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My Quest To Visit All 47 South Carolina State Parks

Uncle Vern

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Member
Anyway, Cheraw is a nice park. Classic 1930s CCC Parkitecture, large lake for swimming, fishing and boating. Sand beach to keep the girls happy. Boat rentals in season (summer), camping year-round, picnic areas and shelters. A nice boardwalk connects the day-use area to the boat-launch and camping areas on the other side of the lake. Only small (<10 hp I think) boats are permitted.
far from

H. Cooper Black



Not far from Cheraw is this park, devoted to the sport of Field Trials. The last couple miles were unpaved, hardpack sand with sparse gravel. Fine if you are pulling a horse trailer but not so great on a Connie. I like my pavement, myself. For those who arent't familiar, the sport involves training dogs to hunt upland game birds and following them with horses. There are large open fields, woodlands and ponds to run the dogs in. For rent are stables, kennels and campsites. The tent/primitive sites didn't seem to have much firewood handy, so I rode back and camped at Cheraw.
This would be a great place to bring the kids and/or grands on a weekend when they are hosting a national event. The park is several thousand acres, and areas are available to rent for dog and/or horse training. I would have camped there if there was an event, but I didn't feel like hauling firewood otherwise. Wood at Cheraw is available just outside the tent clearing in the woods, and someone politely left me a pile of sawn-up oak logs!
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Park and Photo Links

I'm going to try to include these links in the future, but I am still feeling my way along. Here are the links (which will allow you to view photos) of the parks I have visited so far and left out links for:

https://southcarolinaparks.com/myrtle-beach





 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Brookgreen Gardens

Now, Brookgreen isn't a state park, but I promised ya'll a family story... My grandfather was a barber from upstate SC/NC who settled in Georgetown, SC, in the late 19th century. He and his wife rented a house on Front Street, near the Sampit River waterfront where he worked, and commenced raising a family. I'm not sure if he began tending chickens there or later when he built his own house a few blocks inland. Along about the same time, wealthy Northern industrialists began buying up former plantations in the area for winter hunting retreats. Trouble was, market hunting had devastated the migratory waterfowl supply and crappy land-management had done the same for upland game birds like dove and quail.

These wealthy fellows would send their cars into town toward the end of the work day, and pick up Grandpa for a private hair appointment out at the plantation. Well, most folks will talk to their barber, and the would-be hunters with names like Rockefeller, Baruch, Huntington ---names well-known on far-away Wall Street---began to talk to their barber about the lack of game birds on their properties. And he talked to them about raising chickens. Birds being birds, so it was that Grandpa began to raise quail for these fellows.

Our family didn't become the premier farm-raised quail producers in the country, but Grandpa was still raising his own chickens when I came along in the 1960s. His coops and Grandma's gardens fell to development when I was in college (I cried). I've never raised birds, but I have the gardening DNA from both sides of my family.

One of my cousins lived in the gardens with a husband who was a botanist there. A former girlfiend (sic) stole my idea and married her second husband there (a rare treat, they only allow a limited number of weddings a year or they would be overwhelmed).

Adult tickets to this wonderland are $18 and good for 7 days. Kids are cheaper. Sooooo worth it!!!
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Three-fer For Memorial Day Weekend

My factory job afforded me the weekend off, plus Monday for the holiday, so I headed up ole faithful SC 9, past Cheraw, Pageland, and Lancaster (plus lotsa other small towns) to Richburg, SC, hometown of the late NASCAR legend Buck Baker. A major force in the sport in the 40s and 50s, Baker was the first driver to win two Winston Cup Championships in a row ('56-'57.)


All the campgrounds were full, so I rolled the dice and reserved a room at the Super 8 (it worked out OK), which allowed me to check off three more state parks. I am now over 1/4 of the way to my goal!!!

SC 9 is an interesting road. In my area, it can be a winding two-lane thru the swamps. Upstate, it can be a smooth 4-lane divided highway bordered by factories and industrial facilities. In between, it can be a bumpy track thru bucolic agricultural scenes out of the last century. What I really like about this road is that I can sneak out of tourist-heavy Horry County (Myrtle Beach) on a holiday weekend and be the only vehicle on the road for miles and miles...instead of being stuck in traffic. It takes a bit longer because of the small-town drive-thrus, but I like small towns and have to stop and rest my bad leg anyway.

On this trip, I checked off Andrew Jackson State Park

Chester State Park


and Landsford Canal State Park

Reports will follow... stay tuned to this bat-channel...
 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Andrew Jackson State Park

Our seventh president was born here, on a plantation belonging to an uncle, at least according to South Carolina historians. North Carolina claims he was born on their side of the border, which had not been well-surveyed at the time, on the property of a different uncle. The region was known then as the Waxhaws, after an exterminated indigenous tribe, and sprawls across several counties on both sides. It was settled primarily by Scots-Irish Presbyterian immigrants, including Jackson's parents, both born in Ireland.

Complicating matters, the family did live in NC when he was conceived, but his father died in a logging accident shortly before he was born, and his very-pregnant mother relocated with two older sons. Just where she moved to is the crux of the debate. There doesn't seem to be any question that Jackson spent the early years of his life here where the park is, on the SC side of the border just north of Lancaster.

For his part, Jackson claimed SC as his birthplace (including in his will), but there may have been political considerations involved.

The park features a large statue of Jackson as a boy titled Boy of the Waxhaws. Sculpted by Anna Hyatt Huntington of Brookgreen Gardens fame, it depicts a teenage Jackson astride a farm horse, barefoot and bareback. Local schoolchildren chipped in coins for the enormous base, which is so heavy it bent the first crane that attempted to install it.


The rider, with one hand resting on his mount's rump, looks down over a large grassy swale past the parking lot to a quaint wooden amphitheater. This structure spills down a shady hillside and is the only one of its kind I have ever seen. It's all wood -- seats, flooring, walkways, aisles, stairs and a covered stage with dressing rooms behind it. Very neat.

There is a large lake for fishing with a pier and boat rentals, but no swimming area (the website says stumps and logs make it too dangerous). A few young fellows were catching bream off the pier when I visited.

Overlooking the lake is a decent-sized campground. I was glad to see that the entire loop thru the campground is paved, and every site has a tent-pitching pad along with a driveway for the RV.

There are also some reproductions of Colonial-era buildings, including a church ("meeting house", since "church" meant the congregation, not the building) and a school. The amphitheater and the meeting house are both available for rent. The building with the park office also houses a small museum, but it wasn't open. Rats!

There is also a large picnic shelter and other picnicking areas, along with nature trails.

After exploring the park, I followed my GPS to I-77 south, which got me to my hotel before dark, faster than the route I had planned. After a pizza and a couple brews, I cabled Miss Traveller to a large concrete upright just outside my room and got a good night's sleep.
 
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Uncle Vern

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Member
Make that "early 20th Century." An infantry veteran of WWI, Grandpa married a widow with one son (my beloved Uncle Bill) from Salisbury, NC. Mama was born in St. Mathews, SC, in 1921, during their migration to Georgetown.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Conway Riverfest

Miss Traveller is taking a little well-deserved garage break while I wait for the local farrier to re-shoe her. So I am taking my alternate steed, the leg-powered Doris Day (I bought her on June 6, get it?) down to the Waccamaw for my city's Independence Day festivities, called Riverfest http://www.conwayriverfest.com/ We always hold it a little early so folks can go over to the Beach on the 4th and partake in whatever festivities and fireworks go on there also, like the boat parade in Murrells Inlet of the golf cart parade in Surfside.

In my role as One-Man Tourism Bureau, let me tell you about it...


Conway has a Riverwalk that runs along the black-water Waccamaw from underneath the US 501 Business bridge, with its Gothic arches, down to the Riverfront Park, on a peninsula next to the city marina and boat ramp. The Bonfire restaurant is right on the walkway, and there are plans for more in the old warehouses along the way. Further down are a few condos with a river view, the local Shrine Club, another marina and the 4-star Cypress Inn B&B.

Riverfest (formerly Two Days 'Round the Fourth) sprawls all along the waterfront and uphill into Downtown. You'll find the river packed with boats, bands playing, food and craft vendors, a beer garden, animal rides for the kiddies (a camel, this year) and the always-popular Jell-o Jump, where kids leap into a giant vat of the stuff to retrieve golf balls for prizes.

Events vary, but some years there's a golf cart parade and/or a boat parade. My Civil War bunch won Most Creative one year for my fishing boat full of US flags and Yankee soldiers towing a tiny Zodiak with one loud-mouthed Rebel waving a foam sword. At dusk, there will be fireworks, which can be viewed from blocks away since Downtown slopes uphill from the river.

Gotta go, ya'll come next year or stop by today if you are nearby.
 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Chester State Park
Chester is a lovely little town in the Midlands of South Carolina, soon to be home to a new Gallo winery and wine-tasting room. A business-friendly state, we had to change our draconian alcohol laws to allow this. Fortunately it didn't require a referendum or it would never have come to pass; the state legislature took care of business. We're no Napa Valley, but local winos and a few small vintners have been making wine from native Scuppernong and Muscadine grapes for a long time.

I left the Super 8 at Richburg, run by a nice Indian couple, after some cereal, yogurt, juice and a muffin. No waffles (Covid) but I browsed an interesting magazine published for Indian people living in the States. Good to see that at least some recent immigrants want to assimilate and become Americans. Motel room was a bit worn, but clean and everything worked. Good night's sleep for a decent price.

The 4-lane to Chester passed a few factory-industrial areas, smooth pavement, a few other riders. Followed the GPS thru town and found the park on a tree-shaded 2-lane not too far out. I didn't really see much of the residential part of town, but if you look up the movie "Chiefs," you can. It was filmed here in the 80's. One friend worked on it, and another was proud that her childhood home was featured.

Yet another SC park built by the CCC during the Great Depression, it features yet another large lake that you can't swim in. I don't understand what's so hard about building a swimming area on the edge of an impounded lake!!! But there is a nice boathouse where you can rent a jonboat or canoe, a boat ramp, and a nice lodge-for-rent overlooking the lake for parties, receptions, etc. At the lodge I encountered a really cool design for a bench that is really a glider (porch swing), with a center section that folds down to hold beverages.

There were also a few well-built picnic shelters seeing heavy use on a holiday weekend, and a large grassy picnic area overlooking one end of the lake. There is a bridge/fishing pier that crosses that end to an undeveloped area on the other side. A local memorial foundation has plans to build a trail around the lake from the other side.

The same foundation has built a nice fire-pit-centered area at the edge of the lake below the campground, which overlooks the other side of the lake.
 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Landsford Canal State Park
Now, this was the point of the whole trip. I saw an article in South Carolina Wildlife magazine about the rocky shoals spider lilies and knew I had to go. These endangered plants bloom late April thru June in very limited areas in the SE US. They actually grow out in the river, clinging to rocks amidst the flow and dropping their seeds there. They grow only in shallow, fast-moving water, along the fall line between the piedmont and the coastal plain. Dams and reservoirs destroy their habitat.

When flow is low, as it was this year due to limited spring rains, they can carpet the river from bank to bank. It was so low this year that kayakers had trouble moving down the river. But OH, the blossoms.!!!

Traffic was backing up and cars were parked a half-mile away from the limited lot at Landsford Canal SP. On bike, I kept on and lucked into a spot right across from the visitor center/picnic grounds. Later, I shared my spot with a local HD rider and his spouse, who just finished the Ultimate Outsider quest that I am on (they "cheated" and did some parks via truck)

About a 20-minute hike down the Catawba River brought me to an observation platform crowded with lily-seekers. If you want to, you can continue downriver and see more of the mechanics of the early-19th-century (1820-1835) canal system that bypassed these shoals and unwittingly preserved the lilies. Or you can take another trail, as I did, on the inland side of the canal back up to the parking lot. You don't really see much more of the old canal but it is less crowded (and bumpier).

I took some photos and video, but it would be a waste of time to post them even if I knew how. You simply have to be there. I want to come back with my kayak. If you have the opportunity, you will not regret the little hike with a bunch of strangers, or the parking mess. Sooo worth it....
 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Santee State Park
The name of this park was a word to conjure with in my household when I was growing up. My parents met in Charleston, SC, just after WWII. A Navy veteran, Dad had been building his own boats since his Florida childhood. During their courtship and the early years of their marriage, he often took Mom fishing on the newly-created Santee Cooper lakes - Moultrie and Marion - located just north of and inland from the city. He never tired of talking about it, or of promising to take me there. Those long-ago trips made such a lasting impression on him that his last words to me were a plea to fix up his current boat so we could "go to Santee." He died the next morning, and I fixed up the boat so we could scatter his ashes in the nearby Waccamaw River, where he and I fished when I was a kid. He'd never made it back to "Santee," despite his best intentions. Hell, it's only a little over a hundred miles...coulda, woulda, shoulda...

The lakes were built between 1939 and 1941 as a massive New Deal public-works project to generate jobs and, later, electricity and tourism dollars. This project also fulfilled the long-held Carolina dream of being able to travel by water from Charleston to the state capitol of Columbia. While those whose farms and towns were flooded surely disagreed, the completed dams and lakes were considered a resounding success. Marinas, campgrounds, fish camps and resorts quickly opened and prospered.
https://discoversouthcarolina.com/santee-cooper-lakes

Lake Moultrie, which impounded the Cooper River, created a population of landlocked striped bass that has thrilled anglers for decades. Lake Marion, which impounded the Santee, has of late become known for monster catfish, which have also been taken in the diversion canal connecting the two lakes for years. The project cleared 177,000 acres and was the largest land-clearing operation in the US up to that time. The dam at Pinopolis includes a single-lift lock rising 75 feet from the Cooper to the full-pool level of Lake Moultrie, the highest such lock in the world at the time it was built.

https://discoversouthcarolina.com/a...ooper-pinopolis-lock-is-an-engineering-marvel

Opened in 1949 on the south shore of Lake Marion, the upper lake, Santee State Park has 2,500 acres, two large campgrounds, two boat ramps, a park store with air-conditioned wi-fi lounge overlooking the fishing pier and the lake, a nice building with facilities for weddings and reunions, and 30 "rondette" cabins, 10 of which are built out on piers over the lake. There are also miles of trails for hiking and biking, including two that feature limestone sinkholes, habitat for rare bats (beloved by all who, like myself, are bedeviled by mosquitos and gnats). There are guided pontoon-boat tours of the flooded cypress swamp available, or you can rent a canoe or kayak. (Or bring your own, assuming you have a kayak trailer for your bike. Who doesn't?) There is no designated swimming area, but rangers were happy to direct me to two "unofficial" swimming beaches near the campgrounds. I ran late siteseeing and settled for a shower before getting back on the bike to get home before dark. Pretty sure I'll be back to camp and fish for at least a weekend.

The East and West sections of the park are almost a 10-minute drive apart, though most of the forest between is park-owned. There are a few small residential areas in between on the outskirts of the small town of Santee, which beckoned to me as potential retirement sites. The east side seems to me to be the older section of the park. The large lakeside campground had plenty of open sites in the peak of summer, and the park's reservations page backs this up. I'm not sure why this is so. The park sits right off I-95, which crosses the lake on a bridge just to the south. Maybe modern families just can't vacation without a chlorine pool and A/C...I dunno. Grassy tent sites are available for $20, or $22 weekends. RV sites are the same or a bit more; all sites have their own electric and water. Plenty of firewood lying around in the surrounding forest. Lots of shade. Nearby bathhouses with hot showers. Dumpster and RV dump station. Did I mention there's a bigass lake next door and you're surrounded by a couple thousand acres of peaceful forest?

The campground on the west side is a little smaller and pricier ($32-$40, wooo!) but it is located where the action is, so to speak. Like the eastside one, the popular sites are the ones on the breezy lake side, but there were still plenty available. I think I prefer the seclusion and firewood-availability of the eastside, myself. Oh yeah, the road to the east side is full of potholes and washouts, but plenty navigable in daylight. I saw a couple on a trike who seemed surprised that I had ridden in. I could have done it blindfolded on a trike.

The trip: I left Conway on 378, went south on 301 at Turbeville. The GPS said there was a Bojangles there, but it looks like it was taken over by the IGA deli, so I kept on to Manning, where I got the biscuits, but had to settle for a shady tree in the parking lot since the AC dining room was still Covid-closed. I stuck to 301 down past where it crosses under I-95, to Summerton. There I found some aging but cool murals depicting a Revolutionary-War battle I had never heard of. Evidently the British had built a fort atop a large Indian mound overlooking the Santee River. Well, along came Francis Marion and "Light Horse Harry" Lee, who built a siege tower and quickly took Fort Watson. https://discoversouthcarolina.com/products/1228

301 merges with 95 as it crosses the lake, then, for some reason, there is an SC Welcome Center like you normally find at the state border. So I took advantage and picked up a couple road maps. I mounted one on cardboard so I can hang it on the wall and track my State Park progress with colored pins (photo to follow...maybe). I saw a Porsche on a trailer in the parking lot with a tag "193ISIT." The people towing it were clueless, and I don't know what model Porsche it was...maybe someone here knows which one goes 193??

I hate interstates, but I wanted to get home by dark; it was Sunday and I work early Monday. So I shot up 95 on the way home all the way to Turbeville. It wasn't as crowded as usual, and once I got used to going 80+ to stay with traffic I was OK. Connie didn't mind; I think she liked it. Got off at 378 eastbound and stopped at a gas staion I know with a little covered outdoor dining area. Had a nice quick picnic with a passing tourist and her enormous but friendly dog (boxer/mastiff variety), then a nice smooth cruise home.


14 Parks Down; 33 To Go!!!
 
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2andblue

Member
Member
Keep it up Vern almost 1/3 the way there!

Vern thanks for sharing memories of your pops and giving us all the reminder - don’t plan to do it - JUST DO IT time often moves faster than us.

Wayne
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Pluses and Minuses for Sea Turtles
Went to Myrtle Beach State Park (my home park) yesterday to renew my Park Passport ($99/yr.).

While on my way to a swim, I spotted four Loggerhead Sea Turtle nest sites, signed, roped off and covered with squares of chain-link. The old girls are evidently having a really good year, and the local "news" channels say the same. After washing down the shore a bit, I saw two more on my way out of the surf.

On the downside, I heard my first-ever report of coyote predation of a sea turtle nest this year. And police responded recently to a report of tourons (the bastard offspring of tourists and morons) actually riding a nesting sea turtle in the Garden City area (south Grand Strand) . No one was arrested .... or executed, as I would prefer.

How you can help sea turtles: 1) stop using plastic shopping bags; they end up in the ocean eventually and turtles think they are jellyfish, their favorite food 2) If you visit the Atlantic Coast in the summer/fall, turn off any lights that shine toward the ocean (these confuse hatchlings trying to get to the ocean 3) knock down sand castles and fill holes dug by young beachgoers at dusk (to ease the path for mamas and babies).

Any species that has survived for this many millions of years should be able to continue to do so without our interference. All we have to do is leave them alone; is that so hard?


Sea Turtles rock!!
 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Checking Off More Parks To and From The Wolf

I took off 10 days over Labor Day to attend Run With The Wolf and hit a bunch of SC State Parks on the way there and back again....
Reports follow...


Lake Greenwood State Park

I left Conway on the Saturday before the holiday on the familiar route of 378 West. Years ago on my C10, I followed 378 thru Columbia and encountered numerous lights and road-changes, so this time I took the I-77 and -26 loop south around the city and picked up 378 on the west side. Getting thru Lexington was still pretty jammed-up, but I made it to Saluda. Picked up 39/702 North and the road surface was pretty poor, but I got to the front gate of the park around dark after dodging a racoon. Stamped my book and headed for my night's lodging at Fell Camp, a deer camp in the Sumter National Forest about 30 minutes south of Greenwood City.

Should have gone into town to pick up 10 South, but I trusted the GPS and it sent me down US 221, then tried to get me over to 10 on roads that were either private and gated, or turned to narrow dirt lanes. I ended up going all the way down to Bradley and coming back up on 10.

I have camped at Greenwood before on my C10 and wasn't too impressed with the campground, at least not for MC camping. It slopes toward the lake and is mostly clay and rocky ground. Not much in the way of grass or soft sand to pitch a tent on. Lots of RVs, sites jammed together. On the plus side there is usually a nice breeze off the lake.

The park itself is very nice. Built by the CCC, it has lots of lake frontage with four picnic shelters and picnic tables scattered all around the shoreline. The office/ conference center overlooks a terraced hillside sloping down toward a cove of the man-made lake with some concrete steps and docks. Looks like this was the original swimming area, although it isn't designated for that anymore. You can swim, at your own risk, anywhere along the shore and there are a number of nice spots.

The conference center can be rented for private functions and contains a nice exhibit on the CCC. At the park entrance is a sort of memorial to the CCC: they were in the midst of building a stone wall when the entire group was called up for service in WWII. Park officials left the stones right where they were as a tribute to these men who built so much and then went off to war.

Fishing is great here; Greenwood is especially well-known for slab crappie. The park has two boat ramps and a small fishing pier. There is also a tackle loaner program.

Also nearby is Ninety-Six National Historic Site, with a well-preserved Revolutionary War fort and other exhibits, run by the National Park Service.
The trading post that grew into today's town was at the 96th milepost from Keowee, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation, back when this was the frontier, or "backcountry" of the South Carolina colony. It is definitely worth a visit. You can walk in the footsteps of the Patriots as they dug a zig-zag trench/tunnel to get close enough to assault the British-held fort.


I camped two nights at Fell, a combination deer camp/equestrian camp in the Sumter National Forest about a half-hour south of Greenwood itself. It is run by the Forest Service, along with a number or others in both the Sumter and Francis Marion National Forests. Camping is first-come, first-served (actually self-served). There are pit toilets inside a cinder-block building with cement floor, lots of water points and plenty of firewood in the surrounding forest. Camping is $5 per site per nite, or $50 a month, or $150 for the whole deer season (Sept-Jan). There is a trailhead here for a long horse trail that goes out into the forest and back, and there is a separate area for horse trailers to park, with hitching posts for the horses. The deer camp loop is shaded and sandy. My site had a nice rock fire ring and a cable-spool table left by previous visitors. No showers but the nearby water point had a tall spigot with a concrete pad under it, so I was able to wash both dishes and me.

Basically you just pick an open spot, dump some stuff, then go back up front to fill out an envelope and put your money in it. You deposit this in the "Iron Ranger" drop box and display the tear-off receipt on your dashboard. I put mine under my throttle-lock o-ring. There were only a few other campers, and I felt safe leaving my tent and sleeping gear while I went off to explore more parks on Sunday.

I almost forgot; there is also a day-use area with a large lighted picnic shelter (lights on a timer) and more parking for picnickers and non-camping equestrians or hikers.


(Next installment: Baker Creek SP and Hickory Knob State Resort Park)






 
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ron203

Southeast Area Director
Member
Hey Uncle Vern, how’s the state park quest going? Been missing your posts.
Ron
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Cedar Spring ARP Church

(Hiatus caused by laziness and much work on Halloween at my house)


While staying at Fell Hunt Camp, I stumbled upon this magnificent old church and cemetery, dating back to before the Revolution.



The church dates back to the days when rivers were the main routes thru South Carolina. Active for a couple hundred years, the Cedar Spring community was bypassed when roads replaced rivers and was stranded in time. I was raised Presbyterian, a legacy of my Scots-Irish ancestors and the church of my childhood. Turns out the founder of this church was one of the first to bring that brand of Christianity to South Carolina.

 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Baker Creek State Park

Baker Creek, near McCormick, SC, is the first of the SC parks I'm exploring along the Savannah River. The river is the border between SC and GA. Much of it has been flooded for hydropower,


one hour of typing eaten by computer...........more later....................https://southcarolinaparks.com/baker-creek
 
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Merle Lowe

Member
Member
My wife and I ended up stopping at Keowee -Toxaway State Park mid 2021. We went on a 2 day vacation to northeast GA and decided to have a look at that corner of SC. Only saw a small part of the park and walked down to the water to watch boats for a while. Neat area up there, will have to revisit.

We also go to Hunting Island State Park when we're staying at Hilton Head. If you are walking any of the trails, remember to get a good coating of deet on first! ;)
 

ron203

Southeast Area Director
Member
When I was about 10-12 yo, we took a field trip to Keowee-Toxawsy to the visitor’s center. We were all in awe of the new nuclear power facility. It’s still a beautiful area to v.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Baker Creek
Baker Creek is a nice little park on an arm of the mighty Savannah river system. I pulled in and found a large pine-shaded parking lot and an enormous shaded pavilion lakeside, with 20+ picnic tables overlooking the lake.. A couple families were pulled up on a nice beach in pontoon boats, so I joined in and got refreshed. (This was in September 2021, my latest long trip).

There is a restroom building but no bath-house; a large building facing the beach seems designed for this but all the doors were locked. I spoke with staff but they were just cleaning,

On the way out I ran into three fellows on trikes looking for a friend who was cooking. We rode through the campgrounds hugging the lakeside; not bad, many were right on the lake. We didn't find their friend but "Baker Creek" is a big place; I'm sure they found him eventually.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
My wife and I ended up stopping at Keowee -Toxaway State Park mid 2021. We went on a 2 day vacation to northeast GA and decided to have a look at that corner of SC. Only saw a small part of the park and walked down to the water to watch boats for a while. Neat area up there, will have to revisit.

We also go to Hunting Island State Park when we're staying at Hilton Head. If you are walking any of the trails, remember to get a good coating of deet on first! ;)
Even a life-long swamper like myself can get lulled into complacency by the MC winds. I need to revisit Hampton Planation, home of SC Poet Laureate Archibald Rutledge, on my quest because the bugs prevented me from paying my respects at his gravesite. Remember bug spray!!!!!

Anyone who enjoys hunting/fishing/outdoor living should read Rutledge's Peace in the Heart or any of his hundreds of other stories and books. Haven't been to Hunting Island or Edisto yet but they are on the radar come Spring...
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Archibald Rutledge
Another slight digression and then I'll get back to park touring. Rutledge (1883-1973) was the first Poet Laureate of South Carolina, appointed in 1934 and serving until his death. He was born into an old SC family that was land-rich but relatively cash-poor. It's hard for me to imagine a family that owned 3,000 acres as being poor, but being on the losing side in the American Civil War left the family with the land, a crumbling old mansion, and not much else. Most of the former slaves also remained, and the Rutledges, like many former slave-owners, felt responsible for them and did what they could to employ them and otherwise provide for them.

As a young man, he was sent north to further his education. After earning a masters degree, he secured a position at a prep school in Pennsylvania, where he remained for over 30 years, married, and raised his three sons. He and his family returned every year at Christmas and spent the holidays at Hampton Plantation, which he inherited upon his father's death in 1923.

Although he began publishing poetry while still in college, he first achieved literary fame with a prose memoir of his youth at Hampton. Always in need of ready cash to maintain both his growing family and the plantation and its people back home, he continued to write, publishing hundreds of stories about hunting, fishing, and the life of a coastal Carolina plantation and its people in magazines like Field and Stream. These were compiled into dozens of books, which sold well.

to be continued...
 

ron203

Southeast Area Director
Member
Archibald Rutledge
Another slight digression and then I'll get back to park touring. Rutledge (1883-1973) was the first Poet Laureate of South Carolina, appointed in 1934 and serving until his death. He was born into an old SC family that was land-rich but relatively cash-poor. It's hard for me to imagine a family that owned 3,000 acres as being poor, but being on the losing side in the American Civil War left the family with the land, a crumbling old mansion, and not much else. Most of the former slaves also remained, and the Rutledges, like many former slave-owners, felt responsible for them and did what they could to employ them and otherwise provide for them.

As a young man, he was sent north to further his education. After earning a masters degree, he secured a position at a prep school in Pennsylvania, where he remained for over 30 years, married, and raised his three sons. He and his family returned every year at Christmas and spent the holidays at Hampton Plantation, which he inherited upon his father's death in 1923.

Although he began publishing poetry while still in college, he first achieved literary fame with a prose memoir of his youth at Hampton. Always in need of ready cash to maintain both his growing family and the plantation and its people back home, he continued to write, publishing hundreds of stories about hunting, fishing, and the life of a coastal Carolina plantation and its people in magazines like Field and Stream. These were compiled into dozens of books, which sold well.

to be continued...
Good read. Thanks
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
More About Archibald...

Besides his teaching salary and the fruits of his writing, Rutledge used whatever money the plantation provided to feed its people and restore the main house, which had been literally falling down around him since he was a boy. He and his workers also had to fight back the ever-encroaching forest, which threatens to engulf all man's works in a season or two in this environment.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
...and more...

The reason I have returned to the Rutledge part of the story is that I learned of his opposition to the Santee-Cooper Lakes hydro project that created Lakes Marion and Moultrie. Evidently, the Santee Delta that I have crossed so many times was once the terminus of a much-mightier river. During its rice-growing heyday, two dozen plantations lined the banks, and the delta was one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world.

I just wanted to slow down and realize what we gave up to create the Santee-Cooper lakes. They're awesome, but they came at the price of the destruction of the Santee Swamp (incubator of the delta's wildlife) and the Santee Delta. According to Rutledge, the Santee was the largest river in the East at the time (1930s-1940s). That's hard to imagine, based on what remains today. Moneyed interests even tried to have his small poet laureate stipend revoked because of his opposition to the project.

At least we have the stories he left us of hunting and fishing times that will never come again. Once again, if you like outdoor life and run across his work, do yourself a favor and grab that book; much of his stuff is out of print and hard to find even here in his native state.
 
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ron203

Southeast Area Director
Member
...and more...

The reason I have returned to the Rutledge part of the story is that I learned of his opposition to the Santee-Cooper Lakes hydro project that created Lakes Marion and Moultrie. Evidently, the Santee Delta that I have crossed so many times was once the terminus of a much-mightier river. During its rice-growing heyday, two dozen plantations lined the banks, and the delta was one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world.

I just wanted to slow down and realize what we gave up to create the Santee-Cooper lakes. They're awesome, but they came at the price of the destruction of the Santee Swamp (incubator of the delta's wildlife) and the Santee Delta. According to Rutledge, the Santee was the largest river in the East at the time (1930s-1940s). That's hard to imagine, based on what remains today. Moneyed interests even tried to have his small poet laureate stipend revoked because of his opposition to the project.

At least we have the stories he left us of hunting and fishing times that will never come again. Once again, if you like outdoor life and run across his work, do yourself a favor and grab that book; much of his stuff is out of print and hard to find even here in his native state.

Wow. Thanks for the update.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Hickory Knob State Resort Park
(Visited Sept. 2021)
While still camping at Fell Hunt Camp on my way to RWTWolf, I toured the only unit of the SC park system that is designated as a resort. After visiting, I have to say the designation is an accurate one. With over 1,000 wooded acres situated on the shoreline of 71,000-acre Lake Thurmond, this park has a lot to offer.

The entrance road winds through a lovely 18-hole golf course, designed by Tom Jackson and rated a "Great Value" by Golf Digest readers. It includes a snack bar, pro shop, driving range and putting greens. I eventually arrived at the lodge, which boasts 70+ hotel-style rooms surrounding a swimming pool, a restaurant, gift shop and a large family-style game room with a couple pool tables, huge fireplace and lots of comfy furniture. In the gift shop I found a tiny 50-degree sleeping bag that I should have bought; it's 1/4 the size of mine. But I took a photo and will hunt for it on the Net.

Besides the lodge rooms, accommodations include 16 suites with a pair of double beds each, kitchens and living rooms; one rustic 2BR/2BA cabin; a barracks for group stays that holds ten; and 44 campsites, many lakeside.

There are a boat ramp and courtesy docks, of course. You can rent fishing tackle, a boat, or a stand-up paddleboard. Only overnight guests are supposed to use the pool, but you can swim in the lake at your own risk. There is no designated swimming area, my only complaint. Other recreational options include hiking and biking trails, a playground, basketball court, volleyball court, skeet range and archery range.


There are multiple meeting rooms and convention spaces for rent, some with kitchens. Catering is available, as are bar service (!!!at a state park??!!!), AV equipment and set-up help, and wi-fi. Special events are scheduled throughout the year, or you can plan your own -- weddings, family and military reunions, business seminars, company retreats, and of course golf packages are all possibilities

I could not find out when the park was built, but Wiki says the rustic, historic cabin mentioned above was moved to the park in 1983. Other than that one structure, everything looked pretty new and modern to me.

If you need supplies or want to eat out somewhere besides the park buffet restaurant, the small town of McCormick is about a 10-15 minute drive away (you will pass Baker Creek on the way). All in all, one very nice park. I picked up ice and beer in town and relaxed by the fire at Fell before getting a good night's sleep and heading on up the Savannah River Scenic Byway (more on that later) in the morning.

Next up -- Calhoun Falls!
 
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ron203

Southeast Area Director
Member
Cool. Maybe a future rally spot? We've held a couple including a National rally at a similar park in Alabama and two spring rallies in Tennessee. These are usually nice facilities with lots of room and interesting things nearby. Seems the states are into the resort(ing) business. Nice write up Uncle Vern! Ride safely!!
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Interesting idea, Ron. There are lots of other parks and recreation areas in the vicinity. I don't know anything about challenging technical roads in the area, but it certainly is a fun place for the type of scenic touring I enjoy. I am thinking of heading to the area just north of here on vacation this fall. The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway/SC Hwy 11 runs along the edge of the mountains just on our side of the NC/SC border.


There are eight state parks scattered along its western end, with a couple more not too far off it, plus an abundance of varied recreational opportunities, roadside attractions, and other fun stuff. Google Maps says it's about an hour and a half from Hickory Knob to the start of 11 at I-85 near Lake Hartwell SP. For me, that's a couple hours at least (I'm not a fast rider and get distracted easily by roadside attractions and historic sites).

Note to readers: I am going to skip ahead in my narrative today because I learned something yesterday at Edisto Beach SP that I need to commit to bytes while it's fresh on my mind. Not to fear: I will come back later and file reports on the park visits I'm skipping, plus my first COG rally at RWTWolf 2021.
 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Calhoun Falls State Park
Visited Sept 2021
On my way up to the Dragon, I continued up the Savannah River Scenic Byway. From what I can see, the "scenic byway" designation means "this isn't the main route anymore, so we can let the road surface go to hell." If you're in a hurry, don't go this way. On the other hand, if you are not in a hurry, you can see all kinds of stuff you would miss on the main route (probably preaching to the choir here). Calhoun Falls is most closely associated with SC statesman and US vice-president John C. Calhoun (1782-1850). A complex man, he is mostly known today for his support of slavery and the status quo in the antebellum South.

Incidentally, the shoals that gave the town its name are gone, submerged by the lake project. Probably had some Rocky Shoals Spider Lillies, too (see my post on Landsford Canal SP). Oh, well....

When I arrived in Calhoun Falls, I needed gas. The older pumps at the 7-11 would not accept my credit card. When I went inside to facilitate a fill-up, all I got was attitude. On the way out, a local guy pulling up directed me to the brand-new pumps at the C-store across the road...problem solved, except I had to use a different card. Not really a tourist-friendly area.

The park, however, is awesome!! Now, SC SPs are not monolithic; many of them have mission statements that reflect the wishes of the folks that donated the land, or the idea or natural/historic feature that brought the park into being. When Abbeville County closed the local dinky high school, planning consolidation and bussing of kids to other county schools, locals started a charter school, bought the old HS building, and kept on as before. Some people just don't like change, and sometimes they're right. If you're getting the idea that this town is kind of insular and inward-looking, I won't say you're wrong. But I've only been there once, so I may be full of crap.

At Calhoun Falls SP, there is a big emphasis on the recreational needs of local children, as opposed to visiting tourists, which suits me fine. It's on yet another Savannah-River lake, so there's a marina, boat ramp, two excellent waterfront campgrounds, etc.

But there is also an enormous manicured lakefront beach, with a swimming area, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a large building with showers and changing rooms. It's a newer park, but the idea is kinda a throwback to the original intent of the park system. Give folks a place to take their kids swimming and have a picnic, maybe camp out on a holiday weekend or vacation. I like it; if you have been following my posts, you know I don't like SP lakes you can't swim in. I think all state parks should have a swimming area like this one. Heck, they even had a hot shower in the bathroom next to the gift shop!
 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Slight Digression: The Tail of the Dragon
Visited Sept 2021
Riding the Tail of the Dragon (US 129/Deals Gap)

was one of the main goals of this trip. It was (sorta) on the way to Suches, GA, where I was to experience my first COG rally at TWOS/RWTW. I was originally planning to head further up the Savannah River Scenic Byway and try to snag a couple more state parks, but I didn't plan very well for this leg of the trip and was running out of time.

I needed to get to my reserved hotel room in Robbinsville, NC before 8 PM to check in, so I punched it up on the GPS and rolled the dice. Lots of times along the way I had doubts, but it got me there on time (barely). Along the way I got the scenic tour of North Georgia, since the first thing Garmin Zumo did was take me across the lake/river to where the good roads are. Among the interesting things I passed on the way was a high school football stadium in Elberton, GA, (Granite City) constructed almost entirely out of local blue granite, over 100,000 tons of it. Seen from the road, it sits down in a little valley, and looked very intimidating to me.


https://www.google.com/search?q=gra...450l8.694123288j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Photos don't really do it justice; it's one of those things you just have to SEE to appreciate. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the local team has been a dominant force in Georgia HS football, despite the intimidation factor and the presence of the old scoreboard from Sanford Stadium, home of the UGA Bulldogs.

Also along the route was 1,000-foot-deep Tallulah Gorge, one of the largest canyons in the eastern US. A must-stop or destination for a future trip.



Rain chased me all day on this day, and finally caught me out of range of a gas-station canopy to change under. 30 miles down the road, I was able to pull in and remove the jacket; left on the pants and waterproof boots just in case. Of course, I never needed them again.

When I reached Franklin, NC, the GPS tossed me a curve and sent me up "Moonshine 28," which technically is the shortest route, and a fun technical road, but not something I prefer to tackle after a long wet day on the road. A few more miles would have taken me to another 4-lane near Sylva or Waynesville that might have gotten me to Robbinsville a lot sooner.


The Two Wheel Inn

I first found this place on the Net while planning routes to Two Wheels of Suches, site of the annual Run With The Wolf rally, which I was eventually headed to. I pulled in with about five minutes to spare before the office closed for the night. One of the owners, manning the desk, actually said, "I hope you're Mr. (X), or we have a problem," or words to that effect. I replied that I not only was the aforementioned, but had ID and check-in paperwork to prove it. All the rooms were booked, of course.

I can't say enough good things about this motel. It was built by the owners from the ground up with the motorcycle tourist in mind. There are several wings, all joined by completely-concrete driveways/lots with well-engineered drainage. There is no gravel or asphalt on any riding surface. Every room has a motorcycle garage next door, with a remote control next to the light switch in your room. Of course, this arrangement also serves to insulate you and yours from any potential noise from adjacent rooms (it's all one-story construction). During my visit, the only noise after dark came from crickets.

There is a coin-laundry room, with coin-ice machine, air-conditioned, open 24-7. Out back is a large pavilion covering several sturdy picnic tables. Near a permanent state-park type grill, I found a cabinet with charcoal, lighter fluid and even some paper plates and plastic cutlery. Inquiring the next day, I was told it's all included with the room rate. Outstanding!! Oh yeah; I grabbed a nice thick ribeye at the nearby market on my way home the next night and took advantage.

Clean room and bath (thanks, Honey!!), satellite TV, mini-frig, comfy beds, quiet area (it's on the edge of town). One more thing, as Columbo might say, is that all this is located in NC's last Dry County. Thaaaas right; no bars, no booze at the market. But the good folks at the TWI have you covered there also. After great personal expense and finagling, they are allowed a small stash of cold beer in the office to sell to guests. In season, they also have a steakhouse next door with alcohol permits. It was not open when I was there due to covid-related labor shortages.



Following the owners' advice, I had a great southern-style breakfast the next day at Southern Gals Country Cooking in town, then headed up 129 to "Slay the Dragon," as they say hereabouts. In all honesty, I didn't actually slay the Dragon; what I did was sneak past the cave while it was sleeping without getting eaten. 318 curves in 11 miles, they say. I measured it closer to 12 miles, myself, but what do I know? The entire time, I kept seeing the face of my MSF instructor (coffee_brake on this Forum) telling me to keep my head up and look through the turns! Thanks, Jen!

Oddly, the Deals Gap store/motel/tree of shame on the NC side of the line is in a different county from the town of Robbinsville at the foot of the mountain, so I bought a 6-pack on the way back, after sneaking past the cave again. I would have bought at the TWI, but I wasn't sure I'd get back in time. Plus, I'm kind of a beer snob, and I couldn't resist the triple IPA they had on offer at Deals Gap.

Oh yes; one more "one more thing": their rates are in line with any of the other (older) small motels in town, which is about half of what you would pay to stay in a hotel/motel in Myrtle Beach, near where I live. And I don't know of any of those offering a private garage for your bike! TWI has a unique niche in their market, maybe anywhere. I won't stay anywhere else the next time I'm in the area. Thanks again, TWI!!


I didn't write much about the Dragon because so much has been written about it already. Plus, once you say "318 curves in 11 miles," what else is there to say? Maybe "don't go on the weekend." I'm just glad it is no longer posted 55 mph and that tractor-trailers and trucks over 30' are no longer allowed. I rode it in both directions so I could say I've done it, got the t-shirt and a sticker for the beer frig, and am not in a big hurry to do it again. As ya'll probably know by now, I'm more Tour than Sport.

Back at the TWI, I chatted with a few other riders, had my steak and a few brews, and read and watched a little TV before retiring. The next day I packed up, said a fond farewell to the TWI, and headed up 129 for just a little way before turning off onto the Cherohala, more of my kind of road. The name denotes the fact that the Skyway connects the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests. It's 43 miles from 129 until you emerge on the other end in Tellico Plains, TN. Warning: get gas now if you are low!

It leaves US 129 as NC 143, signage is good and the Skyway Convenience store is on the corner. Avoid the chicken and dumplings -- I wish I had! There are some slightly technical sections, and some driveways and side roads on both the NC and TN ends, but the vast majority of it is like the Blue Ridge Parkway -- lots of sweepers and stunning mountain views. There is at least one rest stop with pit toilets (thank heavens!) but no gas stations or other development. There are some trailheads for folks in much better shape than me!

At a stop, I chatted with a couple who swapped a big Harley for a toy hauler and a pair of mid-size sportbikes. They were camped at a nearby lake and taking day rides on the many fun roads in the area. A little further along, I thought maybe there was a fire ahead. When I got to the area, I realized I was riding inside a cloud!

After a very pleasant, scenic ride, I came down into Tellico Plains and there was a bit of a traffic backup for some reason. I passed the Tellico Beach Drive In, saw a good crowd and a pebbly river beach, and did a quick turn-around. Good burger, great milkshake, and nice picnic tables under the trees overlooking a shallow, rushing mountain river. Wade at your own risk, said the sign, so I cooled my feet off for a bit before moving on.


Running to the Wolf
I made a quick stop just a bit further on at Cherohala Harley Davidson, to stretch and take a bio break. They must get a lot of that, because their public restrooms are in a separate building across the parking lot. They were air-conditioned and very clean. Using a large wall-mounted map and their advice, I determined that TN 68 to GA 60 was the best way to get to Two Wheels of Suches. Another rider at the drive-in had told me there was a nice MC campground on the edge of town, but I was thinking it was on a different road and blew right by without seeing what was Hunt's Lodge and is now Smitty's Lodge, which seems to be a collection of cabins with tenting areas also. Net reviews are pretty good, but I don't see where it compares to TWOS. 'Course, I've never been, and it is reeeel close to the Cherohala........

A little further on I stopped at Coker Creek Welcome Center to make sure I was still on the right road and get some kind of TN/GA map. Helped direct a Harley lady riding solo with a dog, looking for the Dragon. She didn't seem happy when I told her they had to get over the Cherohala to get to 129. Here I was thinking that I didn't plan very well! Evidently the area was part of the N. Ga. gold rush before the Civil War. The nice old ladies running the place had never heard of Coker College in Hartsville, SC, where I matriculated 1979-81. I continued on with my plan to pick up GA 60 down the road.

Next I stopped for gas at Tammy's Ice Cream Shop, and was pleased to find that, like many dinky little stores in the area, they carry 90+ octane. In many of these places, it's ethanol-free, to boot! Rolling thru Copperhill, on the state line, I stopped at a drugstore to find out where 60 forks off. I was told it was quite a ways, but at the end of the block I crossed the state line into GA and TN 68 became GA 60 --no fork needed. One might think that people working a half-block away would know this, but one would be wrong. I missed the photo op where you can stand in two states at once (darn) as Copperhill, TN became McCaysville, GA. Lots of whitewater outfitters here, as the road hugs the Toccoa River.

After that I had only one false turn -- not sure where; I'm blaming the GPS -- before hitting a few short miles of twisties leading up to The Valley Above the Clouds, as Suches calls itself. Its elevation is a little under 3,000 feet, whereas the top of the Cherohala is over 5,000, but I left my yardstick at home. I was just happy I outran the rain again and was sitting on the roomy porch at TWOS sipping a cool one before the gullywasher arrived!


Next up: a quick report on RWTW 2021 and Vogel State Park, then back to SC State Park visiting. I hope to be all caught up before I take off in August for the Beat the Heat Social in Maggie Valley, NC!
 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Run With The Wolf 2021 and Vogel State Park (GA)
Visited Sept 2021
My first COG rally! I've lurked on the Forum for over a decade, almost killed myself when I wrecked my C10 drunk after my mother passed, but never met another COG member in person until I took a MSF course a few months before this rally. I had heard great things about this motorcycle-only campground, and I was not disappointed. Like many MC campgrounds I've visited, 4-wheeled vehicles aren't allowed in the camping area. Unlike most, the main lodge offers many of the things you may need on the honor system (firewood, ice) and has rooms for rent upstairs. The convenience store across the street offers hi-octane gas and, well, CS items, plus a hostel for passing hikers on the nearby Appalachian Trail. Don't believe things you may see online about this store; they have new owners and are nice as can be. Items are more expensive than down in the flatlands, but it's an hour's ride to the nearest Wal-Mart and back, so....

When you pull into TWOS, there's a nice concrete place to park your bike and a covered porch with comfy chairs, soda machines, and restrooms, all open 24-7 (at least, while I was there). Most of their business seems to be weekends, so the downstairs lounge and restaurant aren't always open, but they had MotoGP racing on the big screen one morning when I was there. Further back in the campground is a bathhouse with hot showers, near the row of camper cabins for those who don't wanna sleep on the ground.

The rest of the place consists of a series of shaded meadows with strategically-placed fire pits and picnic tables, with a couple of cold mountain creeks flowing thru. I set up just across the first footbridge behind the lodge, met some nice non-COG fellow campers, and spent a nice few nites allowing the gurgle of the brook to lull me to sleep (OK, the beer helped a little).


Vogel State Park and Wolf Pen Gap
Like a lot of technical mountain roads in the eastern US, Wolf Pen Gap has been compared to the Dragon. As a non-technical-road guy who has been riding motorcycles for 30+ years, I'm here to tell you that's BS. I rode the Dragon just a few days before I rode WPG, and there is no comparison. Nothing I have ever ridden is "like the Dragon." That's why it's the Dragon, why it attracts riders from around the world, and why people die on that 11-mile stretch almost every year.

That said, WPG and the other roads around TWOS are a whole lotta fun. My right elbow seized up on me after I got to Suches, so I slept less well than my usual log state, but I still had a blast. Following advice from more seasoned veterans, I went right out of the parking lot, down the hill on 60 until I came to a roundabout (the legendary grave of an Indian princess, I was told) where I picked up 19 across Blood Mountain toward Vogel State Park. Along the way, I stopped where the Appalachian Trail (hiking) crosses over and there is a historic structure and a really nice store for hikers. I was saddened to see a southbound female (solo?) hiker who had run out of money and was looking for work. I didn't approach her because I thought she might get the wrong idea, but I wish I had just handed her a couple 20s and said "good luck. " My conditioning has taught me not to do that, but she wasn't a bum; she just miscalculated and ran out of cash. At least, I hope that's what I saw.








 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site
Visited Sept 2021
I stopped here because it was on the list and looked like an easy check-off from my route. I was headed down US 76, which turns into my old friend 378, and it was less than an hour out of the way
 
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Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Three-fer for Memorial Day 2022

Goodale State Park

Sesquicentennial State Park

Lake Wateree State Park

Reports to follow
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Edisto Beach State Park
Visited June 11 2022

Racial Segregation in the SC State Park System
I had an enjoyable, although brief visit to Edisto Beach and the SP there yesterday. But before I tell ya'll about it, I have to relate the story of a shameful chapter in the history of the SC Park System, which I first learned about during my visit there from an informational placard.

Most people who know about the CCC know that the crews or "camps" involved in building parks and other projects during the Depression were segregated by race. This fact does not diminish the contributions of the black crews; although they worked and were housed separately, black and white crews often worked on the same projects at the same sites, and their work products are indistinguishable. What appalls me is that those black citizens who helped build the parks, then went off to fight in WWII, were not allowed, in many places in the South, to bring their families to enjoy the fruits of their labor when the war ended.

Following the separate-but-equal doctrine established by the US Supreme Court in Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896), SC had been making feeble efforts to build parks for blacks, who were not allowed at most, if not all, state parks (sources disagree on this point). Even after Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) essentially voided Plessy, many Jim Crow proponents continued to argue against integration, claiming that Brown applied only to schools. To me, that's a bit like claiming that Plessy applied only to railroad cars, the origin of that case, but then I have never found logic and common sense to be prime features of racists' arguments.

Almost from the opening of the first state park, Myrtle Beach, in 1936, non-white citizens had been seeking equal access, without much success. Some progress had been made in race relations after WWII, but the Brown decision caused a backlash in the Jim Crow South, with many whites feeling that the Feds were once again meddling in matters of State concern (those infamous "outside agitators"). In 1955, a group of blacks in Charleston County formally requested that Edisto be desegregated. When rebuffed, they sued. In response, the state Forestry Commission, which ran the parks at the time, closed the park altogether. It was a sham, as whites were still allowed to use the park. The state legislature got involved and ordered the entire park system legally segregated. The legal battles continued, and in 1961, the year of my birth in Greenville, SC, a federal court handed down an order to desegregate all SC SPs. In response, the state shut down the entire system rather than comply!

In 1965, a large integrated group of young civil rights workers was assigned to Charleston by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Martin Luther King Jr.'s organization. They were primarily involved in efforts to get black citizens registered to vote, and many came from Northern or Western states (more of those outside agitators). After weeks without a day off, a small integrated group of 13 of these young people decided to go to Edisto Beach, about 50 miles south of Charleston, for a July 4 picnic and swim.

Upon arrival, they were told by a snack bar operator that the beach where they first tried to picnic was private -- a lie; all SC beaches are publicly-owned up to the high-water mark -- and directed to the state park area further north. There they found the barrier knocked down and the beach being enjoyed by a large group of whites. Before they could even spread their blankets, they were arrested for trespassing, bundled into two police cars, and taken to jail in Charleston.

After a kangaroo-court show trial presided over by an Edisto magistrate sitting in his easy chair with drink in hand, they were all convicted of trespassing and fined. A few weeks later, perhaps embarrassed by the magistrate's flippant attitude and blatantly racist comments, the county courts overturned the convictions. Eventually, the state surrendered to public opinion and all the parks were re-opened to all citizens in 1966. In 2005, seven of the original group returned to Edisto SP on the 40th anniversary of their arrests and finally had their swim.

As a native South Carolinian who loves my state and its parks, I'm not sure whether to be more embarrassed by the fact that this story happened at all, or the fact that I was educated almost entirely in the SC public schools, earning my HS diploma and two college degrees, and had never heard a peep about it until, at age 61, I read about it on a sign at a state park. My only solace is that I now have concrete evidence that travel broadens you. After all, I undertook this quest not just to travel, but to learn stuff.

(My pillow calls -- work in the morning. I will do my best to get back to Edisto and the other park reviews ASAP.)
 
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Konehead34

Member
Member
Thanks for the history lesson uncle vern. As im the same age as you, i can relate to the lack of segratory history that was taught. As a youth i grew up in and just outside of Chicagoland. I had a 6th grade teacher who was a wonderful person and one of the required books we were to have read, was book titled 'Black like me'. It was eventually made into a movie.
It was eye opening even for someone who was 12 years old. Even within mine own family bigotry was present with my grandfather (fathers dad) being an antagonist, while my father defended all of mankind...thankfully i was raised by a family of intelligent loving people. Dont get me wrong i loved my grandfather, i just never respected him after those extremely heated discussions.

Thanks dad, for making me a better human being!
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Here's an excellent summary of this distasteful subject that I finally found on the state parks' website:

 

Uncle Vern

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[size=24pt]]Back to Huntington, the park and the Castle

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When you drive in, instead of a winding road thru the maritime forest, you are quickly on a causeway across the marsh

You will see oyster racks, wading birds like egrets harvesting dinner, and alligators. We used to throw marshmallows to the gators when I was a kid, but jackwagons started throwing styrofoam, so now there's a fence and you can't feed them. One more photo op lost to A-holes. By the way, what we know as marshmallows are actually a commercial imitation of a now-rare plant.

Don't Feed Alligators!!
In the wake of a deadly alligator attack this past week in a Myrtle Beach area subdivision, I am compelled to amend my earlier post about Huntington Beach State Park. You should never feed dangerous wildlife such as alligators or bears. Wildlife experts say this can cause the animals to lose their natural fear of humans and to associate humans with food. My family should have known better when I was a kid, and I certainly knew better when I wrote the post. I don't have any excuse for posting something so irresponsible.

I'm not posting any links to videos about the tragic incident because the local tv stations seem more
interested in directing folks to advertising or unrelated stories than in actually reporting the news. The story made the news nationwide, so those interested should have no trouble finding it with any search engine. Of course, news organizations can't survive without advertising -- it's just so in-your-face these days that it gets annoying.

Witnesses said the 75-year-old victim was standing at the edge of a pond when the 11-foot gator lunged out of the water and dragged him in. The subdivision is built on former swampland adjacent to the un-raped swamps of the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, where alligators have lived for about 150 million years. One resident said neighbors were used to seeing gators crossing the roads from one pond to another, and even wrestling with each other, and they had always given the beasts a wide berth and been careful while walking dogs.

I'm not saying that anyone in the subdivision was feeding the local gators, but these houses should never have been built in the first place. The "retention ponds" referred to in the news coverage are simply the remains of the swamp that was there for millions of years before the developers filled most of it in. If you look at the area between the Waccamaw River and SC 707 on Google Maps, you can see a clear line between the Refuge and the encroaching subdivisions. You see the same thing in Florida at the edges of what's left of of the Everglades.

Unprovoked attacks on humans by alligators are extremely rare, and deadly ones even more so. But the plain fact is that alligators and humans are not compatible neighbors. Your average 75-year-old human is no match for an 11-foot alligator. I can only echo the message of a local grass-roots organization attempting to rein in the rampant over-development in Horry County: Don't Build In The Swamp!
 
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Uncle Vern

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Something Very Useful I Learned Today
While relaying the tragic story above about the deadly alligator attack, I had lots of trouble attaching a quote from a long-ago post to a current one (Alligators aren't the only dinosaurs that are still around!). In the process, I found the Undo button. Maybe the next time the computer eats an hour's worth of my work, I can get it back!
 

Uncle Vern

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Little Pee Dee State Park Redux

I was only going to get fireworks, I swear!!! I make a twice-yearly pilgrimage to Sparky's Old-Fashioned Tourist Trap (OK, that's not what the owners call it) near Marion, SC, on US 501, the main tourist artery into Myrtle Beach. MB is probably the largest resort area in the country with no interstate connection, and 501 connects to Florence, where you can pick up I-95 or I-20.

Sparky's sells all the t-shirts, trinkets, taffy and other crap you can get at the beach, plus they have gas (93 octane, sadly not ethanol-free), diesel, Cowboy and HD-type boots, Minnetonka moccasins, a grill, ice cream, clean restrooms, and, most importantly, FIREWORKS!!! The local paper usually has a full-page ad with prices they don't advertise at the store (local discount), so I take the excuse to ride an hour or so each way and save a little on my boom-boom. Fireworks are legal in my state. MB just gave up on their all-city ban due to a state AG opinion, and my city (Conway) will probably have to back off on their ordinance restricting them to New Year's and July 4 only, with ridiculous time and age limits. I grew up buying fireworks at the corner store where we bought soda pop and nabs, although I will admit that people these days often go too far.

After I got my fireworks fix and a really generous double-cone, I decided that the latest tropical storm (which had been chasing me all afternoon) was a wussy and I could take the long way home. I had not been to Little Pee Dee SP in a while, so I thought I'd see what it was like on a holiday weekend. I hadn't brought a map or my trusty DeLorme SC Atlas and Gazetteer (the best option for us pre-GPS dinosaurs), so I was at the mercy of the GPS, which predictably sent me around my elbow to connect finger and thumb.

I was pleasantly surprised -- shocked, really -- to find that the entrance road has been re-paved since my last visit with fresh smooth asphalt. The rest of the park was pretty much as previously described, with a few campsites sitting vacant, even on Saturday evening on the July 4 weekend. There are 32 water + electric sites, and 18 tent sites that are water-only and rent for just $15, even on weekends. I also learned that the impounded lake, which suffered a dam breech after a hurricane a couple years ago, has been stocked with fish, so we don't have to wait for ducks to do it for us.

The best news was the addition of one (1) Camper Cabin to the campground. Ya'll are probably familiar with the concept -- it's usually a plywood shack with a plywood bed platform, a light bulb, and an outlet for the old lady's hair dryer. SC has been adding these to lots of SPs; evidently, the idea is to provide "the camping experience" to people that won't tent and can't afford an RV. Hey, whatever it takes to get them to a SP campground; maybe they or their kids will eventually become campers.

The one at LPD exceeds the standard by a mile. It sleeps four, with one double and two bunks, has heat and A/C, a coffeemaker and mini-frig. It faces the lake, with its own driveway and handicapped ramp, a little porch with a view of the lake, and it's only 50 bucks a night or 55 on weekends. I might rent it myself one weekend in the off-season just to get outta the house for a couple days. Demand is high, it's booked solid for a while, but advance planning could net you some big savings if you are passing thru. OK, there's no running water inside, but there's a spigot and a nearby bathhouse. I can't wait till the fish get bigger!

The only complaint I have about this park is -- you guessed it, loyal readers -- you can't swim in the lake!!! Obviously there was swimming at some point, because there's a big floating swim platform moored off the end of the fishing pier near a small marshy island. Damn lawyers! If I was in charge, all state parks with lakes would be required to maintain a swimming area. Grump grump grump!!!

I should also note that canoe and kayak rentals are back. There is a nature trail that I have not explored which leads to a beaver pond. There is a nice shady playground and there are two picnic shelters that can be rented. I passed a "primitive" group camping area in a sunny meadow on the way in. There is supposed to be access to the Little Pee Dee River for more fishing -- the park property borders it -- but I haven't explored enough of the 800+ acres of sandhills and swamp to figure out how to get there yet.

Not surprisingly, I once again took the long way home, heading east on SC 9 to 19 to 410 to 701 so I could stop at Gerald's C-Store (701 and 410) and tank up with ethanol-free 93 octane. I love this place; they have a grill, a liquor store, fishing bait, a little of everything. When I was there on this trip they were putting a new set of rims and tires on a pickup.

On the way, I passed thru the small town of Nichols, devastated twice recently by river flooding, and stopped to see a new mural. Labeled the Unity Mural, it depicts several historic scenes, including a CCC camp. Now I have to do more research to find out if Company 420 built the nearby park.
 
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