Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Sesqui State Park’s New Lake Trail

121203 Sesqui Foggy Walk (58A)You may recall that a few days ago I wrote a short piece on the new hiking/walking trail around the lake at Sesquicentennial State Park. If you missed it, click here.

02 awaiting the eventWell, last Saturday the Park Service had the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new trail. Everyone was there! From State Park Director, Phil Gaines, on down.

03 early walkersI’d arrived at the Park around 8:00 AM Saturday morning, intending only to sit in the truck, enjoying that beautiful view of the picnic area and lake, while working away on the second draft of my South Carolina RV travel mystery. The Park already was busier than usual. Probably because it was a Saturday morning. Quite a few visitors. Some with their dogs walking along the trail.

01 cleanupThe staff too was busy with final manicure of the facilities in anticipation of the ribbon cutting event. That’s Maintenance Supervisor Rusty’s truck you see parked beside the restrooms. After years of experience and dedication, Rusty can spot a gum wrapper on the ground at 500 yards.

04 setting upFolks began congregating back toward the Lake’s outlet waiting for the ceremony.

05 the ribbonA ribbon had been stretched across the entrance to the bridge, right beside a HUGE sign advertising the State tax S.C. State Parks check-off. This, by the way, is something everyone who pays South Carolina State taxes can do to help the Parks painlessly. You’ll learn how the money is used in a few minutes.

07 Palmetto Health TableThree ladies from Palmetto Health had set up an information table on the other side of the bridge. Their walking program is first rate. Read about it here.

10 carol talkingBefore long, quite a crowd had gathered. That’s Richland County Conservation Commission Chair, Carol Kososki, you see above. The Commission helped with the funding of the new trail. In addition to other projects in the Park. Such as the mid-18th century cabin over by the Dog Park.

08 daniel introPark Manager Daniel Gambrell called us all together and got things underway with opening comments. Click the button to hear what he had to say. Sorry about the noise in the background. That’s the waterfall just to the right of the bridge. Somehow, I couldn’t edit it out.





09 phil speakNext up was South Carolina’s State Park Director, Phil Gaines. You can imagine how busy he is, with 47 separate facilities spread across the State. He visits them all! But he seemed to take a special interest in this new trail. Have a listen to his comments.





Director Gaines then introduced long-serving Richland County Councilman, Jim Manning. He too has taken a special interest in Sesqui, and in the creation of this trail. 18 jim manning

12 manning philWouldn’t you know it! Just as Councilman Manning began to speak the battery in my camera gave up the ghost. Here he is before the ceremony talking with Director Gaines. Fortunately, the voice recorder was more cooperative. Click the button below to hear Mr. Manning’s comments.





13 carol jimBefore I could get the camera battery replaced, Richland County Conservation Commission Chair, Carol Kososki, had begun to speak. Her comments are available below, again, with a click of the “Click to Listen” button.




14 lori talkMs. Lori Lapin then spoke on behalf of Friends of Sesqui. In addition to her work with Sesqui Friends, Ms. Lapin sponsors “Lori’s Adventure Days” at Sesqui, and often runs the Park’s trails. She really knows what she’s talking about. Listen to her comments below.




16 ribbon cutBy the time I’d been able to replace my camera battery they were ready to cut the ribbon. Sesqui’s Lake Trail was official open. I’d walked it before, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to go around again with Park Director Gaines and Park System Videographer, Laura Mueller. You’ve probably seen some of her remarkable videos on the State Park Systems web pages. A real pro.

17 job well doneSo there you have it. Sesqui’s new trail is open officially. After the ceremony, I caught up with Parks Director Phil Gaines, Regional Manager Paul McCormack, and Sesqui Park Manager Daniel Gambrell. No wonder they were smiling! Be sure to come out and walk this new trail!

Finally, here’s a short slide show of the event.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sesqui State Park’s New Lake Trail on a Foggy Morning

05 sesqui walkSouth Carolina’s Sesquicentennial State Park here in Columbia recently made major improvements to the two-mile or so trail around the lake. Some of the trail, near the office and picnic area, is paved as you see above.

09 sesqui walkMost of the trail, however, looks more like this. For me, this is a more comfortable walking surface.

01 sesqui walkYesterday morning it was unusually foggy here in the Midlands of South Carolina. An ideal time to tramp around in the woods.

Here are a few photos from that foggy morning walk presented in a short video. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Return to Chester State Park, South Carolina

07 Chester State Park Site 4I know; I know. Been here several times before. But this really is one of South Carolina’s nicest State Parks. What a change during the last couple of years! Note the tow vehicle on site # 4 above. Had to trade in my beloved elderly Town Car for a Toyota Tundra truck. Quite a change, but it was time. [click photos for larger view]

01 SignThe display you see in the photo above is just one example of the work being done here. It’s the original Chester State Park sign made by the CCC crew who created the Park. Park Manager John Wells and assistant Brandon Bowers happened across it while cleaning out a storage shed. I first saw it a few months ago as a “project in progress.” Now this historic sign hangs on the wall of the Park office building. Another “Low Buck; High Bang” project that only cost some thought and elbow grease, as we used to say OverHome.

05 brochureChester State Park also has a new brochure. Or new since I was last here, anyway. One of the shiny four-panel kind with the maps and locations of nearby useful services. Everything from groceries to fish bait! Be sure to pick up a copy in the office next time you visit.


This sight greeted me one evening as I walked along the lakeside trail. Two folks fishing from the boat house pier.

03 lake trailAnd scenery like this isn’t unusual at Chester. Here’s another snapshot I took during a walk along the lakeside trail earlier the same day. These trails are an ElderHiker’s delight.

06 dumpster hideLots more going on here at Chester State Park. Here’s another of John’s and Brandon’s in-house building projects. (This one will become a dumpster screen). But none of it detracts from the sense of peace and natural beauty available here just for the price of admission. So, be sure to stop in and stay a few days next time your travels take north or south on I-77. It’s just a few minutes away.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Picnic Table Innovation at Cheraw State Park


Here for a few days again at Cheraw State Park. Still one of the nicest Parks in the State system. Hoping to dip a paddle in Juniper Lake later on today.

But meantime, here’s an interesting innovation. Well, new to me, anyway. Octagonal picnic tables. Just one of the “High Bang; Low Buck” projects carried out here since my last visit. These folks don’t let state-wide budget tightening get them down.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Table Rock State Park

Table Rock is another of those South Carolina mountain state parks that amaze first-time visitors. Especially those from afar [that’s the polite way to say “… from off … “] whose image of South Carolina combines the I-95 interstate corridor with the Myrtle Beach boardwalk.

Table Rock Lodge View

We began last Monday with the CCC-built Table Rock Lodge. Recently renovated and maintained in pristine condition. If you visit on a day it hasn’t been rented out for a wedding or corporate meeting, be sure to walk around to the back and enjoy the views from the lower and upper porches. Those rocking chairs actually are comfortable!

View of Table Rock From Road

We then drove the Park’s winding road, stopping here and there to enjoy the views. Here’s the “table” and “stool” from a convenient overlook. Think what that will look like in ten days or so, when the leaves have turned!

I could go on and on about Table Rock State Park. And have! Several times! But it’s all true. If you haven’t visited this part of South Carolina be sure to include it in your next trip agenda. You won’t be disappointed.

Off to Cheraw State Park again next trip.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Visit to Caesars Head State Park

Hello again from CarolinaConsidered. Apologies for the lack of posts the past couple of months. And thanks for all the e-mail inquiries.

No, I haven’t passed from the scene. Just been over-involved in another writing project. Which I’ve pursued at the expense of CarolinaConsidered. Poor time management and planning!

Don’t laugh now. This new project is a novel. My first venture into book-length fiction writing. After all these years! The first Very rough draft is done, and I’ve begun the first of what likely will be two complete rewrites. The novel is set in present-day South Carolina, somewhere between Charleston and the I-95 corridor. Sort of an RV travel mystery. When it’s done I plan to publish it as an e-book on Amazon. Will let you know.

Monday morning we decided to visit Caesars Head and Table Rock State Parks for a look at the mountain scenery. It was a little early for full autumn color, but still beautiful.

Here’s a short video of the impressive Visitors Center. Nice place to stop.

Fog was heavy on the mountains when we arrived. A beautiful sight in itself. Then suddenly the fog cleared and bright sunshine flooded the whole scene. Have a look here:

After a couple of hours at Caesars Head we drove to Table Rock State Park. More on that visit in another post.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thanks for the heads-up concerning the Chrome browser problem. I just tried to duplicate the problem and couldn't. Will have to research further. RCA

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Park Manager Daniel Gambrell Explains Volunteering and Camp Hosting, and Updates us on Developments at Sesqui State Park

During a visit to Sesquicentennial State Park in late July, I was able to corner Park Manager Daniel Gambrell for another interview. During earlier conversations Daniel had mentioned the importance of volunteers and camp hosts at his Park. So I asked him for some more detail.

He said Sesqui attracts about 150 volunteers a year. They work on everything from trail maintenance to operating the fee station. A wide variety of jobs. To apply, just drop by the Park, describe your interests and talents, and work out a mutually agreeable schedule. The only general requirement is a desire to work out-of-doors in a State Park!


Click this button to hear Park Manager Gambrell explain volunteering at South Carolina’s State Parks.

Sesqui, and many other South Carolina State Parks, has a special category of volunteers: members of “Friends of Sesqui.” Sesqui’s friends group has become considerably more active during the past year or so. Like the Park System’s other friends groups, Friends of Sesqui is a 501C3 non-profit corporation. Which means contributions are deductible. They also have their own Facebook page. Click here to access that.

Friends Group volunteers help with advertising and fundraising. They also help with special events. Like Sesqui’s wildly popular summer night family movie series. And they’ve recently made a big difference in the Park’s trails.


Click this button to hear Park Manager Gambrell describe the Sesqui’s newly energized Friends Group.

Those of us who camp at South Carolina’s state parks regularly appreciate the importance of campground hosts. Those folks who seem to appear magically when we need help. Or just need information about the Park or surrounding area.

Somehow Sesqui has been able to attract crackerjack campground hosts over the decades I’ve been camping here. A few return year after year to help out. You’ll see them set up on Campsite # 1 as you drive into the campground.

I’ve had a number of inquires here about becoming a campground host. So I asked Daniel how one might apply, and about their role at his Park. He described campground hosts as a variety of Volunteer. Interested folks should just fill out a volunteer application, specifying their interest in hosting. And be willing to donate 20 hours or more a week to the Park. In return, they get a free full hookup campsite while serving.


Click here to hear Park Manager Gambrell give more details about campground hosting at Sesqui.

Sesquicentennial State Park is just a stone’s throw from Downtown Columbia. So it attracts a lot of day visitors. Folks who aren’t camping, in other words. Many of those day visitors come to Sesqui for picnics.

They keep Sesqui’s picnic shelters and picnic pads busy year-round. The Park accepts picnic shelter reservations all year, but If you plan to come during warmer weather be especially sure to call for a reservation. Note that these picnic tables have been made wheelchair-friendly. Nice to see.

ClickToListen4I asked Daniel about his fancy new picnic table groupings on concrete slabs. Here’s his reply.

For the past seven years or so, Sesqui has sponsored a huge fenced-in dog park. I think it’s the only one in the whole Park System. Here your dog can have a good off-leash run in a safe environment. Use requires registration, payment of a small annual fee, and presentation of vaccination and neutering records.

This is a great facility. The Park personnel “interview” your dog for friendliness and snap a photo. You get a numbered tag for each dog and a key to the dog park gate. Excellent system!


Click here to hear Park Manager Gambrell describe his dog park and how it operates.

So, there you have it. We’re out of time. I hope to see you during your next visit to Sesquicentennial State Park here in Columbia.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Waist-High Gardening on a Grand Scale in Iron Station, North Carolina

And now for something a little different here on Mobile Studio Travels. Neither ElderCamping nor ElderHiking. Not even ElderKayaking. This is ElderGardening.

I don’t have the patience, skills, or optimism necessary to garden. So, ElderGardening is unlikely to become a regular feature here.

But my Dad up in Iron Station has all three. Raised on a side-hill OverHome farm, he knows what it takes to pull food up out of the dirt. And he’s recently applied those skills to a plot in Iron Station, North Carolina.

Garden-Rack SystemTraditional gardening can be hard on the back. It requires a lot of stooping and pulling. Not as easy as it once was when your 90th birthday is just weeks away. But there are alternatives. You you may have heard of “waist-high gardening.”

The principle is simple. Makes sense. Raise a patch of dirt from ground level to about waist height. The photos above are taken from the GardenRack website. One of the best waist-high gardening sites on the Web. Click here for a look.

There, Victoria, the Frugal Gardener, offers all sorts of information and encouragement. Just a few square feet of soil a few inches deep is all you need!

That’s what I expected when during a May or June phone call Dad mentioned he’d started waist-high gardening in the back yard of his Iron Station, North Carolina home. A few square feet of soil; maybe a watering can nearby. Not much fuss.

Well, after all these years I should have known better. With a wonderful neighbor from across the road as co-conspirator, Dad now is cultivating a “waist-high garden” fully four feet wide and twelve feet long. The dirt is one foot deep, or a little more, throughout.

That’s 48 cubic feet of dirt! Now, at between 75 and 80 pounds per cubic foot, that’s at least 3,600 pounds of dirt! Before adding water, fertilizer, and plants. Don’t forget weeds. Though I suspect few of them will survive.

Imagine how sturdy the frame of this “waist-high garden” has to be to support all that weight. No worries there. It’s built like a brick …. ah, …. brick patio.

07 bottomHeavy, treated lumber bolted together, with gravel and perforated iron sheeting at the bottom to facilitate drainage. What a project!

Speaking of drainage, here’s the irrigation system. A hose runs from the wellhead directly to the garden. Buried underground most of the way, of course.

Here you see America’s oldest living garden moisture meter. Sold not long after the invention of water, it seems. “Waste not; Want not!” Still working, though. Dad keeps close track of soil moisture with this. At all levels.

Tools so far are elementary. Here’s one of the most important. Now, I expect to see modifications in this department during future visits. Just too much temptation! Mechanization? Steam engines? Miniature tractors? I wouldn’t be surprised …. But for now, just simple gardening tools.

So, does all of this work? You bet! Below are just a few of the plants already producing.




With plenty more to come.

So there you have it. Waist-high gardening on a near-commercial level. Special thanks to Ron across the road who designed, engineered, and constructed this remarkable facility. Waist-high gardening indeed.