Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday Waterfall Wandering
Asbury Hills
Cleveland, SC
Friday, November 29th, 2013

While most people like to hit the Shopping Malls on Black Friday, my waterfall wandering buddies decided to hit the woods to hopefully find some undocumented waterfalls!

The core waterfall team of Andy, Darrin, Brenda, and myself were joined by bushwhacking newbies Nina and Sherron to explore an area of the Ashbury Hills Camp in Cleveland, SC where Darrin heard there might be some waterfalls to be found.

Our area of exploration would be two small tributary streams with no trail access.  We had hoped the heavy rains earlier in the week would mean enough waterflow to make this adventure worthwhile.

 The waterfall wandering gang!


As far as bushwhacking goes, this was fairly easy making for a good introduction to bushwhacking for Nina and Sherron.

Bushwhacking

We found nothing worthwhile on the first stream we explored.  Just a long series of slides with no significant drops of more than a few feet.  So we called a pivot and headed to the next stream to the West.

We hit the waterfall jackpot finding a nice 60-70 footer!

 The new unnamed waterfall we found

The new unnamed waterfall we found

While it took us about 3.5 hours of bushwhacking to get here, we found a much easier route back to our vehicles.  However, I believe the return route might have taken us across private property.

The much quicker return route left us enough time to seek out one more waterfall.  Secret Falls is listed on the Asbury Hills Trail map, and since none of us had ever been we decided to do what look like about a 2-mile round trip hike.

The old forest road trails we expected to be hiking eventually fizzled out so we ended up doing a bit more bushwhacking.  Without too much effort we were back on track and eventually found the less than spectacular Secret Falls!

Me at Secret Falls

While the cloudless sky did not make for a spectacular day of photography, it did make for a great day to be outside!  I thoroughly enjoyed this day of waterfall wandering!  A much better way to spend Black Friday than inside a crowded Shopping Mall!

The complete set of photos is posted here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/sets/72157638215922746/

Thursday, November 28, 2013

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

This is the first time that Amy and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our house.  Here is a quick shot of the gang from earlier today.

Thanksgiving 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jack and Amy's Weekend Getaway to
Edisto Island, SC
Thursday, October 17th thru Sunday, October 20th, 2013

 Jack and Amy at Edisto Beach

Edisto Island is one of those places that we have heard good things about, but neither Amy nor I have ever been.  So we decided to plan an extended weekend getaway.  If you are looking for a beach lined with hotels and loads of commercialized tourist attraction, Edisto is not the place for you!  In fact, the Island of Edisto does not have a single hotel or motel.

However, there are plenty or rental properties available.  Most are a bit pricey during the peak Summer months, but in the off-season the rates are quite reasonable, especially if you don't feel the need to be right on the beach.  We rented a two-bedroom condo at the Edisto Marina for just a hair over $100/night.


Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Since we couldn't check in until 4:00pm, we decided to make a stop at the Columbia Riverbanks Zoo along the way.  (See previous blog post).

We arrived on Edisto Island a little before 4:00, so we made a stop at the Piggly Wiggly (the only grocery store on the Island) to pick up some essentials (aka Beer).  After arriving at our Condo and unpacking we went out for a nice seafood dinner.

We decided to go for a walk along the beach to burn off dinner and catch the sunset which proved to be quite nice!




The Edisto Maria located right next to our Condo also has a nice little restaurant and bar, so we decided to go there for drinks and dessert.  We then took a stroll around the Marina for a little night time photography.

 At the Edisto Marina

Amy and Jack at the Edisto Marina

Full Moon over the Edisto Marina

Friday, October 18th, 2013

One good thing about October is that you don't have to get up real early for a sunrise.  However the 7:30am sunrise was still a bit earlier than Amy wanted to head out, so I was on my own for Sunrise.

 Edisto Beach Sunrise

 Edisto Beach Sunrise

After a nice sunrise I met back up with Amy and we headed off for breakfast.

It turns out that there is only one restaurant on the Island that serves breakfast during the off-season.  Since it was not the greatest breakfast and our Condo had a fully equipped kitchen, we decided to hit the Piggly Wiggly and buy our own breakfast food to cook up the next two mornings.

The highlight of our weekend was Botany Bay Plantation, which was private property until just a few years ago.  Now the 4,687 acre plantation is managed by the SCDNR as a Wildlife Management Heritage Preserve and open to the public on most days!

 Live Oaks along the road through Botany Bay Plantation

All visitors must sign in and agree to the rules upon entering the plantation.  One of the rules is that you can not take any seashells.  Anyone caught taking shells from the preserve can be fined up to $500 per shell!

There is a nice half mile trail that takes you from a small parking area to the unspoiled beach.

 Botany Bay Beach

 Wall of Shells along the Tideline

Botany Bay Beach

 Impressive Shells at Botany Bay Beach

We also decided to do the 6.5 mile driving tour of the Plantation which takes you to many of the highlights.

Salt Marsh

 Butterfly
 The Ice House

 Live Oaks alongside the road

We stopped at a place called Picnic Pond which was the first pond I have ever seen that was 100% covered with Green Algae.  At the pond I spotted what at first looked like a log, but on closer inspection it turned out to be an Alligator!

 Alligator in Picnic Pond

Botany Bay Plantation is definitely a must see if you ever make a visit to Edisto Island!  It would even be a worthwhile daytrip if you are visiting other nearby areas!  I definitely plan to make a return visit!

We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the beach, eating dinner, going for another after dinner walk along the beach.
 Not much of a sunset, but still nice

 Edisto Beach

 Edisto Beach

 The Edisto Marina



Saturday, October 19th, 2013

It was raining when I woke up for sunrise.  Since there was no sunrise to be had, I didn't see the need to head to the beach.  Instead I settled for a few soggy and less than spectacular shots around the Marina. 

The Edisto Marina

Fortunately the rain had stopped by the time we finished breakfast.

Our focus for the day would be the Edisto Beach State Park.  Amy and I hiked the 3.4 mile (1.7 mile each way) Spanish Mount Trail. 
Along the Spanish Mount Trail

 Along the Spanish Mount Trail

Compared to Botany Bay Plantation, we were less than impressed with the State Park and the mosquitoes were horrible!   Fortunately we came prepared with plenty of Skeeter Dope (aka bug spray), so we didn't get eaten alive!
 
The state park does have an "Environmental Learning Center" which turned out to be a nicer than we were anticipating and worth a visit (especially if you already paid the state park entrance fee!).

A completely unplanned coincidence turned out to be that our friends Eric and Anita were also on Edisto Island for a boy scout camping trip with one of their sons.  The annual Edisto Island Fall festival was going on which Amy and Anita really enjoyed.  Eric and the boys did a lot of fishing, but no catching!  I wandered around looking for things to photograph.

My best Seagull shot of the weekend

After dinner we tried for another Sunset, but there was too much cloud cover. 

Not much of a sunset, but the clouds were still cool

While this was planned as an Amy and Jack weekend, it was nice to have friends to hang out with that evening.  Eric and I watched most of the Clemson vs Florida State game while Amy and Anita hung out on the balcony of our Condo chatting the night away.



Sunday, October 20th, 2013

The next morning I got up for another sunrise attempt, but again there was too much cloud cover.  But I still enjoyed my final stroll around the beach before heading on back to Spartanburg.

Edisto Beach
 
 
Edisto Beach

It was a very enjoyable weekend away!
 
The complete set of photos is posted here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/sets/72157636807796394/

Monday, October 21, 2013

2013-10-17 Columbia Riverbanks Zoo

Columbia Riverbanks Zoo
Columbia, SC
Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Amy and I just got back from an extended weekend getaway to Edisto Island, SC.  On the drive down we decided to make a visit to the Columbia Riverbanks Zoo.

Here are a few photos from our visit






The Complete set of photos is posted here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/sets/72157636795395443/

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jack and Amy's Weekend Getaway
to Blowing Rock, NC
Friday, August 9th through 
Sunday, August 11th, 2013

It has been a while since Amy and I have taken a trip with just the two of us.  So this past weekend we decided it was time for a weekend getaway.  We wanted something close enough that it would not be a major drive, but far enough that it would still feel like we were getting away.

We came up with Blowing Rock, NC which is about a 2.5 hour drive.  My search for accommodations took about 2 minutes as the first place that caught my eye was the Blowing Rock Brewing Company.  Brewery, Restaurant, Ale House, and Inn all in one place!  Everything I need for a relaxing weekend away!

Our original plan was to try and scoot out of work early on Friday, but in the end we both decided to just take Friday as a Vacation day making a true 3-day weekend.  This would give us the opportunity to take our time on the drive up and make a few stops along the way.

Our first stop was Toms Creek Falls just off of Hwy 221 a few miles north of Marion, NC.  A short and easy hike of about a quarter mile leads you to the base of this nice waterfall.

Jack and Amy at Toms Creek Falls

After the short hike to Toms Creek Falls, we continued up Hwy 221 and got on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Linville, NC.  A few miles on the parkway led us to our second stop of the day, Linville Falls.  I decided to do the hike down to the base of the falls on the Plunge Basin Trail.  Amy elected to hang back with her book.

From the visitors center it is a steep descent of a little less than a mile to the base of Linville Falls.  Photo conditions would have been really good except for the place was swarming with people. At least they people give a sense of scale and girls in bikinis don't really hurt the photos either!

Linville Falls

After Linville Falls we continued on the Blue Ridge Parkway making our next stop at the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitors Center.  We hiked a short stretch of the Tanawha trail to a rocky area which offered up a nice view of this famous section of road.

The Linn Cove Viaduct

After our hike, we continued on to Blowing Rock, NC and checked into the Blowing Rock Brewing Company Ale House and Inn
The Blowing Rock Brewing Company Ale House and Inn

We unpacked, settled into our room, and went for an early dinner at the Inn's restaurant.  In addition to a nice meal, I also enjoyed a flight of (5) varieties of beer which were all excellent!  And since we didn't have to drive anywhere, Amy even ordered an adult beverage!

After dinner we decided to go for a little walk around town.  Amy was quickly distracted by a plethora of cute little shops.  So while she browsed through a variety of shops, I wandered around town getting a feel for the lay of the land.  All throughout town there are gorgeous displays of flowers blooming just about everywhere you look.  And lots of butterflies!

Butterfly

After a few hours of shopping and wandering around, we had burned off enough dinner to head back to the restaurant for dessert (for Amy) and more beer (for me).  It was nice to be able to just walk a few steps from the restaurant to get to our room at the end of the evening.


The next morning I decided to get up early for a sunrise.  Amy wanted no part of getting up at 6:00am, so I made the short drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway alone.  I found an overlook a few miles from town that looked like it might be promising.

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway Overlook

The sunrise was nice, but nothing spectacular.

Sunrise from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Cows grazing under some Cool Trees





I returned back to our room to meet back up with Amy, and we took a short walk to a nearby restaurant for a nice breakfast.

Afterwards, we decided to head to Julian Price Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a little hike.  The Price Lake Trail looked to be about a 3 mile easy hike around Price Lake the seemed like it would be perfect for Amy.

 Price Lake

The trail was mostly level with just a few minor ups and downs.  However, the very wet spring and summer made much of the trail a mucky mess!  Plus some washed out bridges made it difficult to maintain dry feet on some of the stream crossings.

 Amy working her way across an underwater bridge.

After our morning hike we headed back into town for a light lunch.  Amy was wanting to do some more hiking, but for me a nice waterfall trail in order.  The Glen Burney Falls Trailhead was just a 5 minute walk from the Inn, so I left Amy the car in case she had a inkling to visit the nearby Outlet Mall.

The weather forecast called for almost certain rain and the way the skies look, I was almost positive I would get wet, but I decided to do the hike anyway.

I saw about 30 people on the trail, but they were all hiking back up to the trailhead to beat the rain.  Thunder roared as I made my way down to Glen Burney and Glen Marie Falls.  Just as I hit the side trail to Glen Burney Falls, the skies opened up in a downpour.  So I skipped Glen Burney Falls and continued down the trail to Glen Marie Falls.

Fortunately the storm only lasted about 10 minutes and by the time I made it to Glen Marie Falls, all I had to deal with were water drops from the trees.

 Glen Marie Falls

After a short break at Glen Marie Falls, I backtracked to Glen Burney Falls.  

Glen Burney Falls

The hike out was uneventful except for a Yellow Jacket sting on my calf!  Fortunately, I am not allergic and I finished up the hike without any further issues.  By the time I made it back to the trailhead the sun was shining so I took a short stroll through a nice park across the road from the trailhead.

Nice park across the road from the Glen Burney Trailhead

Butterfly

Amy had returned from her shopping excursions by the time I arrived back at the Inn, so we took another little walk around town and found a nice restaurant for dinner.  We made the mistake of going for an after dinner walk and got totally drenched as another downpour hit.  This one much heavier and longer than the one earlier in the afternoon.  Fortunately we were able to take shelter and ride out the storm in a little English Pub, where we enjoyed dessert (for Amy) and more beer (for me).


The next morning I decided to get up early for another sunrise.  I think this one was a little nicer than the previous morning.

 Blue Ridge Parkway Sunrise

Blue Ridge Parkway Sunrise

After sunrise, I returned back to the Inn to meet up with Amy and we went for a walk to a nearby restaurant from some breakfast.  After breakfast we packed our stuff, checked out of the Inn, and hit the road.

But first we decided to be tourists and hit Blowing Rocks most famous tourist attraction, "The Blowing Rock".  Definitely not a must see, but it was nice to be able to cross this one off my list!

Amy on the Blowing Rock Overlook

 Me on the Actual "Blowing Rock"

Jack and Amy at Blowing Rock

Overall it was a great weekend getaway with My Love!

The Complete set of photos is posted here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/sets/72157635063694262/