Thursday, June 30, 2011

Charleston Marsh Kayaking with COA

Just a few minutes from beautiful Folly Beach, and
less than thirty minutes from downtown Charleston...
Is a fantastic outdoor adventure company everyone should know about!
Run by a small group of naturalists, Charleston Outdoor Adventures,
or COA for short, gave us the best kayaking experience we've ever had!
And, considering how often we are in kayaks...
That's saying something!
We had two guides for this excursion. Besty and Cooper. Get this... Cooper's mom's
name is Janet. How fun is that? She's a Cooper, I'm a Cooper, I drive a Cooper, so
we were off to a great start before we even hit the water! Besides her name, the best
thing about Cooper was her passion for her job and everything she offered to teach us!
Even experienced paddlers like us learned something new! Of all the guides we've
ever encountered, Cooper and Betsy were the best. Nothing annoys us more than
being assigned to guides that sound like they're reading off a training manual just
to CTA, and get you through your excursion. Well, that didn't happen with COA.
While it was clear that Betsy and Cooper were well trained, what sets them apart
from the robo-guides is that they live the outdoor lifestyle and love it like we do!
Betsy and Cooper are both students in Charleston. Betsy is studying French and
International Studies... Yes, I did recommend MIIS to her! Cooper is studying
Marine Geology. And yes! She really should be all over this in Monterey too!
I've said it before and I'll say it again... Whatever it is... This is the cure!
So last weekend we were river kayaking Ashe County in the mountains...
This weekend we're marsh kayaking just off the Atlantic Ocean... With
dolphins no less! And, next weekend we're off to night-kayak in Durham!
The dolphins were incredible! It felt a little spooky when they came close or
appeared to go under the boat. I caught myself holding my breath, watching the
ripples and hoping they wouldn't come up for a breath and knock me over!
But they didn't. It was just beautiful, peaceful dolphin watching! Now
this... This is another story! Things could have been rocky had we gotten
caught up in the wake of this shrimp boat coming in for the evening...
But with Besty and Cooper guiding, all ten of us made it out of the way in plenty
of time! Boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, broiled shrimp. Quick... Name that movie!
The weather for our excursion could not have been better! It began a little
hazy so we weren't sure what the sunset would look like, but it cleared out
just in time. And, the water was calm - just like paddling on glass - Perfect!
We've been debating over whether or not to
invest in a couple of sea kayaks with rudders...
I prefer them and have always wanted one... But Army Dad always said he didn't
see the need for them. However, now that he's tried a boat with a rudder, the
debate is over. Our next kayaks will definitely be sea kayaks with rudders!
Besides, rudders help you get exactly where you want to go. Be
it over to take a closer look at a shore-line ship wreck...
Or to check out the wildlife, like this Great White Egret
So rudders it is!
That's another great thing about taking this trip with COA...
Not only did we have great guides and a fantastic location to
paddle, they also provided us with Best-in-Class equipment!
And we all know that the right equipment makes all the difference!
Here we are taking a break half way through our trip to...
Admire a killer sunset!
I didn't think the wildlife sightings could get any better
than the dolphins and birds we saw on the way in...
But it did!
This was one very sweet kayak trip!
Great guides, great equipment...
Ah-mazing sunset!
And, just about the cutest creature we've ever seen out on the water!
When we first noticed this mink it was spread out on top of this grass...
Just like he was enjoying the sunset too!
And why not?
This was one beautiful view!
Huge thanks to our guides, Cooper and Betsy and to all the other cool people
behind the magical adventures offered by Charleston Outdoor Adventures

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hotel Francis Marion, Charleston South Carolina

Sending you warm Low Country greetings from the historic and very elegant,
Hotel Francis Marion in Charleston, South Carolina!
Where the accommodations are also quite spectacular!
We were originally booked into one of the hotel's queen rooms with a request
for king bed, if available. Well... Thanks to my amazing new best friends at the
front desk, Lauren and Charlene, we were upgraded to one of their ten suites!
Where views from the 11th floor corner suite are fantastic!
We love Charleston...
And now, we love the Hotel Francis Marion too!
The bed is extraordinarily plush and quite high!
And, overall... This is a spacious suite with Charm to spare!
The best part of this suite is that it feels
like we're home in our own bedroom!
Although the bathroom is small, it is spotless!
I will especially enjoy a long soak in the tub this evening!
Because once again, I've brought along my favorite Lush bath bombs!
The only downside to our stay is the fact that it's only for one night... Why?
Because the Francis Marion is booked solid for the rest of the holiday weekend.
So tomorrow we're off to the Inn at Middleton Place for the rest of our visit!
But that's okay... Because we certainly know our way back to Charleston and we'll
certainly be back to the Francis Marion! If you're looking for a memorable place
to stay, I highly recommend you make the Hotel Francis Marion your first choice!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The big Cheese lie!

When I told you that we didn't buy cheese during our tour of Ashe County Cheese...
Apparently, I lied! 
Turns out that while I was busy loading up on nuts and trail-mix, he
was slipping in this Juusto baked cheese! Along with his chocolate
covered gummi bears, peanut brittle, bridge mix and beef sticks!
So I say, why not? Let's put it to work in the panini
sandwiches I planned to make for dinner tonight!
Turkey for me. Ham for him!
And, a little baked Ashe County Cheese for both of us!
So how does it taste?
Very mild and buttery. And, per the Ashe Cheese website, it's also
supposed to taste squeaky. Yes, squeaky! Read it yourself here
So while it wasn't my idea, I am very glad we
brought Ashe County cheese home with us!