes and brass shimming with different aperture pinholes.  Again, none of those images survive.

While my father was principal of Gray Court Owings School, my brothers and I had the run of the place. We found an old unused closed that had been used as a changing room for basketball teams long, long ago. The room was under the stage, and had running water. It was the perfect place to commandeer for a dark room, so that’s where we set up our chemicals and enlarger. Stephen and Houston did more of actual dark room work, but I remembered that location, hidden away under the stage of the old auditorium under a trap door.

There was a long lull while music, college, rock climbing, and river running (somewhat in that order) took precedence over photography.  16 years after building my first pinhole camera, I found myself teaching a unit on light to class of gifted 7th graders at GCO, and I figured the best way to convey some of the concepts was through photography. Continue reading “Camera Obscura – Part 2”