• Forum Subscribers and COG Members, please be aware of policy changes put into effect due to action of the COG board of directors based on input from members. The new membership system makes it possible to implement these changes.

    Forum Subscribers – Forum Subscribers get a six-month limited feature trial forum membership. Forum Subscribers Read the Details Here.

    Members – Your full forum access is only in effect while your membership status is active. Members Read the Details Here

  • FORUM NAME - If you are a COG Member and your user name does not match your name in the old forum or you just want a new one, you can now change it on your own. Read the Details Here

  • *READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME* READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * If you are a current COG Member or Forum Subscriber and this is your first visit to our new site and forum, please go to www.concour.org and follow the instructions at the top of the page to activate your account and gain access to your site and forum.
  • READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME* READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * READ ME * Can't post after logging to the forum for the first time... Try Again - If you can't post in the forum, sign out of both the membership site and the forum and log in again. Make sure your COG membership is active and your browser allow cookies. If you still can't post, contact the COG IT guy at IT@Concours.org.
  • IF YOU GET 404 ERROR: This may be due to using a link in a post from prior to the web migration. Content was brought over from the old forum as is, but the links may be in error. If the link contains "cog-online.org" it is an old link and will not work.

My Quest To Visit All 47 South Carolina State Parks

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Tell me about your local SC state park! :) :) :)

I have lived in SC most of my life. I was conceived in Simpsonville, educated in Conway, Hartsville and Rock Hill, and have lived mostly in Horry County.

Wanting to learn more about my native state, I am soon to embark on a Quest (Taa-Raaa!) to visit all 47 SC state parks, including the 37 actual parks, the 8 historic sites, and the one-each resort park and recreation area. On motorcycle, of course. I like to camp and will do so when possible, but this 2-night minimum thing is gonna cramp my style. I'm more about the journey than the destination.

I live in Conway, near Myrtle Beach, so I have visited MB and Huntington parks frequently growing up. Might have to do a ride-thru to count them on the MC list.

I have ridden my C10 to to Lake Greenwood and Caesar's Head, and I've been to Cheraw and Sesquicentennial, but again, I'll need to do a wheel-dip to count them.

Any info from locals would be greatly appreciated. Of course, I'll need to buy the $99 Park Pass to save admission charges, and stay 6 feet from any rangers, bears, or other visitors.
 

greenie

Member
Member
I always liked Huntington Beach State Park. The last time we were there was 6 months after hurricane Hugo. We went skinny dipping with another couple after dark and almost got caught by the Ranger. Great seafood just north of the park. Camping and day use.
The only other park in SC we've been to is Edisto Beach. Very nice, on the ocean and as deep south as could possibly be.
Route 17 is a cool road, four laned and reasonably fast. Parts of Route 17 once served as a pre-interstate highway system New York to Florida corridor.
Sounds like a fun trip!
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
crag antler said:
If/when you get over to Cowpens, let me know :great: :great:
Right over the border by Columbus NC

I have visited Cowpens, part of the National park system, on my way to a Civil War event. Maybe I'll drop by if it's on the way to one of my SC parks.

I have biked and camped at Dreher Island (awesome park in the middle of a huge lake) and Wateree. I have done Civil war events at Rivers Bridge and Cheraw, but the first is held on private land (on original earthworks built under the supervision of RE Lee!) and the second at a city park where the actual battle occurred. I have also visited Andrew Jackson, Charles Town Landing, Hampton Plantation, Kings Mtn. (an ancestor fought there on the American side), and Oconee.

But I plan to start with a clean slate. If the good weather holds I want to head to Myrtle Beach tomorrow (the first park opened, in 1936), pick up my Passport and check off Huntington Beach on the way home.

Stay tuned to this Bat Channel for further updates. Fellow Sandlappers, please chime in with kudos for your local park. I'm thinking Little Pee Dee may be next on the list. I am trying for a new position at work which will give me a regular schedule and weekends free. Wish me luck!

:) :) :)
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Two Parks Down; 45 To Go!!!!

Today I visited Myrtle Beach and Huntington Beach State Parks, bought my $99 Annual Park Pass, and learned some stuff. Most importantly, I found that (duh :-[) I am not the first person with this idea. In fact, the idea is so popular that the DNR/PRT (Dept of Nat. Resources/Parks, Recreation & Tourism) has a program for goofballs like me called The Ultimate Outsider (I like the sound of that).  Basically, you get a booklet, visit parks, collect stamps in your booklet like a passport, then send it in and get a T-shirt, plus bragging rights. The lady in the office also mentioned a patch (a former Boy Scout, I love patches) and a gift bag-o-stuff. If there's no patch, my friend the tailor has a computer-embroidery machine & can make me one.

:beerchug: :great: :) :) :) :)
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Myrtle Beach State Park

As previously mentioned, this was the first unit of the system, built by the CCC and opened in 1936. There are cabins for rent on the north end of the park that were built by the CCC,  are on a cabin-only road, and have all modern amenities. You can see floor plans and reserve them online 13 months ahead. I have never stayed in one but if I was not from here it would beat the heck out of a hotel room for me. There is also an RV-centric  "camping" area. Tenting is allowed but not sure if you can escape the sound of generators.

I indulged my sleeping-late hobby since I have 7 days of 5am shifts ahead. When I arrived at the crack of noon the park was at (Covid) capacity and temporarily not admitting anyone. So I did a quick U-turn to the front gate of the former MB Air Force Base and pulled in at War Bird Park. Lots of shade and benches; no restrooms.

On display there are examples of the primary planes that flew out of the base when it was active, plus memorials funded by various support groups. I remember watching the A-7 Corsair IIs and the A-10 "Warthog" tank-killers from the (former) state park pool when I was a kid in the 70s. The Super Sabres were before my time. But I did get to speak with a vet who fought on the ground with the A-10s providing close support. He mentioned their distinctive sound, which brought back more memories.

Back at the park, I got in and found a parking spot. Grabbed my Thermos of tea and my lunch, found an unoccupied picnic table in the shade, and relaxed for a bit while reading up on this UO program. Crowd was about like I remembered, with a little more Spanish in the air than the 70s. The pool with the first hi-dive I ever braved is gone, the Putt-Putt course we played for free in winter months is gone, and there are WAAAY more parking lots, but overall the park is still like I remember it. Pretty good for 40-plus years.

Next installment:


[size=24pt][size=14pt]
Huntington Beach and Atalaya Castle...Maybe A Side Trip To Brookgreen Gardens​
[/size][/size]


 

greenie

Member
Member
Very interesting report. I've worked in state parks since 1973 and have so much respect for work the CCC did - which often now has degraded or disappeared. A visit to a park I started at revealed a group picnic shelter with a rotted roof I could see the sky through in places. CCC work often featured a rustic style - not very popular in these days of textured concrete blocks and not much concern for aesthetics.
I miss the diving boards at pools too - thank a lawyer for those all disappearing along with teeter toters, swings, those elbow cracking merry go rounds... that's back when playgrounds were fun.
Some park systems have honored CCC projects by maintaining them. Montgomery Bell State Park in Tennessee has literally hundreds of cabins the CCC built in the 1930's. Meramec State Park in Missouri has a nice exhibit explaining the CCC's  mission and results.
I had a new supervisor who asked me what the CCC was (I'm not saying which state - I've worked in 3 different states)  - he had never heard of the program yet he oversees state parks - some that were developed from raw land by the CCC into parks still in use today. The general public mostly doesn't know about the contributions depression era men made in developing so many state parks - which probably would not have been created otherwise.
Keep on with the reports! I really enjoy reading them. Maybe some pictures too if you can finger out how to post photos - something I have yet to do.....
 

ron203

Southeast Area Director
Member
Great write ups and fascinating tour material. Thanks. Please keep posting your adventure.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Thanks for the kind words, gang! I forgot to mention that MBSP has a few hundred acres of mostly undisturbed maritime forest, with nature trails running thru, and an entrance road that shows it off. For inland types, that means oak trees that are 1/2 to 1/3 the size they should be because of constant battering by salt air and salt spray, plus the occasional hurricane. This makes the trees and other flora stunted and dense, so trails are more like tunnels. This type of woods was common along the 60-mile Grand Strand before the land-rapers got going after WWII.

Also available are: a fishing pier jutting into the ocean (with ice cream!), well-maintained bath-houses with hot showers, lots of picnic tables and permanent grills, and a whole lotta covered picnic shelters scattered along the beach and even into the forest. There are no lifeguards on the beach, but there are also no condo towers or hotels looming beyond the dune line. All in all, a great place to enjoy a day at the beach without spending a fortune.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Dang!!! Computer ate my Huntington post!!! Will try again tomorrow.

I used to be able to post pics but lost that ability a while back. I'll take some and try to post later..... :beerchug:
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Huntington Beach and Atalaya Castle


Wealthy Yankees bought up a lot of former rice plantations in coastal SC in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rice cultivation is extremely labor-intensive and you can't get filthy rich w/o the virtually free slave labor that was available before the Civil War. But the same impoundments turned out to be great for attracting ducks and other migratory birds along the Atlantic Flyway. They also attracted wealthy "sportsmen" who had been deprived of their "sport" by the ravages of market hunting (excuse me while I descend my soap-box). I will explain my grandfather's place in this history in a later post. Put the guns down boys; I am not anti-hunting. I just hate waste. Shoot it, eat it, we're cool.

Enter Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, wealthy scholar/philanthropist and gifted sculptor, respectively.  One of the early 20th's Power Couples, they bought up three or four adjacent plantations and set about building a winter retreat, studio, and sculpture garden.

Brookgreen Gardens, across US 17 from the park, contains the largest collection of outdoor American sculpture in the world, and will have to be the subject of a later post. One of my cousins actually lived in the gardens with one of her husbands, a botanist. Myrtle Beach is a kinda roller-coaster, putt-putt, real golf, titty-bar kind of blue-collar vacation place, which is fine with me since I'm just an over-educated redneck myself, but Brookgreen is actually what all these new fake-stucco condo towers claim to be: WORLD CLASS. It is number one on my list of places I recommend that tourists visit. They sell a multi-day pass now because there is no way to take it all in during one visit. I will save now to avoid losing content..............



 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
[size=24pt]]Back to Huntington, the park and the Castle
[/size]​
[/b]


Now Huntington's a lot different from MB State Park, but also a lot alike. 2500 acres with 170 campsites, 6? tent sites with water only, primitive group camping (think Scouts), nature trails and programs, lots of non-condo beach; it sounds a lot the same. But Huntington is farther south, on the Waccamaw Neck (the peninsula between the Waccamaw black-water river and the Atlantic), and riven by a southern extension of the salt-water marshes of Murrells Inlet (the seafood capital of SC).

When you drive in, instead of a winding road thru the maritime forest, you are quickly on a causeway across the marsh. You can't stop these days, but you can continue to the other side, park, and walk or bike back. If you have never seen or smelled a Lowcountry salt marsh, I can't adequately describe it. It smells like primeval life, especially at low tide, because it is an estuary - a nursery for sea creatures. It looks like a water-covered, fertile field stretching to the limits imposed by the forest. 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.

On the causeway are several structures designed for observation or crabbing. Blue crabs are abundant, and easily caught by dangling a couple chicken necks on a string into the water. Crabs are stupid and won't let go. I know you need a fishing license to harvest oysters (and you hafta know if you're on public or private grounds) but I dunno about crabbing - ask a ranger. I do know they are delicious once you learn to clean them properly - again, ask a ranger. No wading to get oysters -- you can't take them in the park and you will be sorry you tried!!!! Once again, talk to a ranger or just go to an oyster house where they do all the work. The Inlet is minutes to your north.

Much of the Neck was devastated by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, so a lot of the structures at the park were rebuilt on stilts, including the gift shop and some of the bath-houses. Take the northern road just beachward of the causeway to get to a small camping/picnic area with its own restrooms, picnic shelter and beach access. Or park at the Castle lot where there is another beach access and you can tour the Huntingtons' winter residence.

It's called the Castle because Archer was a devotee of Spanish literature and architecture. He supposedly designed the house (?) along the lines of a Moorish castle, although his builder had some choice words along those lines, since Huntington evidently didn't believe in blueprints. Most rooms were designed to take the sea breeze; there are large interior courtyards, and every room -even bathrooms - has a wood-burning fireplace. Besides indoor and outdoor studios for Anna, and offices for Archer and his secretary, there are kitchens and an icebox-room (with outside crane), servant's quarters, dog kennels, bear pens (for Anna's models), stables (one for another famous model), laundry rooms and a courtyard for drying, a library, and other rooms closed to the public (along with the parapets, alas!).

After Archer died, Anna never came back and stayed up North. They left Brookgreen, Atalaya and Huntington to the people of SC. THANK YOU!!!! All of their furniture was also shipped back home, so what you see on the tour is just bare rooms. But it is, literally, a two-dollar-tour and worth far more. Plus you get to hang with working families trying to show their kids a good time at the beach on a budget --MY PEOPLE!!! Thank you again, Huntingtons!!!

Before I forget, there is also the famed Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival every September (not sure about Covid schedule). A great event that I will get to attend FREE with my $99 Passport unless it is cancelled. I have been several times and always see something new and/of something cool.



 
 

greenie

Member
Member
Really enjoy your writing Vern!  We used to feed marshmallows to gators too - put the headlights on the water and those eyes... when we were at Huntington Beach a local couple invited us to visit them at their home. Never seen them before and had that very kind offer just a few minutes after we met. Southern hospitality does exist! Great people there - your write up makes me want to go back.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Greenie said:
Great people there - your write up makes me want to go back.

Besides bragging about the cool places we have preserved here via the SC State Park system, that's one of the goals of this thread. The main economic driver in my area is tourism. I'm kind of a one-man volunteer tourist bureau -- I'm always welcoming people and thanking them for visiting (although I often wish that so many of them would refrain from moving here).

I especially like to encourage motorcycle tourism, which the local governments and Chamber of Commerce have short-sightedly tried to eliminate. The Chamber took the following info off its website, but their own data showed that motorcyclists, as a group, spend more $ per person per day than any other tourists. Like most working locals, I like people who come here and spend freely.

But Johnny-come-lately retirees, and people afraid of loud noises and scary bikers managed to run off a Harley rally that was held here for almost 70 years (the HD Dealers Assoc. moved it to New Bern, NC). The city passed an illegal helmet law that got shot down by the state Supremes. These morons even got an anti-biker fool -- Tom Rice Krispy -- elected to Congress (this idiot actually mailed out Rice Krispy treats with his campaign flyers).

Excuse me if I sound a little bitter -- I am. But SC remains a great place to visit, and I will continue to promote it to help put money into the pockets of the hard-working folks who work in tourism or are affected by it -- which is most of us locals, one way or another. If I can accomplish another personal goal of finding a job or position that will get me on a normal schedule, I'd like to try to organize a local COG rally. My current position pays well, but the fluctuating hours and schedule leave a lot to be desired.


Back To Park Visiting

Since my days off are getting moved around a lot by my clueless new "manager," I am scouting out nearby parks I can check off on a day trip. I was going to hit Hampton Plantation near McClellanville today but a rain system got my bad knee stiff so I will try again on my next day off. McClellanville used to be an active fishing village -- much of the movie Forrest Gump was filmed nearby -- but imports and aquaculture have almost wiped out the shrimping business. It's still a beautiful place to live if you have money or inherited family land or -- ideally -- both. The enormous moss-draped live oaks and crumbling waterfront will remind you of the movie. It is adjacent to the enormous marshes and sea islands of the Cape Romaine Wildlife Refuge. Nearby Buck Hall landing offers a 3-lane boat ramp for access, and it stays busy all night during the fall shrimp-baiting season.

Hampton itself is what's left of yet another Lowcountry rice plantation, including the mansion that was its center. Famed outdoor writer and SC Poet Laureate Archibald Rutledge was born and raised here. His ancestors were among the Founding Fathers of our nation and state but much of their wealth was built on legal slavery, so the current politically-correct view is that they must have been scum. Whatever.

Hampton sits on the edge of the vast Francis Marion National Forest, 250,00 acres of outdoor recreational opportunities. I have stayed at a deer camp near the mansion while shrimp-baiting in nearby Bulls Bay, and got a couple Scout badges for hiking the Francis Marion Trail and doing a multi-day canoe trip on the Little Pee Dee. Besides hunting (in season) camping, and hiking, there are trails for bikes with and without engines, endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, fishing, wildlife-watching, tidal creeks, swamps and marshes to explore by canoe or kayak, and lots of other ways to enjoy the forest.

Marion, the "Swamp Fox," was a Revolutionary War General reviled by the British for his use of guerilla tactics. He helped secure our freedom, but we're probably not supposed to revere him anymore either, since he was a wealthy white guy. The movie The Patriot was kinda-sorta based on his exploits, but the Hollywood types made up a lot and left out a lot. They also filmed it in the upstate because there were too many trees in the way in the swamps where the events actually happened.

I hope ya'll will continue to read as I share my combined loves of history, motorcycling and my home state.  :) :) :)


Till next time... :motonoises: :beerchug:

 

ron203

Southeast Area Director
Member
Uncle Vern, if you want to organize a COG rally, "git 'er done". You're SC AAD is Mike (Bugnut) Laven in Greer. I'm in Gainesville GA. Let's get it on the calendar.

Ron
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
ron203 said:
Uncle Vern, if you want to organize a COG rally, "git 'er done". You're SC AAD is Mike (Bugnut) Laven in Greer. I'm in Gainesville GA. Let's get it on the calendar.

Ron

Ron, I know your AD duties require you to encourage me, but I have a couple caveats. First, I have to find a new job or transfer w/in my current organization to get a more normal schedule. Second, I really think I should attend at least one COG rally before I try to organize one. Third, something's gotta break with this virus crap so we can actually hold rallies again. But thanks for the positive feedback. Once things calm down, I want to start paying on the debt I feel I owe to COG.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Third Park Falls Under Relentless Assault


On the way to Hampton Plantation today, a good omen crossed my path at the border of Horry and Georgetown Counties. At first I thought it was a skinny dog or a big cat, but when I hit the air horn, it jumped and I saw the brush. A fox!!! A Swamp Fox, no less!!! Too cool!!!

South of the Great Pee Dee River at Yauhannah, the road quality deteriorates. This part of the road was originally concrete slabs, and they have settled unevenly under the asphalt topping, leaving bumpy seams that get really annoying after a few miles. I stopped in Georgetown for gas and to visit my maternal grandparents' gravesites, then picked up 17 South.

As soon as I arrived, I regretted leaving the pack I took to Huntington last trip. The one with the BUG SPRAY in it. A lifelong swamper, I should have known better. Ah well, perils of exploration.


Pavement ends at the entrance to the park off Rutledge Road. Go slow, remove sunglasses and watch out for deep sand. It is about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile from the tarmac to the visitor center next to the mansion, both of which were closed (Covid?). I parked in a grassy area that gave my sidestand decent support and set out to explore. Passed a couple rangers in a Mule-type vehicle on the way in, and a couple carfulls of whining families were on their way out, but I was otherwise alone.

There are restrooms next to the VC, where I splashed cold water on my face before continuing. Informative plaques line the path toward the mansion, situated on the edge of Wambaw Creek across from a large island where the business of rice cultivation provided the cash basis for the site's existence. I kept searching for the kiosk where I was told I could stamp my Ultimate Outsider booklet. A bug onslaught kept me from checking out Archibald Rutledge's garden, and I found myself back by the VC. A child-size bootprint at the first noteboard turned out to conceal the hiding place for the elusive stamp.

A friendly ranger and former VFR owner directed me to a less-sandy exit route. Said he'd helped pick up lots of bikes that went over in the sand. Once back on 17, I headed south to McClellanville seeking a bug-free picnic spot for lunch. I ended up at the town hall and boat ramp on Jeremy Creek, where some dredging was going on, evidently trying to keep the channel open. South down the creek, I saw four or five shrimp trawlers tied up, so that bidness is not quite wiped out yet.

The town pier has a covered nook on the end, which is good, because the typical summer-afternoon showers chose that moment to descend. So I hung out in the dry, watched the dredging operation, and had lunch.

On the way home, I skipped the bumps on 701 and fought the tourist traffic up 17 through Pawleys Island and Litchfield instead. It saddens me to see the endless strip malls, chain stores and fast-food joints where woods and the occasional homestead or local business once stood. I made it to 707 before the rain caught me again. I ducked under the canopy of a gas/beer/liquor store in Burgess, bought an OJ and put on my rain gear. Of course, as soon as I did that, the rain moved off and all the moisture was generated on the inside of my gear the rest of the way home.






 

ron203

Southeast Area Director
Member
Uncle Vern said:
ron203 said:
Uncle Vern, if you want to organize a COG rally, "git 'er done". You're SC AAD is Mike (Bugnut) Laven in Greer. I'm in Gainesville GA. Let's get it on the calendar.

Ron

Ron, I know your AD duties require you to encourage me, but I have a couple caveats. First, I have to find a new job or transfer w/in my current organization to get a more normal schedule. Second, I really think I should attend at least one COG rally before I try to organize one. Third, something's gotta break with this virus crap so we can actually hold rallies again. But thanks for the positive feedback. Once things calm down, I want to start paying on the debt I feel I owe to COG.

No problem. Sooner or later, we'll rally. We're working on Run With The Wolf in Suches, GA for Sept of this year and a very casual camping type, socially distanced appropriate Beat the Heat gathering the end of this month.  Don't know if any of us can help with the job, but if you post what you're looking for, you just never know.  ;) 

Keep writing. I've been to a lot of these places, but always looking for new adventures. Thank you. You're paying it back right now.
Ron
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Rain Screws Vern Again


Hoped to hit Woods Bay or Little Pee Dee parks today but the typical afternoon thunderstorms didn't think so.

Vacation came thru today for 7/18 - 7/24. So I started looking at ways I can camp in a spot and hit nearby parks to check off.

Little Pee Dee still has openings; we'll see.......

 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Photo Seekers


I just wanted to point out that all of the sites I visit have a "view photos"  spot to click on. My contributions probly wooden measure up. Each park has a notice at the start that tells U where they hide the Ultimate Outsider stamp
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Freedom!!!




Jumped shark and took a factory day job reeeal close to the homestead. "Weekends off" has a ring hard to understand unless you grew up working in a tourist town like I did. It's a big pay cut but I hope to pick up something part-time. My own plan to start a weekend business can proceed once COVID ends.



Can't wait to take a weekend trip and check off more parks :) :) :)



 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Parks Link




Will attempt to post link to SC State Parks website

https://southcarolinaparks.com/


This will let you check out each park like I do and even make camping reservations.

 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Exploring A Carolina Bay


What's a Carolina Bay? I'm glad I asked that question, because it is way easier to reply to my own questions than someone else's, since I already know the question and the answer. ;D

A Carolina Bay is a geological/geographical feature unique to the Carolinas, as far as I know. The bays, named for the bay trees that grow in almost all of them, are mysterious elliptical depressions of varying sizes, all oriented in a nothwest-southeast direction with the fat end toward the northwest. Scientists do not know what created them, although glacial action, meteor showers, and a giant meteor exploding on the frozen Great Lakes have all been proposed as explanations.

They all have an elevated sand rim, more pronounced toward the southern end, and most of them hold water at least part of the year. Of the thousands that originally existed, only a few hundred remain unaltered. Many have been drained and/or filled in for agriculture. A whole bunch were filled in during the creation of the Carolina Forest community and Carolina Bays Parkway in Horry County, where I live. Lucas Bay, near Bucksport, has a "ghost light" that many have seen -- I even saw a Youtube video.

On the border of Florence and Sumter Counties near Olanta lies Woods Bay State Park, which I visited today.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Woods Bay


Got my usual late start. This time I finally caught my barber open and got a much-needed haircut. Made the ride a lot cooler and will do the same at the factory where I start work next week.

I took 378 West out of Conway and immediately ran into a big delay because of road work on the much-needed widening of this road. The dolts handling this particular section finally let me through but then held up everyone behind me while another truckload of dirt got dumped. So I had the road to myself for a while. Road quality deteriorated thru Marion County but then improved when I hit Florence County, where the widening was completed a few years back.

The tiny town of Olanta seems to be dying -- I passed a couple of shut-down mills and the two blocks of downtown was mostly boarded up. I guess whatever they made here is now made somewhere else. They have a new water tower and the schools and government buildings were in great shape, so I guess their tax base now derives from being a bedroom community of Florence. There was a small grocery and a few dinky restaurants, plus a few car-repair places. If you need anything else I guess you drive to Florence or Lake City.

Still plenty of pulpwood logging going on nearby, and the fields of mostly corn and soybeans were thriving after the recent regular rains.

The park was deserted and I was at first perplexed that the stamp I needed was locked in a box. Then I found a finger-slot in the front and a hole in the bottom that let me stamp my booklet. I guess they got tired of people stealing their stamp.

There's a boardwalk that extends about a thousand feet into the bay itself, with plans for more. It starts off as a cypress-tupelo swamp, then morphs into a flooded sandhills pine area. There is treeless freshwater marsh further in, but the boardwalk hasn't gotten there yet. I saw lots of aquatic turtles and one small gator. Then I backtracked to the picnic shelter and had a spot of lunch. After that I washed off the bug spray and sweat under a nice cold spigot, toweled off, put on the gear and headed home. A round trip of 126 miles and a fun way to kill an afternoon.

There is a nature trail that circles a marshy old mill pond, and a short canoe/kayak trail that goes into the bay itself. You can also fish, with the proper license. Restrooms, of course. No camping, but it would make a good lunch stop on a longer trip or a good day-trip like mine.

Just Don't Forget The Bug Spray! I realized partway I had done this again, but I stopped at a Wal-Mart and now the bike kit has its own supply!

Till next time......Ride Safe, Ya'll!!!!

:) :) :)
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Little Pee Dee State Park


A great park for those who just want to get away for the weekend. Despite what the net says, the dike has been fixed and the lake is full of water. Not sure about the fish, but they will come back, via the ducks I saw today. No boat rentals yet but the rangers are working on it.

You can bring your own canoe, kayak or johnboat with elecric motor only. Saw two famiies bank-fishing. There is a launch ramp and plenty of parking. Restrooms and playground nearby.

I checked out the campground since this park is close to me and could be a staging area for weekend rides. The office is only open 11-12 daily but the ranger says you can rent a site (as available) from the volunteer campground hosts (2 sites). There doesn't appear to be a lot of demand for camping, but that may change once folks find out the lake is full.

My main deal is finding a site with grass or leaf padding so I don't have to lie on a packed-gravel pad. Water-only sites from 33- up fit that bill nicely, althought the last few are too close to the RV dump site for me.
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Little Pee Dee


I started early today (for me), gassing up in North Conway at 8:30 am after a little tire-pressure issue. Took 319 thru the aptly-named Cool Springs community, a farming center nestled in a hollow with creeks and swamps. Weird to not see crowds at the numerous churches on a Sunday morning. Dash gauge dropped two degrees. Right on Nichols Hwy thru Ketchuptown, then left on 917, which takes you thru Mullins, home of the Auctioneers (a reference to the way tobacco was sold when it was the cash crop around here not long ago). Due to covid, the old train station that houses the SC Tobacco Museum was closed. Cool building, though...another time...These days Mullins hosts a lot of cool antique stores, of one sort or another.

A short drive thru farms and swamps (and a big sand-hill area left over from the last ice age when this was the coast of North America) brings you to the park entrance. Now for some real fun. It's paved...sorta. I'm guessing circa 1955. Once again, remove sunglasses, go slow, avoid mine-field craters and exiting RVs, and you'll be fine.!! :))

Thought about cutting over to 501 on the way home to save some time, but decided back roads were safer. Saw a few more vehicles on the way home, but only a couple big trucks. Missed one turn; no biggie on a back road... :) :) :)


I'm thinking this will make a great first stop on my way inland on future trips. I can get here from my house in a bit over an hour, bed down in my tent on spongy-soft turf or leaf-litter, grab a shower and be on my way in the morn.. ..
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
"Spanish Moss," epiphytes, etcetera...


I didn't hit the road last weekend due to an erroneous rain forecast, plus stuff needed doing at the house. My first weekend off in forever, but a regular deal with the new job. Paid off the loan on Miss Traveller, too! :) :) :beerchug:

I'm still waiting to try posting pics, but photos of the SC Lowcountry parks I have visited so far will inevitably feature southern trees draped in that grey stuff called Spanish Moss. Many people know that it is neither Spanish nor moss, but what is it?

It is an epiphyte -- a type of plant that draws all of its moisture and nutrients from the air. Not a parasite, the only thing it depends on its host for is support. It must prefer clean air, because it grows abundantly on trees a block from my house, but won't grow in my yard adjacent to heavily-trafficked Main Street/US 501 Business.

Another epiphyte commonly seen on our local Live Oak (evergreen) trees is Resurrection Fern. This stuff will dry up between rains and appear dead. The next time it rains, it turns green and lively again.

A signboard at Woods Bay indicated pineapple was related, but that plant has to grow in soil, takes 48 months to produce one fruit, and can spread over 3' (nine sq ft) per plant! I won't be adding that to my garden unless I inherit a tropical estate! :))

Not sure why the first plant is called "moss," but the "Spanish" stems from an old insult. Early French explorers called the plant "Spanish beard," evidently feeling that their Iberian counterparts lacked something in the manscaping department.

Stay tuned for the next park visit or How Grandaddy Raised Quail For Rich Yankees.


 

BruceR.

Street Cruiser
Forum Subscriber
So you inspired me.  Picked off park # 3 of 54 in Tennessee.  Good times.
 

ron203

Southeast Area Director
Member
(slight hijack) Spanish moss grows on all the Georgia sea islands, too. Henry Ford had a mansion on one of  the Georgia coastal islands and  thought the Spanish moss would make good seat stuffing in Model T's. Turned out, Spanish moss harbors some sort of red bug/mites that bit the crap  out of customers. Short lived  experiment.

Enjoying the narrative.  :popcorncouple:  Keep it up!!
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
ron203 said:
(slight hijack) Turned out, Spanish moss harbors some sort of red bug/mites that bit the crap  out of customers. Short lived  experiment.

Enjoying the narrative.  :popcorncouple:  Keep it up!!

Yep, as a Tenderfoot Scout I was warned about the chiggers harbored by the "moss." As a (semi) adult, I once portrayed Swamp Thing at Halloween. I ran the stuff through my dryer for a while and suffered no ill effects (single then, as now  :)))

 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Heat index of 104, but I knew my route from a previous trip to Woods Bay SP. I peeled off 378 toward Olanta, then picked up  403 at Cobb's Corner. 11 miles later, I turned right at a stop sign at Hobb's Corner to stay on 403. So far, so good. Two miles later, google and mapquest send me left onto Cartersville Hwy. Big mistake; more like Cratersville Hwy. Most of the potholes were filled but a horrible road nonetheless.

My GPS kept trying to get me to turn off to the right, even after I reached Lee State Park Road!!!

The park itself, located in Lee County along a hardwood bottomland forest bordering Lynches River, is one of SC's original CCC parks built during the 1930's. Part of the CCC mission was to pass on work skills to the young men involved; at Lee, they learned heavy-equipment use and well-drilling. They excavated a number of connected ponds and drilled artesian wells that still flow today. The idea was to raise fish to stock the nearby river. For whatever reason, that never happened, but the upper pond was eventually turned into an old-fashioned swimming hole.

Sand bottom (we are in the sandhils region, after all), only 3-4 feet deep, constantly fed by the cool artesian wells.....there's even a lip made of concrete so you can sit in the cool water and recline on the grass.  I spread my sweaty khakis and socks on a picnic table to dry in the sun and passed some pleasant time conversing with other patrons (and their dogs) and exchanging park tips. One family from the Charlotte area is doing the same SC Ultimate Outsider program as me.  A couple of bikini-clad Sweet Young Thangs shared that Cheraw has a nice sand beach at their lake (I categorically deny that their presence contributed to my slight sunburn -- I just have more forehead lately).

I also explored the boardwalk into the floodplain/bottomland forest. Hurricane Hugo snapped off a lot of tall trees in 1989 but left a legacy of woodpeckers. Otherwise an educational trip into a midlands floodplain.

This park has a horse arena and campsites that cater to their owners, but I wasn't able to check out the campground. After 1/2 mile of sand-over-clay, another 1/2 mile of gravel, the Loop Road went to swamp on both sides. Just past a sign about wetlands preservation, there was a creek flowing over the road. Not having brought a dirt bike or adventure-tourer, I turned back. Call me what you will, but I'm not going creeking with a new ST with less that 7K on the OD. I like my pavement.

The Sandman calls.....more later........



 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
I took lots of fotos of the old CCC "Parkitecture" built during the 30's. I need to review how to post fotos on the COG site. Will post when/if I figger it out.

Leaving the park, I turned left away from I-20 and picked up 15 into and thru Bishopville. On the edge of town, I passed Piedmont Cemetery and turned right into Broad Acres. There are signs for the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, but traffic is quick and they can be missed.

Almost every lot on the long two-block dead-end street showed signs of being "toped." Mr. Pearl is in his 8os now, and his house and adjacent garden are a bit overgrown. The two houses on the left past his house are well-trimmed, looking like Dr Seuss lives there. For me, that was worth the stop. The non-profit created by Mr Pearl's friends failed, but the national conservancy hopes to continue his work. At least one of his growing sculptures was moved to a state museum. Not bad for a guy that was virtually self-taught in a rare art form
 

kefranklin

Member
Member
Thank you for doing this.  As a lifelong South Carolinian, this is a very interesting escapade you are on.  I would love to do this myself on the C10 and I actually have something similar that I want to do on my new little dual sport.  There are several OHV trails and offroad parks all over the state and I want to ride them all.  You can find them all at sctrails.net.  I did the Parson's Mountain trail last weekend- first time trail riding is fun- and sorta scary!  Good luck on your adventures!
Kevin
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Thank you Dr. Funk!!!

Maybe we shoud contact PRT/DNR about establishing an offroad version of the Ultimate Outsider program. I know there are lotsa trails in the Francis Marion Nat. Forest. Most of the off-road sites in my area are now subdivisions.

A clay-and-gravel pit on the Intracoastal Waterway where we used to shoot guns and ride mountain bikes (dirt bikes for those with them) is now a gated haven of multi-mill-$ homes. I used to find Christmas trees there and drag em back to my place behind the mountain bike.

Keep your eyes peeled for a message from me. I see where you are and maybe we coud meet at a park that's in-between us :beerchug:
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Thank you Dr. Funk!!!

Maybe we shoud contact PRT/DNR about establishing an offroad version of the Ultimate Outsider program. I know there are lotsa trails in the Francis Marion Nat. Forest. Most of the off-road sites in my area are now subdivisions.

A clay-and-gravel pit on the Intracoastal Waterway where we used to shoot guns and ride mountain bikes (dirt bikes for those with them) is now a gated haven of multi-mill-$ homes. I used to find Christmas trees there and drag em back to my place behind the mountain bike.

Keep your eyes peeled for a message from me. I see where you are and maybe we coud meet at a park that's in-between us :beerchug:
 

Uncle Vern

Member
Member
Magnificent Seven
Labor Day weekend (Sunday) saw me and Miss Traveller heading to Poinsett State Park near Manning, SC. Due to previouzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz commitments, did not get started until afternoon. Headed out 378 west from Conway and finally got a chance to stop at a historic marker about 20 miles out. I was wondering what it was since I had seen signs for it but not the marker itself. Turns out it is the closest one can get nowadays (by road) to the Rev-war encampment of General Francis Marion on Snow's Island, surrounded by rivers and swamps.

There is a Snow Hill house in Conway on Kingston Lake, remainder of a huge plantation, so maybe the settlers of the island and the proprietors of the Conway plantation were related. Continued on 378 to Turbeville, then turned south on 301 to avoid the interstate....more later......
 
Top