Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Glassy Mountain

Last month I visited Glassy Mountain, just northeast of Pickens, SC [map link]. It is an isolated granite mountain with a bare face on one side that, when spring water trickles down it, has a glassy appearance, and thus the name. If you're in the mood for a good hike, you can park at the base on the southern side and hike to the top, or you can do as I did and drive the service road to the top.

Parked at the top

Once at the top, there is a trail leading down to the bare face on the northern side; the trail is a little tough to follow, but just aim in a northwestern direction, aiming at around 10 o'clock, and you'll find your way down.

You can seen Caesar's Head and Table Rock off in the distance.

Before leaving the area I rode past on the northern side to get a good look at the bare face where I'd just been. No water trickling down today, so no glassy appearance.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Edisto Memorial Gardens

Back in March Donna and I spent an afternoon at one of our favorite nearby places, Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg. It's a free park with lots of walking paths; a pond with fish, ducks, and geese; sculptures; many varieties of plants and trees; and quite an extensive rose garden. Always a nice place to take a stroll and spend a leisurely hour or two with a good book.

It was too early for the roses to be in bloom, but plenty of other vegetation was coming to life.

The Edisto River (the longest blackwater river in North America, I recently learned) flows through the park.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

McLeod Farms - McBee, SC

Back in April I rode out to McBee (pronounced Mac'-bee with the emphasis on the first syllable - thanks to Cole for that useful nugget as well as for telling me about this wonderful place) SC to visit McLeod Farms, home of peach and strawberry farms; Big's Meats, a meat market and restaurant; and an roadside produce market, all together in one location.

I was starving when I arrived, so I first wandered into Big's and bought a scrumptious hamburger and fries; both were quite good. I ate outside at a picnic table and enjoyed the nice April day and gentle breeze.

Feeling better with fuel in my belly, I wandered around the grounds a bit and checked out the young peaches.

I then checked out their large collection of antique tractors.

The tractors are outside a building that houses a large collection of all sorts of antique items - cars, sewing machines, bottles, phones, tools ... you name, it's probably in there somewhere! And no admission charge!

Check out the external pushrods on this motor!

Before departing I checked out the produce market, which was quite stocked with fresh produce as well as canned produce, jellies, rice, etc. I took home a basket of strawberries, which turned out to be of very high quality ... they didn't last long!

So, it's taken me a couple of months to get around to making this post, and I was just about done with it and ready to post it ... well, today Donna and I made a return trip! We visited the museum and the market, where we enjoyed some ice cream and bought some peaches, blackberries, and cucumbers to bring home. And we bumped into Cole (the guy I mentioned at the top of this post) and his family! It was good to visit with him. Another good visit to McLeod Farms!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Indy Car Weekend - Birmingham

The weekend of April 8 I headed to Barber Motorsports Park just east of Birmingham, AL for a weekend of  Indy Car racing action! I've attended around 20 motorcycle races, but this was my first auto race, and it was a blast! The Indy Car series was the premier race, and there were several other races throughout the weekend, featuring all sorts of cars. It was loud, fast, and fun!

As I've done for motorcycle races at Barber, I volunteered, which is a sweet deal: for 5 hours of work on Saturday morning (which is actually pretty fun ... this time I worked paddock access, so I was responsible for making sure everyone entering the paddock had the proper credentials [selling to them if they didn't already have] and making sure they'd signed a release of liability waiver) I got substantially discounted tickets, preferred parking, a nice Polo shirt and hat, a meal the day I worked, and snacks and drinks throughout the weekend.

Danica Patrick zooming by. You can't really see it in the photo, but she's waving at me. ;-)

I'd LOVE to do the Porsche driving school they offer at the track. Gotta save my coins. Lots of coins.

Mazda 3's (what I drive) were one of the cars raced!

Mini Coopers! They must be a hoot to race.

All business ... not much in the way of creature comforts.

Looking across the start/finish line from pit row.

This is a prototype Motus motorcycle that is being developed in the Birmingham area; I had read about it in a cycle magazine a few months back, so it was quite a treat to see it in person. Wish I could have heard it run; the article stated that its gasoline direct injection V4 motor sounds quite nice.

Sunday morning before heading to the track I had a covered bridge adventure in Blount County, just north of Birmingham, which is home to 3 historic covered bridges. The first one I visited was the Horton Mill Bridge, built in 1934. It is 220 feet long and 70 feet above water, making it the highest covered bridge above water in the U.S. It is right off Highwy 75 north of Oneonta and is very easy to find.

The next one that I visited was the Easley Bridge, built in 1927; it is 95 feet long and is accessible via Easley Bridge Road off of US 231. While I was there 2 fellows rode up on a Suzuki SV650S and a Honda VFR, so I chatted with them for a while. One of them was from Vancouver and was living down this way temporarily and had bought the SV to ride while he's living there. They knew of 2 of the 3 bridges in the area, so I showed them how to get to the third, and they were pretty excited about that.

The third one I visited was the Swann Bridge, built in 1933. At 324 feet long, it is the longest covered bridge in AL and one of the longest in the nation. It is accessible via Swann Bridge Road (a long, winding road) only from the west. Looking at a map, accessing it from the east looks much simpler, but that road ends on private property before you get to the bridge.

I had a most excellent time and look forward to returning for next year's Indy weekend!