Lexington, KY's Guesthouse Inn...

Today we put 600 miles on the car. How completely wonderful to be greeted in such a fantastic way, upon our arrival for our night's stay.

I don't know how I got so lucky but after a long day on the road, this welcome sign and bag of goodies really made our day. In the very thoughtful gift bag were all the items one needs on a trip: snacks; a razor and shave cream; bottled waters; a back scratcher; toothbrush and paste; body lotion; earplugs and a lovely note with a handwritten P.S. from Jenny the front desk manager, "I put you some earplugs in this bag since you have issues sleeping! Have a great stay." I always request a room away from known noises (ie. elevators/ice makers) because I do have difficulty sleeping. Jenny listened. How totally impressive. I love great customer service. It's going to be a good night.

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The Charleston Voyage Concludes...

We leave today. One fabulous month in one fabulous city. Wow. As I reviewed the hundreds of photos taken, I wanted to do one more post of those that didn't quite make it on the blog but are important in making our memories here unforgettable.

This swing, at the waterfront, was usually always occupied. I was tickled when we finally had our chance to linger there.
The Earthquake Bolts provided a scavenger hunt of seeking and finding the most artistic and unique. In 1886, Charleston was struck by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded on the East Coast. Hundreds of buildings in and around the city were badly damaged or destroyed. Buildings that could be salvaged were repaired or rebuilt, using long iron rods for reinforcement.The iron rods were run through walls and anchored with a washer-type device and a large iron nut. Though they were made in a variety of shapes, some building owners chose to disguise them with cast iron decorations, such as lions' heads.

This cool theater was the location where young Noah and Allie go to the movies in the film, The Notebook. It's such a romantic story, is it any wonder young couples want their names on the marquee?
I caught the maid of honor going beyond the call of duty helping with the bride's train. It was just such a funny image in the proper Charleston society.
Yes, I'm a huge fan of native son, Stephen Colbert, whose image can be found almost anywhere. I loved spotting "him" around town.
Poignant quote by the slain minister of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Clementa Pinckney, "Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history- We haven't always had a deep appreciation of each other's history."
That history was found in many places and in many forms.
There is something about Steve with a tan.
One day I visited Deb at her amazing company Sevya followed by a girls only lunch out.
Nick and Deb hosted us for several home cooked meals. What a treat.

What fun it was to frequently walk by the Read building, whose storefront windows look as they did when it opened in 1912.

And the flowers...

For thirty nights, this is where we called it a day. It was a place where we entertained, planned, reminisced and made memories. We could not have chosen a better home for our Charleston sojourn. Local boy, author Pat Conroy said it best, "Once ​you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey." What a voyage this has been.

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Memorial Day in Charleston...

In his book Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, Professor David W. Blight made the case for Charleston, South Carolina, as Memorial Day's birthplace, as that city was the site of an obscure (possibly suppressed) May 1865 event, held at a racetrack turned war prison, during which freedmen properly reburied hundreds of Union dead found there and then held a ceremony to dedicate the cemetery. What a place to be today!

We began our day with Deb and Nick at the Circular Church (1681) for a diverse program by The Lynn Swanson Singers. This performance, as part of the Festival of Churches & Synagogues, is a Piccolo Spoeto highlight and included classic works from Gabrieli to Rachmaninov, modern works by Esenvalds, Clausen, and Gjeilo, as well as the folk songs and spirituals which have made the Festival Singers a regional sensation for over three decades.

We were impressed and moved! It was a perfect choice for our afternoon of music.
Next stop was cocktails and "see you laters". How wonderful it was to get to know these two fun-loving people better and to make plans for future adventures.
We then ended our last Charleston day in Marion Square for the simulcast showing of Porgy and Bess. The park was filled with dedicated theatergoers, willing to endure intermittent showers because, let's face it, the show must go on! This production was Spoleto Festival's 'star' and we were happy to conclude our visit here, seeing it. 
Our one month stay in Charleston has exceeded any expectations we might have had. What an incredible Southern Sojourn... oh the memories!

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A Memorial Day in So Many Ways...

The holiday weekend is in full force here and the rains seemed to know it was time to stop to let the festivities begin.

There is no better way to start the day than in the presence of the Seed & Feed Marching Abominable, Atlanta’s wildest community band.
This zany group of talented musicians has been a part of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival for the last 24 years. After listening to them, we totally know why.
This all-volunteer organization has electrified audiences with its trademark style of explosive sound and colorful street theater and is well known for its fancifully costumed performers as well as its high-energy music. I loved their rendition of Rock Lobster by the B-52s.
The US Custom House was the perfect setting for this patriotic musical melee.

HOLY CITY: Art of Love, Unity & Resurrection is a very different memorial. It is a tribute to the Charleston Nine, victims of tragedy almost one year ago.
This historic exhibition, born of the raw emotions of the immediate hours following the Mother Emanuel shooting, is located in a gallery space turned into a sanctuary.
It wasn't until we spent time here that we truly understood what the exhibit was all about- healing, thoughtful discourse, promoting peace and coming together as a community.
Kurtis Lamkin, a local poet, sang and made people laugh and cry. It was so powerful and uplifting.
Dr. Ed Madden, Columbia's first Poet Laureate, read new works composed for this gathering.
In this diverse gathering, all seemed to be one. Everyone was moved. All shared the emotions together. There is no way for me to express the feelings, but being there, we felt the unity, peace and love that was the goal of the exhibit. It was like nothing we have experienced before and we left so happy to have been a part of this special night.
Our last history lesson of the day, was at the photo exhibit King Street— The 500 Block. Local photographer Jack Alterman presents portraits of the merchants of Charleston’s Upper King Street. The exhibit of over 40 large scale portraits, transforms the street once again, highlighting some of the people who have been a part of this rapidly changing block and are a vital part of the City’s history. Interestingly, the photos are displayed on the Morris Sokol Furniture Store windows, a business that just closed after 94 years in business.

Charleston offers unique opportunities to delve deep into its complicated history, allowing discoveries to be made that surprise, shock and delight. This is a town that has touched me deeply and whose people have shared freely their joys and their sorrows. This has been truly an unforgettable journey.

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Museum Reopening, Sailboats Racing & Dining with Friends...

We began our day at the Gibbes Museum of Art. One writer described the opening as, "With an event this epic, you'd think they might have come up with a better name for it, like the Super Stupendous, Long-Awaited, Better-Than-Ever, Most Illustrious New Museum Opening (and ribbon-cutting)."

Some history is needed to fully understand the impact of today's monumental museum opening's importance.
In 1790, Charleston was the 4th largest and wealthiest city in America. Like Philadelphia, Boston and New York, what distinguished Charleston then was art. While it was home to some of the country's earliest art, collectors, artists, who made the City both muse and subject, it was also home to slavery and a war that divided our nation. In 1888, when Chareston was financially and culturally on its knees, benefactor James Gibbes left a bequest to the City to build an art museum. When the Gibbes Museum opened in 1905, the nation celebrated what Charleston has always understood: the power of art-to inspire our imagination, heal our hurt, revel in our experience, rebuild what's broken, nourish our souls, and release all that holds us back.

The who's who of Charleston came out to celebrate. 
After the ribbon cutting, Steve and I were the first ones to enter.
We enjoyed learning the history and perusing the permanent collections.
When I saw this piece, six years ago, it took my breath away. This viewing had the same impact. Wow. The exquisite beauty of the Veiled Lady (1856) is heightened by the fact that so little is known about it or the talented artist, Pietro Rossi, who created her. The Veiled Lady illustrates a theme which was very popular in the second half of the nineteenth century: the illusion of the diaphanous drapery. Since it was given to the museum in 1910, it has become one of most beloved and well-known pieces in the collection.
I love minatures. The first-ever American miniatures were painted in Charleston and today the Gibbes is home to one of the most prestigious American portrait miniature collections in the country. Comprised of over 600 works the collection spans from early colonial examples of the 18th century to Revival Period miniatures made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, portrait miniatures are unique works of art painted in watercolor on thin disks of ivory. Highly personal objects, these tiny paintings were often made to commemorate births, engagements, marriages, and even deaths, offering unique insight into the private lives of American individuals and families before the advent of photography.
The museum is hosting temporary exhibits. This piece is part of The Things We Carry: Contemporary Art in the South. Stacy Lynn Waddell's Manifest, is a series of panels that have been burned, branded and singed, in which the cargo refers not only to tangible objects, but also to the ideas and cultural heritage of passengers. The singed faces, objects, and letters that emerged are an investigation of the inner conflict experienced in negotiating African American cultural history and heritage with personal identity. The piece represents all that was transported across the Atlantic in the slave trade, not just cargo, but also the ideas and cultural heritage carried by passengers.
The Porgy and Bess exhibit was very comprehensive and even included a self-portrait by George Gershwin.
A new exhibit, upon reopening, showcases Mary Jackson, a nationally recognized practitioner of sweetgrass basketry. Born in Charleston, Jackson learned Lowcountry sweetgrass basketry techniques at an early age and considers this traditional art form a symbol of her heritage. Her work is in numerous private and public collections including the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.
She offered us a glimpse into her talents by demonstrating the technique of melding sweetgrass, bulrush, and pine needles into a magnificent work of art. Wow.
I found this to be pretty dang cool. Sonya Clark brought to the Gibbes an interactive installation of Pluck and Grow, a collaborative work between the artist and Museum visitors. Clark uses hair as metaphor for what connects us as humans, separates us into racial groups, and makes us individuals.
The artist invited us to write our "hair stories" on a piece of paper—whether that be a poem, a story, or a drawing. The paper will be dyed in varying shades of black, brown, and blonde to give the appearance of human hair and Clark will twist and insert them into "follicles" drilled into a surface. Once on display, visitors may pluck a strand, read the story, and replace it with their own hair story on a slip of white paper. As these new stories replace the original ones, the piece will take on the appearance of aging—as real human hair would. Definitely unique art that intrigued me so much.

"In the presence of art, we have the opportunity to see inside someone's heart, mind, and soul and feel what they felt. That understanding and compassion make us more understanding, compassionate people, who in turn, create a more compassionate, understanding world. That is art's gift."
After viewing inside art we ventured out into the storm and headed to the harbor to see the art of Sailing as the Atlantic Cup racers began their 645 nautical mile journey to Brooklyn, NY.
These boats are truly works of art as they glide through the rough seas.

Our exceptional Charleston day concluded with an exceptional dining experience at Michael and Sharon's. How cozy it was to be in the company of such comfortable friends.
“Men do not quit playing because they grow old;
they grow old because they quit playing.” 
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

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