Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Time at Laura’s Tea Room Ridgeway, South Carolina

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Last Sunday we visited Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway, South Carolina, to see the Christmas decorations. Had lunch too, of course. I don’t know how Carol and her staff find the time to do all of this.

The photo above [click it for a better view] is the first floor viewed from near the door. Here’s where you’ll have lunch if you don’t have time for high tea upstairs.

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Every table’s a treat. And some of the special designs are even for sale! We try to sit at a different table each visit.

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Fair warning. If you eat downstairs, all through lunch you’ll tempted by must-have gifts lining the shelves and counters on both sides of the first floor. So don’t choose the downstairs cafĂ© just to save a few dollars. That’s unlikely to happen!

141214 Looking Upstairs

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Climb the stairs to the second floor to reach the heart of Laura’s Tea Room. 141221 Laura's Tea Room Christmas (7)Pass by Manuel, on leave from Fawlty Towers, and you may be joined by special guests. Our last visit, for example,  we were surprised to be joined by  ….. Well, never mind. We’re supposed to keep quiet about it. And all guests are special at Laura’s Tea Room.

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Upstairs it’s even more beautifully decorated than usual. The Christmas spirit in full swing. Look at this place setting!

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Everything perfectly arranged. Each setting waiting to impress a Tea Room guest.

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I don’t know how long Carol and her staff will keep these Christmas decorations. So hurry on over before it’s too late. Remember to call 803-337-8594 for a reservation, though, if you’re planning to eat upstairs. This is a popular spot for folks from Columbia, Charlotte, Charleston, Atlanta … And even some international guests. So call ahead or you’ll be eating downstairs. With all of those temptations lining the walls….

Friday, December 12, 2014

South Carolina’s Scenic Highway 11


Next time you visit Keowee-Toxaway State Park, or even if you’re somewhere else in the Western part of the State, take some time to enjoy the scenery up and down Scenic Highway Eleven.

It’s a remarkable stretch of road. Two lanes of blacktop all the way, with nice wide shoulders, as you see above. A 55 mph speed limit most of the way. And, even better, remarkable views of Western South Carolina’s forests and mountains around every curve.


Late this afternoon I spent a few hours driving toward Table Rock State Park on this remarkable strip of road. The Long Shoals Wayside Picnic Area is well worth a stop.


Plenty of parking in two areas, and a trail down to Little Eastatoee Creek. Not for folks with mobility problems. But I made it down and back up with no difficulty.



Here’s the sort of thing you get to see at the bottom. This time of year the creek’s low enough to display much of its water-worn granite bed. A photographer’s delight. Wish I’d had more time.



Remarkable. No wonder the CCC selected this area to quarry the granite they used when creating Table Rock State Park, just a few miles down the road.


And, speaking of Table Rock, here’s a view of it and the “Stool” that I snapped from the window of the truck. Pulled well over on the shoulder, of course. How could anyone resist?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lakeside Cabin at Keowee-Toxaway State Park South Carolina

The cabin on the shore of Lake Keowee at Keowee Toxaway State Park in western South Carolina is, I believe, the largest in the South Carolina State Park system. Three bedrooms, two full baths, and that's just upstairs.

Downstairs there's a fold-out sofa and a half bath. Plus the fully equipped kitchen we've come to expect in State Park cabins. All recently renovated. Granite counters, no less.

This cabin accommodates up to ten people!

Working fireplaces upstairs and down make this cabin ideal for any time of year. Families with lots of children, or even two or three smaller families, would be comfortable here

Two of the three bedrooms have views of the lake, and doors leading out onto a wide deck. Don't know if you can see it through the trees in the attached photo, but the cabin rental includes a private dock. Bring along a boat and enjoy the whole lake.

The only disadvantage of this cabin is that it stays rented throughout the year. Probably because the rent is so low. So, make your plans early and get to enjoy both the thousand acres of Park woods and Lake Keowee. It doesn't get better than this.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Short Visit to Pickens, South Carolina

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When my big city born-and-bred wife saw these photos of Pickens, South Carolina, she said, “Now, that’s a typical Southern town! The way we want them to be.”
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I had to agree. Look at this East Main Street view. It’s not often we get to see real mountains from right downtown!
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And here’s Legacy Square on the corner of East Main and Lewis Streets. A popular gathering place. If you click the photo above you’ll have a better view of the fancy fountain and masonry wall built in 1993. The project was funded, according to this informative article, by the sale of the commemorative bricks you see in the wall.
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A crew of workmen was renovating the County Court House when I walked by. Click the photo above for a better view. Or, maybe their efforts were directed only to the area in front of the Court House. They looked busy, so I didn’t cross the street to ask questions. Next time.
Pickens is another of those South Carolina towns determined to be beneficiaries rather than victims of their history. With a population today of only around 3,000 it doesn’t seem possible they could accomplish so much. But seeing is believing. The third novel in my Dr. Ray Raether and Samantha RV travel mystery series is set several miles north of here. A good excuse to come back. Research, doncha know.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Return Visit to Hagood Mill Historic Site, Pickens, South Carolina


Last post I mentioned there’s more to see at the Pickens County Historical Society’s Hagood Mill site. Well, yesterday afternoon I went back for another look. And to enjoy that drive North on Route 178 one more time.

That’s the Hagood Mill Site stage you see above. Plenty of good music played there. An essential component of the Mill’s programming.


The two log cabins alone are well worth the visit. Both have been relocated here from their original sites. The Murphree-Hollingsworth cabin on the right was built in the early 1790s, one of the earliest structures in this part of the country. The Hagood cabin on the left was build a bit later, in the early 1800s, and has been moved three times. Durable construction! Each cabin has a story to tell.


I was hoping to see the petroglyph exhibit this visit, but it isn’t ready yet. Click here for information about the project.


There’s much more to see here. The Mill alone requires hours of study. Here’s a short video of the wooden water wheel.

Should the video above fail to play in your browser, click here to access the YouTube version directly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hagood Mill Historic Site, Pickens, South Carolina

Driving around Pickens County yesterday, gathering background material for the third novel in the Ray Raether and Samantha RV Travel Mystery series, I came across the Hagood Mill Historic Site, just three miles north of the Town of Pickens. Don't know why I haven't been here before.
Prominent Pickens citizen James E. Hagood bought this property in 1825, and rebuilt this mill twenty years later. The wheel you see here is all wood, and operational. In fact, the Pickens Historical Society still grinds corn here one day a month.
There's much more here to see than the mill. The Historical Society volunteers provide all sorts of demonstrations. Even music! Click the link below for their Facebook page. More photos and news of upcoming events.

And here for their newly designed website.

Pickens County Historical Society

When you visit be sure to take time to see this collection of millstones. Remarkable.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sadlers Creek State Natural Area Day 2

Sadlers Creek State Natural Area yesterday was at its peak. The combination of autumn leaf color, beautifully maintained grounds and trails, and weather in the sunny low 70s, was irresistible. I had to spend most of the day roaming the Park. Watch your speed here. The roads are fine. But the deer are plentiful. They cross the roads when the mood strikes them.
Park Office and Recreation Area
Be sure not to miss the Park office and recreation area. Something here for everyone, plus a grand view of the Lake. This building is one of the best venues in the whole Park system for anything from a family reunion to a corporate strategy meeting. Folks even hold weddings here.
Take a closer look at that photo. Yup, a wood paneled restroom! And that's the real thing, not big-box-store paneling. Only at Sadlers Creek! Bath houses and restrooms throughout this Park, by the way, are spotless. Don't know how they do it.
Back to the campsite for a late lunch after hours of wandering through this beautiful lakeside Park. Be sure to bring plenty of food when you visit since you won't want to take time out to go to the store.
The sun goes down early at this time of year. Good time to walk down to the lake shore.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sadlers Creek State Natural Area, South Carolina

Campsite # 31
This is campsite # 31 at Sadlers Creek State Natural Area on the South Carolinia side of Lake Hartwell. Just about ideal. Beautifully leveled and maintained. I was able to get a few days of RV camping in while the leaves still have some color.
This is the view from this site. Lake Hartwell is down a bit now, but it's still beautiful. Sadlers Creek has to be included in the list of the best parks in the South Carolina system.
I'm using the Blogaway Pro app for the first time, posting directly from the smartphone. Hope it works. If it does it will save a lot of time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Paperback Version of “Death Long Long Ago” Available on Amazon

DLLA Paperback Cover

The paperback version of Death Long Long Ago is available now on Amazon.

Click this link for a look.

It’s priced at $11.35, compared with the $3.99 charge to download the Kindle edition.

The good news is that this second volume in the Ray Raether South Carolina Travel Mystery series is only 333 pages! A more reasonable length than the first volume’s 610 pages.

Volume three of the series, “Death From Far Away,” is coming along nicely. Ray and Samantha are enjoying the change of scenery at Keowee County’s Stumphouse State Park way over in the western part of the State. Another beautiful Park with views of real mountains, and an interesting Park-hosted museum. Stay tuned.