You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Some people will go to any lengths to experience a scenic waterfall
We're visiting Mark and Nancy in Upcountry South Carolina, near Anderson in the northwest, piedmonty corner of the state, and on 7 May we set off for a scenic waterfall hike in Georgia.
The recommended waterfall hike lies an hour or so away, across the state line in Georgia -- we are presently in the extreme northwest of South Carolina, and we'll be driving an hour west to find ourselves in what apparently sane people refer to as Northeast Georgia. The flag is waving us an encouraging goodbye.
Once in Georgia, we take notice of the Flat Creek Baptist Church Community House as we pass it.
Somewhere along Bear Gap Road, we're approaching a final dirtroad up a little river towards the trailhead for the Minnehaha Waterfall at Lake Rabun (with apologies to The Song of Haiwatha), though for all we know this might be Lake Rabun itself.
That's the big creek or little river, or Lake Rabun itself, as we proceed something like 200m past some palatial manors and their fabulous boathouses, and abruptly we discover that . . .
. . . the road to the trailhead is taking a break for a while.
Thirty years ago we might have braved the current and pointy stones and splashed right across this thing at speed . . .
. . . but nowadays it would be difficult to build a consensus for that. What consensus we can build is to go have lunch somewhere nice.
But first, by 'popular demand', we've been tasked with photographing that over-vined tree, as well as . . .
. . . those cute flowers. We're here to serve.
But in another vein, and in a small paroxysm of disappointment about missing our waterfall hike, we've elected to catalogue some of these intriguing boathouses along the road.
There are some elegant but simple ones to be seen, but also . . .
. . . some much more elaborate concepts at play.
Likely very useful for housing boats downstairs, the stated purpose after all, but they're probably chiefly designed for deck parties.
On the other side of the road, we find the boathouses' parents, with a mix of wood and stone construction that ought to remind us of the architecture of the Val d'Aosta and Valpelline, but it's really too overdone, to be honest.
That's a wood-and-stone mix with a little more 'character', so to speak.
Very well maintained, too
And sometimes fanciful
The maintenance costs must be daunting -- but the split rail fence is a nice touch. Rustic, &c.
If all of these rooftop party venues were to begin frolicking on the same Friday evening, it might end in gunfire.
Wood-and-stone, always a good combo
The GPS has sent us to the Blue Creek restaurant (as it were) on the Old Historic U.S. 441, part of Clarkesville, Georgia. Lunch was very satisfactory . . .
. . . even out here in the back-of-beyond (that's the EZ Buy convenience store just down the street).
They've even got a gasoline station.
There's the Flag Fetish again. Whilst dining, we spoke with an engineer fellow at a nearby table, who commiserated with us for our bad luck and recommended another scenic waterfall hike not far away.
The Georgia road stretches indefinitely into future opportunities and, perhaps, achievements.
It transpires that the Toccoa Falls is actually located on the campus of a small eponymous 'four-year Christian liberal arts college', founded in 1907 and still 'a living testimony to God's faithfulness'. It's no problem; the people seemed very nice and no one got injured. The admission fee for the waterfall was $1 for seniors, a welcome bargain.
We're eagerly anticipating the waterfall part, but the hike part is disappointing -- in fact, that's the hike, right there. 170 metres long.
And that's the waterfall. It's described as 186 feet high, 'one of the highest free-falling waterfalls east of the Mississippi River'. (The pews are a nice touch.)
We're trying to stay out of people's way -- they're prepping up for a scenic wedding ceremony here and will want the place to themselves when they begin.
The water pours out over the lip of the cliff and tumbles merrily down . . .
. . . into the pool below. Precisely what waterfalls are supposed to do.
Here comes the bad news -- in November 1977 a dam collpsed on a lake above the falls, and 39 college-related people were killed in the flash flood, with 60 more injured. The dam was never replaced, so the little lake is long gone and there shouldn't be any similar tragedies in future.
Beach volleyball -- it's a very attractive college campus all the way round, with some 1,600 students or so.
But now it's back to I-85 and another cruise on Lake Hartwell.
We need to send somebody out there to bring the boat around.
Mark is the boat administrator, and we're ready to clamber aboard.
A little less than two miles to the south, we're coming up on the Portman Marina, stocked in serried order by lots and lots of expensive boats. (Or do we call them 'ships'? 'Yachts'?)
The good ship poignantly named 'Lifesaver' comes draped with orange flags of the Clemson Tigers (and the USA, of course). If the owner is an American football fan, he's chosen the right team to blow the vuvuzela for -- the Clemson team seems to have been ranked No. 1 or 2 in the USA four out of the five years 2015-2019.
Sizable US flags are much in demand here, in fact -- it may be one of the rules of the marina that all boats over a certain size are required to fly a US flag in precisely the same relative position at the stern.
The boat named 'The White House', interestingly, does not have a regulation US flag on its stern or anywhere else.
An enormous striped boat with an illegible name (from here) on the stern and a familiar flag wagging in the breeze
The wind's picking up, the waves are getting choppy, and it looks like that nearby island is sinking. We'll demonstrate the better part of valor.
The Clemson Tigers -- the middle flag is just a huge tiger's paw.
The name for the sports teams of Toccoa Falls College, the Christian school we visited earlier today, is the 'Screaming Eagles'.
Like this. (Run for it! The Christians are coming.)
This large boat is called the 'aquaholic' with a logo of a martini glass mounted on an anchor, and half the flapping Trump flag is gone (as we've been told, Trump himself is, too).
The Legacy's owners appear to be less football fans than golfers, but the line of US flags is all in place -- except that the US flag in front of that red Trump flag just right of centre hasn't got the red bits on it, just the white and blue.
But perhaps this US flag, and the godforsaken boathouse, may convey more about where we are these days.
But it's time to move on from SC. To Hendersonville, NC, tomorrow, 8 May 2021
We're booked into 'The Lodge at Flat Rock', very nice, in a Henderson suburb, and the cats have already got themselves in a pickle.
Melvin has a look of resignation; Choupette is looking for a less daunting way down.
Melvin just waits patiently for someone to telephone the fire department and get him off this thing.
But Choupette is exhausting all of the self-help options.
Slowly, Choupette is catching on to the seriousness of the situation.
Perhaps Melvin has a new idea, and is seeking encouragement. Jump onto the refrigerator, you idiots!
It worked for Melvin; do it, Choupie.
A tragedy averted
But now we have to go out and leave the cats to wait in the window for our return.