Cumberland Falls

On my way here, I stopped for gas for the last time and noticed that I was at the exit for Cumberland Falls. Why not? I thought. I followed the signs away from I-75, and drove for a long time on twisting mountain roads. Eventually I came to a beautiful stone overlook, so I stopped to get some pictures.

After that, I went on. By the time I finally got to the falls, I was twelve miles away from I-75. I drove past various entrances to restaurants and waterfront homes until finally I came to the park.

First I wandered around the area above the falls, looking at the rocky bed, the surrounding forest, and the beautiful bridge over the water.

Soon I reached a sign that said “DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT”, so I headed off to the right and passed through between the gift shop and the snack bar to the main park area.

And finally, there was the first falls viewing site:

I moved along from there and found several other great angles.

Someday I’ll be as famous as James Archambault ;>

After a little more exploring, I was hot and tired and ready to drive the last 100 miles. I bought myself a souvenir, one of those neat paper storage boxes. My cousin Gabrielle gave me two hat boxes when I was in the hospital (which, of course, were destroyed in the fire); this box is made of the same kind of stuff, except it’s a cube. It’s beige with blue flowers. I also bought some homemade fudge. Then I headed home, fully satisfied with my little detour.

I arrived safely

Hours and hours ago, as it happens. I did take a slight detour–I stopped for gas at the exit for Cumberland Falls, and decided to go to the park and get photos. This took me about twelve miles away from I-75. After I hiked all over the falls area, took pictures, reminisced about going there in my early teens with a friend, and basically satisfied my need to reintroduce beauty into my life, I decided to finish the trip on backroads, which took forever. But at least it was different.

I have a splitting headache and I’m very tired. More details and the photos will come tomorrow.

Night!

Lunch at the beach

If I leave work to the right, pass the way home, and drive for awhile, I end up reaching a bridge over part of the sprawling J. Strom Thurmond/Clarks Hill Lake. There’s a boat ramp just past the bridge to the right. I’ve stopped for lunch there before.

Today I decided to go there because I didn’t feel like driving all the way down to the longer bridge, the one that has two roads leading down to the water. I just wanted to eat and relax–but I didn’t want to go to the Historical Park, because I just went there yesterday.

I was expecting to just park in the shade and stand around staring down the boat ramp at the lake. But when I pulled in this time I noticed that there was a little road leading away from the ramp. Being a curious little bugger, I drove up to it. There was a sign there reading: “Park open April 1 to November 1”.

Public property! I drove down the skinny winding road…and discovered a beach.

shot while standing in water

It was so gorgeous that after I ate lunch at one of the many picnic tables scattered around the woods, I had to take my shoes and socks off and splash in the water.

I'm pretty pale, aren't I?

It was just so nice. I had a lovely lunch.

maple leaf floating in the waterme acting cutesy

Now I’m trying to figure out the logistics of going for a swim over my lunch break. I’ll need a swimsuit, a towel, and probably a shower cap to keep my hair dry…

More exploring

Here are some pics I took around J. Strom Thurmond Lake at the Georgia/South Carolina border. I found a boat ramp and had lunch there.

crazy flower

There were all kinds of caterpillars there…

spiky caterpillar

It was a really beautiful place to eat lunch, even if I did get swarmed by ants.

Exploring

As I’ve mentioned, my new job is in Lincolnton, which is “40 minutes from Augusta” if the job ad is to be believed (but it’s really 40 minutes from Martinez). I can get to work faster from Cheryl and Reid’s house than I could from our apartment, which is nice, sort of. Either way, leaving at 8 am gets me here on time, usually with a little time to spare to get settled in.

Since I’m so far from “home”, I can’t just go back to the house for lunch. I’ve been packing a sandwich and some yogurt, but today I decided that was boring, so I didn’t pack anything and instead went to Hardee’s. (They got my order totally wrong–I ordered the 1/2 pound sourdough burger, and I came out with a small patty on a regular bun with no condiments except a huge amount of ketchup. They also gave me the large size drink and fries. They did get the type of drink and fries correct, so I didn’t really mind. I’m not extraordinarily picky, in general.)

After picking up my food at the drive-thru, I decided to drive “the other way” down Washington Street here in Lincolnton. Is that confusing, or what? You take Washington Road out of Augusta and it ends up stopping at Washington Street in Lincolnton. If you turn right at that point (the Hardee’s is on the corner there), you head towards my workplace. I’d never tried going left, so today I did that.

Apparently that’s the way you go if you want to go to Washington, Georgia (the street names make sense!). There was a BBQ place and a hair salon out that way, but not much else. I finally found a place to stop at a church across the street from a graveyard. The graveyard had a nice gazebo, so after I’d eaten most of my food I crossed the street and took some pictures (which I would have uploaded if I’d thought to bring the USB cable with me).

Oh, that’s right, I didn’t mention–the camera Mom bought for me arrived yesterday. It’s like new. I think it must have been washed up with industrial cleaner, but even so it’s in impeccable condition. It also came with a telephoto lens(!) and one of those cover thingies you can use to block light (someday I’ll know all these terms). Pretty sweet all in all. The lens cap is a little different from the one I had–it doesn’t have a hole for looping a string into, so the previous owner attached it to the camera with a string ending in a sticky circle thing. That will take getting used to, especially since the plastic part with the string on it keeps pulling off of the sticky part. I may just look to replace the lens cap with one that has that convenient hole.

In any case, I took some pictures, and it worked great. It’s almost exactly like having my old camera back. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to take pictures again. First priority: getting some 128 meg memory cards!

After I satisfied my photography craving, I finished eating and headed back. My phone doesn’t get service out in Lincolnton (d’oh), and for some reason this phone doesn’t keep track of what time it is for me when it’s out of its service area (double d’oh) so I never know how much time I have left when I head back to the office. It turned out that I had 25 minutes to spare (wh00t), so that’s why I’m writing a long post this time.

There isn’t much to Lincolnton. So far I’ve found a state park (that you have to pay to enter, so I didn’t), a local park with a playground, swimming pool, and various sports pitches, and a historical area with old houses. Now that I finally have a camera again I’ll be able to take pictures of all the neat stuff here! I’m hoping that I haven’t found everything yet. I’m also looking forward to trying out the various mom and pop restaurants in town :)

Speaking of exploring, I’m told that “the dam” is very impressive. I’m not exactly sure where it is, but I’m eager to check it out! (It looks like I can just take Fury’s Ferry Road out of Martinez to get there.) Some general info:

Thurmond Dam is a concrete-gravity structure flanked on both sides by embankments of compacted earth some 5,680 feet (over 1 mile), crossing the Savannah River. The concrete section is 2,282 feet long and rises 200′ above the riverbed at its highest point. Highway 221 crosses over the top of the dam connecting Georgia and South Carolina. The spillway contains 23 large gates, each 40 feet wide by 35 feet high, for the quick release of water from the lake.

Pretty neat.

I feel fantastic.

I haven’t cracked Goblet of Fire yet today…I made a deal with myself yesterday that if I’m going to commit so much time to sitting around reading, I have to do some significant exercise beforehand. (This seems a little weird, because since I’ve been unemployed I’ve been spending my whole day sitting around and reading. But eh.)

I got up at 8:40, made Sean’s lunch, made the bed, and took Goblet of Fire out to the couch. I almost started reading right away, but the determination was in me. I was going to go biking again, no matter what.

The weather looked good; I checked online and it predicted light rain early, and thunderstorms later. I puttered around online, reading news and webcomics, and then got dressed to go.

Today I wore bicycle shorts and my small “flirt” baby tee with barely any sleeves–my goal was to avoid overheating like yesterday, when I wore a larger shirt and long pants. I also nixed the backpack, opting instead to leave my huge bottle of water in the car and just carry my camerabag with me.

As I was driving up River Watch Parkway to the Greeneway, it suddenly started raining. Hard. I had to roll my window up to keep from getting pelted in the face, and put my windshield wipers on their highest setting. It was starting to look as if I wouldn’t get to ride at all, due to Tropical Depression Dennis.

“Maybe I should take weather events more seriously,” I mused aloud. But I decided to plunge ahead. I’d go to the Greeneway, and if it was still raining hard I’d wait a little while for it to die down. And I’d go to the Activities Center to park this time instead of the golf course, so I could hopefully make it to the end of the trail.

Thus decided, I continued on. Somewhere downtown, the rain started to fizzle. As I dropped into the turn lane for 13th Street, I found myself automatically moving for the right hand turn lane, which would put me on the right side of the street to turn towards the golf course. As I drove up 13th Street, I contemplated changing my plans, but my inner debate seemed to be moot as my body was driving me to the golf course regardless.

I got there and the drizzling rain had segued to sprinkles. Rolling down my window, I took a couple of pictures of the weather conditions…

lovely weather we're having

…then decided to go for it. I was a little concerned about bringing my camera, due to the possibility that it might start raining again, but looking up I saw that the clouds were all heading east of the Savannah, which fit what I understood of Dennis’ path, so I concluded that it would probably be safe. (My obsessive compulsive need to have my camera with me wherever I go did not factor in whatsoever, obviously…) As a slight measure of protection, I wore the camera bag looped over my front so I would be leaning over it as I rode; usually I sling it over my back.

As I went along, riding no-handed whenever I could, the dripping rain slowed and finally ended. I was able to take lots of pictures, which of course made me ecstatic. For awhile, the trees would still drop water on me, so I carefully covered the lens whenever I had my camera out. I also had to watch out when I rode through the gargantuan puddles that had appeared everywhere.

Here’s one of the first pictures I was able to take, of that “jungle” I mentioned yesterday.

But it wasn’t long before things had dried out. By the time I made it up to the other end of the Greeneway, it was just a nice day out. Here’s my triumphant visage upon arrival:

If my face looks pink, that’s because it is. Not from sunburn, I don’t think; just from exertion. I was covered in sweat for pretty much the whole ride.

Heading back, I didn’t stop as much (I typically don’t) but I did take some pictures while riding. When I took a break at the Activities Center for some water, I realized that it was hot. The cooling effect of the rain had almost completely dissipated, as had most of the water on the ground; only the larger puddles remained. I drank quickly, eager to get back under the trees, and patted myself on the back for picking such a good riding time. If I’d come later, I would have been caught in the sweltering heat.

Going through the forest after Hammond’s Ferry Road, I heard lots of what I assume were cicadas, just singing away. It was kind of pretty, so I took a movie. If I can think of a good way to post it without destroying my bandwidth, I will. (Unfortunately, smugmug will only host mpegs, and it’s a mov.)

I got back to the stretch of trail along the river, and decided to take some nice river photos. Luckily, I came across two guys in a john boat, fishing.

A little bit after I took this picture, the shirtless man noticed me and my camera and called, “Oh, don’t take a picture of us! We’re supposed to be working!” But hey, it’s not like you can tell who they are, right? :>

A few nice shots of the trail and the houses across the river later, and I was back to the golf course. Rather than going straight to my car, I decided to ride up alongside the course and see if they had any flowering plants; the time in the sun would hopefully dry the back of my shirt some, which was damp from rain and puddle splashes.

Very happily, I came across some lovely flowers.

Finally, after a fantastic ride, I loaded my bike back onto the car. Amused by the fact that my car was now completely dry, I took an “after” shot to go with the “before” shot I’d taken when I’d arrived. Then I looked at the sky. Dark grey clouds were rolling in.

I’d just gotten myself cleaned off (I keep some paper towels in the car, fortunately) and settled in for the ride home when it started raining again. “Good timing!” I congratulated myself. And then I headed home :)

Now, I’ve just finished off a California Cobb salad from McDonald’s and a Low-Fat Berry Berry Smoothie from R. Gabriel’s. I’m showered up and well-fed and comfortable, and I’m filled with that happy exhaustion that comes after a good ride.

I am so happy that I was able to ride the whole length of the Greeneway. The heat definitely seems to be a factor. I will need to invest in some skimpier riding clothes ;>

An hour fifteen minutes at approximately 10 mph. DietPower calls that “leisurely”; I call it “not bad at all!”

And now, finally, it’s time to get back to reading.

North Augusta Greeneway

When I first started biking, it was with Mari, Kelly, Brooke and sometimes Chris at the North Augusta Greeneway. Back then I used Mari’s spare bike, a little BMX-looking red dirtbike that was a bitch to ride. I was often way, way behind everyone else, and I frequently stopped to rest my legs. Part of this, of course, was because I was just starting, but I believe that a significant portion of my trouble was caused by the bike itself. It wasn’t made for riding fast, I don’t think. I think it would be better suited for mountain trails.

When I got my new bike, and finally rode on the Greeneway with people again (Mari and Brooke, I think?), I stayed out front the whole time, and didn’t stop until the end of the trail where we always turn around. :)

Mari’s old bike had broken me in, and now my new bike means I can go further faster, and see lots of neat things. Last week I explored the Augusta Canal Historic Trail, and took pictures, both on Thursday and Friday.

Today I decided to get some shots of the Greeneway.

What a perfect day to go. The fall colors were out in full force, blanketing the trail and rustling in the trees. It was overcast, looking like it was going to rain at any moment, and it was a little humid, but no bad weather occurred, and the cloudiness meant that the sun wasn’t beating down on me whenever I broke out of the trees.

I felt like I was communing with nature, somehow, especially when I stopped and just looked straight up at the waving trees, the breeze washing over me.

I parked at the lot off Martintown, because I didn’t feel like driving all the way to the Activity Center, where we usually park. This meant that I had a choice of directions. I chose to go to my right, towards the bridges and Mari and Kelly’s old apartment, and then work my way back up. It’s uphill on the way back, which is a major drawback of parking at that spot, but I figured I could treat myself to a breezy ride at the very end by going past my car and to the other end of the trail on my way back.

For the first 15 minutes, which is how long it took me to get from there to the very end of the trail (at that odd golfing community near the Augusta 13th Street bridge over the Savannah–don’t remember what that street is called in South Carolina), I did an average of 14 mph. This was crazy! Of course, the reasons I could go so fast were 1) it was downhill; 2) the trail is easier to get traction on, as it is paved, not dirt/sand/gravel like the Canal trail.

At that point, I turned around and started taking my pictures. (If you only look at one of them, check this out…I think it’s neat! That’s the Lamar Building in the background.)

I did about 30 minutes of riding to get from there to the other end of the trail. This time doesn’t include stopping for photos; that’s all biking time. I didn’t go all the way to the very end…I stopped at the drinking fountain, which is something like six yards from the end of the trail, took a long drink, sat on the bench for awhile, and then turned around and headed back. The ride back was pretty much a breeze, although I was starting to really feel it in my legs.

It was a really good way to get rid of some of that excess emotional energy I’d built up, and the Greeneway was just beautiful today. I’m glad I went.

Today’s adventure: Augusta Canal Historic Trail

Today after work and lunch, I decided that I was going to go biking. I had plans to go shopping with Mari after she got off work, but I figured I could easily fit in an hour or two of biking before that happened. I asked Brooke if she wanted to come riding, but she had her volunteering to do, so I flew solo.

I figured out how to work my odometer (the manual is rather cryptic), packed up my camera, and lugged the bike down the stairs.

I tried a different route to get to the Savannah Rapids Pavillion, one that led me down Old Evans Road, onto Columbia Industrial Boulevard and finally to Evans to Lock Road. I don’t think it was any shorter than going Davis to Washington to Baston to Fury’s Ferry to Evans to Lock, especially given how long the red light at Evans to Lock and Fury’s Ferry was. There’s a school back there, though, Blue Ridge Elementary or something (and by the way, I could have gone Old Evans Road to Blue Ridge and cut over to Evans to Lock, I think, but I only realized this later). Since I was going at around 2:45, school traffic was in full force, so going this route might not have been the best idea.

At any rate, I really enjoyed myself at the canal trail.

bike on car

I put all my junk into the new bag on Syuusuke, except for my camera, which hung in its bag around my neck and shoulder. Then I coasted down the big gravelly hill to the path along the canal, crossed the canal on foot (there were workers there today with a scaffold), and reset the odometer for the day’s exercise. Then I was off!

For the first 18 minutes, I simply concentrated on riding. I tried to keep my pace up, ending up with an average speed of 12 mph. That’s not too shabby. I looked around at everything and thought about what great pictures I could take, but I wanted to get my workout done first.

I’d planned on riding for 30 minutes before stopping and turning around, but at the 18 minute point I hit the construction zone around Augusta Water Works, where you’re supposed to get off the bike and walk it through. Since there’s a steep hill there leading to train tracks, and lots of mud puddles along the way, I followed these instructions, memorizing my time and average speed.

Once I’d crested the hill and passed the train tracks, I did a few stretches, then continued on. I started out strong, but soon began to lose my focus. Two minutes crept by. “Well, I made it to twenty,” I thought ruefully, plugging on. I didn’t think I would be able to go much further.

But I kept going, until I made it to the strange, skinny concrete and metal bridge where Brooke and I stopped on our first time riding there together. This intrigued me. I’d crossed the bridge before, but I’d never gone beyond it. So I rode across and kept going.

The trail between the train tracks and the bridge had opened up to motor vehicle traffic. I hadn’t seen any cars, but the knowledge that a car might come upon me at any time was annoying. Here, at the bridge, the trail split off from the dirt road, and I found myself riding high above the dirt road below and to my left. The canal lay on my right–by this time, of course, the river itself was far beyond the trees to my left, invisible.

It was really a nice view, much nicer than the one from the dirt road, so I kept going. I rode past an odd little green building, and finally came to a crossroads. The New Bartram Trail continued on forwards, while the Augusta Canal Historic Trail apparently went right, according to the sign. I went right, and found myself going over the canal on a wooden bridge.

On the other side, the trail seemed to end at a street. The sign for the Historic Trail pointed left, so I turned that way, and found myself riding over a long, rolling expanse of caked mud, marked by the passage of many construction vehicles. It occurred to me to wonder whether or not I should be back there, but the sign had said this was the trail…plus, it was fun to ride over the slopes of mud.

So I kept going.

I passed some huge pipes lying on the ground, and enormous piles of dirt. Eventually on my right the trees gave way to a cemetery. Then, ahead, I heard some construction machinery start up.

“Uh oh,” I said, “it’s time to turn around.”

So I finally stopped. I was about to head back when I noticed something: that odd, castle-like building that you can see on River Watch Parkway was visible across the canal, through the trees. I stopped to take a picture–the first picture I’ve managed to take of the place.

castle thing

By this time, I decided my workout was over. It was time to explore and take pictures! So I reset Syuusuke’s odometer again and headed off. It wasn’t long before I was taking more shots.

From now on, you will see all the stuff I already mentioned, in reverse! Hover over each picture for a description. (There are more pictures on my smugmug account than I’m featuring here, so go have a look.)

Syuusuke and the 'trail' the canal big dirt pile and trees big dirt pile and 'trail' pipe ends in a line view through a pipe

Nearing the edge of the construction zone, we see that there is a bike sign, indicating that this is, indeed, somehow, a trail. A little further on, we see the sign that pointed me into the construction site in the first place. In the background, there was a guy hosing off some piece of machinery. It looked (and sounded) really cool :>

bike trail sign and backhoe Augusta Canal Historic Trail sign

After this, things look much more normal. A right turn put me on the path to the wooden bridge.

leaves and footprints beautiful canal view with reflected clouds leaves, Syuusuke, bridge wall, and weird canal thingies

And after the bridge and a left turn to head back, I was on my way towards the skinny bridge and the train tracks again. There were many beautiful things along the way to take pictures of.

trail, road, and green structure fishing hole outbuilding detail cracked and peeling paint in the setting sun

As I was finishing up my photos of the green building, two guys rode past on their bikes. The first guy and I exchanged pleasantries–“Hello, how are you, fine and you?” The second guy, though, was a trip.

“You look so good,” he entoned as he closed the distance between us on his bicycle, “I could kiss you!” He then made the requisite kissing noises.

I had to laugh. “Thank you!” I said.

He rode on a short while, then slowed and glanced over his shoulder. “Can I leave a phone number?”

“I’m married,” I grinned, waving my rings.

“Aw, man! I’ll never find a good one! It’s like I’ve got a plague!”

I chuckled sympathetically as he and his friend rode on. As they moved off into the distance, it occurred to me that I could take a picture.

two bikers on the dusty road

The guy who hit on me is the bright red spot. ;D

At this point, I noticed some joggers on the other side of the canal. It looked like whatever they were jogging on was paved. I snapped a picture of the apparent trail.

how do you get over there?

Not much farther down the trail, I saw a beautiful area across the canal, framed by trees. I turned my bike around and headed back to the perfect spot to get the picture, completely befuddling a woman who was out walking the trail (I passed her, and then turned around and passed her the other way). As I was maneuvering into position, I noticed a guy on the opposite bank, fishing. So I took his picture, too.

lovely trees and canal fishing

Here’s a picture of the skinny bridge, so you can see what it looks like. I was actually trying in this picture to get a shot of the guy on the lower bank; he had a fishing pole, and the framing would have been great if he would have cooperated with me. (I suppose I could have asked…)

the hiding fisherman's bike

Unfortunately I was unable to get a good shot of the bridge itself, partly because Mari called at that point to tell me she was on her way to pick me up to go shopping. I had something like 30 minutes to get all the way back to the Savannah Rapids Pavillion, get Syuusuke strapped to the car, and barrel home, so pictures, much to my chagrin, became my last priority.

My ride back averaged about 10 or 11 mph. I was really pushing it. I’m not entirely sure where that energy came from. I passed the two overpasses for River Watch and I-20. I went over the train tracks and through the construction, inadvertently slipping my bike chain and having to pry it back on with gloveless fingers. I passed the beautiful riverside area where Brooke and I want to have a picnic one day. I passed the quarry. I passed so many things I wanted to take pictures of! But the sun was setting (the flash on my camera had been going off automatically), so even if I had taken my time to get pictures, they wouldn’t have come out properly. My camera does not fare well at dusk (or at night at all, really).

Besides, the rush to get back was good exercise :D

That last long trek up the hill past the visitor’s center was murder. I shoved Syuusuke up towards my car in near desperation, managing to make it before my quadriceps completely gave out on me. I flung Syuusuke onto the rack, strapped him in, almost dropped the odometer on the ground, and fell into my car. Then I was blazing a swift trail down to Fury’s Ferry Road, where of course I was caught in rush hour traffic :D

Mari called me while I was waiting for the light to change at the left-hand turn for Davis Road. I got home shortly thereafter, saw that she was on the phone, wrestled Syuusuke up the stairs (where did the power to do this come from? Adrenaline?), tore off my workout clothes and threw on the outfit I’d worn to work, washed the bicycle chain grease off my hands as best I could, and flew back down the stairs.

Mari then got off the phone, told me her evening plans were cancelled and that we could take our time, and asked if she could use the bathroom XD

We tromped back upstairs and I took the time to fix my hair and wash my hands properly. Then, once we were all settled, we headed out for some fun shopping (well, browsing, in my case): Burlington Coat Factory, T.J. Maxx, and then Hot Topic and Spencer’s at the mall.

Those evil fingernail guys trapped us, too…I hate those guys! This time, I kept my hands in my pockets the whole time, and was borderline rude. Mari put up with it much the same way I did when it happened to me. She was polite, she let him give his spiel and buff her nail, and then said she would think about it and come back.

Then we escaped!

After shopping, we were both pretty hungry, so we headed over to Kinja Sushi Express off Washington Road (according to their sign, “The Best Sushi in Town the WORLD!”) for dinner. Some green tea, a bowl of miso soup, some edamame, an order of tropical luau rolls, a piece of creamed scallop nigiri, a few teriyaki and salmon rolls, and a delicious order of unagi nigiri later, I was quite the happy camper. I got Sean some philly rolls and eel rolls, and Mari dropped me off at home.

Putting all the food and exercise into DietPower, it seems that I have somehow, miraculously, broken even.

So yeah! It’s been a good day :D

I’m hoping Brooke and I can go to the canal trail tomorrow, and maybe do some more exploring…she has to work at 4 I think, but hopefully we can get a decent amount of wandering around done between the end of my work and the beginning of hers. I definitely want to go back over there for more pictures!

And I am totally up past my bedtime. Good night!

…and here they are

The first half, anyway.

This links you to the main “Trips” folder, in which all the pictures currently live. Note that there aren’t any pictures in the second folder…yet! [All pictures are now up. -9:50]

Aunt Bev (trying to get into the habit of calling her Aunt Chris, but it’s hard!) will be sifting through these pictures for a week!

Edit: I’ll leave this old post up for posterity, but that link is dead and the photos now live here.