Catching Up

I’ll try this post again.  Hopefully WordPress won’t disappoint me again.

Okay, so I’m not very good at this blogging thing yet.  I’ve missed lots of fun stuff, so I’ll try to catch up.

I learned that our cat Oscar likes beer…

… and so do I, especially when it’s at a Zac Brown Band concert on the Clemson University intramural fields.

The Zac Brown Band was absolutely phenomenal in concert.  These guys are incredibly talented.  It was quite easily one of the best concerts I have seen, hands down.

The next morning Kenna and I went out and purchased our long-anticipated riding lawn mower.

This baby cuts down the time to mow our seemingly football-field-sized yard full of weeds from 2.5 hours with a push mower down to about 45 minutes.  Our previous riding lawn mower blew up (the piston rod poked a dime-sized hole in the crankcase) about one month into last year’s 10-month-long grass cutting season, leaving me to push mow it the rest of the year.

Flashback: The first time I had to cut the grass with that push mower the grass was about 6″ tall and slightly moist.  Now, the push mower only mulches or bags – it does not have a side discharge – and with the grass being long and moist it clogged up very quickly in mulching mode.  So I had to bag it.  34 bags of grass later, the front yard was finally mowed.  What a nightmare!

Anyways, with our new riding mower, I still had energy left to do something fun after I cut the grass, so I went on a mountain bike ride at Issaqueena, the Clemson University experimental forest.  I’ve been riding these trails for over 10 years now and they can get somewhat boring after riding them for so long, but it’s still better than nothing.

Here’s a picture that I took of that same spot back in January 2011, just after a rare snow storm hit upstate SC, leaving about 6″ of snow on the ground.  Most of it had melted by the time I took this picture.

I rode down to the Issaqueena reservoir dam and was sad to see that there was nobody out there playing like they used to a few years ago.

This place used to be so much fun.  It would be full of people swimming in the reservoir and lake, hanging out on the dam, sliding down the dam, jumping off the dam into the lake ~35 feet below.  Geez…I wonder why they shut that place down.  It’s not like there was any sort of liability in all of that.  :-)

Still, that’s countless hours of potential outside fun taken away from countless people.  That’s just one more reason for all of those people to stay inside and get drunk rather than to go outside and get drunk enjoy the weather.

Skip forward to the next weekend (this past weekend).  Moxie and I went to Hagood Mill just outside of Pickens, SC where they were having their monthly mini-festival.  It’s basically a bunch of demonstrations of skills of many years ago that have been preserved by just a few people – skills like milling, blacksmithing, moonshining, and weaving.

But the main attraction for me is the music: bluegrass!  I love bluegrass.  It’s hard not to smile and tap your foot to the rhythm of the banjos, mandolins, fiddles, guitars, and whatever other kinds of noise making devices these folks can get their hands on.  It also doesn’t hurt that you get some real characters showing up at these things.

Moxie even got to meet a new kind of animal: a two week old baby pig.  She was having the time of her life with this new thing that looked sort of like a little dog but certainly didn’t feel like, sound like, act like, or smell like a little dog.

Moxie and her new buddy went to check out the roosters.

More sights from Hagood Mill.

That’s a working 1935 Dodge Brothers pickup truck, owned by Mr. Robert “Mountain Man” Perry.  I bet you can’t guess which one he is.  :-)

On my way home I stopped by the annual Pickens Azalea Festival for about an hour.

On Sunday I went up to Paris Mountain in Greenville to go on a mountain bike ride.  This is a nice alternative to Issaqueena for me since it’s still pretty close to my house and it has more variety.

So there’s two more pretty darn good weeks of my life in Upstate SC.  I’ll see if I can find any more fun stuff to do around here.  If I do I’ll let you know!

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WordPress: Strike #1

Okay, WordPress just really pissed me off.  I just spent an hour writing a fabulous post and clicked “Save Draft” only to have it dump me out to a login screen and lose everything that I had put into my post.

What a pain in the ass.

WordPress, I thought you were supposed to make this blogging thing fun, not frustrating?

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Last Weekend: Motorcycling and Camping

Last weekend was awesome.

I was feeling really pent up at home, so after lunch on Saturday I went on a motorcycle ride.  I decided to go explore the Jocassee Gorges Recreation Area, about 35 minutes from my house.  There’s a bunch of gravel/dirt roads out there that are suitable for dual sport motorcycles.  Riding on gravel is always sketchy – you just don’t know what the gravel is going to do, and traction is unpredictable at best.  But riding in gravel is better than no riding at all, so off I went.

I stopped to fill up with gas and Gatorade at the gas station at the corner of Hwy. 11 and Hwy. 178.  There were a few vendors set up across the street so I walked over to check it out.  There was some nice hand-made furniture, some fresh produce, and some 6-week-old half husky, half wolf pups.  Yes, I said wolf; or at least that’s what the old mountain man that had them there said.  He was selling them for $125.  Strangely enough, I saw that same guy there about 1.5 years ago selling another litter of wolf pups.  I pet the pups for a few minutes – they were really cute – but knew that Kenna would kill me if I brought home a wolf.

So on I went to the Shooting Tree Entrance of Jocassee Gorges, at Shooting Tree Ridge Road (see the map).  It was nice to be off of the blacktop.  3-4 miles later of zigging, zagging, ups, downs, jumps, and bumps I had reached a branch of Horse Pasture Road that I had not ridden before, so I took it.  Just down the road a little bit I came upon Jumping-Off-Rock Overlook.  What a view!

I eventually made my way down to the end of Powderhouse Gap Road, where there is a boat ramp to Lake Jocassee.

I also found a nice overlook on Horse Pasture Road.

I then went on to Dawkins Flat Road where a few miles later I came to a creek crossing that had a campsite full of people next to it.  I figured I’d go over and say hi, considering it was the only populated campsite I had seen the entire ride.  As I was pulling up, I could have sworn I recognized the guy standing next to the fire ring.  Then I saw another guy that I also recognized.  I realized who they were – one of them was the boyfriend of my old roommate’s sister, the rest were his friends.  Strange connection, I know, but every year for the past few years near Christmas my old college roommate, Mack, comes back to town and his family has a bunch of friends over for dinner (it’s always a feast), and some of the guys at the campsite usually come to this dinner.  What’s even stranger is that we met up in the middle of nowhere, literally miles from civilization.

We started talking and they graciously offered me a venison burger they had left over, but which was still over the fire.  It was pretty awesome, especially after hours of riding.  They also invited me to come back and camp with them that night.  Kenna already had plans to stay the night at a friend’s house and I have been wanting to go camping for a while, so I decided that I would take them up on the offer, but I had to go home and get my camping gear first.  So I finished up my ride, went home, packed up my camping stuff and headed back out the door with Moxie.

I arrived back at the camp site after dark and was immediately greeted by 8 dogs (they were out on a walk when I had stopped by earlier).  In all, we had 9 dogs there and 8 people.  I quickly proceeded to setup camp so that I could relax and drink some beer.  :-)  Some of my friends had given me a hammock for my 29th birthday and I had not had a chance to use it yet, so I was glad to finally give it a try.

These guys had a feast planned: they had a turkey barbequeing over coals from the fire buried in the ground, mounted on a 2×4, and covered with a small metal barrel.  They were doing it right.  The turkey was done shortly after I finished setting up and everyone dug in.  I had already eaten, but I had a little bit anyways (you know, to make sure it was okay to eat).  The dogs thought that they died and went to heaven – they got the giblets and the scraps.  Moxie did her job and stood under the turkey, watching to make sure that none of the turkey parts hit the ground.

We had lots of fun that night and went to bed around 1am.  I slept pretty good in the hammock, except that my back got pretty cold because the sleeping bag filling was matted down, leaving little insulation.  Next time I’ll have to try putting my sleeping pad under me.  One definite plus is that you don’t have to worry about finding a flat spot or having a rock dig into your back all night.

I was up around 8am, but some of the others slept until about 10am.  We slowly ate breakfast and packed up, then I was on my way to explore a part of the Foothills Trail that our campsite was next to.

One of the dogs, I think his name is Wee Man, decided that he liked my seat the best, and that I brought it just for him.

I only walked about 1.5-2 miles in on the trail, but it was really pretty.  It went right past Laurel Fork Falls and eventually down to Lake Jocassee.

Moxie posed for the camera.

On my way back home I explored a few more dirt roads in my truck.  They eventually got too narrow and steep for me to feel comfortable going further by myself (considering nobody knew exactly where I was, and it would have been a long walk out if I got stuck), so I turned around and went home.  No worries, that just leaves more exploring for me to do with a friend some other time.  :-)

After I got home, Kenna and I went out to eat at Chipotle, our favorite restaurant, and picked up some food at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  I couldn’t imagine a weekend being much better than this one.

Posted in Camping, Hiking, Motorcycling | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Hello world!

I’m gonna give this blogging thing a shot.

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