Vacation 2012: Charleston

After brunch on Sunday in Amelia Island, we said our good-byes to extended family and hit the road for Charleston.

Hannah and I took a quick side trip along the way to the Tanger outlet stores in Hilton Head and we all arrived in lovely Charleston Sunday night.

I guess the activities of the past few days caught up with us then, because we were all exhausted that evening! Mom, Hannah and I went to the Whole Foods store across the street from the hotel to get supplies for dinner, then we simply relaxed and called it a night.

By the way, that was my first time in a Whole Foods store and I loved it! Mom, Hannah and I went back a few more times before we headed back to Knoxville. I can’t wait for the one in Knoxville to open in late 2013! Trader Joe’s is cheaper and Earth Fare has great coupons, but I’ll probably still pop in Whole Foods from time to time.

Back to Charleston…

On Monday, we loaded up in the morning and headed to the Isle of Palms beach. The pull of the tide isn’t as strong and the drop off is more gradual, so we enjoyed being able to go farther out into the water at Isle of Palms than on Amelia Island. But I have to admit, while Isle of Palms was still nice, I got spoiled at Amelia Island. Isle of Palms was *much* more crowded! I also decided to avoid laying out on the beach because the mosquitoes apparently thought it made a good buffet. A few of them got to me before I opted to just hang out in the water.

Isle of Palms

We headed back to the hotel in the early afternoon, showered, then headed for historic downtown. I *LOVE* historic downtown Charleston. All of the rich history, the beautiful buildings and centuries-old traditions fascinate and excite me. I need to return to Charleston when I have more time to explore!

Of course, we couldn’t go to downtown Charleston and not stroll through the City Market and enjoy a meal at Hyman’s.

Eating dinner at Hyman’s

Afterwards, we worked off our meal by walking down Market Street to Battery Park and back. The historic homes are so gorgeous! I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that I would love to live in a home like that — just plop it onto a piece of land here in the Knoxville area. 🙂

Home on Meeting Street

The next day, we decided to explore a little more outside the downtown Charleston area. We drove to the Angel Tree, a centuries-old live oak outside Charleston. Unfortunately, it started raining about the time we got there, so it was hard to enjoy it. And while it certainly is a huge tree and it’s remarkable that it’s survived all that time, we were all a little under-impressed and eager to get out of the rain.

Angel Tree

Next, we moved on to the American Tea Plantation. I think this was the highlight of the trip for Mom and Hannah. I thought it was pretty cool, too, even though I’m more of a coffee girl. We took a quick tour of the area where they bring the tea inside and process it, then browsed through the store and sampled several different flavors and types of tea.

American Tea Plantation

And that pretty much wrapped up our adventures in Charleston. On Wednesday, we loaded up and headed for home.

Hannah and I took a “detour” again and stopped in Asheville for a few hours. (We don’t get out of East Tennessee much, so when we do we try to seize the opportunity to explore everything we can!) We walked through parts of downtown then enjoyed a delicious meal at Tupelo Honey Cafe. I’d heard many people rave about the restaurant and now I have to say that I agree with them! Hannah and I ate off their gluten-free menu and I was very impressed! I can’t wait for their new restaurant to open on Market Square! Their gluten-free menu probably will become my new special occasion indulgence for eating out.

All in all, my vacation was a great, relaxing time away from home. I enjoyed exploring two of my favorite places in the world with my family without the pressures of daily life at home. We all needed that brief escape from reality!

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Vacation 2012: Amelia Island

I returned home yesterday from a week-long vacation with my family. It was a getaway we all needed desperately and it felt so good to “escape” from real life for a week of relaxation and rejuvenation.

We divided our time between Amelia Island, Fla. and Mount Pleasant, SC (outside Charleston). For simplicity’s sake, I’ll separate my account of our trip into two entries, one for each location.

Our journey began with the road trip down to Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach. My sister, Hannah,  and I drove down together while my parents and youngest brother traveled separately. Hannah and I enjoyed the chance to take our time and enjoy each other’s company throughout the long drive. We listened to Julie by Catherine Marshall (one of my favorite books) on tape the whole way down and made quick stops at an outlet mall in southern Georgia to go in a Book Warehouse store. Hannah had not seen Savannah, so we also drove through the historic district (where I managed to get us turned around for 15-20 minutes).

We finally arrived on the island around 8 p.m. The beach beckoned with a magnetic strength, so we stopped by to walk in the sand and stick our feet in the water before we even went to the hotel.

Fernandina Beach

I love Amelia Island. It’s located just across the Florida state line on the East Coast, surrounded by the ocean and the Amelia River. Fernandina Beach is a small, beautiful, historic town with a laid-back atmosphere. The beach is beautiful and not crowded. A tangible sense of peace and tranquility seems to rest over the place. It truly is one of my favorite spots in the world.

We spent most of the first whole day at the beach. Sadly, I was so caught up in having fun that I failed to take any pictures. We also strolled through the downtown shops. I had to stop in one of my favorites, even though I opted to get my Christmas ornament from Charleston this time, since I already have one from Amelia Island.

Christmas On the River store

The next day, I went for a run on the road beside the beach (skipped the sand, but got the little bit of sea breeze that was blowing), then my dad, sister, brother and I went to Fort Clinch State Park. I explored the park during my Amelia Island trip with my friend Katherine a couple of years ago and it was one of the highlights of that vacation for me. So I was eager to go back and show it off to the rest of my family. It didn’t disappoint. Almost immediately after driving through the gates, one drives down a winding path with a canopy of Spanish-moss covered trees hanging overhead. It’s beautiful. It looks like a scene straight out of Savannah or Charleston, but it’s tucked away on little Amelia Island. There’s also a preserved fort complete with cannons, from which one can see Amelia River, Cumberland Sound and the ocean.

Fort Clinch drive

On Saturday, we spent the day celebrating my cousin’s wedding, which was the primary reason we made the trip when we did. Winston married his beautiful bride, Amanda, inside my uncle’s church. Then we enjoyed a fun reception along the Amelia River Plantation along the river. I enjoyed taking in the scenery, even though it rained some throughout the evening.

Winston and Amanda’s first dance

All the Overton grandkids (minus my brother Andrew)

Sisters – the must-have silly face shot

Isaac and me

Dancing!

View of the Amelia River

More of the river

On Sunday, we loaded up and hit the road for Charleston after a leisurely brunch at the hotel with all of the extended family and other wedding guests. While I was excited about the next leg of our journey, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed as we drove north. The peaceful island life agreed with me. I enjoyed the entire vacation, but our time in Amelia Island was my favorite. I will hope I get to return before too many more years pass by.