Thursday, September 29, 2016

Goodbye Charleston. Hello Savannah!

We spent our last day in Charleston today...well, last half of the day anyhow. We're headed to Savannah!

But first, Fort Somter.

Apparently, Fort Somter is where the first shots of the Civil War were shot. There's more history to it, but truthfully I was too hot to pay too close attention. I made myself a note to study up on it.

We took a ferry across the Charleston Harbor - I think that's what it was called - to the fort. It was a nice 25 minute ride that had great views of Charleston. One thing is for sure, South Carolina is FLAT!

We had an hour on the fort to wander around and learn about what happened there, but the most impressive thing, was the flag raising. We were the first group over on Tuesday morning, so they involve the tourists in putting the flag out each morning. The ranger (and I can't say ranger without saying, "Sorry folks, park's closed. Moose out front should have told ya.") told us some more history. He unfolded the flag with us tourist holding it and proceeded to tell more about the fort and the history. We had a brief moment of silence and then he asked the veterans of our group to lead us in the pledge of allegiance. That gave me goose bumps. Not only had I not said the pledge in I don't know how long, but to see a handful of veterans leading it just made me smile.

The Fort Sumter facility where we caught the ferry.

Shell still in the wall.

Raising of the flag

After the fort we hopped in the car and headed to Savannah. This is where things get interesting.

See we've had this issue with restaurants we wanted to go to being closed and so have had to find something else. On our way out of Charleston we figured we'd find food along the way. I was already starving so this was to be a quick trip out and food fast. We drove past the first group of food stops and nothing sounded good. So we pressed on.

Next "town" - or gathering of houses - nothing.

About 15 miles out of Savannah we stopped at a General Store. The clerk there recommended this place called Jasper's Porch just up the road.

Great ... so off we went. We got off the highway, tried to find this stinkin place and couldn't. After a dozen or so (I exaggerate) turn arounds we finally said, fuck it and decided on Dairy Queen. As we pulled into DQ's parking lot, there was Jasper's Porch signs.  Following the signs, we turned the corner...and it was closed. GAH! Fine ... DQ it is.

We arrived in Savannah around 3, found our hotel and unpacked. A quick little walk outside and the MomUnit was tired so headed back to the hotel. SIL and I stayed out and walked around a bit. Got hot and tired and decided to drop into a bar that said Happy Hour!

Done with our libations, we headed back to pick up MomUnit and off to find food. Somehow we came up with Vic's on the River and saw that it looked like it was just on the water front in front of us. But having just been down there, SIL and I knew the cobbled streets would be too much for the MomUnit so we opted to drive.

Again the directions from the phone weren't the greatest and we found ourselves turning in circles trying to figure out how to get to the water front. Finally got down there, but didn't see the restaurant. So we back tracked and the phone directions kept telling us we were there, but we couldn't be because it was ON THE RIVER and we weren't.

One more time turning around and this time we pulled into a parking lot when the SIL looked up and said, "There it is!" It was quite literally across the street from our hotel. 300 feet...maybe. Ugh.

We had a great meal there though. Mom had the beef spare ribs that were to die for. I had fried shrimp and SIL ordered the meatloaf. It came as the entire loaf. There was enough food there for a full 4 person family.

Tomorrow we'll wander around the city and check out some of the squares. Savannah must have a thousand squares so that should keep us busy for a while.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Day 2 Charleston (Sept 26)

So today was plantation day. We had planned on visiting 3 plantations that were within miles of each other. We started at Drayton Hall.

This was owned by a wealthy family, surprising. And it looks beautiful...on the outside. On the inside, there have never updated it to include running water or electricity. Imagine, no breeze on a hot summer day in Charleston...sheesh...that'd suck. Suddenly fans that women carried made sense.

But here the kicker, not a stitch of furniture on the inside. Just empty rooms. The furniture was being restored and would eventually be put back...or replicas of it. A tour of an inside of a mansion without furniture is B-O-R-I-N-G. Really not very interesting at all. While the moldings and what not were pretty, it certainly wasn't work the $$ we paid for it.

So off to the next one, Magnolia Hall. That one turned out to be about the same price, and had a tram ride...but it was mostly gardens and to see the house you had to pay extra. We opted out.

The last one on our list, Middleton Place, was written up as the oldest and finest in the area. It sure as hell should have been for the price they were asking to get into it. Let's just say we opted out of that one too.

The most exciting part about any of them was driving into one of the long driveways and seeing a HOARD of Turkey Buzzards attacking road kill.  Turns out turkey buzzards are ugly birds.

Enough of the wildlife and boring, expensive houses, we headed in to Sommerville for lunch. We had been told from one of our waitresses that Sticky Fingers was a great place for BBQ. Its a chain, but we figured why not try it.

OH....MY....GOODNESS was it delicious. Some of the best BBQ I've had. And we did, in fact, have sticky fingers. The interesting thing here was the corn on the cob...every had deep fried corn on the cob? Yah me neither...and oh my was it good.

On our was back to Charleston, the skies opened up and it rained, hard, for a good 3 hours. We couldn't get out of the car to see anything because the rain was pounding. So we drove around, dropped the window quickly, and shot a photo as quickly as possible so we didn't get wet. I do like my torrential downpours, but this was really a lot of water.

After swearing we'd never eat again after lunch, we decided to go grab dinner. Our first stop was Jestine's and it was closed. Here's the thing, we've ran into I don't know how many issues with restaurants we want to eat at being closed.  It's like we're cursed.

So instead we drove to the market and decided to eat at the Crab House. And considering we had our crab hats, it just made sense. Only...I forgot my hat back at the room. So the MomUnit and SIL wore there's and boy did they get the looks. Funny enough, we didn't order crab. Not a single one of us.\\

Tomorrow we'll get up early and go to Fort Somter. Really hoping it doesn't rain like it did today. If I buy a poncho I can almost guarantee it won't rain.

Here are some other shots from today:

African American Burial ground on Drayton Hall land. "Leave em rest"

Entrance to the African American burial ground

Wrought iron is everywhere here.

We found a graveyard!!

Grand Staircase in Drayton Hall

The Privy at Drayton Hall. It has a fireplace!

Drayton Hall version of running water.

The driveway...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Charleston Day 1 ( Sept 25)

Well we made it. The trip here was long, as is anything when you head to the east coast.

Charleston....I'm in love. What a charming little town. But man it's humid. My hair is out of control. Voluminous is a word for it...

So let's see...What have we done?

We started our morning by having what we thought was a complimentary breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express here in the Historic district. 30 minutes later our bill of $52 came...we were, needless to say, floored and miffed. Every Holiday Inn Express I've ever stayed at has had the free continental breakfast. This one has it set up like one, but it isn't.  So today (which is Day 2) we'll be going to a bakery for breakfast.

After that shock, we headed off to our Carriage ride through the historic district.  Luke was our draft horse. 19 years old and ready to retire. The carriage driver told us a "story" that Luke  was about to retire and he was trying to buy him for his retirement. Before a carriage horse, Luke was owned by the Omish. They only keep them for 5 years and then sell them off. This org that rescues them has a huge farm they frolic in on their days off. The city, apparently, has very strict laws about how long a horse can work because of the heat and what not.

Anyhow, we sat, squished in a single row and off we went. We heard ghost stories, heard stories about individual houses and who they were owned by, we saw Rainbow Row, a couple of churches, the city market, the waterfront and a few other things. It was a lot of fun and one of the things I like to do in new towns I visit.

After that, we were hot and thirsty. We found a store called MoonPie and we had to go in. Inside I found a cooler that had Cheerwine in it. Since it was on my list to try, I went ahead and tried it. Um...YUM. Where has that been all my life? And why can't I get it in WA? It's a black cherry flavored cola and tastes very different than cherry coke. The MomUnit and SIL tried a Nehi (one was orange and one was peach) - also delicious.

We walked through the city market and like all markets a lot of vendors selling their hand crafted items. Once you've seen one row you've seen it all. Ended up buying some photos from a photographer there - plan to frame them. A stuffed crab with a stuffed baby crab...that'll become our mascot. (More on that later).

Ate in Lowcountry bistro: fried pickles, moonshine, chicken andwaffle, biscuits and gravy and she crab soup. Oh and sweet tea. Some delicious start to our food adventure. After this stop we figured we set the bar pretty high. We shall see.

After lunch, we drove over to Rainbow Row. A row of houses painted in bright pretty colors and worth a cool million or two. These homes have managed to survive the fires, hurricanes, and earthquake ravaged city and are said to date back to 1730 to 1750. They were hard to photograph because of all the damn trees.

We parked and walked along the waterfront for a bit to find, what else, but the Pineapple fountain. None of us could really find in any of the guide books why a pineapple fountain, but we took photos of it all the same. Mom was pooped so she sat and SIL and I went to get the car. On the way back she spotted an Italian Ice cart. Slamming on the brakes we got ourselves some Italian shaved ice that was out of this world.

Next on the list was to go see Angel Oak. Depending on which guide book, post card or website you read it's anywhere from 500 to 1500 years old. I figured it was somewhere in the middle. It's enormous though. 65 feet high and 167 feet wide.

After that SIL, wanted to go see Folly Beach - there was a lighthouse we wanted to see. Driving through the small beach town was fun and full of gorgeous beach houses. We finally got down to the end and found there was a walk to the lighthouse...we opted not to.

We did take a moment to dip our toe in the Atlantic ocean. Check another off my list.

Lastly, we were ready for dinner. Our waitress recommended a restaurant at Shem Creek in Mount off we went. Drove over this amazing bridge called the Ravenel Bridge...named for some historic person...

Dinner was at Red's. Turned out to be quite a find. It was a dog friendly restaurant and we were surrounded by dogs. Everywhere you looked was another dog. We were in heaven. The food was outstanding too, so there was that.

Tomorrow we'll be doing a couple plantations. Not quite decided which ones yet...we shall see.

Some other photos of stuff...

Charleston, SC - St. Philip's Episcopal Church

Earthquake bolts...holding buildings together.

St. Philip's

St. Michael's


Sweetgrass basket art for sure.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Life is a Highway

It sure is...if you're "highway" equals work and the "cars" equal all the sh*t you have to get done at work. Then yes, my life is a highway...a very backed up, no relief in sight kinda highway.

Three months ago I hired a new PM. My excitement around having him as a PM for me was that I'd get some of my life back. I'd stop working 50 hours a week (or more) and I'd be able to be me again.

The problem is ... our sales team are awesome. Our company is doing sensationally well - which a good problem to have - but it also means, we're slammed! Always.

The new PM is up and running. He's got 27 projects. I have 33 and my other PM has 32. I have three new projects in my Inbox waiting for a PM to be assigned. I have no idea who I can assign it to. I'm been told by management to not take on anymore - in an attempt to get my work/life balance back. But the other two PMs are starting to have no work/life balance either.

Thankfully management heard my cries of exhaustion. That's what I love about this place...they aren't blind to the reality of the work load. Well, that and I'm the squeeky wheel that won't stop reminding them we're slammed.  Our company prides itself on quality and when you have PMs that are as slammed as we are, your quality goes down.  That gets to them for sure.

Enter new PM job description. Finally.

This search didn't take us quite as long. We are changing our roles, or I should say planning to, to be more Customer Success Managers - its the buzz world in the SaaS environments. It basically means we, as PMs, own a lot more of the relationship and really focus on supporting that customer for the duration of their license with us. It's checking in on a regular basis. We can't do that now because we're too busy.

At any rate, our search was for a person who had more that experience along with PM skills. And we found someone within a month. He starts on Wednesday! He's going to have to hit the ground running and will likely have 3 projects ready for him to run with.

In other non work related news. The MomUnit was here for a couple of weeks. Her being here made me realize just how much I do work at home in the evenings.  With her here I couldn't work at what? So instead of worrying I just did my best and spent the time I needed to with the MomUnit. She's off to Portland now to visit the sister.

The MomUnit brought with her, her new little dog Stitch. I wasn't sure what I was going to think about her new Taco Bell dog.  Turns out he's quite the character and it's almost impossible to not love him. Why do we always have crazy dogs - pets?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A little bit of this...

You know in movies when they show the passage of time they will show a calendar with the days ripping off? Yah...that. That's what this year has felt like. It's late May for heaven's sake!

I swear I just woke up and was January 1st. And as I sit here typing I sure wish I had more to show for the first 5 months of this year, but is was it is.

So to get you caught's a list.

1. I'm so very happy for my friend The Patron Saint of the Smart Mouths today for she is getting married. She's kissed a lot of frogs to find this gentleman. And while I've never met him and really only know the Patron Saint via blog land (and one meeting in NY several years ago) I can't help but smile for the happiness she's found.

2. Work. Work. and more work. Things were looking up. For an entire week I didn't feel the need to work extra hours. Then I evoked some power by saying a client's name out loud and it must have released ALL the clients. See, I have 32 projects currently. That's a lot, I won't lie. But the reason we can handle that many projects is because a good 20 is all that is usually active. I have 28 active right now and all of them are needy. Throw in a catastrophic mistake or two and you get yourself behind and find yourself working 12 to 14 hours a day. Don't get me wrong, I still love my job, but man...I'm getting tired. Here's just a peak of one day:

This is my dashboard in Wrike...the cool new tool we use to manage ourselves.

3. The Niece and I walked the Color Run last week with some other friends. They all walk WAY faster than I do. Way faster. The next day I was so dang sore...a good sore, but man all I could think of was I shouldn't be that sore from walking. It was a much smaller Color Run than last year. In fact, sponsored by an entirely different group. Still we had a blast and the weather held out for us. Snooki the Orange Duck went with us. She only came out once...for this photo...she's shy.

The Niece and I before the walk.

After. See...we aren't as dirty as last year.
4. Last Sunday was Sunday dinner. I went Mexican this month. I really need to start pulling out more recipes and getting a bit more creative. Work makes me not have the time and I feel like my friends are suffering from the lack of new and different food at Sunday dinner (I really don't feel that bad...). At any rate, I made The MomUnit's enchiladas and tacos. I was craving the enchiladas for several weeks now. Unfortunately my local store doesn't carry the enchilada sauce that makes these out of this world. So I was just meh about them. I'm going to start searching for that enchilada sauce that I like and stock up.

5. Sometime last week as I was closing my computer after 14 hours of work I realized I need a break. I know, Dah, right? But more than that, I need to take myself somewhere and unplug for an entire day. Some place I can just sit and think. Just me and perhaps a journal. I feel like my life is very unfocused right now (well, focused on work) and I miss me. Not sure what or where or when yet, but I'm noodling it around in the noggin.

Until next time...and God only knows when that will be. I'll leave you with this.