Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Come On That Didn't Make My Day

Reasons I just got carded by a familiar checker:
A) I colored my hair darker yesterday and look unfamiliar
B) I used cover up on my bags right before going to grocery store
C) checker has always been curious of my age
D) I forget my wedding ring often this summer and checker wants to try to creep me on social media sites
E) I really don't look 21 when my grown children don't surround me 

The answer is...digging the license out is a royal pain in my arse! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Heaven In A Martini Glass

If you could drink heaven, I believe, it would taste like a cucumber martini.  It's blend of crisp veggie, fresh mint and sweet nectar make the taste buds dance.    And while I'm slow sipping the yummiest martini make-up is required! 

Two shots cucumber vodka
One shot lime juice 
Half Shot agave nectar
One cucumber slice
Two fresh mint leaves

Muddle cucumber and mint in shaker. Add ice and remaining ingredients. Shake. Pour in martini glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

You can thank me after your first sip! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The End Is Nearing

It is a georgous day!  The sky is blue, neary a cloud to be seen. The breezes blow at just the right moments--cooling.  I lounge in my chair on the back deck--letting the sun kiss my skin.  I hold an iced tea with a straw for sipping. I like my tea black, over lots and lots of ice.  Sweet tea churns my stomach. Miss Bell can keep her sweet tea!  And I read--books.

I'm in a reading frenzy right now. I get this way every year a week before my summer hall pass is revoked.  Fearing my time will be stolen or I'll be whipped after a tiring work day.  To me it's like filling up the car when the needle is below the "e" line.  I just wonder how long before my tank is emptied by the evils of tweens and teens wayward behaviors? I wonder. 

Summer hall pass. A week more. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. 

Will the bronze of my skin soon begin to fade?  I am most certain it will. Sigh (some more). 

Will the desire to read till midnight be halted? Most definitely. Sigh (yet even more). 

Will a cocktail poolside in the afternoon, on weekday cease to exist? Afraid so! Sigh (remember to pace out sighs). 

In the meantime I will savor every last bloody moment of the next six days. Because on the seventh day that blessed alarm will blast at 5:30am...feeling more like a twenty-one gun salute at a funeral than a calling to paradise. 

Now if you please...I've got a tan to maintain and a tea to sip. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hoofin' It For Coffee

This summer has me sans car as D uses it to get to her full time summer job.  It's a double edge sword.  I'm forced into staying home to clean, do laundry...mostly lay on the deck sunning and reading (summer hall pass priorities).  That's actually hardly worth complaining about.  But when I do want to go somewhere I've gotta hoof it.  Thankfully I have a plethora of options to hoof it too. 

I ask myself--how bad do I want, need a coffee? If I answer myself, pretty bad, well then I hoof it up the street. To the place where everybody knows my name. 
 Except I must remember next time to slip into my new cheap flops. Ouch! My feet were screaming at me, asking why didn't I wear my 
Tevas?  The footwear option that can transcend me back to vacation.  Why didn't I wear my Tevas is what I was asking myself?  Proper footwear and a latte go hand in hand! 

And. Now. I'm hoofing it up the street for a latte, and a chat (okay gossip) with my favorite baristas. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Taking It Back To The Mountains

Keep close to Nature's heart...
and break clear away,
once in awhile,
and climb a mountain
or spend a week in the woods. 
Wash your spirit clean.
-John Muir

We decided to end our trip back in the mountains of Tennessee, heading into Central Tennessee and the Cumberland Mountains. 

I must admit as we neared our final destination, neither King Ralph or I wanted to admit our hesitation at leaving Charleston.  You see the area we were driving through seemed a rather depressed area and we wondered what was to lie ahead for us. But we held onto the fact that USA Today named Fall Creek Falls State Park one of the best state parks in the USA. 

As we drove through the park our silent fears were put to rest.  The park is quite beautiful and vast.  We set up camp, grilled,
relaxed and drank cocktails by the campfire (we've gotten very good at that activity).

After a good night's sleep we set out on a hike to see Canes Fall
 and Fall Creek Falls.  
We relaxed at the bottom of the gorge, enjoying the cool breeze, watching kids swimming and swapped picture taking moments with another family
I must admit that the suspension bridge that is part of the hike gave me a bit of a creepy feeling and left me with the sensation that I was wobbling in my walk once I hit solid ground again. 
The views, however, filled my soul with peace and tranquility. 

As we headed down the gorge trail to the bottom of the falls, park personnel was rushing down the least ten of them, from lifeguards to rangers to maintenance workers. Turns out an older woman broke her ankle and needed to carried via a gurney up the trail.  A job I believe must have sucked equal to the broken ankle.

Now we didn't wear our swimsuits down to the bottom of the gorge but most people did, to enjoy a dip in the fresh mountain pool of water.  Instead we just rest our feet upon the rocks. 
And ate a snack 

When we finished our three mile hike, still full of energy we decided to try our hand at the parks new ZipStream challenge.  We've never done anything like this before, so knowing what to expect was, well, the unexpected.  As someone with a fear of heights without safety boundaries, I felt at complete ease in my harness up in the trees.  And. I. Had. A. Blast! We had a blast! 

Returning to our camp site at 4pm, starved (because all we had was an breakfast bar while we sat relaxing in the gorge) we immediately began scarfing down chips and dip...and cocktails--mostly because we earned them.   
Wishing we could stay another day exploring the mountain--instead we toasted to a great trip and stoked one last fire. 

Then morning came. We made peace with vacation time ending, and we set out on the road--home.
Fall Creek Falls Report Card 

Check-In  C- it's kind of crazy how far past all the camping loops you have to drive past to get to the check-in post, not to mention the young girl working was the mist unwelcoming person ever. She lacked customer service skills to the max!   Here is where you can get fire wood for $3.50 (generous bundle) and ice. There were also soda machines. 

Site D131 - great full hook up site, large, flat, paved, picnic table and the fire ring sat to the back of the site more in the woods giving it a nice relaxing feeling.

Comfort Station - ICK!  There are a few things in the park that I felt needed to be brought up to par to claim its "one of the best state parks in the USA" and the D loop restrooms are one of them.  The toilets aren't easy to flush and the three showers are molded up the walls like none other.  I was thankful I had my own shower in my camper! 

Activities - great hiking, there is a pool $, tennis courts, basket ball courts (the nets  are worn and need replacing (another bring up to par item)), golf, biking, fishing, boat rental.... 

Overall - SOLID B+, with a little attention to a few areas in the park it could garner a grade "A".  I would not hesitate returning to this park in the future


I keep myself on my same week day routine of going to bed and waking regardless of whether school is in session or not.  The idea of a struggle to wake and get out the door lacks a sense of...delight.  I don't know what it is, post vacation melt down or the notion that my return to work date is fast approaching ( a slight depressing feeling), but I have been burning the midnight oil and sleeping in.  I came upon this fabulous blog yesterday that documents a young grad student and his friends travels in a refurbished school bus.  Instead of reading the book I had downloaded onto my NOOK, I read Hank Bought A Bus from start to finish.  I was excited  to see his bus rested at the same campground we did seven years ago when we took our month long trip out west.  Just like we did from our old pop-up camp; Hank's eyes peered from his bus at Devil's Tower.  I wonder if he partook in the viewing of Close Encounters of the Third Kind--shown from the back of the barn?  There is nothing like it--watching the movie, seeing Devil's Tower flash on the screen, and realizing nature's great natural monument stands before you.   
Now back to mine and King Ralph's trip south.
iPhone Notes
LOVE this city, Charleston, and all the islands! 
We arrived to beautiful summer weather. After we set up camp at James Island County Park, we set out to ride our bikes on the four plus miles of paved trails.
We stopped at the fishing pier where the crab fishing was in bloom in the marsh.

The next day we enjoyed Patriots Point 
Loved both, but felt jipped at the fort with the time restriction.  I'm a sign reader, soaking up every bit of history.  This led to not getting around to see the museum.  Damn!

We scraped the idea of cooking, consulted Urban Spoon, settling on a local pizza pub: Paisano's Pizza Grill. When they forgot to drop our wings they offered us a $5 coupon for a future visit, when we explained we were from STL and the likelihood of our return was slim...they gave us each a free drink.  Not necessary, but graciously accepted their generosity. Also, I will be recreating Mom's Spinach Salad in my own kitchen. Yum-yum!

We ended the day with another bike ride around the park.

Tuesday we enjoyed Kiawah Island Beachwalkers Park.  
It is so fun to see everyone riding bikes down the beach. The low tide offered plentiful space for bikers and sun grabbers alike. After six hours of sunning, reading 
(and crying while reading the final chapters of The Fault In Our Stars) and sipping beach cocktail...the tide moved us back farther and farther till we decided to call it a day. We ended our day with another bike ride and resting in our lounge chairs camp side.

Our final day in Charleston was spent touring the Boone Hall Plantation

and the downtown area--were we enjoyed a narrated carriage ride (with a screaming toddler and an e-cigarette puffing father, errrrhhhh!). 

We then walked the city streets exploring,

 toured The Exchange Building  

and feasted at the Charleston Crab House. 

 I'm certain I slipped into a food coma from the hush puppies, she crab soup, and low country crab cakes. 

Thursday morning we said good-bye to our favorite stop and the beautiful James Island campground

James Island County Park Campground Report Card
Campground - A+
Check-in station/Camp Store - A (friendly staff, plenty of snacks, cold drinks, books, etc.) 
Site - A (be careful when booking to be sure you aren't getting a site that shares site space, there are several double sites, great if you are camping with friends)
Comfort Station - A (clean, plenty of showers and flush toilets)
Wifi - free and accessible from our campsite with excellent connection.  We tried to stream Netflix and were unsuccessful.
Activities - A (bike trails, peddle boat/kayak rental on the lake, small water park w/ discount tickets at the camp store, a sprinkler park, themed activity weeks for the kids, fishing, climbing wall, zipline, etc.)
I WOULD return to this park in a heart beat!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Art of Vacation Pictures

When we no longer vacation with our children we have three options for taking photos, as a couple, to mark a moment for everlasting remembrance.  Because there is something rather odd when your spouse wants you stand next to some historical building alone to snap a photo--leaving you feeling like the poor red headed step child that no one wants. 

A. Ask strangers to snap our photo

(we accept with a very gracious "thanks", good or bad capture)

B. Use the "Timercam" app on my cell phone (FYI, I love this app, used it on last year's vacation too)

C. Perfect the art of the #selfie
The answer is, hands down,  #selfie!

Monday, July 14, 2014


iPhone notes
We arrived at Myrtle Beach State Park to pleasant weather, and phone calls from family warning us of Hurricane Arthur's approach. After we got camp set, we threw on our swimsuits, hopped on our bicycles and off the beach we went.  A nice dip in the ocean was exactly what we needed after a long day of travel.  We went to bed watching the news to track Arthur's path.

Arthur greeted us come morning.  Lazing about is all you can do in an RV with sheets of rain pouring down.  I made bacon and eggs. We watched mindless TV. I contemplate doing laundry, till King Ralph convinced me that was what everyone would be doing. We decided on a movie--Edge of Tomorrow.  The theater was a bustling place.  Leaving the theater I commented that I could see glimpse of sunshine.  When we got back to the campground we decided to walk down to the beach and check on Arthur. There were a few other curious souls joining us.

By morning all was calm. The skies were blue, the sun beamed and sunscreen was slathered on skin. We had our toes in the sand.

The ocean waves had everyone body surfing.  Once we let the sun kiss our skin for endless was time to rinse off the sand and prepare to celebrate. Murica!

After dinner we walked two miles down the beach from Myrtle Beach State Park to the condo area, where the 2nd Street Pier fireworks gave a closer viewing spot.  What we didn't expect was a pre-show of firework stand buys.  No fireworks in state parks, but a condo complex--why not. It's still thirty minutes till 10pm, the real display, but I've seen a thousand dollars worth of fireworks, if not more, light up the sky in a kaleidoscope of colors.  

Saturday the waters were extremely rough and the wind was blowing the sand.
Most people ran off the beach, but we stayed put. After we'd taken in all the sun and sand we could handle we headed cross town to the Flying Fish Public Market and Grill. The food was fabulous, as were the happy hour drinks. When we got back from dinner we went for a bike ride down the beach.

We woke for one last bike ride through the park, along the board walk to the fishing pier.

The adventure, on the move....

Myrtle Beach State Park Campground report card

Check-in - A  (easy, quick, friendly)
Camp store - A (plentiful)
Wifi - C (free, with connection only at the sites near the camp store and laundry)
Site 312 W/E - B+ (wish there was a better tree lines between the sites for more privacy)
Comfort Station - B (new, fresh ceramic tile showers, but the one time I tried to use the shower the drain was clogged and I was standing in ankle deep dirty water...I high tailed it back to my own shower)
Beach access - A (from our site it was a half mile. We rode our bikes (it was the preferred mode of transportation for many).
Biking - A (bike racks at the beach and you can bike on the beach before 10am and after 5pm)