Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chaney Vacation Take 1 - Charleston, SC

**Warning: this is a long, picture-intensive post. Thanks in advance for enduring our vacation slideshow, er, blog post!**
I feel like we're still working at getting back to "normal" after vacation. Without fail it seems to take about a week before I accept, "You're back, now deal with it." Anyone else go through the same withdrawals?

The good news is that the laundry is done and the house is clean so now it's just about getting my mind back into everyday mode. Addie has been doing pretty well with getting back into her routine for which I am really grateful. You never know how it's going to be after a week of eating out, odd sleeping times and just general out of the ordinary-ness.

So, we ended up visiting Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Charleston was never a blip on my vacation radar until Sabian and I watched a special on the states a couple of years ago. Now that we are relatively close we thought it might be fun to check out this historic city and couple it with another, more in depth trip to Savannah.

We were pretty excited about getting out of town and doing some exploring but were stopped short in our tracks as we attempted to get out of the state. About an hour and a half into our trip we heard a weird flapping sound coming from the right side of our car and pulled over to find a busted tired. Sheesh. Really? We were about 20 miles outside of Tallahassee, so my handyman husband changed the tire while I called a friend to find out where the nearest Wal-mart was. We drove painstakingly slow for 20 miles before we reached one and two and a half hours later had four new tires on the car. This wasn't the ideal way to start our vacation and yes, we knew we needed new tires, which would have been taken care of in the near future, but not quite with this timing. The ordeal set us back about two and a half hours but we still made it to Charleston by 10 that night, which to me, wasn't bad. After making the 12 hour trip home on a relatively regular basis, a drive less than that is music to my ears. The whole drive to Charleston is only eight hours, so I felt like we were good to go.

We ended up with three full days in the city, which was perfect for all that we wanted to do. Our main goal was to take the Ft. Sumter boat tour, which we did and was actually pretty cool. We saw dolphins from the fort and it was cool to see where the fresh water of the river and the salt water of the ocean met. One of the most sobering aspects of the trip was standing in the spot where the first shot of the Civil War was fired. I noted while we were taking our photo in that spot that we were smiling, which seemed somewhat inappropriate, but no smiles somehow didn't seem right, either.

We'd taken the last boat of the day and when they made the final boarding call to get on the boat back to the mainland Addie took that opportunity to poop, so there we were, last people at the fort, asking the park ranger to let us in to the already locked bathroom to change a diaper. She couldn't get the door open, nor could another ranger who had already told us to get on the boat, so they told us about a bathroom on the boat that had a "nice table" in it and it would be easy to change her. Well, I'm not sure where that bathroom was, because the one I found had no table, which made the diaper change...eventful.

We were also able to take a horse carriage tour around the historic area of the city. I figured Addie would love it and for the most part, she did. We did have a few challenging moments along the tour - I'm sure she was just as interested as we were to find out that JFK hung out with a Nazi spy in a hotel in Charleston and that the powder magazine is still standing, but at times she just didn't show it. 


A side note, we did find out (in a last minute mad dash to the doctor) the day before we left that she had developed yet another ear infection. So, to her credit there were times when I know she wasn't feeling the greatest. In spite of this she really did do as well as we could have expected.

We spent some time driving and walking around the city, usually during times when Addie was grabbing a nap, checking out the beautiful old homes and the parks. One of the things I loved about the city is that there were people out and about all of the time. Walking, running, riding bikes - it was just cool to see such an alive city. I do believe it is a requirement, though, to own a dog if you live in Charleston. Well, at least one if not two or three. And, Addie met them all. Big or small, she was so excited whenever a dog got within petting distance. Or even if she spotted one yards away.

At the Moon Pie General Store. Yes, we bought a Moon Pie.

The Star Trek don't walk sign.

Much of our time was spent walking. There was plenty to see from the street level so we walked in and around the market area of town, the shopping district, parks, neighborhoods, all the way finding places to eat and other places to stop and play. We took our time to just see Charleston for the neat city that it is, as well as visiting some of the regular sites you wouldn't want to miss while you're there. There's plenty more to do and see than just what we did but we left feeling like we saw everything we really wanted to see.

Hide and seek with Daddy in the park.

This home can be yours for a cool $6,850,000.

I'd be remiss, of course, if I didn't mention my birthday, which we spent in Charleston. That was our last full day in the city and by then we'd seen what was on our list so the day was up for grabs. We'd perused some brochures and information online about various house tours but weren't really up for any sort of guided tour. We were pretty sure Addie wasn't, either. I consulted a friend of mine who was born in Charleston and still had family in the area and she suggested the Magnolia Plantation, a site that we'd read about but hadn't really explored seeing. Upon further investigation, discovering that they had a petting zoo tipped the scales for us so off we went.

It really was the perfect way to spend my birthday. The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens boast the oldest public gardens in America and have been deemed some of the most beautiful. We spent the afternoon wandering around the paths through the huge gardens, reading a little history along the way. The flowers were still blooming and Addie was able to run and walk all over. Every now and then she still wanted to ride in the stroller (we had had to trade in ours for one of their off-road strollers that could make it through the gravel paths). I think her favorite things to see were the "flies," which, are butterflies to the non-toddler rest of us. An unlucky butterfly landed on the wheel of her stroller, was dutifully admired, and then met its demise as Addie pushed the stroller forward. We thought for sure it would fly off...not so. RIP beautiful "fly." We also ran through a little hedge maze, chased after numerous squirrels and watched the turtles swimming in one of the lakes.

Poor butterfly.

How 'bout this for a homestead?

We left the petting zoo for last. Addie was a little intimidated at first and warmed up to most everything except for the pot bellied pigs wandering around. Good, discerning girl! I wasn't so sure about the geese so I tried to steer her away from those, but she held her hands out to the deer, turkeys, bunnies and even the alligator (yes, alligator) that one of the workers brought our for her to touch. I'm still not convinced they live in Florida since I have yet to see one in the wild, but this one was fairly obliging as the worker held him out. All except for the fact that the gator thought he was being brought out to be fed, so we just had to get past the hissing. We left with all fingers and toes intact.

We ended the day with dinner at a local deli we'd heard great things about and up until that day either hadn't found it or had arrived after closing time. My birthday celebration ended the next day, right before we left town, when we stopped by a cupcake shop and I finally had my birthday cup-cake. It was well worth the wait. Chocolate cake with white chocolate chips, cream cheese icing with a dash of chocolate ganache on top. Addie enjoyed it, too.

The side note to the cupcake is that we didn't have any cash on us at the time and had to buy another cupcake in order to meet the minimum purchase requirement. I certainly wasn't going to complain about buying another cupcake, but Sabian ended up giving it to a street musician just outside the shop. I'm sure that was the sweetest gift he received all day - ha ha.

After the cupcake (lunch first, of course, at a great local pita place) we got right on the road to our next destination...Savannah, GA and the Thunderbird Inn!

Charleston was a success.

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