at the end of september, i got to go on a trip to south carolina with my mom and sisters. this was a huge boost and blessing for me in many ways. (it was so, so worth the babysitting logistics and the many pumping sessions!) the trip was full of sunshine, beauty, delicious food, adventure, wonderful conversation, and lots of sister love. all in all, for me, it was a perfectly timed gift from heaven.
mom, julie (and baby simon), saren and saydi and i flew out of salt lake, met up with shawni on our layover, and then found aja in charleston.
we headed straight to dinner and lucked out (after kind of shooting in the dark on where to eat) with the yummiest meal (one of those that you are still thinking about months later…).
we stayed one night in a lovely old historic hotel in charleston. in the morning we had a scrumptious breakfast and explored the beautiful building …
… and then we hit the town on a walking tour (guided by aja).
we saw so many gorgeous plantation homes and learned a little about the history of charleston.
i loved the vintage fire trucks at a corner fire station and had to snap a photo to show moses and gabriel.
love, loved all the gas lit, real burning lamps all around the city.
it was fun to stroll through the charleston city market, bursting at its seams with handmade treasures and uniquely southern handicrafts.
i couldn’t resist buying a perfect little southern smocked dress for evie.
so many beautiful facades and flower boxes. so much unique charm.
a group photo after lots of walking at learning at the famous “rainbow row”:
we got gelato and rested our legs in the park under a canopy of huge mossy trees, then saw a few more incredible houses right along the seafront, before heading out of town.
we spent the rest of our trip staying at a gorgeous airbnb house on kiawah island. en route we stopped by to see the famous angel oak tree.
and then found our airbnb, which was just dreamy.
kiawah island feels like a secret, secluded, magical world – gorgeous mansions tucked into the lush lush vegetation and between succulent marshes, all surrounded by the sparkling sea. we rented bikes for the five days we were on the island, and we got on them right away to go explore – we rode a few blocks to a boardwalk that led to the beach.
and then we realised we could ride our bikes on the beach! the sand is packed down just hard enough to create the perfect terrain for a bicycle. our souls were soaring as we cycled along the tide, exuberant at sunset! it really did feel like we were in a different world.
sunset snuggles with baby simon:
the next morning we headed out on bikes to explore the interior of the island. yes, we saw alligators!
we all fell in love with spanish moss on this trip.
we went up a couple of watchtowers overlooking the marshes. i loved hearing the snapping shrimp and clapping birds and just taking in the vast, unique landscape.
back to our home away from home (still looking for the photo we took of all of us outside the house – not sure which sister’s camera it was on!):
and more sunset biking that night…
yummy meals – amazing smoked and fried chicken in the little kiawah village and a lovely homemade meal at the house the next night:
yoga mornings on the deck:
and more bike rides around the island!
we saw lots of deer wandering around – i was excited to show these photos to my boys:
we spent an afternoon on the beach. saydi, julie, saren and i went swimming in the ocean and saydi got stung by a jellyfish!! she said it was really painful but she was also kind of psyched to have that experience. funny because we were just talking about the enneagram and her being excited about being stung by a jellyfish matched her “type” so perfectly.
aaaaand, another sunset bike ride. after that first night we knew we had to be out there on the sand and on our bikes every night!
meanwhile, back home…
we’d lined up babysitters for when ian had to work before the weekend, but then when the weekend came it was 4:1 kids:daddy, 24/7. he did an amazing job taking care of everyone on his own, oh and also, he took them all on a trip to yellowstone! haha. he’s crazy and i love it so much. he packed everyone up, strapped them all in, and drove first to teton national park and then on to yellowstone national park.
i had no idea he had this plan up his sleeve, and i was delighted by the photos he sent me – of gorgeous landscapes, geyers and mineral pools, spotted wildlife, and – most of all – happy kiddos.
they stopped by bear lake to spend the night on their way home, and then drove through stunning logan canyon en route to provo.
back to south carolina…
on sunday after church we visited the mcleod plantation. we obsessed over the incredible spanish moss, and then felt really sobered on a tour of the plantation. the plantation’s website says this:
it is a place like no other, not frozen in time but vibrant, dynamic, and constantly evolving, where the winds of change whisper through the oak trees and voices from the past speak to all who pause to listen. mcleod plantation was built on the riches of sea island cotton – and on the backs of enslaved people whose work and culture are embedded in the lowcountry’s very foundation. it is a living tribute to the men and women and their descendants that persevered in their efforts to achieve freedom, equality, and justice.
it was a moving experience.
after another outstanding meal of traditional southern food, we were, of course, back at the beach on our bikes.
this time we rode much farther than we had before … way down to a spot where the tide was way down. so cool to be cycling on what was recently the bottom of the ocean, as clearly evidenced by the ripples in the sand!
the light that last night was just magical. a perfect little kiss goodbye from kiawah island.
one last late night discussion, and a farewell yoga session on the beach – trying to gather all the peace and inspiration and love that we felt on kiawah island and store it in our hearts!
on our way to the airport to head home, we went to cypress gardens. remember that from the notebook with the canoe and all the geese? turns out the birds were all brought in for filming, but the swamp is even more stunningly romantic and beautiful in person! we got on two little boats and glided through the dark water under the towering trees – and it was the cherry on top of our amazing sisters’ trip.
^^ can you spot the alligators up there? ^^
two photos to end on – aja being our awesome aja, and baby simon being the sweetest little buddy along for the ride the whole trip:
i was pretty excited to get home and see ian and the kids (especially the babies, who i’d hardly left at all since they were born!). but wow, what a truly sublime trip, a complete treasure for me – those six days in south carolina with my sisters felt like a light in the wilderness.
This is a fabulous wrap up of our superb time together! That will always be a brilliant memory! Thanks for taking the time help us remember forever!
I just wanted to drop a note of gratitude. I’ve been reading your blog since I was a teenager and now I’m 26! I’ve actually gone back and recently read some of your pre-marriage/motherhood posts, specifically the ones about heartbreak and heartache. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you sharing so openly about your own heartbreak, your desire to become a mother and everything else in between. As I sit here, nursing a broken heart of my own and wondering if what I want to badly (to love and be loved and manifest that love in children) will happen, your posts have from that time have brought me so much comfort, knowing where you are now. And knowing that the place you are in now is not a perfect fantasy-land but is rich with the entire fabric of the human experience.
So, thank you. For sharing then and sharing now. I normally don’t comment on any blogs but a little voice inside my head told me to express that gratitude this morning.
thank you so much! this made my day – and it was a day that needed to be made 🙂
I live about an hour north of Kiawah, beside another gorgeous barrier island, and your pictures really capture just how magical it is here! Love SC.