I’m back! I hope that you missed me. It is encouraging to see that my blog stats remained high during my absence. I have to confess that it was a bit of a relief to not constantly plan and write up posts during the past couple of weeks. The work of maintaining two blogs can get a bit tiresome. But now my batteries are charged, and I can begin a new year of blogging! I tried to keep up with everyone's posts the past couple of weeks and managed to leave comments here and there.
As most of you know, we took a needed jaunt to unwind and celebrate Mr. Jim’s continued recovery. We were in search of rest and relaxation, and the places we visited delivered those objectives with abundance. Since we got back on Thursday last week, the unpacking got done, laundry washed, mail collected and read, groceries procured, and minor housecleaning completed. Whew! The next task is to put away all the Christmas decorations.
We began our excursion by going to enchanting Charleston, South Carolina. We have explored this area on several occasions over the years. But we realized, upon reflection, that our last visit was about 20 years. With its abundance of interesting architecture in the old city, we knew that we had to go back again. As avid photographers, we measure our travel timelines as “BD” (before digital) and “AD” (after digital). So a revisit was essential, LOL!
We decided to stay in the old city and chose the grand Two Meeting Street Inn, located across from the Battery. We have always admired this elegant bed & breakfast, and dreamed of staying at it “one day.” We finally did it on this trip, and we’re happy to report that it was fabulous. The owners and staff run an exceptional operation and ensure that their guests are spoiled. Mr. Jim and I spend many hours rocking on that exquisite front porch, sipping peach iced tea. We enjoyed their scrumptious breakfasts in the ornate dining room when the weather was a bit chilly and on the porch when the weather was warm. We also made some delightful new friends from North Carolina during our stay!
We explored the old city extensively on foot and even took one of those enchanting horse-drawn carriage rides. Photographic opportunities were everywhere we looked! With the warm weather down there (79 degrees on our last day), it was a visual treat to see blooming flowers and Christmas decorations at the same time.
And our hearts melted when we saw scenes like this garden gate. An itinerary of sightseeing photography, walking, and porch rocking kept us busy, but we also made sure to indulge on delicious low-country cuisine and seafood. On our last night in town, we devoured a savory shrimp and grits recipe and ranked it as one of the best meals we’ve ever had at a restaurant. Charleston is truly a wonderful city to visit.
The second part of our vacation was spent on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and we stayed at the beautiful inn that was built a few years ago. We got pampered once again, but this time it was with a modern flair. We had plenty of things to keep us occupied, so we never ventured out beyond the estate during our stay - not even to shop. The inn was elegantly decorated throughout, and we enjoyed a mountain view from our room located on the top floor (bump-out windows to the left of the rocky architectural feature).
As expected, the weather was cold in Asheville, and we came prepared with winter clothing gear, including fleece and sweaters. Christmas Eve treated us to a dusting of snow on nearby mountains!
We took advantage of the shuttle buses reserved for guests at the inn, and we were able to time our visits to various estate locations to avoid most of the tourist crowds. One morning we went to the Conservatory early and enjoyed it for about an hour before anybody else arrived. We were astounded to see so many lovely varieties of poinsettias scattered throughout the greenhouses, providing a seasonal jolt of color wherever we looked.
I plan to share more photos from our South and North Carolina visits over the next couple of weeks, as I get them organized and edited.
On a sad note, my mom’s health is failing and she was rushed to the hospital the day after Christmas. Apparently, she had a stroke four days before being admitted. I talked to her on the phone on Christmas day, and she sounded decidedly “off” (at least, more than usual). I asked her repeatedly to call her doctor. Unfortunately, she didn’t. And my brothers couldn’t rouse her from bed less than 24 hours later. Her home is in Indiana, and two of my younger brothers also live at her house. My oldest brother also lives in the same town. The home situation is not good. However, she and my brothers have decided that she will return home after her hospital discharge.
If you have noticed, I rarely talk about my family. It is quite dysfunctional, and I’ve been an outsider ever since I left home at 18 years old. I will continue to keep the dysfunctional aspects private. In any event, I hope that you will pray that my mom will regain her strength and health in the days ahead and that my at-home brothers are up to the task of properly taking care of her.