Casual Friday + We’re Home

There’s a lot to unpack – literally in terms of sand-filled clothing and proverbially in terms of memories – from our trip to South Carolina.

We arrived home in the wee hours this morning. It was incredible to see family and we loved soaking up every ray of delightful Carolina sunshine (though, despite best efforts and near-constant sunscreen application, everyone but Levi walked away with some iteration of a sunburn). Outside of my parents, I see family quite rarely because of geography, and COVID hasn’t helped. So it feels very, very special when we get to spend time together.

I’m old enough to realize that hello always necessitates goodbye and I’ve also learned it’s better to leave a party before you’re ready (thanks, Dot)…but still, I’m feeling pretty bummed and sad right now. I wish we were still lounging on the beach or heading to the pond for another fishing adventure instead of jumping back into the less exciting routines of life.

But that life is objectively wonderful (or so I tell myself in between reaching for my down-filled parka; the weather in Canada is…cooler). The renovations that were started while we were away progressed relatively smoothly. There are lots of fun school and work and summer sporting routines to ease back into next week.

Without further ado, a recap; it was one of those “highlight-reel” sort of weeks.

week #2 in South carolina

SATURDAY | We spent most of our day on Lake Murray. After a fun morning of wakeboarding, tubing, and swimming, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the boat while drifting in a cove. The water was warm, the sun was shining and it was just a lovely way to spend my birthday.

SUNDAY | We were up and out the door early, headed to Charleston for a two-day stay. We planned to start on the beach at Isle of Palms, but crowds were huge because of the long weekend, so we ended up reconfiguring our plans and headed right to downtown Charleston. We had a picnic lunch at the waterfront battery and then spent several hours walking around the city.

The most memorable stop for me was the John Rutledge House Inn. Years ago we found a framed sketch of this location for several dollars at one of our go-to thrift stores. We liked the aesthetic, bought it, and it has been hanging in our home ever since. So one of our main goals in Charleston was to visit the house in person.

Apparently, or so Google tells me, it is considered one of the best hotels/inns in all of Charleston. John Rutledge was a Governor of South Carolina and also signed the Constitution! The manager of The Governor’s House Inn – located across the street and previously owned by another Rutledge brother – saw us taking pictures and ended up coming outside to provide a free 15-minute synopsis of local history, especially as it pertained to the Rutledge family.

We went back to the waterfront and the kids + a cousin got soaked in the Pineapple Fountain (this was a sanctioned public spot for people to go wading).

Then we checked in to our hotel in Patriot’s Point. Abby spent a happy 30 minutes in the pool doing handstands for me to rate on a scale of 1 to 10. My sister brought all the fixings for tacos and we convened in their hotel room for a supper picnic.

I have yet to “master” the art of the selfie, but this one made me laugh because of Levi’s unintentional photo bomb.

Then we were off to the pier for fishing; Levi caught something on his last cast which was a wonderful turn of luck (in total the group caught and released 5 or 6 fish). While some of the group stayed behind to continue fishing, our family + my oldest niece walked the iconic Ravenel Bridge at sunset. It was stunning.

MONDAY | After making good use of the Continental Breakfast, we headed to the beach. We ended up skipping Isle of Palms (busy + paid parking) and ended up at Sullivan’s Island Beach instead. The kids had a wonderful time, and John told me earlier today this was the highlight of the trip for him. We found a live sea dollar, there was an alligator sighting (um, yikes), and Levi and my nephew dug a giant hole in the sand. John, Abby, two nieces and I walked to Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse, the last lighthouse built in America and, at one time, the brightest lighthouse in the world.

A picnic lunch + some more fishing (John was the only one to catch something at this spot; it was high noon).

On our way back to the vehicle, we met up with a police officer who showed our group a picture of the 8-foot HAMMERHEAD SHARK he caught earlier in the day. From the beach right beside where we were fishing! Double yikes. We picked up a few souveniers and headed for home.

TUESDAY | My brother-in-law had to leave for work in Georgia, so we planned a lower-key day around Columbia. We took my nieces/nephew to Starbucks for a treat and then headed out for a very hot 18-holes of mini golf. It was a lot of fun, and a first for our kids. Mini-golf (or putt-putt as they call it in the South) had been part of our family “bucket” list for the summer, so it was great to check that off in the company of some very enthusiastic cousins. I was so, so bad (and it was so, so hot). But it was fun and that’s what counts.

Next up was a short swimming lesson in the neighbourhood pool (one of my nieces teaches swimming lessons each day, and worked with both my kiddos), followed by a movie night for the smaller kids at home while the adults + my oldest niece and her boyfriend went to see the new Top Gun movie. It was “$5-ticket-night” but the theatre had leather recliners complete with heated seats. This was actually one of the highlights of my trip; it was fun to do something adults-only and the movie was very entertaining.

WEDNESDAY | Our main focus was various stops around downtown Columbia. We visited some AirBnB properties my sister and her husband co-own (gorgeous!).

We wandered around the grounds of the State House, followed by a bit of shopping downtown (Starbucks and Mast General Store, the latter being very fun for browsing) and then a lovely but very, very hot walk down by the river. Park rangers told us there is an alligator that often hangs out on a specific sandbar along the river, but we weren’t able to spot him. We did see four deer, though.

The evening highlight was Levi catching a massive carp in the neighbourhood pond.

THURSDAY | And then it was time to leave. Not nearly as much fun as going, and what a day of travel it ended up being. We had three flights to get home and they were ALL delayed – the first one by four hours. The kids were absolute rockstars. Hardly a complaint in a nearly 24-hour day.

Levi in the Charlotte airport – he was out COLD.

Airport waiting it never fun, but we made the most of it. John and I each took solo walks instead of carting around luggage and kids. The kids spent an inordinate amount of time on moving sidewalks. Our delays meant free snacks and the kids…well let’s just say they really enjoyed the snacks.

We got upgraded to business class on our flight from Washington to Montreal which was such a fun experience for the kiddo’s (and only my second time in business class; the perks of frequent flyer status don’t match the benefits of this sabbatical, but wow are they nice). Huge kudos to John for being such a saavy traveller. I would have been in tears headed to Timbuktu by the end of the day if he hadn’t been around to take charge and coordinate things so masterfully.

And now we’re home. I have hundreds of pictures to sort through and so many great memories of our time away. I think I’ll do a few posts specific to the trip – Savannah, Charleston, Columbia and maybe a bit about some of the things we do to make travel (air or otherwise) with kids a bit easier?

But for now I’m off to do some more laundry.

Happy weekending everyone.

19 thoughts on “Casual Friday + We’re Home”

  1. This all sounds so wonderful. I’m so happy for you. It sounds just delightful. (I saw this pop up in my Feedly last night, and I started to read it on my phone….but then I decided to close it, wait, and enjoy it with my tea this morning. 🙂 You know, so I could make sure to savor it and read every word, as I like to do. 😉

    I have never been to Columbia, Charleston OR Savannah! But I love the idea of it- I especially have always wanted to go to Savannah. Something about the old Southern charm sounds so interesting and beautiful. I would love to visit in the spring, when it’s not so hot….I hear they have beautiful springtimes down there (something we just do not get here in Wisconsin, so it’d be perfect.) Looking forward to your posts on those places! It definitely gets hot and humid in that region in the summer.

    I also am very leery of alligators….even that picture of the boys fishing in that murky pond is making me nervous. From my understanding, gators can basically be found in ANY body of water down there…people have even found them in their pools! Ever since that little boy was killed at a Disney resort (snatched right off the shore by a gator and dragged into the water!), I’ve been extra paranoid about this. We do not have them around here, obviously, but next time we travel south I’ll probably be extra cautious. hehe.

    1. Yes, alligators seem to show up all over the place down South, though I don’t think my sister has ever seen one anywhere in and around their neighbourhood. It literally never crossed my mind there could be one in that pond (until you mentioned it)!
      It was very warm and humid, but a lovely break from a cool Canadian spring. It’s the warmth overnight that surprises me. Morning are basically always “crisp” where I live in Canada and it was so, so warm at 6 am when we headed out for a walk and that was always such a shock to my system!

      I’d never been to Savannah before, but have been to Charleston several times and it is lovely. Savannah was a bit underwhelming to me (more to come on this), but there was definitely lots of Southern charm, especially with the architecture which was lovely.

  2. Wow, what a great trip! How wonderful to see family in such a beautiful place and to get some well-needed heat and sunshine! Great photos, you all look so happy. It must be a bit of a bummer to be home, I totally understand that.
    I loved, loved, loved the new Top Gun. The old Top Gun is one of my all-time favourites, and this movie did NOT disappoint!

    1. I feel like most movies lately have been disappointing in one way or another, and I can’t think of anything about this movie I didn’t enjoy. It was fun and sentimental and tied the old and new together so seamlessly. Very, very entertaining and extra fun because it was a shared experience with family I don’t get to see very often. Definitely one of the highlights from the trip for me!!

  3. What a wonderful trip, Elisabeth. I am so, so happy you got to spend time with family. I can so relate to the heaviness of having to say goodbye again but also the joy of having all these amazing memories. I am glad you took so many wonderful pictures!

    1. Thanks, San.
      I’m still feeling pretty glum today – and the weather suddenly feels FREEZING (even though it’s a fairly typical/warm day for a Canadian May). I know the feeling will pass, but transitions are always a bummer, especially since we typically go years in between visits and as the kids all get older the family dynamics shift so much (one niece has graduated, another will next year – so any subsequent visit just…won’t be the same). Such is life, and onward and upward! I’m so thankful we had such a smooth trip and soon the sadness of saying goodbye won’t feel as intense.

  4. looks like a lot of fun. I know the feeling of sadness after that. hello always pair with goodbye, unfortunately. hope you get back to “routine’ quickly to enjoy small little joys of ordinary life.

    1. Thanks! We’re slowly easing back in to things; I do feel “sad” but I know things will get back to normal soon. And I’m also trying to realize this “sad” is a good thing – we had a good trip and it’s normal to miss family who live abroad. Sometimes I feel guilty or frustrated with myself on this, but it’s natural to struggle with saying goodbye…!

  5. I can see why you’re sad to have that trip end- it sounds incredible. This is the kind of vacation I love- lots of beaches and swimming. And boats! And sunset walks across a bridge… I really loved reading about this. I’ll be looking forward to future posts about this trip!

    1. Aww. Thanks, Jenny. It was a lovely vacation (there were a few hiccups, but the good far outweighed any challenges), and weather in the Carolina’s in May is hard to beat (at least compared to Canada!).

  6. What an amazing trip! It’s nice when family lives in a place that is great to visit! Hearing about your trip brings back memories of the year I spent in Charlotte. I went to Charleston and Savannah. But I actually loved Savannah so had a different experience than you! But the is so much to see and do in that area and the time with family is always wonderful, especially when your kids are at such great ages for travel!

    1. I do think our kids are at a golden spot for travel and we’re going to aim to maximize on that narrow window while they’re still home.
      And yes – it is SO nice when family live in a great destination. I’m really blessed with that – my parents live on a lake, one sister lives close to Toronto, this sister lives in South Carolina and my brother lives in Denmark which are all lovely places to visit with lots of unique amenities and attractions at each destination.

  7. What a lovely vacation! I love that we went in opposite directions for our vacations: you came south and I went to Canada! 🙂 I love putt-putt golf and I wish more people around me liked it too. It’s just so much fun, even when you’re not doing well, ha.

    Your travel day home sounds so long and exhausting but hooray for being upgraded to business class. That’s a nice lil perk, especially after such a long day of travel!

    1. I love how everyone in the South calls it putt-putt (up here we call is Mini Golf).
      The upgrade made such a difference in everyone’s morale.

      I hope you had a great time in Canada/Niagra. It’s so beautiful in that area!!!

  8. It was a perfect trip, and I’m so thankful for the many precious memories we were able to make together in SC. It really is a fantastic place to live, you should try it. Our hearts are full with the time together but sad for the delay in between visits. We think you need to make a trip south an annual tradition, just ask the kids. I bet John wouldn’t disagree either. “

    “Love.” (Lol)

    1. It is a pretty swell place and we had a great time with y’all!
      We’re already discussing the need to get back down next spring…prepare for another Canadian invasion.

  9. Oh, I am so, so glad that you got to see family, and spend time in a warmer location, and enjoy yourselves to the fullest. Your smiles and the joy radiating from all of you make that clear! I am so, so sorry that you encountered the debacle that is air travel (particularly, it seems, international air travel) in 2022. It’s amazing that you managed to arrive within a reasonable estimate of your original arrival time, to be honest, and for your sanity’s sake, I am grateful you had access to the lounge. The benefits of frequent travel – take advantage of them while you can! 🙂 I had no idea that fishing was something that Levi loves (or seems to love) so much! And, oh, mini golf. I do love it – but it’s not like it’s a common activity in the upper Midwest! Can’t wait to read the remainder of your detailed posts. 🙂

    1. Oh – Levi LOVES fishing, but doesn’t get to do it as much as he’d like.
      It was wonderful to see family and, yes, it is incredible that even with all the delays, we mostly arrived as expected! I’m so thankful as I know other people have not been nearly as fortunate. Losing a day or two to delays is such a huge inconvenience and certainly could have happened to us.

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