Traveling Thursday – Get outdoors and enjoy freebies

Saturday, June 9 is National Get Outdoors Day. What, you haven’t ordered a cake or mailed your cards yet? I know it is a made-up holiday but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying free admission to select national parks and public lands.

For a list of participating National Parks, visit this site. This link lists other days when admission to these parks is free.

For a list of the 56 public lands waiving admission on June 9 visit here.

Enjoy the sun and the freebies.

Photowalk – University of South Carolina

I must admit, it’s been a crazy month since I’ve started my job. I’ve fallen behind on a few things, like keeping every baseboard in my house dust-free, trying every new thing on Pinterest and blogging. I am committed to managing my time a bit better and staying on top of this blog, even if it means letting a bit of dust accumulate on the baseboards.

The photos in this post were taken at the University of South Carolina on Good Friday. Enjoy!

University of South Carolinaveterans memorialThis is adjacent to the World War Memorial on campus. When the building was constructed in the 1930s, it was believed that there would never be another World War. The building now houses University Publications.

Brick walls and palmettos

The Memorial Fountain (aka three-dish fountain) in the Caroliniana Garden was sporting garnet and black when I visited. The fountain is a memorial to South Carolina’s patriots who served in the Revolutionary War.

horseshoeThis photo looks onto The Horseshoe, the oldest part of the campus dating back to 1805. The monument seen in the distance is in memory of Rev. Maxcy, the first president of the then South Carolina College. Yeah, it’s a lot different from The Horseshoe, I’m used to talking about.

pineappleThe pineapple has long been associated with hospitality so it’s fitting that this one greets visitors at the Memorial Rose Garden.

fountainLooking toward the Thomas Cooper Library

torch bearer

The “Torchbearer” was donated to the university in 1965 by sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington.

The campus was really lovely. I enjoyed the big, shady trees and old buildings.


Traveling Thursday – Tell them about it.

When you are traveling, it’s a great idea to share your itinerary with a family member, friend, or trusted neighbor. Not only does this mean they can easily contact you in case of emergency, it also gives them details to provide authorities should something go awry on your trip.

Ideally, you should share your lodging details including address and phone number along with some kind of daily schedule. If you are traveling on a group tour, just make a copy of your itinerary and share it with your contact. Many tour companies also offer “where to reach me” cards that include lodging details or cruise ship contact information. If you are traveling independently, share transportation details (flight/train/bus schedule or the planned driving route for the day) and a tentative schedule of any planned activities.

I know this might seem like overkill but imagine that your contact needs to get in touch with you immediately and your mobile phone doesn’t have service. Though we depend on our mobile phones, who hasn’t been without service when they need it most? Your contact has the hotel number and can try calling you there. Maybe your contact knows you’re expected to be at a museum and can call to seek their help in tracking you down. You never know when an emergency will require your immediate attention.

Your contact(s) can also find relief in knowing your itinerary when a natural disaster strikes. Imagine you are touring in South America and visiting a number of countries when an earthquake hits Chile. With a quick check of your schedule, everyone is relieved to find out you were safe in Argentina that day.

No one wants to think about it, but by sharing your itinerary, you could also help provide useful clues if something happens to you. Say you are traveling solo and planned to go out for a little hike during the day. Your family member is a little worried about you hiking on your own so he/she decides to call and check in later that night or the next morning but you don’t answer your cell. He/she calls your hotel and you don’t answer the phone. He/she can now decide to ask hotel management to knock on your door and if you’re still not there, it might be time to call the police or the park service in order to track you down. You can see where you might not want to give your schedule to the “nervous Nellie” of your group, but you can also see where this information would come in handy if something bad happened.

As with everything else in life, use your best judgment but strongly consider giving your itinerary to someone you can trust.

Traveling Thursday – Airport Guides

While I’m not a big fan of the ads and pop-ups, I find the airport guides at iFly to be very useful. With a few exceptions (including TRI, the airport closest to my parents) you can find information on almost any airport in the world. The guides typically include information on when the airport opens, security, parking (locations and rates), maps, and listings of services and amenities. There are also suggestions for activities should you chose to leave the airport during a particularly long layover.

In addition to the airport guides, the site also has links to flight trackers and a section devoted to travel advice including a special section for inexperienced flyers. More seasoned travelers can benefit from reviewing other sections on getting bumped, customs/VAT, and EU travel regulations.

Again, it’s not the most visually appealing site and the ads are a nuisance but it’s a great (free) resource for travelers.

South Carolina State House

I’m such a bad blogger and traveler. I just found the SD card with photos from my exploration of Columbia, SC back on Good Friday. With Mr. McB out of town, I’ve had plenty of time to edit the photos so I can get them posted here. I covered a lot of ground during my time in Columbia so I expect to have at least another post devoted to my adventures.

My first stop, well after Starbucks, was the South Carolina State House.

The story of the State House is as rich as the history of the state itself. The “new” State House’s original architect, P.H. Hammarskold, proved to be incompetent and was relieved of his duties in 1854. He was replaced by Major John R. Niernsee. Neirnsee had to completely dismantle the work started by Hammarskold before he could begin his own structure. Construction slowed during the War Between The States Things took a bad turn for everyone (except the Yankees) on February 17, 1865 when Sherman’s troops captured the city and began campaign of destruction.

As you can see from this marker, the citizens of Columbia are still a wee bit upset by the actions of Sherman’s men. The Union soldiers completely destroyed the old State House and set fire to the unfinished “new” State House. While the structure was damaged, it was not completely destroyed. Bronze starts mark the spots where cannons and other artillery damaged the outside of the granite structure.

George also shows his battle wounds. He originally carried a long walking stuck (not a baton) but the end was broken off when Union soldiers threw bricks at the statue.

The war left South Carolina in financial ruin. When the State House was completed in 1903, the Greek Revival structure didn’t match Niernsee’s vision. Instead of a stunning tower topped with a pyramid-type structure, the State House has a dome similar to those seen in other states. The changes to Niernsee’s designs were very controversial. There were bitter debates and even a lawsuit that ended in a mistrial. The State House went through a major renovation in the 1990’s to bring it up to fire code, improve accessibility and add required earthquake protection measures.

South Carolina State House interiordissolution “Dear Union,
This isn’t working. We’re breaking up with you. Please leave us alone.
Sincerely, South Carolina.”

stained glass inside the state houseThe stained glass window is found inside the State House. It was constructed by a friend of architect Niernsee.

pink flowers state house south carolinaThe State House grounds feature several lovely garden areas and a number of monuments and memorials.

white pixie iris

strom thurmon statueThis is a photo of the base of the Senator J. Strom Thurmond statue on the State House grounds. Strom was the oldest man to serve in the Senate and is well known for his racist politics and record-breaking filibuster against the Civil Rights Act in 1957. As you can see, the statue was placed before it was revealed that Strom’s oldest child was actually Essie Mae Washington-Williams who was conceived after a liaison between a young Strom and his parent’s African American maid.

law enforcement memorialOn to a less controversial topic, this monument memorializes South Carolina law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty.

South Carolina oldest monumentErected in 1858 to honor the heroism of South Carolina’s Palmetto Regiment during the Mexican War, this is the oldest monument on the State House Grounds.

confederate women's memorialErected in 1912, this monument recognizes the contributions of the women of the Confederacy. The statue has a long and beautiful inscription. Here is an excerpt:
“At clouded dawn of peace / they faced the future /undismayed by problems
and fearless of trials / in loving effort to heal / their country’s wounds
and with conviction / that from the ashes of ruin / would come resurrection
and truth / with glorious vindication…” To read all of the inscription panels, visit this page.

This monument honors South Carolinians who died during the Civil War. The Confederate Flag flies at the rear of the monument. It originally flew from the dome but was moved to this location as a compromise.

African American MonumentSouth Carolina was the first state capitol to feature a monument to African Americans. The photo above shows the monument. The low structure in the center of the walkway represents the cargo-hold of a slave ship. The panels show a timeline of African Americans in the state.

african american monument south carolina

The panels are a wonderful representation of the struggles and sacrifices of African Americans in South Carolina. The monument is well-done and quite moving.

As you can see from this post, the South Carolina State House is a place of controversies and contradictions. There are aspects that inspire pride and others that make you feel uncomfortable. I’d say it’s pretty representative of the state’s long history.  I encourage you to visit the South Carolina State House and take it all in for yourself. To plan your visit, click here.

Mojo’s Famous Burgers & More

When McB and I decided to try a new restaurant, we headed over to Mojo’s Famous Burgers & More, 2541 N. Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville. There’s a good buzz about Mojo’s and after reviewing the menu, I was eager to try one of their very unique burgers.

Mojo's Famous Burgers & MoreThe food is made-to-order. There are free peanuts for hungry dine-in patrons to enjoy while they wait. McB selected the “chubby cheeseburger” with bacon and an order of fries. I had the “Texan” with onion rings. As you can see from the photo, the portions are quite large. Neither of us came close to finishing our meal but then, I didn’t really want to.

The Texan Let’s start with my burger which came with jalapenos, cream cheese, avocado, and salsa. I know it seems like a bit of an odd combination but it’s also the kind of thing that could work if the ingredients were combined in the right measure. It’s not the case with the Texan. There is a thick slab of cold cream cheese stuck on the top of this burger. It’s roughly half the thickness of the burger patty itself. I think the cream cheese is meant to add a tangy flavor and balance the heat of the jalapenos. What it succeeded in doing was adding a cold gelatinous mass to the burger. The bun was so puny that it couldn’t begin to stand up to the heavy-duty ingredients. It was a messy, greasy sandwich that cooled down far too quickly. The onion rings were large and fresh but they were fried a bit too hard. The onion on the inside of the breading was hardly recognizable as an onion. It became a tough, transparent circle of nothingness.

Chubby cheeseburger with baconMcB’s burger was really thick. Even before he took a bite, he regretted getting the double patties. His bun also disintegrated. He did not think the bacon’s sweet, hickory flavor tasted right when combined with the oddly spiced burger meat. He also found the fries to be under-salted and just a bit lackluster.

Despite how others feel about the place, we found it to be bad Mojo indeed.

Traveling Thursday – Handy dandy notebook

Great travelers are committed to lifelong learning. For me, the best souvenirs are the lessons and interesting facts that I learn while traveling. That’s why I always carry a small notebook and pen while I’m on the road. I keep it tucked just inside my camera bag or purse.

It’s a great way to capture the facts that I want to remember and share – especially those that I might want to use to caption photos. Often I’ll jot down the photo’s number from my digital camera and make a note beside it. It’s also a good place to record topics I want to research more when I get home.

I love going through my old notebooks. They provide great memories of the many trips I’ve enjoyed.