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Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes)

Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes) | CosmosMariners.com

I've been fascinated with the art of movie making since I was a little kid. So, it's no wonder that I get a little thrill whenever I hear that another movie is being made in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.

While most people come to Charleston for the history and Southern charm that the city offers, you might also want to spend some time exploring the more recent history of the city. Here's where you can find the settings of some of your favorite movies that were filmed right here in the Holy City.

Best AirBnBs in the World: Travel Bloggers share Their Favorite Unique AirBnB Listings

Best AirBnBs in the World: Travel Bloggers share Their Favorite Unique AirBnB Listings | CosmosMariners.com

If you're looking for a hotel alternative on your travels, AirBnB is a great choice: the extensive listings and ability to meet locals has made this one of my favorite ways to get more out of my trips.

Best of all, the properties typically cost less than a hotel room and most come with kitchens so I can save money on eating out. It's the fun of travel with the budgeting ability of home.

Not surprisingly, my fellow travel bloggers share my love and have stayed in some unique AirBnB listings around the world. The next time that you're planning your travel accommodations, consider one of these best AirBnBs in the world!

Hot Springs, History, and Family Fun: 2-day Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Itinerary

Hot Springs, History, and Family Fun in Glenwood Springs, Colorado: A 2 Day Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com

As we made our way across Colorado from Grand Junction to Denver, we stopped for a a quick exploration of Glenwood Springs. At first glance from I-70, Glenwood Springs is a small, unassuming little town, but once you get off of the interstate and make your way into the historic district, you'll quickly fall in love.

If you've got two days, here's a complete Glenwood Springs, Colorado, itinerary. It's really family friendly with food suggestions, play options, and lots of outdoor activities, so you could easily do Glenwood Springs with kids in tow, as well.

Monthly Goals: April 2017

Monthly Goals: April 2017 | CosmosMariners.com


March was intense around here.

I had the best month ever, traffic wise, on my blog. Egads. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm the conductor of a train that may or may not be getting ready to jump off the rails, and I'm not completely sure I'm prepared to handle what's coming. Yet, seeing my blog goals actually happen after 2.5 years of going at this thing strong is incredibly rewarding, and I am so excited to see where this blog takes my family and I (literally and figuratively) in the rest of 2017.

What's in Store for 2016

What's in Store for 2016 | CosmosMariners.com

Happy New Year, y'all! I hope that this year will be fantastic for us all and will be filled with learning, travel, and wonder.

After many anxiety-filled nights stressing over my low page numbers and getting back many, many rejected pitch letters, I finally started seeing some actual progress in my blog: more readers, more social media engagement, and more partnership opportunities. Growing a blog can feel about as exciting as watching paint dry most of the time, so getting a return (however small!) on your time investment is so sweet.

Packing More Travel into Your Summer



Packing More Travel into Your Summer | CosmosMariners.com

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, it's official:

Summer's here! And those summer travels are ready to begin.

For as long as I can remember, those hot days have been my favorite part of the year, filled with long, lazy days at the beach, surfing lessons (before my husband broke the fins on my surfboard), swimming at the pool, and family gatherings (usually with lots of watermelon and strawberries).

But my favorite part of my favorite time of year has to be the summer traveling. When we were small, my parents would pile my sister and I into our car (which varied from a 1989 Oldsmobile to a 1994 Volvo as we got older) and head out on the open road. Some years, we'd end up in Walt Disney World, while other years took us to Canada, Mexico, or any of the states along the eastern seaboard!

Now that I'm older and have a kid of my own, I'm still carrying on the tradition of family trips: we've got some fun jaunts planned to Edisto Island, South Carolina; St. Augustine, Florida; and Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Between those trips, we'll be doing everything we can to pack even more fun and travel into our summer months. Here's how:

Make a summer bucket list. If it's written down, you're more likely to accomplish it. So, have a big gathering with the kids, your spouse, your friends--whoever you'll be with during the summer--and see what you'd like to accomplish. Ice cream all around if you manage everything on the list by August 1!

Use your long weekends wisely. Make use of those extra days you get off of work on Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day, and take a road trip. You could also take a longer trip each of those weeks, but only have to take four days off from work. Make the system work to your advantage!

Packing More Travel into Your Summer | CosmosMariners.com
St. Simons Island lighthouse, Georgia
Utilize the free stuff. With warmer temperatures comes the ability to use those water-based activities. For the most part, going to the beach, lake, or pool costs little to nothing, which makes them all attractive options even for the traveling family on a budget.

Summer's also a great time to visit a few county, state, or national parks. They're packed with activities for the whole family, and the entrance fees are very reasonable.

Packing More Travel into Your Summer | CosmosMariners.com
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Check out the deals. Even though summer is the high season for travel, you can still find great ways to save money through travel rewards programs and attractions. Some theme parks run specials on ticket packages or hotel rooms to make the most of those fleeting summer vacation days. Don't assume that you won't find a great price on travel just because it's peak season.

Packing More Travel into Your Summer | CosmosMariners.com
The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida
Combine family visits with sightseeing. Summer's a great time to catch up with family, and many people are driving or flying to visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and children. Make use of that time away from home by exploring your destination: when you're at Grandma and Grandpa's in Tampa, go see the Dali Museum or Fort De Soto. While you're out in California seeing your siblings, make a detour at the Hearst Mansion or have an impromptu road trip up U.S. 1. See what's nearby and make a family outing of it!

What are your summer travel plans? Do you have a miles program to help you make the most out of your travels?

How to Choose Great Locally Owned Accommodations When You Travel


Over the years, I've stayed in many hotels. Some were awesome, some were so-so, and some had me worried that I wouldn't see the next sunrise.

One thing that I have learned along the way is that some of my favorite stays have been at locally owned and independently operated places: each is different, and your stay is more likely to leave an impression.

After all, how often do you think back and say, "Wow, those two nights in the Orlando area Hampton Inn were super stellar and unique"? Probably never since every Hampton Inn I've ever seen looked exactly the same.

If you're looking to break out of the mold of chain hotels, you're in luck, as there are some fantastic local places to call home while you're on the road. From 4-room bed and breakfasts to independent luxury resorts to someone's extra apartment on AirBnB, there's a huge range in what can be called "locally owned accommodations."

But how do you separate the delightful ones from the duds?

Thankfully, in this technological day and age, there are plenty of ways to research some independent lodging options. Here are great ways to choose a safe, clean, and memorable locally owned hotel:

5 Unusual, Fun & Quirky Travel Books

5 Unusual, Fun, and Quirky Travel Books | CosmosMariners.com


Since my goal in life is to either be on a trip or planning one, I love travel guides, travel books, and travel magazines. They're all over our house, which tends to drive my husband a little batty (he never complains about the actual travel, though, which balances everything out).

While I love a good Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, or Fodor's guide just as much as the next traveler, I also like to get different perspectives on the places I'm visiting (or just hoping to visit). I read other travel blogs, pour over magazines, and spend a few hours delving into novels that are set in the areas I'm visiting.

But every once in a while, I get lucky and I come across a tome that's part travel guide, part entertainment, and part awesomeness. For many people, Eat Pray Love was their first taste of this hybrid travel book, and Italy, India, and Bali were flooded with people trying to recreate their own journeys a la Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm sharing five of these non-traditional travel books with you today in the hopes that you'll add them to your collection of travel-related bedside reading as well.

5 Unusual, Fun, and Quirky Travel Books | CosmosMariners.com

Mrs. Favell Lee Mortimer, The Clumsiest People in Europe

To everyone in the world, I apologize for this book. On its face, Mrs. Mortimer, a wildly popular British author in the Victorian period, is blunt, cruel, and completely snobbish. Still, if you can look past that (and you should!), you'll find a fascinating look at just how gigantic the British Empire's ego was in the late 1800s: it's an inadvertent commentary on elitism, colonialism, and racism packed into one outdated book.

Reading it now, the book seems so absurd as to be dry humor, but Mrs. Mortimer was basically the Rick Steves of her era (only with a much poofier hairstyle and stricter standards of dress). Take everything she says about each country's inhabitants with a grain of salt, but focus on the fact that people were just as interested in where to travel 150 years ago as they are today. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A few gems:

The United States: Washington is one of the most desolate cities in the world.

Sweden: There is no country in Europe where so many people are put in prison.

France: They like being smart, but they're not very clean.

Australia: The people are the children of convicts and have been brought up very ill by their parents.
You can't make this stuff up, folks.

5 Unusual, Fun, and Quirky Travel Books | CosmosMariners.com

Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes
While RLS is most often associated with that glorious pirate dramas, Kidnapped and Treasure Island, and the spine-tingling science-thriller, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he was also an accomplished traveler. Because of his poor health, he often sought warmer climates than could be found in his native Scotland. Over his relatively short lifetime, he spent time in the French Riviera, California, New York, Tahiti, New Zealand, Hawaii, Australia, and Samoa (where he's now buried).

Stevenson wove his travels through many of his novels, journals, and poems, but my personal favorite recounts the walking trip that he took through the Cevennes mountains in France. Not only was his donkey his fellow travel companion (something that merits a peek on its own), but the entire travel guide is written in this bouncy and often hilarious tone.

Throughout the book, you wonder if Stevenson will actually finish his walking tour, as his donkey seems intent on thwarting his every move:
A little out of the village, Modestine, filled with the demon, set her heart upon a by-road, and positively refused to leave it... I came very near crying; but I did a wiser thing than that, and sat squarely down by the roadside to consider my situation under the cheerful influence of tobacco and a nip of brandy.  Modestine, in the meanwhile, munched some black bread with a contrite hypocritical air.  It was plain that I must make a sacrifice to the gods of shipwreck.  I threw away the empty bottle destined to carry milk; I threw away my own white bread, and, disdaining to act by general average, kept the black bread for Modestine; lastly, I threw away the cold leg of mutton and the egg-whisk, although this last was dear to my heart.  Thus I found room for everything in the basket, and even stowed the boating-coat on the top.  By means of an end of cord I slung it under one arm; and although the cord cut my shoulder, and the jacket hung almost to the ground, it was with a heart greatly lightened that I set forth again.
You'll want to find your own donkey (one that's perhaps a bit better behaved than Modestine in the journals!), walking stick, and passport and try to recreate the trip yourself after reading it--and you can, more or less, as the Cevennes are a protected national park in France.

5 Unusual, Fun, and Quirky Travel Books | CosmosMariners.com

Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims' Progress

Much like Stevenson, Mark Twain is known for his non-travel writing (such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn). Twain traveled a lot during his lifetime, and I think it's sad that so few people outside of English majors even know about his travelogues.

The Innocents Abroad follows Twain and a group of fellow travelers as they make their way through 1860s Europe and the Holy Land. And in true Twain fashion, he liberally peppers his observations with wry humor and satirical wit. Surprisingly to many these days, this book sold better than any of his other works, including his novels. While people didn't travel as much as they do now, there was certainly an interest in what other cultures were like.
This book is a record of a pleasure trip. If it were the record of a solemn scientific expedition, it would have about it that gravity, that profundity, and that impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind, and withal, so attractive.

Yet, notwithstanding, it is only a record of a picnic; it has a purpose, which is to suggest to the reader how he would likely see Europe and the East if he looked at them with his own eyes instead of the eyes of those who traveled in those countries before him. I offer no apologies for any departures from the usual style of travel-writing that may be charged against me--for I think that I have seen with impartial eyes, and I am sure I have written at least honestly, whether wisely or not. 
While Twain doesn't shy away from sharing his opinion, his views of the people he encounters seem almost soft compared to Mrs. Mortimer. Read Mrs. Mortimer for something to laugh at, and read Twain for something to study.

5 Unusual, Fun, and Quirky Travel Books | CosmosMariners.com


Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War

When I was assigned this book in a graduate course on modern American identity, I was a little confused on what I had been given. Was it a memoir, a travel guide, a history book, or some sort of political statement? As it turns out, it's a little bit of all of those.

Since that original assignment, I've re-read this book more times than I can count, and each time, I come away with something different from it. It follows Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz as he explores those states below the Mason-Dixon line in an effort to see how and why the Civil War still affects people today (well, "today" meaning in 1999, when he wrote the book).

Having grown up in the South, I am well aware of the complicated feelings that people of all ages and races still have with the Civil War--yes, it's been over for over 140 years, but there's still so much to process.

Horwitz attempts to do just that and, in my opinion, he does a mighty good job at trying to do so. Through the course of the book, he visits 9 states, joins a Civil War re-enactment group (a hardcore one, not a farb one--a very particular distinction between the re-enactors in the book), attempts to understand the logistics of the minie ball pregnancy that supposedly occurred in Mississippi and looks for the location of Gone with the Wind's Tara and Twelve Oaks.

One of the highlights of the book is when Horwitz decides to accompany serious Civil War re-enactor Robert Lee Hodge on a condensed road trip of important Civil War sights, a trip that includes outdoor camping, period-appropriate rations, and marching. Lots and lots of marching.
At one point, crunching through chest-high thorns and listening for Rob's tramp in the dark ahead, I began to appreciate the utter misery of marching...I also felt the reckless urge that soldiers so often succumbed to, shedding their gear and staggering on unburdened. And we'd only been walking an hour; in the summer of 1862, many of Lee's men marched over 1,000 miles.

"At least we're losing some weight," Rob said, dripping with sweat. "I need to drop five pounds if I'm going to look good at Gettysburg next weekend." 
If you're interested in Civil War history, Southern travel, or contemporary American politics, you've got to find a copy of this book.

5 Unusual, Fun, and Quirky Travel Books | CosmosMariners.com

John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story

You've probably heard of the movie--and most likely seen the film starring a very young Jude Law, John Cusack and Kevin Spacey that follows the murder trial of renowned restorationist Jim Williams, But did you know that Jim Williams was a real person from Savannah, Georgia, and that everything in the movie actually took place?

The movie's based on a non-fiction expose of the same name written by John Berendt, a journalist who's played by John Cusack in the film adaptation. I love this book because so much of the Savannah described in it is still there for anyone to find: Lady Chablis is alive and well (she played herself in the movie) and you can catch her burlesque show. Jim Williams is, of course, dead (spoiler alert!), but his home is open to visitors daily.
Mercer House was the envy of house-proud Savannah. Jim Williams lived in it alone.

Williams was smoking a King Edward cigarillo. "What I enjoy most," he said, "is living like an aristocrat without the burden of having to be one...I don't envy them. It's only the trappings of aristocracy that I find worthwhile--the fine furniture, paintings, silver--the very things they have to sell when the money runs out. And it always does. Then, all they're left with is their lovely manners."
You could use the book as a guide to explore historical Savannah and perhaps delve into more of the city than the usual history tour will show you.

Have you read any of these? What books can you always count on to kick start your travel bug?

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase one of the aforementioned books through the provided link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.


Packing the Perfect Road Trip Bag

Packing the Perfect Road Trip Bag | CosmosMariners.com

I'll take travel any way I can get it, but the road trip holds a special place in my heart. In the next few months, I'll take several road trips (St. Simons Island, Georgia, St. Augustine, Florida, and two to Cape Canaveral, Florida), so I'm trying to get the process of traveling by car down to an art.

Generally, I'm pretty easy going as far as traveling goes, but if there's one thing that I detest while traveling longer distances in a car, it's having my stuff all over the place. Without a little organization, you're constantly pulling over or digging through your suitcases. Hey, I want to read! Uh, oops, I packed that in my luggage which is now in the truck. Or, wouldn't a snack be great? Sorry--no more stores for another 50 miles.

Instead of struggling, I usually pile everything I need together in one official road trip bag. That way when my toddler needs an applesauce pouch, I toss it to her without having to stop. If I want to read while Landon drives, I grab my magazines and happily peruse the latest goings-on in the travel world. That one bag makes my life easier.

Packing the Perfect Road Trip Bag | CosmosMariners.com


Here what I stuff into my bag to keep everyone as happy as possible while we're on the road. After all, no one likes a grumpy passenger!


  • Reading material. Whether you prefer a Kindle, a classic Russian novel, or gossip mags, make sure you have something read handy. A phone is great for entertainment--until you hit the middle of nowhere and can't find a signal to save your life. Plus, a book or magazine never has roaming charges.
  • Hand sanitizer. From overturned sodas to sketchy rest areas, there are many reasons why you'd want to include a little bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag. My favorites are the scented ones from Bath and Body Works!
  • Sunglasses. Because safe driving is important.
  • Snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. We like a mixture of sweet and salty, so you can usually find Moonpies snuggling right next to the cheese crackers. Trail mix, applesauce pouches, and pretzels round out our stellar offerings.
  • Drink cup. And I'm not talking about my toddler's either! We usually keep a cup filled with ice in the front seat and a couple bottles of water or soda in the backseat. As we drink the water or soda, we just refill the ice cup. Presto! Cold drinks that didn't require any stops or extra money.
  • Toys for the younger passengers. We have some tried and tested toys that always make Britton happy when she's getting grumpy. As an added bonus, they're pretty small, so after we exhaust ourselves singing her favorite songs to her, we start sending these into the backseat.
  • Gum. After a few fast food meals, it's good to have some way to freshen your breath. The car's only so big, after all!
They won't fit into a bag, but I usually have a pillow and blanket within reach as well. I don't take a lot of naps while road tripping, but they're good to have if you want to rest your eyes for a moment--or, if you're always in a temperature face-off with the other people in the car and you lose. 

Packing the Perfect Road Trip Bag | CosmosMariners.com


Make sure to find a sturdy bag to keep everything in. I used this Marley Lilly tote because monograms make everything better, including road trips. It's big enough to pack plenty of supplies into, and it's deep enough to hold magazines and snack boxes. I love the extra pockets on the side where I can stick some of the smaller stuff that I like to have handy. 

What do you take when you head out on a road trip? How do you stay organized? What do you love or hate about road trips?

Disclaimer: MarleyLilly.com provided me with a complimentary tote to share with my readers. All opinions are my own.

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina: A Hotel Review | CosmosMariners.com

While we were in Charlotte, North Carolina, we made ourselves at home at the Dunhill Hotel. I hadn't been to Charlotte since I was a little kid--we used to live in upstate South Carolina when I was younger--and would visit the area occasionally back then. After a chance meeting with the hotel's (wonderful!) PR person at the Historic Hotels of America luncheon last year, I decided to head back up to the Queen City to see how it had changed in the nearly 20 years since my last visit.

It turned out that the Dunhill was a great spot from which to launch our visit, and, if you're looking for a great place to stay in Uptown Charlotte, I'd highly recommend it.

History: 
You thought you'd get by without a quick history lesson, didn't you?! I love staying in historic hotels because they come with such a rich storyline: it's an added layer of interest that you just don't get in a more recently built hotel. 

The Dunhill Hotel originally was called the Mayfair Manor and opened a month after the stock market crashed. The economic upheaval of the nation didn't seem to affect Mayfair Manor's success, which quickly found a following. During the Manor's early days, guests could stay in one of the 100 rooms: some were set aside as hotel rooms, while others were long-term rentals. 

The Manor's heyday lasted well into the 20th century; by the 1960s, it was sold and rebranded into a motor lodge. Eventually, the motor lodge shut its doors in the early 1980s, and the 10-story building was inhabited only by the homeless. After several years of neglect, the hotel was purchased and underwent a $6 million renovation in 1988. This company tried to restore the hotel to its former glory, but after only two years, the hotel was sold once again.

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina: A Hotel Review | CosmosMariners.com
Exploring the hotel and its history!
In the early 1990s, Summit Hospitality Group, the current owners, purchased the property and began to mold it into the distinctive location that it is today. The group was also the driving force behind the application and acceptance of the Dunhill into the Historic Hotels of America property group, a distinction that it proudly displays. 

Location:
If you're in Uptown Charlotte for a play, concert, sporting event, banking seminar, or vacation, the Dunhill couldn't be more centrally located. I went on the trip with my dad and my toddler, and we only got in the car once--and that was when we headed out of Uptown to see an attraction in a completely different part of Charlotte.

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina: A Hotel Review | CosmosMariners.com

From the museums to the restaurants to green spaces, we were able to easily walk (even with a toddler!) to all of the attractions in Uptown Charlotte. The hotel is located at the corner of North Tryon and 6th Streets, which put us steps away from Discovery Place and the Carolina Theatre, and just a few blocks from the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Imaginon, the Levine Museum of the New South, the Bank of America building, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Room: 
We had a corner room on the third floor, and I thought it was a great location. We were high enough that the street traffic didn't bother us, but we were still able to people watch through the three large windows throughout the room. Definitely ask for a corner room since it comes with more windows!

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina: A Hotel Review | CosmosMariners.com

The room had two queen beds (called the "Vintage Queen Queen" room on their site) and a large bathroom with a shower/tub combo. The bed was incredibly comfortable, and I looked forward to sinking into the fluffy duvet and crisp sheets each night. Sightseeing is hard work!

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina: A Hotel Review | CosmosMariners.com


Even with the two beds, I still had plenty of room to set up Britton's pack and play in the corner; the room was large enough that the pack and play didn't interfere with our movement between the room and bathroom.

Our room also had a mini-refrigerator and Keurig. 

Service: 
When I went to check in, our room wasn't available, but the desk clerks were apologetic (they didn't even need to be, as I was trying to check in at 10:15 in the morning!). They took my cell phone number and promised to call me as soon as a room became available; I ended up getting a call less than an hour later. 

Housekeeping was fantastic, and made sure to keep us stocked with bottled water (which is complimentary with any stay); that sure came in handy as we explored all over town! Housekeeping came once in the morning to tidy up, and then again at night for turndown service. After a long day of sightseeing, it was a treat to see the chocolates on our pillows. 

While check out was easy--I paid with a credit card that was already on file--the desk clerk that morning wasn't very personable. Since I knew I was going to write a piece about the hotel and its history, I asked if there was another copy of the laminated history that had been in our room. I didn't want to steal the room copy, so I figured that the front desk could supply me with one--or, at least, make a photocopy of an existing one. When I inquired about the history sheet, the desk clerk just looked at me and uttered a quick, "No, I don't think we have those." She didn't offer to call housekeeping, make a copy, or print out another one. It wasn't that big of a deal since I'd made a few notes, but I would've expected a bit more effort on her part to ensure that there wasn't an extra sheet to give out to someone interested in it. 

Other than that one small (and really, in the whole scheme of things, insignificant) exchange, the staff was more than helpful throughout our stay. 

Amenities: 
The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina: A Hotel Review | CosmosMariners.com

While the hotel doesn't have a pool or gym, it does have plenty of touches to make you feel welcome during your stay. Nibble on a few of the complimentary cookies every afternoon, or mix with the other guests during the wine social every Wednesday evening. I liked that there was a complimentary shuttle available to guests; we didn't use it since I wanted to get out and walk around Uptown, but this is a great option for guests who are in a hurry!

The Asbury, the onsite restaurant, is absolutely worth a visit during your time at the Dunhill--so much so that my experience there will get its own post later. If you'd rather eat in your room, the room service comes out of the same kitchen, so you don't have to eat another of those dry burgers that usually comes off the room service menu.

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina: A Hotel Review | CosmosMariners.com

We didn't get to use them, but the hotel also has several meeting rooms available for corporate functions. I think the hotel would be such a pretty place to have a reception or meeting!

Final Thoughts:
I'd definitely stay here again! Not only was the location perfect, the room was incredibly nice. I also liked all of the little extras that came with my stay including the complimentary water, the turndown service, and the fluffy white robes in the bathroom.

Book a stay at the Dunhill Hotel here.
_____________________________

If you're interested in my experiences in another Historic Hotel of America, check out my stay at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel on Jekyll Island, Georgia. 

Have you stayed in a historic hotel? What was your experience like? Have you been Charlotte lately?

Disclaimer: The Dunhill provided one complimentary night's stay; I paid for a second night in the same room. All opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If you use them to book a stay, I'll receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

A First-timer's Guide to Historic Charleston, South Carolina: Where to Visit, Eat, Shop, and Sleep

A First-timer's Guide to Charleston, South Carolina: Where to Visit, Eat, Shop, and Sleep | CosmosMariners.com

After my First-Timer's Guide to Savannah, Georgia, made some waves, I figured that the time was right for me to impart my knowledge about my beloved hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. I was born here, and other than an eight-year-gap when I lived elsewhere in South Carolina, I've called Charleston my home my entire life.

From school field trips to my own wanderings, I've seen most of what the Holy City has to offer. If you're heading this way on a trip, my first timer's guide to Charleston is a must-read!

Hello, 2015! I Have Big Plans for You.

Happy New Year, everyone! I brought in 2015 by reading and watching college football before grumpily going to bed at 12:02 a.m.

I bet you're a little jealous that your NYE wasn't as cool as mine. Right?!

As I look forward to what 2015 has in store for me, I'm excited about the possibilities. 2013 was a rough year for so many reasons (tough pregnancy, my unexpected hospitalization, a trip to the NICU for my newborn, a house flood, the death of my grandfather), and 2014 felt like a transition year (we got a new house, I refocused my blog, I started traveling more regularly again).

All of this can only mean that 2015 is going to be PHENOMENAL.

So, without further ado, here are a few things I've got swirling around in my little ol' head for the big '15.

What Not to Do When Hiking with a Toddler

Sometimes, when people meet me in real life, they're a little unsure if my enthusiasm is authentic. But as one of my co-workers told me after we'd spent three weeks sharing the same room on an overseas trip, "You really are that upbeat!" I am optimistic to a fault when it comes to most things (my wardrobe and athletic abilities are not two of these things), and I will go out of my way to be friendly or smile or use another exclamation point. (They're just so fun!!)
Because of my sunshine-y attitude, I really enjoy 99.9% of the stuff that life throws at me. Even though I've had some worrisome moments in my travels, I've been delighted at the people, places, and sites that I've encountered along the way. Thus, most of my posts are happy and honest accounts of what I see and do. 

This post is not going to be one of those. Well, it will be honest since I think that's always really important, but what follows is about as dour as I get. (Unless I'm hungry. Then watch out because I get uber hangry.)

While in Lake Lure, this one trail had been recommended to me several times, so I headed over to the Buffalo Creek Trail near Bill's Mountain. The day started out cool but sunny, and my fellow travel partners and I were ready to get a little hiking done. 

As you might have come to find on my earlier Lake Lure posts, I was more than a little enamored with the gorgeous fall leaves, and I was excited to get even more pictures of the forest ablaze. 

Buffalo Creek Trail, Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

I'd done a little research before heading out on the trail that morning because I don't do anything without a healthy amount of research, and I knew that the trail was a big loop of 3.5 miles, and that there were plans to eventually extend the trail to an even larger 7-10 mile loop. There were parts of the hike that were steep-ish, according to the Buffalo Creek trail website, but it was far from being advanced. 

Buffalo Creek Trail, Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com


Neither my dad nor I are terrible unfit people--we can (and have) walked for miles in Charleston, in Europe, in Disney World. We have zero physical maladies, and we're semi-experienced hikers since we lived in the foothills of South Carolina when I was growing up and would hike in the many state parks in the lower mountains of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Britton's usually really adventurous and is always super energetic, so I figured that she would be fine to walk a good portion of the trail. 

So, things should have gone well by all accounts. We were all happy, well-rested, and wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. 


At 10:00 a.m., we set off. 


By 11:00 a.m., Britton decided that she needed more breaks from walking, so my dad and I took turns carrying her when she didn't want to walk. She's only 17 months old, and those tiny legs can only go so far! We were still having fun at this point, looking for nuts and pointing out squirrels to Britton and taking lots of pictures. 


By 12:00 p.m., my stomach started grumbling, and I realized that we'd been two hours on the trail without seeing any trail markers. About this time, Britton started signing "more" (her cue that she's hungry) and saying, "Cracker! Cracker!" She'd completely given out of steam and my dad and I were taking turns carrying her in intervals of five or so minutes (that 25 pound toddler gets heavy!). 

By 12:15 p.m., Britton started kicking us because she was exhausted and hungry, and my dad and I started becoming alarmed that we'd taken a wrong turn somewhere. Britton's kicking and screaming wore my dad and I out as we tried to continue our hike (which was all up hill at this point). 

Hiking with a Toddler, Buffalo Creek Trail, Lake Lure, North Carolina
This is when all of the trees started to look the same (to which my Susie Sunshine self wants to say, "But at least they were pretty trees!"). 
At 12:30 p.m., we were both getting a little desperate since Britton was just wailing uncontrollably. We were worried that we were going to have to loop back another 2+ hours to get to the trailhead, but we figured that going back was better than going forward. 

We'd turned around and started walking for about ten minutes when we saw something that might or might not have been another trail, and we got very, very worried and confused. Were we even on the right trail? Had we somehow wandered off the 3 mile loop? 

I decided to scoot down the might-be-a-trail path while my dad and Britton stayed on the original trail. At the bottom of the might-be-a-trail, I saw a rake that one of the trail workers had left and called my dad down. I figured that if the rake was there, that meant that the trail workers couldn't be too far off--they could help us find out way out of the park! 

My dad looked around at that point and immediately recognized the spot as one that was very near the trailhead, so with happy hearts, tired legs, and an exhausted toddler, we headed back to the car as quickly as we could. 

Looking back, I broke several hard-and-fast rules of hiking. 
1) I didn't bring food or water. 
2) I didn't bring a trail map.
3) I brought a toddler. 

It's a fairly new trail (about a year old), and they're still doing some upgrades on it (we saw the trail boss and workers that morning), but I would have felt SO MUCH BETTER about the entire thing if there had been trail markers. It's easily to get turned around in the woods, so to know that'd we'd been one mile or three miles or were completely off the trail really would have made this a completely different experience. I really hope they put up markers as the trail gains popularity. I also hope they offer trail maps at the entrance to the park (as many places do), so visitors can have a better idea of where they are on the trail. 

After we'd gotten back to the Geneva Riverside that night, I looked up a trail map online and found out that the trail does indeed make a big loop, and that we weren't lost--we were actually about 2/3 of the way through the loop. The circle gets much narrower in the middle, and that's where we were able to cross over and get back to the trailhead without completely retracing our steps. I felt a little silly after seeing the map, but, in the moment with a screaming toddler and with woods that looked all the same everywhere, I know why I'd gotten a little panicky on the trail. 

So, there. That's my not-so-great experience on my most recent trip. It turned out in the end, but I hated not knowing where I was while I listened helplessly as my child begged for lunch. 

Make me feel better about the entire thing, and share your worst travel misstep in the comments below! :)

If you want to experience the beauty of the great outdoors, check out what else is around Rutherford County!

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Jekyll Island Club Hotel: A Tour

Jekyll Island Club Hotel: A Tour | CosmosMariners.com

In the last two days, I've learned, explored, and photographed more than I ever imagined I could in less than 48 hours. One might not think that there would be so much to cram into a short vacation on an island that's only 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide--but there definitely is.

Why I Travel


The first trip that I ever went on was to Disney World. My grandparents, parents, and I all piled into the family motorhome and made the (what should have been) seven hour trip down to Orlando from South Carolina.

According to family lore, from the moment I was buckled into my child seat to the moment that we stopped in Orlando, I yelled, "Out! Out!"

Clearly, I hadn't learned road trip etiquette yet. I was two. 

Behind the Blog: What's in a Name?

Naming a blog is really hard.

Much like naming a baby, you have to pick something that will stand the test of time.

Christmas in Savannah, Georgia



Landon and I decided not to give each other presents this year. We already have a lot of stuff, and  most of the things that we really wanted to give one another (a new master bathroom, a new house) weren't really feasible for holiday gifts.

One thing that was wanted was time together. And that is definitely possible, though a little difficult with all of the Christmas stuff this time of year.

Since we were taking Britton with us, Landon and I chose somewhere that wasn't too far away for our mini-escape. We didn't want to torture our poor baby (or ourselves) with a really long car ride because she's recently decided that she hates her car seat and will gladly scream until we let her out.

We live in the Charleston area, and there aren't too many places that you can get to in two hours that are worthy of a mid-winter break. From here, we could go to Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Florence, Hilton Head, or Savannah.

Landon and I both have a soft spot for Savannah (so much so that I named our blog after a Savannah-based author), and we've visited many times. The city has a ton of stores to walk around in and great restaurants to eat at, which was just perfect for us--we wanted a low key weekend away.

We didn't make any plans. We didn't book any tours. We just found a great deal on Priceline the day before we left, packed a few things, and piled in the car. It was completely stress-free (which is saying a lot these days, as anyone who's ever traveled with a six month old knows that being between a 6.5 and an 8 on the stress scale is pretty much a given).

We stayed across the Savannah River from downtown over on Hutchinson Island. I'd never been to the Westin resort, but I'm always up to try a new hotel. I was excited when our Priceline bid was accepted and we found out that the Westin would be our home for the weekend. Plus (and this was a BIG draw for me), we got to take the water taxi across the river to go shopping and to eat. I know--I'm a huge dork. It's the little things in life that amuse me to no end.

Britton wasn't too bad on the car ride down there: she sleep half the way and screamed half the way. After we checked in, we wandered around the hotel to look at all the decorations.


Bundled up in her Baby K'tan to check out the hotel Christmas lights!
River Street and the Savannah skyline from our hotel
After exploring the hotel, we headed back upstairs to our room. Britton was acting tired, rubbing her eyes and yawning, so Landon and I thought "yes! she's going to go to bed early, so we can all get some rest!" Britton's always been a good sleeper, but in the last week or so, she'd been fussy when we put her down to rest and she'd been waking up multiple times each night. I figured it was a combination of the vaccines she'd gotten last week, teething, and her six-month-growth spurt. Whatever the cause, we were all tired.

So much for wishing.

With a full tummy and in her warm pajamas, Britton fell asleep in my arms as I rocked her, but as soon as I put her in her crib, she woke up and started screaming. Landon took over, rocked her back to sleep, and tried to put her down. Screaming ensued. This cycle continued for two hours until she finally went to sleep after midnight.

Needless to say, our relaxing retreat didn't start out exactly as we expected.

However, being the eternal optimists that we are, we figured that Britton would sleep in Saturday morning since she'd gone to bed late.

Let's all laugh together.

At the stroke of 6 a.m., she was back up and at 'em. She was so grumpy, but refused to go back to sleep. Landon, being the saint of a husband that he is, offered to walk her around the resort for a bit so I could rest. Ahhh.

I woke up again an hour later to a beautiful morning in Savannah. I was a little sleepy, but nothing could dampen my mood for our full day of shopping and sightseeing.

The view from our room. Hello, Savannah!
We hopped on the free water taxi that ferries visitors across the river. It makes three stops: at the Westin, at the Waving Girl statue, and near the Hyatt Regency on River Street. If you're visiting, make use of the public transportation to get around. There's also a free trolley that goes up and down River Street, as well as one that hits up major points in the historic district. Walking is definitely the best way to see the city, but sometimes, you've just got to rest those feet for a minute!

We can at least look perky, even if we don't feel that way! 

Our shopping was interrupted by a downpour. The rain cover on Britton's stroller just wouldn't withstand the rain, so Landon put her in the Infantino carrier and zipped her up in his Columbia rain jacket!
After darting through the rain, we headed over to eat at the Pirates' House Restaurant. I know it's a tourist spot, but I love eating there. Plus, where else can you eat in a 300 year old house where a guy dressed up like Jack Sparrow will give you a history lesson?
Next was lunch at the Pirates' House restaurant. I love their Fried Green Tomato BLT (BLFGT?) salad.
Walking around burned up some calories, so we stopped by Sweet Carolina Cupcakes to get a few treats. Landon was afraid that the icing would get smashed if we just held them, so we put Britton in my carrier and strapped the cupcakes in the stroller. People pretty much thought we were crazy!

That night, we were tired from walking around, so we took the water taxi back over to the hotel. We were sort of hungry (but still kind of full from our lunch and snacks), so we ordered a hamburger from room service. I'm totally country-come-to-town, but I've never ordered room service before. The guy who brought it even set it up in our room.
Plus, there were mini condiments. Life is good.
Britton got up TWICE Saturday night (between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.), so we still weren't feeling too great Sunday morning. Still, we wanted to make the most of our last hours in Savannah. We packed up the room, and then headed out to the nearby Fort Pulaski for an early morning history lesson.

What's the best way to keep your baby warm when you encounter a chilly breeze? By stuffing her inside of your jacket, of course.

The front of Fort Pulaski. It was designed by the same man who was behind Fort Sumter (in the Charleston harbor) and Fort Jefferson (in the Dry Tortugas, off the coast of the Florida Keys).
A few more pictures from inside the fort:


Even with Britton's bizarre sleeping patterns, we still had a wonderful time. Landon and I decided that we're going to try and do a weekend getaway every year instead of exchanging gifts--any ideas on where we should head next year?

Have you ever gone on a trip instead of exchanging gifts?