Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Glorious Greenville

August 16-17
Greenville SC 
We discovered glorious Greenville last summer, when our niece Tiffany married Lee there, and we enjoyed a weekend of celebratory activity all around downtown.  We vowed to come back and explore some more, and here we are.  We met Tiffany and Lee on Sunday night for dinner and lively conversation at Tupelo Honey, a fresh Southern farm-to-table restaurant.  Greenville was in full festive mode--all café tables out front of restaurants filled, people of all ages strolling the sidewalks, kids cavorting in pocket parks and plazas.  After dinner, we walked a few blocks to Reedy Falls Park to cross the serpentine suspended bridge over the river and watch the sunset turn the shallows at the top of the falls pink.

The next morning we were up early and onto our bikes to ride the Swamp Rabbit trail--a rail trail that roughly parallels the Reedy River, running from the quaint little town of Travelers Rest through downtown Greenville and beyond.
Some say the trail got its name because the original rail line ran through a swampy landscape, and the ride was a rough as a hopping rabbit.  The rail road struggled to survive through the years, but the trail is flourishing--and it is one of the smoothest rail trails we have ridden anywhere--no more rough rabbit ride now.  And the trail is memorable for its attention to rider friendly details--like Burma Shave-style rhymed signs that warn of upcoming high traffic road crossings or rough track crossings, and a trailside rest area that offers tools for making repairs or adjustments to your bicycle.  
Bike tools and a pump trailside
Here are some highlights from our ride:

Travelers Rest welcomes cyclists

A smooth ride and shady ride
Most of the trail flowed through woods and shady rural settings, and it almost came as a surprise when suddenly we came around a turn and found ourselves in Greenville, beside a plaque commemorating the spot where Franklin Roosevelt's funeral train stopped and more than 15,000 people greeted it.  Soldiers lined the road for a mile in tribute, the mayor offered two funeral wreaths to Eleanor, and the children sang "Onward Christian Soldiers" as the train pulled away from the station.  

We continued through the city to Reedy Falls Park, and sat at a café table at the top of the falls.  At the next table, a work group was having a conference with lots of  data sheets.   We decided to do a little work too, logging an earth cache that entailed learning about geological classifications for waterfalls (block, cascade, curtain, horsetail, slide, punchbowl, and more), and determining what classifications applied to Reedy River Falls. Here I am holding our GPS (phone) next to the falls to prove that we really are here doing the cache and not just cheating via internet research. 


Reedy River Falls
On the way back, we took a detour off the trail to ride around the beautiful campus of Furman University, with a scenic man-made lake as a campus magnet, and lovely natural gardens.

Furman campus lake and tower

Trailside Travelers Rest

All told we rode 23.6 miles round trip, then went to Williams Hardware Café, a trailside restaurant in Travelers Rest highly recommended by fellow riders we met on the trail.   We changed from our by now very sweaty bike togs into fresh clothes and enjoyed a great lunch, followed by ice cream from a shop next door, then hit the road to Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  

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