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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Monday, July 12: We got a later start than we’d planned (when do we ever leave on time?), but the trip was smooth and uneventful. SOTD: Mariella Burani. Cheapie Wendy’s lunch, with trail mix and Gatorade in the car later in the afternoon. On the way to Charleston, we went so close to Columbia that The CEO thought it would be good to stop there and have a look at the SC State House. When we parked on the east side of the State House and put coins into the parking meter, Eddie said it was 97° F. My MB was pretty much gone at that point, and that was a good thing in the heat…

Side note: I’d better warn you, The CEO and I are those irritating people who give things cutesy names. As in, his vehicle, a Toyota Camry, is for obvious reasons called Cameron. My bought-used Dodge Caravan is Eddie Van, as in Eddie Van Halen. And the microwave is Mike Jr., the water pressure booster pump is Hans-and-Franz (it’s here to Pump YOU Up!), and the ice maker is Fidel (it’s always cubin’). There are more, but I’ll stop now. You’re welcome.

The SC State House is indeed quite beautiful: marble floors and glass mosaic windows and gorgeous wrought iron balustrades and handrails. They have cool bronze statues of George Washington and John C. Calhoun, and portraits in oil of historically significant South Carolinians, including Mary McLeod Bethune and Edgar Allen Poe. We were surprised to see portraits of Virginians Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson (okay, okay, he was actually born in what is now West Virginia, but lived much of his adult life in Lexington, VA) prominently displayed in the SC House of Representatives room.  

Another side note: How about those South Carolinians keeping the War Between the States alive, hmm?  I thought we Virginians were bad. Funny/sad/true story: for years, beginning in the early 20th century, there was a state holiday in January called Lee-Jackson Day, celebrating RE Lee’s birthday.  (A kid from Pennsylvania asked me once, “Who’s this Lee Jackson guy?”)  Then when the federal government declared a national holiday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., guess what day that fell on?  Yep.  So in Virginia, for about a decade or two, we celebrated Lee-Jackson-King Day, until the state holiday was moved to the Friday before MLK Day.  If that isn’t irony for you… 

The State House grounds were lovely as well, and I finally got to smell live osmanthus! A gorgeous floral-apricot smell. And magnolia is too – it smells like creamy, floral lemon custard. Which I knew, but I don’t get to smell magnolia much since it’s just a wee bit too cool where we live for most magnolia trees to thrive. We can grow a variety called the sweet bay magnolia, though it doesn’t smell quite as lush as the ones here in SC.

Tuesday, July 13: Visit to Ft. Sumter via ferry. Hot. Honestly, it’s like living in a sauna… (said the spoiled mountain-dweller). SOTD: Moschino Funny!, a lovely grapefruit-rose-tea thing that I liked much, much better than the way fancier Hermes Pamplemousse Rose, and that I once denigrated for being a pretty little wisp of nothin’ special. Which just goes to show that weather is important. First time I tried it, I wasn’t sure I was wearing anything at all, but it lasted several hours in miserable heat today.

I’m not sure whether we enjoyed Ft. Sumter, or the ferry cruise to the island that houses it, more. Taz found the cannons and their emplacement in the remains of the original fort engrossing, and we practically had to drag him away. “Look, Mom, you could slide it along this curved track like this, and you had to get away from the back, or it would recoil after you fired it, and it would knock you dead! And see… this one’s got a rifled barrel…”

After Ft. Sumter, we drove over the coolest bridge I’ve ever seen – the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, that’s it up top – and visited the naval museum on the decommissioned WWII-era aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. The Medal of Honor museum aboard the Yorktown was very moving. The boys were in absolute heaven exploring the flight deck and captain’s bridge, as well as the numerous types of military aircraft stored on the flight deck. They were less impressed with the crew quarters and mess hall, not to mention the machine shop and torpedo shop. (Although I think it gave them a new appreciation for their granddad, who served aboard a destroyer tender – a much smaller ship – based in Norfolk, VA in the early 1960’s. “Wow… he had to sleep on a weird bed like that? And climb up ladders like that? It smells like the cabins at summer camp in here…”) The WWII-era diesel submarine, the USS Clamagore, surprised us all with how tough, and how impervious to claustrophobia, sailors had to be to serve on a tin can like that.

Wednesday, July 14: The CEO just realized that he has to be back home for a very important meeting on Friday (what, he couldn’t have read his email messages from three weeks ago? Apparently not.), so we’re going to go home a bit early. That pushes up some of our plans. Today we drove around historic downtown Charleston, visited Ft. Moultrie, and hit the beach at the Isle of Palms. SOTD: Miller Harris Fleur de Matin. I really like FdM – a bit of galbanum up top, then a hint of citrusy-herbal stuff like lemon balm, and then light florals like jasmine and freesia. For something so light, it wears fairly long (4 hours) in the heat.

The old part of Charleston, particularly near The Battery (the row of cannon facing Ft. Sumter across the Cooper River) is what people have been cooing over for a couple of centuries now: charming, tall, gracefully-proportioned houses with beautiful wrought-iron details, in ice-cream pastels like pink and lemon and cream. There is a sense of these houses being delicate, lacy, decorative, and hedged in by whalebone and wrought iron fences and cast iron cannons – the Flower of Southern Womanhood guarded by Masculine Might. It’s a little eerie, to be honest. I do see why Charleston highlights this part of town, and its military history. It’s good marketing, and it pays off in terms of drawing paying tourists to the area. But I imagine it’s not so much fun to be black and living in the unkempt area five blocks from The Battery. There’s a sort of willful neglect of the downtown area that isn’t historical, and I find myself wishing Charleston would spend a little money putting in some civic improvements in places that really need them.

We’re not really Beach People. I enjoy the beach for a few days at a time, and then I get sick of it and want to go home. I like the ocean, I love bouncing around in the waves, I like building sandcastles, and eating ice cream cones and seafood, and sitting in a beach chair watching the tide come in, and walking on the wet sand early in the morning to watch the sun come up and pick up shells. Doing it for more than a few days feels unproductive and just plain wrong to me. That said, the beach at Isle of Palms is really nice. The sand’s clean, and I couldn’t see any detritus of horseshoe crabs or dead jellyfish, like you see at Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks. The houses along the shore are even brighter than those in Charleston: an apple green-and-white one flanked by a sherbety pink-and-lemon one and a periwinkle-and-sky blue one. Farther down, there’s a cream-and-mint green house, and a peach-and-dove gray, and on the other side of the hotel, a purple-and-lime ice cream shop. It’s pretty and bright, and the houses seem at home here against the sand and sea grass. I just know I couldn’t live here.

Thursday, July 15: I’ve been noticing: unlike home, where it’s so dry that our grass has started to go brown, SC has been getting lots of rain. It’s really humid here. I know saying that is a little like commenting that it sure is cold at the North Pole, but I was surprised at just how humid it is. It’s been a good twenty years, maybe, since I traveled south of Virginia in the summer. Yikes. I’d probably enjoy cologne more if I lived here. Temps have been running in the mid-to-upper 90s, too, while at home it’s been upper 80s to low 90s.

No fragrance this morning; we visited the waterpark just north of Charleston, and of course scent would have been wasted. This was a lot of fun: a mat slide, a wave pool, a climbing obstacle course with various fun water things, some slides, and a “lazy river” ride. We all got a little bit sunburned, despite putting on water-resistant SPF 50 sunscreen three times during our five-hour visit. Gaze, despite being the blondest of us, only had a bit of pink on the bridge of his nose and cheekbones. Bookworm, who’s a freckly strawberry blonde, is diligent about her 70 SPF, and applied it four times, but still wound up with pink ears, nose, and shoulders. So did I. The CEO, who has a classic “farmer’s tan,” with forearms and neck tanned brown, got his shirt area burned despite the sunscreen. He’s still uncomfortable, poor baby.

SOTDriveHome: Vamp a NY. I love the Vamp – big ol’ white flowers, root beer and vanilla. What’s not to like? It’s like vacation in a bottle.

Friday, July 16: The dog was really happy to see us when we got home last night. (The cat was simply annoyed that we had gone away. If she was glad to see us, she gave no indication of it.) Since I have the whole week off work, I stayed home today and we worked through some of the Laundry Mountain we brought back with us. Ever notice how, even if you put the dirty clothes in a big garbage bag instead of in your suitcase, the clothes you didn’t wear come home smelling weird anyway? I think I need some sachet things to keep the duffel bags and suitcases fresh when they’re not being used. SOTD: Mariella Burani, for comfort.

Saturday, July 17: How on earth does a house get dirty when you haven’t even been in it all week?? But it was a mess: dog hair and crumbs all over the floor, dirt on the carpets (guess we dragged that in on Thursday night)… sigh. We cleaned. SOTD, once I finished mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms: Manoumalia. I keep hoping.

We had a thunderstorm that dumped a very, very welcome 1.3 inches of rain before moving off and leaving the day about 20 degrees cooler. That brings us up to a total of about 2 inches this month. We’ve been getting far less than our average 37” annual inches of rain so far this year. Good thing we’ve still got hay left from last summer.

Sunday, July 18: Lovely day, mid-80s and not humid, but the grass has greened up since yesterday. SOTD: Carnal Flower, which is sooooo beautifully green and florist-case chilly over that big lush warm tuberose. Swoony stuff.

We were all set to host a group of inner-city kids from Atlanta for a hayride and lemonade this afternoon, when the heavens opened up and just dumped down the rain!   Luckily the storm didn’t last long, and we did get a bit more much-needed rain.  The kids from Bright Futures Atlanta, as usual, were terrific and lots of fun.  Some of them have never been out of the city, so taking them close to the cows is like going on safari.  There’s a lot of “Wow, they’re big!” and “What do you do with the dead ones?” and “How big is this place?”  Hayley, our beagle-yellow lab mix, is in absolute heaven with this many people around to pet her.  We had thirty people visiting (26 kids, 4 staff), and we blew through 4 1/2 gallons of lemonade and two pans of brownies in record time.

All images except the last two are from Wikimedia Commons.  The image of the woman washing clothes is from Flickr’s commons.  The photo of the kids on the wagon is from Bright Futures’ website, of last year’s visit, and yes, that is indeed The CEO piloting his John Deere 4230.  The kid in the orange shirt – not that you can see him – is Gaze.  I also notice how very, very green things looked last summer, as opposed to now.  Boy, did we need that rain!

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