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Well, I made it home after visiting five states in 8 days.  


One of the things that I enjoy most about my annual road trips is discovering the people, places, history, food and gardens of the different regions of the United States.


My road trip, this year, took me to parts of the South.




I walked through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina and seeing historical places where events of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War played out.


I peeked over ornate gates to see hidden gardens in this beautiful city.


This native Southern Californian who grew up along the Pacific coast, dipped my toes in the Atlantic Ocean on Tybee Island.


I enjoyed visiting many of the 22 historical squares of Savannah, Georgia where many of the buildings survived the Civil War.


I found that Spanish moss really does hang from the trees down South, although it isn’t Spanish or a moss.
(It is actually a bromeliad and related to the pineapple).


An unplanned visit to the University of South Carolina yielded discoveries of beautiful gardens, including this herb/vegetable garden.


Smaller highways led us to small towns with tiny police stations.


Driving through North Carolina proved that spring has indeed sprung with the vision of flowering dogwoods everywhere.


Small roadside markets in Tennessee tempted us with their wares including boiled peanuts, toe jam and frog jam on our way toward the Smoky Mountains.


The gardens of the University of Tennessee had much to delight this horticulturist, including their kitchen garden.


A visit to Kentucky horse country led to the unforgettable experience of feeding thoroughbreds peppermint candies (with their trainer’s permission, of course).


Discovering the world of horse racing was very exciting even though I wasn’t betting.


I spent the night in a jail.  Seriously, it was a bed & breakfast that was located inside the old county jail in Bardstown, KY.  
I did sleep in a regular bedroom and not this jail cell 😉


The last day of our Southern journey took me to a bourbon distillery where I tasted my first and last bourbon.


On our way to the airport in Louisville, we took an unexpected detour to Fort Knox as our GPS guided us there in our search of a UPS store to mail home our souvenirs.

The South is a wonderful place to visit and I made a few other discoveries while I was there:

– Southerners are the friendliest people.  Strangers wave to you on the side of the road as you pass.  When they ask you how you are doing, they really want to know.

– Their regional dishes have names like ‘Kentucky Burgoo’ and ‘The Big Brown’.  But, the servers are happy to explain to you what they are.

– Sweet tea is very sweet.

– The food is fabulous and fried chicken is served just about everywhere (after all, Col. Sanders created his ‘Original’ fried chicken recipe in Kentucky).

For those of you who followed along with me on my journey, thank you!

Well, after a delayed start yesterday – we finally began our newest road trip adventure.


Charleston, South Carolina was our first destination.



For those of you who have been to Charleston, you know what a beautiful city it is, steeped in history with beautifully, preserved buildings.

My mother and I are fairly independent when traveling and took our own tour of the historic downtown district of Charleston – armed with a map and guide, which explained all of the historic sites.


Many of the buildings dated from the 1700’s.  There were beautifully decorated gates that led to narrow walkways, which ended in secret gardens…



I love learning about history and particularly liked the story behind the cobble stone streets…


These stones are from England.  They come over in the 1700’s on ships where they were used as ballast.  Then the stones were taken off of the ships and made into streets.


There were beautiful window boxes filled with an assortment of ornamental plants.



Window boxes are a novelty to me because in our dry, desert climate – it is almost impossible to grow plants successfully in windows during the summer.


Charleston is also known for its many steepled churches.


My mother spent time going into the churches, exploring their history (she is a former pastor) – while I would take photos of plants outside 🙂

This church really struck a chord with her with its history of its bells.  This is St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and its bells were made in London in 1764.  After the Revolutionary War, the British stole the bells and took them back to London.  

Later, the bells were returned and hung back up in the steeple.


The clay tiles of this old home were made by molding them around a man’s thigh.


Visiting the Slave Mart Museum was very interesting and informative, yet heartbreaking at the same time.

The museum is located on the site of where slaves were sold back in the 1800’s.


I had heard of these beautiful, handmade baskets before I came to Charleston.  These are Gullah Sweet Grass baskets.  The art of making this type of basket originated in Africa, long ago.  The slaves brought over this basket-making ability with them to the states and have handed it down to their descendants, who continue to make them today.


The baskets are made out of sweet grass, bull grass, palmetto palms and pine needles.  This kind woman took time to explain to me how she learned how to make these baskets from her mother and has taught her children how to make them.  

One medium-sized basket takes 2 1/2 days to make.


My mother and I saw this historic home for sale – but figured out that a home built in the 1700’s might be more of a ‘fixer-upper’ then we wanted to handle 😉

One of the best parts of traveling, is to taste the unique dishes of the region.


Now, I am not what you would call an adventurous diner.  In fact, I can be rather picky.

But, I had to try this ‘Southern Sampler’, which had fried green tomatoes (I tried one bite), corn bread topped with bacon, pulled pork and cole slaw and fresh potato chips.  It was delicious, especially with sweet tea – another Southern staple.

We had a wonderful day in Charleston and then traveled onto Georgia.

Come back tomorrow and see what new adventures we encounter.

To tide you over, here are a couple more photos of window boxes…


It’s time to hit the road again…


Every year, I go on a trip with my mother, exploring different parts of the United States.  We fly into one city, rent a car, travel from town to town for 8 days and then leave from another city.


I love traveling and like to explore and learn about other regions of our country.  As a native of Southern California and current resident of Arizona, my regional experience has quite a western slant.  So, what better way to learn more about the people, food, customs and gardens in other regions then to ‘hit the road’?


Half of the fun of our annual road trip, is planning on where we will go.

First, look at maps of where we had already been.  Then we try to plan our route so that we see new areas.


Three years ago, we visited the following places:


We drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, visited colonial Williamsburg, our nation’s capitol, Pennsylvania Amish country, Philadelphia and NewYork City.


Two years ago, we visited parts of the Midwest:



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We began in Michigan, visiting the town of Holland, then traveled onto Indiana Amish country, seeing Lincoln’s house and tomb in Springfield, viewing the Mississippi River in Hannibal, MO – the inspiration for Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” and finishing up in Joplin.


Last year’s trip focused on the Northeast:



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We began in Columbus, OH, visiting a friend and then traveling on to Ohio Amish country, Niagara Falls, the Finger Lakes of NY, the beautiful mountains of Vermont and left from Manchester, NH.


This year’s trip is focused on exploring areas further down South: 



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We are beginning our journey in Savannah, GA.  Then we are traveling through South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.


I have been to North Carolina and Georgia before, but the other states are new to me.  I do have some southern roots from the state of Kentucky and we might try to visit some old family grave sites.


For those of you who have read my blog for some time; you know that I do like to ‘take you along with me’ on my trips.  


I will be blogging from the road and sharing with you my adventures.


We leave on Wednesday!!!