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Pounce Cat Cafe + Yoga!

Cat cafes , which originated in Taiwan and reached its height of popularity in Japan, offer the chance for  paying visitors to play with or be ignored by felines who roam free in the space. The concept has spread to some major cities in Europe and the United States, but is still a rare novelty.

In Charleston, South Carolina the Pounce Cat Cafe offers a twist on the original. Entirely populated by adoptable felines from the Charleston Animal Society, visitors have the opportunity make a well socialized kitty part of their family after they finish their coffee or glass of wine.  The number of hourly visitors are limited so as not to overwhelm the cats and reservations must be made in advance through their website.

Additionally, Pounce offers yoga classes on Sunday mornings and its this that brought mum and I to their door, mats in hand. The class is run by a certified teacher who conducts an hour long vinyasa style session. The big difference from a traditional yoga class is that as you’re in downward dog or warrior two, a furry tail may teasingly brush your leg or indifferently saunter by.  Afterwards, you can spend some time with the residents while sipping a mimosa or cold brew. Now that’s my idea of a good morning!

 

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Experience Eclipse 2017 in Charleston, SC

Planning to live in the “Dark Side of the Moon” for a couple of minutes? Interested in the “Moonshadow” live?

If you’re planning on taking a trip to a U.S. city, to take part in the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse experience, consider communities surrounding larger cities. Charleston is awesome. But, several communities surrounding Charleston, SC may be an easier bet to reach, to hunker in, and to explore. Among the sweetest is the Town of Summerville.

It’s estimated that, conservatively, the greater Charleston area will host between 60,000-80,000 visitors. Yet there have been several reports estimating over a million. According to College of Charleston Physics Professor, Dr. Chris Fragile, “This will be the most viewed eclipse in human history.” The South Carolina coast is the final place to view the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse before it heads out to cast the moon’s shadow onto the Atlantic Ocean.

The last coast-to-coast total eclipse to traverse North America was 99 years ago, in 1918. The next time the phenomonen of a total eclipse crossing our continent will occur is 35 years from now, in 2052. Why so seldom? The moon orbits at a five degree tilt. The earth and sun each spin on a separate axis. And, let’s face it; 70% of the earth is ocean, so our waters are much more likely to experience a total eclipse than we are.

HOW TO PREPARE:

Get Special Eye Protection

One cannot look directly into the sun on any occasion, and partial blockage of the sun does not affect its intensity, nor affect the ability to prevent eye damage. Sunglasses with UV protection will simply not cut it this time. Unless you have a welder’s shield collecting dust in your garage, you’ll need to invest a buck or two in a pair of eclipse glasses. When you wear a pair of eclipse glasses in a lit room, they will block out all light. Put them on to watch the sun and moon converge. Wear them, looking directly at the sun safely, to view the eclipse until totality. Only then, will you be able to remove the glasses briefly, to see the outer glow. Once the sun begins to once again emerge, you’ll need to don the glasses until you’re ready to, again, view the rest of the world around you.

You may also be fortunate enough to see “shadow bands,” explains Dr. Fragile. “They’re similar to the funny, squiggly shadows that appear at the bottom of the swimming pool,” he says. He suggests laying a white bedsheet on the ground to best view shadow bands.

Defer to your iPhone Camera

The amount of heat entering the lens and body of your 35mm SLR camera may be damaging. But iPhone cameras are designed to adjust to the amount of ambient light, making it safe to use. It may be time to purchase an iPhone tripod, or determine how to securely attach your selfie stick to your tripod.

Even through a telescope, a dense mylar filer is a necessity.

Plan for Chilly Weather

Yes, on August 21st, you are heading directly into the scorching summer heat of South Carolina. But you will need to pack a few items to keep you warm. During a total eclipse, the temperature will drop and the winds may pick up. Charleston Southern University Professor of math and physics, Dr. Fred Worthy, says that he experienced a partial eclipse during which the temperature plummeted by 30 degrees.

Escape the Crowded Interstate by Checking Out a Surrounding Community

I’m biased, because I lived in Summerville, S.C. for 12 years, and it remains my “home,” whether or not I live there. Totality  in Summerville will be experienced for between one minute and 40 seconds to two minutes. For additional eclipse stats, check out this link.  Summerville Dream has a great microsite highlighting the Eclipse happenings around Summerville. And, Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site will host events throught the weekend preceding the Eclipse. Check out the lineup at… http://southcarolinaparks.com/products/10004632

Summerville, S.C., The Birthplace of Sweet Tea, may be easier to access, because of its proximity to I-26, the main conduit into Charleston. One you’re settled in Summerville, check out the many things to do in the area both before and after the eclipse. Go to VisitSummerville.com to research and pre-plan your extra time. Visit private merchants in and around the quaint town square reminiscent of small southern towns, indulge in a game of golf, or take a walking tour of the town’s permanent sculpture collection – plus find Sculpture in the South’s more than twenty life-sized bronzes of birds perched on balconies, windowsills, shop signs and rooftops.

Also check out Summerville DREAM, the Summerville Visitor’s Center and Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce at 402 N. Main Street for recommendations on events, restaurants, or even that emergency auto mechanic you are not pre-planning to meet.

Buy the T-Shirt! The Greater Summerville/Dorchester Chamber of Commerce is selling a “totality awesome” glow-in-the dark T-Shirt. And a portion of the proceeds benefit the organization’s scholarship fund. You can pre-order your shirt and pick up at the Chamber – or stop in to purchase in person.

Need more information on visiting South Carolina? Check out  http://discoversouthcarolina.com/products/52.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Send Letters to the Universe

Consider something like this….

Dear Mother Nature,
Please do not send cloud cover on August 21, 2017!
With all due respect,
Mum

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Charleston’s Dog-gone Charm

I’ve brought Hondo along on road trips to Charleston, South Carolina a number of times.  This beautiful, historic city is not only a great tourism spot, but also one of the most dog friendly places we’ve ever been. Everytime we go, there’s always a new dog friendly place to explore.

great view of Marion Square at Carolina Ale House
fully fenced in patio at Parson Jack’s

The downtown area is extremely walkable with great views of the harbor and historic houses. You can go from waterfront park, past the famous Rainbow Row, and all the way around the battery at the tip of the peninsula. The main shopping drag of King Street is lined with stores and restaurants, many of which have water bowls outside their doors for a thirsty pup. Many restaurants allow you and your little beast to on their outdoor patios. We recommend Kitchen 208, Taco Boy, Home Team BBQ, and 39 Rue De Jean.  Outside of the down town area check out White Duck Taco, Parson Jack’s Cafe, Triangle Char & Bar,  and The Dog and Duck.  For more, see the links at the bottom of this post.

 

vegetarian tacos at White Duck

 

Many of the craft breweries around the city allow pets on their outdoor patios.  We had an excellent time at Cooper River Brewing Company, sitting at one of the many picnic tables and listening to live music. Also check out Revelry Brewing Co, Ghost Monkey Brewery, and Frothy Beard Brewing. If you prefer wine or vodka, try Firefly Distillery (the original sweet tea vodka) and Deep Water Vineyard. Their dog friendly grounds and tasting room make a great afternoon on James Island. 
The beautiful beaches allow your pets with seasonal rules on acceptable hours and leash regulations. Hondo’s not a fan of the beach (he doesn’t like the evil water chasing him) but we do enjoy walking along the sand when we have a chance.

If you’re lucky enough to be in town on a Monday in the summer, catch a Charleston Riverdogs baseball game. “Bark at the Park” nights are dog friendly and some offer special prizes if your pooch comes in costume!

 

For more dog friendly places in and around the Charleston area, check out these articles from Lowcountry Dog Magazine and Holy City Sinner.

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Just Say ARRRGGGHHH.

Ever dreamed you were standing on a sea-worthy sailing vessel, in the Atlantic Ocean, dressed as a pirate and yelling ARRRGGGHHH at the top of your lungs?  I’ll admit it; this particular scenario is beyond any creative action my brain cells could tap from my imagination while I sleep. I never even dreamed I’d have to opportunity to go sailboat camping for a weekend. So when the “pirate opportunity” crossed my radar, I did not hesitate to volunteer to sail from Little River, South Carolina to Southport, North Carolina to participate in the annual Halloween weekend Stede Bonnet Regatta.

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Boat camping and not roughing it.

Over the past couple of years I have had the opportunity to go “day sailing” and sometimes spend the night on my good friend’s boat at the marina. The fore berth, the V-berth is a great little hideaway with a hatch delivering natural light. Even when day-sailing, I like to retreat briefly to my own little quarters. On one rough day, I learned that I am an equal opportunity barfer – I can stay aboard while hanging off either port and starboard side. I slept it off. Fortunately those stylish little behind-the-ear patches have successfully prevented an encore of that hilarious event. But that was day sailing and I was a complete and utter rookie.

 

This is different. This is a trip! This is a boat vacation; to celebrate Halloween as a bona-fide pirate chick!

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Charley and his angels face the competitors.

In the two weeks leading up to the big event, I went on a mission to find props. I scored a sword, a couple of hooks, a couple of red bandanas, and a wig for the captain, completely underestimating the level of costuming planned by our competitors. Captain Charley has a great group of female friends and I am honored to be one of Charley’s sailing “angels.”

 

 

img_1647img_1648Funny story – At the 11th hour,  I decide to make pirate flags out of pillow cases. I rush to the store, rush home, get my gesso and paints ready, tear open the package, and find the white pillowcases say LUXE. Ugh. Lazy chick does not want to go back to the store. So she decides to turn the X into a skull and crossbones. We are LUXE pirates, darn it! A few dots of Sharpie to convert the X to bones, a couple of coats of gesso to map out a white skull, and ta-da….we  have a homely skull flag. View the end product in action in the video below.

Fortunately the weekend was not all about the wind speed, because mother nature was far from generous in exhaling her breath into our sails. But we made it into our slip at Southport Marina with time to spare. Sailboats arrived, decked out in pirate flags and skeletons, with crew members testing their “arrggghhh” yells over happy hour libations.

img_4837adj-smNow, Stede Bonnet is the “gentleman pirate”  who was hanged in Charleston, SC in 1718, following a year of Atlantic Ocean piracy, in collaboration with Blackbeard and a host of other booty buddies. So for this race, captains and crews in the race must dress as pirates. Crowds gather in front of The Provision Company to view the spectacle from a great vantage point. This year 40 modern-day pirate captains and their crews dressed the part and engaged in the weekend’s race festivities. The day began with free Bloody Mary’s for the sailors and a few hours on the sea. In the evening, following a day in the seas, sailors and spectators gather for a fabulous costume party with visions of Pirates and Wenches I never thought possible. Free dinner, live music, and “booty” shaking were all found at The Provision Company, the host of the annual regatta.

New bucket list entry:   Pirate for a day. Check!

The day was party-riffic, but I occasionally come down with a case of  “people-overload.” The quiet days at sea ground me. With no other boat in sight and no other sound but waves crashing against the hull and gusts of wind filling the sail, I bask peacefully with the wind in my face. It’s an img_4905smopportunity to do nothing but clear my mind. My brain slows as I absorb the sights and sounds. An occasional butterfly finds us and lingers in the cockpit. Flocks of birds are finding their way further South for the winter season. Channel markers bob in the distance, guiding us safely through the Atlantic. I sweep salt from the side of the boat and marvel at the ability to harvest it from the sea.

Click below to join me at the Halloween 2016 pirate invasion of Southport, North Carolina…and just say arrrggghhh!