Monday, September 29, 2014

Return to Keowee-Toxaway State Park, South Carolina

11 Front Sign

Problems with a twisted ankle have limited my camping trips for the past few months. I’ve had to stay pretty close to home, other than five days in one of Barnwell State Park’s luxurious cabins a few weeks ago. (Click here to see the cabin if you missed that post.)

Well, that couldn’t last. Especially during this beautiful South Carolina September weather. So last week I spent three days at Keowee-Toxaway State Park. This is one of South Carolina’s most beautiful parks. An ideal place to RV camp. Click here for posts on an August  2011 visit.

The only disadvantage of this park for me is its distance from Columbia. It takes nearly three hours to get there. And much of that is spent driving along super-highways I-26 and I-385. It’s not until after Greenville the road becomes interesting.

Pet Cow

Complaints about the lack of natural and social scenery along super highways is nothing new here. But look at this! Right in the parking lot of that left-exit rest area on I-385 where I’d stopped to wash my hands. An enormous fiberglass Holstein cow atop a small green trailer. Turns out this is one of several dairy cow displays sponsored by the Pet Milk Company. You can imagine the crowd it attracted.

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Keowee-Toxaway really is spectacular. The Park’s 1,000 acres are divided by Highway 11. Also known as the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. That road alone is reason enough to visit. Click here for some information this scenic highway from Wikipedia. Save some time during your visit to drive up and down. Some of the views are breathtaking.

Trail

In March 2009 I hiked Keowee-Toxaway’s Natural Bridge trail. Click here for the post. This trail is ideal for elder-hiking, as I recall. Rated moderate to strenuous by the Park Service. Well, that was a mistake. Not the trail’s fault. The offending ankle wasn’t quite ready for even moderate trail hiking. So I had to turn around just at the end of the section you see in the photo above. Didn’t get to see the improvements the Park folks have made a bit farther down. Next time, for sure! 

But at Keowee-Toxaway even the RV campground is set in a beautiful natural area. Here’s a short video. Enjoy.

If the above video fails to display properly in your browser, click here to go directly to YouTube.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Visit to Healing Springs in Blackville, SC

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Healing Springs north of Blackville, South Carolina, just east of Route 3, is a remarkable place. In several respects. Don’t know about you, but this is the first piece of real estate I’ve come across that has been deeded to God.
Second, Healing Springs offers its remarkably pure water to any and all free of charge. Just drive up with a few empty gallon jugs. I don’t know who maintains the site. But there wasn’t a shred of trash when I visited. And the parking lot was busy! Car after car. Good to see.
Third, whoever’s responsible for the site has avoided the temptation to tart the place up. It remains simple and functional. Visitors have the sense they’re getting water from a spring in the woods. That’s nice. Well worth the visit.
Here’s a short video introduction. Enjoy.


Should your browser fail to play the video, click here to go directly to YouTube.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cabin "Camping" at Barnwell State Park South Carolina

Barnwell State Park, SC, Cabin No. 4
Efforts to repair a twisted ankle have kept me close to home and local medical folks for the past few weeks. No camping! (No blog posts either. Sorry about that.)

Well, how long can that go on before camping - - even easy RV camping - - is one of those activities with only a past? Something had to be done.

The solution was cabin "camping." That is, renting one of the Park System's fancy cabins rather than bringing along the Aliner. Lots easier on the ankle.
Barnwell State Park has some of the nicest cabins in the system, so I made a reservation. A new experience!

I've included a short video describing the cabin. Hope it posts properly.
All going well. The cabin has everything needed to sustain life other than food and toiletries. Even filters for the coffee maker! And it is spic and span, or was when I arrived anyway.
Great place to slog through manuscript copy editing. I'm nearly done with the second book in the South Carolina RV Travel Mystery series. This one, "Death Long Long Ago," is shorter and hopefully better than the first. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Visit to the University of South Carolina’s Campus: The Horseshoe in May 2014

01 horseshoe gate
(Click this and any other photos for a larger view)
Back in early May I drove downtown intending to pay another visit the gardens of the Robert Mills House. On arrival I found school busses parked cheek to jowl in the street fronting the property. Fortunately, it was blocked off. Children of all sizes swarmed around the Mills House property. I continued south without stopping. Ending up in a USC parking lot near the Horseshoe.
01 brick wall
As an alternative to the Mills House gardens, the Horseshoe area of the USC Campus is hard to beat. It has to be one of the most beautiful and carefully tended pieces of real estate in Columbia.
01 kids in tree
Look at that tree! Generations of children have abused its low-hanging branches. Irresistible up to a certain age. Only one example of the care and skill of USC’s arborists over the years.
01 another tree
01 graduation
The University was preparing for graduation ceremonies when I arrived. A picturesque setting. But you can’t imagine how hot it is out there on a sunny May day, especially with a long-winded commencement speaker!
01 graduates photo taking
All worth it, though. Graduating students treasure memories of this day for the rest of their lives. That’s McKissick Hall, now McKissick Museum, you see in the background. Be sure to visit. Here’s a link to their website. Quite an impressive collection. The building alone is worth the time.
01 front of Caroliniana
The Caroliniana Library anchors the other end of the Horseshoe. I doubt that they encourage casual visitors. But there’s plenty to see outside. Including a delightful garden surrounded by a brick wall out back. Great place to read and make notes. Have a look at the Caroliniana Library’s website with a click here. Some more of architect Robert Mills’ work. In continual use since 1840, it’s said to be the oldest free-standing university library building in the country.
There’s much more to see here on USC’s beautiful and historic Horseshoe. All within easy walking distance. Even for older folks like me who don’t get around as easily as we once did. Here’s a short video that shows a bit more. But you’ll just have to visit to get a comprehensive view.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Visit to Barnwell County, South Carolina

01 In Front of Office
No visit to Barnwell County, South Carolina, is complete without a stop at Barnwell State Park. Park Manager Eddie Richburg and his crackerjack crew maintain the Park’s acreage and extensive facilities in top condition.
05 office
Last week I was able to spend a few days with the Aliner parked on one of Barnwell’s “full hook-up” sites. Level as a platter of – well, of water -- these full-hook-up sites feature both 50-amp electricity and sewer connections. In other words, they’re made to accommodate even those large motorhomes we often see. The Barton camp host family arrived during my second day. A great addition to Park Manager Richburg’s crew. Hope they can stay for a while.
04 path to swimming
More good news! In addition to Barnwell’s hiking, fishing, conference/picnic facilities, cabins, and peaceful campground, Swimming is Back! A decade or so ago, only few South Carolina State Parks maintained their swimming facilities. Now, more seem to be coming back. Barnwell is one. Good news for folks who don’t have country club memberships or live near large towns.
03 swimming beach
Did you know Barnwell is one of South Carolina’s original sixteen CCC state parks? I didn’t. Here’s a closer look at the informational sign in front of the Park Office.