TBT Charming Charleston

*BWAHA I’m going to call this THROW BACK THURSDAY because it’s been sitting in my DRAFT since September 2013*

 
Charleston Downtown (3)

One of the places that we went while my Mom was visiting was Charleston. I know I blogged about our visit to Middleton Place the plantation 14 miles outside of Charleston. But we had driven up the day before to visit the city. Lucky for me there is Air Force lodging so we were able to get a good deal on a hotel room within a 10 minute drive of downtown & the waterfront. Also lucky for us a Midas shop was open as my brakes had decided that today was they day they died. But that’s another story and really not so exciting to share.
Charleston Downtown (4)

While at Midas ;) I studied and Mom read, and then when we were told 20 minutes to go, we got excited about WHERE to go. We decided on downtown, and found a great place to park on Church Street, just a half block off Charleston’s historic market. While not completely transported back in time, Charleston has done a fabulous job of preserving the buildings and cobblestone streets to give you a glimpse into their history.

Charleston Downtown (8)

Charleston Downtown (11)

Charleston Downtown (12)

Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed wandering the cobblestones and peaking in between the bars of gates to see the gardens hidden between houses, we both loved coming up with stories of events of the past. Our walk (and growling tummy’s) took us to the Waterfront Park. We had stopped at a cool looking restaurant, it had Navy flags and its view of the water had me hoping we could sit for some appetizers and enjoy the atmosphere.

Housed in a 1940s retired naval building on the east side of the Charleston peninsula, Fleet Landing Restaurant features Chef Drew Hedlund’s classic and contemporary Southern seafood fare in a setting that celebrates the area’s waterfront heritage.

Unfortunately we were not the only ones with such hope and it was pretty busy. Continuing on we walked out on the pier where the city had placed hanging swing seats to sit and relax. Many families tested the limit as they all would sit in a bench and swing. Mom was able to sit in one for a bit as I wandered snapping some shots of people and views that grabbed my attention.

Charleston Downtown (14)

Charleston Downtown (18)

Charleston Downtown (24)

After enjoying the view we headed back to find food, and found that downtown was starting to pick up with nightlife seekers. As we were standing on the corner waiting for a light, a cafe table came free at the brewery across the road. I was practically running as the light changed to grab it, sitting outside and people watching is a favorite past time and the weather was perfect to enjoy the town.

We were not disappointed. Motorcycles “cruised” the strip, horse and carriages lit up as the sun set, bachelor and birthday party groups started taking to the road with a twinkle in their eyes and plenty of entertainment bars to explore.

Charleston Downtown (25) Motorcycles

Charleston Downtown (26)

The food was pretty good, the waiter was forgetful, the company was excellent. Our first night was just what we wanted. Lazy, casual, and on our own clock. We took our time walking back to the car enjoying the look of the town in the glow of the streetlamps. I must say it did feel a little spooky walking back, like stepping back in time had been complete. Finding a small graveyard that we hadn’t seen before added to the feeling.

Charleston Downtown (33)

Charleston Downtown (38)

Charleston Downtown (42)

Charleston Downtown (49)

Charleston Downtown (46)

I must say there is a lot that Charleston has to offer, and I could see this as being a location to visit more than once while I’m here in Georgia. Researching my next getaway… :D

*Note: Nope I didn’t go back… school got busy, but as a Signal Soldier Fort Gordon will be my new hub for training and any return requirements, so it could happen ;)

Wordless Wednesday

Mom & Me

Just a quiet moment …

Wordless Wednesday

Taniam Magic Garden

And a little flashback 2012 – Thailand Waterfall at the Taniam Magic Garden

Take a Pause

Things have been busy and trucking along at an Autobahn pace (If you have never driven in Germany?  Interpret this to mean: You are flying down the freeway at 115mph, then the cars in front of you start stacking up as you enter a dropped speed, next thing you know your flying again!)  So yes, life is a series of ebbs and flows.  Last weekend was a very much needed disconnect.  I know I wrote in my “Canoe Camping” post:

I must have sat on the boulder for thirty minutes, just watching how the water stilled as the wind stopped, crystallizing the reflection of the trees. No words, no phone. Just the silence as nature put on a beautiful show for us.

But I don’t think that truly captured what that moment meant for me.  For me to just sit?  To just be?  Has always been an effort in futility.

Canoe Camping

Simply Reflect

To be still and reflect isn’t something that we are good at anymore.  I know when I say we – there are those out there that are going “Oh no, I’m good at that” – but really, a large group of us has become “Twitchy.”   Our reading consists of quick summaries, photos instead of words, a video no longer than three minutes.   We can’t even wait for an appointment without pulling out our “Smart” phones to scroll through the latest Social Media posts or catch up on news.

I’ve been in class this week, getting some much needed reminders about hacking techniques, and one of the interesting things I realized in the “Social Engineering” portion of the class was how unaware we are of our environment now. We don’t look around to see who is looking at us.

Well hello JennyO – can you explain to me how you went from being able to sit still to social engineering?

Yes following my thought train can be a bit like trying to find how to untangle your headphone wires. You follow a wire only to find it doesn’t end where you thought it is and pops up in another knot of wires … yea I think you get the visual.

So its like this: If we do not pay attention to our surroundings, experience most of our moments on a screen, and lose the ability to interact face to face?   How do we cope with interacting with just ourselves?   How do you know how to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses if you can’t take that pause and seek to search out those trails of thoughts?   Why are you feeling sad?   How do you savor the moments of joy? What is the real reason you are angry with your friend?

Canoe Camping

Being alone is a beautiful thing

And no, I don’t have the answers to all of these questions. But to attempt to come to some sort of conclusion; what I found in those moments of still, the time where I just sat by myself without anything to read or anyone to text, was a wonderful moment of clarity. Of realizing my surroundings, of hearing my breath, of feeling the tensions in my face let go. What I had in that moment of clarity was the realization that as much as I say I’m trying to live in the now, I’m rarely giving it the attention it deserves.  What I had in the moment in the classroom in watching non-technical hacking techniques is that I rarely pay attention to my surroundings anymore.

So here is to giving the now some attention. What do you think? Do you realize your surroundings? Do you pay attention to who approaches you or what people ask or how they are behaving around you? Do you take a pause to reflect on how you are feeling and how that is making you behave?

Campsite for Two

Canoe Camping

Just what you need… yes that includes wine!

So we rented a canoe from the Ft Drum MWR ($25 for the weekend as opposed to $126 from the canoe place here at Floodwood Pond). Well we are actually right at the moment as I type at Little Square Pond. We decided to pack up the canoe with the basic camping gear:

- Tent
– Air Mattress (Oh yea, that’s a basic!)
– Sleeping bags
– Beach Towels
– Cooler with beer/ wine and food to grill
– Coleman Propane grill (It’s really a cute little round grill)
– Bag with dry goods, plates, silverware and a skillet
– My camera backpack with tripod

Canoe Camping

Approaching a foot bridge

And we loaded that all in a canoe and paddled out to find a campsite on one of the islands. Only as we came up to the first island that was supposed to have two campsites, we found it was already home to tents and canoes that had staked their claim before us. We continued onto a little island that the map that had one camp spot noted, only that too had a tent already popped up. Zigzagging a course and following the campsite map we found that the Adirondacks were now pulling people in who like us? Wanted to get away from it all.

Canoe Camping

Parking the canoe on our little piece of land

Several times we would pause on the paddling and just listen. Listen to the silence, the sound of a bird, or the wind ruffling the water. It was tranquil, yet we were getting a little frustrated and worried we had maybe expected the isolated location to be as devoid of people as it had been the last adventure here.

Canoe Camping

Water Lilies had taken over the still corners

Canoe Camping

SO Excited I saw this old man, a snapping turtle as big as my DH’s chest! Must have been a few years old :)

Pushing on through a creek that separates Floodwood and Little Square we came to a peninsula spot that was full of people stopping for a snack, but they were not staying the night! Hubby wasn’t thrilled about the high traffic location, and the hike path that in the morning might see a fair number of people hiking out. So while we knew it was an option we went to check out two more sites that were on Little Square.

Turning right, we saw a bolder, and getting closer realized a nice flat area above it had a fire pit, it was one of the sites, and nobody had popped up their camp site yet. Dropping me at the site to check out an area for the tent, Hubby paddled on one more site to verify

Canoe Camping

DH coming back from his recon

Pause in the night for the sounds of a critter tramping through the brush….

while I wandered about, then came back and sat on a rock, just enjoying the view. Ten minutes later I saw him paddling back, the site next to us was occupied so we were staying with this one.

It really was a great site, a little further than we wanted. Of course probably not as much of an issue till we found we had left the axe / shovel kit in the Jeep so we needed to set up our site then paddle back. Taking less time going back as we didn’t need to stop and check out campsites, a little wind picked up but it seemed only to clear the sky a bit and let the sun shine through.

Canoe Camping

Cooking some bratwurst on our little propane grill. Oh look, my wine!

When we returned to our site, the wind stilled, and our campfire took quickly. Dinner was pretty tasty and so is my wine. The coyotes are going crazy, yammering away at each other, it almost sounds like a pack of pups (DH just said maybe a pack where Mom & Dad just got back with their dinner).

Canoe Camping

Enjoying the view, no real sunset just a dimming of the lights

Canoe Camping

Tranquility

The silence settles as the campfire pops. So much better than one of those campsites filled to capacity with conversations all around you, I’m so glad to have finally embraced letting go of the need to have all the frills, and just enjoy the beauty of nature … and this guy ;)

Canoe Camping

Enjoying our company getting ready to roast marshmallows

I must have sat on the boulder for thirty minutes, just watching how the water stilled as the wind stopped, crystallizing the reflection of the trees. No words, no phone. Just the silence as nature put on a beautiful show for us.

Canoe Camping

Just… be.

Canoe Camping

Shadow reflections

Wordless Wednesday

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Diving with Lobstah Monstah!

So Tuesday we decided to take an overcast morning and go into Westerly to Avi’s shop to pick up some tanks for diving. We have found with many of the dive groups, you just have to have your own or you run into having to go to a shop to rent them prior to the dive and after. Also, we are really starting to explore this whole “walking in” option with many dive sites where you don’t even need a boat to explore! Fort Wetherill in Jamestown is just one of those sites. We had gone once before with a family member of hubsters, so we were familiar with the site.

Fot Wetherill Dive

Using our very own gear and tanks! This is the first dive we did on our own without a dive group.

2 dive sites here. The left and right cove. The left cove has a small goat path down to the water. The right cove has a boat ramp entry, can get busy so yield to boats. Both coves have okay viz. (3-10 feet) and have pretty good life. Averages 5 feet but classes frequently drop the viz to less than 5, still plenty of room though to get away from groups. Flounder, fish, starfish, crabs, lobster, eel grass. I believe the left cove along the right wall is the best of the two. Porta potties. Easy and plentiful parking.

Fort Wetherill Dive

Another dive group out doing a certification

Special Thanks to Shore Diving for the photo of the enterance ramp to the dive site. Submitted by Dominic Corso

After entering the water and setting the buoy up to mark above the water our movement below the water, we began to submerge. Well I would say, DH submerged, I floated struggling against the buoyancy of a 7mm suit and not enough weight in my BCD to get me down. After a failed attempt to get down and stay down we went back to the enterance and DH searched the ground for rocks to add to my BCD pockets. (Something about having your husband put rocks in your pockets just struck me as wrong… LOL) finally having enough weight to submerge we started off – hand in hand we started exploring. I was disapointed to find that the visibility once again was only about 5 feet. You really had to stay to the left of the cove to keep the rocks visible and not get disoriented with where you were. We had to pop up once to figure it out once we went around the penninsula.

Starfish

Special thanks to the Dive Buddy site for this photo – I really need to invest in an underwater

Even with the low visibility during our dive we saw plenty of fish, crab, and even a starfish or two! But at one point during our dive, I had a moment of sheer panic. DH had let go of my hand, checking direction or looking at his computer. Not sure what but I was swimming forward and we had lost a little feel of the land to the left as we came around the penninsula. I was starting to get that weird feeling I sometimes get when there really isn’t much in your site that makes any of the green water look different, until in front of me, a dark shape started forming.

As I came closer the shape started to take form, and it looked like … I shit you not … a gigantic lobster at the bottom of the ocean!! I started rapidly peddling my arms trying to push myself away from the “lobstah” in front of me and felt hubster above me, I looked up frantically pointing with wide eyes as he gave me a “What’s up crazy lady??” look through his mask lenses.  Finally I gave him the lets go up signal, and we moved up to the surface (at this point we were only about 15-20 feet, so no lectures on safety stops please) as we broke the surface I started babbling about a Lobstah Monstah!

I’m like “holy shit, its this big at the bottom of the…”  as I look to the right of me a bobbing buoy marking a lobster trap splashed about.

My husband started laughing… “a WHAT?!?”  I realized I’d let my imagination take over and as he put his regulator back in to go down to take a look at this “Monster Lobster” I put my face back in the water to watch his progress down the rope. Coming back up he was laughing, yup there was an innocent tasty lobster in the trap, but what I had seen was the trap, not the gigantic lobster monster my mind came up with. Note to self;)

Lobstah Monstah

If only the water had been this clear, I would have seen what was in front of me was a lobster trap with a rope tethering it to a buoy on the surface

Our dive complete we floated into the “beach” which really was a bunch of rocks, so as soon as I could get to a standing level in the water I took off my fins and made my way carefully to the shore. It definently is a lot easier to move with an air tank strapped to your back in the water than it is to hike the thing on your back up a hill.  Oh yea and remember those rocks in my pockets?

Fort Wetherill Dive

Fort Wetherill State Park – our first dive just the two of us with all our own gear. These bad boys were my weights that I needed added to get my buoyance balanced for sea water. Awesome.

As we were cleaning gear and putting things back in the Jeep a car pulled up with a couple in the front, rolling down the window the man asked us for directions to the Juliett lighthouse. When my husband walked over to explain it we were both a little surprised to see the man pull out and unfold a map. An actual paper map! After directions were given they decided to park and the wife went off snapping pictures, as the husband stayed and chatted with us a bit. Explaining their trip was a bucket list adventure to see sites of the East Coast we swapped some tales of travel. As he asked us about dives and we talked a little more I’ll never forget one of his last comments to me:

“Well here you both are out DOING things, and here we are just driving around taking pictures of it.”

I don’t know that I would look at it that way – at least they were both out and seeing it! So many people never leave their little piece of the planet.  I’m glad we are not like that:

Fot Wetherill Dive

After our dive, a traveling couple took our pic

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too.
Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

Clammin and a Heavy Bike Ride

So after a fun weekend with the cottages filled with family, we awoke Monday morning to a silent still that normally doesn’t happen. This would be an unusual week, a quiet week. So to start our morning out right? My Hubster taught me to go CLAMMIN!

What is this you say? WELL… you put on a dive mask and snorkel, make sure you are wearing some beach shoes/ Teva’s to protect your feet, put a bag on your chest to put the clams in and walk into the pond. The tide was coming in so we went out about to waist level. Here hubby gave me instructions, you put your face in the water and scan the bottom of the pond. Finding a few shells you should move around rocks and generally paw the ground like a dog digging a hole stirring up the bottom of the pond and revealing the hidden clam shells.

Watch Hill Bike

I couldn’t believe the number of little crab doing their side scuttle to get away from me as I pawed at the floor of the pond, stirring up the sand and debri. A few sad little clam shells later I unearthed a nice big group of rather large shells! VICTORY! I stood up all proud of myself to find my husband bent over pawing away at another spot. I started walking about with my face in the water, being pushed over a few times with the tide. One time as I pawed away I pulled up a clam to find a crab clinging to it with one claw while the other waved about at me in anger! “MY CLAM!” he seemed to say. Dropping the shell I found myself almost laughing into my snorkel as I moved onto bigger and better clams.

Yup, these were all mine!

Yup, these were all mine!

Watch Hill Bike

We had a pretty successful haul, even found an old trap someone had placed a bunch of clam shells to lure in lobsters.

Watch Hill Bike

See how clear the water is? It was amazing how much visibility we noticed with the ocean this visit.

The rest of the day was spent riding our bikes up to Watch Hill… 7 miles and I have no idea what went wrong with my brakes but I couldn’t catch a break.  I had issues shifting my bike felt like I was dragging a 25 pound weight behind me.  I couldn’t get any speed.  As we came into Watch Hill my legs were burning.  I was so greatful to park my bike and have DH ask me if I wanted ice cream… YES!  As I finished off my water bottle (I really need to get two bottles attached to my bike).

My little Vespa parking companion

My little Vespa parking companion

Watch Hill Bike

Happily enjoying a black rasberry yogurt freeze!

Watch Hill Bike

The most amazing boats dock here.

Watch Hill Bike

My DH swears this indian man sat in a different part of the park when he was a kid, wish I’d grabbed a snap from the family album of my hubby as a little kid with this guy.

So after enjoying our refreshing treat, we used my cell to Google a local bike shop and found Brumble Bikes in Westerly. If you ever need your bike repaired and you are in that area? YOU must go. These gents are great. Amos really knew his stuff and was able to fix my brakes while I waited. The shifting of gears? I road my bike home – another frustrating 7 mile adventure, while I was surprising DH with my increase in speed I was still irritated to have some of my gears just never catch. I called Amos when I got back to the point and scheduled to bring my bike back and drop it off for full repairs. Yes they were that good. All in all the 3 rides were approximately 7 miles each, 21 miles total in a day. Not bad. My back was a little toasty, my legs a little jelly, but it was awesome to ride with the salt air.

On the way back to the cottages, I had an amazing moment happen.  As I was peddling, this little baby deer (A DOE!) jumped out of the bushes in front of me.  The sweetest facial expression and all gangly legs awkward as she sat there, I slowed down making eye contact with her as she peered up at me … I swear I could hear “Are you my Mommy?!?”  As she gazed, then the recognition that I was not one of her bunch as she startled and bounded back into the brush.  So STINKING CUTE!  But it was one of those life slow motion moments, and as I sped up I realized I had tears in my eyes.  I LOVE my life.

Baby Deer face off by: Dpspiderman :Friday April 27, 2007

Baby Deer face off by: Dpspiderman :Friday April 27, 2007

A Beachy Week

In all the years that I have been to Westerly RI, I rarely leave the point or the main beaches of Weekapaug.   I’ve had a visit or to to Watch Hill to enjoy the beautiful sailboats and get an ice cream, and last visit we actually did go out on a dive at Fort Wetherill State Park, taking photos of Point Judith lighthouse.

But this year we really endeavored to be active and out and about. We brought our golf clubs, dive gear, and bikes. We would not be lumps on the point this adventure.

We drove up Saturday and actually made great time. Arriving at the point with our rented MWR A-Frame camper in tow. We would not be sleeping in a tent this time, nor fighting to find a bed in one of the two cottages. The 4th of July week with the family can be pretty hectic with several generations descending on the point.

Watch Hill Bike

Oh so hectic right?

It was shortly after getting the camper up, and I had sheets on the bed and hike packs loaded into the camper that we had our first dip in Winnapaug Pond. I hate calling it a pond, I know that is what it is, but the pond isn’t some stale stand alone fresh water froggy home. The pond at the point is an inlet created from the ocean, every morning and afternoon incoming tides replenish the pond with fresh salt water from the ocean – its my favorite part of the day to walk up the sand banks and float back to the cottage.

Winnapaug Golf Course

View across the pond

Which if you had told me 10 years ago on my first visit that I would feel that way?  I would have told you you were crazy.  The sea shells and crabs hiding in the sea weed freaked me right the hell out.  But now?  I wouldn’t give up that feeling of joy I get from floating in salt water, the fear I feel of the ocean is healthy now.  I even put on my mask and went swimming under the water for the first time seeing the floor of the pond and how much life is living there.

Fot Wetherill Dive

Practicing our swing off the point

We enjoyed catching up with family and a fire pit that night, and I also enjoyed being able to sneak off to the silence of our camper and enjoy a fantastic night of sleep with the salt air breezing into our windows.

Winnapaug Golf Course

Live Lobster Ad? Awesome

The next morning we loaded golf clubs into the Jeep and followed his Dad and Brother to the golf course, loading up our carts we headed out for 18 holes. I love playing golf with my DIL.   He gives me the same advice, and only after watching me lift my head or putt the ball horribly.

“Keep your head down and don’t take your eye off the ball”

Winnapaug Golf Course

Golf Carts on a Humid day? YES.

Some games easier said than done. It was a good course, we enjoyed a much needed lunch at the clubhouse before we returned to the point, put on our swimsuits and enjoyed splashing with the cousins on the high tide as the sun approached the horizon.

 A fabulous welcome to the beachy life.  We would be there from the 28th of June to the 4th of July… the adventure continues.

Happy 4th on the 5th

I have been busy once again – not connected to the net. I pushed pics on FB and Instagram but honestly spent my time biking, golfing, diving, and swimming! It was a fabulous break from work which has been traveling at warp speed. I’ve been trying to keep up reading some of my favorite WordPress posts as well as actually finishing my first book of the summer!

I will settle in and write up a few of my adventures this week but for now? I’m off to golf and enjoy the wonderful weather that we are having. We spent our 4th of July driving home from RI away from the Hurricane thunderstorms created so we could enjoy the sunny golf courses here at home. I hope you all had a fabulous day of celebration, and while you enjoy your BBQ’s and fireworks, remember why we celebrate.

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