Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another Visit to the Town of Cheraw and Cheraw State Park

02 Campsite 14

Table of Contents for this Series

This week I parked the Mobil Studio again at Cheraw State Park. Right on # 14. The one you see above. It’s a pull-through site, which simplifies parking. And, if approached from the wrong direction, once situated, it offers an ideal view of the Park’s Lake while sitting at the computer.

mapNearly the whole drive to Cheraw from Columbia was along the celebrated Route One. No wonder books have been written about this road. It’s even inspired web sites. [click the underlined link] Social and natural scenery combine to entertain the alert driver from beginning to end. Next time you visit South Carolina I recommend a drive along Route One as a fairly comprehensive introduction to this part of the State. The Upcountry and Lowcountry, of course, will require separate trips.

I planned this visit to write about the Town of Cheraw rather than about Cheraw State Park. But look at that sunset! How can anyone help but put in a few words about such a beautiful piece of country. I found the Campground, and the rest of the Park, for that matter, in spic-n-span condition. What a difference a dedicated, omni-capable, hard-working Camp Host can make. Mr. Gene is out and around from morning until night. He even helps late-arriving RV-ers after dark.

I was busy most of the week in Cheraw. But I couldn’t resist a few hikes around the Park between trips to town. Here’s just one example of the improvements that Park Manager Mark and his crew have made since my last visit.

Click on the photo above for a better view of this volleyball court. Two metal posts, solid enough to support the tightly stretched net, and a clean sand surface. I can imagine that Park visitors actually play volleyball here! In contrast to some of the less impressive courts at other Parks.

Lots more improvements here at Cheraw State Park, but it’s well past time to turn to the nearby Town of Cheraw. Just five miles away, making Cheraw State Park an ideal base for your visit.

05 cabin insideIf you don’t have an RV yet, you might try renting one of the Park’s eight cabins. They’re popular with folks coming to play the Park’s championship golf course. But with a little advance notice, reservations are available. And they’re only $66 or so a night at this time of year. Not bad when everything but your food is provided! That even includes satellite TV! Still, I prefer the Mobile Studio...

Click here to continue on for a visit to Cheraw

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Interview with Dr. Martin J. Herbkersman, National Board Certified Practitioner of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Oriental Reproductive Medicine, and Herbology in Columbia, SC.

Earlier this month, through the good offices of my wife and daughter, both longtime patients, Dr. Martin J. Herbkersman, agreed to a CarolinaConsidered interview. Dr. Herbkersman certainly is one of South Carolina’s interesting people.
Now, South Carolina – and Columbia, South Carolina in particular – is chuck-full of physicians. I don’t know off-hand just how many, but they’re thick on the ground here. Maybe the presence of the USC School of Medicine has something to do with it. Or the large number of retirees who’ve had the good sense to make Columbia their home, giving the medical care industry more work here than elsewhere. But for whatever reason, Columbia seems to have lots of physicians.

Few of them, however, practice traditional Asian, or Oriental, medicine.
And even fewer members of that minuscule population are NCCAOM Board certified practitioners. More on NCCAOM Board certification in a moment. But Dr. Herbkersman is both.

You’ll find Dr. Herbkersman’s office on Columbia’s Bull Street. Be sure you’re driving north; then turn in at this “1920” sign to park.
Here he maintains an office typical of small medical practices in this part of the country.

Unpretentious inside and out, providing visitors a subdued, even calming, environment in which to wait for consultation and treatment.

There are a few reminders of the Asian foundation of the medicine practiced here. But the overall impression I received during this first visit was more that of a regular, comfortable medical office with well trained staff.

After a short wait, Dr. Herbkersman introduced himself and we went into his private office to chat. Raised right here in Columbia, he earned his four-year undergraduate degree at USC. Majoring, as he said, “in fraternity.” Upon graduation he embarked upon a successful South Carolina business career.
No Asian background, or thought of a career in Oriental medicine. In fact, as he explains in the audio clip below, he and his brothers developed South Carolina’s first microbrewery. In Hilton Head. The Hilton Head Brewing Company. Click the link for a peek. And then a few others. It wasn’t until age 31 that Dr. Herbkersman decided to change direction and pursue Oriental medicine. Have a listen:

[If the audio file fails to play in your browser, click here to listen]

I then asked Dr. Herbkersman to explain just how he and his family made such an important decision, and what it entailed. Listen again.

[If the audio file fails to play in your browser, click here to listen]

That’s quite a change. And a considerable challenge for anyone. Let alone a successful South Carolina restaurant developer and brewmaster!

Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine in Santa Monica, founded in 1983 by Bong Dal Kim, required at least an additional four years of difficult post-graduate study. And that was just the beginning. There were additional courses in fields such as Asian pharmaceuticals, or Asian herbal medicine, and all sorts of exams and certifications added to the challenge.

[Again, if you don't see the audio link in your browser, click here.]

I already had imposed on Dr. Herbkersman’s time for longer than agreed. But I wanted to know more about the sorts of patients he treats. Here is his response to that question.

[Finally, one more link to the audio if your browser doesn't present it properly.]

So there you have it. A few minutes with another of South Carolina’s interesting people. This one providing “another health care choice” to the people of Columbia.
NCCAOM Certification
Click here, by the way, to learn more about the NCCAOM, or National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Their website is chuck-full of information about Oriental medicine, including acupuncture. A good place to start to learn more about this increasingly popular field of medicine. Click the image above from their Website to get a better idea of what NCCAOM certification requires. Oh my.

Thanks again, Dr. Herbkersman, for your contribution of time and expertise to the CarolinaConsidered Project.
Next week we’ll be returning to Cheraw, South Carolina. Another of those interesting places in this remarkable state. I’m hoping while there to meet Cheraw’s new Tourism and Community Development Director, David Sides. So stay tuned!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

RV Camping at Chester State Park, South Carolina


Last week I got to spend another five days at South Carolina’s Chester State Park. Don’t know how many of you folks have visited this Park. But if you’ve never been, you’re in for a treat. Maybe even a surprise. You don’t hear as much about Chester as some of the other Parks in the State system. That may be changing, though, judging from the number of RV campsite reservations made for the weekend. Full-up! Things seem to be looking up here at Chester State Park.

I know; I know. Every South Carolina State Park I visit is a treat. And that’s been pretty much true. One skeptical reader even wrote to ask if I work for the Park System! I don’t, of course. And am careful not to receive any freebies or special treatment from them either. Well, other than the opportunity to enjoy their remarkable recreational facilities. But everyone can do that. All are welcome. All, that is, who are willing to abide by the Park System’s very sensible rules of conduct.

Map View copy

Chester is one of those Parks you can begin to enjoy even before you get there. Have a look at this map. This Park is far enough off the beaten path to take you along some of South Carolina’s scenic two-lane roads. Natural and social scenery abounding! But it’s also just a few miles from downtown Chester, a city of around 6,000. Small enough for a comfortable visit, yet large enough to fill any off-site shopping or dining needs you may have while staying at the Park. And, it’s only 50 miles from Columbia and just under 50 miles from Charlotte. An ideal location, in other words, for repeat visits.

This time I drove down from Iron Station, North Carolina, rather than from home. So I got to travel a couple of secondary roads I hadn’t seen before. All part of the adventure! Farms in this part of the state have a look quite different from those in the Lowcountry. Or even those in the more mountainous parts of the Upcountry.

2011-10-09_17-20-47_520 copy

I arrived just around official check-in time of 2:00 p.m. And went directly to the site. Chester doesn’t have an elaborate check-in system like some of the busier Parks.

A word of caution, though. Take the time to go on-line to make a reservation before you arrive. I find ReserveAmerica’s service the most convenient. It can be reached at Or, call the Park directly at 803-385-2680. But if you plan to occupy an RV campsite, be sure to check availability before going. Especially on weekends. This Park has become considerably more popular during the past few months.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by Assistant Ranger Brandon and Camp Host, Bunia Totherow. Bunia, and her husband, Wylie, are among the most friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable camp hosts I’ve encountered in the South Carolina Park System. And that’s saying a lot! You’ll enjoy meeting them. They live not far away, and know everything worth knowing about the Park and surrounding area.

I discovered, right off the bat, that I’d made a mistake with the reservation. Assistant Ranger Brandon cheerfully helped straighten things out, and got me settled on my site. Park personnel mean so much to the tone and atmosphere of a Park. Almost as much as the natural environment! This sort of welcome really makes a difference.

Lake Satellite ViewBe sure when you visit to spend some time at Chester State Park’s lake. Here’s a satellite view. Click the photo for a larger, more detailed image. As you can see, this lake is quite large. Over 160 acres!

lake and boat house[3]You can rent a jon boat from the house pictured above. Or bring your own. As long as it’s paddle-powered or has only a small trolling motor. I took that photo, by the way, during my last visit.

community-center3Chester State Park too is well known in the surrounding area as an ideal site for large family picnics, reunions, and even more formal gatherings. Look at that community center. Plenty of room, and even kitchen facilities. It too requires reservations, though. So be sure to call ahead.

There’s much more to see here at Chester State Park. But we’re running out of time. Click on the short video above to see a bit more of the Lake. And stay tuned to the Mobile Studio Travels for more of South Carolina’s interesting people and places.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Conversation with Mr. Jay Leeper, Outdoorsman, Wood Carver, Blade Sharpener, and RV Camper Builder

01 Jay photo

Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to chat with one of those interesting South Carolinians CarolinaConsidered introduces from time to time. Mr. Jay Leeper describes himself here first as an outdoorsman. Then as a wood carver and blade sharpener.

02 Jay at sanderWell. He certainly is all of that. But as you’ll see in a moment, there’s much more to know about Jay Leeper and his many talents. Click here to hear the first part of the our conversation. [Click the arrow on the player below, adjust volume, and wait for a moment; I’m using a different server for these audio files. You also can download them to your computer with the link below the player if you wish.]

Download this Media File - (Right Click)

Speaking of wood carving, though, have a look at this! Click on the photo for a larger view. It’s just one of the many creations Jay casually showed me as we stood chatting under the blue tarp in front of his workshop/toolshed. Here he describes how it was made.

Download this Media File - (Right Click)

Made with a set of sharpened screwdrivers?! Oh my. When I expressed polite skepticism, Jay rummaged around a while and brought them out. A set of six or seven of those tiny screw drivers jewelers are said to use. Each with its business end ground into a razor-sharp carving blade. Jay doesn’t believe in throwing away anything that might some day be useful!

Of course, Jay also has at least one of every tool imaginable for woodwork. And metal work as well, as we’ll see in a moment.

04 folderAfter looking at a few more wood carving projects, I asked Jay if he would put a proper edge on my beloved BenchMade carry knife. He looked it over, and was kind enough not to laugh at my own sharpening efforts.

05 using a belt sanderListen to his comments here about sharpening blades. It’s as much art as skill, I would say. And note that he works with every sort of blade, from the tiny screwdriver transformations described above to large lawnmower blades. They all offer a challenge that Jay enjoys.

Download this Media File - (Right Click)

Jay makes it all look so simple as he applies the steps of his sharpening method. And he does it quickly. Only two or three minutes for the whole process here.

06 diamond sharpenerI’ve spent countless hours trying to sharpen the very knife Jay is treating. Even, I’m embarrassed to admit, using – or misusing – some of the specialized tools he employs.

07 ceramic rodTo no avail. This isn’t as easy as Jay makes it appear! When he was done, my beloved BenchMade had an edge that was “scary-sharp,” as they say. And one that will stay sharp for a while.

Here’s a short video I made of the first portion of Jay’s demonstration of his sharpening techniques. Have a look:

Jay has allowed me to include a phone number here where he can be reached during normal business hours. It’s 803-413-0093. Give him a call if you have something to be sharpened. You’ll also get to meet one of South Carolina’s interesting people. And perhaps even get to watch him work. It’s a treat!

Speaking of treats, after my BenchMade was properly sharpened, Jay took me over to see his “RV.” A travel trailer he built, virtually from the ground up.

Well, he did start with a small utility trailer as the foundation. But the rest is all his. Built from blueprints. Listen as he describes the creation process.

Download this Media File - (Right Click)

These plans, and more detailed information about this style of caravan, can be found at:

And, if you’re not quite up to building your own caravan, or RV, then just pick up a copy of Timothy Lemke’s book, “The New Gypsy Caravan.” Click that link for the listing.

As Jay and I sat inside his caravan, he explained more of its features. Have a listen.

Download this Media File - (Right Click)

There really is much more room inside than you might expect. That’s a view of the bed and the front windows. Not a square inch of wasted space.

Thanks again, Jay, for your generous contribution of time to CarolinaConsidered, and for rescuing my beloved BenchMade carry knife. I’ll certainly be back when it needs sharpening again. The opportunity to see your custom-built Caravan RV was an unexpected treat.

Stay tuned to CarolinaConsidered for more of South Carolina’s interesting people and places.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Paddling Lake Oolenoy at Table Rock State Park

Another beautiful morning here at Table Rock State Park this Wednesday. Sunny, but without the oppressive heat we've had here in South Carolina during the past few months. Highs today in the mid-80s. With very little wind. In other words, ideal Elder-Kayaking weather! So Let’s get a move on! Here’s Part 1 of a two-part video to give you an idea of just how nice this lake really is. Open it full-screen if you can.

Table Rock State Park maintains a very serviceable boat ramp and parking area on Lake Oolenoy. Just across from the Visitors Center. The facility even includes  restrooms. Be sure to tip the Iron Ranger when you pass through the gate. It's only a minimum of $2.00, and every dollar helps.

Oolenoy certainly is an unusual name. I'm not even sure of the proper pronunciation, or where it came from. Maybe from the late 18th Century settlement of Oolenoy, near the Greenville County line. I'll have to ask around. Folks in the Upcountry often have a good grounding in this area's history.

So, over to the boat ramp, arriving not long after noon. The sun was well up, but not oppressive as I assembled the Expedition kayak and wheeled it down the long narrow boat ramp to the water.

Speaking of water, don't worry about getting wet. Step right in! The water here is crystal-clear. The photo above is from the southernmost end of the Lake. At a depth of just a few inches. And the whole lake is like that. No wonder this is one of the few parks in the State Park system that still maintains its swimming facilities during the summer months.

When you paddle Lake Oolenoy, be sure to visit the northernmost part of the Lake. Go under the Route 11 bridge you see above in the distance, toward Table Rock. For some reason I assumed that there was little to see on the other side of the bridge. Not so!

Right after passing under the bridge the water opens up into a nice area that just has to be full of fish. Let alone spectacular views.

The banks of the lake too are a photographer's delight. I wish I had the talent necessary to make the most of this opportunity. Look at those boulders! But I didn't see much wildlife during this paddle. One exception was a highly irritated great blue heron who flew up from his perch just here, scolding away.

The northernmost portion of the Lake narrows into the inlet stream you see above. Gradually becoming more and more shallow. Too shallow to paddle up to the dam at the southern end of Pinnacle Lake. It couldn't have been far, so I hated to turn around.

There's plenty more to see of Lake Oolenoy, though. So back down the inlet stream, out into the wider water, and under the Route 11 bridge. Isn't this beautiful territory! It doesn't need to get any better than this.

Here's a view of what I thought was the southernmost end of the Lake. That dam obviously is man-made. With one of those outlet valves protected by a heavy grate. It made a nice gurgling sound as I passed.

But it wasn't the end at all. As I paddled near the dam, I realized there was considerably more to see. Like the northernmost part of the Lake, there was a whole new section of water that wasn't visible from the boat ramp. Again, with spectacular views of Table Rock there just for the looking!

Here’s the second half of that video. Shot from the kayak with the little Canon ELPH 100 HS camera. This half is a bit smaller than the first. See if you can tell the difference.

So there you have it. A preview of what you will find when you visit Lake Oolenoy at Table Rock State Park. Be sure to bring your kayak or canoe. There’s much more to this lake than you can see from the shore or fishing docks.