A few years ago, Ironman and I decided to start a tradition of camping for his birthday.  So, the second weekend of every October, we head to the upstate (never on the first weekend since that is always FMU Alumni Game!!!).  This year, we took one of my little sisters, Maggie. Although we love camping and know that it's not supposed to be "comfortable", the trip started off a little crazy!

     We pulled into Table Rock State Park and found our campsite...

     ...covered in rocks and fire ants, dogs barking non-stop and the worst site setup I've ever seen.  It was 6pm and getting dark, but the meat that should have been thawed, just in time for dinner, was still frozen cold (I seriously considered throwing myself on the ground and throwing a tantrum...I didn't, I promise).  

     Maggie, Ironman and I used our feet to rake the rocks around until we had enough of an area to pitch the tent.  We were happy to find that we cleared most of the rocks and were only on a slight incline.  During the night, though, I kept waking up and finding that I needed to climb my way back up inside the tent.  Luckily Ironman was heavy enough to anchor himself to his sleeping position in our tent and asleep enough to let me use his left arm as my "rope" (he still doesn't know) while climbing our tent mountain...

And who doesn't LOVE fire ants!  I kept from being bitten by constantly moving, wearing my hiking boots (instead of Chacos) and keeping my feet propped up.  When I found them crawling all over the outside of our tent, I was terrified that they were going to find their way in.  Luckily, that never happened!  

     It seemed that everyone brought their dogs to camp with them.  There must have been five little yappers within 100 feet of each other and of us.  I couldn't believe how loud and long they could bark and not drive their owners crazy, or even drop dead from barking so much!  The worst yapper was in the campsite next to us labeled "Park Host" (I thought, "you have got to be kidding me")...I knew that if our host was setting this example, the situation was hopeless.  At least, since we live next to three yappers at home in Florence, it really felt like home.

     And lastly, our camp site.  Our site was on a curve, so that everyone who drove around the turn had a up close and personal tour.  Worse than that, the fire pit was only a few feet from the curve.  So close, in fact, that Ironman, Maggie and I had to sit around the fire pit, with our chairs facing the curve.  Each person that drove by, walked by or rode their bikes by, would look at us and wave.  It was so close that if they didn't look at us, it was totally awkward because they had to make an effort NOT to look at us.  And if they looked at us and didn't wave, it was awkward, because then it felt like they were either super rude or creepers.  So, since everyone is mostly friendly at the campground, we shared lots of waves.  I felt like WE were the creepers just sitting there, facing the curve, watching everyone that passed and waving.  One family even walked by and said "It's like you are sitting on your own front porch"...sad.  


Usually when Ironman and I go on trips together, we don't have a lot of big plans.  We like to go without a plan and just see what happens.  However, since we brought Maggie and she likes to have a plan while camping, I knew that we needed to liven it up and break out of the "old married couple" rut that we tend to drift towards (Don't get me wrong...we love that rut).  Since we were camping in Table Rock State Park and since Maggie and Ironman wanted to hike, that naturally meant that we were going to hike Table Rock.  Wow...what a hike!!!  3.5 miles one way and I felt like we were nearing the top around the time that we saw the 1 mile marker.  Nick even tried to hide it so that I would pass and not see how little we had come and how far we still had to go!  WHAT!?!?!?!  So, just like usual, I whined the whole way.  Maggie and Ironman were troopers, saying that the view would be worth it.  I, on the other hand, have not ever totally agreed with that idea.  I would be just as happy to ride in the car, walk (not hike) a little ways and then enjoy a view without being worn out, hungry, thirsty, cranky and without a discrete place to squat in the woods because of the huge amount of hikers!  Call me crazy, but that just sounds more enjoyable and I would still get to see the same view in the end, but without the torturous hike.

But, lucky for me, my family already knows that I'm a whiner and Maggie was super encouraging.  And, Nick (of course) knows that I'm a whiner and he is the most patient husband.  So, I just want to set the record straight.  Lots of you are under the impression that I am aDvEnTuRoUs.  Yes, I happen to be the mastermind behind most of Ironman and my adventures.  Traveling is and always will be in my blood.  I'll catch a plane to any continent, take a bus or train between countries, ride in a canoe down the amazon, hop on a subway or in a taxi, stay in a hotel, camp anywhere, sleep in the car, stay with strangers, sleep on someone's couch or floor, pretty much anything.  In all of those things, I enjoy the journey and look forward to the destination.  But, LISTEN TO ME...I never enjoy hiking.  I don't like that journey.  Just get me to the destination any other way and I'll be a happy camper (or "girl" when we aren't camping).  But, don't get the wrong impression of Nick.  He loves adventure and never whines...but, I'm sure that if you know Nick you already knew that!

     So, after our site got rained out and flooded in the Grand Canyon last year, I said that I needed to scratch "Hike the Appalachian Trail" off of our bucket list.  However, I still left it on our list, in hope that I would suck it up and eventually, one day, become a REAL adventurer.  But, after suffering so much misery on only a 7 mile, 5 hour hike, it is beginning to sink in (actually it is pretty much crystal clear) that I'm just not going to make the cut.  So, I'm going to be honest with myself and change our bucket list to "Drive the Appalachian Trail", since I hope to never hike again.  Please, dear friends, keep me accountable...If I try to hike again at any point in the future, remind me of Table Rock!

     Needless to say...Although I have whined my way through an entire Blog Post, I DID have a great weekend camping with my Ironman and my Magpie!  We had a great time sitting around that awkward fire pit, talking, cooking, eating and roasting a lot of marshmellows.  Magpie was so cute as she slept in her ENO beside our tent (the second night she was even rained on...and did SHE whine?...no)  Although I didn't enjoy the hiking, it was still fun spending my day with two of my favorite people.  I love having a husband who is my best friend and plenty of sisters, who are built-in best friends.   

     Happy 29th Birthday to Ironman.  

     You like that view?  Enjoy it...I worked for it!!!

     PS...we looked at the campsite numbers and know which one we will pick (and which one we will NOT pick) for another future Table Rock weekend.     


One Year Anniversary!!!

     Today marks ONE YEAR since Nick and I began working for my dad's construction company!  Nick does the dirty work, while I sit back and relax in the office!  August 31st, 2012 was the day our commitment with OM Ships came to an end.  We packed up and took off on a cross country road trip (if you want to read the highlights, click the page tab "USA Road Trip").  After a month on the road, we returned to Florence and began working for Black Mountain Development Group!

     Some highlights of our year are:

Michaela, from Northern Ireland, came to visit in November 2012!  We met Michaela while serving with OM Ships and she has remained one of my closest friends for years now!  This was actually the second time that she has visited me in Florence!  And the BIG news!?!?!?!?!?  Nick and I are going to visit HER this time!  She is getting married and I am one of her bridesmaids!  So, just about the time we finish opening the Christmas gifts, we will be leaving for Northern Ireland!!!

December 2012 was our 5 year anniversary!  We celebrated by revisiting a soda shop in Asheville, NC.  Time flies!  We are already just two month away from our 6th anniversary!!!  We LOVE being married to each other!!!

One of my wittle sisters got married in April 2013!  Mary Ashley is now an "Owens"!  Now we are all grown up and have each other over for meals...at our own grown up homes...on our grown up plates...with our grown up husbands...weird!!!  We are really good at playing grown up, though, because we used to do it all of the time with our Barbies (I think our Barbies were a lot more mature)!

Nick and I ran our first race together for my 28th birthday!  The Color Vibe was fun, but last weekend we ran The Color Run and it was even more fun!!!  They even had a Unicorn that danced and led us all to the Start Line!

This past weekend we went to visit my Aunt Vicki in Atlanta, ran The Color Run and saw the Atlanta Braves.  While sitting at that baseball game, I couldn't help but thinking about the past.  I remember when I was sure that I would never marry an American, never live in America and definitely never live in Florence, SC!  But, as the saying goes, "Never Say Never"...I have broken all of my "rules" and couldn't be happier!  And as for Nick.  Everyone knew, including Nick, that he was definitely going to play pro baseball.  While at Francis Marion University, he was scouted by the Mets, but he prayed that he wouldn't get drafted if God didn't want him to have that career.  However, after the draft came and went and he didn't receive a call, he decided to take matters into his own hands.  He pushed and pushed until he finally played pro baseball for an independent team in Aiken, SC.  He played worse than he ever played in his life, until he was finally injured and out for good.  So, just like me, Nick is living the life he never planned for himself!  But, also just like me, he is loving it!  God really is so good.  He cares for us and wants what is best for us!  Nick and I had different plans for our lives, but we are so thankful that God has been in control and that he has brought us to where we are now!

We met in our Disney interviews, worked together in the Magic Kingdom and got married while still in college.  We shared our little car, "George", and worked like crazy pretty much every hour we weren't in classes.  Since then, we have been professional window washers and a janitor, babysat, been a nanny, tutored and taught school, worked in a pottery warehouse, done odd jobs for anyone that would pay us, served with OM Ships International and now...here we are!  Living in Florence, SC!  Soon settling into our first home (which is a story all by itself)!  Working for Black Mountain Development!  Still checking off items on our Bucket List!   

It is so fun to look back and see how far we have come!  Although, we started off as poor married college students, we both feel like we are finally turning into grown ups!  And now, my dad is taking us all out to eat at Schlotzsky's (we really never eat anywhere else in town) to celebrate our one year anniversary!!!

Our Adventure Continues...