Hunting Island: Camping Paradise in the Carolinas

Our impending summer road trip is going to interfere with our annual nephew quality time trip, so Clint and I packed up the car, the dog, and Connor for a little jaunt out to Hunting Island State Park. Our other little family adventures have been well documented here.  Having never been camping, Connor was stoked to see what it was all about, declaring “Today is camping day!” when he woke up. We couldn’t wait to share one of our favorite ways to travel with one of our favorite kids 🙂

Of course, the little navigator had to point out the way from his car seat. “This way, then that way. Then you’re there!” It’s not rocket science, people! IMG_3537

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the trusty hooligan 3 is just over a small hill, tucked away!

After being greeted by the awesome volunteer hosts at Hunting Island (who even gave Scout a treat!), we scoped out our site. I just booked the place last week, and it was packed with Spring Break vacationers. Site 132 ended up being the perfect place to pitch a tent – wooded with pine trees, palms, and shrubs and blanketed with a thick, spongy layer of pine needles.

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There was also room to set up both of our beloved eno hammocks, which Connor loved! Our first night in, we headed out to the beach for a little photo action and a walk for Scout. Dog and kid alike loved romping in the sand!

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path to the beach

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natural dunes and vegetation

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seashell collection

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doggie pawprints in the sand

We spent the next day walking the beach, making sand castles, climbing across dunes and exploring sandbars (or “salad bars,” depending on who you’re talking to). The campground also had access to several trails for biking and hiking. We loved the Magnolia Forest trail, which wove in and around the marshes to the lighthouse. Connor declared that this place was the best jungle ever. Watch out for lions, y’all!

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Of course, there was lots of time for roasting hot dogs, riding bikes, and cuddling in the hammocks.

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best buds

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scout, chief watchdog

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greeting every camper with a cheerful “good morning!”

We can’t wait to go back to this beautiful island! There is so much more that we didn’t have time to explore this trip. At only around a 5 hour drive from home, I’m sure we will enjoy more weekends there soon.

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Adventures in Kidhood

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As our school year drew to a close, Clint and I were excited to set off on another beach adventure with one of our favorite kiddos. I’ve already recounted our trials in traveling with a toddler a couple of years ago, now we have ourselves an official “big boy.” After remarking to Connor that he was “my baby,” he quickly informed me that he’s “already been a baby, and now he is a person.” Thanks, kid!

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We discovered that travelling with a kid instead of a toddler does not require fewer bags. Our car was again packed to the brink with clothes, swimsuits, beach umbrellas, sand toys, snacks, coolers, electronics (both mine and his – 3 iPads between us all!) and about a million other things.

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Although we set off with grand plans of water parks, movies, aquariums, and other exciting events, we ended up spending almost all of our time hanging out at the beach or the pool making friends. Hearing the phrase “Wanna play?!” from the mouths of children reminds me of that childhood innocence and the deep belief that everyone is inherently your friend. I think that adults could take a few tips from our younger counterparts in that regard.

 

All in all, we had a great trip. The three of us were exhausted by the end of the trip – Connor was even asleep before we pulled out of the condo parking lot! Clint and I stopped for a quick dinner with Mimi and Grandpapa (Connor’s 2nd shift stand-in parents) and then headed back home to get ready for our next trip!

 

Wandering Around Charleston – Version 2.0

Charleston 2012

Clint and I gifted ourselves a trip to Charleston this year instead of exchanging gifts – it was a success. I hope that we decide to make this a tradition! Here’s the rundown of the trip:

Where We Stayed

We opted to stay at Charleston Place this time, instead of our usual Francis Marion. The hotel was just about as centrally located as it gets – situated between King St. and Meeting St. right across the street from the Market. Also, there was a Starbucks within sight… win! The room was very “Old Charleston” style, which I love. The hotel also has a spa which included a saltwater infinity pool that I didn’t make use of. I’m the person that doesn’t think to bring a swimsuit on vacation in December!

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What We Did
circular congregational church

Sound of Charleston – The highlight of our trip was attending “Sound of Charleston” on Friday night. It was a concert that featured different musicians and genres from Charleston’s history. Even Clint, who decidedly is not a music buff, loved the show. It was held in the Circular Congregation Church, which was founded over 400 years ago! This in itself, was really interesting. We walked around the church’s graveyard before the show and saw many graves from the 1700s.

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The concert was hosted by a musician who I’d describe as a mix between a history teacher and a Southern Baptist preacher. He blended everything from Mozart to modern jazz seamlessly with tons of historical tidbits about the city thrown in. As we’ve pretty much done every tour, carriage ride, and cruise of Charleston, this was a fresh perspective of the city. It was a little pricey at almost $30 per person, but I don’t have a single doubt that it was well worth it! There is a performance every Friday night, and you can buy tickets at the door.

Marion Square Park Christmas Lights

I had a trick up my sleeve for this part of our trip! Clint lost his wedding ring a long while back, and we had never bothered to get him another one. He proposed to me in Marion Square Park in Charleston, so I thought I’d return his gesture on this trip. I ordered him a new ring and surprised him with it at the park amongst the Christmas trees. It was just as sweet as it sounds :]

What We Ate

Ahhhhh…. the food. This is undoubtedly a huge attraction in Charleston. For the size of the city, there is a huge concentration of fantastic restaurants with hardly a chain spot in sight! We love it.

Jestine’s Kitchen – I’ve written about Jestine’s before, but I think that her fried chicken deserves another nod. We got there just in time to avoid a line that eventually stretched halfway around the block, which was nice. The place is teeny tiny, but the food and the friendly southern hospitality is not to be missed. So. Yummy.
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High Cotton- We went to dinner at High Cotton on our last night in town and we were impressed. It was, by far, the best food I’ve ever had in Charleston. The food and service even exceeded amazing dinners that we’ve had at Magnolia’s, which was deemed “our spot” years ago. I ordered a filet with bacon bourbon reduction (whattt!???) and a smoked twice baked potato. It was easily the best steak of my life. And I’ve had some good steak in my day! We also snacked on some fried pimento cheese with a jalapeno relish, which was just as incredible. I only wish I had more pictures to document this amazing spot!
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Can’t wait to hit the road again!

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Adventures in Toddlerhood

Clint and I are in Fayetteville this week, spending some time with this cute kiddo. We headed to the beach on Monday and had a blast! Traveling with a toddler for the first time was quite the adventure. I don’t know if my car has ever been more packed with stuff – potties, snacks, beach toys. There was lots of fun to be had!

We hit the beach around 8:00 every morning to play! Seeing the ocean never got old for Connor, who yelled through the hotel “I go to the beach!!!” at the top of his lungs every time we went out. He even loved the elevator aka the “ewabator”. His excitement is contagious!

We spent lots of time digging in the sand and splashing in the ocean. He also loved taking on the waves (attached to Clint, of course!). We buried our favorite guy in the sand – that was fun for me to watch :]

Connor loved helping us put up the “brella” every day.


All of this hard work resulted in this around noon each day:

So very cute. All in all, the trip was a success. This kid makes me so happy :] I mean, what is better than waking up every morning to a three year old trying to pry open your eyes while whispering “Sarahhhh. Wake up. Sarahhh. Wake up! I go to the beach.” I love it. The sweetest memory that I have of the whole trip is Connor climbling up into our bed, putting an arm around each of us, saying “Clint! Sarah!” and giving us each a kiss. Awwww! Do you have a special kid who has stolen your heart?

Wandering Around: Charleston, SC

Charleston, South Carolina is one of my favorite cities. At around four hours, the drive is quick and easy from Charlotte. Great food, lots of activities, and a fun historic vibe make Charleston the perfect weekend getaway. Through my many visits, I have mastered the “hits and misses” of the classic southern city.

Where to Stay: Historic District
Take it’s from someone who has made the mistake of staying out of town and trying to tackle parking- pay more and stay in town! There are tons of cute hotels and choices for every budget.

Splurge- The Restoration on King
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This place definitely calls for a special occasion! Nightly rates hover around $350 but it is truly a five star experience! Our room at ROK was not a room at all but a loft-style apartment. This hotel is the total luxury experience. There is a rooftop deck with great views of the city, customized breakfast picnic baskets are delivered to your room in the morning, a full gourmet kitchen! I could go on and on. You can occasionally find deals on this place through SniqueAway, a luxury hotel flash sale site.

Save- The Francis Marion Hotel

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This one is our go-to hotel in Charleston. The location is fantastic. Everywhere you will want to go is walkable from the hotel. There are great restaurants and shops just outside of your door! The price of this one is much more manageable. We have stayed here for around $150 per night in the off season. There is a huge park right across the street ( where Clint and I got engaged!) that hosts the farmer’s market.

What to Eat: Everything!
Well, almost everything. Charleston has big-time restaurant competition, so mediocre restaurants aren’t that common. We avoid all chain places (the ever-crowded Bubba Gump Shrimp, Sticky Fingers…). There are just too many great restaurants to eat at a chain! We also don’t love the popular tourist destination of Poogan’s Porch. We have tried it several times and just aren’t impressed.

Magnolias – All time favorite!

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This place is classic Charleston. Fantastic southern food and a really nice atmosphere. Some favorites are the fried green tomatoes and the pimento cheese filet. YUM. We make a point to go here every time we visit Charleston.

Jestine’s Kitchen- Lunch

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Jestine’s is a teeny tiny spot that is always crowded- for good reason! The food is absolutely fantastic. Once you get a seat, they bring out homemade pickles and cornbread with honey butter. Talk about a good first impression. We love the fried chicken and the meatloaf. Plan to wear your favorite elastic pants on the way home from this trip!

Must-Do: The Angel Oak

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This is a great place to go on the way home, as it is out on Johns Island. It is said to be one of the oldest living things east of the Mississippi. Pretty incredible!