Low Country Vacation

When it came time to plan our vacation for the year Judd and I had a serious debate on where we should travel to. We love the southern lifestyle and knew we wanted to go somewhere bursting with history. I suggested Charleston, SC of course. I went to Charleston on a family vacation in 2008 and knew I would still remember a lot of what we did then to incorporate it into our trip this year.

We packed up the Ranger and drove 4 hours to beautiful low country. We arrived late Friday afternoon and decided to head downtown to walk around and do dinner with my best friend Chelsea and her family. We opted for the best seafood restaurant in Charleston, Hyman’s Seafood. They are known for their southern style grits and hush puppies. The service we had at the restaurant exceeded my expectations and the food was incredible! We ordered various appetizers made of crab dip and fried green tomatoes-a Charleston favorite. I opted for the shrimp and broccoli stuffed potatoes entrée. It was fantastic! There is nothing better than catching up with life long friends and enjoying a few laughs.

Saturday was our busiest day.Chelsea took us on a guided tour of downtown Charleston. We started by the market which had the coolest local vendors. We walked the majority of downtown and of course stopped for numerous photos along the way. We went Toast for lunch after the tour. A few highlights from lunch included homemade chicken salad wraps, fried green tomato and crab cake BLT’s and endless mimosas which neither of us participated in! For desert, we went to Cupcakes which is known for their red velvet cupcakes and ever-changing menu. Talk about delicious variety!

Sunday was Veteran’s Day and what better way to commemorate it then to spend it touring the naval aircraft carrier the USS Yorktown CV-10. We arrived mid morning and immediately grabbed a map with the layout of the ship. We started in the hangars which were full of airplanes and artifacts. One of my favorite things about the Yorktown was that it was the recovery ship for both John Glenn’s Friendship 7 capsule and the Apollo 8 mission-which was the first mission to successfully orbit around the moon. We walked through narrow hallways and down steep stairs to see where the sailor’s slept. We went down to the boiler room and even made it to the bridge which is were the captain piloted this vessel. If you sit in the captain’s chair and look out over the bow of the vessel you can see the Ravenel bridge. We stepped out onto the flight deck which was a showcase of a bunch of old Navy planes. My recent fascination for aviation had me in my element surrounded by all those old war birds. That evening we headed in Summerville to have dinner with Chelsea and her parents at their house.

Monday was our final day which meant checking out of our hotel and packing up the truck for our journey home. We made a few stops along the way home including an apple cider stand on the side of US-17 and a Cracker Barrel in Hilton head. Overall our trip was a great success!

Pennsylvania. Home Sweet North.

Monday December 26th, 2011

The day after Christmas, Judd and I boarded a plane to Philadelphia to visit his aunt, uncle, and his cousins. They reside in the beautiful town of West Chester. We arrived December 26th to 40 degree weather and sunshine which welcomed us as we stepped out of the airport. We met up with Judd’s brother Ryan, who flew in on a separate flight. We headed back to his families house and had a wonderful turkey dinner which also included sweet potato, stuffing, and rolls.

Tuesday December 27th, 2011

Rainy and cold weather in West Chester, so we opted to go bowling with the cousins. Everyone did fairly well considering we didn’t use bumpers but bowled with kiddie bowling balls! We then took a trip to Red Robin for some grub and the mall to blow the rest of our afternoon. Malls in the north seem a lot more equipt then malls in the south. Our malls don’t have all the good stores! That night we had leftover turkey and played an intense game of Baulderdash- a game were everyone gets a person, place, abreviation, or thing and has to make up a description/definition for each. We managed to come up with some funny abbreviations!

One thing I love about PA is the calm evenings. Everyone winds down with their PJ’s on by 6pm and relaxes for the evening. We sat in the living room and looked through old photographs of everyone including some cute ones of Judd. :) It’s nice to revisit those memories as a family and to introduce loved ones to the memories.

Wednesday December 28th, 2011-Day Trip to the Poconos.

We woke up early Wednesday and put on the layers we could manage to road trip to the Poconos for snow tubbing. It was a 2 hour drive with a Pit Stop near Easton, PA for an Auntie Anne’s run. (Pretzels are BIG in PA, where they were invented.) We got to the Shawnee Mountain Ski Resort around noon but missed the 1pm snow tubbing deadline. We would have to wait until 5:30pm or leave. We figured since we drove all the way up there we would kill time until then. Piled into the Honda Pilot, we ventured 30 minutes down the road for Big Daddy’s BBQ which was a unique BBQ place with decent sweet tea for a northern location! We grabbed lunch and drove around East Stroudsburg, where Arianna would apply for grad school. Enough time was killed to get us back to the mountain with an hour to spare. We watched Skiers and Snowboarders fly down the faux snow mountain since there was only a 20% chance of snow. We took pictures and got our gear ready for snow tubbing.  Here is a photo of Judd and I before the tubbing commenced.

Judd and I at Shawnee Mt.

We were at Shawnee Mt. until 8pm the night and there was a 2 hour drive home. Conditions predicted we may hit light snow on the way home so we stayed alert. We were about 30 minutes into our journey home when Arianna and Aunt Sue spotted snow…very small tiny crystal-like snow. I couldn’t see it at first but you could look into on the northbound traffic’s headlights and see specks. It was beautiful. When we got home we noticed that it had snowed in West Chester while we were away. The backyard was lightly dusted with white powder. I was hysterical! No I did not see it fall but I was so happy to see that it was on the ground. I had never seen snow before so I was ecstatic! I grabbed my camera and snapped a bunch of photos. Here is what I saw: Snow!

That night the weather channel forecast snow around 1pm the next day. Judd set his alarm so he could wake us up and check the snow out. Sadly, it did not snow but the thought of it was nice!

Thursday December 29th, 2011

Arianna, Judd, and I journeyed to the King of Prussia Mall..yes P-Russia! It is the largest mall in land mass and happens to be located 20 min. out side of West Chester. We drooled over Tiffany’s and Tori Burch but managed to walk away with money still in our bank accounts! That night we went to Downtown West Chester to pub hop. We ate dinner and settled in to one of the local bars, Landmark. Arianna and I had fruity martinis and Judd opted for a Corona. We had a blast!

Friday December 30th, 2011Relaxing at Landmark. :)

We spent Friday inside to prepare for the busy day we had to come on Saturday. We relaxed on the couch and watched home movies of the kids when they were little. It was wonderful!

Saturday December 31st, 2011

The final day of 2011! Arianna and I went to get our nails done then went out to California Tortilla  with the boys. We got back in time to take a quick nap and practice greek dancing for the Greek festival NYE party that night. It was pretty funny to watch the guys greek dance! Poor Judd kept stepping all over himself and I kept tripping over my heals. It was entertaining watching us all greek dance in the living room. We then got our best dresses and ties, did hair and make up, and took photos of the group dressed to the nines! We were a sharp looking group! I will post a photo here and a few of them in a separate post.

The girls. :)

Judd and I on N

That night we drove to the outskirts of of Philly to the Upper Darby where the Greek Orthodox church was. Greek music was playing and food was slowly being served. We drank Greek wine, Retsina, and awaited the new year. Dinner wasn’t Greek at all but the music was amazing! As soon as the clock struck midnight, we danced! I danced as many greek dances as I knew which was only about 2 and a freestyle which is usually where we dance however we want. Judd and I freestyled and even danced with his aunt and uncle. I danced so much my feet were numb from my shoes! I started to get tired around 2pm but the guys were getting into the festival. Uncle Nick bought the boys Ouzo-which was not well received by any of them! We left around 3am and didn’t get to bed until 4am!

Judd and I at NYE :)

Sunday January 1st, 2012

A day of recovery..not that we drank all that much the night before. But let me tell you, greek dancing until 3 in the morning is tiring! We spent the day relaxing and packing for our unfortunate flight home the next day. We went through photos of the trip on the computer and talked about how wonderful our time was on vacation. It was a bitter sweet day. Judd and I had enough time to take a walk to the local park down the street. We went into an abandon building and took some photos of how beautiful the landscape was. It was refreshing. That night we gathered around the dinner table for a delicious homemade spaghetti dinner.

Monday January 2nd, 2012

We woke up early to rush out the door for breakfast with the family minus Nicholas since he started back at class for the semester. The drive was way too short and the goodbye was too soon. We left Judd’s family at the security check point and I teared up. We boarded our packed flight on time and taxied to the runway. We took off and as soon as I could unclench my eyes from being shut, I glanced down out the window at the ground below me. Little Pennsylvania towns. Bare trees. All disappearing as we rose through the clouds. I cried. I couldn’t help myself. I was so sad to leave. We had a bumpy flight home but made it right on time where my father picked us up.

This trip was by far the best trip I have ever been on.  Family was really the most important reason for this trip, not my blood related family, but of someone I love. I one day hope that I can call them family for good. I already feel like I am a part of this wonderful family. :)