Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Surfside Sojourn


Back from spending a couple of relaxing days with some good friends in Surfside Beach, SC. There was geocaching, of course; other fun and games, my favorite being the ever-popular cornhole; numerous refreshing walks on the beach; excellent food and drink; and some reasonably painful sunburn. In fact, both Ms. Brugger and I came home with unique patterns imprinted on our skin due to uneven applications of sunscreen (I blame the lady). Sunday was our friend Doug's birthday, so we even had cake. The forecast for the weekend had looked anything but promising, but just to reinforce the idea that meteorologists are overpaid carnival fortunetellers, the weather turned out damn near perfect — mostly warm and sunny, with a few clouds and an almost constant light breeze. We did get rain for a spell late on Sunday afternoon, but it was while we were all inside anyway, so we barely noticed. On the way home, after picking up a geocache, I got pulled over by a South Carolina state trooper, as I had apparently rolled through a stop sign on my return to the main highway, but he was kind enough to give me a warning rather than a ticket. I'm sure you're thinking I have done far worse things, and you might be right, but we will not discuss those.

Heading down on Saturday morning, Ms. B. and I stopped for geocaches at a couple of fascinating locations. The first was "Great Falls Mill" (GC1RJ8P) in Rockingham, NC, which took us to the crumbling remains of a cotton mill built in 1869 atop the foundation of an earlier mill burned by General Sherman during the Civil War. The Great Falls Mill closed during the Great Depression and then burned in 1972. The structure has been steadily crumbling over the years and, for safety's sake, is best viewed from a distance. Photos taken just two years ago show considerably more of the structure intact.

My other big favorite was "Blenheim Mineral Springs" (GC20DQ9) in Blenheim, SC, the site of natural mineral springs from which Blenheim Ginger Ale is made. The springs were discovered in 1781 by James Spears, a Whig, who was attempting to elude Tory troops. As legend has it, Mr. Spears lost his shoe in a water hole. When he attempted to recover it, he sampled the water and discovered its potent mineral contents (and presumably the distinct bouquet of shoe leather). News of the spring circulated around the countryside and, before long, it became the center of a bustling hub of commerce. In the late 1800s, Dr. C. R. May counseled his patients with stomach troubles to drink the spring water, but his patients complained about the its iron-like taste. To make the water's flavor more appealing, Dr. May began supplementing it with Jamaican Ginger — and thus was born Blenheim Ginger Ale. In 1903, Dr. May and A. J. Matheson founded the Blenheim Bottling Company, and the remains of the old bottling works can be found near the spring, from which you can still drink. Ms. B. and I explored the site for some time and sampled the spring water, which did taste not unlike rust from an old iron pipe. I'm sure it was very healthy for me.

Just before arriving in Surfside, we stopped at a cache that's up in a tree, which I had to climb after. And that is how you top off an enjoyable road trip. I did manage a little caching around the beach area — and had a bit of a fright when I thought my phone had gone missing. After coming to the conclusion that someone must have stolen it, since at one point I had foolishly left it unattended in the unlocked car, I discovered it in my back pocket.

Apart from a nasty traffic jam on our egress from the beach that took over an hour to get through, things went pretty smoothly. Was notified of an issue with my mom that may take some sorting out, but that is a bridge to burn on another day.
The remains of Great Falls Mill
Ms. B. among the ruins of the old bottling works at Blenheim Mineral Springs
Inside the ruins
The view from "Fiddlin' in the Marsh" (GC491MA). Dammit, I forgot my fiddle.

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