Travel Detour Part One: North Carolina

My plans to summer happily for three long months in Europe were sharply interrupted after just one week. Luckily, I am an eternal optimist and will attempt to turn lemons into a freaking ice cream sundae if I can. Screw the lemonade.

Insert the perfect opportunity: My grandmother’s birthday was coming up and she offered to buy me at ticket as her birthday present! I feel like I was offered a better deal, but who am I to refuse such a generous gift? And instead of her paying for a round trip ticket to Asheville, I asked if she would be willing to make the second leg of my journey a flight to NYC. She said yes!

So for the past week I have been getting a sneak peak into retirement which is such a tease considering I haven’t even officially entered to work force yet! (Can I please just fast forward past the 40 years of  9-5 clock punching?) We ate out at great restaurants, took scenic drives to lookout points and through parks, attended outdoor concerts, perused art galleries, shopped, went to the movies, went to the theater… the list goes on.

And as wonderful of a time as I had, there are few things that I just could not get over.

1. Every room of the house has photographic evidence of my awkward childhood. I kid you not. Every. Single. Room.

2. It is impossible to drive down a single road and not be presented with at least 4 fast food options. Eating healthy outside the house requires a series of in-depth searches because veggies are often covered in cheese sauce, fried, or simply used as a garnish.

3. Street signs are apparently not required. And if they are present, they are often part way down the block… or turned at an angle that you can’t read it until you’re halfway through the intersection… or in such small print you need binoculars. I recommend turning on your maps app.

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Asheville, North Carolina

Working two jobs all summer has left me sleep deprived and cranky. Thank you Grandma for being my savior – this wonderful woman flew me out to see her for a long weekend.

Asheville, North Carolina is the home to more trees than I’ve ever seen in one place at a time, plenty of southern fried food, and scenic roads that wind through the expansive countryside. It’s also where my grandparents reside during the summer.

Originally a small pioneering town, Asheville has managed to retain its historic charm while now offering everything the modern American could possibly need. The streets of downtown Asheville are filled with endless restaurant options, art galleries, and shops… all tucked into historic architecture that takes your breath away. Local bars look like they are pulled from an old fashioned movie and even the court houses are gorgeous.

I always look forward to the change of scenery Asheville offers, but I think the thing I appreciated most about my trip was the fact that she let me sleep 9-10 hours every night. Then after letting me lounge in the mornings, she took me to see plays, eat delicious food, and showered me with gifts every afternoon. The most memorable conversation was over lunch. After ordering pizza and iced tea, the conversation steered toward aging. My grandmother announces, “You know when I was young, I said I would never get heavy and I’d never have saggy tits, but you know it just happens” and shrugs. My grandfather doesn’t even look up from his copy of The New Yorker and calmly says, “The word is breasts” to which my grandmother refutes, “Nah. I like tits. It’s more graphic!” I love that woman more than words can express. If I’m as cool of a grandmother as she is, I’ll be more than happy.

The rest of the trip was full of many other laughs and with my grandpa in tow we went out for many other meals including a sushi and sake lunch. As a final gift, he bought me some fabulous new Steve Madden heels. The weekend flew by and I was soon packing up my gifts, hopping on a plane, and I have now returned to work and reality.

 

Two Sides of a Country

Southern_California_coastI am very lucky to live in Southern California… the land of perfect weather and pristine beaches. It’s also the land of Hollywood starlets, cheating, lying, and scandals.

Asheville, North Carolina may be lacking the beaches and weather, but what they do have is the honor system… and blueberry picking: substitutes for drama which are non-existent on my side of the country. The differences between the coasts sometimes seem like two sides of the world instead of just opposite end of the United States.

NC11-9637Reads: “We will be on the honor system today. I will be here but not able to stay outside all the time. Go ahead and weigh your berries. The scales are on the inside. Bags to carry your berries home in are on the desk. Please record your poundage on the table next to the scale. There is a chart to help you if you need it. If you need change, just come to the door and call me.
Have a blessed day,
Mary”

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Afternoon Tea

NC11-9591Nestled in Biltmore Village near Asheville, North Carolina, is a little place called Chelsea’s. Afternoon tea is their specialty. The small room is filled with petite vintage tables and chairs. A blonde woman with an accent hands you a one page menu. There are about 200 tea choices crammed onto the page and 2 food choices squished up at the top right hand corner: a tower of little cakes, cookies, and other pastries or a fruit and cheese platter. The atmosphere is soothing and is the perfect place to meet up with friends or catch up with family as I did. And if you one day have the chance to stop in for afternoon tea, don’t forget to wander through the store that surrounds the tea room. You will find tons of little trinkets – everything from plates and tea cups (that makes sense) to stuffed animals and pill containers (not sure how those have to do with tea). This tea room is definitely worth a visit!

Charleston, SC Part 3: Folly Beach

Plantation-2387Another beautiful South Carolina days had us cruising the short drive to the beach. My 17 year old brother and I are pretty typical in the sense that we bicker regularly. I’m teasing him when my mom, who is stuck in between us in the back seat of the car, turns to me and chimes in, “Wow, are you PMSing or something?” My 10 year old brother curiously asks what PMSing is. “Well,” I respond, “you know how girls deal with their girl stuff once a month? Right before that we go through a phase where we are really moody and eat lots of chocolate and stuff like that.” My grandfather is chuckling in the driver’s seat and decides to join the conversation by asking my littlest brother how long he thinks this “phase” lasts. He instantly responds, “Oh! A longgg time!”

Plantation-2389Plantation-2388The whole car erupts in laughter at his quick and  confident response as we pull in to Folly Beach. The one main road has tourist shops with souvenirs and little outdoor restaurants lining either side. The funny t-shirts outside the shops lure us in to search for some souvenirs of our own. While my scrawny brother claims the Don’t Need a Permit for These Guns shirt, I collect funny shot glasses. Souvenirs in hand, we wander down to the beach to finish my vacation soaking up the sun.

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Charleston, SC Part 2: Downtown

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Plantation-8725Plantation-8724The trip continued with a tour of the town. Downtown Charleston is gorgeous and full of old, beautiful architecture. Brick alley ways lead you to upstairs stores and restaurants. Charming shutters frame every window. Large, crumbling blocks of cement that are over 100 years old adorn the sidewalks because they are illegal to remove. Horse carriages clip-clop through the streets full of tourists eager to soak in the history. Aromas from every type of food float into the streets. And as my mom and I shopped, wandered, and took pictures, I stumbled upon my future house.

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Dear Future Husband,

I know this a lot to ask, but this is our house. I’ve never house shopped before, but I’ve watched a lot of reality TV and when people walk into the house that is perfect for them, the just know. I didn’t even walk into this house, but I had that feeling. Hubby, it is absolutely perfect. It is a light lavender. I know, a bit feminine. But look at the garden! Of course we will have to hire a gardener because the only thing I can keep alive is a cactus, but that’s a minor detail. And the icing on the cake is that is right on the water. I can’t wait to move in and raise our family there. Well, as soon I meet you that is.

Love,
Your Future Wife

Charleston, SC Part 1: The Plantation

I was more than happy to escape from the craziness of reality for the past 4 days to meet up with my mom and brothers who were visiting my grandfather. He recently moved to Charleston, South Carolina so we trekked across the country to see what his historic town was all about.

The first day we went to the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. (From the website home page:) Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, Magnolia Plantation has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold before it from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. It is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry, and the oldest public gardens in America, opening its doors to visitors in 1870 to view the thousands of beautiful flowers and plants in its famous gardens.

It was everything the website had promised. We took a boat tour through the marsh and snuck up on alligators, turtles, and more types of birds than I can remember. We then toured the plantation’s mansion, and ended with a tram ride through the property. As someone who likes to call herself a photographer, I was in heaven.

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