Friday, April 6, 2012

WRAPPING IT UP IN THE LOW COUNTRY…

We are in the final day of our week long annual trip to the Low Country of South Carolina and specifically Folly Beach. This is our 10th year of the gathering of the Magic Circle in Folly and the fourth year since I found my “rock bottom” of fitness while here lounging around one day “bowling” on a video game. Since then, much has changed and yet much has stayed the same…

Arthur Ravenel Bridge, Charleston, SC

(Sparky White image of beautiful Ravenel Bridge, Charleston, SC)

The friendships forged through the years, several of us since the first grade of elementary school, have continued and been enriched. Physical changes to be expected as we age have become more of the focus of our conversations. Our love of great food remains unabated and thanks to Chef Richard we’ve successfully eaten our way through another week. Remaining on this trip is one more visit for She Crab soup to Rita’s Seaside Grill and Chef Richard’s preparation of Barbecue Shrimp this evening for our final island meal. But, wait, I’m making myself hungry way to early in the day…

Speaking of change… I’ve noted an increase in cycling infrastructure on James and Folly Islands since our last trip. Whether it was restriping of the road to add a bike lane symbol in the former gutter of Folly Road or an actual new section of bike lane, there is clearly more emphasis on cycling here in the Low Country. More signage indicating that cyclists have the right of way in certain areas was apparent to me as well. Having crossed the Arthur Ravenel Bridge crossing the Cooper River several times this stay, I was impressed with the number of individuals both cycling and walking along the included pathway. Congratulations to the forces in the Low Country that stood their ground and made this a reality!

Of course, once on Folly itself, a much slower pace of traffic is enforced by the many, many pedestrians walking the roads for fitness and to simply get to their parked cars some two blocks off the waterfront. Cycling is a common mechanism of getting around here on the island and with a minimal amount of car parking available, I can only imagine that will become more rather than less the norm. Golf carts are a popular means of transportation as well. I’ve yet to figure out the regulations, if any, that governs who can or cannot operate one on the roads of the island.

My rides this year have been short and limited to the island itself. Last year I ventured off island and explored surrounding areas but, given the amount of road construction and Spring Break revelers on the roads this year, I’ve opted to stay on the lower traffic count and lower speed limits of the roads on the island. Folly prides itself on welcoming a diversity of people to its shores. Unfortunately, being the island that allows pretty much unregulated consumption of alcohol on the beach by, in my observation, pretty much any age group, leads to a reduced level of desire on my part to be on the roads as the revelers take to their vehicles and drive on and off-island.

A great bright spot in this year’s trip has been having Bro Dave and his family close by. As Bro Dave lives on the west coast, our connection face-to-face is quite limited. Our paths intersected here and the Navigator and I have been able to spend time with Bro Dave, Kim, and our niece Liz. We were quite proud to visit the Boone Hall Plantation and see her artwork hanging on the walls of the Plantation.

Liz Yount Artwork

(Liz Yount and Bob pointing to her pencil drawing of the former cotton mill)

Three summers ago, Liz then a 4th or 5th grade student, was charged with a school summer project to draw something from a photograph. On that summer visit to the Boone Hall Plantation, she noted how the roof of the former cotton mill on the plantation had fallen into serious decline. She informed us that the condition of the roof reminded her of a piano keyboard so her summer project became a rendering of the cotton mill with a roof made of piano keys. She later corresponded with the current owner of  Boone Hall Plantation and told her of the drawing. The owner requested to see it and it now has a place of honor, the only non-antique item, hanging in the Boone Hall Plantation. Photography and videography are prohibited within the Hall so we were especially appreciative that Bob, our tour guide, allowed us to grab some images of Liz and her work.

Yesterday, Bro Dave and I managed our first ever bicycle ride together! I brought my Salsa Fargo along with my Fuji CCR3 and the Navigator’s Novarra bike with us to the beach. Bro Dave and I enjoyed a leisurely cruise, well, except for that headwind thing, around the island yesterday visiting his old home here and checking out the damage done by Hurricane Irene to the county recreation park on the end of the island.

During our cruise, I was reminded again of the speed with which one can be upright and then lying on one’s side! Stopping by the Folly House, Bro Dave’s former residence, I failed to recognize the edge of the pavement. I was unclipping my left foot when the skinny front tire hit the sand, went sideways, and dumped me unceremoniously to the ground. Fortunately, my forward speed had pretty much already stopped so it wasn’t much more than simply falling over and landing on my right, still clipped in, side. I hope that is the full extent of my unplanned meetings of roadway surfaces this season!

The weather changed dramatically after we returned to our rental abode and today is gray and relatively cold. I’m pretty sure that this vacation’s rides are over and I’m already packing up the cycling gear for the return to our mountain home. A new season of introducing “new and newly returning riders” awaits us as BicycleHaywoodNC will offer, for the third year in a row, rides intended to educate and advocate for cyclists. We’ll also be adding longer, more advanced rides this year featuring the routes of the Blue Ridge Breakaway. It is also time to bring to a close the “nuts and bolts” of an event associated with the BRB and get around to that BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I’ve mentioned previously.

Signing off from the Low Country and wishing Bro Dave and family a safe return to the West Coast…

- Zeke

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