Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cheraw State Park, South Carolina Part VI Rental Cabin # 3

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01 Cheraw Cabin outside The RV Camping lifestyle is not for everyone. Or so I’ve heard. Let alone tent camping! So, should you have one or more Campophobics in your Party, you might consider renting one of the State Park’s cabins.

Most of our State Parks have at least a few cabins to rent. All that I’ve seen have been very nice. You may recall the photos and video of the lovingly restored CCC cabins at Oconee State Park from an earlier program. And even earlier, that cabin at Poinsett State Park.

Well, Cheraw has eight cabins for rent. All pretty much like cabin number three that I looked over during my visit. Now, these cabins are popular with golfers, so be sure to allow plenty of lead time for the reservation!

02 ccc logo cheraw cabin All eight cabins are CCC structures. Renovated and modernized, of course. But with that classic CCC look inside and out.

03 cabin screened porch The nicest room in the whole cabin, at least for me, is this screened porch. Imagine sitting in one of those rockers of an evening, watching out into the forest behind the cabin for deer and other animals, often too timid to show themselves during the day. Oh my.

Driving in to this cabin’s parking lot, though, four young white-tailed deer emerged for just a moment from the woods behind the cabin, sniffed the air, and bounded right back into the protective thicket. A beautiful sight. No time to get a photo.

04 rear of cabin While we’re on the subject of the porch, here’s a view it from down toward the woods. Click on that small photo for a larger view. And note a couple of important features. First, the smooth concrete area, from the parking lot down to the picnic table and grill. Hardly “rustic,” but a blessing when the weather is rainy, or for wheelchairs and scooters.

05 gas grill Also, have a look at this gas grill. Here I’ve removed the cover. Each cabin at Cheraw has one of these. To supplement the traditional charcoal grill that we’ve all used in the past. One of each! It’s big enough to grill a very large piece of meat. But don’t even think about harvesting one of those deer for some venison steak, though. The Park Rangers would have a fit! And anyway, the deer are more fun to watch than to eat.

06 Kitchen Inside recent restoration has modernized all of the facilities, from kitchen to bathroom. But has managed to maintain that classic CCC look. Just bring food and clothing and you’re all set for a weekend or a week. Microwave and coffee maker included. I mean!

07 Satellite TV And speaking of modernization, look at this. Not a huge television set by today’s standards. But it’s hooked up for full satellite reception. So if the traditional oversized checkerboard isn’t enough to amuse every member of your Party, then turn on the TV! A mixed blessing in my view ….

08 murphy bed Speaking of the members of your party, This cabin will sleep six people. More if they’re newly-weds or very close friends, I suppose. The living room couch folds down to accommodate two, of course. And this in the photo above is what we used to call a Murphy Bed.

I don’t know the proper term. The frame you see against the wall folds down to expose a mattress and covers. Just the thing to save space. First one I’ve seen in one of these cabins. The bedroom in this cabin boasts two single beds as well.

09 Cabin Area of Park Time to go. But here’s a view of the road leading back to the cabin area of the Park. The weather was gloomy when this photo was taken. But I hope you can see these trees. They’re beautiful. Somebody at this Park understands tree pruning. And has for some time.

So there you have it. Cabins for the Campophobic at Cheraw State Park. Something for everyone at this beautiful facility. I hope to return soon.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cheraw State Park, South Carolina Part V. Interview with Cheraw Golf Pro Brick Hyduke

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01 hyduke photo Up early again today and over to the Cheraw State Park golf course to interview Head Golf Pro and Business Manager, Mr. Brick Hyduke.

Mr. Hyduke’s another busy person with heavy responsibilities here at the Park. He’s been interviewed dozens and dozens of times during his long career in golf. But I suspect this will be one of the few times he’ll be interviewed by someone who knows next-to-nothing about the game. I hope he’s patient with a no-nothing interviewer!

03 hyduke photo Mr. Hyduke had been busy for a couple of hours by the time I arrived at his office at 9:00 a.m. He turned out to be one of those executives able to put a visitor at his or her ease right away, appearing to have nothing in the world to do but talk with them. Even when very busy. A great skill! And a relief to me as we started the interview.

We sat down at a table in the Club House snack bar. A pleasant room with great views of the surrounding grounds. I confidently set up the video camera on a tripod, following Morgan Davies’ example from the previous day. But sunlight coming through the window behind Brick darkened the scene. So no video of Mr. Hyduke this time. Live and learn!

01 club house cheraw The audio was fine, though. We began, as usual, with Brick’s personal background. And his introduction to the game of golf. ClickToListen Though born in Pennsylvania, he grew up just down the road, in Bennettsville, South Carolina. Where he began his lifelong involvement with golf around the age of eight! Helping out as he could at the golf courses in Bennettsville. Before long he was playing himself. And that continued through high school and college. Not long thereafter he turned pro.

01 pro shop I then asked Mr. Hyduke to explain what’s involved in being head golf pro at a course like Cheraw. His response was interesting. It’s a lot more than just playing very good golf.

carts 2 Head golf pros, he explained, are responsible for all aspects of their course. Everything from giving lessons to management of the pro shop, to upkeep of golf carts. And, of course, keeping up the appearance of the course’s fairways and holes. Four seasons a year! Everything “from top to bottom,” as he put it.

ClickToListen I was most impressed, though, with Mr. Hyduke’s emphasis throughout his description of the job with the importance of dealing with people. Managing staff; meeting the public; assessing the public’s interests and needs. Even maintenance of an extensive volunteer program to supplement his staff.

He maintains a corps of 37 volunteers, who receive a free round of golf for every four hours they work on the course! That in itself would be a fulltime job for most people. Brick certainly has the personality and work ethic to handle all of that.

04 hyduke photo Mr. Hyduke has extensive experience with both private and public golf courses. So I asked him how managing Cheraw State Park’s course is different from managing private courses. Listen to his response. Quite interesting. Here he answers to a park manager rather than to a board of directors, as he would at a private course. But he also has a far more diverse player clientele. People from all over the United States come to play this course. No “captive audience,” as in a private membership course.

ClickToListen I then asked Brick the question he’d been hoping for from the beginning. “Tell us more about the golf course.” That’s what he really wanted to talk about. The Tom Jackson-designed 18-hole course, he said, is unusual in several ways. First, it’s layout. With no parallel fairways, the course covers a lot of territory! Requiring over 6.5 miles of cart path just to get around. This helps to explain the beauty of this course. 

03 club house Brick also reminded us that the course’s location within the Park also means the surrounding area will remain free of development, unlike most other courses, where houses and condos abound. And, of course, it’s very quiet.

Click here to take a video tour of the course’s 18 holes. A tour hosted by Brick himself.

In spite of all these advantages, play here, Brick said, is inexpensive. $30 to $35 for 18 holes, depending on the time of year, plus a $15 cart fee for 18 holes. That seems pretty expensive to me, but I’ve been assured that it isn’t for a course of this caliber. Didn’t know golf was that expensive! Good heavens! I’ll stick to kayaking!

ClickToListen We concluded our discussion with other details about the course. Brick is especially proud of the course’s Audubon Society certification. His golf course is certified in all six of Audubon’s categories. Meaning that Brick and his staff pay special attention to the course’s relationship with its natural habitat. Including use of chemicals, water run-off, and protection of bird nesting areas. See details of the Audubon program by clicking here.

Thanks again to Mr. Brick Hyduke, Head Golf Pro and Business Manager of what has to be one of South Carolina’s most beautiful golf courses. I hope to return to Cheraw at the end of the month and just walk the course. Not to play, now! Just walk through to enjoy the natural scenery, birds, and other wildlife.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cheraw State Park, South Carolina. Part IV. Interview with Corinna Hanson, the Park’s Resource Manager

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01 Hanson at Map Cheraw Cheraw State Park, with its 7,600-some diverse acres has a Resource Manager rather than an Interpretive Ranger. She is Ms. Corrine Hanson. You see her above pointing out some of the Park’s more important features on a wall map in the Park Office.

02 Hanson at Display I was fortunate to catch up with Ms. Hanson on Tuesday afternoon. She too is busy as the dickens here, and puts in long hours at the Park. But I hoped to get Ms. Hanson to share her knowledge of the Park’s ecosystem with us.

ClickToListenShe began our conversation with a clear explanation of the long leaf pine ecosystem. And how long leaf pine is different from other pine species.  Click the button to have a listen. Her explanation explains a lot about how the Park is run.

06 Hanson Close-up ClickToListen She then explained the process through which the Park restores wooded areas that have been taken over by other species to long leaf pine.

ClickToListen Of course, Cheraw State Park’s many and diverse acres include other species of trees, and of plants. I asked Ms. Hanson to describe them, and explain their relationship to the long leaf pines. Here is her response. Again, a clear and comprehensive explanation. She knows her stuff!

ClickToListen I then asked Ms. Hanson about the wildlife at the Park. She described the Park’s red cockaded woodpecker population. That’s a very rare bird. I didn’t get to see one while at the Park this time, but hope to in the future. Click here to access the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Red-cockaded Woodpecker Recovery page. Some additional interesting information and links there.

04 Hanson at Window We concluded with Ms. Hanson’s personal background, and career. Quite a story! An interesting career path which includes even an undergraduate degree in law enforcement!

ClickToListen I was surprised to learn that Ms. Hanson recently accepted a federal job away from South Carolina. Hopefully she will soon return and continue to contribute her considerable expertise to the State.

Thanks again, Ms. Hanson, for your time today.

Stay tuned, next we’re headed for Cheraw State Park’s impressive golf course and an interview with the Golf Pro and Business Manager, Mr. Brick Hyduke.

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Cheraw State Park, South Carolina. Part III Morning Paddle on Lake Juniper

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lake 02 Up early this morning and dressed for a paddle on Cheraw State Park’s Lake Juniper. This lake was created in the mid-1930s when the CCC dammed Juniper Creek.

lake over kayak The CCC crews used trees cut from the area excavated for the lake in construction of the many buildings erected during creation of the State’s first state park. Can you imagine clearing and deepening this 360-acre area with only the rudimentary tools available to the CCC at the time? We’ll see some of the results of their efforts this morning.

Over to the boat ramp just down the road from the campground. The Advanced Elements Expedition inflatable/foldable kayak was out of the back seat of the car and ready to paddle in just a few minutes. Look at that peaceful water!

I first meandered down to the southernmost end of the lake, near the spillway, with its artistically shaped bridge. Then on up the lake’s eastern shore toward the Park Office and picnic area.

There, the Park’s rental boat fleet was a surprise. The usual canoes and john boats. But also sixteen kayaks! And a diverse selection of kayaks at that. Something for everyone! Have a look.

moon and pineFrom the Park Office boat area I paddled on up the eastern shore of the lake, past a golf course fairway and paddle-in camping area, to this beautiful sight.

There’s just so much to see while paddling this interesting lake. It’s big enough to require several trips, at least, to become acquainted. I’ll surely be back. Maybe by then I’ll have my tree nomenclature straightened out!

Osprey Sign Oh, before going ashore I should mention the Lake’s nesting Osprey. They’ve been here for several years now. Lightning recently struck the tree in which they’d built their nest. But the birds themselves have been sighted since. Let’s hope they rebuild.

Stay tuned for an interview with Cheraw State Park Resource Manager, Corinna Hanson. Now, she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the Park’s flora and fauna!

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Cheraw State Park, South Carolina Part II. Interview with Park Manager Mark Davies

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Davies Close 02 Mark Davies arrived only a month ago as Park Manager at Cheraw State Park. So most of his waking hours have been devoted to settling in to this enormous South Carolina Park. In spite of his busy schedule, Mark agreed to take an hour out for a CarolinaConsidered Project interview. Fortunately, the rain had stopped, so we had a little sunshine to brighten our interview location.

davies shelter Even more fortunate, Mark’s wife, Morgan Davies, dropped by to help with video recording. I’ve been studying video for a few months, but have a long way to go. Thanks to Morgan’s contribution I’m able to provide video clips of the interview rather than just audio. Thanks again, Morgan. I’ll always remember the tripod!

We began, as usual, with Mark Davies’ background and preparation for service in the South Carolina Park Service. Quite an interesting story. He’s lived and worked all over the country.
We then turned to Mark’s career in the Park Service. Mark is the first park manager I’ve met with undergraduate training in business and accounting. Listen as he explains how useful that background has been when managing an operation as large and diverse as a 7,000-acre state park with its own golf course. Makes sense! But it’s still unusual.
I’ve yet to meet a Park Manager who could describe his or her Park in “ … just a sentence or two.” It’s interesting to listen to them try, though. Mark Davies was no exception. He had so much to include that his brief general description went on for considerably more than a sentence or two. Have a listen above.

Of course, the Tom Jackson-designed 18-hole championship golf course has to be the first feature mentioned. And it is beautiful. I’m not a golfer, and even I can appreciate its beauty. More on the golf course in a later post.

lake juniper 01 But the golf course at Cheraw is only the beginning. 360-acre Lake Juniper is an equally valuable resource. Larger than most state park lakes I’ve seen, it offers a diverse and interesting shore line. Ideal for geezer kayaking.

Of course, no Mobile Studio Travels survey of a State Park would be complete without discussion of its RV camping facilities and rental cabins. Cheraw’s RV camping loop is unusually small. Only 17 sites. But those 17 sites and surrounding grounds and facilities are beautifully maintained. Like the golf course! We’ll see more of Cheraw’s rental cabins in a later post with a later visit to Cabin # 3.

Cheraw State Park also offers its visitors excellent hiking and boating opportunities. Several miles of trails, in two loops, all well maintained. With considerable attention to visitors with limited mobility. I was amazed to find 16 kayaks for rent at this Park. Sixteen! As well as canoes and john boats. Quite a fleet.

In conclusion Park Manager Davies describes the Park’s Moonlight Kayak Tours. They’re held every month of the year, weather and an adequate number of participants permitting, at or near full moon. Imagine spending a few hours on Lake Juniper at night, under a full moon.

Thanks again, Mark Davies, for your contribution to the CarolinaConsidered Project. And special thanks to Morgan Davies who gave us video for this interview. Errors in video editing, of course, are mine, not Morgan’s.

Stay tuned. Next we’ll take a morning kayak paddle on Lake Juniper.

Click here for the next post in this series.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cheraw State Park, South Carolina Part 1 Drive Over and Initial Look Around

map to cheraw sp

Table of Contents for This Series

Off yesterday morning for Cheraw State Park. About a 90 minute drive from home in Columbia. Mostly on Route 1. A favorite of mine. Maybe because it’s called “Two Notch Road” through much of Columbia. As you see on the map above, Route 1, by then stripped of its picturesque “Two Notch” appellation, passes through Camden, Bethune (known for nearly a century as Lynchwood), McBee, with its renovated train depot, now a museum, on into the heart of the 46,000-acre Sand Hills State Forest. More about this important forest later on in this series.

It would be easy – and enjoyable! – to spend several days traveling this section of Route 1. Stopping at each of these towns to enjoy their natural and social scenery. Maybe even testing their restaurants …. But a Park reservation awaits.

Cheraw SP Main Gate Turn south on Route 52, just a few miles shy of the town of Cheraw, and you’ll see the Park entrance only a couple miles down the road. On the right.

main gate 2 This is only the beginning. Cheraw is one of two South Carolina State Parks that maintain golf courses. We’ll visit that golf course later on. But golf course maintenance practices seem to have permeated the whole Park. Everything here is beautifully clipped and trimmed. From one end of the Park to the other.

Turn left at the end of this road that meanders along beside a couple of golf course fairways, and visit the Park Office for check-in. One of those interesting CCC-built structures, since renovated. Then over to to Cheraw’s RV Campground.

Cheraw Aliner Campsite # 14 04 This is the smallest campground I’ve encountered so far. Only 17 sites. But each site is well placed, well maintained, and ready for most any RV. That’s site # 14 above. My favorite. It’s a pull-through, with a nice view of the lake. Level too, though there’s a slight grade up to the level part.

Boardwalk at Cheraw Across Lake Now, here’s a view across Lake Juniper. This lake, at 360 acres, is ideal for kayaking. Or, at least, the sort of kayaking that I do. Big enough to be interesting; small enough not to be intimidating. We’ll go out for a paddle later on in my stay.

Boat Ramp in Rain It’s been raining most of the day today, sometimes heavily. But I just had to go over to see the boat ramp. It’s quite near the campground. Looks ideal for my purposes.

Clubhouse 01 And, while we’re at it, let’s take a quick look at the impressive club house at Cheraw’s golf course.

I took the photo above when the sun was out. But today it was raining cats and dogs. As you can see here. More on this golf course and clubhouse later on in the stay.

Cloudy Lake Enough for today. Back to the Aliner to read and write for a while before dinner. Stay tuned. More to come!

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Iron Station, North Carolina’s Harmonica Player and “Make-Do” Tool-Maker, Ivan Angel

dad Back in mid-September, I had an opportunity to spend a few days with my dad in Iron Station, North Carolina. We had a great time.

Dad now is 88, going on about 55. He’s survived indescribable military duty at Omaha Beach during the WWII Normandy Invasion, and subsequent life challenges you wouldn’t believe were I to list even a few of them. Now he’s retired and living the Good Life in North Carolina’s Iron Station.

Pole

Flag The Good Life, however, means staying busy from early morning until night on projects as varied as erection of a home-made flagpole well over 20 feet in height, to an endless series of modifications to his “Moon Rover,” a vehicle that began life many years ago – heck, decades ago! – as a lawn tractor with attached mower blade. Moon RoverThe mower blade was removed long ago. And now, with constant maintenance, this former Murray Lawn Tractor serves ably all four seasons as a means of local transportation. And, of course, topic of conversation. Far more colorful than a golf cart!

During this recent visit, dad allowed me to take a couple of videos. Here’s one of him playing the harmonica.

And here’s another in which he demonstrates how to create “make-do” tools. This one a drill bit long enough to drill through several thick boards. Using only a piece of threaded stock that itself becomes the securing bolt. The shop, as you can see, is full of such “make-do” tools, many created for special applications during reconstruction of the Moon Rover.

So there you have it. An example of how to stay active and engaged in retirement.

And stay tuned. Next we’ll visit South Carolina’s Cheraw State Park. Another beautiful State Park. With an 18-hole championship golf course, no less.