Fall Colors, Pumpkins and Lots of Memories

I am writing this month’s column from the back porch of cabin 15 at Oconee State Park. As the sun begins to set behind the trees around the lake, a family is checking into the cabin next door. I observe two small children are on an adventure, exploring the cabin then running back to Dad, who is busy unloading the car.  Then there are the sounds of the screen porch door slamming and the sounds of sheer delight as they discover that their cabin is next to the lake. Making memories.  Gotta love that!

As I focus on writing and my surroundings, I find that the park is alive with the sounds of fall -- geese flying over the lake announcing their arrival and the unmistaken sounds of the splash as they hit the water. The lake suddenly goes quiet as what’s left of the sun dances with thousands of little water bugs.  From the porch they give the appearance of rain drops hitting the lake.  There’s fall in air in your state parks, and it is time for you to make some memories.

October has always been one of my favorite months -- and one of the best months to enjoy state parks.  Did you know that South Carolina enjoys one of the longest leaf seasons in the nation?  That’s right.  While peak leaf season is typically closer to the end of October, there are fall colors from the beginning of October usually until Thanksgiving.  We always head to the mountains, where the colors seem to be their best -- dashes of oranges, yellows and reds dotted with evergreens makes for a pallet that even an artist would envy.  The rolling hills seem to add a different dimension to the colors making them stand out.

While the mountains are showing off, don’t forget that fall leaf season takes place in some parks that you may not think of.

At Poinsett State Park in Sumter County, fall colors are spectacular.  If you didn’t check your GPS you would swear you were in the mountains.  The mountains of the midlands, as the rangers of Poinsett like to say, you want be disappointed.  How about fall colors reflecting off a park lake?  Try some of these hidden fall color treasures at Chester State Park and Sesquicentennial State Park.

And here’s a fun fact -- what holiday is quickly becoming one of the busiest weekends of the year right behind the 4th of July, Easter and Memorial Day (remember, it’s October)?  Halloween!  Yes, Halloween has become a very festive weekend in your state parks.  Campers decorate campsites, there are programs, outdoor movies and lots and lots of fun.  I love October!

Well its dark here at Oconee.  I mean really dark.  Should be a great night to see all the stars that I’ve been missing in a beautiful fall night sky. The family next door has a campfire.  I'll bet there will be some marshmallows over it soon, and by Monday lots of memories!  October in your South Carolina State Parks --don’t miss it!
 
See you in the parks!
Phil