Monday, December 11, 2017

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

IMG_8695    The refuge’s 402,000 acres contain wet prairies, cypress forests, scrub-shrub vegetation, upland islands, and open lake. Few roads or trails penetrate the refuge so the best way to see it is by canoe, kayak, or boat tour but there are three drive-in entrances - Steven Foster State Park on the west side, Suwannee Canal Recreation Area in the east and Okefenokee Swamp Park on the north end. We visited the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The recreation area has a small visitor center, an historic homestead built in 1927, eight short dirt trails, and a boardwalk trail.

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IMG_8683   The trail to the homestead is hard packed dirt and pine needles and is accessible. The homestead grounds are soft sand, making it very difficult to push a wheelchair around to see the buildings. None are opened to tour but a brochure is provided. A spur trail off of the homestead trail leads to a 3/4 mile boardwalk and observation tower. This trail, like most of the other trails, is packed dirt and pine needles but roots and ruts make it bumpy and difficult. Drive to the boardwalk parking lot for easier access.The boardwalk is accessible but the tower is not. The visitor center had closed for the day before we got a chance to see it.

IMG_8692   The homestead parking lot is too small for large RVs. The boardwalk parking lot has long RV spaces and it’s possible to walk/roll along the road to the homestead trail.  Refuge   30.73986, -82.11685

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Georgia Southern Botanical Garden

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   As a young married couple in 1915, Dan and Catharine Bland started their life together in a former tenant house that they remodeled into a homey cottage. They ran a dairy, raised livestock, and grew pecans, pears, and vegetables. They lived on the farm for almost 70 years and filled the area around their cottage with gardens of camellias, azaleas and native plants. The cottage, outbuildings, and 11 acres of land were willed to the Georgia Southern University after Dan Bland’s death in 1985.

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     IMG_8671IMG_8669IMG_8664     The garden is fairly small with interpretive signs along the trails and exhibits in the stalls of the mule barn about rural life in the 1920 and 30s. The cottage is not opened for tours.

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  The garden has many small obstacles starting with large, loose gravel in the parking lot. Other problems are uneven brick paving, roots on the trails, deep mulch on the trails, and steps at every room in the mule barn blocking access to the exhibits. Visiting without having someone to give assistance when needed would be a frustrating experience.

  The parking lot is large enough for RVs. Garden  32.42183, -81.7745

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Magnolia Springs State Park

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   Magnolia Springs was the site of a Civil War prison camp built to alleviate the extremely crowed conditions at the notorious prison camp in Andersonville, Ga. The camp was in use for about six weeks in which time more than 700 men - out of a population of over 10,000 - died due to insufficient rations, inadequate housing, damaging exposure, and poor medical care. The camp was abandoned and the prisoners moved on November 22, 1864, four days before Sherman’s troops marched into the area.

  The earthworks of the fort are the only evidence left of the camp. Small artifacts excavated in 2010 by Georgia Southern University students are exhibited in history center. The park also has a campground and trails but we did not check them out.

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  The history center is accessible. Stop at the park visitor center to get a key for the center door.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Park  32.87495, -81.95811

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Augusta Canal Discovery Center

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  The center traces the history of the Augusta Canal, built over two years from 1845-1847 and enlarged in 1875. During the Civil War water from the canal powered the two mile long Confederate States Powder Works. Textile mills, saw mills, grist mills, and an ironworks were also powered by the canal. The textile mills began closing in the 1960s and the canal suffered from neglect. Fortunately local citizens and federal and state governments worked together to clean the canal and the tow paths which now support guided boats tours, paddling, and kayaking in the canals and bicycling, walking, and running along the trails.

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   The mills provided housing and preferred large families because the children could be put to work at low wages. 

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  The Discovery Center is located in the Enterprise Mill building(now a thriving office, retail, and residential center) which was in use for over 100 years. The center offers daily boat tours. The history exhibits are free with a boat tour or tickets can be purchased separately. 

  The boat tours are not accessible due to steps. The exhibits are accessible.  Follow the sidewalk along Greene Street, at the north side of the mill, to access a paved section of the canal trail.

   A small parking lot is located on the west side of the mill building, close to the center entrance. This lot is not large enough for most RVs so it’s best to park in the east lot.  Center   33.47834, -81.98269

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Augusta Riverwalk

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  Two walkways run parallel to the river – one high on the levee and one at river level. Interpretive signs about Augusta’s history are located on the levee walkway but there aren’t any of the usual attractions found along many city riverwalks such as stores and restaurants. The walkway starts at 6th Street and goes west about 1/2 mile to 10th Street. The brick paving stops at 10th Street where the trail becomes hard packed dirt and connects to a network of trails along the Augusta Canal.

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  The walkway is good condition, wide and fairly smooth. A long ramp provides access to the levee walkway from the 6th Street parking lot. Another ramp goes down to the river walkway. A ramp at 10th Street provides access between the two walkways so it’s possible to make a loop.

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  The best parking lot for cars and RVs is on 6th Street. It’s also easy to access the Augusta Museum of History from this lot and walk along the levee walkway to the Morris Museum of Art. Walkway   33.47585, -81.96049

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Morris Museum of Art

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   All of the artwork in this small museum has a southern theme or has been created by a southern artist. The collection is wide ranging with paintings from the 1800s to contemporary sculptures and artwork.

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 IMG_8644IMG_8643    The museum is accessible.

   Parking is very limited. We parked in the Augusta Museum of History lot and walked/rolled 1/2 mile along the Augusta Riverwalk to the museum entrance.  Museum  33.47943, -81.96916

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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Augusta Museum of History

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   Augusta, Georgia, at the head of the Savanah River’s navigable section, was founded by the English as a trading center with the Native Americans. The soil along the river proved to be good for cotton cultivation which led to a plantation culture. By the mid 1800s manufacturing, using the river to power the mills, played a large role in the city’s growth. Nicely done exhibits with many artifacts fill the first floor galleries. The second floor is dedicated to James Brown and other local legends; golf; railroads; and radio and medical innovations.

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  The museum is accessible except for the train car and street car exhibits which do not have ramps.

   RVs will fit in the parking lot if backed up over the grass or parked lengthwise across the spaces. A large dirt lot large enough for any RV is located on the opposite side of Reynolds Street.  Museum   33.47449, -81.96077

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Redcliffe Plantation

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  There were no good slave owners. Perhaps some of them could have been considered “good” people in other areas of their lives but James Henry Hammond, owner of Redcliffe Plantation and more than 300 slaves, was a horrible person through and through. We know this because he kept diaries in which he detailed abusing his four young nieces and raping his slaves and their children. Surprisingly his family turned the diaries over to the University of South Carolina where they sat in storage for 50 years before being published in book form in 1988.

  The plantation was given to the state of South Carolina by Hammond’s great-grandson. The house is opened for tours. A small visitor center has exhibits about the Hammond family and the families of the slaves and freed men and women who lived on the plantation.

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  The visitor center is accessible. The rest of the park is not accessible due to steps at the building entrances and steep grassy hills. Park   33.41976, -81.86863

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Aiken State Park

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   Nestled under tall pines, this small rural campground is very peaceful. All of the sites have electricity and water hookups. A dump station and showers are available. The campsites are packed sand and long enough for most RVs. 

  None of the sites are designated as accessible but most can be used. Rolling around is fairly easy.  Park   33.55328, -81.49715

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Riverbanks Zoo, Garden, and Saluda River Factory Ruins

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   Admission to the zoo includes the garden and the ruins. All of them are fairly small and can be easily seen in one visit. The zoo has a nice mixture of large and small animals. Most of the enclosures are adequate and the animals are well cared for.

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  The garden is very small but a really good children's play area with sand boxes and splash areas is at the same location.

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  A 1/2 mile paved mile trail leads to the factory ruins and a small interpretive center.

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   The zoo is accessible but many of the railing are at eye level for visitors using wheelchairs making it difficult to see the animals.

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   The gardens are accessed by a very steep hill. Take the wheelchair accessible tram or drive to the garden entrance parking lot. The garden and the play area are accessible.

   The ruins trail is paved but very bumpy. A ramp provides access to the interpretive center.

    The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Zoo   34.01021, -81.07227

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