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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Magnolia Blossoms in Spring Valley, Columbia SC

05b Full Blossom Painting
Why are magnolia trees like wind chimes?
Both are best enjoyed in a neighbor’s yard.
Magnolia trees are beautiful. But when their leaves fall they make quite a mess. Wind chimes are a delight to hear. But they’re best appreciated from a distance. Making them the ideal gift for a neighbor.
Here’s a short video featuring the blossoms of the remarkable magnolia tree.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ridgeway South Carolina on a Sunday Afternoon

(Click any photo for a full-sized view)

We paid another visit to historic Ridgeway, South Carolina, early Sunday afternoon. That’s the spire of the old town hall building you see above, next to Ruff Furniture. Right on the main drag, Palmer Street. Be sure to mind those 25 mph signs as you drive through, now!

(Should the video above fail to play in your browser, click here to go directly to the YouTube version)

02 Old Station

Carol Allen of Laura’s Tea Room mentioned “The Old Station Restaurant and Produce” in one of her recent newsletters, and we hoped to have a look.

05 Old Station front

The Old Station’s not far, on the other side of the tracks. Just down from the New Town Hall. Be sure while you’re there to have a look at that impressive building when you visit.

03 New Town Hall

In the event, the restaurant and produce shop were closed when we arrived. Next time, maybe. Looks interesting. A fine example of innovation and ingenuity.

04 Waste Basket

Undeterred, we wandered back up to Palmer Street, headed toward Laura’s Tea Room for a nice pot of tea and a sandwich in the deli. On the way we passed one of the new litter baskets you see in the photo above. A minor detail, perhaps. But one that illustrates Ridgeway’s forward motion. This town is a determined beneficiary rather than victim of its history.

06 Cotton Yard Front

Thing is, you have to pass The Cotton Yard to reach Laura’s Tea Room. And it’s near-impossible to just pass by without going in. See that small oak rocking chair in the lower left corner? Well, that followed us home. In the back seat of the truck! Here’s a short Cotton Yard video:

(Again, click here should the video above fail to play in your browser)

The Cotton Yard thoroughly investigated, we crossed Palmer Street to Laura’s Tea Room.

07 LTR front

Look at this. Carol Allen has arranged an impressive WWII memorial display in her right front window. Lots of photos and memorabilia Take time for a careful look. In anticipation of Ridgeway’s June 6 commemoration of D-Day. Click here for details. These folks go all-out.

08 LTR side of window

We both had a terrific sandwich and pot of tea downstairs in the café this time, rather than High Tea upstairs. I think Carol has revised the café menu again. More choices. And somehow she manages to keep the prices well below what we’d expect to pay. Got to ask her about those recent changes when she can find the time to sit down for another interview. That’s one busy lady!

So, there you have it. Another delightful afternoon in Ridgeway, South Carolina. A small South Carolina town determined to make your visit a pleasure.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Interview with Bird House Creator Extraordinaire, Brian Baldwin of Ridgeway, South Carolina

01 birdhouse at zoo
Where does “craft” leave off and “art” begin?
Last Friday we drove from Columbia to Camden, South Carolina, for another lunch at the Palmetto Coffee Shoppe. Outstanding sandwiches, coffee, and dessert. With the added attraction of Mr. Jeff Clark performing right in the dining room. What a treat!
01 right truck
On the way to and from Camden we passed an early model pickup parked beside Route One.
IMG_0445
Both times we passed by the truck had attracted quite a crowd, covered as it was with unusually shaped bird houses. We weren’t in the market for another bird house. But after sitting at home for less than five minutes I couldn’t resist a return visit.
So, back down Route One to have a closer look. Well, I got to see the bird houses and also got to meet Mr. Brian Baldwin, their creator. Here’s a short interview with him and a few more photos.
As he explains in the video, Mr. Baldwin maintains neither an e-mail address nor a web site.
His snail-mail address is:
“64 Settlers Drive, Ridgeway, South Carolina 29130”
But it’s probably easier to reach him by calling:
Home: 803-272-5962
Cell: 803-337-6070
Keep on the lookout for Mr. Baldwin and his remarkable creations as you drive South Carolina’s highways. Be sure to stop.