Beautiful bird encounters while traveling in South Carolina

My favorite thing to do while traveling in South Carolina is to take pictures of wildlife, especially birds.

Spotting a bald eagle last December while kayaking in the marsh at Cherry Grove Beach is by far the most cherished bird watching moment.

Amazing bald eagle sighting while kayaking in the marsh

The majestic bald eagle returns to South Carolina coast.

Witnessing a great white egret couple, delicately preparing their nest for the upcoming chicks, is a close second favorite encounter.

White Egret males and female building a nest

And here is the rest…get out there and enjoy nature at its best!

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The “Giant” Blue Sky Zip Line Facts and Trivia (awesome fun at Carolina Adventure World)

2009 Update: This season it seems the zipline schedule and prices have changed. As of now only the Giant Blue Sky line is open and only on Saturdays in late afternoon (4-7PM). The price has been also reduced to just $5. To ride all 3 lines and on different days you need advanced group reservations. My advice is to call them ahead at (803)-482-3689 or check the website.

This entire post is dedicated to the awesome, guaranteed fun, adrenaline pumping canopy zip line rides at the Carolina Adventure World, Blue Sky lanch platform located half way between Charlotte and Columbia. Check my previous entry to learn more about all the cool stuff kids and parents who LOVE to act like kids can do every day.

Facts and trivia

1. There are 3 zip-lines: 1,300, 850 and respectively 1,100 feet long.

The first one, the Blue Sky “Giant” line, is by far the most popular. It takes about 45 seconds to ride through.

2. Want to be cool and play along the commands? Once you’re harnessed, the helmet is on and you’ve heard all the safety instructions the lingo goes like this:

Launch: “Ready to zip?”
Landing: “Zip is clear”
Launch: “Zipping”
Landing: “Zip away”

And off you go….from here you’re on your own (until you get close to the landing platform of course!). If you’re brave enough to keep your eyes open you’ll be rewarded with breath-taking views of the park covering a hundred of miles of forest and trails.

3. The riding equipment consists of harness and helmet, lanyard, carabiner, and the pulley. All is professional grade and provided for free the entire show.

Frequently asked questions

How high is the line?
The start for first 2 lines Side view of 2nd zip line is about 22 feet high; the launch platform at the Cedar Tower for the canopy zip line is about 4 stories high.

How fast will I go?
It varies from person to person based on weight, wind conditions, skill level and willingness to go faster or slower.

How long is the ride?
Blue Sky is about 45 seconds, the 2nd line is about 30 seconds and the 3rd line is abut 40 seconds give or take.

Will I be spinning around?
Everyone will spin a little bit until they get the hang of it. Even most experienced riders can’t do much about it when the wind blows their way. This is in my opinion what makes it so much fun to ride.

Cedar Tower - launch pad for the 3rd zip lineAre you sure the equipment will hold?
Don’t worry about this. This is state-of-the-art high class equipment. The steel cable holds up to 22,000 lbs, the lanyard up to 5,000, the double-lock D-class carabiner and the harness each holds up to 3,600 lbs.

So I think you are well covered!

Riding Tips

Steering
This takes a lot of practice and you’ll only get better at it after 4-5 rides. Put two or three fingers from your leading hand on the carabiner attached to the leading lanyard (the short yellow belt). Don’t sweat it too much the staff will show you which one is it.

As you ride through and start twisting, gently turn your wrist in opposite direction. For example if you feel you’re about to turn left move your wrist to the right and vice versa. A slight easy turn is sufficient to re-adjust your position. It also helps if you start out going straight…it’s much harder to correct your position once you’ve twisted all the way through. As I said before don’t worry too much about it you’ll get the hang of it the more rides you do.

Controlling your riding speed
Rule of thumb: ball up to go faster, spread out to slow down.

In other words to pick up speed make yourself as small and tight as possible (knees up, hands tucked around the body, chin down to your chest) to reduce friction. The opposite is true if you want to slow down…spread your arms and legs as wide as possible like on a cross.

Happy Zip Line Riding at the Carolina Adventure World!

Lake Wateree Photos: A day of fun for the whole family

Lake Wateree is a fisherman’s delight big on big blues, crappie, bream, largemouth bass, striped bass and nightime cat-fishing. The parks even has a tackle and gift shop open daily till 8 PM; besides fishing supplies you can get snacks, drinks, souvenirs, firewood and fishing licenses.

Things to do
No worries if you’re not so big into fishing, there are plenty other activities to enjoy: tubing, canoeing and kayaking or plain old swimming. Of course there is nothing wrong with just laying around catching a nap or baking in the sun.

If you’re in to burn some calories while admiring the breath-taking natural surroundings hike the scenic 0.7 miles Deportes Nature trail or bike the paved roads in the park (no dedicated mountain bike trail yet).

Just minutes drive from the park is the fun-packed Carolina Adventure World park offering hundreds of miles of groomed ATV and motocross trails, and my favorite, canopy zip line rides. Right here in the heart of South Carolina!

Lake Wateree state park offers 72 sites, all with water and electrical service. Many will accommodate large RV. These sites go quickly in the summer months, so visitors should plan ahead.

Lake Wateree map and more info from the South Carolina state parks website.

Driving Directions
The park is about 35 miles north of Columbia and 75 miles south of Charlotte. From I-77: Take exit 41, follow secondary 41 N. to stop sign at Hwy 21. Turn left and go approximately 2-3 mi. to the first paved road. Turn right on Rd. 101 (River Rd.), the park is 5.5 mi. on the left.

For only $2 admission fee (free for kids under 15) that’s a family weekend getaway worth shouting about!