Sunday, August 2, 2015

Exploring the Southern USA. Southern charm, cooking and ghosts

Yesterday, we left Orlando, the girls and I. We stopped in Jacksonville for an hour to meet up with Bill's sister-in-law for lunch and continued on to Savannah, Georgia. I've never been outside of the Atlanta airport so this is my first time to Georgia. Oh my gosh, we fell in LOVE with Savannah. We walked the historic district, took a ghost tour, and ate delicious Southern food and drank sweetened ice tea as only Southerners know how to make it. Today we explored some more and went to the cemetery. And we sampled peach cookies.

We just pulled into Charleston, South Carolina (I've never been outside of the Charleston airport so this is another state I get to add to my list-- I think I'm up to 40 states now and the girls at about 24 states). We stopped at a plantation and also got some Southern barbecue.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, makes me feel more alive than traveling or exploring something new. I am not exaggerating-- you can burn almost everything I own (minus my Stuart Weitzman sandals and apple green Kate Spade bag) because I could care less about "things." Sure, I love cute clothes and great shoes and bags make me swoon. But I can't take any of it with me. I can, however, take with me my brain, experiences and relationships-- and that is all that matters. I don't care about careers and more items and shopping. I do love to buy magnets from everywhere I go and put them on a bulletin board so I never need forget my travels. I love to buy fabulous local sauces and spices because I love great, unique and delicious food. The rest? BURN IT. But you can't take my memories or experiences from me. You can have my possessions, though.

And that is what makes traveling so fabulous. The girls and I can bond and talk and learn. Together. On our ride up, we talked Southern hospitality and charm, the Bible belt, counted the number of churches we found (almost more than Mormon churches in Utah county), and Civil War sites. We visited a plantation and talked ghosts. I hope I'm raising daughters whose thirst for knowledge and experiences never wane. I hope they understand that the world and this country are big and vast and amazing, that not everyone lives or believes or eats the same way, and that they have choices in life. I don't expect them to make my same choices (gosh I hope not) or even pick my same Mormon religion (not that I EVER picked Mormonism, that one was handed to me at birth). I hope they appreciate the world and people and options. I know I do.

Cancer is awful. I wish I didn't have it and could be cured and never need to hear or think about the awful, dreaded C word again. But I have never had such a zest and appreciation for life since that diagnosis. I can't LIVE and experience enough since then. I am obsessed and I have no intention of curbing it.

The big house and career I once had? HATED IT. The vacation house? It was meaningless. The furniture and great towels and serving pieces and all the other things I was so busy acquiring? Don't care. Pointless. But every single trip I've had, every museum I've visited (from a doll museum in Manan, Idaho to Peterhoff in St Petersburg, Russia), every local cuisine I've sampled? It means EVERYTHING and I wouldn't change a thing. They're helping change and shape my heart and head and soul.

And with that, we are going to brave the rain and explore downtown Charleston. I've told the girls that they WILL sample grilled alligator this evening, and okra. Maybe even some pralines. Yum!