Friday, March 12, 2010

Santee State park, SC. Part VI. More to see and do!

Click here for the first post in this series.

Today was the last morning at Santee State Park. I had to be on the road by noon. It’s always good to get back home after one of these excursions. But there’s just so much more here at Santee that demands mention.

Turkeys It was misty all morning, and the overcast sky steadily threatened more serious rain. A threat to Andrew’s splendid camera. But right after breakfast out I bravely drove for a few more photos.

Just look at what ran across the road in front of the car! Be sure to click on the photo above to see the wild turkeys. Only four there. But a flock of at least fifteen crossed the road while I stopped to watch. Finally jumping out of the car with the camera. This wildlife photography definitely takes practice. What a sight! I was over fifty before I ever saw a turkey in the wild. And now this. You should have been there.

Boat Ramp 1 I was on the way to the Lakeshore Campground boat ramp when the wild turkeys made their grand appearance. The ramp mentioned a few days ago. Here’s a view of that ramp from the entrance road.

Boat Ramp 2 And here’s the bottom of the ramp where it enters the water. With its nice non-slip surface for boat trailers. And gradual slope into the lake for ElderKayakers! Click on the photo to see driftwood piled on both sides of the ramp.

At first glance the driftwood might suggest inattention to maintenance. But, in fact, driftwood – some of it pretty substantial – is a constant fact of life on Lake Marion. Frustrating folks who pilot those big aluminum pontoon boats hither and yon, I understand. Lake Marion has a huge surface area. But it’s quite shallow in many places. With plenty of stumps and trees that weren’t removed back when the lake was first filled. This driftwood is one result.

Sinkhole 1 Next stop was at one of the dramatic limestone sinkholes found in Santee State Park. This one’s a beauty, and right beside the road leading out of the Lakeshore Campground. It’s an ideal spot for folks with limited mobility, since you can see well into the formation without even leaving your vehicle.

Sinkhole Explanation Here’s a snap of the nearby sign that explains the phenomenon. When you click the photo above, the image that emerges will be considerably larger than normal so you can read the text. You’ll probably have to scroll back and forth, up and down. Excellent explanation of the phenomenon here, though, so I’ll leave you to it.

Sinkhole 2 Here’s the bottom of the pit in the photo above. You can see the mouth of the tunnel worn through the rock. With a little digging, one could easily slip down in and explore the cave below. Imagine growing up around such temptations! Day before yesterday, a tent camper at the Lakeshore Campground who was born and raised in Santee described how as a child he used to explore those limestone caves. Oh my. Hope his parents didn’t know ….

Sinkhole Pond This sunken pond is near the limestone sinkhole pictured above. I don’t know what made the slide marks down to the water that you see on the grass in the photo above.

Alligator Sign But I did notice this sign at the head of the trail leading down there. Hmmm.

Sinkhole Trail Still, who could resist a trail like this? It’s an easy grade, and the wooden side railings are so reassuring …. But no time this morning. Lots more to see here at Santee before packing up.

Tennis Court Back over to the Visitors Center area for a final look at some special features. Like this tennis court. Now, this isn’t just a slab of concrete with a piece of netting strung across, kept for mention in a campground brochure. This is an active court. Wet at the moment. But one that sees a lot of use. And it’s well maintained.

Picnic ShelterNearby is one of the Park’s many picnic shelters. Imagine having a big family or club gathering here. When it isn’t raining, of course. The lake across the road. Walking and hiking trails all around. A tennis court nearby.

Playground And this playground! Sure to absorb the attention of the younger set for hours. We’re not talking old tires hung from trees with dubious ropes and splintery teeter-totters here. This playground is State of the Art! And also well maintained.

Mississippian potThere’s much more to see here. Don’t miss, for example, the small museum at the Visitor’s Center. The square footage is limited. But that limited space is chuck-full of interesting exhibits and information. Including a nice display of Mississippian Era American Indian artifacts!

Santee Mound Come to find out, Santee has its own Mississippian Indian Mound! Quite a good display and explanation. I’ll have to visit the site of the Mound next time here.

Well, time’s up. Over to the Mobile Studio to pack things away for the trip back to Columbia. Many thanks to Park Manager Nathan Maiwald, Rangers Frank, Noah, and others, Tom the Camp Host at the Lakeshore Campground, and Ronnie and the lady at the Visitors Center desk who rescued my computer! The whole staff, in fact. You folks maintain a wonderful South Carolina resource here.

Next expedition is to Calhoun Falls State Park on the western border of the State. Said to be one of the very best campgrounds in the system. So stay tuned!

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