Charleston: Folly Beach + Kayaking

30 August 2011

Let me tell you a little bit about Folly Beach! Folly was our home base for our week in Charleston. It’s about 20-25 minutes from downtown, and definitely has a laid back, surfer vibe. There’s a very small downtown, but for the most part, it’s beaches and houses. Here’s the house we rented:

Cute, no? It was lovely, and right on the beach — about a one minute walk from our door to the ocean’s edge. We took advantage of the proximity, swimming almost every day, and some days, multiple times a day! (We even swam once at night, and once in the rain!)

This is what the beach looked like:

And here’s what it looked like at dawn:

Thanks, John, for the photo! This was the view out our back door, toward the marsh. We didn’t spend much time in that direction, because the bugs were pretty vicious.

At the tip of Folly Beach is Morris Island Lighthouse, which some of the more industrious members of our party (i.e. not me) ran to mornings.

John and I did drive/walk to it once, and we saw these pretty flowers:

The most fun thing we did in Folly Beach was a kayak tour with Charleston Outdoor Adventures. All of the Folly Beach kayak companies advertise dolphin sitings, but we were pretty skeptical. Well, we shouldn’t have been, because we saw about nine dolphins in the two hours we were out on the water! We even saw an adorable Mom and baby, and we were so close we could hear the baby chattering!!

Anyone else ever stayed in Folly Beach? What did you think? I highly recommend it!

Charleston: Angel Oak + Middleton Plantation

29 August 2011

I have a whole week of Charleston posts planned for y’all! First up I thought we’d talk about two sights we saw, Angel Oak and Middleton Plantation. Later in the week I’ll give you a tour around Folly Beach (where we stayed), share my thoughts on the food we ate, and do some intense gushing over downtown. And on Friday, I’ll share the video John and I made!

First, though, Angel Oak. Angel Oak is a live oak tree that is believed to be more than 1,500 years old — making it the oldest living organism east of the Mississippi River.

It was quite massive and impressive in person. I liked that you could walk right up to it, though they discouraged visitors from touching the trunk and limbs.

Angel Oak is so old and shaded, there are ferns growing on some of its branches!

My verdict? Definitely worth a see. Angel Oak is located on Johns Island, and was about a 25-minute drive from our house in Folly Beach. It’s easy to find and just a short walk from the parking lot to the tree, and admission is free. You can find more information before your visit here and here.

Later in the week we visited Middleton Place.

The Charleston area is FILLED with plantations, including Middleton, Boone Hall, Magnolia, and Drayton Hall. We did our research, and chose Middleton because of its varied landscape and formal gardens. Though we had nothing to compare it with (since we only visited one plantation), I would say we were all happy with our choice.

We chose to talk the self-guided tour, and followed the route outlined in the packet almost to the letter, stopping and reading the descriptions and historical background at each marked point. I’m really glad we did that, because on top of giving us interesting information, it caused us to slow down and see everything with minimal back-tracking.

There was gorgeous Spanish moss everywhere. We visited in August, but we all agreed that it would be amazing to come back in the spring when the camellia allees would be in bloom. Can you imagine the smell??

One of the most interesting things I learned from the tour is the almost perfect symmetry on which the grounds were laid out. There are a few aerial photos on the Middleton Place website that really help you see it from above, but it was evident on the ground, too.

Another thing I liked about Middleton was how varied the grounds were. There was farmland, formal gardens, rice fields, and even a swamp! The swamp was actually really beautiful.

Last but not least, Middleton Place was full of wildlife! We saw alligators, peacocks, egrets, and many other water birds.

My verdict? Highly recommended, but try to get a break on the ticket price. Tickets normally go for $22 per adult, but we were able to go for free because John’s parents sat through a (unrelated) condo seminar earlier in the day (funny, but true!). I’m not sure it would have been worth it if we had paid the full fare for all six of us.

Middleton Place is on the outskirts of Charleston, about 40 minutes from where we were staying in Folly Beach. You can read more information about it here.

Thanks to John and other family members for most of these photos!

Back Porch Music at the American Tobacco Campus

26 August 2011

Before summer’s over I wanted to make sure and post this little note for Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill locals. If you’ve never been to the Back Porch Music concerts at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, you must go! The music is great (so far we’ve heard bluegrass, blues, old time, and a crazy brass + banjo mash-up), the concerts are FREE, and the American Tobacco Campus is such a neat space. The concerts are generally VERY well attended, so I would recommend arriving at 5:30 or earlier if you want to spread out your blanket on the grass (the music begins at 6pm). We like to order a pizza from nearby Mellow Mushroom, but you’re welcome to bring your own food or purchase from one of the other food stalls (including Locopops!). A few iPhone snaps from the last two years…

The remaining concerts this summer are on September 2, September 9, September 16, and September 30. Check out the full schedule and more details here!

Wedding planning update: 12+ months out

25 August 2011

It’s been exactly two months since we got engaged, which means it’s time for another update on what we’ve accomplished so far! For those of you who are engaged or married, I’d love to hear where we differ and where we’re the same.

Photo by Stephen Pappas via Style Me Pretty

After two months (with 12+ months to go), we or I have:

— Asked two people to join our bridal party (they both said yes — whew!)

— Tried on wedding dresses for the first time

— Fell in love with a veil

— Spoke on the phone with two florists

— Chosen a florist (!!)

— Confirmed and contracted with a photographer (!!!)

— Begun to buy silver pieces for reception

— Set up appointments with two caterers for next month’s trip home

— Set up another dress shopping appointment for next month

More details to come about all of these points soon… promise!

P.S. First planning update