Congaree National Park Trip

We took a trip to the Congaree National Park this past fall during a very rainy Sunday morning. This trip was also done iron man style. We worked at the club from Saturday 7pm to Sunday 3am and left for the trip around 5 am in the morning. Congaree National Park is right outside of Columbia, South Carolina which is about a three and half hour drive from Myrtle Beach. It is out in the middle of nowhere, down an old country road. Once again our Garmin came into great use with not getting lost on the way.

We had called in advance to their office to set up a time(9 am) for the free guided canoe trip they do for visitors of the park. This is a great thing they do for the public and I think any family should take this free opportunity. The canoe and gear are all provided for the 2 plus hours on the river, all you do is bring yourself. The guide was very knowledgeable and a 15min lecture was done before getting on the water. That day all together we had about a group of 15 people along with us, The water level was low that day, the next time I do this again I plan on going right after a heavy rain storm. It made it a little harder to navigate around the obstacles when the water level was low especially when two people in the canoe are around 200 lbs each. So Josh and I were pretty much in the back of the pack much of the morning. Nick had an easy time because he was with the guide on the river. I don’t think he even paddle that much during the whole time. We had a great time on the river, we saw a few snakes and a beaver dam. No gators were around so do not worry about that. Below is a very short clip of the canoe trip, we could not film more due to the heavy down pours at some times. The park do the canoe trip rain or shine but not when it’s lightening.

It was around noon when we were done with Congaree National Park and decided to go into Columbia for some food. I heard that Pawleys Front Porch had the best burgers around so we decided to go there. The burgers were great I just wished that I would have ordered the deep-fried pickles as a side too. We plan on going back in a few weeks when we visit the zoo in Columbia. I’ll make sure that I take some photos at that time.


Caesars Head Park, The first road trip of Wanna See It All

Josh and I in September of 2010 decided to reach South Carolina’s highest point and check out Caesars Head Park. This was all to be done in the same day. We did it iron man style, what I call it when you drive to a location and then do the activity without no rest. We left from Myrtle Beach about 4 am in the morning driving to Sassafras Mountain(SC highest point at 3650 ft) It was boring drive all the way till you get to Greenville that is when the hills start kicking in. Nothing can be more boring than driving 75 miles of nothing but flat straight roads that present no challenge to drivers except for the occasional slow driver in the fast lane.

We reached the Sassafras Mountains around 9am in the morning with no problem. I think it was all luck and we put a lot of trust in Garmin GPS we had with us. No road signs are available pointing to the mountain just so you know. You can basically drive most of the way up the peak to a small parking lot and the rest of the way is a small hike. Josh and I were kinda disappointed with the view, which was none. The problem was the time of year we decided to do this trip, the tree still had plenty of leaves which block all the good views. I best recommend going in late fall or early spring when all the leaves are laying on the ground. We provided a little video of the summit and the road leading to it and also the SC marker. We only lasted about 15 minutes up there before boredom set in. On to the next destination.

Driving to the Caesars Head Park afterwards was a little confusing and got lost a few times. But when we reached the outlook point it was all worth it. I think you have to be there in person to fully appreciate it. For us it was definitely a wow factor with the view. We decided to tackle the trails leading to raven cliff falls. It cost around $3 to $5 to park and it is all about honesty. They have a box where you put the parking money in the envelope and shove it in the box. Josh and I underestimated the length of the hike and the fitness level.. Taking the hiking challenge showed us how out of shape we were and turned out to be a wake up call. The trail goes up and down around several hills and took us about 45mins to just reach the outlook of the falls. It would have took us another 45mins to the base and we wanted no action on that task. The day was taking a toll on us by then. After the hour and half hiking we decided to get something to eat. Short video of both outlook follows.

The closest town was about a 15 minute drive from where we were at. We were looking for a quick fix and found it in my favorite style of fast food concept. The ability to order from two separate fast food menus in one building priceless. Sometimes I like to take my favorites from both and create a mash-up order. Long John Silvers/KFC combo was a winner for me because we don’t have Long Johns by the beach for obvious reasons.(A lot of fresh seafood places in Myrtle Beach). I’m always got my eye out for the combo styles of Taco Bell, KFC, A&W  and Long Johns Silver when on the road.

Riverbanks Zoo

Josh and I headed to Columbia, South Carolina to the Riverbanks Zoo. I never knew we had a really good zoo in South Carolina until I started this project, I was kinda shock learning this. In the beginning I didn’t have high expectations for the zoo I figured they had some farm animals roaming around inside the fence and that was it. I was very wrong about that idea. They actually have about 3000 animals and I didn’t see one sheep the whole time there. Here is our breakdown of the zoo:

Price:  I thought the price point for the admission(11.75 for adults) was a bargain and I had no problem paying that for two to three hours of enjoyment. Even though we didn’t eat inside the zoo because we were going to enjoy some great burger later, the zoo menu had reasonable prices.

Crowds: We went on the Tuesday not expecting to see much of the crowd because kids were in school. But there were still a lot of kids running around because the zoo is a popular field trip spot. I imagine the weekends and summer would be very busy. Parents love taking their kids to the Riverbanks Zoo because it’s a good excuse for them to be a kid too.

Time: We arrived around 11am and left about 1:15pm, so we roughly stay about two hours. We could have revisited some sleeping animals to see if they we awake which would have extended our time. They have a garden section but being guys that didn’t interest us so we avoided that area. If you decided to do everything and do it right than making a whole day of it could be done.

Pros: I like the kangaroo area, where I could walk inside the fence area and be up close to the kangaroos. My favorite animals were the elephants, meerkats, penguins, grizzly bears, and the monkeys that were swinging around their area. You could feed the giraffes and birds. If you like birds and snakes this place is for you, they have plenty of both.

Con: The only real con was that most of the popular animals were sleeping when we visited in the morning. I kinda understand that certain animals are more active at night than they are in the day. It’s no fault of the zoo for this, it’s just nature. Josh and I miss the location of the maps at the entrance area, so we were working without a map so we got lost a few times. So make sure you grab a map at the beginning.

Below is a video of the trip highlights

How It All Came Together part Two

I had another two reasons for doing the . Before the site was done, I had a lot of problems finding good information on places without weeding through the useless garbage around it. I was playing a hide and seek game where just about every website wanted to sell something. It was aggravating not finding good free info. I wanted to create a website where people can find quick good information about places and it will always be free to the public.

The second reason for website development was pictures. I am one of those people where photos of locations would help my decision on whether I was going on the trip or not. It’s hard to find good quality pictures where you don’t have a group people as a focal point.I wanted an unobstructed view of what the place has best to offer. You will not find any group photos or video of us on our website. I’ll save those for the blogs behind the scenes look.

More stuff at Wanna See It All

How It All Came Together

I wanted to put this project together for a while now and it had been on the back burner for some time. The only thing that kept me from doing it sooner was the lack of knowledge and skill at web designing. I had a lot of free time during this past off season to take the time and learned how to put a website together. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is not a happening place during the winter and many businesses reduce their hours of operations. So the work schedule for myself is light so hence the extra free time to learn web design.

I’m a trial and error kind of guy where the best way for me to learn something is just do it and learn from my mistakes quickly. So during the free time, I took the task of learning how to video edit and web design (html, javascript, and css). Using Dreamweaver CS5 and Premiere Pro CS5 made my life easier when putting it all together. Nothing gets the job done better than these two software programs. I’m not getting paid for this plug.

The one thing that took me the longest to put together on the website, was the locations page.  The location pages are composed of maps of 48 states with the best places to visit on them. It took roughly 2 months(2hrs/day) to plot the 1020 location points. The map used Google API with javascript coding and even the slightest error results in no map showing. So extra care had to go into coding the maps. I had a few moments where the mistakes cost me a few hours of cussing to find the answer.

So as the website grows, the look of it will improve over time.

More stuff at Wanna See It All