It certainly wasn’t my first trip to Charleston, but it’s in the running for the best. Despite feeling over-traveled after our Eastern Tour, John and I decided that something special was in order for the end of 2014 and my 40th birthday. Choosing Charleston as a destination was really a no-brainer: incredible friends, amazing food, and warm(er) weather. DONE.
It would be another whirlwind trip for us, just a handful of days away from home. Leaving Cholula home with the house-sitter, we left before the sun rose. There’s nothing like zero degree weather to get you excited about a trip to the beach! We splurged on first class seats and enjoyed every second of it.
We met our hosts, Ali and Bright, many years ago when they lived in Salt Lake City for a short time. They had twin boys while they were here (who are now- eek– 8 years old). It was a sad day when they left Utah to return home to the South.
They are dear friends and we always have (too much) fun when we’re together. On our first night, we usually go a little bigger than we mean to, and this time was no different. We had drinks at Prohibition and dinner at Indaco and many glasses of wine, well into the night.
On New Year’s Eve, the boys took off for a day of fishing and the girls did a little shopping on King Street. I wasn’t feeling in the shopping mood, but there are few people in the world I enjoy a wine lunch with more than Ali. We took a different route home near the Battery. If those grand old houses could talk…
To ring in the new year, we went to a super fun party at Betsy’s house with gorgeous food and yummy grapefruit tequila cocktails. Ali and Bright have a solid crew of friends. They all take care of each other (and each other’s kids). The ladies are all talented, motivated, successful. I’m always inspired when I spend time with them. I ended the year with a noisemaker in my mouth, laughing and dancing with John and these fun folks.
On New Year’s Day, there’s a big event at Folly Beach called the Polar Plunge. Hundreds of people dress in costume and dive into the sea to start the year. We went to another party at a glorious home with a view of the ocean. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. We poured drinks and headed to the shore (along with all of Charleston, apparently). The people-watching was entertaining, the weather was perfect, and the house was amazing! What a life.
We left the day party around 7pm to head to a quieter venue: Jenny and Joe’s house. We played Uno with the kids, drank wine, watched college football in front of a fire, listened to the boys play music (Neil Young for me), and counted down the minutes to the end of my thirties. At midnight, there may or may not have been champagne-swigging and dancing on the dining room table.
I slept late on my birthday, the past couple of days catching up with me. I awoke to a phone full of texts, voicemails, and emails full of kind wishes. In the shower, I was overcome with emotion- the pain of the difficult year hit me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I let it wash away with my tears, down the drain, and stepped out with a feeling of optimism for the year ahead. Ali poured mimosas and I got a few birthday surprises: a stunning purse from Ali, gorgeous earrings made my another Charleston friend, Heather, a musical/oinking card from one of their sons, Ben, and legit southern breakfast biscuits delivered to the door. YES.
We left the boys with friends and the four grown-ups had a luxurious day at the spa at Belmond Charleston Place. I think I might start an annual tradition of getting a massage on my birthday- what a fantastic way to begin a new year! Afterward, we met more friends at the swanky Thoroughbred Club for drinks and appetizers before heading out to an old favorite for dinner: High Thyme on Sullivan’s Island. There happened to be a cioppino on the menu (my all-time favorite meal) and I made a birthday wish before the night ended.
And just like that, it was time to go home. A 4:15AM wake-up time was not awesome, but the view of the sunrise over the clouds was. I spent the plane ride thinking about the fun of the last few days, feeling overwhelmingly grateful for a husband who loves me (through thick and thin), for friends with huge hearts (near and far), for family that supports and loves me, for the opportunities to travel, and for the home and sweet dog awaiting me in Utah.
What a way to mark the end of a challenging year and the end of a decade of growth. If my 40s are anything like my 30s were, I’ve got a wild ride ahead of me.
Bring it on.
Got the travel bug? Check out more of our adventures on the TRAVEL BLISS page.
One year ago: “Shortcut” baked risotto.