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Vitamin Sea

Travel

Photos courtesy of Haig Point

Get a dose of late summer R&R at Daufuskie Island.

We’re all looking for less stress and more peace of mind these days, and Daufuskie Island, just off the South Carolina coast between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, delivers both.

After all, with a population of less than 400 people, no hotel and no way of getting there other than by ferry or private water taxi, the island escape is the perfect place for day trippers to get a 24-hour fix of surf, sand, seafood and fun.

Many people first became acquainted with Daufuskie Island as the setting of author Pat Conroy’s novel, The Water is Wide. However, one rotation of Earth on its axis probably is not enough time for a proper introduction to this island oasis. Fortunately, the hotel-free Daufuskie offers rental properties and other charming accommodations for overnight stays.

The 1873 Lighthouse on Daufuskie Island, which operated until the 1930s, opened bookings to the public last year. The waterfront accommodations, where waves gently roll right outside the front door and bottlenose dolphins leap out of the water by the dozens, sleeps four people. In addition to the 40-foot tower, the lighthouse includes a fireplace, a clawfoot bathtub and a rocking chair-lined porch that overlooks Calibogue Sound.

Guests also can stay in the Strachan Mansion in Haig Point, a gated private community on the northern tip of the island. Originally built in 1910 on St. Simons Island as a summer retreat, Strachan Mansion was moved to Haig Point by barge in 1986. Each of the mansion’s four suites is appointed with antique furnishings and has a tie to Haig Point history. The mansion also features a bar, a billiards room and a general store.

Exploring Daufuskie
No cars are allowed on the 5-mile-long island that consists chiefly of undeveloped conservancy land. For residents and visitors alike, the only methods of transportation are bicycles and electric golf carts.

Those who prefer not to travel Daufuskie’s mostly unpaved roads on wheels can take advantage of the island’s equine culture. The 3-acre Equestrian Center at Haig Point features a 12-stall barn where guests can take lessons and horseback tours of the island in English and Western style.

For visitors who would like to enjoy the serenity of riding horseback along the coastline, the equestrian center at Melrose community serves as the home base for Daufuskie Island Trail Rides. Six horses are housed there including a Native Marsh Tacky, a rare breed of horse that dates back more than 500 years in the area.

In addition to cantering on Daufuskie’s 3 miles of white, sandy beaches, experienced equestrians can ride through the undeveloped land that is teeming with natural wildlife. The island is home to deer, storks, egrets, pelicans, osprey, whales, gators and other reptiles. Loggerhead turtles nest on the shore in the spring. To protect the turtles, visitors should use only red flashlights at night from May through October and never drive golf carts on the beach.

Beach-goers can take a walk to Bloody Point, a historic battleground between Native Americans and English settlers. Bloody Point also is the island’s local fishing hole, so anglers can go there to try their luck.

Guided kayak tours and customized, guided golf cart eco-tours are available as well. Golfers also can enjoy Haig Point’s 20-hole, Rees Jones Signature course, which has seven oceanfront tee boxes and greens.

Peering into the Past
Rich in history and culture, Daufuskie Island offers a step back in time.

The first recorded inhabitants of Daufuskie are the Creek, or Muskogee, Indians, but most of the island’s native residents are Gullah/Geechee people who are descendants of freed slaves. These various ethnic groups from west and central Africa have retained many aspects of their African heritage, creating the celebrated Gullah culture on the island.

Up until the mid-20th century, the population of Daufuskie, a Creek word that means “land with a point,” was made up primarily of Gullah families. Oystering, farming and logging were the main industries on the island, but many people ultimately left in search of other work.

Developers came to Daufuskie in the 1980s and 1990s, and Haig Point, Bloody Point and Melrose were developed as resort communities.

However, many original Gullah-constructed homes, churches and schools remain on the island, and its historic district is named in the National Register of Historic Places. Some of Daufuskie’s historic sites include:

First Union African Baptist Church – This historic church was established in 1881 and rebuilt in 1884 after a fire burned down the original sanctuary. Still active as a non-denominational community church, the congregation holds Sunday services at 10 a.m.

Mary Fields School – Built in the 1930s, this school was created for the Gullah children on the south end of the island. Transportation from the north end began in 1950, making Mary Fields the primary school for Daufuskie students. This is the school where Conroy taught in the late 1960s, and he based The Water is Wide on his teaching experience at Mary Fields. The school now is home to Daufuskie Blues, which makes indigo-dyed scarves and fabrics.

Billie Burn Historical Museum – This small museum was named after Billie Burn, known as the first true “Daufuskie historian.” She is also the author of An Island Named Daufuskie, which documents details of the island’s past. Island artifacts such as arrow heads and pottery shards are displayed in the museum, which previously was Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.

Gullah Learning Center – This quaint museum is full of Gullah artifacts, writing, clothing and more. Originally, the building was the Jane Hamilton School, which children on the north end of the island attended in the 1940s before transportation took them to Mary Fields School.

Frances Jones House – Painted bright blue and adorned with centuries-old live oak, the Frances Jones house is a picturesque favorite for visitors. Jones was one of the first teachers at Mary Fields School and eventually became the principal. Sometimes called “Daufuskie Mayor,” she was a prominent fundraiser for the reconstruction of First Union African Baptist Church.

Moses Ficklin Cottage –Moses Ficklin was one of Daufuskie’s undertakers, and the Gullah-constructed home is positioned under a giant oak tree. Although privately owned, the house is worth a drive-by.

Bloody Point Lighthouse – Erected in 1882, the lighthouse had a rear-range and a front-range light to keep boaters out of the Savannah River. The tower was deconstructed due to erosion, and the keeper’s house, which has been converted to a museum and gift shop, was rolled back on logs to its current location. A “Lowcountry Heritage Walk” on the property showcases some historically-significant crops such as sea island cotton and indigo blue.

Shop Talk 
If visitors still are shopping around for ways to entertain themselves on Daufuskie, then why not stop by some of the island’s quaint and quirky shops? Don’t miss:

Iron Fish Gallery – American Made Award-winning metal sculptor Chase Allen owns this remote studio gallery. He specializes in handcrafting coastal fish, mermaid, crab, sea turtle, lobster and stingray sculptures. This self-taught, world-renowned artisan, who began creating coastal décor from sheet steel in 2001, has been featured in numerous national and local publications. Allen is a member of the “million-dollar club,” a select group of artists or artisans with lifetime sales of more than $1 million. His handcrafted, coastal-inspired metal sculptures can be found on the walls of clients and collectors from around the globe.

Anyone who wants to buy one of his pieces but can’t find him, however, need not worry. At Iron Fish Gallery, which is open seven days a week, art is sold on an honor system. When Allen is out, customers simply can drop their money in the mailbox slot and take their artwork home with them.

Silver Dew Winery – The tiny, historic Silver Dew Winery building dates back to 1883. Originally, the structure was built as a “wick house,” which was used to store oil, wicks and even the lamp for Bloody Point Lighthouse. In the early 1950s this Daufuskie Island icon was converted to a winery by Arthur “Papy” Burn, who made wine from grapes, scuppernong, pears, elderberries and other fruit. Locals soon dubbed the old wick house the Silver Dew Winery.

The winery closed in 1956, but the old wick house still carries the sign of Silver Dew Winery. Now, it is a gift shop where visitors can pick up a playful trinket or a bottle of wine. In addition, wine lovers can sample some of Silver Dew’s sweet scuppernong wine at the Bloody Point Lighthouse keeper’s house.

Spartina 449 – Named as an Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Company, Spartina 449 is a Daufuskie Island-based women’s handbag, accessory and jewelry business. The collection is available in general stores around town, and the high-quality linen and leather products reflect the color and beauty of Daufuskie Island and the Lowcountry. Spartina 449 also contributes a portion of its proceeds to the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation, a nonprofit organization that preserves the island’s cultural heritage.

Food & Drink
With everything that Daufuskie has to offer, including restaurants, there’s no reason to go hungry. Visitors can feast on island fare at:

Old Daufuskie Crab Company – Deviled crab, the island specialty, is a must-try, and Old Daufuskie Crab Company is the place to try it. Offering some of the freshest seafood in the Lowcountry, this Island treasure features a variety of entrees such as shrimp and fish – with all the fixin’s, chicken quesadillas, steaks and burgers.

Diners can shuck their own oysters right off the roasting pit in season, and the restaurant serves its original Scrap Iron moonshine at the indoor and outdoor bars. Every evening meal comes with a side of Daufuskie’s magnificent sunset on the Cooper River.

Lucy Bell’s Café –Featuring a wide array of dishes, Lucy Bell’s focuses primarily on farm-to-table ingredients for its fresh local seafood, beef, poultry, appetizers and decadent desserts. Menu items range from simple Southern fried chicken to sophisticated delicacies such as lobster thermidor, tournedos oscar and herb roasted prime rib of beef.

School Grounds Coffee – Located in the back of Mary Fields School, this quaint coffee shop has a variety of options from cinnamon bun lattes to raspberry mochas to tried-and-true coffee blends. The shop also sells iced lemonades and teas.

Daufuskie Island Rum Distillery – One of only two American rum distilleries located on an island, Daufuskie Island Rum Company sits on 12 acres off Haig Point Road. Each bottle of Daufuskie Island Rum is distilled, bottled, labeled and packed by hand. The micro-distillery is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Tours of the distillery show the entire rum-making process from fermentation and distillation to bottling and labeling.

For more information, visit tourdaufuskie.com.

By Morgan Davis

A & D CARPETS & HARDWOODS

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A & D CARPETS & HARDWOODS
offers fine carpet and flooring products to Augusta, Georgia and surrounding areas. We sell a wide assortment of carpets, flooring, and hardwood, as well as a broad selection of area rugs. Whether you are a commercial business or residential client, we can help you decide exactly what you need for any situation. We have 40 years of experience and knowledge in our management and sales teams, and we respect our customers’ opinions and business.

320 South Belair Road
Augusta, GA 30907
(706) 993-2986

 

Merry Maids of Augusta

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A CLEAN HOME IS A HAPPY HOME

Our Home Cleaning Services

Cleaning You Can See & Feel

Your home is more than just a house—it’s your sanctuary—a space where you can relax, unwind, and spend time doing the things you love. At Merry Maids®, our cleaning services go beyond the basic services and provide you with a comprehensive clean that will reenergize your home and enhance your life. From everyday housekeeping to routine cleanings and seasonal services, our professional team members can provide you with an unrivaled experience.

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VISIT US AT www.merrymaids.com/augusta

Piedmont Landscape Management

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Since 1977, Piedmont Landscape Management has been creating the most beautiful natural environments for businesses in the Central Savannah River Area and Northeast Georgia. We don’t see ourselves as landscapers or horticulturists. We are artists, and our palette is nature itself. From consultation and design to installation and maintenance, we provide the services and solutions that can transform the way you and your customers look at landscaping.

For a free expert consultation, call: 706-860-8260

Visit us at: www.piedmontaugusta.com

Openings and Restrictions at the Lake During COVID-19

Guide To The Lake

Open or Closed?
An update of boat ramps and recreation facilities at Clarks Hill Lake amid COVID-19

Wildwood Park
(as of May 19, 2020)
Wildwood Park boat ramps and the beach are open, and campgrounds can be reserved as well.

Other amenities are closed. However, Columbia County officials say additional features at Wildwood Park could be open in June.

At the International Disc Golf Center, two of the three disc golf courses, the W.R. Jackson Memorial and the Jim Warner Memorial, are open. The Ed Headrick Memorial Course will remain closed for the time being due to a significant number of downed trees and damage from flooding earlier this year. The clubhouse, restrooms, pro shop and Ed Headrick Memorial Museum remain closed as well.

An honor box, located near the bottom of the ramp at the front of the clubhouse, is available for greens fees. Patrons must pay by cash only until the pro shop reopens.

Social distancing guidelines must be observed. Otherwise, the center will have to close again. All IDGC events are suspended for rest of the year until more staff members return from furlough.

For more information, visit columbiacountyga.gov.

Pointes West Army Resort
(as of May 19, 2020)
Pointes West Army Resort, which offers recreational opportunities to veterans and active duty, retired military and Department of Defense personnel, is providing limited services to mitigate risk factors associated with COVID-19.

All day-use areas including public restrooms, the beach area, playgrounds, bath houses, pavilions, picnic areas, primitive camping areas and recreation areas are closed. Rentals of boats and other camping equipment is suspended as well.

Pointes West is taking reservations for RVs with restrooms and lodging facilities including cabins, cottages and the motel for authorized users who live within a 200-mile radius, excluding COVID-19 hot spots such as Atlanta.

No walk-ins or visitors are permitted, and reservations must be made beforehand by telephone. Patrons must adhere to social distancing guidelines and refrain from gathering in large groups. Failure to do so may result in expulsion from the facility.

“Our rules are not based on state directives,” says Derek Hagelthorn, general manager. “They are applied at the discretion of the Fort Gordon command.”

In addition, he expected to open the boat ramp to authorized users on Friday, May 22.

“Once social distancing is relaxed to groups of 50 or more, Pointes West will open the swim beach. That could be in the middle or the end of June,” he says.

For updates, call (706) 541-1057 or visit gordon.armymwr.com.

Georgia State Parks
(as of May 19, 2020)
Trails, boat ramps, fishing docks, campsites, cabins and golf courses at most Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites are open. Outdoor activity is considered essential, as long as visitors maintain proper social distance and follow CDC guidelines.

However, to ensure proper social distancing and to protect the health of the public and employees, the park system temporarily may limit access to facilities when capacity has been reached. Staff members will patrol the parks by vehicle and be available by phone.

Visitors are encouraged to go to the parks closest to their homes – that’s Mistletoe and Elijah Clarks state parks in this area. Daily $5 park passes can be purchased online, on mobile devices or with the QR at self-pay stations located throughout every park.

Sanitation
Facilities are being properly sanitized, and restrooms are well stocked with soap. Staff and volunteers have significantly increased the number of times that public areas are cleaned. Bathrooms, door handles, railings and other high traffic areas are being sanitized in accordance with public health guidelines.

Trails, Boat Ramps and Other Day-Use Activities
Some parks may limit access to trails in order to maintain social distancing. Some boat ramps may also limit access if parking reaches capacity. Some restrooms and campground bathhouses may be closed as well. 

Picnic Shelters
Picnic shelters and group shelters are limited to reservations with 10 or fewer people.

Golf Courses
Golf courses are open. Clubhouses and pro shops are closed to walk-in traffic, but staff remain available onsite and by phone. Golfers can reserve and pay for a tee time by calling the clubhouse directly or by booking online through each course’s website. All golfers are required to follow CDC guidelines and use proper social distancing. Staff members have taken all possible actions to make the courses safe to play by modifying bunker rules, limiting tap-in requirements so golfers are not required to reach their hands in the cup and cleaning golf cars after each use.

Playgrounds, Splash Pads and Rentals
Playgrounds, splash pads, swimming pools and exercise stations are closed. Recreational equipment rental is suspended, including bikes, kayaks, fishing boats, mini golf and disc golf equipment. 

Camping Reservations
Overnight guests can pay remaining balances online and use self-check-in with the RA Camping App (Apple or Android devices) before going straight to their cabin, campsite or yurt. Visitors also can contact the park office to pay their balance. If checking in to a locked facility, call park offices to receive additional instructions.

Programs
Ranger-led programs have been rescheduled or postponed. Interpretive rangers are creating free education content to help school children continue learning from home with online daily eRanger lessons. Kids can also complete Junior Ranger activities and earn stickers.

Dining Facilities
Dining facilities at all Georgia State Park lodges are closed at this time.

Visitor Centers and Museums Temporarily Closed
Visitor centers, museums and other buildings are closed to the public. Rangers will continue to staff the visitor centers and museums, and they will provide assistance over the phone and through web-based resources.

For more information, visit gastateparks.org.

South Carolina State Parks
(as of May 19, 2020)
South Carolina State Parks are open on a limited scale.

Golf courses, along with most trails and outdoor spaces, are open.

Group facilities such as picnic shelters and community buildings remain closed, and interpretive centers and parks offices are operating on a limited basis.

Visitors to South Carolina state parks are asked to do the following:

• Follow social distancing guidelines.
•Be prepared for gate closures when parks reach their capacity as the number of visitors will be limited.
•Purchase park admission online on the same day as your visit to limit contact with park staff. Present your receipt at the park gate for entry.
•Try to limit gathering size to less than three.
•Follow CDC handwashing guidelines. While the park staff will try to ensure that soap is available in all restrooms, visitors are encouraged to bring their own soap or hand sanitizer.
• Bring your own canoes, kayaks, paddleboards or jon boats if you want to paddle.

For more information, visit southcarolinaparks.com.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
(as of May 19, 2020)
Phased reopening of campgrounds and additional boat ramps at reservoirs owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along the Savannah River began in mid-May.

“It’s been day by day,” says Kevin Madsen, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chief ranger. “Our priority has been to open Corps boat ramps first, then campgrounds, then day-use areas. The CDC guidelines say to keep the beaches, playgrounds and shelters closed.”

The gradual reopening will vary based on the ability to ensure visitors and Corps of Engineers staff remain safe and can continue to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. For safety purposes:

  • Before opening facilities, workers will conduct a thorough cleaning of restrooms, showers and other common-use items.
  • Day-use fees, including boat ramp fees, are waived until October.
  • Visitors must bring their own soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels when using restrooms.
  • Playgrounds, beaches, shelters and life jacket loaner stands will remain closed until further notice.
  • The Below Dam South Carolina site is open now, but the shelter and playground remain closed. Restroom occupancy is limited to two people at a time.
  • Restrooms at boat ramps currently in use are now open. A list of open ramps can be found at the end of this article.
  • Congregating in groups of more than 10 will not be allowed.
  • Visitors must follow social distancing guidance established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state or local limits.

Camping

  • Campers must make all reservations through the Recreation.gov website. No cash collection, on-site reservations or future reservations will be taken on site.
  • Visitors with camping reservations should print their registration form before arriving at the campgrounds. This will help limit transferring material between the public and the campground staff.
  • Only registered campers will be allowed in the campgrounds.
  • Campsite occupancy is limited to 10 per campsite.
  • Individuals camping in trailers and motorhomes with shower and restroom facilities should use the facilities in their trailer or motorhome to assist in ensuring proper social distancing and to reduce occupancy at the restroom-shower houses in the campgrounds.
  • Restroom and shower house occupancy are limited to two people at a time at the Hawe Creek, Modoc, Petersburg, Ridge Road and Winfield campgrounds. Campers must bring their own soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels.

The commander of the Savannah District reserves the right to close any or all facilities or limit their use, should doing so be in the best interest of public health and safety. And as always, the Corps of Engineers urges all visitors to wear a life jacket whenever they are in, on or near the water.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Boat Ramps Open:
(as of May 19, 2020)

Columbia County:
Keg Creek Ramp
Petersburg Campground
Ridge Road Campground
Winfield Campground

Lincoln County:
Chamberlain Ferry Ramp
Double Branches Ramp
Gill Point Ramp
Leathersville Ramp
Murray Creek Ramp

McCormick County:
Dordon Creek Ramp
LeRoy’s Ferry Campground
Hawe Creek Campground
Modoc Campground
Modoc Ramp
Mt. Carmel Ramp
Mt. Pleasant Ramp
Scotts Ferry Ramp (old and new)

McDuffie County:
Amity Recreation Area
Big Hart Recreation Area

Elbert County:
Morrahs Ramp

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Boat Ramps Closed:
(as of May 19, 2020)

Columbia County:
Lake Springs Park

McCormick County:
Calhoun Falls Ramp
Clarks Hill Park
Mt. Carmel Campground
Parkville Recreation Area

Lincoln County:
Bussey Point

For updates, please refer to sas.usace.army.mil or the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Facebook page.

Respite from the Fast Lane

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

A couple that has plenty of get up and go can put on the brakes at their Clarks Hill Lake home when they’re ready for some down time

For two people who live life to the max, empty nesters Christine and Chris Walker took a minimalist approach when they downsized to a two-bedroom home on Clarks Hill Lake two years ago.

The exterior of the contemporary house is made of stucco, hardy board and 1-inch-thick cultured stone cut into 12-inch-by-24-inch pieces. Inside, the clean lines and open spaces offer the perfect backdrop to showcase the Walkers’ collections of art, sports memorabilia and automobiles.

“We have a fast life with the business we have,” says Chris, who owns Southeast Utilities of Georgia and also builds custom Ford F650 super trucks. “When we’re not working, we can spend time at the house for quiet and solitude. The lake is our passion. It’s our release.”

Sporting Life
The Walkers, who used to spend almost every weekend at Clarks Hill, knew they wanted to build a house on the lake. When they first saw the property they now call home, however, they didn’t like it. “The lot was completely wooded,” says Christine. “You couldn’t even see the water.”

After a second look, however, they reconsidered. Now the footprint of the house occupies space that once was filled with giant boulders, and the front door marks the spot where a giant white oak tree stood.

“Everybody in the family helped prep the land for the house,” says Chris. “After the land was prepped and organized, then we built the house. It made the placement of the house easier. I oversaw or built everything.”

It took the Walkers about a year to build the house, and they moved into the Appling home two years ago. They also took a collaborative, but unorthodox, approach to the design of the house.

“We designed the garage, and then we designed the house around it,” says Chris. “I designed and engineered the house, and Christine was in charge of the interior design.”

A garage-first approach might be unconventional for most people, but not for the Walkers. Chris raced formula cars in the 1980s, and the custom truck builder also collects vehicles, which he houses in the 4,000-square-foot garage.

His collection includes a special edition, handmade Rolls Royce, which has a special sound system for opera and classical music with copper speakers and coils; a handmade, all carbon fiber 2019 McLaren 720s; a 1958 Jeep pickup, which was fully restored for Jay Leno’s garage; and a 110-year anniversary 2019 Morgan three-wheeler. He also has a fully electric, carbon fiber Lito Sora fighter bike – the motorcycle that Daniel Dae Kim’s character, Chin Ho Kelly, rode in “Hawaii Five-O.”

Chris collects professional sports memorabilia as well, and the garage is full of jerseys from pro athletes. “I’ve been collecting jerseys half my life,” says Chris. “I built trucks for a lot of these guys.”

He has signed jerseys from super truck customers including NFL stars Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco, Plaxico Burress and Irving Fryar and NBA greats Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James. His collection also includes jerseys worn by professional athletes such as Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Joe Montana, Larry Bird and Greg Maddox.

Another sports memorabilia display in the garage features a collection of frames that each hold a photo of a Masters Tournament winner, his autograph and a badge from the year he won.

Other wall displays include boating memorabilia – Chris races boats now, with Christine at his side as his navigator. He stores his 45-foot and 47-foot race boats in Lincolnton, but the Walkers, who love to travel, keep their 26-foot Chris-Craft Catalina at their Chigoe Creek dock. The dock bears the name “Walker’s Cay,” which they fittingly call their lake retreat after the northernmost island in the Bahamas.

During the winter, they go out on the lake about twice a month. The rest of the year, they’re on the lake four times a week.

“There’s a little island where we like to go to meet friends,” says Christine. “When we’re at home, we’re usually on the lake.”

Designed to Entertain
Even though the house only has two bedrooms, it was designed for sleepovers and entertainment. The house features four-and-a-half baths (including a full bath outside), and all of the couches turn into beds so friends and family who come over to play are welcome to spend the night.

Frequent guests include their children, Savannah Walker and Cameron Morbey, who live in the area. Their other two children – son Christopher, his wife, Alejandra, and their son, Eliah, who live in Florida, and daughter Whitney Weathers, her husband, Jim, and their daughter, Sadie Jane, who live in North Carolina – visit as well.

Just inside the front door, a floating staircase leads up to the entertainment room – a favorite hangout for the Walkers when they’re not traveling or on the lake. To build the staircase, they put that giant white oak tree from their property to good use. Chris had it milled, and he used the wood to make the 18 steps and the railing for the staircase.

“I would say what I wanted, and he made it,” Christine says. “He’s detail-oriented and romantic. And he listens.”

The entertainment room features a black bamboo floor, which is made up of planks that are 4.5 inches wide. “I like the sexiness of black hardwoods,” says Christine.

The room also features black trim work, teal walls and exposed A/C and heat duct. “It’s the one room that pops out from the rest of the house,” Chris says.

Railed openings on one wall overlook the living room on the first floor, and big picture windows on the opposite wall offer a view of the lake. Furnishings include white couches and a stamped aluminum coffee table. A chalkboard barn door opens to a full bath, which includes a vessel sink and a shower.

For fun and games, the room includes a pool table, a poker table, a dart board and a flat-screen TV. The entertainment room is full of more sports memorabilia as well. Chris’ collection, which he has amassed in 30-plus years, includes a pair of boxing gloves signed by Muhammad Ali; a half-dozen coins used for the opening coin flip in various Super Bowls; countless autographed NFL helmets signed by the entire teams (including a Patriots helmet from Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl); and an autographed football from the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins’ perfect season.

He also has a baseball from the 100-year anniversary of the World Series, which was signed by all of the living World Series MVPs; a case full of Hall of Fame bats; and a 1997 World Series trophy that belonged to Florida Marlins closer Robb Nen. “I taught him how to fish,” Chris says.

He loves all professional sports teams, but the south Florida native is partial to the Dolphins and the Marlins. Since moving to Georgia in 1996 (Chris was sold on Columbia County after a convenience store clerk told him “around here, you get your gas first and then pay for it”) he also has become a fan of the Falcons and the Braves.

The entertainment room leads to an open-air porch, where Christine and her girlfriends like to sit during “game night” at the Walker house. The porch features a fire pit surrounded by four square stools and an outdoor kitchen with a teppanyaki grill. A spiral staircase connects it to another porch below.

Spacious & Sleek
A vaulted ceiling brings a feeling of spaciousness to the living room, where big picture windows overlook the landscaping in the front yard. “We don’t like curtains and doors,” says Christine.

However, the doors they have were made in Italy with solid wood, and they’re lined with aluminum strips. A two-sided, vented, propane-burning, slate fireplace separates the family room and the kitchen.

Chris made the open shelves in the kitchen from the oak tree they had milled and mounted them with industrial plumbing pipes that he painted black. The oak ceiling was made from the tree as well.

In addition, the kitchen features deep drawers and cabinetry with no hardware, a farmhouse sink, stainless steel appliances, a walk-in pantry with a pocket door and a chandelier, and countertops of vein-free, manmade material. A clear vase, which holds oil-based, floral décor, sits on the adjoining dining area table.

The master bedroom also features a vented, propane-burning, slate fireplace as well as a mirrored wall, a walk-in closet with an island in the middle and a “futuristic, crazy” chandelier.

“Every room has a chandelier, but that’s the only light fixture in the whole house that Chris picked out,” says Christine. “In the rest of the house, we have frou-frou chandeliers.”

Two oversized Oriental porcelain vases, which had belonged to Christine’s mother, stand in the corners on one side of the room. Doors lead out to a balcony on the other side.

The adjoining master bath has tile flooring, a stand-alone tub, a walk-through tile shower, two trough sinks and a separate water closet.

The antiques that Christine once favored have been replaced with sleek, modern furnishings, and artwork has a constant presence throughout the house as well. “Art can be passed down for many generations,” Christine says.

An oil painting, which they watched the artist finish on a river in Bangkok, hangs on one wall in the living room, and a hand drawing by Picasso hangs on another wall. A print called “Vintage” by Erté, a Russian-born 20th-century French artist and designer, hangs in the kitchen.

Tucked under the floating staircase, a hand-cut bronze sculpture, “Callisto” by Michael James Talbot, sits on a granite base. An abstract oil on canvas triptych lines the wall by the staircase.

They got a wood carving on the back porch in the mountains of Taipei, Taiwan when they took Christine’s mother there. “He is carved out of a tree root,” says Christine. “He has to be by a door because he wards off any bad spirits and brings in health and happiness.”

In a back hallway, the Walkers grouped 25 of their favorite black-and-white family photos in black frames with white mats. Even the laundry room is a gallery, where two pictures that Chris had done for his wife for Christmas one year, hang on a wall. To honor her penchant for footwear, one of the pictures is an oil painting of a shoe and the other features hundreds of shoes hand-etched with Xs and Os in copper.

While artwork is a necessity in the home, the couple took the opportunity to shed anything they no longer needed when they moved into their lake house. And that minimalist attitude hasn’t changed.

“If we don’t use it, we don’t keep it,” says Christine. “Except for clothes, shoes and pocketbooks. You can’t have too many of those.”

By Betsy Gilliland

LOVELACE ROOFING COMPANY

Men At Work

Since 1986, Lovelace Roofing has specialized in offering residential and commercial roofing services to clients located throughout the area. Fully licensed and insured, their knowledgeable roofing contractors are capable of taking on any and every job that comes their way. Lovelace Roofing gives free estimates and will work with your insurance company so that you don’t have to. If you’re looking for a local and reliable roofing company, please look no further than Lovelace Roofing.

3850 Washington Rd. Suite 4-F • Martinez

Visit us at www.LovelaceRoofing.com

Call for a FREE ESTIMATE 24 Hours a Day: 706.863.5399

 

Don Lawrence | D.C. Lawrence Real Estate

Men At Work

Don Lawrence, president of D.C. Lawrence Real Estate, has had a long-standing career in real estate and development. As a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in economics, he spent 20 years in real valuation and consulting. He first put those skills to use while working in Washington, D.C., for Joseph J. Blake & Associates and Ernst & Young, where he performed valuation analysis on many large and complex properties.

706-825-4376 
Visit us at www.DCLawrence.net

Don@DCLawrence.net

The Business of Biking

Sports

Photos courtesy of SORBA-CSRA and Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse

May is National Bike Month, but cycling is big in this area all year-round

For most people, riding bikes is just plain fun – a reminder of carefree childhood days that were full of endless possibilities for adventure. Better done with friends and family. But in the age of coronavirus outbreaks and social distancing, biking also can be done alone to get some exercise or to clear your mind.

In this area, however, cycling (at least under normal circumstances) is more than an outlet for physical and mental well-being. It is big business that attracts out-of-towners to ride local trails or to participate in cycling events.

“We have a lot of outdoor resources, but cycling is probably our number one asset when it comes to attracting visitors to the area,” says John Luton, director of the Columbia County Department of Community & Leisure Services. “Augusta has hosted several cycling events, and we have partnered with them to host events here.”

An Economic Driver
USA Cycling events held in the area from 2017 – 2019 had an estimated economic impact of $183,000 on Columbia County, according to Shelly Blackburn, Columbia County Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director.

Last year’s Paceline had an estimated economic impact of $83,000 on the county. (This fundraiser for cancer research at Georgia Cancer Center normally is held in May, but it has been postponed until a later date this year.) These figures do not include the additional impact on surrounding communities, Blackburn says.

According to the Augusta Sports Council website, the estimated economic impact for the 2017 USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships, which took place in downtown Augusta, Fort Gordon and J. Strom Thurmond Dam in Columbia County, was more than $2 million. The estimated economic impact of the 2107 Ironman 70.3 Augusta was $4.7 million, and the triathlon, which includes a 56-mile bike ride, has generated more than $20 million in economic impact to the city since the inception of the triathlon in 2009, the Sports Council website says. In addition, the IRONMAN Foundation has awarded $143,943 in grant funding to 130 non-profit organizations to date in the region.

“Augusta is considered a hotbed of cycling, and USA Cycling loves to bring events here because of its relationship with Augusta Sports Council and Fort Gordon,” says avid cyclist and Evans resident Randy DuTeau, who founded Wheel Movement CSRA and is a board member of Georgia Bikes.

Wheel Movement CSRA is nonprofit bicycle advocacy group for Columbia, Richmond and Aiken counties, and Georgia Bikes is a nonprofit organization that improves biking conditions and promotes the sport throughout the state.

DuTeau, who works in sports tourism, estimates that each person who comes to the area for a cycling event has an economic impact of $300 to $500. “Cycling is a huge economic driver for this area, and we need to continue to support it,” he says.

Other competitive cycling events that have been held in the area include the 2015 and 2016 USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships at Wildwood Park and the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in downtown Augusta and Fort Gordon. This event, which was held here last year and was scheduled for May 8-10, was cancelled this year because of coronavirus concerns. However, says DuTeau, five sets of Collegiate Nationals have been held here since 1994.

In addition to Paceline, fundraising cycling events include Lock to Lock, which benefits local cycling advocacy efforts, and Flow Master, which raise funds to maintain the Forks Area Trail System (FATS) in Sumter National Forest in South Carolina. The annual Best Dam Ride Ever supports Augusta Urban Ministries, the CSRA chapter of the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association and the Liam Caracci Foundation.

“When people come to these events, they are spending money for hotel rooms and food,” says Phil Cohen, owner of Chain Reaction Bicycles in Evans. “It’s not like Masters Week, but altogether, they’re really significant.”

With 37 miles of single- and double-track trails, FATS has made this area a mountain biking mecca.

“FATS is a destination trail. IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) has designated it as an epic trail – the highest designation,” says Cohen. “When it was designated, there were only 10 epic trails in the whole country, so that put the area on the map for mountain biking.”

Drew Jordan, owner of Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse, agrees. “It’s the crown jewel for the CSRA. We have people come from all over the world to ride it,” he says of FATS. “We also have great road riding here. From downtown Augusta, you can be out in the country in 15 minutes. We have another 100 miles of mountain bike trails besides FATS.”

Other mountain bike destinations include the Augusta Canal path; Wine Creek; Bartram Trail, which is a good beginner trail along Clarks Hill Lake; and trails at Mistletoe and Hickory Knob state parks. The North Augusta Greeneway; Phinizy Swamp; Range Road, a hilly, challenging course at Fort Gordon; and the Evans to Locks path, which extends from Evans Towne Center Park to Savannah Rapids Pavilion, are popular biking locations as well.

In addition, Phase I of the Euchee Creek Greenway – a series of off-street bikeways, walkways and trails in Columbia County – is nearing completion. The almost $8.6 million project, which was part of the 2016 general obligation bond, includes two segments – a 2.4-mile trail that connects Riverwood Plantation with Blanchard Woods Park and a 6-mile trail that connects Canterbury Farms subdivision with Patriots Park.

A mix of public grants and private donations is anticipated to fund future phases of the greenway, which will include 27 miles of multi-use paths from the city of Grovetown to the south to the Savannah River to the north.

“We have trails that beginners can ride, and experts can have fun on them as well,” Cohen says.

In addition, SORBA-CSRA co-president and Martinez resident Angela Allen, says, “We have year-round riding here, so this is an awesome destination for cycling.”

SORBA-CSRA is a volunteer, non-profit organization that promotes trail preservation and development as well as riding for mountain bikers. The CSRA chapter, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019, works with Mistletoe State Park, the U.S. Forest Service and Augusta Canal Authority to maintain about 150 miles of trails in the area.

“Trails are beneficial to Columbia County for many reasons, but mostly they help to create and maintain a great quality of life. While trail systems are a tremendous recreational asset for our citizens, they also attract visitors. These visitors spend money on lodging, food and beverages, arts and culture, recreation, retail and more, which ultimately support local businesses and jobs,” says Blackburn.

At Your Service
Those businesses and jobs include local bike shops like Chain Reaction Bicycles, Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse, Outspokin’ Bicycles and The Bike Peddler.

“Local bike shops serve the community year-round,” says Cohen. “They hire people and spend money in our market.”

He says cyclists fall into three categories – road cyclists, who ride hard and fast; mountain bikers, who ride off-road; and recreational bikers. “They’re not into going fast or jumping over rocks,” Cohen says. “They just want to have fun with their families.”

The area bike shops cater to all types of riders. In addition to the sale of bicycles and bike accessories, they offer repairs and tune-ups, fitting services and workshops on topics ranging from basic bicycle repairs to road etiquette. The bike shops normally hold group rides several times a week as well, but these events have been suspended because of social distancing efforts.

Chain Reaction also refurbishes about 500 used bicycles a year and donates them to Augusta Urban Ministries, which provides the bicycles to individuals who use them as their primary mode of transportation.

The Bicycle Peddler, which offers bike rentals, the sale of bicycle accessories and bicycle repairs, has a contract with Columbia County to operate at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

The county also has a dozen B-cycles that are available for rent through a self-service system at Evans Towne Center Park, and Luton says people primarily use them to ride around the Evans Towne Center area. “We hope they will take off when we can add other hubs at other parks,” he says. “We will have additional bike stations, but we haven’t had a chance to build on it.”

Have Fun, Get Fit
According to the 2018 Georgia Bikes Bicycle Safety Action Plan, bicycle friendly communities enjoy higher property values, more tourism revenue and improved public health. Routine, daily exercise like bicycling is a proven strategy to decrease a community’s rates of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

“Biking is getting bigger and bigger in our area,” says Allen. “It really has grown exponentially through the years, and it is fantastic exercise.”

As a non-weight bearing exercise, Cohen says, it is easier on the body than some activities. “If biking is something people enjoy, they stick with it,” he adds.

Brett Ardrey, owner of Outspokin’ Bicycles, calls cycling a great cardiovascular exercise that also offers social benefits such as the opportunity to meet new people and learn about new places around town.

For some area cyclists, however, biking is more than a way to exercise. “Doctors, lawyers and bankers ride to work every day,” says Ardrey. “They can park closer to their office or in their office. Medical people can go right up to their door instead of having to park so far away.”

Sam May, manager of The Bicycle Peddler, sees people commute through Savannah Rapids to work downtown. “When they do that, they get their 30 minutes of exercise a day,” he says.

He has one customer who lost more than 150 pounds by bicycling.

“Augusta is a good place to get into cycling,” Jordan says. “The cycling community here is welcoming, nice and helpful to all skill levels. You don’t have to wear spandex and be super-fit to ride a bike.”

Co-Existing with Motorists
Despite all the benefits of cycling, however, the 2018 Georgia Bikes Bicycle Safety Action Plan says that bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise for the past several years. As a result, the Action Plan calls safety the most urgent issue related to bicycling in Georgia.

“Cyclists are allowed to be on the road,” says DuTeau. “There needs to be better interaction between motorists and cyclists, and it’s not always easy because people are distracted. Cyclists need to be accountable, too. We have to pay attention and follow the rules of the road. We have to obey laws, use signals and be smart.”

With so many vehicles on the road, Cohen says, areas where cyclists used to ride are almost impossible to ride now. “Even if cyclists are doing everything right,” he says, “if a car hits them, the cyclists lose.”

Ardrey says cyclists can educate themselves by going online and accessing the Georgia Bicycle Law Enforcement Pocket Guide, which explains bicycle traffic laws.

“As long as we can educate cyclists that they should ride like a vehicle, we get more respect from cars,” he says.

Jordan believes cyclists and motorists are co-existing better because people are becoming more educated.

“It always requires a little diligence on the bicyclists’ part – choosing when and where to ride, wearing bright colors and having flashing lights,” he says. “Drivers texting is the biggest problem, probably more than aggressive driving.”

In addition, Jordan says, cyclists always should wear a helmet. Some helmets even have built-in technology that triggers an alarm on a cyclist’s phone to send his location to a designated emergency contact if he falls and hits his head.

“With more bike lanes and more safe places to ride, more people will ride,” Cohen says. “Nationwide, the number one reason people don’t ride is that they don’t have a safe place to ride. Biking is strong in our area because we have safe places to ride. It adds to the quality of our life and makes this a great place to live.” 

By Todd Beck