Roam If You Want To

As I alluded to in my previous post, my family + Adam took our separate road trips and met for a week of relaxation on Kiawah Island in South Carolina. I feel it’s my duty as a blogger to share with my faithful readers (all 2 of you) a sort of vacation recap, if you will.

We [meaning Dad, Mom, Sister, and me] hit the road on a Friday, immediately after they got off work and I drove the 30 miles to meet them. During my drive down, I pass a woman broken down on the side of I-40. While I’ve passed broken down travelers before, this incident caused me to pay more attention than I usually would. Why? She was leaned up against her Ford Taurus, wearing thigh-high boots, a black mini skirt, partially unbuttoned white oxford shirt and a semi was backing up to help her out.

I make it to my parents’ laughing, because I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. Once I get there I’m shocked to find my dad holding a flip phone. I’m sure it doesn’t sound that shocking, as we are in 2010 now, but my dad has been using a Nokia brick phone for 10 years and has never had a desire to upgrade. Additionally, my mom and sister have upgraded to smart phones so I can only guess how much “tech support” Adam and I will have to provide on this vacation.

We finally get loaded in the Trailblazer and head for the coast. When we make a stop for dinner at a random combination KFC/Taco Bell drive-thru there’s a live chicken walking and grazing in the flowerbed. I guess we should be comforted by knowing the chicken was fresh? Or maybe it had the sense to jump truck? Either way, it provided unexpected entertainment during our wait.

After spending the night in a hotel somewhere in Mississippi, we drive the last 10 hours to the beach. Along the way Dad informs us that the iPod Shuffle we gave him for Father’s Day is an engineering feat, Mom is asking what apps she should add to her Droid, Maddie takes over driving telling us she doesn’t drive below 80 unless required, and I’m doing needlepoint in the backseat. 14 hours on the road together and no one was left on the side of the road, or killed. So far? So good.

When I wasn’t fielding questions from my dad like, How do I make this damn thing call? or I took a picture but I don’t know how to get to it, I was trying to show Adam as much as I could about one of my favorite places in the world. Literally. Our week was filled with drives along the live oak lined, spanish moss draped highways of South Carolina, where we took pictures of the 1500 year old Angel Oak Tree and the village of Rockville at the dead end of HWY 700 and made an unexpected, yet quintessentially southern, stop at the Charleston Tea Plantation. I shared the historic southern charm of Charleston with Adam by taking a horse drawn carriage tour through town and strolling through the straw market buildings.  My sister and I persuaded Adam to drive us to the Firefly Vodka distillery, where we sampled [and subsequently purchased]  sweet tea and lemonade flavored vodkas. We biked all over the Island on beach cruisers, enjoyed BBQ at Mingo Point and scarfed down a celebratory low-country boil, prepared by Adam, for my mom’s birthday. There was beach time too, which might have included a game of Mölkky [in which yours truly came from behind and beat Adam] and an embarassingly unsuccessful attempt of sandcastle construction.

Our long drive home came all too quickly, but we made the best of it with Cash Cab, Don’t Forget the Lyrics, and Sporcle iPhone apps. Between CDs of Sam Cooke, The Turtles, Joe Cocker and The Beatles, my sister quoted Hamlet, my dad asked us about the Electronic Cowboy in Little Rock, our GPS told us it was recalculating, and we stopped at an interesting gas station in Nashville that had a ladies happy hour.

I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have a family that laughs together, as it makes long road trips more bearable and fly by faster. As for our week spent together on Kiawah Island? It was one of the best vacations I can remember. I’m truly blessed!

A Tale of Two Sisters

My family made the 14 hour drive [each way] to Kiawah Island, SC without leaving anyone on the side of the road, so I say that’s a successful trip. 🙂 We had a great time: relaxing, visiting a tea plantation, sweet tea vodka distillery, Charleston, and, of course, the beach. We even spotted a few alligators in the lagoon behind our villa.

However, the purpose of this post isn’t to wax poetic about Kiawah or the tea plantation or the Spanish Moss that draped the highways. Instead it’s to share with you the perfect illustration of these sisters’ personalities that occurred on the drive out.

As we drove through Atlanta, the only thing that popped into my head was “Don’t be Tardy for the Party“, from the esteemed Bravo reality show, “Real Housewives of Atlanta“. I suppressed the urge to sing it, because no one else would  understand. Then, about an hour later we had begun our trip on the scenic highways of Georgia. As we drove through Augusta and saw the quintessential southern mansions that lined downtown, I pointed to one with a white picket fence. My sister immediately replied, “Looks like it needs a little Huckleberry Finn action.”

Me: Reality television aficionado
My sister: Classic literature virtuoso

Needlepoint

Life’s a Stitch…

Needlepoint

Sunday, I spent my evening mourning the loss of Rue McClanahan while having a “Golden Girls” marathon. I also began a new hobby: needlepoint. Monday, I turned 26.

I’m not sure what spurred this current “obsession” with needlepoint, but I’m pretty sure it had to do with these darling key fobs I found online several weeks ago, specifically the “cosmo” and “pig” fobs. As soon as I saw them I thought, “What a cute gift! I could do that!” and thus began my quest into the great unknown of needlepoint. A Facebook/Twitter friend suggested a store in Little Rock where I could start my journey and Saturday, I dragged my boyfriend to Yarn Mart [Quick, somebody get that man a cookie!] to find my first needlepoint canvas. I’ve been hooked ever since!!

I was confused as to why all of a sudden this hobby had consumed my thoughts. Then I began thinking about the lovely childhood weekends I spent alternating between my grandmothers’ homes, which I’ve mentioned in previous posts (HERE and HERE). Thinking back, I faintly remember sewing at Ottie’s house and of those memories I most vividly remember her tracing illustrations onto muslin for me to cross-stitch. Currently, cross-stitch isn’t appealing to me, but maybe one day…

Ottie was a very talented needleworker (is that a word?), making needlepoint stockings for my sister and me [that we still use every Christmas] and small pillows with pictures of our childhood pups Sugar and Isabelle [that still grace our beds in our parents’ house]. My mom also reminded me  that Ottie helped stitch the beautiful needlepoint altar rail kneeling cushions in my hometown church.

So perhaps this sudden “obsession” isn’t so random in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it’s just in my blood…

A Phone Call

Father of the Bride

You know in Father of the Bride (the remake), when Annie is introducing her fiance, Bryan, to her parents? And he goes into a spiel about being an independent communications consultant? And he says “European banks run on what’s called a Dot25 network…blah blah” and her parents look totally lost?

Well, I’ve come to realize that Adam is TOTALLY Bryan. He started a techie monologue with “X Product was written with what is called a [insert some techie term here] language, which means blah blah blah…”

I’m not sure what’s worse. The fact that I’ve memorized the entire movie or the fact that my life is starting to remind me of movie scenes.

I Love to Laugh

Mary Poppins Movie Poster

Growing up my sister and I split our weekends at our Grandmothers’ homes. This is the last in a series of two reminiscing about those weekends.

On the weekends we stayed with GranMerle, we’d make spaghetti, eat Oatmeal Creme Pies like they were going out of style, play smut, dominoes, and a host of other card games, listen to GranMerle recall moments from her childhood, listen to 8-track tapes, play with the Playmobil dollhouse, and eat the best homemade banana pudding (made by GranMerle, of course). Not to mention accompanying her to her weekly hair appointment, playing Barbies, and generally being her shadow for about 36 hours.

But one of the things I remember most is watching Mary Poppins practically every weekend we stayed with her. [Which led me to buy it when the limited DVD edition came out]. What is it about Mary Poppins that is so intriguing? Is it the fantasy sidewalk chalk world they jump into? The practically perfect measuring tape Mary uses? The spoonfuls of sugar she encourages the children to take medicine with? Or maybe dancing chimney sweeps, which I’m pretty sure led to me inquiring to my parents about a chimney sweep of our own once or twice. There’s also that hilarious guy named Dick van Dyke…Through it all, I fondly remember Grandmerle often opening up her hide-a-bed sofa for us to pile up and watch Mary Poppins on, she would always be totally concentrated on the movie just as we were, until we bribed her for another Oatmeal Creme Pie, that is…

I don’t know if it was coincidence or not that Julie Andrews had the starring role in both movies that we obsessively watched at our Grandmothers’ homes, but either way it helped me name her one of my favorite actresses of all time. To this day, I cannot get over how much love our grandmothers gave us when we visited them. I’m sure they could quote the movies in their sleep, but they never once complained about having to watch them over and over and over again with us. There truly is nothing like a grandmother’s love.

The Hills are Alive…

Sound of Music Movie Poster

Growing up my sister and I split our weekends at our Grandmothers’ homes. This is the first in a series of two reminiscing about those weekends.

On the weekends we stayed with Ottie, we’d make homemade potato chips, walk across the street to Maxine’s Diner (now Mama Max’s) for burgers, “ice skate” on [aka polish] her hardwood floors to a Dolly Parton record, play with our aunts’ old Barbies and make their furniture out of shoeboxes, have a nightcap of Coca-Cola in a small glass, and pick cherries off her cherry tree. Not to mention playing with her dog, Foo-Foo, planting flowers in her flower beds, and generally being her shadow for about 36 hours.

But the thing I remember most is watching The Sound of Music practically every weekend we stayed with her. So it shouldn’t surprise you that it is one of my favorite movies of all time. In fact, I consider the opening scene to be one of the best in the industry. It’s perfect: the blue ski, the lush mountains, the perfection in Julie Andrews’ voice. Every time I watch it, I want to be her. There are so many things about the movie that I love, like the confidence she finds in herself, because really? What is so fearsome about 7 children? Then there’s the strapping Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp. I mean, hello. Then towards the end of the movie there’s one of the best scenes, the talent contest. I remember Maddie and me laughing and laughing at the lady who bows her way across the stage to accept her award, then bows her way off the stage with flowers in her arms when we watched it with Ottie, sometimes even rewinding just to laugh some more.

I don’t know how Ottie never got tired of watching this movie over and over again with us. I mean even classics can get old after a while, but she was always there, in her chair doing needlepoint or a word puzzle or absolutely nothing but watching along with us. It’s just one of the many ways I remember Ottie today.

Up next? Weekends with GrandMerle…

Family Road Trips

Kiawah

Every summer, for as long as I can remember, my family would pile up in our gray Chevy Astro Van with GrandMerle and Ottie to begin our 18 hour drive to Kiawah Island, SC. Most drives were straight through the night [Thanks, Dad!] but I never remember them being stressful. Perhaps this was due to my naivety at a young age or perhaps my family really was a perfectly happy traveling family [the latter would be proven incorrect circa 1999], either way my memories are fond of that entire trip.

I remember my family’s stops to Shoney’s, Casey Jones Village, and Cracker Barrel along the way. [Remember that line in Father of the Bride: II, “that’ll be economical: one child, two seniors, thanks”? For us it was 2 children, 2 adults, and 2 seniors. At Shoney’s? That was a STEAL!] I remember being somewhere between Arkansas and Georgia popping an occasional VHS tape into our van’s TV [yeah, we were soo high-tech], eating our weight in Peanut Butter Logs [courtesy of Ottie], playing Skip-Bo, Old Maid, or Go Fish! while driving down the road, or singing along to oldies [since that’s all my dad ever played on the radio]. And who could forget those overnight drives when my sister and I thought it was so cool that our backseat folded into a bed?!

Then came the invention of the Walkman and my purchase of Lisa Loeb’s Tails cassette tape, coupled with my discovery of The Boxcar Children, and my sister’s discovery of the Thoroughbred series and these trips were forever transformed. I’m sure my parents and grandparents were very happy about this newfound distraction on the long drive to SC, because my sister and I both became occupied with our respective traveling libraries.

Nevertheless, all of my memories of family road trips are like this [except for the one involving an RV, but we’ll get there soon enough] and while I’m sure getting there was the biggest relief for the adults on the trip, some of my fondest memories lie in that old gray van. Whether it was sitting behind my dad listening to Lisa Loeb and reading the Boxcar Children or putting my head through the hole of a plywood painting of Casey Jones, it was getting there that was half the fun.