I had a long weekend for the Martin Luther King holiday so Amber and I decided to go to Charleston. We met up with an old friend of hers from Ohio Kelly who she hadn't seen in like thiry years and her husband Jeff. We went out to eat at Carolina Ale House and walked around Charleston to enjoy some of the night life. The next day Amber and I went and walked the Ravenel Bridge to work off the night before. It was freezing cold that day but we had an incredible view of the river from the bridge! Later that afternoon we went back in town and walked around for the 2nd Sunday on King Street Festival which they have every month year round. In all the years I have grown up here in SC and as many times as I have been to Charleston, this is the first time I have been to this festival. All the vendors were out serving in the street and there was live music everywhere. It was a really great time for sure!!
This was a really good Bluegrass band we stopped to check out for a few.
This year for our anniversary Amber and I went to Brevard, NC. It was a nice weekend and while we were there we went to Sierra Nevada Brewery and took the full tour. It was very interesting to see how they brew their beer. At the end of the tour we got to taste several of the beers. After the tasting we went to the restaraunt there and ate appetizers. The next day we went for a hike on the Buckhorn Gap train to see the Twin Falls. While on the hike it began to snow which was beautiful. We had never been on a hike while it was snowing so that was a really great experience! It has been a great twelve years with Amber and I hope we have many, many more to come!!
April 2018... We went on a couple's trip with Troy and Rebecca Pender and Bob and Allison Fladung to the Dominican Republic. We flew into Punta Cana on the northeast side of the island and caught a ride to Bayahibe where we stayed at the La Romana resort.
It was a beautiful place and there were flamingos living on the grounds. One of our excursions was to Cotubanamá National Park where we went to the underground cave Cueva Padre Nuestro (Our Lord's Cave) also known as Cueva de Chicho (Boys Cave). It was absolutely amazing! The water was crystal clear, so clear that I didn't even realize where it started until a drop of water fell from the ceiling into it and made a ripple. We went for a swim in it and the water was so cold Amber had to talk me into getting in because of course she was the first one in. The last outing of the week was a day trip on a boat. We left Bayahibe and cruised along the coastline until we got to the rocks of Penon, once home to the aboriginal Tainos and saw iguanas in their rocky playground. On the way to the Saona Island we stoped at the "Piscina Natural", a famous natural swimming pool. This large sand bank is well known for the indigenous starfish that live among the grass there! The water is shallow even far from the shore where it is never more than waist deep and the color is an incredible turquoise and blue. Next, we followed the coastline and passed the Mangroves on our way to the channel that separates Saona Island and the mainland. After that we went to Catuano Beach on Saona Island. While there we snorkeled around the old pier that was destroyed by a hurricane which of course was teaming with wildlife. The next stop for me was the highlight of the day at Mano Juan, the small fishing village on Saona Island with around 300 people, no cars and only solar power for electricity. One of the guides took us on a tour of Mano Juan village and showed us how the people live. After that, we got to visit the sea turtle project in Mano Juan whose purpose is to preserve and increase the survival of sea turtle hatchlings from nests found on the beaches of Saona Island. The last stop was to the untouched beach " Canto de la Playa" which has beautiful white sand and crystal clear water where the bay is protected by a beautiful barrier reef.
Amber and I went to Tennessee to meet her brother John and sister Amanda and their kids. We stayed in a cabin at the Smokehouse Lodge in Monteagle, TN. Amanda, Mekya and Makayla live in Coalmont, TN so Jon, Alaura, Jenna and Jackson came down from Michigan and Amber and I drove up from SC. We all got together one day and went to breakfast at Sam's Corner then on a short hike to the Laurel Gulf Overlook. We also got to see the "Great Stone Door" a ten feet wide, over one hundred foot deep crack in the sandstone bluff that rims Big Creek Gulf. It was a great time and I hope we get to see them again soon!
Our family vacation this year was a trip to Manhattan, New York. Katie has been wanting to see New York her whole life so Amber and I thought it would be fun for all of us to go. We stayed at an Airbnb in Midtown's Chelsea "neighborhood". While there we went to many of the usual tourist sites... the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
We also went to Little China then Little Italy where we ate dinner one night. The Museum of Modern Art was amazing and the Broadway show, The Lion King was too! Our friends Hunt, Dina and their son Ryan were there visiting family in New Jersey that week so we spent a day with them and toured the down town area and saw the NY Stock Exchange, Grand Central Station, and the Freedom Tower. Dina's cousin Nicole who works for Bank of America there in Manahattan took us for a private tour to the observation deck in the BOA building which was awesome! And of course we had to go see the 911 Memorial. It was very sad but I'm glad it is something we got to see. Two of the last stops of the week were the Museum of Natural History which is another must see and Rockefeller Center where Amber and I ate lunch. Lastly, it wouldn't be right if I didn't mention that we went to a couple of the local watering holes... The Pig and Whistle in Time Square and my personal favorite, Jakes Saloon about two blocks from where we stayed. Amber left me there with a couple of locals one night where I ended up having maybe a little too much fun :-).
In the fall this year we went to Lake Jocassee with The Fladungs, Penders and the Beards. Our first day there we were on our own so Amber and took the boat out on the lake. We went to the swinging bridge and a few of the water falls and had lunch on the boat. It was a beautiful day for sure! One of the days we all went and hiked the Foothills Train to see Whitewater Falls. We weren't able to get up close but we did get a great view from and observation platform across the valley. Our last night we all went to Jocassee Valley Brewing Company, the local micro brewery and the craft beer was fantastic! Thre was a live band playing and the ladies were definatley having a good time dancing up on the picnic table.