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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Camping is alive and well in South Carolina.

I have been to enough underutilized campgrounds in the past few years to be convinced everyone is at their stick houses watching tv, playing computer games, or who knows what. Or catching up on their chores. My own Izaak Walton park, which used to be packed on weekends and well used during the week (I'm told) is now seriously underutilized. I don't understand it - you can swim, boat, fish, camp, shoot skeet, rifle, pistol, they have a wonderful archery range and woodswalk... Why wouldn't it be packed all the time?

Anyway - last weekend I pulled into Cheraw State Park in SC on Friday morning and they were FULL already. They suggested I go to H. Cooper Black Recreation Area which was adjacent and only 7 miles away. I did that.

I have never before camped at a campground intended for horse people. All the campsites had paddocks in back. (I'm not a horse person so they could be technically called corrals or something - what do I know?) And because they were intended for people with horse trailers, they were all quite spacious.

The other thing that happens at H. Cooper Black is hunting dog events. I was aware that duck hunters hunted with dogs, but I'd never seen them in action.

This was a weekend of Retriever Trials. The dogs must show how well they follow instructions from their handlers, find the birds and bring them back, and refrain from doing so when it's another dog's turn. That part seems to be the hardest for the dogs, who obviously love their work.

Saturday morning they retrieved ducks in the field. In the afternoon they retrieved them from the pond, which required swimming.

Retrievers are great swimmers. I understand they used to use them to find bodies and stuff from shipwrecks. This I was told by a gentleman who, instead of tossing a ball for his dog, would toss a rock into the water. His dog would dive for it and bring it back.

Here's the bird!

After I left Cheraw, I spent the afternoon at a Farm Festival held just east of Pageland, SC. I ate some delicious barbecue, Watched the Sunshine Cloggers dance.

and looked at some spiffy antique tractors. (Yes, I think their tractor's sexy!)

I Won a door prize. Participated in a cake walk - don't know what I'd have done if I'd won THAT - fed my sugar-eating co-workers, I suppose.

South Carolina, incidentally, has A LOT of State Parks. Their facilities are quite nice and their rates are quite reasonable. Maybe that's why they get used!

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