Saturday, October 23, 2010

Southern hospitality and puppy breath!

Over Columbus Day weekend, I and two of my best friends, Julie and Tina, drove to South Carolina to visit another of my best friends, Heather, who also happens to be my first cousin. She had lived here in the same town as me for her entire life, but in January of this year, she packed up her kids and pets and shuffled on down to sunny SC to be with her soul-mate, John. And she couldn't have made a smarter move! Anyway, I digress.... So, the three of us piled into Julie's SUV and made the trek down. Here we are stuck for two hours on the Washington, DC beltway. (We skipped this joy for the ride back!)

When we finally arrived, it was 3:30am and John and Heather were awake and waiting for us! We stayed up another hour just reminiscing, but Heather had to work in the morning, so we went to bed. The next morning, we enjoyed BEAUTIFUL weather on their patio. We spent each morning out here and chatted constantly!
Hannah runs down the driveway.
This is also their driveway looking the opposite way. They must be a half-mile into the woods! It's just gorgeous where they live! Their only near neighbors are John's mom, grandparents and his sister and her family.
The kind of weather we enjoyed down there happens but VERY rarely for October up here! There were flowers, butterflies, anoles and tree-frogs everywhere!

Here's one of those anoles now!

John takes us for a walk into the woods on his property.
This valley in the landscape is actually an old railroad bed. WAY back before the civil war, it was used to transport cotton and other southern crops. When the war started, it was used to send northern troops down to the south. John tells us it is part of the Underground Railroad system and used to be lined with safe-houses. I find the southern history fascinating!
At one spot along the railroad bed, there is a tire swing that John treated the girls and Julie to rides.

For the duration of our stay, this is how Grace spent most of her waking hours. She is in 2nd grade and at the time was trying to finish up her FOURTH Harry Potter novel!!!! Just amazing!!
And this is how we spent much of our time there...chatting!
Hannah played "Where's the Button" with me for quite a while!
On Saturday, John and Heather treated us to trip to Charleston. We went straight to the Battery and I was simply awestruck at the beautiful, old, historic and HUGE Southern homes there!

On Sunday, just the ladies visited a local park called Swan Lake-Iris Gardens. It is is one park separated in two by a 4 to 6 lane highway.
One of the South's famous Cypress trees!

The first part of the park included manicured lawns, scultures and plenty of white and black swans, ducks and geese. On either side of the afore mentioned highway are towers that you climb or take the elevator to a wooden walkway over the highway to access the other side of the park. And though the first side of the park was beautiful in its own way, I was supremely impressed with the 2nd part! It was a swampy, marshy wilderness filled with tall Cypress trees with branches burdened by heavy tassles of Spanish moss. I found it all absolutely beautiful!

A kind older southern gentleman was gracious enough to take our picture all thogether on the boardwalk. The "Coven" together again!! (Please note:Neither I nor my friends are actual coven members. It's a nickname we came up with for our little quartet of friends that kind of just stuck!)

One of the towers.
And the wooden walkway spanning the highway.
Just a neat photo I liked of some evergreen conifer tree.
Lizzie taking a snapshot of the fire we enjoyed each night on their patio.
Not sure how I got these out of order, but the following 13 photos are all of Charleston. Heather and John outside a coffeehouse named "Baked".

I'm not 100% positive, but I believe this is part of "Rainbow Row", a long stretch of historical buildings that are colorfully painted.
This shot was taken from the restaurant where we enjoyed dinner, The Noisy Oyster. It is looking towards the Gicci (sp?) market where we shopped earlier in the day. To the left, you'll see a roof-top terrace with lots of lighted umbrellas. We ended up checking this terrace out later in the evening.
At The Noisy Oyster, enjoying cocktails, delicious food and GREAT company!
We all laughed so hard this night our facial muscles were sore! (Not sure what was going on with Heather's scowl in this shot, but I can assure you we all had a wonderful evening!)

John and Heather stroll hand in hand down an old cobblestone lane.
Here's the coven again in front of a really pretty fountain along the seashore.

The lovebirds!
No really, he was NOT drunk! He's actually a t-totaler, but he has such a remarkable sense of humor that he seems constantly high on life!
The ladies-only trip was a much needed refresher for us all. I was sad to leave Heather, John and the kids, but it was even worse knowing I was leaving such gorgeous weather to go back to the frozen tundra back home! Ah well, it'll be a reminder of why I need to go more often!!

Back home, I brought Dean over to meet Mr. Darcy at the breeder's home. I think he is as smitten as I am!

The day before we were to bring Mr. Darcy home, Dean got a call from one of his buddies asking Dean if he'd be interested in a 9 month old black lab puppy who was going to the pound if she didn't find a home! Somehow, Dean figured this might be a good idea, so we went over to check her out and ended up bringing her home with us. She was a VERY good dog, but she was just too rambunctious for the other 3 small dogs and they were held hostage in my dad's room when she was in the house! She just wasn't a good fit for our house, so after some searching, we finally found her a new home with friends of ours. At last report, their six (adopted!!) kids had fallen madly in love with her and mom was afraid that if she even tried to give her back there would be mutiny in their house!! She was a very happy girl and I'm so glad she's a great fit for her new home!!
Mr. Darcy finally made it home! He came home one day before he turned 6 weeks old. I just can't get over how adorable his little teeny face is!!

For several days, Monty was PISSED!!! You can see it in his face in this shot!! But he has gotten over his aversion to Mr. Darcy and is now happily chasing him around the house! I knew it wouldn't take long!

Tuckered out, sleeping belly up in my arms!
And last but not least, check out what I found in our garage yesterday!! I never looked it up, so I'm not sure what kind of owl it is, but I'm assuming it's some kind of barn owl. It was approximately 8 inches or so high and maybe 5 inches wide. Beautiful bird! (Though now I'm a little nervous to have Darcy walking around in the yard!!)

Today's Quotes:

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends. ~Virginia Woolf

No road is long with good company. ~Turkish Proverb

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same. ~Flavia Weedn