Leaving Charleston – Strawberry Chapel and Childsbury

Strawberry Chapel and Childsbury-007

We had a great, wildly diverse weekend in Charleston, from swamps to beaches to city church yards. When planning this trip, we intentionally stayed an extra night into Monday so that I wouldn’t think about work at all on my first official day of unemployment. That meant that we could take our time coming home, and we did just that.

Laura and I love taking the back roads to and from the low country. Our plan was to drive northeast out of Charleston, then turn north through the Francis Marion National Forest. There was at least one ghost town along the way, and I was sure other interesting places would present photographic opportunities.

As we headed north on 17 I mounted the GoPro to my windshield. I wanted to get video as we crossed the the Cooper River Bridge. The video itself that interesting, but I got a couple of interesting stills. Never mind the reflection of my GPS and XM radio on the dash.

Cooper River Bridge Continue reading “Leaving Charleston – Strawberry Chapel and Childsbury”

Waterfall Ramble – To the Top of South Carolina and Beyond

Dry Falls

I wasn’t really planning to do a waterfall excursion. Truth be told, I didn’t really have anything planned. Laura was away at her sister’s, so I had Saturday available for a solo outing. My only real thoughts were to head up to Sassafras Mountain and check out the new overlook, then just see where things went from there. Turns out it was a perfect day for catching waterfalls.

I started out early, taking 276 to Highway 11, and from there over to Highway 178. There were some low clouds giving way to clear skies, with fog hanging where those clouds touched the mountains. Table Rock was shrouded, so I didn’t pause for any photos there. On Highway 178 I got to Bob’s Place, and on a whim turned down toward the Estatoe Valley, heading toward Twin Falls.

Estatoe Valley Morning Continue reading “Waterfall Ramble – To the Top of South Carolina and Beyond”

Perryville Pickin’ and Grinnin’

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Perryville Pickin’ & Grinnin’

Back in April Stephen and I visited the Pickens Flea Market and stopped by the Musician’s Circle. One of the regulars, Robert Perry, played a homemade tub bass and had a distinct persona.

Pickens Flea Market (20 of 55)
Robert Perry, Mountain Man

Stephen struck up a conversation with Robert’s girlfriend, Sharon, and she told us about a weekly gathering at Robert’s place. This past Monday neither of us had Chorale rehearsal or other engagement, so we decided that we would head up and check it out. Continue reading “Perryville Pickin’ and Grinnin’”

Dark Corner Ramble

Shiloh Methodist Church-005

This was a Second Saturday, and I was supposed to be joining my partners in crime at Lowcountry Unfiltered for a jaunt down to Harris Neck Wildlife Area. However, due to lots of factors I won’t go into now, I wasn’t able to join them. Even though I couldn’t make that trip, I was still in the mood for an exploration, even if it was a short local trip. Houston came up from Georgia, joining Laura, Glydna, and me for an excursion into the Dark Corner.

It was Houston who had proposed the venue. He had looked a map of Upstate South Carolina recently and saw lots of spots that he had never visited. We decided it was time to erase those deficits.

We first took a quick detour by Jungle J’s Hats and Knives. We could have wasted most of the afternoon just trying on hats and looking at knives. As it was, I still came away with a new hat. I tried on several that looked really good, and it was hard to choose just one, but I behaved.

From Jungle J’s our route took us through the back roads north of Taylors and Greer. Eventually we took Milford Church Road to Highway 101. Since we were close, I decided to head down to Gilreath Mill. There we encountered a wonderful surprise. Continue reading “Dark Corner Ramble”

Finding Granby

Congaree River

It had been a rough week. We’re getting ready for our Chorale Concert, our district is getting ready for its accreditation visit, and I’ve been working on projects for a graduate course. On Friday I had a state tech leaders meeting, and on Saturday we had a paddling trip scheduled with my friends from Lowcountry Unfiltered. So, I loaded up the boat early, and Friday morning headed southward.

The meeting proceeded about as well as expected, which was not well. I came away with a stress-related headache. Rather than head to lunch with my colleagues, though, I parked myself in an Atlanta Bread Company with my laptop and worked through conference calls that had to be made. My plan had been to head on down to Santee for the night, taking photos along the way. My friend Dwight suggested dinner with his family, so I had a couple of hours to kill. I thought I would see what could be found of the town of Granby.

The town of Granby was first settled in the early 1700s on the western bank of the Congaree River, across from present-day Columbia. The trading post established by James Chestnut and Joseph Kershaw in 1765, became an important gathering place. It was captured by the British during the Revolutionary War. The town served as the county seat for Lexington County until 1818. On Robert Mill’s atlas the town shows up just southeast of Columbia on the other side of the Congaree River.

Lexington District - Granby

According to the Lexington County entry on Wikipedia

In 1785, Lexington County was established, with the township of Saxe Gotha renamed to “Lexington” in commemoration of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. The county’s first courthouse was built at Granby, located just south of present day Cayce. From 1800 to 1868, the county was organized as a district with the same name.

With the clearing of upriver lands for the spreading cotton culture, Granby became plagued with floods. The district seat was moved in 1820 when the present town of Lexington was laid out on a high, healthy sand ridge near Twelve Mile Creek.

Continue reading “Finding Granby”

Piedmont-Powdersville Ramble with Brothers

Newell General Store

Our plans for the weekend changed. Friday Houston and I had planned to head down to Sparkleberry Swamp for an early spring paddling trip, but that didn’t work out. Houston had already taken Friday off, so we went with Plan B. We met up with our brother, Stephen, and headed out for a short afternoon ramble through that corner where Anderson, Pickens, and Greenville Counties come together. We made several stops, and found some interesting history along the way.


We started from Stephen’s house in Easley and headed south, generally toward the town of Piedmont. Driving along Highway 86, Steve announced that we were approaching the community of Newell.

Newell, SC

Newell has been on my list of ghost towns for awhile, and I was surprised to see that we were so close. I had seen photos taken by Sean Green and read his blog post about it. His information was also included on a listing of ghost towns for the state. Continue reading “Piedmont-Powdersville Ramble with Brothers”

Rainy Lowcountry Birding

Female Downy Woodpecker at Beidler Forest

For some reason, weather just does not get along with Laura and me. We went to London during the worst heat wave they had seen. We went to Maine during a heat wave. We went back to Maine and had a week of rain. We went to the Bahamas and an unusual cold snap hit. We visited Disney World during a tornado watch. We drove through a tropical storm on our way to Key West. Sometimes I think Mother Nature just waits until we make travel plans to send her worst. It was the first time in months that we had been able to get away for a weekend, and it looked like the weather was going to be just as uncooperative. We decided to go anyway.

Our plan was to head down to the ACE Basin early Saturday morning and drive through the Donnelly Wildlife Management Area. We would spend the day bird watching and doing some photography, and perhaps run over to the Bear Island WMA. That evening I’d made reservations for an evening boardwalk tour at Francis Beidler Forest. We would stay overnight in the area, then explore some more as we leisurely headed home on Sunday. Alas… Continue reading “Rainy Lowcountry Birding”

Promised Land and Beyond

Cedar Springs Church

It was a Second Saturday. Normally Alan and I would be out with our friends from Lowcountry Unfiltered exploring some river or other historic locale. There were several last-minute conflicts, so the trip fell through this month. Alan and I were still up for a photo trek, so we decided to head out on our own. We took the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite locations, the Long Cane Creek Historic Area and Sumter National Forest.

We had some specific targets in mind. However, with the beautiful morning light, it was hard not to be distracted by every old barn and homestead along the way that looked like a photographic opportunity. We would have only gotten a few miles from home if we had given in. We kept going until we crossed the border into Greenwood County, stopping first at Donalds Depot.

Donalds Depot

Continue reading “Promised Land and Beyond”

Lake Connestee Nature Trail

Reedy River Bridge

It seems I wasn’t the only one itching to get out and shoot some photos when our planned outing went belly up due to weather yesterday. Sunday’s weather was perfect, and Alan wanted to take his new Nikon DSLR for a spin. So, we planned to meet somewhere local. There had been an article in the Greenville News about additions to the Lake Connestee Nature Park, so we decided to check them out.

Our plan was to meet at the parking area at the dam, or so I thought. At the appointed time I got a call from Alan saying he was at the entrance to the park. Turns out he was behind the old Braves Stadium, so I headed in that direction. Then, it turned out that there were TWO entrances to the park with large signs that look like this…

Lake Connestee Sign

Alan was at one, and I was at the other. Through the magic of cell phone technology we got it sorted out, and rendezvoused at the correct trail head. Continue reading “Lake Connestee Nature Trail”

Urban Religion in Greenville

Mountain View Baptist Sign

I had different plans for today. Several of my friends and I were going to go on a photo ramble through Pickens, Anderson, and Oconee Counties. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative, so we decided to cancel that trip. I was still in the mood to do some photography, so when the rain let up in the afternoon I grabbed my camera and headed out. I had a project in mind.

I’ve stated it here, and it’s been pointed out many times that there is a church just about on every corner in Greenville. I wanted to explore a few of these. Specifically, I was interested in the older, smaller, out-of-the-way churches. Most of these are tucked away on residential streets. There are so many, that unless one has a connection to the church, most likely one would drive right by without noticing it.

With so many churches in one area, I have to wonder what services must be like. Is there that much diversity that so many are needed? It certainly fragments the church-going population. I think back to McCarter’s tiny congregation, and I know that many of these churches must be struggling to survive. Yet, that small place is a meaningful place of worship for someone. I guess they take the “where ever two or three are gathered” phrase seriously.

Part of this I can understand. There are many, many denominations and sects, and each wants its own place of worship. Then there is the segregation of Greenville’s population. I’m not talking about specifically racial lines, although there are clearly neighborhoods that were historically black or historically white, and each had its own set of churches. Greenville’s population is fractured by mill villages, and each had its own set of churches for each denomination, usually one black and one white. Given that, it’s easier to understand why there are so many in our area. Continue reading “Urban Religion in Greenville”