The Tobacco Trail – An Introduction

Highway 301 Banner

On our last Lowcountry Unfiltered kayaking trip on the Savannah River Larry Easler and I drove back along Highway 301.  We were amazed at the number of old motels and abandoned tourist spots along the way.  I knew it had to have once been a major thoroughfare, now bypassed by I-95, but I wanted to know more about it.  What was its history?  How did this highway through one of the most desolate parts of South Carolina become such a major route?  The answer turned out to be much more interesting than I could have possibly imagined.

In a previous post I wrote about the old auto trails that predated the US Highway System, and the business associations that promoted these routes and the tourist amenities along them. Here’s the story about how Highway 301 became known as The Tobacco Trail, one of the most important north-south routes along the Eastern Seaboard. Continue reading “The Tobacco Trail – An Introduction”

Pubs and Music

Fitzpatrick's Pub-003

On our way back from Ireland Stephen asked me what my favorite thing was about the trip. I had to say that it was the pubs and music that impressed me most. I loved the atmosphere and life that radiates from those places. While they all seem similar and familiar, each is unique. If I could do one thing over, it would be to spend more time in the pubs listening to traditional music. Granted, we did quite a bit of that anyway. Continue reading “Pubs and Music”

Taylor Invasion of Ireland – The Rundown

Doolin Countryside-003

As promised, here’s the brief day-by-day rundown of our trip to Ireland. I’m only going to include the time that I was there. My brothers went out a couple of weeks early and saw sights up in Dublin, Belfast and further north. I came out for the last part of the trip.

Stephen has shared his photos from that part of the trip, and I guess I could snag their journals. However, I’ll leave it to them to tell that part of the tale. Continue reading “Taylor Invasion of Ireland – The Rundown”

Taylor Invasion of Ireland

Taylor Brothers find a home

It’s a story that’s been told to us many times by our father. Nearly 240 years ago our ancestor, William Taylor, Sr., loaded his family onto a ship called The Earl of Donegal and sailed for Charleston, SC. They left Belfast in 1767 and landed in Charleston in 1768. William was given a land grant for 350 acres in Laurens County. He donated a few of those acres for Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church.

The first home I can remember was on a farm that had once been part of that land grant. As children we scrambled over the rocks and stream that gave the the church its name. We would wander through the old cemetery and see generations of Taylor ancestors, starting with my great-grandfather and going back from there. With so many of our ancestors close at hand, it’s no wonder that our family developed a keen sense of genealogy. Continue reading “Taylor Invasion of Ireland”

A Trip through the New River Gorge

New River Bridge
New River Bridge

August 12, 2013

Laura had never been to West Virginia. I had only crossed over the border in the mid 1980’s just to say I had been in that state. We really didn’t know much about the state, except that there were coal mines somewhere. A couple of Laura’s colleagues are from West Virginia, and before we left, had told us that there were some places we really needed to check out.

With the meteor expedition having been a bust, we decided to head on up into the mountains and cross over into West Virginia. We drove through a piece of Virgina on the Interstate, roughly repeating our trek from last summer when we headed up for Katie and Aaron’s wedding. However, instead of turning northeast toward Roanoke, we headed south…maybe. On the same road we were headed south on 81, but north on 77. It was a geographical oddity.

Traveling North and South at the Same Time Continue reading “A Trip through the New River Gorge”

Perseids on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a Side Trip to Mayberry

Parkway and New River Gorge-4

August 11, 2013

We hadn’t given the new Mini a proper shake-down road trip. When we got the Audi we took it completely across country, driving from South Carolina to somewhere north of Seattle. We didn’t have the time nor energy for such an adventure this time (Well, at least one of us didn’t :-)) so we decided on something a bit shorter.

It was time for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. We figured the perfect way to christen the car would be to take it up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and try to find a bit of dark sky to watch for them. From there we would do some free form road tripping, hoping to wind up in Washington DC by the end of the week.

I had scouted a few potential sites on Google Earth, but there was no way to tell if there would be dark skies. So, shortly after lunch we set off, having somehow managed to pack our gear into the tiny trunk of the Mini. We wanted to make tracks, so we took the Interstate straight on up to Gastonia, then headed off toward Blowing Rock, where we hit the Parkway. We drove with the top back, enjoying the breeze.

There were quite a few clouds, but for the most part it was sunny and the day was spectacular. We pulled off at several overlooks, many of which looked like like they would work for meteor viewing. I didn’t take many photos along the way, though. Continue reading “Perseids on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a Side Trip to Mayberry”

Little River Blueway

While we were on our photo trek to McCormick Houston and I were scouting paddling locations. We both liked the Clark Hill area, and we were intrigued by the Little River branch, especially where it starts at Calhoun Mill. One of the comments on that post was from Kirk Smith, who pointed me in the … Continue reading Little River Blueway

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad-28

It had all the promise of a beautiful, cool fall weekend, and Laura and I decided to take advantage of it. Saturday afternoon we drove up to Cullowhee, North Carolina to savor a delicious victory as Furman beat Western North Carolina 47-21 in football. We stayed overnight in Bryson City, and that Sunday we were able to do something both of us had wanted to try for quite awhile – take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

I had booked our tickets as soon as we decided on a plan of action for the weekend. It was a good thing I did, too, as CNN featured the railroad as its #2 leaf-viewing attraction on its website. We were also just beating the peak fall foliage crowds, so there were tickets to be had. There are several travel options, ranging from first class down to mere mortal. Even though it was supposed to be chilly, we decided on the open-air car, which was described as follows on their website:

The Open Air Gondola is perfect for those photographers craving that perfect scenic shot! Plenty of space to see the great outdoors! Created from retired baggage and flatbed cars, these open cars feature long padded outward-facing seats, perfect for the panoramic views. A great car for capturing the scents and sounds of nature!

More on that choice in a bit… Continue reading “Great Smoky Mountains Railroad”

Paddling Dreamland

We are blessed with some fantastic kayaking venues in South Carolina.  And, I’ve been privileged to kayak in the Puget Sound several times, a couple of locations in Florida, and once even in the Bahamas. Even so, there are several “dream locations” I would love to paddle.  I’d love to go further northwest, and do … Continue reading Paddling Dreamland

Matching Reality to Google Earth

In Flight Photos-2

No matter how many times I’ve flown, the concept of this massive machine lifting into the air still strikes me as weird. I’m still fascinated. And unlike those jaded fliers who prefer the aisle seats, I still like to look out the windows at both the ground below and at unique cloud formations.

This summer I took a couple of trips across country, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to look out windows. On the past several trips it’s struck me how similar the view is to Google Earth, and I began to wonder if I could match up locations with the same spots in Google Earth.

So, I grabbed my camera and started snapping out the window, trying to see if this could be done. Turns out it’s much, much harder than you might think. Continue reading “Matching Reality to Google Earth”

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