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Toyman01 MegaDork
10/22/14 6:50 p.m.

I've been spending so much time on the jet boat, I have been adventuring much lately. It's getting to be that camping time of year, so this will probably be updated more often.

I didn't have 7 hours today, but I did take an hour to drive through the Donnelley WMA that is south of Charleston.

All of my good cameras were at home, so all you get are cellphone pictures.

I counted 15 alligators in the two ponds I passed. It was fairly cool today and they were laying in the sun.

If you look close there are 5 in this picture alone. Some of them were huge.

Till next time, go see something.

ultraclyde SuperDork
10/23/14 8:15 a.m.

That's a big gator.

No real wilderness adventures planned but we are taking the sailboat out Saturday, taking a long weekend in the GA mountains over halloween, and will be spending Thanksgiving weekend at a State Park outside Athens GA. Definitely the right time of the year to be in the woods....as long as you have on your safety orange.

Toyman01 MegaDork
11/15/14 2:35 p.m.

Time to revive this.

Today I hit the road towing the Jet Boat. It's time to start getting some use out of it after spending 3 months building it.

I didn't go too far because I wanted to stay in cell phone coverage in case something died or sank.

The launch was at Cypress Gardens boat ramp on Black Creek about 10 miles from my house.

Black Creek dumps into the Cooper River. The Cooper flows from Lake Moultrie to the Atlantic Ocean. Most of this area was rice patties 100 years ago. This was the first time I've been out there during the fall. It was a beautiful, cold day. It was especially pretty with the trees turning.

The rest of this is going to be pictures. I went about 6-8 miles up to Cooper toward the lake. It was too cold to make the run all the way to the dam.

I'm glad this one isn't mine. It's been sunk there for as long as I can remember.

This is Mepkin Abby. It is a Catholic Monastery established in 1949. You can't see much from the water, but it is a pretty area. http://mepkinabbey.org/wordpress/

These structures are left over from when these were rice patties. They were used to control the water flow through the fields.

This wasn't a very long trip, only a couple of hours. It was just a little too cold to enjoy a day on the water.

Toyman01 MegaDork
11/15/14 2:42 p.m.

I forgot to add this. There were an amazing number of ducks out there. Literally 1000s of them in the middle of the river.



Toyman01 MegaDork
12/20/14 4:59 p.m.

Today was a good day.

90% chance of rain all day, cloudy, cold, and wet. Perfect for cruising the Francis Marion NF.

I was out the door by 9:30 and didn't roll back in until 4:30. I covered 147 miles, about half of those were dirt or gravel roads.

I had two destinations today. One was a stretch of road that passed right along the edge of a pond. From Google Earth, it looked pretty cool. The other was a little road that ended at a pond. The first was a nice area, I'll have to come back in the spring. It should be beautiful. The other was a gated road.

From there I just wandered, looking for things I hadn't seen before. You can tell the forest is taking a break. Most of the leaves are gone and it is eerily quiet. This being the season to kill things, even the animals are under cover and quiet. Nothing bigger than a bird was stirring and I didn't see many birds. It was as quiet as I have ever seen the forest.

The Samurai even dressed up for the season.

I did manage to find me a perfect camping spot today. It's even a small pond at the end of a road much like the one I was originally looking for but several miles away. I marked this one so I can find it again.

Throughout the forest, the DNR has cleared small fields to plant feed crops for the deer and birds. Usually the trails to these plots are marked "No Vehicle Traffic, Foot Traffic Welcome." If they are marked, I stay off of them because the fines can be steep ($10K). On occasion, the don't mark them and when I find one, I'll run it to the end. This one was narrow, and had a large water crossing to make.

This was within an inch or so of the floorboards. Deeper than what I usually attempt by myself. It had a hard bottom, so it wasn't a problem, even in 2wd.

From there the trail got narrow enough for me to be glad I drive a Samurai.

And rough enough to make it interesting.

At the end of the track was this, the perfect place to eat lunch.

A national forest sure can make a person feel small.

Post break, back in a few with the rest of the pictures.

Toyman01 MegaDork
12/20/14 5:21 p.m.

My next stop was on top of a bridge. The Francis Marion is littered with little one lane bridges. Most of them don't cross much more than a ditch and usually the water isn't moving. It's just waiting to evaporate or soak into the ground. Since it was raining, the water was on the move.

The tannins from decayed leaves turns the water the color of strong tea.

Next up was Pitch Landing. This is a unimproved boat landing on the Echaw Creek. I'll definitely be bringing the kayak and maybe the jet boat back up here.

Water levels were fairly low today. You can see the dark line on the trees, showing the high water mark about 6' above where it is now. The Echaw Creek dumps into the Santee several miles from here.

It's kind of bleak with no leaves on the trees.

The last stop for the day was Santee Bluffs road. It's a nasty little road that runs to a bluff overlooking the Santee River. I didn't take many pictures, just this one.

All in, it was a good day. People have been getting on my nerves lately and the national forest give me a place to get away from them all.

Until next time, Go See Something.

Toyman01 MegaDork
2/28/15 9:13 p.m.

Once again, I've been slack about posting updates. I've been out a couple of times in the last few months so it's time to catch this thread up some.

Since the last post, the Samurai has gotten shorter. By a lot. Gone are the 33s and the SPOA. It's lost about 5" in lift and several inches in ground clearance. It will now cruise at 65 mph and still do all the off roading I need it to.

On with the show.

Several weeks ago I took the Samurai out to see how the smaller tires worked. No great destination, just a cruise in the woods. My 15yo son went with me and we explored a few roads I hadn't been down yet. At the end of one of the roads was the Santee River.

And a pile of bones. My guess is wild hog. These woods are full of them. This one must have been a big one. The vertebrae were huge as were the leg bones.

We saw a lot of dirt road as well.

The little beast sure does stay a lot cleaner with the tires under the fenders.

Some more of the Santee. This time high on a bluff rather than down in the swamp.

Often we will be running down a road and come across small ponds. There must be 1000s of them in this forest.

We came across a narrow, little used trail to explore.

There we came across several trees that had been marked and someone had taken the trouble to weed eat around them. 20' up in the trees were these.

I have no clue what they are. The trees are covered in sap, but still alive. Someone took the trouble the cut them like this and trimmed the brush from around the base of them. My only guess is some kind of bird house. Now that I'm familiar with the markings and know what they mean, I've seen 100s of these trees throughout the forest.

On Google Earth, I had located a pond I wanted to visit. We attempted to get there, but the road had just been plowed as a fire break. The Samurai could travel it, but only at 3-5mph. It would have taken close to an hour. Too long.

The last stop for the day was Battery Warren. My son hadn't been there before and wanted to see it so we made the hike.

It also sits on a high bluff overlooking the river.

I'll probably post up the next trip tomorrow.

Until next time, go see something.

bgkast UltraDork
2/28/15 10:30 p.m.

Looks like fun

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/1/15 7:07 a.m.

Next up wasn't a trip through the woods, it was a trip through the countryside. It was a slow work day with just one stop about 90 miles from the office. I made that trip take all day.

This is going to be mostly pictures. It was overcast so the light was pretty nice for them.

These are just outside Beaufort SC. A pretty historic town on the coast just north of Hilton Head Island.

Then I came to this sign on Hwy 17. I've passed it 1000 times and never turned down the road. It's good for a smile every time I pass it. I can imagine some guy, showing up by boat, to get with the plantation owners wife.

There is some big money down this road and several old plantations. I would love to find out what behind these gates.

Thats pretty much it for this instalment. It was a good day for a drive and I found a couple of roads I hadn't been down before. I never did find the actual landing though. I'll have to go back another day.

Next installment in a few minutes. It's coffee time.

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/1/15 7:19 a.m.

This trip was last weekend. It was fairly short, I was by myself, and I didn't take many pictures. I hit a few more of the roads I hadn't been down. Nothing spectacular.

I've put about 500 miles on the Samurai since I lowered it. It's a 100% better vehicle now and will still go anywhere I want it to.

There are times I wish the Francis Marion NF was 3D. Lots of long straight roads.

That was pretty much it. It was a fun day. Not amazing, but fun. I like the alone time on occasion.

Back in a few with the next installment. That one will bring us up to date...

wheelsmithy HalfDork
3/1/15 8:00 a.m.

Cool thread/ pics. I have spent a bit of time down there. Beautiful. I liked Hunting Island, and the Chapel of Ease is a hauntingly beautiful place. All names are from memory, and possibly inaccurate, but close. Thanks for sharing.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
3/1/15 8:31 a.m.

Very nice. I love the rich colors in those pics. It looks overcast, warm and damp.

I could sure use some of that. Keep 'em coming. I'll return the favor when I can get my bike out from behind the 4' wall of plowed ice trapping it in the garage.

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/1/15 12:34 p.m.

This trip was a fun one. It was me, and all my boys, including the grandsons. My eldest is 27 with two boys. He has a 4WD Exploder. The middle boys rode with me in the Samurai. We left the house about 10 and headed for the woods. I had coordinates for 4 places I wanted to check out. One was another attempt at the pond I couldn't get to a couple of weeks back. I failed at picture taking yesterday. I didn't take near as many as I should have.

First shots were after we found the pond. It's more of a lake and a very nice area. We are already planning a trip back with the canoes later in the month.

The first place we stopped was covered with underbrush and it was hard to tell just how big the lake was. You could tell it went back a ways, but with all the trees you couldn't tell how far.

The Adventurers.

The next stop was a perfect camping spot on the other side of the lake. There even used to be a dock.

From there, I stopped taking pictures for some reason. I do have a video my son shot. It's been raining here, what seems like nonstop, for months. The forest is saturated. A lot of the roads are flooded and in places the water runs across them. The Samurai might be shorter and be shod with all terrain tires, but it still amazes me what this little thing will do. My son wisely chickened out on this road and shot video of me coming back down it. I'm glad the doors seals on the Samurai are in good shape and the air intake is high in the engine compartment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ustxw7aKrDU https://www.youtube.com/embed/ustxw7aKrDU I've got a couple of other videos from my dash camera I'll get edited and posted up over the next few days.

Until next time, go see something.

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/1/15 12:55 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy:

Hunting Island is correct. It's a barrier island just east of Beaufort. I haven't been there in years.

There are several Chapels of Ease around the Lowcountry that date back to the Colonial Era; Pon Pon, St James Santee, St Helena, Pompain Hill, Strawberry just to name a few. I've visited several of them. They are all pretty amazing images of history. The entire area is dotted with churches dating from the 1700s. Walking through the graveyards is always interesting.

This is probably one of my favorite ruins. This is what's left of the Pon Pon Chapel. It's a beautiful facade. The chapel burned in the 1830s.

G. P. Snorklewacker
G. P. Snorklewacker MegaDork
3/1/15 12:57 p.m.

Are these indigenous gingers? I would eschew contact. They look dangerous.

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/1/15 1:03 p.m.

In reply to Giant Purple Snorklewacker:

All these shots were taken with the Nikon AW120 I mentioned. I love this camera.

Our temperatures have been all over the place but not near as miserable as yours have been. One day it will be in the 20s, the next in the 70s. We even had freezing rain and ice last week. That's the joys of living on the coast in South Carolina. Looking at the 10 day, Wednesday is supposed to have a high of 78, and by Friday we will be back in the 30s.

Here's hoping your snow melts sooner rather than later. I'm looking forward to your trips.

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/1/15 1:05 p.m.

In reply to Giant Purple Snorklewacker:

The only one that's truly red headed is the little boy in the front. The rest are more dirty blond. My mother was a red head though. It made for a tough upbringing.

Cooper_Tired Reader
3/1/15 2:44 p.m.

Not sure how I've missed this thread until this point. I'm a big fan of the go and see type adventures.

Looks like you are having a great time. Thanks for sharing.

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/1/15 3:08 p.m.

Here is what the above video looks like from inside the Samurai.


https://www.youtube.com/embed/kIOOz6uDJqM It really does a good job at this kind of stuff.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
3/2/15 9:04 a.m.
Toyman01 wrote: All these shots were taken with the Nikon AW120 I mentioned. I love this camera.

I haven't got around to picking up a point and shoot yet but when I do - that one is the short list. It's a bit more expensive ($200) than I like in something I'm probably going to drop from a motorcycle at speed but there is no arguing with the quality of the pics.

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/2/15 10:09 a.m.

That's where the s-biners and para-cord come in. I tether it when I'm in a position to drop it or loose it overboard. The camera is good for a 6 foot drop and is water proof so it will take some abuse.

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/3/15 8:56 p.m.

Here's another short video.



sethmeister4 Dork
3/12/15 9:42 a.m.

Man I love reading this thread! I really need to get out on some adventures in my CR-V! Although they will be slightly less epic than your off-road trips...

I think I will have to plan something for the spring with the family so I can add it to this awesome thread! Thanks for the inspiration! Happy adventuring!

Toyman01 MegaDork
5/2/15 6:20 p.m.

It's been too long since I updated this, so back at it.

I added a bike to my traveling kit, because I desperately need the exercise. Today was beautiful, sunny and about 70 degrees. So my boys and I threw the bikes on the back of the Samurai and headed for the trail.

Today we hit a short stretch of the Lake Moultrie Passage of The Palmetto Trail. It's a hiking/biking trail that runs from the mountains to the sea in South Carolina. We only road about 4 miles of it before the 11 yo was ready to head back to the Samurai.

Now for the pictures.

A lot of this section runs along the top of the dam that holds the lake. The stretch I picked unfortunately wasn't near water. Still a pretty cool ride.

Let me zoom that one in a little for you.

We saw 6 alligators, ranging from little 3 footers, to this guy at about 7', to his bigger brother at close to 10-12' I'm pretty certain we heard one grunting also.

I've got to come up with a better way to carry my camera. It was in my CamelBak and it just takes too long to get out. So I didn't shoot near as many pictures as I should and missed some really cool shots. Half of these were shot with my cellphone. Maybe a handlebar bag.

This next picture is at the primitive camp for this section of the trail. The water pump is huge.

Last shot. Not sure what dropped this on the trail, but it was large and full of fur. I'm guessing coyote or monster bobcat.

Toyman01 MegaDork
8/16/15 1:12 p.m.

Three months later...

It's past time for a return trip to the woods.

Today was a beautiful day. This morning it was cool and sunny, too pretty to not be out in the woods.

About a hour in, I came across a small graveyard. It had three graves in it.

Pretty good chance this guy served in the Confederate Army.

It was another dusty day.

There were a couple of muddy holes to be dealt with. When they are full of water, you never want to hit one of these at speed, because you never can tell how deep these things are.

There used to be something over there, but apparently not any more. I might have to come back this winter, while the snakes and alligators are asleep, to see what's on the other side.

I always did like getting off the beaten path.

I did manage to spot a little wildlife out there. Two turkey, a huge black snake and this guy sunning on a log.

He's not more than a couple of feet long.

I managed to get a little mud on the tires.

It was a good day.

That's it till next time.

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