Lone Star Barbecue, Mercantile, and Ghost Town

Lone Star, South Carolina
Lone Star, South Carolina

We have a tradition of looking for a good barbecue place after our paddling trips. This was no different. Our target for this outing was Lone Star Barbecue and Mercantile. However, this was a two-fer – lots of good food and a chance to explore one of South Carolina’s ghost towns.

Lone Star, the Ghost Town

It started with a bit of miscommunication. The rest of the guys had never been to the town of Lone Star, and thought that the barbecue place was in the town proper. So, once we loaded up the boats, they set off, with me following, toward the town. What they found was the ghost town that I knew. All that is left of Lone Star is the old freight depot, moved from its original location, the large brick Masonic building, and two dilapidated stores. Across the tracks was a small convenience store that may or may not have been open. No barbecue anywhere in sight.

Lone Star Freight Depot
Lone Star

Continue reading “Lone Star Barbecue, Mercantile, and Ghost Town”

From Swamp to River to Lake to Creek

LCU on Lake Marion-071

This year’s weird weather has wreaked havoc with our normal paddling schedule. The second Saturday of July was supposed to be our infamous Beer Commercial paddle on the Edisto River, AKA the Rope Swing Extravaganza, AKA “Hey, Ya’ll! Watch this!” Yet, even the daredevil nature of Lowcountry Unfiltered had to bend to the forces of nature, as the Edisto swelled from its banks with the excess rain. On our way back from Florida we stopped by the put-in, and found it completely flooded.

Flooded Edisto - Mars Old Field
Flooded Edisto – Mars Old Field

The situation did not improve over the week, so come second Saturday we decided to postpone the trip for a week to see if matters improved. They did not. So, with water levels cresting at nearly 14 feet, 4 feet over flood stage, we needed to find a new paddling venue. It seemed that a lake might be better than a river, so we looked to our favorite location, Lake Marion. Continue reading “From Swamp to River to Lake to Creek”

Video Project for 3D Printing

Trent and Elaine with Video Setup

File this under one of those “now that you have the time” requests. John Kaup handles science education outreach for Furman, and had first approached me about this project. Elaine Smith is a chemistry teacher at Marion High School in Horry County, and she is spending the summer developing modules for teachers to use with 3D printing. As part of this project she wanted to develop short introductory and closing video segments for each module. That’s where I came in. They needed my services to help put together the videos.

The project itself is quite fascinating. Elaine is working with Tim Hanks and Casper Wright from Furman on using 3D printing to create biomedical structures. Tim and Casper’s research involves developing alginates that are electrically conductive. These alginates can be loaded into a 3D printer and printed into any shape, and research is being done to see if they can eventually substitute for neurons and other tissues. Elaine’s portion of the research is to develop simple demonstrations for these techniques for high school students.

Alginates

For this project I wanted to use the best possible image source that I could, and I decided that was my Nikon D7000 DSLR. I hadn’t really done any video with it. In fact, I had shied away from video on this particular camera because the audio quality wasn’t what I wanted. The built-in microphone tends to pick up motor noise from the autofocus and image stabilization on the lens. Continue reading “Video Project for 3D Printing”

Retirement One Month In

Indian River Paddling
Kayaking on the Indian River

It’s been a little over a month since I retired, so I thought it would be a good time for a bit of omphaloskepsis.  I’m still coming to terms with the situation, and the concept still seems weird as all get out, but the reality hasn’t hit.  It’s more like my summers used to be when I was a teacher, so it hasn’t felt that different.  It’s been more like an extended vacation.  Since it’s now post-July 4th the Back-to-School sales have already started.  I’m slowly relinquishing the anxiety attacks that used to hit when I saw those, wondering if we were going to get everything done over the summer in time.  It had gotten so bad that just driving by a school – any school – induced panic.

I think it will really hit home first when I get my first retirement check next week, then when everyone is actually heading back to school, and I’m not.  I did get a formal letter from the Department of Education just this morning with a certificate marginally suitable for framing.

Untitled

Speaking of anxiety attacks, I’ve been having nightmares about my former job.  These usually take several forms.  For some reason I have to go back to the office to do something and I find that the new guy has done something absurd like pulling out all of the network cabling.  Or, people from the district show up at my home, somehow not letting me escape.  Then there are variations.  Glynda told me that nightmares like this followed her retirement for months.  Oh joy.

I actually did get a call about a file from the office.  It was one they couldn’t find (although I had clearly shown them where it was before I left.)  When I tried to log into my district Google Docs to retrieve it for them, my password had either been changed or the account deleted.  Oh well.  I guess they are completely out of luck, and I’m off the hook.  It’s not unexpected, but it seems a bit…abrupt.  So, if you’re a friend from the district reading this, don’t try sending anything to my school e-mail account – I won’t get it.

Apart from those things about which I’ve blogged previously, here’s what else has been happening…

Continue reading “Retirement One Month In”

Lowcountry Small Town Tour – The Return Trip

Downtown Cope
Downtown Cope

On my way down to Bluffton I passed through twenty-six small towns. In addition to that I’ve visited two ghost towns, and some of those other towns were about to cross the line into the “ghost” category. For the return trip I had a couple of options for avoiding the Interstate. I decided to retrace my way partially on 321, then branch off on 601 northbound to Orangeburg. That would take me through more small towns.

I was leaving Hilton Head fairly early, and even had time for a good breakfast leaving the island. That would give me plenty of time for exploration. That turned out to be a good thing because of some very unexpected delays, but more on that later.

So, on the way back I hit the following towns that I had visited before.

  • Hilton Head
  • Bluffton
  • Okatie
  • Hardeeville
  • Tillman
  • Tarboro

I didn’t linger too long in these, but continued on until I reached the turnoff for Highway 601.

The towns of Stokes and De Loach were little more than wide spots in the road. In Google Earth Stokes is shown off the main highway down a dirt road. It is a possible ghost town. I didn’t have that information at the time, so I didn’t venture to check it out. Next up was Furman, which I had visited via detour yesterday.

The next town on the list was Hampton, and here is where I ran into the surprising delay. I could see the main road through town was blocked with a police car with flashing lights. I saw pavilions and food vendors set up, and realized I had stumbled onto the Hampton County Watermelon Festival. It looked like there was no way through the town, so I decided to park and explore. Continue reading “Lowcountry Small Town Tour – The Return Trip”

The Lost Town of Mitchelville

Mitchelville-026
Mitchelville Park Center, Hilton Head Island

NOTE: Yeah, I’m still behind on blogging. Now I’m about two weeks behind, but I’m slowly catching up. 🙂

A few months ago I learned about an exhibit at USC’s McKissick Museum about the town of Mitchelville. As I read more about Mitchelville, I knew I had to add this one to my list of South Carolina ghost towns. The recent trip to Bluffton offered the perfect opportunity to explore this town on the northeast shore of Hilton Head.

During the Civil War Union troops captured Hilton Head Island and established that as one of their bases of operations. Beginning in 1861 escaped slaves, or “contrabands” as they were called, sought refuge on the island. The Union soldiers were unsure of what to do with the slaves, so in late 1862 General Ormsby M. Mitchel allowed the escaped African Americans to establish the town of Mitchelville. This one of the first examples of the Port Royal Experiment, where African Americans were given control of the land to work for wages.

Mitchelville Map 1864
Mitchelville Map circa 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia

Continue reading “The Lost Town of Mitchelville”

Lowcountry Small Town Tour

SC Small Towns-028
Downtown Bamberg

I’m still playing catch-up with my blogging. I’m about a week behind, but maybe over the next couple of days I can get caught up.

When Glynda first got married she lived in Savannah and our family would make the occasional trip down there for a visit. This was 40+ years ago, so I-95 was non-existent. The only way to get there was a series of two-lane roads that went through lots of tiny towns in South Carolina.

Now for the present – last weekend my paddling buddy, Matt Richardson, turned 40, and his wife, Cris, planned a surprise party for him. Since I’m now retired with nothing better to do, I decided to drive down and join in the surprise. I had the time, so I decided to replicate the trips from long ago, avoiding the interstates, and driving through all of the little towns, taking photos along the way. I also planned to hit a couple of ghost towns. Continue reading “Lowcountry Small Town Tour”

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