Building a Kayak Condo

Kayak Condo
Kayak Condo

About a decade ago I needed a place to store my fledgling kayak collection. I had three kayaks and a canoe that needed to be stored somewhere. I put together a small rack that held the boats quite nicely.

Old Kayak Condo

Over the years the small rack just couldn’t cut it. First, it was getting weak. I hadn’t braced it like it should have been. Secondly, it was in the wrong place. I had put it on the middle level of our yard so that I could take the boats down to our lake, or pull them up when we were going elsewhere. Turns out it was inconvenient for both situations. Our little lake has become almost unpaddleable, so most of the trips were away somewhere. Continue reading “Building a Kayak Condo”

Pickens Cemetery Ramble

Oolenoy Baptist Church and Cemetery-017
Oolenoy Baptist Cemetery

I really, really need to find another subject for photography. It seems that I’m stuck in “cemetery mode.” People ask me if I have some morbid fascination with death. Not really. I’m more interested in the historic nature of a cemetery – the lives of the people who lived and found their final resting place in this spot. I love the artwork on the old headstones, and the florid language of the older epitaphs. For old cemeteries no longer in use, or no longer associated with a church, I like to ponder on the communities that once existed, as well as the lives this locations represent.

Thursday was a beautiful day, so I decided to head out and take some photos. I gave my friend Keith a call, and we headed out in a typically random direction. From his house in Travelers Rest we headed across country, generally toward Pickens. Soon we found ourselves at Oolenoy Baptist Church, and its historic cemetery.

Oolenoy Baptist Church and Cemetery-002 Continue reading “Pickens Cemetery Ramble”

Chemical Memories

Carl Kort and Tim Hanks

Last night Laura and I attended the fall awards dinner for the Western Carolinas chapter of the American Chemical Society. The event was held at Hannah Flannagan’s in Hendersonville. Recognition was given to those who had been members of ACS for 50 and 60 years. Carl Kort, interim president of Furman University addressed the group.

I admit to being a science geek, but the depth of my knowledge is limited to general topics. Most of the ACS topics are far over my head. However, this one was targeted toward the general public, and it turned out to be a fascinating evening.

As we were driving up, Laura casually mentioned that I had been designated event photographer. Oops. Fortunately, I had my little Panasonic camera, as I always do, so things were OK. Continue reading “Chemical Memories”

Quick Watkinsville Ramble

Rusted Iron Horse
The Iron Horse

Houston and I still had some photos we needed to process from Lauren and Daniel’s wedding.  We made arrangements to get together at his place in Watkinsville, Georgia.  It had been awhile since I had been down that way, so Sunday morning I made the trek down I-85, through Athens, and down to his farm out in the middle of nowhere.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper ramble if we didn’t generate more photos along the way.  So, before working on the wedding photos, we headed out to take some more.

The weather was perfect, so our first stop needed to be an outdoor venue.  Just down from Houston’s farm is the Dyar Pasture Wetlands area.  The wetlands are on the upper end of Lake Oconee, where the Oconee River enters the lake  There is a boat ramp, and what looks like an excellent place to paddle.  We took one of the trails out to an overlook for the wetlands, then walked out onto a dike.

Dyar Pasture Overlook
Watkinsville Etc-21 Continue reading “Quick Watkinsville Ramble”

Wet Saturday Ramble

Alan and I had planned to take our boats out for a quick Saturday morning paddle.  Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating, so we had to fall back to Plan B.  Alan is as much of a rambler and photographer as I am, so we decided to hit a couple of places locally that he knew about.  The quick trek to us to some interesting remnants of Greenville.

We started the morning discussion talking about hidden and forgotten cemeteries in town.  That might be worthy of a blog post/exploration all on its own.  Alan mentioned on just off of Haywood Road.  We were able to find it in Google Maps, right next to the distinctive lavender building that houses The Trophy Club strip joint.  I’m sure the original owners of the cemetery would be appalled at the disruption to eternal rest. 🙂  We decided to check it out (the cemetery, not the strip club.)

Laurel Creek Cemetery

Finding the cemetery was easy.  It’s not on a major traffic route, but it is right there in the middle of everything.  It’s hard to miss if you’re looking in the right place.  Unfortunately, the grounds were surrounded by chain-link fencing topped with barbed wire with locked gates.  Any observing we were going to do would have to be done from outside. Continue reading “Wet Saturday Ramble”

Mountain Wedding Weekend

Lauren and Daniel's Wedding
Lauren and Daniel’s Wedding
Shot with a GoPro Camera

And so the day arrives…

Lauren and Daniel’s wedding weekend started with rehearsal on Friday. Laura and I drove up about mid-afternoon and checked into the lovely cottage Stephen had reserved for us near Hendersonville, then headed on over to Brevard for the rehearsal.

Lauren had selected Rainbow Lake as her wedding venue. The resort features several rustic cottages surrounding a small lake, in between Brevard and Rosman. There is a small island with a gazebo, obviously set up for the ceremony. A short white wooden bridge connects to the mainland. There is also a pavilion for receptions.

DSC_8750 Continue reading “Mountain Wedding Weekend”

Here Comes Uncle George and Uncle Bob

Uncle Bob
Photo from Stephen Leung Photography

My niece is getting married tomorrow. We’re all happy for her, and this is an exciting time for our family, as well a wedding should be. There’s just one snag, though. She’s asked me and my brother to do the photography for her wedding. While, I’m thrilled she has confidence in our abilities, and I’m glad to be a part of the wedding, to say that I have a bit of trepidation about this would be an understatement.  And with good reason.

Among professional wedding photographers (of which I am most definitely not), there is the legend of “Uncle George.” Sometimes he’s known as “Uncle Bob,” but it could just as easily be an “Aunt Betty.” Regardless of the form this character takes, the term refers to any relative that insists on taking all the photos along with the assigned photographer. Here’s a description from one website…

The bride’s Uncle George fancies himself as a better-than-average amateur photographer. In fact photography may be his hobby. He comes armed with the latest cameras and fancy lens. Empowered by digital cameras and a bag full of extra fully powered batteries, he is ready for action. His technique is to capture anything that moves, time and time again. Quantity not quality is his mantra. He trusts that his Photoshop software can dress up any image. – From

To be fair, most of the references I’ve seen to “Uncle George” have been on websites for professional photographers, who would prefer that you use their services rather than a relative. Several have lists comparing their services to “Uncle George” in chart format. One photographer even lists an “Uncle George” package on his website…

The Uncle George Package … Here’s what it includes.

  • I will bring one camera, one battery and maybe 2 memory cards for my semi-high end camera that I kind of know how to use.
  • I will shoot by myself.
  • I’ll show up 30 minutes late.
  • I’ll rely upon the camera to decide exposures and focusing. I will call the out of focus shots “artistic”.
  • Since I’m a friend or relative I will visit with the other guests instead of concentrating on the photography.
  • I will plan on drinking and dancing.
  • I may get drunk (there’s $50 discount if I do).
  • If my battery holds out, I should get 100 to 150 shots.
  • I know very little about post production of images, so I won’t correct or Photoshop the images. So I’ll just give you the photos “as shot”, and it may be a couple of months before you see the those (along with my vacation shots I left on the card).

I would like to think that I’m a step up from George.  I’ve taken multiple post-processing courses and courses in portraiture and other areas.  Houston has even more experience than I do, having worked as a professional photographer for awhile.  Even so, I don’t want to wind up like this…

Uncle Bob Continue reading “Here Comes Uncle George and Uncle Bob”

Paddling Bear Creek Lake

Bear Creek Lake
Bear Creek Lake

I’ve been wanting to paddle Bear Creek Lake ever since I discovered its existence. I first heard of the lake when the Western Carolina Kayaking Meetup scheduled a trip up there. I couldn’t make that trip, but the missed opportunity nagged at me. This summer on one of my photo treks I stumbled upon the landing for Bear Creek Lake. Seeing it in person made me want to come up here even more. So, when WCKayaking announced another trip, I knew I had to go.

In the 1950’s the Nantahala Power and Light Company built four lakes along the Bear Creek Valley. Bear Creek Lake is the largest of these, and is just a bit larger than Lake Cunningham near Greer. Cliff Lake, Wolf Creek Lake, and Tamassee Creek Lake round out the quartet. Cliff Lake is downstream from Bear Creek Lake, and the other two were built on tributary creeks to Bear Creek. The entire watershed feeds into the Tuckaseegee River. The lakes are now controlled by Duke Power.

Unlike Lakes Glenville and Toxaway nearby, there is not much development along these lakes. The views of the high hills and rocks remain somewhat pristine. However, I’m afraid that will change. I don’t know if there are any easements or protections in place as there are at Lake Jocassee, but I saw signs for various realtors and development. I hope they don’t destroy the lake shores as they did at Toxaway and some of the South Carolina lakes like Keowee, Hartwell, Murray, and Greenwood.

The plan was to meet at the launch at 11:00 am, a reasonable time, in my opinion. It gave me plenty of time to get up there and explore a bit first. The drive up is spectacular, winding through the highlands of South Carolina then crossing up to Cashiers, then passing the much larger Glenville Lake. The lake itself is off of Highway 281, past a farming valley formed by the Tuckaseegee River and Bear Creek. Continue reading “Paddling Bear Creek Lake”