Friday, July 19, 2019

Summer 2019 Take 2!

Halfway through the summer! As I mentioned in my previous post, my typical summer gallivanting is confined to Stateside this year, much like last year. After the amazing trip to the Holy Land earlier this year (which I am still receiving the fruits of), I have kind of limited myself to be an East Coast tourist this summer (aka- limited budget!)

Because of all of my travels, people often ask me for my itineraries and examples of things to do in places that I have gone. I honestly get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest and other people's blogs, so why not do a little travel post of my own?

Today's post isn't going to be spiritual so much, but a little recap of some of my journeys so far this summer physically. So if you are interested in planning some trips to the Southeast sometime soon, read on!

The first week or so of summer, I usually just like to RELAX. So I typically just do a staycation. Throughout the summer, I try to find new local places to explore to keep me busy. Plus, I feel like there is just so much of our country, our state, to see!

A couple of my favorite places to go around town are the VMFA, the Arts District here in Richmond, Pocahontas State Park, and Pony Pasture ( a spot on the James River). I made visits to all of these places my first week or so of vacation.

There are also a lot of fun places to explore just an hour or so outside of the city. I typically make a visit to Charlottesville to visit a friend and hit up some wineries, Yorktown to get my dose of history and the beach, and Norfolk which also has beach and a cute downtown. I had never been to the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, however, and that was one of my favorite finds early on this summer. There are also lots of murals around that part of the city!

 pic from inside The Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, one of my new favorite spots!
 Only one of the many cool and unique murals around the arts district in Norfolk
Spotted the work of a Richmond artist friend/teacher in Norfolk!

After a couple of weeks just hanging out in VA, it was time for the annual travel trip! This year, I decided to explore 2 cities that many people have told me that I would love: Asheville, NC and Savannah, GA. I also found some other cool things along the way!

When planning our West Coast road trip last year, my friend introduced me to the website Atlas Obscura. You can search almost any place in the world and find weird, unique roadside attractions or museums near by. Mapping out my six hour drive to Asheville, my friend and I found lots of crazy things in the Greensboro, NC and also Winston Salem, NC area. Here are just a couple of the things I stopped and saw on my way to Asheville:

 This Woolworth store in Greensboro is now a Civil Rights Museum. It was the location of a sit in during the 1960s Civil Rights era. 
 This place was a definite cool find. Downtown Greensboro on the whole is pretty cute, but this place- Elsewhere Collective- reminded me a little of a "make your own" Meow Wolf (see last year's West Coast trip!). It is a place where artists create weird interactive pieces you can check out. 
 A little outside of Greensboro, Atlas Obscura told me about this gem. An oversized sock drawer in the middle of a small town in NC?! Why not!
Somewhere in of the Original Shell Stations. 

Once I finally made it to Asheville, I was tired, but wanted to explore downtown a little. I had been to Asheville with my family about 20 years prior when my sister and I were in high school and looking at colleges. I don't remember exploring downtown, though, and I was so surprised to see that at like 8pm on a Sunday night, the town was bumpin'! There were people out and about everywhere- restaurants, bars, on the streets. I followed the live music I heard to a brewery (there are many in Asheville) and had a beer and a burger (with many other people acting like they didn't have to work the next day!) at Wicked Weed Brewery. I recommend their beers and the burger!

Rather than write paragraphs about each spot I checked out for the next 24 or so hours, I will just list my Asheville itinerary for those who may want to check it out yourself one day!

24-48 hours in Asheville:

- breakfast at Tupelo Honey (really any meal here. I was surprised it was open at 9am, so I did breakfast since it was rather empty and wasn't disappointed. The honey really is amazing)

- walk to St. Lawrence Basillica- one of the most oddly shaped churches I have seen! Also the architect is buried in the church!

- drive out to Grove Park Inn. It is an amazing old hotel where many presidents and artists/writers have stayed including F. Scott Fitzgerald. You could really make a whole day here. I was told after the fact that if you book a treatment like getting your nails done at the spa, you can spend the whole day in the spa there! The views are beautiful and I had a good time exploring the hotel and reading my book while taking in the view.

-Folk Art Center- this was on Atlas Obscura and a bunch of blogs as something to do, but it wasn't as impressive as I wanted it to be. It is more high-end arts and crafts on display rather than the weird, folky art I was hoping for.

-Asheville Pinball Museum- barcades are all the rage these days and when I go with my friends, I have a good time, but am never too into the games. This place had EVERYTHING, though, and I really could have spent hours here. For $15 you can play any of the machines that include old original pinball, 80s video arcade games, and classic Nintendo stuff. Recommend spending some time here!

- Chicken Alley downtown has a few cool murals including this one of, well, a chicken. It has some interesting history, too (but you will have to find out for yourself!).

- River Arts District- there are some local artist shops and galleries on the other side of town that were more my vibe. Unfortunately, a lot of the stores closed around 5 or 6 (I had spent more time than anticipated in the Pinball Museum!) so I didn't get to check out many.

- Grey Eagle Taqueria and Music Hall- this located in the River Arts District. It was time for me to refuel, and once again, I followed the live music. The tacos were great and I got to watch a wonderfully weird open mic night with locals.

Phew! That was all just in Asheville! And there is even more that I missed, I'm sure!

From there, I made my way to Savannah. On my way, I stopped for a hot minute in Columbia, SC because Atlas Obscura said there were some weird things there, but I really just wanted to get to Savannah. I did see a random recreated Egyptian Obelisk in Columbia, SC and whatever this is:
A giant bolt/fire hydrant coming out of the ground? Okay, Columbia, SC!

I checked into my Air B n B in Savannah which was in an up and coming part of town (38th and Bull Street), but perfect to walk to downtown. I explored so much on my first day.

Here is my 48 hour or so take on Savannah!

Forsyth Park- this park really is picturesque! Lots of artists had easels set up to paint the sights

St. John the Baptist Cathedral- the mural paintings on the walls were amazing!

Exploring the Squares- so many squares/parks! Each has its own history, too. I saw one that was dedicated to Pulaski, a Pole from the Revolutionary War era, one dedicated to the man who wrote Jingle Bells, and the one where Forest Gump was supposedly filmed!

Jones Street- said to be one of the prettiest streets in America. It was nice, but I also think it looked similar to some of the colonial or more antiquated streets I've seen in VA

Sentient Bean- a cute, hipster coffee shop where I took refuge and got a coffee and a sandwich :) Close to Forsyth Park

Foxy Loxy- another really cute coffee shop type place that also sells beer. I sat out back and listened to more live music.

Savannah Bee Company- I did honey and mead tastings here! It was a fun thing to do and I recommend it. Honey was amazing!

Prohibition Museum- I hate statues and wax figures and this museum has a lot of them!!! But it was cool to learn about this era in time and the museum is interactive and laid out well. If you spend an extra $5, you get a drink in the speakeasy at the end. The cocktails were great!

River Street- lots of cool bars, restaurants and shops. I had lunch at the Bohemian Hotel which has a cool rooftop bar on the Savannah river.

Planet Fun- a cute retro shop for those who like 80s/90s toy and video game nostalgia. Located on Broughton Street which also had lots of cute shops and restaurants including the Savannah Bee Company.

Wormsloe Plantation- it's $10-$11 to get in, but has beautiful grounds perfect for Instagramming :) There also is a Visitor's Center with a video that tells you more about the family that lived there. It has more Revolutionary War history than Civil War history which is what one typically thinks about with plantations.

Skidaway Island- just a short drive from Wormsloe. Another $5 or so to get in. It's really for people who are camping or want to walk/bike long trails. I had already done so much walking and it was so hot out, but I still enjoyed partially walking one of the trails and taking in the unique vegetation/wetlands there.

Bonaventure Cemetery- there are some notable graves here and the oak trees with their weeping branches is aesthetically pleasing. I think I am spoiled now living in Richmond because our Hollywood Cemetery is also really impressive!

Tybee Island- my last day of the 2-3 day trip, I need to just relax. Tybee is about 20 minutes away and worth the drive. It's got really nice beaches and a cute beach town with unique shops. It was a perfect little getaway.

Green Truck Pub- this place is so unique. It was within walking distance from my Air B n B and came highly recommended. The building clearly used to be a Wendy's or some type of fast food joint, but there is a cute little bar inside now and seriously the best burger I have had maybe ever.

Maple Street Biscuit Company- I believe this is a regional chain, but the options for breakfast were great and they had me give the name of my favorite band to call out my order instead of my name! So I was secretly judging everyone when they went to claim their order based on their music tastes.

Wormhole Pub- if this place were in Richmond, I think my friends and I would be here every day. It's  a total dive but has a few pinball machines and a stage for bands to play. It had a nice little outdoor seating area, too, and cheap drinks! Also within walking distance of my Air B n B!

I really loved both Asheville and Savannah and would love to go back and visit either place! I do a lot of things on my own being single, but I was grateful to have a friend say that she wanted to join me on the latter part of my trip. So when I was cutting back up from GA back to VA, we decided to meet around the Raleigh area. But first, we went out to visit her grandparents who live in the New Bern area. On my way, I stopped to see these ruins outside of Savannah as I crossed into South Carolina- the Old Sheldon Church. I really haven't seen anything like it here in the States!

Old Sheldon Church Ruins in South Carolina

The town where my friend's grandparents live was all the way on the coast of North Carolina. I really drove all across that state this summer! But it is really cute and is apparently the original hometown of Pepsi:

A Pepsi float in the town where Pepsi was founded!

My friend and I were here when the town and others nearby were celebrating the 4th. So we got to see a small town parade and some fireworks. It completely felt like small town America, but I was here for it.

Hadn't witnessed a small town 4th celebration in a long time! But got to do it this year in Oriental, NC!

Okay. To round out the NC/SC/GA road trip, we ended the tour in Raleigh. On our way, we stopped in Wilson, NC, home of the Whirligig Park! Another weird roadside attraction that my friend found. It was worth it.

They all move in the wind! If you are the only one around, I'm sure it is really creepy! Ha ha. 

We went to the North Carolina Museum of Art to check out the Sculpture Park. Weird, interactive art has been my happy place for the past decade or so now. I was stoked to see the above Kusama piece which was a reminder of last year's Kusama show that I saw in Cleveland.

I just returned this week from Cleveland, actually. My family and I went to Cedar Point for the first time since I was in my twenties and I can confirm that in my late thirties all of the roller coasters (and waiting in line for them) are way less appealing. Also, my tolerance for spinning rides is 0 now. I'm officially old!
                                                Carousel with my niece is still safe so far...

I like to stay busy and active in the summer and so far this summer has been just that! Looking forward to relaxing a little bit more as we wind down. A month from today, I will be welcoming the new crop of Middle Schoolers back to my clasroom. Gah! Have to enjoy every bit of these last 3-4 weeks!