A Love Letter from Avery Bowman

Emily:

This past week, my husband and I got a good look into our future by housing my cousin's 9 year old son, Avery. His free time was spent schooling us at SkeeBall, teaching our 9 month old to 'RAWR', walking our dog, reading books from the library, and catching a foul ball at the RiverDogs game. His visit was timed to attend Coastal Expeditions' Young Naturalist Summer Camp. Like any good auntie (Familial Relations 101, anyone?) would do, I had him journal about his daily experiences to save and share with his family back in Tennessee. And as you can see below, to share with Lowcountry Love Letters.

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First, about the camp:
"Each day at Coastal Expeditions brings a new adventure and includes activities like pulling a seining net along the shores of a barrier island, kayaking alongside a manatee in Shem Creek or exploring a bird rookery in the Charleston Harbor.  Your young naturalist will experience the Lowcountry in a way that will foster a life-long love for this unique environment.

Our camps foster kayak skills, leadership, team building, self esteem, and environmental appreciation. Making learning fun while participating in interactive activities is our goal for your young naturalist."

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And now, from Avery:

MONDAY
First day of camp means meeting new friends. Kayaked for the first time ever! Bonus- it was with dolphins. Kind of wondering if I'm going to see them every day. We went on an adventure walk at the Shem Creek Pier and saw a million crabs.
Quote of the Day (QOTD): "Do the cicadas here have microphones?"

TUESDAY
First time paddle boarding. We went twice and it was so awesome. I sat most of the time. It's really difficult to stand up! Dolphins were there to say 'hi'. Pretty sure a jellyfish got me. Not my first time with that experience. Went swimming off of the dock.

WEDNESDAY
Another day, another dolphin. More kayaking today. I'm learning more about the rudder and which direction the paddle will send me. Hint: It's the opposite direction you're moving it.

THURSDAY
Day trip to Bulls Island! The waves were awesome. We also got to visit a wolf sanctuary. The boat was neat, but we didn't see any dolphins.

FRIDAY
Paddle boarding is becoming my favorite, but man do my arms hurt. We went to Fort Moultrie today. Dolphins were back. 4 days out of 5 isn't bad.

FAVORITES
Ocean Waves on Bulls Island
Fort Moultrie

LEAST FAVORITES
Water shoe blisters
Applying sunscreen

FAVORITE ONE LINER
"Do the cicadas here have microphones?"

Daily Journaling

Daily Journaling

Guess who's already asking to come back next summer? We'll gladly take you, Avery.

What should we check out next year when he's here? 

 

Avery & Grant at the Mt. Pleasant Library

Avery & Grant at the Mt. Pleasant Library

A Love Letter from Ashley Galloway Thomas

Ashley:

I moved here in the Summer of 2014 with my then boyfriend (now husband-woot!) David, a Charleston native.  We had zero job prospects and a small amount of money to ride out an unknown length of unemployment. Some people thought we were foolish to move to a new city on these circumstances but to us, it just felt right. We were living in Peoria, IL at the time and were ready for a change (and some warmer weather). Charleston seemed like a no-brainer for us. We had a lot friends there, it’s full of amazing food and we’re total porch dogs. What more could we want? Two of our good friends let us stay in their attic apartment for a few months until we could land some jobs and find a place of our own. Which we did. And the rest is history.

Charleston has been and continues to be a beautiful place to live. Here are my top four reasons why I love living here.  

There’s a Strong Local Movement Here

In addition to the many local/family owned restaurants in the area, there are over 80 local farms here in the Lowcountry, many of which participate in a CSA program. Subscribing to a CSA helps keep your kitchen stocked with fresh produce, something near and dear to my heart as a Registered Dietitian. The healthier your environment is, the healthier you will be. Plus, it encourages variety in your diet which is a hallmark of nutritious eating. Love a good farmers market? We’ve got five; downtown, Mt. Pleasant, James Island, Johns Island and Boone Hall. Shopping at the farmers market is a great way to support local farmers and purveyors. The Lowcountry’s use of family owned local farms removes the dependence on 'big agriculture' which causes enormous environmental implications and does not support a sustainable food system, something that our growing population depends on. 

The Lowcountry Landscapes & Views Never Get Old

From sunsets to enormous oak trees to marshes, the Lowcountry is not lacking in the unique landscape department. Some enjoy the sunrise from the connector or the Ravenel bridge on the way to work. Others may watch a vibrant sunset on one of Charleston’s beaches, or over a drink on the dock at Shem Creek. There are several rooftop locations as well that give amazing views of the city. As for our dog Kiki, she prefers the warm and grassy marshland; she says the pluff mud is good for her skin. While the Angel Oak is a stunning and iconic tree of the Lowcountry, massive oak trees are all over this city, beautifully lining the streets of neighborhoods and parks, creating a canopy of oaks. And let’s not forget the beauty on the outskirts of Charleston like Boneyard Beach on Capers Island. We love to Kayak out and camp on Capers; it makes a great weekend getaway. 

Shem Creek sunset

Shem Creek sunset

Angel Oak tree

Angel Oak tree

Kiki enjoying the marsh

Kiki enjoying the marsh

Edmund’s Oast

The Charleston food scene is insane and there is no shortage of fantastic restaurants. But this one is my favorite. From the food, to the atmosphere, to the beer selection, it stole my heart at first visit. The menu boasts seasonal and local ingredients, always keeping you on your toes with something new. I always try something new when I go and have never - I repeat, never - been disappointed. This is rare and probably why I like Edmund’s Oast so much. If you like watching the chefs prepare your meal you can sit inside at the Chef’s Counter which places you front and center of the open kitchen. Or if you feel like enjoying the beautiful lowcountry weather, sit outside at a community table and get some fresh air. And lastly, the beer. Edmund’s is one of the few brewery based restaurants in the Lowcountry and has 40 beers on tap at a time. My favorite Edmund’s beers are Circe and Farrago. And you gotta try the Peanut Butter & Jelly beer just once. They also feature guest taps from local brewers and the most recent was a phenomenal Belgian Golden Ale brewed with beets. Yep, beets. Beautiful color and earthy flavor.  

A look into the Edmund's Oast kitchen

A look into the Edmund's Oast kitchen

I Can Commute by Bike

Why live downtown and not bike everywhere? This is a major perk for David and I since we both work at the College of Charleston. It takes us 15 minutes to get to work and we don’t have to sit in traffic or stress out about finding parking. When it rains we wear ponchos/rain jackets and when it’s 120 degrees outside we bring a change of clothes. We bike to friends houses, restaurants, bars, the farmer’s market and the Music Farm. The only thing we need now is a bike trailer to tote our groceries from the Harris Teeter :) And with all the hard work Charleston Moves is doing, we look forward to seeing other parts of Charleston become more bike friendly.  

Biking through the seasons

Biking through the seasons

Bio:

Ashley Thomas is a Registered Dietitian at the College of Charleston, teaches the Nutrition and Dental Health graduate course at MUSC, and writes her own food and nutrition blog, The Fresh Beet. She and her husband David Thomas live downtown with their spoiled fur baby, Kiki.  In her free time, Ashley can be found brushing up on her pottery skills, doing yoga and spending time with friends in the lovely Lowcountry. 

Shem Creek Staples

Emily:

Shem Creek holds a special place in my Lowcountry heart. When I first moved to town, I lived a few blocks away in the neighborhood, Bayview Acres, and would walk my puppy (now 6 year old nap frequenter) to the pier. Since then, they’ve revitalized the docks and pier, added new walkways, restaurants, and one honking parking garage (that we won’t dwell on because it doesn’t make anyone happy).

This coming weekend, two of my good friends (and clients) will tie the knot on Shem Creek at the beautiful venue, Cottage on the Creek. In preparation for their nuptials and out of town guests, I thought I’d prepare a little bit of history and entertainment on the locale.

History
For a full history, visit this article by our local East of the Cooper newspaper, Moultrie News. Excerpt:

"Today picturesque docks, any manner of pleasure boats and net-draped shrimp boats make this Mount Pleasant creek one of the most scenic and popular spots in the Lowcountry. Restaurants on both sides of the creek offer both superb seafood and up-close-and-personal views at the nature of the creek itself. Kayakers and paddleboarders navigate the creek's narrow waters side-by-side with schools of porpoise and armadas of pelicans, making it a busy creek for both man and wildlife.

The creek's name derives from the Sewee Native American word “shemee,” but whether that was the name of a tribe who lived along the banks or the name they gave to the creek itself is undetermined."

Food & Drink
Tavern & Table
The newest spot on the creek has fancy cocktails, Southern comfort food, and plenty of space for larger groups. Valet parking for the win. I once saw Tara Lapiniski there!

@tavernandtable

Red's Ice House
Two stories high, the buckets of beer are flowing late night and on sunny afternoons, where you can bring your furry friend. Check out any boats docking outside, they may be bringing in some fish that you can watch them measure and clean from a few feet away.

@redsicehouse

R.B.'s Seafood
To be fair, I've only dined here once, but it looks like they have pretty great happy hour specials throughout the week on both food and drink. They've been in business since 1979, after a fire setback in 2002, they reopened bigger and better in 2003.

Shem Creek Bar & Grill
Lunch, brunch, happy hour, dinner- they've got it all. This spot is on the opposite side of the creek from the aforementioned, but you'll enjoy their gorgeous view just as much, and it might be less crowded.

@shemcreekbarandgrill

Vickery's Bar & Grill
This is as close to the dock revitalization as you'll get, along with a stunning sunset view. One of my favorite memories in Charleston was hanging out by their downstairs bar with friends, listening to live reggae. 

Water's Edge
You want me to talk about a brunch? Oh, I'll talk about brunch (says the nearly 9 months pregnant lady). The brunch buffet (Sundays, 10am-3pm) at this Shem Creek staple is one of my top 3 in the Lowcountry. Fresh omelets, crab cake benedicts, shrimp & grits, and more grace the buffet. Don't miss the Bloody Mary bar with garnishes that take up a whole table. 

The Shelter Kitchen & Bar
Just across the street and on the corner, you'll find Mt. Pleasant's favorite late night spot. They frequently have live music and a DJ on Saturday nights. Their burgers aren't half bad, either. Try the Early Bird.

The Wreck
You want a real, local hideaway? Look no further than The Wreck, a little ways down the creek from R.B.'s, but worth the trek, if only to check out its notable history and how it got it's name. They don't take reservations and run a pretty lax schedule on operating hours, so it's good to call ahead. Come hungry for seafood galore.

Recreation
Palmetto Breeze
If you're looking to sail away for a two hour tour (this isn't Gilligan's Island, they'll bring you back), this 100 passenger vessel is great for groups or a date night. At $20/ person, they have a different deal and schedule for each day, but you'll want to schedule ahead of time, as they book quickly. Dunes Properties had a great time last year on a company outing and have another one planned in a couple of weeks.

Coastal Expeditions
You've heard me sing their praises before, but I don't mind doing it again. Their kayak tours are a favorite of visitors and locals alike. Their guides can't be matched. Get the camera out, you'll look like a professional when you show your friends what you got to see.

@coastalexpeditions

Nature Adventure Outfitters
This is where I had my first paddle boarding experience, and yes, you should be sad you missed the show. However, the diners at Red's always have a great view, as you can watch first-timers and pros manage their paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes from the dock across the way.

Other
LodgingShem Creek Inn
Fresh Seafood- Mt. Pleasant Seafood, Magwood Seafood

Congratulations to the future Mr. and Mrs.! I promise to not give birth at your wedding, so long as you provide me with an endless supply of shrimp and grits.