Saturday, January 31, 2009

Church of the Holy Cross, Stateburg, SC

On January 9 Donna and I took an afternoon drive out around Sumter and Camden. I had just learned of the burial site of Joel Poinsett and wished to visit it, so that was the only real destination, and from there we explored a bit and found a couple more neat places.

Poinsett is the man for whom the Poinsettia flower is named, as he is the one who introduced it to our country. In November we visited a bridge near Greenville that is named for him. The church where he is buried is beautiful and is just a short piece north of Hwy 378 on Hwy 261, just west of Sumter.

A pair of buzzards was perched atop the steeple for a while.

We continued up Hwy 261 to the town of Boykin, which is really a step back in time. There is a functioning mill, a general store, a broom-making shop, a couple of restaurants, and the Swift Creek Church, built in 1827. The shops had closed down for the day, so we just enjoyed a drive through and a visit of the church.

Continuing north on 261, just north of Hwy 378 is the burial place of General Thomas Sumter; it is in a small "park" along with the graves of a few close family members that is accessed via a short road off the main road.

We saw this little guy out there:

Before heading back toward Columbia we drove through Camden and headed up Hwy 521 to the Camden Battlefield, site of a Revolutionary War battle in 1780. Not much to see other than a monument - no trails that I know of.

We managed to squeeze quite a bit into those few hours! Very fun adventure.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cokesbury College and Payne Institute near Greenwood, SC

On January 10 I made a 250-mile ride on my Ninja up around Greenwood, SC. Just north of Greenwood I discovered a community that I had not visited before, Cokesbury, named for Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury, the first two Methodist bishops in the United States. In that community is the remains of Cokesbury College, built in 1854, which first served as a girls school and then as a boys school until 1882 when it became co-ed; it remained operational until 1954.

Down a narrow road adjacent to the college is a monument to the Payne Institute, which was the predecessor to Allen University in Columbia.

I passed over Lake Greenwood as I was leaving the area and saw a huge flock of gulls resting on the docks.

It was a great day of riding, with a couple of neat historic discoveries!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Brookgreen Gardens December 2008

The weekend before Christmas Donna and I visited Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC to enjoy their annual "Nights of a Thousand Candles" Christmas display. It is a beautifully-landscaped collection of outdoor sculptures and is a neat place to visit at any time, but it's a special treat at Christmas.

On our way to Murrells Inlet we visited Kensington Mansion, which is about halfway between Columbia and Sumter. It was completed in 1854 and is in excellent shape and fully decorated with period furniture. We enjoyed a tour by a very knowledgeable and friendly guide. No photos were allowed inside, but we took several on the grounds.

We stayed in Georgetown, a few miles south of Murrells Inlet. The first night we just took it easy, going out for a nice dinner downtown followed by a walk along the river.

Saturday we knocked around the area a bit until 3:00, Brookgreen's opening time during the Christmas display. We had a couple of hours of daylight to enjoy the sculptures unlit.

Then around dusk the lights started coming to life and musical ensembles began performing at various locations around the grounds; our favorite was a brass quintet from UNC.

It's a really amazing place at night; all the walkways are lined with candles, and all the bodies of water have candles floating in them. Electrical lights augment the candles.

On Sunday we headed back to Brookgreen primarily to visit the zoo (as if the huge sculpture garden isn't enough, they have a very nice AZA-accredited zoo!)

We spent most of the afternoon at the zoo and then a bit more time enjoying the sculptures before calling it a weekend and heading back to Columbia. Brookgreen is a must-see if you live anywhere close. It's great at any time, but especially at Christmas.

All the photos that I took are in this album: