4/3/18 – 4/6/18 Aiken State Natural Area, Windsor S.C.

Site 24; W/E; Cell coverage adequate.

Campground.

Site #24

Bathhouse in background is in the center of the loop.

This is a bizarre layout. There is one two mile loop through the entire park. When going anywhere, you have to travel around the loop. The campground is the sandiest, bumpiest, narrowest park road we've seen. Have to crawl through at 5 mph or less in some spots. At least it is not very long. The reward is being in a nice pine grove. However the oddest and most frustrating feature is the dump station, which is accessed opposite the campground loop. Then it turns to the left parallel to the park loop road, but going in the opposite direction! You then have to negotiate a u-turn surrounded by 80 foot pines, or you have to travel back down the terrible campground loop again. The reviews on-line cite this as the major draw back of the campground.

Sowing the beauty and the beast of this campground. Sand road is tough.

Upon leaving the dump station, we found that going into the campground wasn't easy either because a wooden sign sits on your inside corner, so we tried a 3 point turn to go back down the park road. I had to drive forward between pines and backward between more pines and into a bush to negotiate the turn. I will not be going back to this campground. If you have a smaller rig or class B you could be OK.

The bathhouses are very old and not very pretty, but functional.

At the Park.

For $15 we rented a canoe and paddled one and ¾ miles down the Edisto River. Again, the process was a little convoluted. The day before the Ranger told me that we had to meet him at the office the day of the paddle to pay for the trip and he would shuttle us at either 10AM, noon, or 2PM - even though he also said he is only at the office for an hour around noon and again an hour around 4PM and we preferred to paddle at 10AM. He couldn't explain how that could work other than, he might be there earlier. He said that after we meet at the office we would follow him to the put-in, where we had to drop Sandy off (because he only has a two seat pickup truck), then follow him to the take-out spot where I can drop off my truck. Then, he would take me in his truck around the entire park loop road again to the put-in spot.

Park map. Note the one-way loop road.

So, on the following day, we went to the office a little before noon. At that time he told us that they were repairing the dock at the put-in location and didn't know if we could go. Frustrating. His ranger partner showed up and took us anyway. He had an SUV so Sandy wasn't ejected at the put-in spot. In summary we had to drive ¾ of the way around the park to meet the ranger who drove us right back over the same road past our campsite, past the put-in, to the take out, then past the ranger station again, past our campsite again and back to the put-in.

Luckily, we had an interesting talk with the Ranger who was from Florida, but his father's family was from Cape Cod – Harwich, Chatham, and Dennis. His wife was a nuclear scientist working at the Savanah River Site where she is trying to find a way to re-use uranium that was being brought down from Canada. Not a pleasant thought. Coincidentally I just finished reading a travel book about the South that describes this site in alarming terms and the lack of security on Atomic Road that goes through it.

Back to the river.

It was an extremely pretty, twisting, and narrow river. There were many obstacles (fallen trees) along the route, so while they say it is a one hour “float”, considerable attention had to be paid with steering. There were a few eddies and bends where I could bank over and take a photo.

This photo shows how the grass was visible in the clear water

We saw the same breed of tiny birds everywhere. We were greeted along the whole way with their pretty bird songs. Incredibly peaceful. Twice we saw a beautiful pair of yellow birds that I haven't identified yet. Once at the beginning of our trip and again half way through a pair came swooping over our heads, leaped to branches near us, danced from branch to branch and took off again. They were either buzzing us for being near a nest, or else checking us out. I think the later.

The take-out point was interesting. Stairs lead into the water with hand rails to grab. The park ranger said the water was about 8' deep at this point but in dry weather you could jump to the log in the water. To exit, Sandy grabbed the hand rail while I got out and held the canoe to the steps to let her out.

To take out we grabbed hand rails on the bottom step.

Water overflows the banks at the take-out.

Hiking.

There is a hiking path around the park that was a good leg stretch, but not real interesting. On the way back, we left the trail to walk the road and go to the “Fishing lake”, a small pond that one of the rangers said had lots of tiny turtles. We didn't see them, but it is a nice walk.

Trees are starting to leaf here. A week later and we are in Virginia and buds are just starting

Water bugs on a stream on the trail.

They were pretty quick, darting about - this one is making a wake.

The "Fishing Lake"

Town of Aiken, SC.

A surprisingly bustling town northwest of Augusta, Georgia with a nice shopping area and a few dining options. We found a really cute store with local beer, kitchen ware, and other odds and ends. We had lunch at Tako Sushi which had a split Mexican/Sushi menu. Sandy went south, I went west. Both were good. Aiken is surrounded by horse farms and many of the items in the store windows were horse related.

Lauren's Street, Aiken.

Courtyard outside Tako Sushi.

View from our seats at Tako Sushi.

Side story.

The following photos are from the Georgia welcome center on Route 301 north of Sylvania. 301 is a two-lane road here and not much traffic, so we were surprised this little spot was so nice. Thankfully we had our Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches ready!

That's all folks.

Going north...

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About Us

We are Sandy and Bill embarking on a journey we thought of for years, but pipe dream? Nope. We are doing it - while we are able to. While it is hard for us to leave our family, we feel we need to do this now. 

 

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