Charleston to McClellanville and Beyond

Sewee Shell Ring Boardwalk HDR

So far we had already had a great trip to the South Carolina Low Country. Yesterday we explored Beidler Forest and the ACE Basin, and the weather looked great for more exploration today.  The day was already hot and humid, so we decided it would be more of a driving trek than hiking.  The trek took us through a large swath of the Francis Marion National Forest.

We started the day by driving onto the Charleston peninsula and touring the area South of Broad. There was the obligatory drive along the battery, but what we enjoyed most was driving through the residential areas and looking at the stately homes with their enclosed gardens.  For some reason, I wasn’t in much of a photography mood, so I don’t have any photos of that part of the trip.

From Charleston we crossed the new Cooper River Bridge into Mount Pleasant, then headed north on Highway 17.    Eventually we came to the Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge.  I had already checked online, and the ferry out to Bull’s Island doesn’t run on Sundays, so we walked out to the pier and watch birds and boat traffic out on the ICW. Continue reading “Charleston to McClellanville and Beyond”

ACE Basin

Donelley House

Our visit to Beidler Forest only took up half of the day, and we were ready to see more wildlife. Therefore, we cut across the country down toward the ACE Basin and the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area. Donnelley is only one small section of the ACE Basin. To the east is the Ernest Hollings National Wildlife Refuge. However, we prefer Donnelly because it’s a bit easier access, and it tends to be a bit quieter.

We entered from Bennett’s Point Road and immediately got turned around. We were taking a different direction, but eventually wound up where we wanted – at the old farm house that serves as a landmark for the rice field hiking trails.

Continue reading “ACE Basin”

Francis Beidler Forest

Beidler Forest Boardwalk

I had been sneaking off on paddling trips for the past several weekends, so Laura decided it was time for both of us to get away. We headed down toward the coast, and one of our favorite locations, Francis Beidler Forest.

Beidler Forest is located in the Four Holes Swamp area, and is maintained by the Audobon Society. It features a mile-long loop trail on a raised boardwalk that winds through the cypress swamp. In addition to huge ancient trees, the swamp is home to many species of birds and other wildlife. This time of year is when the prothonotary warblers are in town, and we were hoping to spot a few. Continue reading “Francis Beidler Forest”

Hidden Columbia

Tuesday I had to make one of my occasional trips down to Columbia for a meeting. The meeting was being held in an unusual location, and there were traffic detours all around the school. That meant that I saw more of Columbia neighborhoods than I normally see on one of these visits. Seeing the abandoned … Continue reading Hidden Columbia

A Tourist in Your Own Home Town

Lake Hartwell

In 1991-92 we moved to Tucson, AZ for a year. Laura was on sabbatical from Furman, doing research at the University of Arizona, and I spent the year wandering in the desert – quite literally. I would drop Laura off at the lab, then go find a canyon to climb or arroyo to explore. On the weekends we would pick some other location, trying to take advantage of all that the area had to offer.

We made many friends among the locals while we were there. Occasionally we’d talk about some of the places we had visited, and the response was often, “I’ve never been there” or “I didn’t know that was here.” In some cases it was ignorance, and in some cases they just hadn’t gotten around to it. We always said in reply that we knew we had a finite amount of time to see things – one year. Living in an area you tend to think you’ve got plenty of time to visit all of these places, which means that often you just don’t get around to it.

For that reason I’ve found that it’s not a bad idea to pretend you’re a tourist in your own home town. Check out what the local tourism board or other resources have to say about spots in your area, then actually VISIT those spots. Continue reading “A Tourist in Your Own Home Town”

Exploring L. A. (Lower Anderson)

Old School ReDynamix HDR

I hadn’t been out on a photo ramble in a long time. So, Saturday morning I grabbed my cameras and headed out. I only had a vague target in mind (as usual). I knew I wanted rural scenery so I could capture some old farm houses. I wanted to try some new post-processing techniques. My route took me down across Southern Greenville County and finally into Lower Anderson.

This time of year the lighting is always oblique. You don’t have to wait until the “golden hours” just after sunrise or right before sunset to get some interesting shots. The day was clear and bright, and it looked like the lighting would produce some interesting shots.

My first stop was in Connestee at McBee Chapel (Map). I had photographed it many times before, but I thought I would see what other angles I could bring to it. I don’t think they are still having regular services here, but I would love to attend one when they have a special service.

Continue reading “Exploring L. A. (Lower Anderson)”

Paddling Partners

The paddling group

I was pleasantly surprised at how many people went on our last paddling excursion on the Enoree and Broad Rivers. In addition to our regular Lowcountry Unfiltered group, we had seven others from the Upstate and Midlands. There are several others from fairly close by that would have gone if they hadn’t had prior conflicts. That got me wondering whether or not we should start an Upstate version of Lowcountry Unfiltered. I don’t think I’m ready for that, yet, but my inquiries yielded some interesting things.

My paddling associations have always been informal.  It’s always been just whoever was available on any particular paddling day.  I’ve done more paddling with my friends Bob and Alan than anyone else, but there are others that join us with some consistency.

nullThe Lowcountry Unfiltered group is the closest thing to a formal organization I’ve ever joined for paddling.  However, the thing that appeals to me most about it is its very informal nature.  Apart from having a website, logo, and a set Saturday of the month for outings, it’s a very loosely-defined group.  If it weren’t for the fact that some of the trips are a bit far away for me, and the fact that I’m not free every second Saturday, I’d join them on just about every trip.

While toying with the idea of an Upstate group, I decided to check the web to see what others might be out there.  These range from the informal to the anal retentive, based on who’s running the group and how many paddlers are involved.  Here’s are some observations I’ve made based solely on their websites…

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From Lake Fairfield to Fairfield County

Monticello Store

My last Saturday before heading back to work after Winter Break, and I decided to do some geocaching and photography in Fairfield County.  I had new GPS units to test drive, I had specific locations I wanted to photograph, and I wanted to take some time to swing by my parent’s house.  I had ambitious goals for what I wanted to see and do, perhaps too ambitious.   It turned out to be a day of mixed results – delight and frustration, discovery and missed opportunities. Continue reading “From Lake Fairfield to Fairfield County”