Upstate (and just into NC) adventure

“Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by.”
  Carl Sandburg

Part of the reason we moved to South Carolina was to take advantage of the mild, and often sunny, winters that alluded us in Ohio. Last Saturday we were blessed with a sunny day and decided to make the most of it by visiting the Poinsett Bridge on our way to Carl Sandburg’s home in Flat Rock, NC.

To access the Poinsett Bridge, we followed 25 north and then turned off to the right where directed by the big, brown highway sign. I believe we were on old 25. If you follow those brown signs you’ll find it without any trouble. I do advise you to be cautious as the route to the bridge is quite popular with cyclists. When you reach the bridge, you will see a nice parking area to the right of the road. It’s horseshoe shape provides an adequate space for parking and makes things quite easy when you’re ready to get back on the road.

After carefully crossing the road, you will find a newer set of wooden steps that make it easy to get down onto the bridge. Getting down to Little Gap Creek, the body of water that runs beneath the bridge, may be a little tricky for those with mobility limitations or impractical footwear. The photo to the left shows the upper half of the path that leads to the creek. You can see some exposed roots and rocks along the path. I think most people could navigate it easily but it’s worth mentioning that tennis shoes or hiking boots are ideal.

When we visited the creek was low, exposing large patches of rock that allowed for good access and lovely photos.

The natural beauty is undeniable but so is the majesty of the bridge itself. Built in 1820, this treasure features a 14′ gothic arch. It is a bit boggling that this bridge was still used in the 1950s. The craftsmanship is a grade above what we are used to seeing these days. Poinsett Bridge

It is also a beautiful spot for portrait photography. The arch can soften the light or create interesting, and mysterious, shadows. McB and I chose the mossy walls of the bridge’s upper surface for our self-timer portrait.

After traipsing around in the woods, climbing about, and snapping lots of pictures, we got back in the car for the drive up to Flat Rock, NC and the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. The drive was an easy, picturesque one and once again, those nice brown signs lead the way to our destination.

Upon reaching the house, McB eagle-eyed a parking spot in the small, and very popular, parking lot. The lot, and the park itself, is popular because of the beauty and accessibility of the grounds. The property is named Connemara and features a number of hiking trails including one that will take you to the top of Glassy Mountain. I look forward to hitting those trails one day but we were going for the first-time visitor experience and that meant seeing the house.

If you are traveling with someone with mobility needs, you can use a phone in the welcome area/restrooms to call a park ranger to request transportation up to the house. It’s roughly .3/mile but it is a bit steep and could be a challenge for some. There are a number of benches along the route for any walkers who need a rest.

At the top of the hill, you will find the house. Tours are $5 and offer a good deal of information about the Sandburg’s and their relatively simple life at Connemara. During my time at the house, it was clear to me that the Sandburg’s were more interested in enjoying each other than living the life that many would expect from a famed poet/author and his wife.  The guestroom, that was used by Edward R. Murrow and other notables, is located by the kitchen. It features simple furnishings and seemed to double as a sewing/ironing space. Given what we heard about the Sandburg’s, I wouldn’t be surprised if those items were in the room when guests visited and I doubt any of those guests cared one bit.

The property also featured Mrs. Sandburg’s goat farm. She had quite a reputation for her herd and the care she took in breeding her goats. There are still goats on the property today. This area does not require admission and is a popular spot with the younger visitors. The goats are quite docile.

This chair, a frequent perch for Carl, was one of my favorite spots. I can imagine that the serenity he experienced while taking in the world helped to spur his creative genius.

Connemara is a beautiful, almost magical place. There is a bit of something for everyone and you don’t have to be a Sandburg scholar to take something away from the visit. If you’d like to learn more about the Sandburg’s click here.

It was a really wonderful day. It was meant to be my birthday celebration and really, I couldn’t have asked for a better gift than exploring, learning, and photographing with my sweet husband by my side.

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