Thanksgiving Roadtrip…Branson, Fayette, and Charleston!

I don’t think in all my years, I have made a road trip for Thanksgiving. In the past, I’ve enjoyed going to my mom’s or dad’s just minutes away, or I’ve even flown out of the country; but this year, we took a road trip from Denver to Charleston with a few stops along the way. It was fun!

We started out Saturday morning under less than ideal conditions…for the first hour the roads were iced over and part of the time we followed snow plows! Soon the sun came out, however, and we were on our way to Branson, MO. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Roadtrip…Branson, Fayette, and Charleston!”


Second Largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the World!

How to Get to Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Today I decided to venture to Savannah for the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world. Supposedly only New York City’s is larger, but some locals like to contest this. Savannah’s first parade was held in 1813 by a small group of Hibernians. Now the parade consists of 350 units. The parade is always held on March 17th, unless the 17th falls on a Sunday, in which case it is held on Saturday the 16th…a perfect scenario for me! Continue reading “Second Largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the World!”

Fishing and Dining in Hilton Head

March 15, 2013

I arrived in Hilton Head late on Thursday night. The town doesn’t seem to believe in street lights! I eventually made it to my hotel, The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa. I received a newly renovated room that still smelled like fresh carpet with a broken luggage rack…thought that was kind of funny. My balcony looked out on the pools that glowed dark blue in the black night and a sunrise view of the beach I got to enjoy before a quick breakfast.


After a mid-morning stroll on the beach checking out a few shells and lots of washed up jellyfish, I set off for an afternoon fishing charter. We fished for sheepshead, a black and silver striped fish that live in shallow, grassy areas. We took the boat about thirty minutes off shore to an old wreck, where we dropped our weighted lines baited with little crabs in eighteen feet of water until we felt the weight hit the bottom. Every five or ten seconds we slowly pulled up and reeled if we felt like we had hooked a fish. Without feeling a strike, they are tricky fish to catch, and their incisor teeth crack right through the crab. I had quite a bit of bait stolen before I finally hooked one, but it ended up being the biggest one of the bunch…8 pounds or so. I fished with Bulldog Charters and a couple of guys from Memphis. We all got robbed of our bait multiple times, but we all reeled in some good eating fish too! A great three hour charter!!






Friday’s dinner with lots of aunts and cousins I haven’t seen in ages was held at The Old Fort Pub. It was nice to catch up with them all! Roy and Szilvia were the honorees and came in from the Ukraine. Relatives traveled from all over…Michael, Michael-Anne, and Joshua from Annapolis; Diane from Arizona; Judy, Phil and Larry from Florida and Pittsburg; and the rest of the crew from South Carolina! It has been way too long.



The Old Fort Pub was opened in 1973 and built next to Fort Mitchel, constructed in 1862 by Union forces after their successful invasion of the island. The 1,000 Confederates didn’t have much of a chance in defending the island against some 13,000 Federal troops and folded in a day to the largest amphibious landing prior to WWII at the mouth of Port Royal Sound. The fort was built to protect against invasion from the mainland, though never saw battle. The island was used to supply Union troops who were battling to block all southern ports, including Savannah and Charleston, as Hilton Head was centered between these two cities, and the troops never pressed inland to fight. Because slaves had heard they would be freed once they set foot on Union soil, Federal troops were faced with many homeless slaves. Now, the Fort and the restaurant are connected by walkways through lush gardens in the Hilton Head Plantation, so guests may visit the fort and enjoy a nice meal and gorgeous sunset! A great day in Hilton Head…ETB


Day 75 – South Carolina Stay with Cousins

I got an early start to a day that included mostly travel and maintenance.  I knew I wouldn’t make it all the way to Bluffton without having to get my oil changed within the 5,000 mile requirement to keep my warranty, so I planned a stop in Charleston.  I found a state park on the way, so the dogs could have some play time as I presumed they’d be cooped up much of the day.

We stopped at Hampton Plantation State Park, a South Carolina historic site where rice was once grown.  I didn’t go to see the plantation as the goal was to let the dogs run around and to find a South Carolina cache which I failed to do on the scenic drive in the western part of the state.  Finding the cache wasn’t easy as my GPS couldn’t get a satellite signal and my phone was on an extended network that kept showing a cell tower in Africa, 5,000 miles away on the map yet another screen that doesn’t update unless it is refreshed claimed I was within 100 feet of the cache.  I used the hint to get me to the ammo can.  Nearby the walking trail, stood the remains of a former slave’s home.  He and his wife remained on the property long after rice was no longer profitable.

After our walk through the surrounding forest, we stopped at the Firestone in Charleston for an oil change and two new tires.  This took most the afternoon, but I was able to salvage enough time to dine at 82 Queen.  For those of you who have ever been to my Super Bowl Party the grits come from this restaurant.  I’m not much of a grit lover, but the grits here are fantastic.  They are the only grits I will eat, and I would have never known of them if it weren’t for my Aunt Jennifer who had purchased a few cans and made them at home for a birthday party!  It was fun to order the grits and experience the restaurant for the first time (though I don’t think the waiter was too enthused about my $2.50 check) Before leaving Charleston, the dogs and I took a walk along the Charleston Harbor and watched the sunset.

I arrived at the Bowling Alley in Beaufort, SC around 6:30 just before my uncle and cousins finished their Sunday league.  Josh, my cousin Catherine’s husband bowled a 300!  I haven’t seen my cousins in over 10 years and my uncle in over 20 years.  We had great fun catching up over wings and beer at Catherine’s house in Bluffton, SC.  Catherine, the youngest of my cousins (31) sells memberships to the Hilton Head Country Club and Josh is in sales at an air conditioning company.  They have three kids, Kristen, Justin, and Ryan and a cat that successfully dodged the dogs for the evening.

Mary Ellen recently moved from New York to South Carolina.  In less than two months of being in the area, she already has a boyfriend, J.C.  Mary Ellen is currently volunteering at Justin’s school in after school reading, and plans on beginning a part time teaching job next week.  J.C. also works at an air conditioning company, and met J.C. through her brother-in-law.

Marjorie is a single mother of four, Ashley, Carli, Faith, and Matthew.  She has her hands busy!!  Marjorie is an advertisement representative for the newspaper during the day and is a floor manager at a restaurant at night.  In addition, she recently self-published a novel, The Other Side of Midnight.  Marjorie was inspired to write the book when her daughter Ashley, who enjoyed reading vampire books in the hospital while fighting Leukemia, asked her mom to write a story making Ashley immortal.  Ashley is a vampire in the book, but more importantly, the Leukemia has been in remission the last three years!

My uncle Roy is retired from the rail road.  He spends his time bowling and taking care of his granddaughter Ryan.  It was just so fun to see them all.  If only my cousin Roy lived in the states and I could have seen him too.  He’s currently living in Ukraine and coming home for Christmas.  Too bad I missed him.  We decided we should not go another ten years without seeing one another and that we need to have cousins reunion, Just Cuz!

Before I sign off for the evening, I forgot to mention something exciting that happened yesterday.  As I was traveling on Saturday, a number flashed on my cell phone that I didn’t recognize.  I normally don’t answer calls from a “non-contact”, but I’ve exchanged numbers with a handful of people recently that haven’t made it in my address book, so I took the call.  Neal was on the other line.  He was in Indiana with his parents for the holiday and took them geocaching for the first time.  He found my card which simply includes my name, number, and blog in the cache and called me!  He wanted to know if I was still in Indiana.  How cool is that?!?  It kind of reminds of spring break in college, when our sailing class bare-boated a 45 foot yacht around the British Virgin Islands for a week and tossed a message in a bottle overboard only to be contacted three months later by a man who flew weather balloon in the Bahamas!

Day 68 – South Carolina’s Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

We left Georgia for the northwest portion of South Carolina today.  Our first stop was at Stumphouse Tunnel Park to see Issaqueena Falls, a 200 foot cascade.  Unbeknownst to me, the park also featured an unfinished tunnel, hence the name.  The work on Stumphouse Tunnel began in the 1850s to provide railroad passage from Cincinatti, OH to Charleston, SC.  The granite rock proved a challenge and Irish immigrants were only able to progress 200 feet per month.  As such, funds for the proposed 5,863 foot tunnel were depleted.  Before more funds were acquired, the Civil War commenced and the tunnel was never completed.  Due to the tunnel’s interior temperature remaining at a constant 56 degrees with 85% humidity; Clemson University purchased the site in the 1950s to cure blue cheese.  The University used the tunnel for 20 years before duplicating the conditions in air-conditioned cheese ripening rooms.  The tunnel, one of the most visited historic sites in South Carolina, is still owned by Clemson, but is operated by the City of Wahalla.

The pleasant waterfall is named for a Muscogee (or Creek) maiden named Issaqueena.   Legend has it that Issaqueena was captured by the Cherokees and renamed Cateechee.  As a young woman, she fell in love with a white trader.  The Cherokees became upset with the white settlers and planned an attack on the white settlement.  Upon hearing the plan, Issaqueena rode a pony 96 miles to warn her lover, Allan.  Issaqueena stayed with Allan, eventually marrying him.  One day the Cherokees tried to recapture her.  Knowing that the Cherokees believed evil spirit lived in the waters, she pretended to leap over the falls, but instead hid beneath a ledge at the top of the falls until it was safe.

After our short walk around the park, we entered Ellicott Rock Wilderness via the Walhalla National Fish Hatchery to go for a longer hike.  Without knowing if any of the trails in the area were loops with only the mileage posted on the nearby signs, I decided to go elsewhere as all the trails were over three miles long.  On our way to Table Rock State Park, we stopped at an overlook to take in the magnificent view.

Table Rock State Park is a hiker’s delight, with a choice of several trails ranked from easy to challenging.  We took the two mile Carrick Creek Trail along with countless others who were out enjoying a spectacular day.  I think I wore shorts for the first time in a month!  The trails crisscrossed the creek peppered with a variety of small falls.

After our walk, we made the winding drive up the mountain to Ceasars Head State Park just to see the view, but we opted out of hiking the trails as we wanted to get to Walter’s farm.  We met up with Walter, an ex-coworker who now practices at Davenport, and his girls, Martha (7) and Virginia (5) around 2:30.  The girls ran over the hill to shoals of the river as Walter and I drove around the hill to meet them!  Shortly thereafter, we drove to their lake house in North Carolina where Martha and Virginia helped me walk the dogs.  Martha, a second grader, plays tennis, likes camping, and scored all three’s (that’s the best) on her report card!  Virginia is a keen soccer player…she once scored a goal from the midline!  We kicked the ball around by the dock, and she can boot it.  Walter’s wife, Cindy, met us around 5, and we enjoyed a wonderful, home cooked meal: salad, potatoes, rolls, roasted cherry tomatoes, tenderloin, and cheesecake – DELICIOUS!  It was so nice to see Walter and meet his family.  Thank you, Walter and Cindy.