Paddling

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Indian River Escape

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Indian River Grunge

Been a tough couple of weeks, and I seem to be suffering from writer’s block. I just haven’t been too inspired to research or photograph anything. Even when I have subject material, such as my long urban walk, or research on my grandfather’s churches, or a dozen other things I could be pursuing, I seem to lose interest about halfway through the post or project. So, I’m going to make a concerted effort to keep writing on a regular schedule.

And with that, we’re here in Florida for the Thanksgiving holidays. Laura’s mom was just released from three months in a skilled nursing rehab center after breaking both legs in a fall. Our job was to help her get re-established at Laura’s sister’s home and situated with home health-care, etc. I needed an occasional escape, so I brought a kayak down with me.

Escape #1 – Night Paddling

We arrived later Sunday evening than I had planned. Monday was spent running errands and getting supplies for the house. By Monday evening I was ready for an escape. I headed out for an after-dark paddling trip.

Indian River Paddling-013 (more…)

Grave Matters at the Savannah River

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Savannah River from Stokes Bluff with LCU Nov 7, 2014, 4-18 PM Nov 8, 2014, 9-039

Headstone in the Rip Rap at Stokes Bluff

Yesterday when we were kayaking on the Savannah River we found something rather disturbing. About a half mile south of Stokes Bluff Landing on the South Carolina side of the river several headstones were embedded in the rip rap along the bank.

DCIM107GOPRO
DCIM107GOPRO (more…)

A November Paddle on the Savannah River

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Savannah River from Stokes Bluff with LCU Nov 7, 2014, 4-18 PM Nov 8, 2014, 2-058

Cypresses at Kennedy Lake on the Savannah River

It was a second Saturday, and we were long overdue for a Lowcountry Unfiltered paddling trip. We missed last month, and the two months before that our schedule had been somewhat off. I really needed to get back on the water and it seemed that the Savannah River was just the ticket.

Savannah River from Stokes Bluff with LCU Nov 7, 2014, 4-18 PM Nov 7, 2014, 4-18 PM

I drove down Friday afternoon and stayed overnight in Walterboro. Alan and I met up for breakfast there, then we headed on toward our put-in at Stokes Bluff in Hampton County. The section we would be floating wasn’t as long as some of our other trips, but we would have opportunities for several side excursions.

Savannah from Stokes Bluff (more…)

September Edisto with Lowcountry Unfiltered

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LCU Edisto Messervy to Long Creek-9

Second Saturday of the month means a paddling trip with Lowcountry Unfiltered…except that this was a third Saturday, and the group was more Midlands and Upcountry than Lowcountry. Even so, our band of adventurers once again headed down to the Edisto River. This trip we added another yet-unpaddled stretch of the river to our resume’s. We would be doing the stretch from Messervy Landing to Long Creek Landing.

Messervy to Long Creek Edisto

I swung through Simpsonville and picked up Alan, and we headed on our way. Our first stop was breakfast at Bill and Fran’s in Newberry, then continued on down to Messervy Landing. Soon we were joined by Jerry, Marc, and Matt, bringing our number to five.

LCU Edisto Messervy to Long Creek-92 (more…)

Paddling Boyd’s Mill Pond

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Boyds Mill Pond-17

Paddling on Boyd’s Mill Pond

I’ve known about Boyd’s Mill Pond for most of my life. It was on the way from Gray Court to Greenwood (via short cut.) Visits to my dentist in Greenwood would take us on the road that curved by the pond, giving me glimpses of the small lake. Even back then, I long to stop and explore.

Fast forward several decades and I finally have a chance to explore the area. In 2012 The Karl H. Dixon Park opened, and now provides the only public access to the lake with a playground and boat ramp. I had dropped by here to scout several weeks ago, and this morning I decided to haul my boat down and check it.

Boyds Mill Pond-002 (more…)

LCU Does Lake Jocassee

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LCU at Lake Jocassee-010

We just got back from our grand west coast tour last Sunday, but we weren’t settling down. Stephen and I had made another mid-week trek to the Pickens Flea Market, and Friday morning I had taken Laura to the airport for a quick trip down to Florida so that she could drive back to our place with her sister and mother. That left me as the sole occupant of the house. So, what was I to do but throw a party?

The guys from Lowcountry Unfiltered had been wanting to paddle Lake Jocassee. Last Saturday was the second Saturday, the traditional LCU paddling day, but it was postponed a week so that we could get back from the west and organize the trip. Several of the guys were camping or staying other locations overnight. Matt, James, and Scott came up early and stayed at our house. We had chili, various imbibements, and Star Wars movies with an MST3K treatment.

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Solo Oolenoy in a Problematic Boat

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Lake Oolenoy Red Emphasis

Red Pungo 140 on Lake Oolenoy

In the fleet of kayaks I have in my yard is one red Wilderness Systems Pungo 140. It’s got a problem, or, several of them, really. First is a question of ownership.  Chip purchased this boat from Confluence five years ago at the Friends and Family sale. Over the course of the years, he traded it to a colleague for another boat. However, the colleague never collected the boat from my yard, and eventually moved to another town. There it has sat for five years. While I often enumerate it with my fleet, I still consider it Chip’s boat.

More importantly, though, is the condition of the boat.  Some of the kayaks at the Confluence sale were factory seconds.  For example, the Pungo 120 I got at the same sale had the webbing for the seat straps sliced.  No biggy, but I had to replace them. 

To all outward appearances the Pungo 140 looks like a great kayak…

Lake Oolenoy-11 (more…)

Paddling to Andersonville

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Paddling to Andersonville Island

Andersonville Island, Lake Hartwell

Ever since I found out about it I’ve wanted to visit the location of Andersonville. I was finally given that opportunity this week, as fellow paddlers Alan Russell and Jim Leavell joined me for an early week trek out to the island. With this week’s paddle I was able to add another check to my list of South Carolina ghost towns.

Stephen and I had done some previous scouting in this area. Stephen’s brother-in-law, Jim, owns a barbecue place nearby, and he provided some valuable information about the area. Since that time I had been looking for the optimum launch site for a trek over to Andersonville. (more…)

The Long and Lonely Santee with Lowcountry Unfiltered

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Santee River with Lowcountry Unfiltered-095

It was a second Saturday. That means another paddling trip with Lowcountry Unfiltered. I had driven down the night before and had stayed with my two brothers in North Charleston, and on this fine Saturday morning we would brave the wilds of the lower Santee River from McConnell Landing to Hampton Island.

Some how we managed to roll out of bed fairly early, despite a huge meal at a Brazilian steakhouse, and nightcaps and joking until late at night. Our convoy headed to the put-in, first crossing the Cooper River on I-526, then taking what must be the straightest road in South Carolina, Highway 41, across the Francis Marion National Forest.

The problem with these trips is that we ALWAYS pass cool stuff en route to the put in. It’s usually early morning and there is a mist or cool light for just the right photography. This time we passed old stores and churches and other things that would normally have me stopping. I keep thinking “I’ve got to come back this way,” but it never seems to work out. Oh well. (more…)

Lost in the Mangroves in the Old Inlet

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Indian River Panorama HDR

So far it had been a great week in Florida. I had gotten out on the kayak for at least one paddling trip each day. In some cases, twice. Doesn’t hurt when you’re staying at a place with a boat ramp right into the Indian River.

This was our last full day in Fort Pierce, and we were going to jam it full of activities. The morning started with a trek out to the Saturday morning Farmers Market in downtown Fort Pierce. We got some vegetables, did some people watching, and Laura was even able to find a cool hat to wear in the Mini Convertible out on the artists section of the market.

Fort Pierce Farmers Market-2
Fort Pierce Farmers Market-3
Fort Pierce Farmers Market-1

When we got back from the market, Laura and Amy headed out for some shopping, and I headed out on the kayak. Most of my treks had been averaging about four miles, and I was determined to get at least one long trip in. (more…)

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