Thursday, September 18, 2014

Charelston: Day 4, The Finale

There are four weeks until the marathon, until then, bear with me as running prefaces nearly all of my days. Today, I was out to explore the harbor. I ran a big loop around downtown Charleston, spending most of my time along the water for a total of seven miles. The run lasted longer than I anticipated and my friends were getting antsy. Boyfriend packed while I stretched and showered, and like that, we were out the door.
We were waiting in line when Butcher & Bee opened. Boyfriend and I each ordered a sandwich and an appetizer, all of which was divine. This was probably, next to Jeni's, the best place we visited the whole trip. From there, we traversed to City Lights for coffee. Though reading several positive reviews, I was disappointed in City Lights. There wasn't anything extraordinary about this place, except, if you're local, they give away compost. I was upset with myself for foregoing Stumptown Coffee, my absolute favorite coffee ever, brewed at Butcher & Bee. And for someone who is not a risk taker, the shame. Oh well. Boyfriend opted for Stumptown, so I actually had a little of his and a lot of my own City Lights brew.
Perhaps it can be said that I over schedule everything, including vacation, so I often joke that I do build in time for spontaneity--both on the job, in life, and while traveling. Next up, a perfect example: Tom's Toys. Here we played with Kapla blocks and awed at the museum-style exhibit of Kapla construction. We finally pulled ourselves away from the blocks following more than an hour of play. It was tough, but schedule. I took the crew for a history lesson at The Battery, which ended up involving little learning and lots of photography. Farewells were bid to the group, and the ever lucky A.J.S. was left with Boyfriend and I for two remaining stops on our Tour de Charleston. First up, a three-mile walk to Magnolia Cemetery. The weather had calmed slightly, so the walk wasn't totally miserable. Plus, we saw a lot of Charleston's finer parts on route. Culture, folks. I could have spent all day in the cemetery. That might be weird, I don't know. There's just so much wonder in a cemetery.
Afterwards, we needed refreshing drinks and Edmund's Oast, a highly touted, recently opened establishment was conveniently placed at the cemetery exit. Planning, folks. If only we didn't have a 7:45 pm flight to catch and another trip to Jeni's prior to that, Boyfriend would have been stayed here forever; he was in heaven. I was enjoying myself as I sampled the Iqhilika African Coffee Mead. We picked up Dell'z Deli for the flight home, though we ended up being too exhausted to think about food. It all worked out in the end, our fridge was empty, and Tuesday lunches were already prepared.
This trip was successful in every way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Charleston: Day 3, A Bad Beach Day

Then, there was Sunday. Just the two of us--Boyfriend and me--at the beach amidst a lot of wind. But prior to, a 12-mile run over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and around the Shem Creek for old time sake. I fell in love with the Shem Creek and I wasn't ready to part with Charleston without spending some (more) time (running) along side it. I hope I made it very clear how neat the wedding venue was last night.
USS Yorktown
After a hotel breakfast, we headed back to Folly Beach. And on this not so glorious Sunday, Folly Beach was exactly the Folly Beach I remember it being--brutal wind carrying loads of sand across the beach, a ruthless undertow, and seagulls galore. So in less words, a 'hard work' beach day. I managed to finish my book, though completely doused in sand. I rinsed in the ocean, where I quickly learned I also wouldn't be lounging. Boyfriend and I opted for a long walk on the beach, since swimming and tanning were out. At this point, we were hot and sandy--coated by sand regardless of our position. We opted to make the most of the waves, walking to the pier and floating our way back to where we'd staked out for the day. This was fun for two runs until Boyfriend lost his expensive sunglasses and my appetite started talking. We certainly made the most of our final beach day before trying to find transportation back to the hotel, which turned out to also require a large effort.
My stomach was screaming for food by the time we were showered and ready to do some evening exploring. We stopped at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams for pure decadence; dessert before dinner, yes, please. I have been hearing about this place for sometime and, turns out, a shop opened in Charleston two months prior to our visit. To which I say, perfect timing. We went there not once but twice during our short stay. I cannot recommend this place enough. There locations are limited, but if you're in their territory, do yourself a flavor and stop on in. I'll be visiting Jeni's on my upcoming trip to Chicago, for sure. And I've sent my Atlanta-based brother to his local Jeni's for goodness already.
From there, we headed to the Bay Street Biergarten for drinks and socializing with the friends we’d “neglected” all day. The windy beach brought wonderful temperatures to the downtown area, so--my stomach still screaming for food--my friends closed their tab and we rode in a golf cart to Henry's Bar and Restaurant for a rooftop dinner. I don't recommend Bay Street Biergarten or Henry's, however, what these places lacked, the company made up for it.
The night continued at Henry’s, until I--sooner than most--finally called it quits. With another successful day of travel under my belt, I refused to set the alarm on our final day of vacation.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another Non-Traditional Wedding

I spent a lot, lot, lot of time in the car this weekend. And every minute, including the many, many, many minutes patiently sitting idle on I-81 N outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia, home to James Madison University, for those unfamiliar with this sector of interstate. Boyfriend and I departed at 4:15 am on Friday morning, southbound for the Five Star Lodge and Stables in Morganton, Georgia. (I highly, highly, highly recommend you click the hyperlink and browse the property, specifically the images, as I did not do a great job of photo-documenting the incredible property. There was not a single detail of the lodge, pavilion, or stable overlooked.) We arrived shortly before 2:00 pm, after a few bathroom and gas stops and our 'road trip ritual' pause at Dunkin' Donuts.
This was a small wedding--less than 60 guests--and each invitee spent the duration of the weekend together. On the first afternoon, as guest trickled in, we toured the lodge and property and played basketball, tennis, and bags. I'm the worst at all the aforementioned sports, hence the reason I run. As I tossed the occasional bean bag, I talked endlessly with M.E.K. It was then time to clean-up for dinner; despite being at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it was H-O-T in GA.
The rehearsal dinner was a heavenly pile of barbeque. And Joe's BBQ did a fabulous job, especially considering he was catering to a Kansas-based crowd, the true land of all things bbq. I called it a night around 11:00 pm. This is way, way, way past my bedtime, even when I'm not up at 4:00 am.
Almost immediately after arriving, it was clear there was virtually no where to run (and the hotel treadmill was not anything I'd risk running on)... so I opted to give myself the long weekend off, providing ample free time--to sleep(!!!)--without the usual mandatory weekend long run. I got up at the leisurely time of 8:30 am; I cannot remember the last time I slept in that late. I gobbled up the continental breakfast. And eventually made my way to the lodge for wedding day festivities. The day turned out to be busier than anticipated for the bride and groom (and those more involved). Since our help wasn't needed, we passed the time visiting the stables, reading in rocking chairs, and watching some college football on one of the many televisions. This was an easy Saturday.
Boyfriend and I made a quick detour to a local waterfall when I could no longer sit idle, just before it was time to wash up for the evening's celebration.
From the venue to the food to the band to the weather, the evening was perfect. The bride's friend did a fabulous job officiating the wedding. The ceremony was meaningful in absolutely every way. The cocktail hour and dinner flew by, both the Moscow Mules and food were divine. The whole affair--rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception--was SO simple, without compensating a single detail. This wedding "ranks" rather highly in the tally I don't actually keep; I could gush on and on. As a believer in intentional relationships, I will end with the best part of the weekend, for me: time with both the bride and groom. I've mentioned H.M.O., now H.M.P., and A.B.P. recently moved from Washington, D.C. to Nashville, Tennessee; both Boyfriend and I miss them terribly. I'm glad we were able to see and spend this meaningful time with them.
 To the happy couple, cheers!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Charleston: Day 2

Our second day began with breakfast and coffee at Wildflower Pastry. This didn't make my "original" to visit list, however, it was in close proximity to the hotel and I'm easily convinced in the direction of pastries. The scones were fabulous (and actually filling, too). We were joined by three of my favorites: A.J.S., K.A.B., and S.D.G. As we munched, we reminisced and it was fabulous. Afterwards, I picked up sunscreen and this crew minus one headed for Folly Beach. It was another scorcher and I can't imagine being anywhere but the beach. We spent all of five minutes on our towels because the ocean bath water was more tolerable. Later, we were joined by some friends. And we continued, splashing and playing catch and laughing and riding "waves" until it was time to pack up and head back downtown.
Showers ensued. And snack time. And a bit of pleasure reading, as that time was missed on the beach.

Then it was wedding time, so we walked towards our pick-up spot and joined all of our nicely dressed friends. We learned from those who check email on vacation, the dress code was changed to "heat wave chic" to accommodate the relentless sun. The wedding crowd was bussed over to Cottage on the Creek on Mount Pleasant. And the venue ranks highly in my list. It almost made me want to have a wedding. Almost, Mom. Right there in on the Shem Creek. We sipped (more) cocktails as the sun set around us. I'm such a sucker for sun sets... and we lucked out with a true beauty. There was Southern food for dinner. As soon as the plates were cleared, we were up dancing. And we danced until the bar and music were shut down, which seemed like only seconds.
There were dolphins (though I'm lacking photographic evidence), kayakers galore, and a floating hot dog boat on the Shem Creek. 
I opted out of the after party because sleep.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Louis and Toby and Me

This weekend I exercised and relaxed, kind of, while hanging out with my two favorite Bassets Hounds, Louis and Toby. Do you know what’s great about these two?  They’re always ecstatic to see me. And while they welcome me with open arms and have become my biggest fan, the barking and jumping and playful racing does not necessarily lend well to manners. So the fact that Pops was fielding a birthday call from his hard-of-hearing mother when I walked in the door on Wednesday night didn’t matter. Their third amigo was here for an extended play date. It was party time. The first time I walked in the door. And anytime I returned from anywhere after that. The excitement level remained consistently elevated throughout my weekend stay.

So all weekend we partied, in the form of early feedings, excessive cuddling, and long walks. 

And here’s the two of them passed out at the respectable hour of 8:00 pm after a successful day’s play. 
The thing about these two is they never make you fail to feel better after spending time with them. I have the above selfies to show for it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Charleston, South Carolina: Day 1

May I preface vacation with the 'apartment to myself' time I was granted while Boyfriend was off with his boyfriend drinking all things carbonated. I crave alone time. I also crave relaxation, something I haven't quite mastered in my time on earth. After completing all the pre-vacation essentials, I read before blissfully crashing in bed, the only form of relaxing I know. There could be more of these nights.

After arriving in Charleston, South Carolina late on Thursday night, I refused to my alter my 6:00 am running agenda because it was slotted to be a true to form August day (i.e., SO very hot and humid). I ran to Charles Town Landing, where I wanted to spend the day exploring; there were birds galore at this early hour. I snapped a few photos and continued on my way, clocking in at a nice eight minute mile pace for the course of eight miles. If Charleston is hot and humid, it's also as flat as a pancake. Amen. Enough about running, there's a full day of activity is on the docket to report. 
First up, Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer. I sat down with my iced coffee at 9:30 am, while Boyfriend perused the beer menu until beer was being sold, half an hour after my purchase. We sipped happily in vacation mode, while people watching and reviewing the day's agenda. From coffee (and beer), we wandered up King Street, the shopping mecca of Charleston, to Two Boroughs Larder for breakfast. In route, we spotted Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts and had to stop in. The donuts were supreme and we were gifted a free donut, hooray! We actually made way to our breakfast stop after the donuts appetizer, where shortly after we were joined by several of our friends, the early arrivers. The breakfast sandwiches were delightful. And I ate my heart into merriment.
We lingered at breakfast for some time before heading to City Market for browsing. The temperature was over 100 degrees at this point and the heat index read even higher. While I was ready to stroll The Battery at an easy pace, the group voted for cold drinks at Southend Brewery & Smokehouse. I surrendered to group mentality. Maturity.
Afterwards, I needed lunch or dinner so we stopped in a Brown Dog Deli, where it was ultimately hard to choose from the sandwiches options that sounded all kinds of good. Boyfriend and I narrowed our choices to two, splitting the Apple "Butter" Jeans and a corned beef sandwich, of which the name I'm blanking on. We opted to walk to the hostel, after kindly being told I eat too much, while the rest of the crew opted for an Uber, following this meal. The walk was hot but the streets of Charleston are so quaint and I wanted to make sure Boyfriend saw all of them before we left on Monday, even if it was a bazillion percent humid.
At this point, it was time--the reason for our being in Charleston--for the Peace Corps Lesotho Education 2010 Reunion to commence. We were actually there to celebrate S.L.P. and E.L.P.'s nuptial; they quite graciously invited our entire Ed '10 Class (plus a few stragglers from classes behind ours), hence... a the reunion. We mingled over cocktails on the Not So Hostel balcony, while the last of the group trickled in. At 8:00 pm, we met the Bride and Groom at Warehouse for appetizers and more spirits. I had a cocktail that seemed as though it was made specifically for me, titled Employees Only. All I remember is there was jalapeno tequila and a fruit roll-up flower inside each glass of heaven.
At midnight to the dismay of the group, I made a clean escape for bed.