Quick Jaunt to Cunningham

Lake Cunningham-13

One of the things I love about where I live is that I can be on the water paddling somewhere within 15 minutes. Such was the case Saturday. While Irene was wreaking havoc along the coast, we had wonderful weather, albeit a bit breezy. I called up Tim Taylor, and we loaded up the boats for a spur-of-the-minute paddling trip to Lake Cunningham.

Tim had headed out with me once before, on a trip from Piedmont upstream on the Saluda River. Tim is a naturalist, and a great person to have along on these trips. Today was no different, as we came across lots of wildlife on the paddle.

We first stopped by the Lake Robinson office to get day passes for paddling. Looking out over the more open water of Robinson, we could see white caps churned up by the wind. We had toyed with the idea of just putting in here, but the rough water made us stick with our original plan, and head to the more sheltered waters of Cunningham.

There was a major party wrapping up at the Cunningham picnic area, but the only folks at the boat ramp were a few fishermen who looked at our kayaks skeptically. We launched, then did our usual routine of heading upstream toward the lily pads. Continue reading “Quick Jaunt to Cunningham”

Geocaching on Lake Marion

Lake Marion Paddling

Another second Saturday, and it was time for another epic paddling trip with Lowcountry Unfiltered. This one was truly epic. This time our explorations took us to the eastern part of Lake Marion to do some geocaching around Persanti Island.

Our launching point was Carolina King Landing, just north of the Santee National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a private landing with cabins for rent, and was quite the happening place when I arrived. It turns out that this was the day for the Sparkleberry Poker Run up at the north end of the lake. Lots of camouflaged boats were getting ready for departure.

Lake Marion Geocaching-2Lake Marion Geocaching-1Lake Marion Geocaching-4

Alan arrived, and we entertained ourselves with Cokes, Moon Pies, and conversation with the proprietors of the local shop. These turned out to be very nice folks, and were very helpful suggesting parking and launch spots for the boats. They also had some interesting taxidermy. Continue reading “Geocaching on Lake Marion”

Renno and Stomp Springs

Renno Store

Last weekend Glynda and I headed down to Prosperity to visit our parents, and on the way back we stopped by a couple of remote places in Laurens County. These spots are places our family has visited long, long ago. Back then they were already abandoned, but there was still lots to see. Today, however, the communities of Stomp Springs and Renno are almost completely gone.

Both Renno and Stomp Springs are part of the Jacks Township. This area was one of the first settled in Laurens County, sometime in the mid 1700’s. Nearby Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church is the oldest in the county.

Our first stop was Stomp Springs. This was one of the old mineral springs resorts popular in the early 1900’s. Folks would come to these springs for the purported healing properties of the water from the springs. The water was even bottled and sold around the state. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find much on the history of the springs, other than a random reference to acknowledge that it once existed.  There is one brief reference in the 1909 Newberry Observer that a teacher from Bush River had just “returned from vacationing at Stomp Springs.” I also came across a couple of references from bottle collectors seeking the rare bottles from the springs. Continue reading “Renno and Stomp Springs”

Paddling Up Cedar Creek

Lots of Green

Bob D. was up for a paddling trip, and we both wanted to do something besides the Green River or the Tuckaseegee. I suggested Cedar Creek in Congaree National Park, and Bob agreed.

The last time I paddled Cedar Creek it turned into an uphill death march, as we had paddled our canoes downstream, then tried to paddle back upstream to get to our cars. I was determined not to repeat that mistake. Initially we were going to take two vehicles and do a point-to-point paddle from Bannister Bridge to Cedar Creek Road, which would be about eight miles downstream. However, since it was a fairly long drive down there and there were just two of us, we decided to put in at Cedar Creek Road, paddle upstream for awhile, then paddle downstream with the current while we were tired. Made more sense to me. Continue reading “Paddling Up Cedar Creek”

Weekend Update, again

Verdi dress rehearsal

Lots happening, and not much time to write about it. Laura and I discussed this, and we blame Furman. Since they have gone on a semester schedule their term is ending much earlier, and that’s thrown us off completely. I think, “Oh, Furman’s commencement is next weekend, so my school must be winding down” when we actually have a month more to go. With the compressed schedule, it seems like more is happening each weekend, and this past one was no exception. Continue reading “Weekend Update, again”

Peachtree Rock Nature Preserve – Unfiltered

Peachtree Rock

This Saturday our Lowcountry Unfiltered group gathered for its monthly outing. We rendezvoused just southwest of Columbia to explore the Peachtree Rock Nature Preserve, managed by the Nature Conservancy and the South Carolina Department of Natural Services. Dr. John Nelson, botanist at USC, director of the state’s Herbarium, and member of our group would serve as our guide for the day.

Lowcountry Unfiltered Gathers

In addition to John and myself, five others joined us.  We gathered at the entrance to the preserve at about 9:00, and got some preliminary information from John.  The area is one of the first set aside by the Nature Conservancy, and contains several unique habitat areas, including a long-leaf pine ecosystem.  The geology is also unusual. A hard layer of rock called ironstone covers softer layers of sandstone.  The sandstone has been eroding out from under the resistant upper layer, creating unique geological formations such as the namesake Peachtree Rock. Continue reading “Peachtree Rock Nature Preserve – Unfiltered”

Falls Park and Downtown Photo Walk

Old South Main

Thursday evening I met up with several of my Flickr photographer friends for a photo walk. Tracy (Wilhemina Lump Lump), Eric (RestedTraveler), and James (James Wellman) and I gathered at the entrance to Falls Park for a downtown expedition. It turned out to be a great gathering, and we really learned quite a bit from each other about various photographic techniques.

James Eric and Tracy

When we first planned this outing we had scheduled it for a couple of weeks ago, right as the snow storm hit. The intent was to go out and try to do some long exposure photography. When we reschedule, we failed to take into account the time change, so we still had more daylight than we had planned. Oops.

Continue reading “Falls Park and Downtown Photo Walk”

All Along the Watchtower

Duncan Lookout Tower Cab

This is going to be one of those multi-part posts. I’ve got tons of information on this subject, and it won’t be possible to put it all in one story.

I’ve always been fascinated by lookout towers. Near where I grew up in Laurens County there were two small monadnocks called the Little Knob and Big Knob. The Big Knob had a fire tower on it, and I longed to scale its steps and enjoy the view from the top. Some miles to the north is another prominent, larger monadnock with a fire tower – Paris Mountain. When I was around eight years old I did get to climb up the steps, but never made it into the cab at the top. I distinctly remember the trap door being padlocked when we got to the top.

I had forgotten all about the towers until just this past week. I had been looking for locations to do long-exposure photographs of I-85 for traffic trails when I spotted the Duncan lookout tower on the way home from work on Friday. At the intersection of Danzler and Victor Hill Roads it had a perfect view of the Interstate, so I went to explore. I found the tower in the front yard of a house on Victor Hill Road. The fence around its base now had a dog house within, and it was clear that the tower had not been used in years. I gave up on using this location as a photography platform, but now I wanted to learn more about the towers themselves, so a new quest was born. Continue reading “All Along the Watchtower”

Hope and Copyright

I’ve been following with interest the news about artist Shepherd Fairey and the controversy surrounding his iconic HOPE poster used by the Obama campaign. The Associated Press is arguing that Fairey’s poster represents an illegal use of copyrighted work. The poster is based on a 2006 photograph by Mannie Garcia, a photographer for the AP. … Continue reading Hope and Copyright

The Oconee Bale Trail

Bales of Hay 2 HDR

Laura had a quick business trip to Chicago, so Glynda and I decided to get out and see the countryside. I had spotted an advertisement for the Oconee Bale Trail, a series of decorated hay bales through that county, and it looked like as good an excuse as anything to get out and about.

Glynda hadn’t been with my on one of my photo rambles before. As with most of my family, she loves photography, too. She has also inherited our parents love of exploring backroads. While growing up, instead of calling her by her name Glynda Jo, my father called her “Glynda Go.” She had just finished her last day at the Boys Home of the South on Friday, so this was going to be a celebratory get-away. Continue reading “The Oconee Bale Trail”

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