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After a long day of driving, we’re back at home. Now the holidays will really get underway, with tons of holiday-themed events right up until Christmas. I’m glad we got a chance to fit in a vacation before everything really picks up and Ron starts his busy season and budget season starts at work. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss Charleston, because I love it so much, but it’s nice to b home and see my family and have Buddy back at home.

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Ron and I continued our Charleston fun today with a visit to the Magnolia Plantation. The plantation was awesome, with a petting zoo, a tram tour, a house tour, gardens and a swamp walking tour. It was a great way to spend the better part of a day. When we left the plantation we headed into the downtown area and walked around the market. At dark, we checked out the festival of lights, which is a mostly driving tour through tons of Christmas light displays. We had a late dinner at Fleet Landing on the water in the downtown area, which was amazing. Now it’s off to bed and we’ll head home in the morning. Praying for safe travels and feeling so blessed and thankful for such a great long weekend trip.

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Today Ron and I visited the Charleston Tea Plantation, the Angel Oak and Irvin Vineyards where the Firefly distillery is located. The tea plantation was awesome. Someone had recommended it to my mom who told me about it so we decided to check it out. We toured the plantation and learned all about how tea is made. Then we headed to the Angel Oak which is a massive oak tree that is thought to be 300-400 years old. From there we headed to the vineyard where Ron had a wine tasting while I made friends with a yorkie named Harry Potter. Then we both participated in a Firefly tasting, which is a variety of tea-based spirits. I was also semi-terrorized by a puppy named Teddy who tried to eat the boots off my feet. He was absolutely in the midst of the puppy stage where he likes to chew, but he was cute though.

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Ron and I arrived in Charleston pretty late last night, or early this morning depending how you look at it which is why this picture is late. I didn’t get off work as early as I had hoped because I was super busy. We left at about 5:30 and arrived at our hotel around 12:30-1 a.m. It’s a really nice hotel and we have a great room with views of the Ashley River so we’re pretty pleased with it.

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Ron is feeling much better today, thank goodness, so we decided to spend the day in Charleston. We hit up some outlets near our hotel and then went into town to the market, King Street and the waterfront. I absolutely love Charleston, so I was excited that we got to spend more time there. It really is such an amazing place and probably my favorite. We also ended up walking around much of the town in search of a dog bakery. Buddy loves the fancy dog biscuits. We couldn’t find one. There used to be one on John Street, but it closed down. We were able to find him some Puppy Crack–dog treats made in Charleston and sold in various gift shops. I’m sure he’ll love them and best of all, if he gets too hooked we can probably order some online. After spending the day in Charleston, we headed to Florence and had dinner. Now we’re hanging out in the hotel and will continue home in the morning. I’m ready to go home, but I’m not excited for the weather. It was hot in Charleston and it was 83 when we arrived in Florence. After dinner, the temperature had dropped to 71. It’s supposed to be in the 50’s tomorrow at home. Whoosh. I’m praying for safe travels home and maybe a warm front as well ūüôā

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We’re in Charleston! Unfortunately, Ron is sick and has been off and on for a few days, but today was probably the worst. He has some sort of stomach thing. We’re not sure if it’s a bug or the tacos he ate in Belize, but despite the fact that he feels like crap, he’s being a good sport. I’m pretty impressed. I probably would of have flopped and refused to go anywhere, but he’s been fighting back. We went downtown for a few hours earlier and also went to the nearby outlet mall. All of the usual hotels are booked, I guess because of Columbus Day weekend, so we’re staying in North Charleston. I didn’t want to be so far away, but it’s actually turning out well because the hotel is nice and it only takes about 10 minutes to get into town. For most of the night, we’ve been hanging out in the hotel, probably since about 9 p.m. It gives us some time to relax and Ron some time to¬†re-cooperate. Tomorrow we plan to go back into town for the day and maybe back to the outlets. Tomorrow night, we’re going to drive the approximately two hours to Florence, which will cut our travel time down on Monday. Less time for Ron to be in the car, and more time for me to be home on Monday since I have to head back to work on Tuesday.

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Tomorrow we head home, but today we saw Charleston! We walked along the waterfront and down to Battery Park, we walked along King and Meeting Streets, we walked through the market and we visited Rainbow Row. Having been to Charleston before, we had a pretty good idea of where everything was and what we wanted to see and do in our limited time here. Something new, which we didn’t do last time, was¬†take a¬†horse drawn carriage. It’s probably not like your thinking. It isn’t a two-person romantic carriage ride through the streets. These two little mules hauled about 16 people in one carriage through the streets as a tour guide shared stories about the homes, history and people of the area. The architecture in Charleston is amazing. When Ron and I finally build a home, I want it to look like some of these. It’s all about porches, gas lanterns, shutters and doors. Also, they have their own unique look. The first people who came to Charleston were accustomed to brick as a signifier or wealth, or actually a lack there of. So what they did when they built their homes, they used brick, but then put a layer of stucco over it. In the stucco, they carved lines so the homes look like they are made out of stone. With a lot of them, if you look on the sides, you can see brick, but the front looks like stone. The older homes have a limestone appearance, while the newer homes or those that have been renovated, have been painted bright colors Carribean-style. An interesting note is that the Civil War was started here in Charleston by a group of wealthy men who¬†believed it wouldn’t be anywhere near the deathly war it turned out to be. Because of this, it’s said Charleston was “punished” and fell into disarray. A home in the 1960’s on the waterfront could be purchased for $65,000. Now, those same homes are worth millions. Unfortunately, they are usually passed down through the generations and while the older generations are passing, the younger ones can’t afford to live in these massive historic homes. The tour guide said the value is in the architecture, but because the structures are so old, they end up being money pits needing massive amounts of upkeep and restoration. We saw a house today that has original Tiffany stained glass windows, installed by Mr. Tiffany himself. The windows, not suprisingly, are covered with bullet proof glass and are worth more than the house itself. It was interesting to see that so many of the homes are up for sale, whereas not many were when we came here almost five years ago. I guess that just goes to show that the economy affects everyone.

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It took almost five years but we finally made it back to Sticky Fingers in Charleston. The food is amazing and Charleston is one of my absolute favorite cities. It’s friendly and walkable, there’s lots to see and do and the architecture is amazing. There’s lots of porches, gas lanterns and wooden shutters. I recommended everyone take the time to visit. All the hotels in the downtown area were either booked or uber-expensive, but we’re only about six miles away. There’s plenty of options just outside downtown so you don’t have to shell out $250 a night to experience the city. I think we’re going to do some more sightseeing tomorrow before heading home Monday and back to work Tuesday. Debarking the ship this morning was a breeze, but I have to admit I miss my nightly towel animals. Hotels should really start doing that.