Farewell Summer: Labor Day To-Do List

Angela:

Summer is nearing its end and the relentless heat is subsiding (just barely). The end of summer means different things to different people. To parents, it’s that busy time that the kids go back to school. To the kids, it’s the bittersweet end of break freedom. To everyone else, it's the end of a glorious summer.  The last days of summer are marked by the Labor Day holiday weekend and we've made a list of things to-do to end summer with a bang! If you're planning to move here or have recently relocated, you'll notice there's never a day your calendar can't be filled with something fun! (Note: Be sure to read to the end for our giveaway!)

Labor Day Weekend To-Dos:

I'm planning to spend at least part of my holiday weekend on the beach. One of the best parts about living in Charleston is that there's always a beach nearby!
Photo: @angelawicke

Get your tickets to the 8th Greater Lowcountry Jazz Festival, September 2-4.
Photo: @lowcountryjazzfest

Set sail on the Palmetto Breeze, Friday, September 2nd for the Firefly Friday Charleston Harbor Sunset Sail benefiting the Susan G. Komen foundation.
Photo: @palmetto_breeze

You don’t want to miss the Labor Day weekend fireworks on Folly Beach, September 4th at 9 p.m. near 3rd Block West.
Photo: @edgeofamerica

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Other upcoming Lowcountry events to check out:

Photo: @chasriverdogs

As always, the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has a great ongoing calendar here

*Now for the giveaway- Leave a comment with your favorite Lowcountry Labor Day activity for a chance to win two free general admission Riverdogs tickets to this season's last regularly scheduled game on Thursday, September 1 at 6:35 p.m. Giveaway ends Wednesday, August 31 at 12 p.m.

 

A Love Letter from Emily White

Emily White:

Dear Lowcountry,

You have raised me. I was born in July of 2000 at Trident Medical Center in North Charleston, and from there I was brought home to James Island. I was the first child my parents had, and it remained that way for another two years, until my brother was born. We all lived together in a cozy home that I don’t remember much of, except that there was a koi pond, sunflowers, and big trees. We remained there for the next four years, until my parents decided to move to Mount Pleasant. The following years, I was signed up for numerous sports and attended many city coordinated activities with my family. We were never bored.

Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

This past summer, for the first time, I went West Coast. West Coast, Best Coast was a saying I had heard many times, and before my trip, I believed it to be true. We drove all along the California coast, and it being the dead of summer, we stopped at more than a few beaches, and to put it candidly, they didn’t meet my expectations. The beaches could not compare to the ones I had back home. I desperately missed Isle of Palms (IOP), Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach, where you were guaranteed water at the perfect temperature, and beaches that weren’t too crowded (especially if you went to the right spot during the right time). Another thing I frequently missed when traveling was our famous Charleston sunsets. I have never traveled anywhere where the sunset was as beautiful and colorful as it is in Charleston, South Carolina. My family’s go to spots to witness this Lowcountry treasure are the Pitt Street Bridge, and the Waterfront Park Pier, but our own backyard also serves the sight justice. 

My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

One of the other many things that I love about my home is the opportunity it has given me. I am able to go to one of the best high schools in the nation, hang out downtown with my friends, play Ultimate Frisbee with my parents, and run the Ravenel Bridge whenever I want (something 40,000 people from all over the country come to do once a year). And, if the rare feeling of boredom comes about, you can guarantee that a city activity is happening.

My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

Today, I begin my junior year of high school, so the topic of college keeps working its way into the conversations I have with relatives, advisors, and friends. I was born and bred in the Lowcountry and I carry that with me everywhere I go. I’m excited to make my own way, but I also dread the day I may have to say goodbye to the only home I have ever known. Regardless, I know with full confidence that the Lowcountry will always be part of me. For now I am enjoying the next two years under my parent's roof and care in this wonderful city. I am also enjoying the beaches, the sunsets, the weather, and the people whom are unlike any other that I will ever experience anywhere else.

Love,
Emily 

Bio (By Emily Gildea):
Emily lives in Mt. Pleasant with her parents, Eric and Meredith, and her two siblings, Lewis and Molly. Today, she starts her junior year of Academic Magnet High School with her brother starting as a freshman. Emily is an active community volunteer and wrote this letter without any coaxing from a parental unit. I personally connect to Emily through our shared namesake and height advantages.

Letters of Gratitude - Our Personal Thanks

Today, we've decided to share our individual letters of gratitude. It has been a wild year for both of us, and as we wrap-up this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we thought, "what better blog this week, than our own personal letters to the Lowcountry for you; our supporters, followers, and fellow neighbors?". Thank you to each and every one of you for following our posts and supporting us! 

Emily:
This past Friday, as our flight landed at the Charleston airport after a few great days with family in New Orleans, I was overwhelmed with happiness to be home. While our adventures frequently take us all over the world, that are spectacular in their own right, I can’t seem to get enough of the Lowcountry. It's hard to beat sunsets, bridge walks, dinners at our favorite restaurant, or evenings in with Trevor and our dog, Miles. It doesn’t matter where we travel, we’re always inundated with questions about the Lowcountry. These are the three most recent and popular:

  1. What’s the temperature like this time of year? High of 70 today
  2. Do you have any plans for the holidays around town? Starlight yoga, annual favorite things party and cookie exchange party with my girlfriends, Lowcountry Libations holiday party at Frothy Beard Brewing, watching the downtown Christmas parade with my colleagues, and more
  3. How are the homes selling there? Here’s a market report, but I’ll give you a hint, they’re hot

These answers typically result in another question: When can we visit? Luckily, our home has an extra bedroom that stays pretty full (it should have its own calendar). In the past month, my best friend from my hometown and my dad and his wife have visited. So, while I may live 5 1/2 hours away from my hometown and some of my family (Hi, Everett's and Bowman's!), which is difficult during the holiday season, we are grateful to live in a place where people love to visit.

If you would have asked me six years ago where I would be today, I highly doubt my prediction would come anywhere close to where life has taken me. Though it’s come with the hardest day of my life, when I lost my mom a little less than 3 years ago. It’s also come with the best day of my life, when I married Trevor. Moving to the Lowcountry was the best decision for my life, at the time, that pointed me in the right direction. I spent 5 wonderful years working at a dedicated non-profit, my best friend moved here with her kids from our hometown, I started a new career with the support from an amazing company and colleagues, my dad moved an hour closer to be in Asheville, my husband's family is right around the corner, I have met the best people in our community and continue to meet more through this blog and other outlets, and I get to wake up every day with my husband and dog in our house we made a home. So, thank you Lowcountry. You’re everything I ever dreamed of and some of what I could have never conceived and for that, I am so incredibly THANKFUL.
 

Emily and Trevor's Christmas tree, "Shorty", coming in at 9+ feet. Decorated by family on a fun, Sunday afternoon.  

Emily and Trevor's Christmas tree, "Shorty", coming in at 9+ feet. Decorated by family on a fun, Sunday afternoon.  

Angela:
What a year!  This ride called life has really started to speed up. I caught myself giving out unsolicited advice to a girlfriend in her 20s yesterday on how if I had known in my 20s how wonderful everything will work out in my 30s, I could have stressed a little less and enjoyed my earlier youth a little more (Mom, Dad, you were right). This year especially has been a 'year of change' for me.  I moved into a new full-time career, traveled extensively with my husband David, and together we decided to start a family. As I begin to move into this next exciting chapter in my life, I'm finding overwhelming support from places that I never expected. Neighbors, colleagues (from past and present), girlfriends, clients, and my new family gained through marriage, have made my support system here strong. Moving here five years ago and only knowing one person (Hi Kristen!) was one of the biggest leaps of faith that I had ever taken. Good news, so far all has turned out to be amazing and I give all credit to you Lowcountry, the friendly people that make your communities here great, and this beautiful environment that I enjoy daily. There is something truly spiritual about sipping coffee on my front porch swing (almost year round due to our very mild weather) and watching the sailboats float by.

I especially love showing properties and seeing the beautiful communities full of charm and character through my client's eyes. It's like my first day in the Lowcountry all over again. The "ohs" and "ahs" when I drive folks around Hampton Park, the twinkle that Sunset Park will bring to a first-timer's smile, the silence of approval experienced when eating your first Zia Taqueria taco or Moe's Crosstown Burger. All of these experiences are what make me truly grateful to call this place home.

Lowcountry, I feel that I should let you know that there are a few places where my life changed that will always hold a special place in my heart and connect us forever:

  • Folly Beach on 13th E. Street is where my husband loves to surf and where I have made a great group of friends who constantly show us support and love
  • O-Ku where (exactly three years ago) David and I met for our first date. It was followed by the most delicious homemade poptarts at The Belmont and ended with a kiss on the cheek goodbye in the Charleston Visitor's Center Parking Deck
  • Hampton Park where I walked my dog Tater for miles and miles daily contemplating life, if I was on the right path, if I was happy with the woman I was growing to be, and wondering if I would ever have a family of my own
  • Riverland Terrace where David and I have made a home and are preparing to fill it with love for a little one on the way

So, as we move into the hectic holiday season, I hope that we can all pause for a moment and take in the magic that exists within each of us and our community. Cheers to you Lowcountry! Today and everyday I pause to give THANKS to you.

 

Angela and David, Christmas tree shopping, in short sleeves, no less.  

Angela and David, Christmas tree shopping, in short sleeves, no less.  

Charleston is Where the Heart Is... written by David Wicke

David in the second grade at mokulele Elementary, Hawaii

Son of a Navy Sailor from Minnesota, I am what you might call a Military Brat.  I was born in Charleston at the Naval Hospital that has now since closed.   Due to my father's occupation, we were able to live in exotic locations such as Guam and Hawaii.  However, we always came back to Charleston.  This area was my father's favorite.  As a child, I never really understood.
 
We lived mostly in the Goose Creek area right next to the woods.  I remember tromping through them with my older brother seeking one adventure after another.  My sister, brother and I attended the local schools, Westview Elementary and Middle as well as Stratford High School.  I think out of the three of us, I loved going to school the most.  You couldn't keep my head out of a textbook.
 
My father would also take us out to Short Stay on Lake Moultrie with our little Jon boat.  He would spend the day teaching my brother and I how to fish.  Needless to say, I wasn't very good at it and was usually the day's catch.  Luckily enough, we could always stop by our favorite restaurant in Moncks Corner called the Dock Restaurant on the Tailrace Canal. Unfortunately, it closed a few years back but the hush puppies were amazing.
 
After high school, I had the choice of staying local or going to another state.  Although home is Charleston, I decided to go off to Indiana to a private engineering school.  While I met some amazing people in my time in Indiana, I always looked forward to coming back to Charleston during holidays. 
 
My palate has considerably changed since college but what I would look forward to most when being back from school was Wild Wing Café at downtown Charleston.  My sister and my parents never had to ask where I wanted to eat.  I could order 30 wings at once along with a side of their delicious buffalo chips. Afterwards, I would visit my sister out on Isle of Palms.  Two blocks from the beach, it was very enticing to visit all the time. Being a Navy brat, I fell in love with the ocean at an early age and Charleston's beaches are wonderful.
 
After college, I had a few offers of employment in Indiana and some other states but Charleston called me back.  I was able to find work as a government contractor due to the burgeoning technical scene here.  I believe they want to call this area Silicon Harbor. I still lived in Goose Creek but I had more chances to go downtown when I was working on my Master's degree.  While I love a good hot wing, my new favorite restaurant became Basil, a Thai Restaurant on King Street. Their ginger chicken is amazing and a recipe I secretly want to learn.  I also learned to love "big as your head" burritos from Yo Burrito! and spicy New York style pizza from Andolini's which was right next to the computer science building at the College of Charleston.  I also had a wonderful group of friends who would meet up at Kaminsky's on Market Street.  We would each order a separate dessert, take a few bites and then rotate so everyone could enjoy their delicious treats.
 
As a student of the College of Charleston, I was able to take sailing lessons out of the historical Patriot's Point, home of the U.S.S. Yorktown.  We were able to take out our little J/22 sailboats into Charleston Harbor.  I remember one eventful lesson where the instructor had to chase me down after passing Fort Sumter heading for the harbor mouth.  I felt like I was ready for the ocean.
 
 After getting my Master's degree, the government decided to bring me on and send me to Germany.  I had an amazing time in Europe, don't get me wrong, but after a little over three years, I really missed the ocean.  This time, I chose to move to James Island.  What a change.  Goose Creek is amazing if you have or want a family and don't mind commuting.  James Island, however, offers a mix of being close to the beach and close to downtown with housing for families or for singles.
 
It was while I lived in James Island that I fell in love with surfing.  Surprising considering I lived in both Guam and Hawaii and never surfed.  Everyday after work, I would race home to grab my board and head to Folly Beach.  Whether the surf was good or not, it was amazing to get into the water.  If there was the off occasion where I didn't feel like surfing, I could always go to James Island County Park to walk the beautiful trails that run along the intracoastal waterway or play on the climbing wall.  Some days, I would even walk across the Ravenel Bridge to take in a beautiful view of Downtown Charleston.
 
It was in Charleston that I would meet my beautiful wife.  We both met on the job although, as my wife would tell it, I'm terrible at reading signals.  It took me a while to realize the beautiful young woman that continually bumped into me in the hall was actually interested in me.  Our first date was at a wonderful sushi restaurant on King Street called O-Ku.  We were both pretty nervous but luckily the beautiful music from Seth G., the violinist, helped drown out my stammering.
 
After a wonderful courtship we decided to tie the knot.  We held our wedding at McCrady's Restaurant in historic Unity Alley.   Catered by Sean Brock's team of chefs, our menu was full of wonderful Lowcountry cuisine.
 
Well, now I see why my father loves the Lowcountry so much.  I have so many wonderful memories of this place.  

Catching waves during the winter on folly beach

Catching waves during the winter on folly beach

Lowcountry Staycation: Summer Edition

So you’re visiting the Lowcountry and want the ‘true’ Charleston experience? What should you do? How can you possibly choose what to see with all of the amazing things to do and see here?  This week, we decided to see what a local would do given a chance to vacation in their own city...  

Folly Beach steps to my beach chair

Folly Beach steps to my beach chair

I had a few days to myself and decided to have a true ‘Staycation.’ For those unfamiliar with the term, a staycation is when you vacation in your own home town. I started my planning by writing down all of the ‘tourist hotspots’ as they’re known to us locals; places that I’ve always meant to go, but never really taken the time to visit/tour. Since moving here many years ago, I’ve always enjoyed exploring. Especially in my line of work, exploring different neighborhoods and communities is in the job description.

I started the staycation by enjoying Second Sunday on King Street. It was a hot day, so I made sure to enjoy a cool popsicle from the King of Pops. My husband and I strolled down King Street, admiring the local musicians, performers and artists. I had a craving for tacos, so we decided to make our way to East Bay Street to try out Minero. We had heard great things about it and love chef Sean Brock, so decided to give it a try. We weren’t disappointed. On the way back to King Street, we cut down Queen Street and discovered a cute vintage shop, Curiosity. It was a bit off of the beaten path, but definitely worth wandering into (located at 56 1/2 Queen Street).  

Checkout @shopcuriousity on instagram!

Checkout @shopcuriousity on instagram!

Day two I decided to head down to Folly Beach for a beach day. I dropped into Baguette Magic to grab a quick breakfast, making sure to leave reasonably early so that I could beat the beach traffic. To my surprise, I was able to get to the beach with little hassle (parking at Folly Beach is free if you head away from Center Street and ensure that all four of your tires are off of the road). After some sunbathing and frolicking in the ocean, I decided to walk to the Folly Beach Pier. Here they have public restrooms, a restaurant, and showers. After a quick break, I crossed the street to The Juice Joint and bought myself a refreshing juice for the walk back to my beach chair. I decided to end the day with a stop at The Barrel for a cold beer, game of cornhole, and to enjoy some live music. The sunset over the marsh was spectacular and I’m never disappointed with the views that The Barrel has to offer.

On my last day of my staycation I decided to go for some cooler options and catch a mid-day movie at the Terrace Theater. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to go to a movie in the middle of the day when all of your friends/family are at work. It felt mischievous. If you’ve never been to the Terrace Theater, it’s worth checking out! A nice glass of wine and scoop of gelato while watching an indie film was the perfect ending to my mini-vacation, I meant staycation.

While I admit, I didn't actually make it to anything on my list, such as Fort Sumter, Magnolia Plantation, or The Black Fedora Comedy and Mystery Theater, I did get to experience just enough to go back to work relaxed and satisfied!