Monday, March 30, 2009

Charleston, South Carolina

We arrived in Charleston in the afternoon and checked in to a hotel because it was too cold to camp. We ended up in a Motel 6. The other guests with rooms near ours were up late and sounded as if they were standing outside our door. Even the little toddlers we could hear with them were up late. Many of the other "guests" were migrant workers. When I teach social work students, I lecture about how the stratification of socio-economic classes in our communities plays out. The rich are isolated from the poor. Those with education live separate lives from those without. I always encourage my students to actively include all socio-economic classes in their sphere of association. In my ideal world, neighborhoods, churches, schools, shops, parks, and libraries would be places where I interact with people who do not always look, speak, earn, think, nor vote exactly the way I do. I think our stay in Motel 6 was a good reminder to me of why that is important. I'm reminded that domestic violence is happening right now. I'm reminded that child neglect and abuse is destroying a child's life this minute. I'm reminded of immigration struggles and separated families. All of these things are too easy to forget when I'm isolated in my world of comfort and privilege, publicly sanitized of all problems (domestic violence and child abuse still happen--but it is much easier to conceal from others if you have money and power). The interesting part is I was a little scared at the Motel 6. I could hear shouting, and I worried about our car being broken into. There is a reason why those of us with wealth isolate ourselves--it is safer and more secure and more comfortable. I'm just reminding myself of the same lesson I preach to my students: don't isolate yourself. When you see the problems that others face up close, you'll be much more inclined to be part of the solution.

Now, back to the trip....After checking in to the hotel, the search for food began. This time the search for the perfect restaraunt was absolutely fulfilled. We ate at the famous Sticky Fingers restaraunt--which lots of famous people like George Bush have praised (we agree with him on the ribs, not politics). The restaraunt search was like many before--lots of searching, poor hungry Joseph waiting, and no success in site. Then, I said "That's it" when I saw Sticky Fingers, which I recognized from an advertisement. When I pointed down a street, what Marc saw was the Hooters that was down the same street. He thought his wife had been captured by aliens! But, Sticky Fingers turned out to be perfect, an Joseph still enjoys the name.

The next morning, we headed to downtown Charleston and walked the Museum Mile, The Market, The Battery... It was wonderful. And really, really cold.






Joseph was helping Mr. Bear walk with us in Charleston. Adorable, yet painfully slow!

I think this is the only picture we have of the two of us from the entire trip.

Marc and Joseph in front of a replica of the first submarine, the Hunley, which has a tragically fascinating history. In this pictureDo you love how Joseph has to stand independently? He is his father's son.


Charleston was really a charming city. I can't wait to go back.

February 23-24, 2009

Savannah, Georgia

We camped at the Ft. McAllister State Park in Georgia. But first, we stopped at a little Mexican restaraunt on the way to the campground. El Potro. It was a small, family owned restaraunt in small town Georgia. The food was fantastic, and we enjoyed practicing our Spanish with the server. Even Joseph tried his hand at the one Spanish word he knows and said, "manzana" (which means apple) to the delight of our new friend.

The campground was one of the prettiest of the trip with a gorgeous sunset over the water, but that night turned out to be our last night of camping on this trip because of the cold. We headed to Savannah the next morning. The cold and cloudy weather was unwelcome. We were missing the Florida sun. In Savannah, I took a guided trolley tour of the city while Marc and Joseph went on a ferry and otherwise explored. When we all reunited we stopped at the Bonaventure Cemetery before leaving Savannah. Maybe it was the dreary weather,maybe it was my tour guide whose humor I didn't appreciate--and just left me longing for facts, or maybe it was setting our expectations too high, but we were disappointed in Savannah. It seems like it could be a really neat city--maybe we just didn't hit the right tour. I think we would have liked to explore it by foot on a beautiful sunny day.












February 23, 2009

Back to St. Augustine

We camped at a KOA in Titusville, Florida. Hilariously, our campsite wasn't fifty feet from a major road. So, our last KOA had a train and planes. Here we had cars and trucks all night long. You can sleep through anything when you're tired.


The next morning we headed back to St. Augustine where we went back to the fort for a cannon demonstration. Then we explored the old town area, including The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, which was built in 1797. We liked the shops and musicians along the outdoor pedestrian mall.








February 22, 2009

Miami

After leaving the Everglades, we headed north again. We drove through Miami, and were amazed at South Beach--where we saw several lamborghinis (Marc pointed them out; a sports car is a sports car to me), people lunching at side walk cafes dressed very fashionably, and even a man with a huge snake draped over his shoulders. Quite a crowd and everything was so dramatically beautiful. The South Beach Food and Wine Festival was in full swing; the King of Spain even made an apperance the day before we were in town. The last time I was in South Beach had been with some of my college girlfriends; this time I was in my mini van. My, how things change.

Unfortunately, we didn't stop to walk around and I was so busy people-watching as we drove that I forgot to take any pictures until we were past the most interesting parts. And these pictures are taken from a moving car. But, at least you can see palm trees so it is somewhat convincing that we were really there, right?
One of our favorite parts of Miami was discussing it with Joseph. It went something like this:
J: "Where are we going today?"
S: "We are going to Miami."
J: "No, it is MY Ami. Not your Ami, MY Ami"
S: "Joseph, the name of the city is Miami"
J: "NOOOO! MY Ami!"
This went on and on. Never to be resolved.
Now, don't you wish you were with us in the car hour after hour for these meaningful and productive conversations?
Another great one was as we were driving through the Florida Keys,
Joseph said: "When I'm a daddy and I have a new mommy (we had one big conversation in the car about how Joseph was not going to marry me; he would have to marry a different mommy because I'm already married to Marc.), I'm going to have a boat and a boy."
Marc and Sarah: "Oh, that sounds fun! Can we come take a ride on your boat.?"
Joseph: "No."
Marc and Sarah: "Why not?"
Joseph: "Because you're going to be the Grandma and Grandpa."
We were impressed he understood how the generational progression works, but were a bit offended that we get no invitation to his boat.



February 21, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Everglades

After a good night sleep back in Florida City, we went to a breakfast buffet at the nearby Golden Corral and then straight to Everglades National Park, where we only spent a couple hours and were absolultey amazed by the wildlife.



Joseph checking out what is underneath the bridge.


Look closely, this bird has caught a fish in its mouth.

The alligators were certainly the most impressive! This is not a zoo, these alligators are living in the wild.

Here is a video of some alligator action.

February 20, 2009

Key West

The progression: First rolled up pants, then down to a diaper, and finally Marc put on a swim suit (I missed that picture). They had a great time swimming in the ocean along one of the Keys.
After exploring the Keys all the way down, we finally made it to Key West. Marc does not do lines so we didn't wait in line to have our picture taken by the sign that says we're at the southernmost tip of the United States. You'll just have to trust us.
Key West was actually very busy and crowded. We found a spot that wasn't (I guess no shops around). But here is a cruise liner (above) and the USS Mohawk (below). Marc and Joseph toured the USS Mohawk

After exploring Key West, we headed back up the keys to the mainland. We wanted to find the perfect restaurant for our Florida Keys visit. This is always a bad idea. Perfect is impossible. So, we never find exactly the perfect one we had in mind. We end up back in Florida City at Taco Bell. Poor Joseph, who was starving, thanked us over and over again for taking him to eat.
February 19, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Florida Keys

Our hotel in Florida City was a bit of a disappointment. We had booked through Hotwire, a site where you can get really great last minute deals. I've used Hotwire quite a bit over the years, but this was my first experience where I was disappointed. Nevertheless, it was better than the $80 the Key West KOA campground wanted to charge us to let up set up a tent for a night. Apparently we were there for the prime tourist time since in the summer it can be hot, humid and over-run by mosquitoes.


First stop, Key Largo.
Joseph holding a coconut on the beach in Key Largo. Do you like my broken sunglasses? Joseph still apologizes profusely for breaking them.

At a beach park in Key Largo, there was this swimming area enclosed by rocks on the beach.

The weather was beautiful--80 degrees. The water is gorgeous--hard to capture on camera and even harder to describe with words. Marc really loved fulfilling this dream. He definitely is a water person. I know he'd love to retire somewhere like the Florida Keys and have a little sailboat and just live the relaxed life. I'm interested in a bit more action, though I do admit I enjoyed the warmth and sunshine.

Joseph found some rocks to throw into the water. Nothing could make him any happier.



Here is a video of Joseph at the beach on one of the keys.

February 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Castillo de San Marcos

Our second day in St. Augustine, we spent several hours in the the morning exploring the Castillo de San Marcos. Marc said this fort reminded him of the Forteleza de San Felipe in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. This may be true; I don't remember much about the Dominican Republic except being pregnant and sick, sick, sick. Since I wasn't pregnant this time, I really enjoyed the fort and its fascinating history.


Joseph looking through a cannon.


After spending the morning at the fort, we had a major change of plans. Marc told me he had always wanted to go to the Florida keys. I figured we wouldn't be this close and with this much free time again so I agreed and we spontaneously drove the rest of the day--with a detour to see what we could see from the road of Cape Canaveral. We arrived in the evening to our hotel in Florida City, Florida--just above Key Largo.
February 18, 2009

St. Augustine Day 1

We really enjoyed St. Augustine. Our campground was absolutely beautiful--and sandy. Joseph hopped out of the car with some trucks and started digging immediately. Our first day we spent the whole morning at the beach. It was too cold to go in the water, but perfect for Joseph to dig and build in the sand. That morning still remains one of his all-time favorite parts of the trip. In the afternoon we visited Ft. Matanzas Joseph loved the ferry we took to reach the fort. Marc and I were amazed at the history we learned during this trip (from New Orleans to Florida to Georgia). The French and Spanish influences in the colonizing of America were certainly overlooked in our educational experiences.
At Ft. Matanzas


On the Ft. Matanzas ferry
After this tour, we explored the Mala Compra Plantation Archaeological Site. It was a welcome leisurely day.

February 17, 2009

A Visit to Aunt Jakay

Once in Florida, we set up camp at the amazing Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine. Then we headed along the beach on scenic Hwy A1A to Ormond Beach to meet my Aunt Jakay. I hadn't seen her in years, and it was so fun to catch up. She showed us her new house, and Joseph was quite enthralled with her pets. We had dinner with her at DB Pickles where they have a pickle bar with all kinds of pickled foods--from beets to tomatoes, and of course, lots of types of pickled cucumbers. For everyone who knows how much Marc loves pickles, this was quite the treat. Aunt Jakay told us of her experience in the newspaper business and family stories I'd never heard--and that made me realize how much of this Jarvis blood really does run in my veins. We also stopped by Megan's--my only cousin-- work to say a quick hello.
It was a fun visit. Aunt Jakay loves Halloween just like Marc. We left her house gifted with Halloween decorations that left Marc counting down until October.

February 16, 2009

Florida

After waking up to more rain our last night in New Orleans, we broke camp at about 6:30 am. Marc wadded up a wet tent and threw it in the back of the van while Joseph and I stayed dry inside the car--and off we went. We traveled from New Orleans along the scenic coastal Hwy 90 through a real-life bayou and along the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast. We passed through Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi before heading back to the Interstate. We explored Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida before staying the night in a hotel in Tallahasse, FL. We ate a picnic on the campus of Florida State University. Marc and I ate. Joseph ran laps around some statues on campus.

Ever wonder what Joseph did during the long car rides? Well, after the parades in New Orleans, he had stuffed animals, balloon animals, beads galore to keep him occupied.



The next morning we kept traveling and explored Jacksonville, Florida--home to a NAVFAC facility. Maybe this will be one of our future homes.

February 15-16, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mardi Gras and More

We were there for Carnival so we caught a couple parades (one day and one night) and enjoyed the Mardi Gras merriment. We caught lots of beads and other fun "throws" like stuffed animals and a light-up sword. Joseph and Marc were especially excited about catching the beads and toys. Joseph caught on very quickly--and who can resist his charms. We were told it is tradition to shout at the float riders, "Throw me something, mister!" (I guess even if it is a woman?)
We did a lot of walking. It is the best way to explore the French Quarter. Marc and I always go on long walks when we're exploring a city. This was the first time we've taken Joseph sans stroller. Independence has its costs. Joseph will not hold my hand unless we are crossing a street (where it is forced upon him). It can be a bit stressful to have him five feet ahead of you on these narrow streets. Luckily a couple of the days we were in the French Quarter it wasn't too busy in the early morning. Next time we might force the stroller issue.

We visited the Chalmette Battlefield where the Battle of New Orleans was fought. Now there is this beautiful restored home that is on the park grounds. It was built after the time period of battle. I'm standing on some stairs that cross a levee to the Mississippi River.

February 12-14, 2009