Posts Tagged With: vacation

learning to love New Orleans

New Orleans.
We were there for six days over the beginning of August.

You may find yourself asking: The bayou in August?
Yep.
And to be quite honest, it was actually hotter in VA while we were there, and the humidity was similar enough that we almost didn’t notice.

New Orleans seemed a magical place, and I was curious.
I’ve read loads of stories set in this city. I’ve heard loads of stories from travelers to this city. Seen many a film set in this city.
What was lovely about going at this time is that the city is celebrating it’s 300th anniversary!

Not to mention the first week of August is their jazz festival.
And the first Saturday of August is their annual white linen art walk.

Here’s what I discovered about New Orleans, it’s pretty much like Charleston, or Savannah.
Only dirtier. And louder.
Initially I was a bit turned off.
But, I came away with a genuine affection for New Orleans.
I would honestly like to visit again, and even stay in the French Quarter, just not half a block off Bourbon Street.
Who knows, perhaps with more time spent, I’ll love it the way I do Savannah and Charleston!

Beautiful courtyard breakfast each morning at Hotel Mazarin.

Fascinating people watching on Bourbon Street.
This was more a YBW thing than a Robynbird thing. My senses were a bit overwhelmed with the noise and scents. But once I adjusted to the chaos, I was able to find entertainment in it. YBW took loads of photos on Bourbon Street, even had beads thrown at him for his efforts! I spent most of my ‘behind the lens time’ in other places.

Wandering the Garden District in the rain. (was super-New-Orleans-gothic-romantic)

Riding the streetcar was actually one of my favorite things we did.

We rode the St. Charles Ave and Canal lines.
A delightful mix of tourists and locals all trying to get from one place to another. I honestly loved everything about the streetcar experience. Even the slightly-mad-completely-drunk-probably-homeless man who chatted us up on the way to the White Linen Walk. The smell coming off him was honestly something I have not the language to describe. He was ‘in your face’ but not disrespectful or belligerent, but I was relieved when he exited the car only two stops after we got on. YBW said, “That’s why this seat was empty when we got on.” Y’all, he ain’t lying!

Jazz at Satchmo Summer Fest

and with Second Hand Street Band at 21st Amendment Bar

The cemeteries. (My GOD, y’all! The cemeteries!)

White Linen Walk in the Arts/Warehouse District. I have no photos of this because it was more tightly packed than I expected. It was fun, but a bit of a let down. Though I do love wandering through galleries, and there was some unbelievably beautiful art to be seen. We drank a bit and walked along Julia Street before we zipped past the Central Business District and through Lafayette Square to our next destination.

A funky-fun and beautifully entertaining burlesque show.

Bella chatted us up before the show and was absolutely lovely! Though at the time, I didn’t’ realize who she was. Later on when I was a bit tipsy, I leaned into YBW and said, “How precious is she? When we were talking about how her gloves were missing rhinestones I didn’t realize she was the Queen of us!”
Y’all, she may be the Queen of that show, that venue, those folks, but she was a lovely girl and I enjoyed the time we spent with her!

We ate so much ridiculously delicious food. (from classic fried shrimp po boys, to the finest Creole cuisine, from dive diners, to the place that invented bananas foster)
If I thought it would make the trip, I’d mail-order a Parasol’s po boy once a week!
What’s lovely about well prepared food is the serving sizes. So you can more frequently eat smaller, rich, delicious meals. This is guiding me to rethink the way we eat ’round here.

Cocktails. (French 75 is to die for!)

I will never turn down a delicious cocktail!

We even joined a Second Line on the way to dinner one night!

When we went out the Canal streetcar line, we discovered the Katrina Memorial.
This is a damn resilient city filled with some damn resilient folks!

We shopped.
We drank.
We ate.
We walked and walked and walked.
We laughed.
We kissed and held hands in the street.
We got sunburned.
I got bit by fire ants.
I’m so pleased I got to spend time in “America’s Most Interesting City” with my beloved.

New Orleans is brash and loud. It’s a bit trashy.
New Orleans is beautiful and romantic. It’s filled with hidden delights.
New Orleans has a great big beating heart. It is tenacious af!
Writing this post made me love it even more.
I’m looking forward to when I’ll return.

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charm and grace

Savannah is beautiful.
I don’t think there’s anyone that’ll disagree with me on that one. As a matter of fact, there are many sources placing it on any number of “most beautiful cities in America” lists. Too many to link here…

It’s clean. It’s quiet. It’s secluded.
It has charm and grace.
It isn’t like anyplace else in Georgia.
It really isn’t like anyplace else in the US. Not from the beauty standpoint, because there are indeed some seriously beautiful cities in my country. It really isn’t like anyplace else in the US because Savannah pretty much doesn’t give AF. The city itself and it residents are happily cocooned in their small enclave, all happy to let the world move along. Sure, they know the city thrives on tourism, but tourists come and go…and Savannah remains the same.

This post about our anniversary vacay to Savannah will mostly be photos of places and structures I loved.

Jones Street was voted one of the prettiest street in America by Food and Wine and USA Today.
We walked up and down every inch of Jones street all the way down to Crystal Beer Parlor and I’m here to tell you that it is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful streets I’ve ever walked. And that includes some seriously gorgeous places in Europe, y’all.
This isn’t the best photo because it was important to me to really be present as we walked down Jones Street, but I loved the way the flags looked along this block. If you look closely you’ll see the Union Jack down the street after all those American flags. I do love me a Union Jack.
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Walking down Gordon Street, we came across Beth Eden Baptist Church. I loved the look of it’s dark red brick juxtaposed against gray sidewalk and deep green of the magnolia leaves.
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This beauty was on Oglethorpe Avenue. I actually stopped traffic to take this photo. I loved this house! Something about the brick gets me every time. I especially loved the way it looked through the foliage.
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This one is on Gaston Street facing into Forsyth Park. It’s too big for us…and YBW says it’s WAY to spendy. (He ain’t lying.) Plus there’s too much lawn to mow…but my God is it beautiful!
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So much brick.
There is a pattern. I adore the brick. There were some seriously gorgeous stucco houses I just blew right past because they weren’t brick. That’s probably silly of me, but they didn’t move me, however lovely they were.

Further along Gaston Street I found this gem.
It had a sale sign in front of it. It was spendy-ish but almost doable…I want very much to call this house my home.
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For now I live here in Virginia. The place I was born and raised.
There is a saying that goes something like this:

“To Be A Virginian either by Birth, Marriage, Adoption, or even on one’s Mother’s side, is an Introduction to any State in the Union, a Passport to any Foreign Country, and a Benediction from Above.” ~ Anonymous

Golly, that sounds kind of ominous…
But it’s also kind of true.
I left here once, but found myself returning “home”.
Makes me wonder what would take me from Virginia and keep me away for good.

I’m telling you, that house on Gaston Street just might be the the thing.
Let’s try it and see!
Whatcha think?

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take me to the river

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These steps drop down one hundred fifty feet from Bay Street to River Street in Savannah. Going down them is easy enough…going back up? Well, not so much. They’re steep, and uneven as all get out. (Especially after enjoying daytime drinking with Savannah’s open container law.)
There are warning signs posted at the bottom of the stairs.
Note the amusing graffiti.
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Standing along the river are some seriously beautiful buildings. Once factories, mills, or warehouses, they now hold bars, and shops, and restaurants.
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One of the buildings was the most interesting minty green color. The ferns were growing right out of the bricks. Years of plant life eating away at the mortar in between the bricks.
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Back up the stairs at 100 East Bay Street proudly stands the Old Savannah Cotton Exchange building. Of course it’s nothing cool, and you can’t go in…but the cotton geek in me was having a little squee when I saw it!
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Further up East Bay Street, the glistening gold dome of Savannah’s City Hall is truly a sight to behold. I wonder how often they have to touch up the gold leaf up there?
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You know, I’m ready to go back to Savannah already again. The city is calling to me…
The squares.
The live oaks.
The Spanish moss.
The gorgeous Autumn weather.
The beautiful buildings and houses.
The open container law…

When I began writing, I heard this song in my brain.
Take me to the river. (But don’t drop me in that water…the Savannah River was kinda grody looking.)
Please listen responsibly.

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Tybee Island

Tybee Island suffered greatly from Hurricane Matthew.
We visited two weeks later and while the residents finally had power, most local businesses were up and running, the clean up was on going.
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Access to North Beach was closed completely as this became the place where they brought all the island debris. I watched from atop the lighthouse as the giant trucks were unloaded with their own cranes. It was fascinating. YBW and I discussed how we thought they would deal with the debris once it was all gathered in this spot.
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I suggested fire. I knew I was probably wrong, but I loved the idea of it.
YBW suggested they’d bring in huge shredder and make an enormous load of mulch.

Anyway, the lighthouse was cool.
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The steps were constructed differently than any other lighthouse I’ve been in. Made it easier to walk up and down without getting dizzy.
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Not to mention how beautiful they were.
I’m a sucker for bricks.
The brick with the iron stairs…just look how beautiful!

At the top I was able to see up into the actual fresnel lens.
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From the lighthouse, I could see out into the Atlantic…
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All the way to the bridge over the Savannah River into South Carolina…
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It was a gorgeously warm and breezy day and after the lighthouse, we drove all over the island. Even with the hurricane damage, the beauty and charm was evident. What a precious little place Tybee Island is!

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carriage house

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We stayed on East Gaston Street about two blocks from Forsyth Park at a lovely historic inn called The Gastonian.

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We actually stayed in the carriage house.
It was perfect for us!
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A teeny downstairs room with a sofa and television.
You know, we never actually utilized this space. I thought for sure we’d watch a bit of the World Series on that couch. But we never turned on the TV at all. We didn’t have time. We went at a full tilt boogie from the moment we woke until we crashed back into bed each night.
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The bedroom was upstairs.
I especially loved the brick. And the bathtub. And the gorgeous floors.
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We enjoyed beautiful weather by spending a lot of time on our little porch. We even ate breakfast out there Monday morning.
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Dorothy Gale said, “There’s no place like home.” and she wasn’t lying.
I was so happy to sleep in my own bed when I got home. But I absolutely adored spending time in the carriage house and would happily go back and stay again.

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What would you like to drink?

In Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt recounted what Miss Mary Harty shared with him about Savannahians.

“We have a saying: If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, ‘What’s your business?’ In Macon they ask, ‘Where do you go to church?’ In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is ‘What would you like to drink?”

Now, I’m a fan of cocktails…and (mostly red) wine…(some) beers…so YBW and I decided to embrace this particular Savannahism as we rolled in last Sunday afternoon.

We spent Saturday afternoon and evening in Charleston with my friend and mentor. The first thing we did was go for drinks at The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island.
I had what’s called ‘The Yellow Jessamine’
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And let me tell you it was absolutely delicious!
My friend and mentor was quick to share with the staff we were celebrating our wedding anniversary, and it was only a moment before the bar manager came over with a little treat for us.
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How precious was that?

Monday we celebrated our anniversary with dinner at a.lure. Were the food was to die for!
YBW had what he called the “Warner Brothers Dinner” starting with the braised rabbit “open ravioli” then duck a la rootbeer float. (Yes, we actually sat at the table and said, “Duck season. Rabbit season.”) I started with deviled eggs and house made pickled vegitables. The rosemary pickled purple carrots were some of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. I had the pork shank for dinner, served with some of the best grits of all time.
Cocktails before dinner looked a bit like this.
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YBW had “Apples & Oranges” and I had “The Black Cat” martini.

We went to Crystal Beer Parlor where I had a blackened salmon BLT with house cut onion rings and Abita Amber. YBW had a cup of chicken and sausage gumbo and half a BLT with Treehorn Dry Cider.

The city of Savannah has an open container law. This means you can waltz around the streets of Savannah with (only plastic) cups of alcohol. We took full advantage of this when we were visiting the city. In the afternoon we carried boozy slurpees as we walked and shopped down on River Street. In the evening we poured left over margarita from the Cuban joint into styrofoam ‘to go’ cups and went down to the Savannah Film Festival hosted by SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design)

I don’t remember what else we drank…but I can assure you that I was all about taking the advice Joe Odom gave John Berendt:

“Rule number one: Always stick around for one more drink. That’s when things happen. That’s when you find out everything you want to know.”

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road trip

Headed to Savannah.
Gotta love a place where there are that many squares, late night ghost tours, and you can legally walk down the street with a ‘toter’ in your hand.

These adorably fluffy Betsy Johnson socks are keeping my feet warm in the car.

I ate a Waffle House breakfast for the first time since I moved away from SC.
(Yeah, my white trash was showing but I don’t give a damn. I freaking love Waffle House!)

Talking Heads on the radio as we drive through the cotton fields of North Carolina. (teeny little ‘squee’)

Imma have a little nappy now. Don’t wake me till we’re in South Cackalacky. That way I’ll miss all the annoying South of the Border billboards.

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a guiding light

Lighthouses stand stalwart and true where land meets the sea.
An important navigational aid to guide ships into port, That light was the only thing standing between a ship and disaster.

The legend of Nags Head in the Outer Banks of North Carolina tells of land pirates hanging a lantern around the neck of a horse and walking her along the huge dunes at Jockey’s Ridge. This was to trick ship captains into running aground on the shoals so the ship could then be looted.

My mom loved lighthouses. She collected little lighthouse tchotchkes, anything from pictures to candles to actual replicas of lighthouses.
YBW loves lighthouses too. He also has a (much smaller than Mommie’s) collection of lighthouse tchotchkes.
I asked him what he loved so much about lighthouses and this is what he told me:
Lighthouses represent adventure. They make me feel like being on vacation.

Now, this fascinated me! He loves lighthouses because to him, the represent the freedom to travel.
This quick conversation lead me to consider what a lighthouse might mean to me, and here’s what I came up with:
A lighthouse is a beacon, a guiding light to keep you safe.

I see how differently my husband and I view lighthouses. To him it’s adventure and travel. To me a haven. These views are absolutely influenced by the way we grew up. He grew up sheltered in a safe and idyllic family, I grew up abandoned by one parent and discarded by the other.
But together he and I create the complete lighthouse concept. At the edge of land, at once sending you off on adventures and welcoming you home again.

I would love to know why my mom loved them…I wonder why it never occurred to me to ask her that question?

Lighthouses continue to stand long after outliving usefulness.
We explored such a lighthouse on our honeymoon.

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Harrison Point Lighthouse
St Lucy, Barbados.

This lighthouse was built of concrete in 1925.
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It was deactivated in (approximately) 2007 and has been abandoned since (approximately) 2011. We visited the lighthouse in 2015 and this is what we found.
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The red steel door torn from the hinge.

P1090161 Ruined motor and electrical panel. P1090165

Starting up the steps.
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Curling up higher and higher.
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No more concrete.
Rusted metal steps to the service room.
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At the door to the service room.
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The floor here is beginning to rust straight through. We tread with great care.

This panel is worse off than the one downstairs.
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I crawled with hands and feet up these rusty ladder stairs to the lantern room.
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A look back at the lantern room door.
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The lens was long gone. Most of the lantern room glass too. We found the broken bits on the ground at the base of the lighthouse. Some huge chunks of Fresnel lens mixed in with so much window glass. (YBW brought some home and keeps them on his desk at work and here at home.)

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It was breathtakingly beautiful.

The door to the outer ring around the lantern room was open and as I leaned the top of my body out, YBW urged me to stay put. He saw the rusty railings, knows I’m a bit klutzy, put two and two together and said: If you fall, you will die, I can’t be a widower when we’ve been married less than a week. Please don’t.

He was scared for my safety. The more I looked out at the very thin railing rusting at all the important joints, I was compelled to stay where I was. The warm afternoon light gave me the gooseflesh.
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I wrote about lighthouses because I read a post early this morning about praying at the edge of the sea.
I was moved by the visual created by those words. The sea carrying a prayer to the far reaches of the world then returning it magnified.

What if that’s what lighthouses really are?
What if they continually send and receive prayers?
What if they are the “guiding light” of all the seaside prayers? Or love? Or adventures? Or safe havens?
And even after they no longer light the sky they never stop sending and receiving those all-important intangibles?

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every picture tells a story

I’m going through photos from our summer trip to Memphis to create a collage for the naked walls in the basement and I came across this one.

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This man works as a ticket taker at Autozone Park where the Memphis Redbirds call home. He fascinated me and I shot a couple of pics of him as we were entering the park.

I captured him in a moment between laughter and conversations with spectators, some of whom he knew personally. It was a perfect accident to catch him in this brief moment of quiet thought.
I love his face.
I don’t even pretend to imagine what this man has experienced in his life. But I suspect he’s done it well.

The Redbirds kicked the holy hell out of the Kansas City Cylones that night. YBW and I drank quite a bit of beer and the Redbirds catcher tossed a foul ball up to Thing G.
It was a great night at the ballpark. But that man is what I remember most when I think about that night. He fascinated me.

It’s been said that every picture tells a story.
This man moved me enough to take his picture.
I’ll never know his story, but I have his photograph and that is enough for me.

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