A Southern Plantation

Middleton Place Gardens- all the oaks trees were just dripping with Spanish Moss.

Tyler and I visited two plantations in South Carolina and they were both great. I think our favorite was Boone Hall because the house tour was interesting and because the drive leading up to the plantation home is lined with huge, beautiful oak trees. The Avenue of the Oaks was actually one of my favorite things about our entire trip! It was so gorgeous and I still want to go walk down that lane and have a picnic everyday. I also liked that Boone Hall is still a working plantation and there is a farmers market next to the property where you can get whatever fruits and vegetables are in season, freshly picked from the farm that day. Boone Hall also has a large pecan (pee-can) grove, which was once the largest pecan grove in the world! Yummy!

The other plantation we visited was Middleton Place, which has huge beautiful garden and some flooded rice patties. It is also a working plantation and it had lots of farm animals as well as vegetation. The gardens were pretty, but the most exciting thing at Middleton Place was the wild gators swimming around....oh, and snakes. Cue Tyler:

We were walking along the water (top photo), and as I looked out over the water I noticed what I initially thought were a little set of eyes above the surface. I pointed them out to Kate, but we both assumed it was probably just a branch. I decided to throw a stick near it to see if it would react or if it really was just some inanimate object. It was a perfect throw--of course--that landed right in front of what turned out to be the alligator's mouth; it quickly lunged for the stick. The little guy--couldn't have been longer than 4 feet--started moving towards the shore slowly, and immediately Kate was no longer comfortable standing where we were. I proceeded to hear a lot of "Oh my gosh... oh my gosh... oh my gosh..." etc. We tried to get a picture as he came closer, but by the time I had calmed Kate down and convinced her we were in no immediate danger and then tried to get the right lens on the camera, it had disappeared into the reeds. We moved on.

We continued toward the end of the plantation and there happened to be another small pond. Excited from our previous experience I was all eyes for more fun lurking in the water. Sure enough there was another one. This one was easier to spot as it was larger and its eyes and parts of its back were showing above the surface. Again Kate: "Oh my gosh... oh my gosh... oh my gosh..." etc. Again me: "Let me throw a stick at it!" This time I wanted her to get the action shot right when it went for the stick. I threw, but this one didn't even flinch. It started to swim towards us, so we let it be.

As the map didn't show anymore water along our path I figured our fun for the day had ended. Just then as we were walking I hear--you guessed it--more "Oh my gosh... oh my gosh... oh my gosh..." etc. The difference was that as she stopped right in front of me she reached back and before I knew what we were stopping for she had this death grip on my forearm. You'd think my first thought would be to quickly scan our surroundings for whatever imminent danger befell us. Instead I was too busy being impressed by Kate's unexpected strength as she squeezed my arm. Finally, I interpreted her scared mutterings and gestures and looked under a nearby bush and saw a snake sitting still, looking at us. Needless to say we survived and passed on the other side of the path cautiously.

I found the whole experience amusing; Kate, not so much. Though she laughs about the experience now, let's just say she was less than happy any time I made a hissing, snake-like sound the rest of the trip.

Middleton Place- I like this brick wall that ran all throughout the property.

Middleton Place- Mr. Alligator

Middleton Place- the Wood Nymph.

Middleton Place- flooded rice paddies. I love the clouds!

Middleton Place- Tyler's really rocking the Trump hairdo.

Middleton Place

Middleton Place

Middleton Place- most of their farm animals were pretty normal and I'm still not sure why they had a couple of water buffalo. They definitely didn't do much.

Middleton Place- the barnyard. They had some adorable, muddy little piglets, but Tyler didn't love them as much as I did and vetoed their photo going on the blog :(

Avenue of the Oaks (Boone Hall)

Avenue of the Oaks (Boone Hall)- none of these photos do it justice, so you'll just have to trust me when I say it was gorgeous!!

Boone Hall- the old slave cabins.

Boone Hall

Avenue of the Oaks (Boone Hall)

Avenue of the Oaks (Boone Hall)


Beachy Keen

Beach walkway on the Isle of Palms.

I LOVE the beach!! I never understood why people went on summer vacations to South Carolina, but I do now. I had this idea that the Atlantic Ocean was glacial no matter where you went (just because it was on Cape Cod and in Southern England), however, swimming in the Atlantic in the South is like swimming in a giant bathtub. In fact, at Hilton Head I felt like the water was so hot it could have bee a hot tub! But we still loved it.

East Coast/Southern beaches are so different from the Hawaiian beaches I grew up on, but they have some unique characteristics that I really like. At all the beaches we went to the water was very calm and shallow. Most people had big, colorful umbrellas and beach chairs and a lot of them brought their chairs right down into the water and let the waves come up underneath them while they read or chatted. It seemed very relaxing.

The beaches also usually have long, beautiful wooden walkways down to the beach. Usually all the houses or buildings are set quite a ways back from the beach, which I think may have something to do with keeping them a little more protected during hurricane season. East Coast beaches also have this tall beach grass growing everywhere and I thought it looked so gorgeous against the sand and walkways.

The beaches also seemed to have seashells, of every shape and size, everywhere. Most of them weren't intact, but they were still pretty to look at. The sand was one thing Tyler and I didn't love. It was very, very fine which made it really hard to dust off your feet.

We didn't really spend anytime on a beach in Georgia, though we did rent wave runners out on Tybee Island for a little bit. The water was still so warm so it was really fun to zip around the bay on those things. I'm sure we killed a few fish during our ride though, because they kept jumping all over the place. We also had to dodge the birds dive-bombing all around us. Good times :)

Hilton Head

Folly Beach Pier

Isle of Palms

East Coast beach grass on the Isle of Palms.

Our favorite mansion on the Isle of Palms- the vacation homes (I'm assuming they are mostly vacation homes) along the beach are ginormous!



While in the South Tyler and I toured several historic homes and wandered around admiring dozens more. In Charleston that have their own unique style and I loved that not only the old historic houses, but also newer homes, are done in the traditional Charleston-style. They are designed to have good air flow to keep the house really cool and are usually very narrow; only one room wide and very tall. I think most of the homes were either 3 or 4 stories, but we did find a couple that were 6 or 7 stories high. None of the homes have basements either because Charleston is part of the low-country, a.k.a. swampland.

What I loved most about the homes was the huge side porches, or piazzas, on every floor and sometimes on the roof too. Each piazza has ceiling fans and faces the wind so that you can sit out there in the evenings and still be cool. The houses all have a false front door that faces the street and leads onto the first floor piazza where the real front door is located. Supposedly, if the false front door is left open the family is home and welcoming guests over. I think it's a very cute tradition and both Tyler and I like the idea of having a false front door on our home.

In Charleston we toured the Edmonston-Alston home and the Nathaniel Russell home. Both were very pretty and had interesting histories, but I think our favorite was the Nathaniel Russell home mostly because our tour guide at the other home was soooo bad. I really thought Tyler was going to just start screaming at the the lady or something mid-way through our tour. It was bad.

The Edmonston-Alston house with crazy huge piazzas.

This was one of the mansions along The Battery in Charleston. All of these homes were HUGE! The lots go back quite a ways from the street and most of these houses are still single-family homes.

In Savannah we toured three homes: the Davenport Home, the Andrew Low Home, and the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. The Low family history was really interesting and our favorite house tour of the trip was at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. Juliette was the founder of the Girl Scouts of America and her history was so interesting. She was also a remarkable artist and several of her original paintings, sculptures, and iron-work pieces were still in the home. I think my favorite painting was one of her mother as a young woman. Apparently, when Juliette married and moved back to England with her husband she wanted to take the portrait of her mother with her but her father wouldn't allow it. So instead she painted a near exact replica of the portrait to have as her own. It was a really gorgeous painting. I think the only thing we were unhappy with at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace was that they didn't have any Girl Scout cookies for us- Tyler was really bummed.

The Andrew Low Home (not to be confused with Andrew Lowe, who doesn't own a home).

The Green-Meldrim Home- Savannah had a lot more houses that were in the Gothic Revival style.... unfortunately.

The Davenport Home- we noticed that a lot of the older homes in Savannah had no porches, but usually a fancy staircase leading up to the front door. The first floor was not at street level because people didn't want the dust and smells from the street bothering them or their guests. We also learned that in Savannah the first floor was where guests were usually entertained and in Charleston the second floor and piazza was were they brought their guests.

The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace- unfortunately, I couldn't take a picture of any of her art inside the home.


The Forts

Tyler and I toured two forts in South Carolina and another one in Georgia. The military history on the East Coast is so fun for me cause it is all so old. I think just about every fort down there (and there were a lot) were used in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and both WWI and WWII. Because we were in the South, a lot of the history we learned about had to do with the Civil War, which we both loved because we both know less details about the Civil War than the other major wars (with the exception of the Spanish-American War....what was that all about??).

The first fort we toured was Fort Sumter just east of Charleston. The boat ride to the island was 30 minutes long and the tour guide gave us a LOT of information on the way over, most of which I don't remember. However, I do know the most important thing, and that is that Fort Sumter is where the first official shots of the Civil War took place. Although it is a very important fort from history, this fort was both mine and Tyler's and least favorite. The fort is in ruins now, and other than a few old cannons that sit on the grounds, that is all that's there. Still, I'm glad we went because it was good to hear the history of the beginning of the war that changed America forever.

This is actually the back wall of Fort Sumter. The original entrance to the fort did not face Charleston.

All the different flags that have been raised over Fort Sumter in the past.

A cannon shell stuck in the wall at Fort Sumter; left from the Civil War.

Tyler and I in front of the Fort Sumter ruins.

The second fort we went to was Fort Moultrie, which is in Mount Pleasant/Sullivan's Island, just north of the Charleston peninsula. This fort was Tyler's favorite. Fort Moultrie was one of the forts controlled by the Confederate Army that started firing on Fort Sumter at the beginning of the Civil War. However, it was first built to defend Charleston during the Revolutionary War.

The South Carolina state flag (with the Palmetto tree and crescent moon pictured above) originated at Fort Moultrie. During the Revolutionary War British ships began firing on Fort Moultrie before it was completed, but the wall facing the Atlantic ocean consisted of Palmetto trunks and sand dunes. The Palmetto tree trunk is somewhat spongy and that, combined with sand, made for a pretty shock absorbent wall- in fact, the British cannon balls just bounced off the Palmetto trunks.

Fort Moultrie also played an important role in WWII. They still have several bunkers filled with memorabilia from the 1940's and the rooms look like a picture right out of Pearl Harbor or something. The cool thing about Fort Moultrie is that it is very well preserved, and they now have the fort divided into sections representing its role in each of the wars it played a part. The earliest part of the fort, representing the Revolutionary War era, is still in tact and still painted a bright yellow, just the way it was then.

Fort Moultrie- you can kind of see the different sections of the fort here. All the grassy knolls are covering an underground maze of magazines and bunkers.

The WWII communication tower and bunker.

Entering the yellow-brick section of the fort. This is the oldest part built for the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, the Palmetto and sand walls are gone.

Looking out towards Fort Sumter.

The last fort Tyler and I visited was Fort Pulaski on Tybee Island, just outside of Savannah. This was my favorite fort because it was the most picturesque of the three (forts really aren't that pretty) and because it was so impenetrable (or so it seemed). Fort Pulaski was built kind of like a medieval castle- complete with a gator filled moat surrounding it and a drawbridge. There were so many different things, like cannon positioning, 11 feet thick brick walls, and the intricate underground foundation for the fort that was sunk 70 feet into the mud, that were supposed to make the fort impenetrable to the Union forces building batteries on the other side of the Savannah River. Unfortunately, new artillery, the rifled cannon, destroyed the brick wall facing the Union soldiers and Fort Pulaski surrendered, having not really done much. The fort is very well preserved though, and still very pretty and interesting.

Fort Pulaski center courtyard with Pecan trees and flag.

The cannons along the top wall of the fort.

The outside wall of the fort and moat. The wall is still riddled with cannon shells, and the part of the wall that was completely destroyed by Union forces was rebuilt only about 6 weeks after the assault. The bright red bricks were the replacement bricks.

Tyler and his Donald Trump hair in one of Fort Pulaski's front bastions.

Cannon facing the entrance to Fort Pulaski.

Pretty arches in Fort Pulaski.

If you look closely you can see the Cockspur Lighthouse barely visible in the distance. The Union batteries were directly across from Fort Pulaski on the other side of the Savannah River and the lighthouse. The small lighthouse was standing there during the war, but was never hit by cannons and sustained zero damages. Kind of cool.


Sneak Preview

The pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park.

Tyler and I recently returned from a trip down South where, having never been there before, we experienced a new kind of heat, unusual pests, lots of fried food, old history new to us, and some gorgeous aspects of nature. We did a lot and had some funny experiences, plus I took over 600 photos in seven days, so I am going to cover our vacay in a few different posts.

In general, we both loved Charleston and Savannah. I think we both enjoyed Charleston a little more, but they may have been because the "Excessive Heat Advisory" for the South hit just as we headed down to Savannah. One day the temperature got up to 101 degrees (felt like 120 degrees) with 90% humidity. And that was right next to the beach!! Needless to say, Tyler is the best for still loving this hot, sweaty mess! Although, he wasn't too fresh & clean himself- the salt water, sweat and sunscreen made for excellent Donald Trump hair :)

One thing I enjoyed about this trip was Tyler's five-year-old enthusiasm for the Dreamlifter. The new Dreamliner is being made in South Carolina so naturally the Dreamlifter would be found there as well. Tyler and I saw a pair of them as we were leaving the airport right after we arrived, and Tyler immediately turned around to drive through the airport one more time just to stare some more. Throughout the trip I would randomly ask Tyler what his favorite part of the trip had been so far, and every time number one on his list was seeing the Dreamlifter. I felt a little bit like the parents in that story about a little boy on Christmas morning who sees a red balloon and can't be distracted by any of the amazing gifts his parents got him for the rest of the day. On our trip home we had a layover in Miami and, of course, one of the Dreamlifters was parked there as well. At least Tyler was happy, yeah?!

Anyways, here's a little sneak peek into our Southern adventures. I'll try and get more posted soon!

The Angel Oak

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River

Downtown Savannah, GA

Tybee Island Lighthouse

Stay tuned for beach photos, alligator encounters, Southern food reviews, and more!


Happy 4th & Happy 26th

On Wednesday, Tyler's 26th birthday, I stuck 26 swirly-whirly candles in a yellow-cake cupcake with chocolate frosting (his fav) at the ward BBQ. I had the whole ward sing to Tyler and then he blew the candles out :) Note that not all the candles had been lit- I was a little hesitant to light all of them and then set a fireball in Tyler's hand. It's probably not good to light your husband on fire on his birthday, yeah?!

I realize this post is coming a little late, but since Tyler and I just took a week off to head to the blistering hot South, I never got to post about our busy and exciting 4th of July weekend. Over the three day weekend we had several visitors in town, although only a couple of them actually stayed with us, which is good since we live in a one bedroom apartment :)

My friend Monica and her husband, along with Monica's parents, were in town for a wedding. Monica and her husband stayed with us for a few nites and we spent time with them at the beach, getting ice cream, chatting over dinner, etc. They actually missed their flight going home and got to spend an extra nite with us too!

My friend Jordan's parents were in town as well. We met up with them Saturday morning so the guys could play a couple games of croquet while the girls chatted, and then we all headed out for some Thai food.

On Sunday, my roommate from freshman year, Amanda (who I haven't seen for about three years!!) came over to chat. She and her husband and two cute kids just moved from Philadelphia to San Diego, and I'm excited to have her not so far away anymore.

Me, Monica and Amanda- our mini freshman-year reunion. I don't think the three of us have been together since 2005 at the close of our freshman year in the dorms. Hopefully we don't go so long without seeing each other again, because I have some of the best memories with these girls!!

Tyler's sister also came into town Sunday, so Monday we did some family time and had a little mini birthday celebration for Tyler.

We went to beach a couple times, BBQ'ed with friends, hung out at the pool, went out to eat and get ice cream several times, watched fireworks, and celebrated a birthday. It was a pretty good Independence Day weekend if you ask me!

We ended up having guests in town from Thursday evening to early Wednesday morning. This post really doesn't give you a good idea of how much fun (or stress....) we had over the long weekend, but I'm sure you can tell we stayed busy!!

Tyler and I playing around while waiting for the fireworks show at Redondo Pier. Happy 4th from the Turners!!