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The Birthday Surprise

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We were sitting at High Cotton which is a drink your wine with your pinky up type of establishment in Charleston, SC when the wheels fell off…

It was the last night of our Carolina trip and we wanted to celebrate Father’s Day and Nug’s birthday in style. We had spent time in Charlotte meeting Kerri and Randy’s new baby, Rush, and forcing the girls to go to as many breweries as we could before heading to Charleston for a few days. We booked a room on the water in downtown Charleston and spent the days walking down the quaint old town streets, exploring the parks and gardens and swimming in the fountains to beat the heat.

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Charlotte drinking buddies
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Charleston fountains

   

We had made it through drinks, apps and salads at High Cotton while Juniper was being an angel baby. Nevertheless, the old curmudgeon woman at the next table over kept looking at the bugger like she was a nuisance. We waited for our entrees to arrive and took turns holding Junebug. Nug asked for the baby back and right after I relinquished her, Big Precious let out 3 massive farts that scared us and horrified the woman at the adjacent table. Everyone’s attention was diverted momentarily as the waitress arrived with our steaks and placed them on the table. Junebug looked intently at the waitress and I with a startled yet determined face. We then learned that after the thunder comes the rain. The eruptions that followed seemed to shake the room and Juniper’s diaper was no match for the ensuing deluge. In slow motion a lava flow of “mustard colored oatmeal” charged down the baby’s legs and came to rest squarely in Nug’s lap. “Happy Birthday Nug,” I deadpanned before we both started laughing uncontrollably, Juniper looked extremely pleased with herself (and relieved) and the woman stared at us all with utter disgust. I was silently thankful that the birthday girl had taken the Bug when she did.

 

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The Travel Bug

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After plenty of practice traveling with just the 2 of us, Nug and I decided to take the inevitable leap into the unknown by planning a trip out to California with our new 2 month old baby Juniper. We decided to spend a week visiting San Clemente, La Jolla and Newport Beach to escape the Jacksonville cold and because I selfishly wanted to surf. Nug was SOOO ecstatic that we would be traveling with a 2 month old baby, a stroller, baby supplies….and a double surfboard bag.  I’m a nervous flier and Nug has been able to handle one baby (me) pretty easily but was a bit hesitant by the fact that she would now have 2 infants to deal with on the 7 hour journey. On the day of departure we nervously boarded our first flight and prepared for the worst.  The lady in front of us obviously shared our fears when she asked tentatively, “Is this her first flight?”  We nodded apprehensively and she just took a deep breath before turning around.  Junebug miraculously slept most of the 2 flights and didn’t make one peep when she was awake.

Bug on a plane

Bug on a plane

We were staying in San Clemente for the first few days and meandered to our AirBNB room without incident. Nug fed the bugger and I unpacked our stuff. She was burping the baby and we were high fiving and patting ourselves on the back about our successful journey when the poor baby went exorcist style and projectile vomited all over the mama and our bed for the next 3 nights. She then burst into tears as we cleaned up the mess. We were just relieved that the upchuck hadn’t happen on the plane.

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La Jolla

Over the next week we soaked up some beautiful California sunshine, got some waves, did some beach walks, dipped the Bug’s toes in the Pacific for the 1st time, had some picnics, visited farmer’s markets and gorged on authentic Mexican food. It was a successful first journey and convinced us that we could still travel with our cute 3rd wheel.

Bug's 1st Pacific toe dip at Crystal Cove

Bug’s 1st Pacific toe dip at Crystal Cove

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Trestles with the mama

Surf Check

Surf Check

It's pumping dada!!

It’s pumping dada!!

Italian Road Trip

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3 weeks and 1000km through Europe’s boot

The Greek Isles

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A few minutes from a week in Santorini.

Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam

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From a few days aboard our chartered junk boat in Lan Ha Bay.

“He is Like Baby”

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As we wandered around Rome we continued a common theme of our trip – lost.  Ross and I had been perpetually adrift for the past 3 months…pleasantly and happily lost but lost none the less.  We often strolled the streets choosing our path at random, curious of what we would find around each corner.  We used this method of chaotic drifting frequently and sometimes we won while other times we lost.  The day prior we won the gamble when we stumbled upon a little nugget of a place that served the best gelato either of us had ever had.  I thought Ross was going to combust from pure joy as the friendly girl behind the counter offered him sample after sample.  Apparently this was a life changing event for him because I found him still discussing the gelato as we went to sleep that night.

Yum!

Yum!

 

We greeted another day in the Eternal City in a similar fashion yet this time I found Ross to be a little more systematic with his wandering.  He was uncharacteristically taking control over the directions as we walked about the town and I was relieved to have him take the reins.  I wasn’t aware of an intended destination but he seemed to be on a mission.  I started to notice some familiar architecture and store fronts.   As I brought it to Ross’ attention an expression crossed his face like that of a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar.  It was at that moment that I noticed the entrance to the gelato place from yesterday just a few steps away.  Ross acted as if it was a coincidence and feigned surprise when he stated, “Look, it’s the same place as yesterday.  Let’s go inside!”

As we entered, the same smiling face greeted us from behind the counter, “Ah, welcome back!”  We laughed and went about stuffing our faces with samples again.  Ross wasted no time choosing his flavors and digging in.  He was grinning like a Cheshire cat while digging into the ice cream.  The girl from behind the counter laughed and pointed towards Ross, whose head was bobbling like a toddler’s, and cried out, “He is like baby. So happy.” I looked at the massive smile on his face and veneer of gelato on his face and couldn’t agree more.

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Adrift in Italy

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Nug had her heart set on seeing varied places in Italy so we rented a car.  They asked if we wanted a GPS for 12 euro per day extra.  “We are good,” I scoffed as I figured a map and road signs would suffice.  Little did we know that road signs in Italy are inconsistent at best but more often than not are non-existent or dead wrong.  It got to the point where we would bet on how many times we would have to stop and ask for directions before finding a destination.  Thankfully, the Italians we met were over the top friendly and helpful. Without their guidance Nug and I would have probably found ourselves in marriage counseling.

One time we were searching for an Agriturismo in Cerreto Guidi.  An Agriturismo is a working farm that puts up travelers.  The one we staying at produced wine and olives out in the middle of nowhere and I assured Nug it would be easy to find.  We were bickering and driving around in circles when we decided it was time to stop and see if some kind soul would point us in the right direction.  We met a tiny, cute old woman and asked if she could help.  She spoke no English but assured us that her husband was fluent.  She led us through several back streets and into a beautiful courtyard with an impeccable garden.  She insisted we come inside and sat us down at the kitchen table while yelling to her husband.  He came in and said, “Hello,” before we showed him our intended address.  As we commenced another game of charades it became apparent that his English was as limited as our Italian.  Frustrated he held up one finger and walked upstairs.

We spent the next few minutes attempting small talk with the little old lady but mainly taking turns smiling at one another before he returned.  He had his hat, a coat and the car keys.  He waved us to follow while saying, “Come for we take you there!”  He helped his wife out to the car and we followed them through a labyrinth of turns and back roads in our little go kart to a place that we would have had no hope of finding on our own.  As they pulled up to, and pointed at Borgo Vigna Vecchia enthusiastically we couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear and thank them in our elementary Italian.  We all exchanged heartfelt goodbyes and later as we checked into our room I gloated to Nug, “I told you it would be easy to find!”

The go-kart

The go-kart

Room with a view

Room with a view

We made it!

We made it!

We made it!

We made it!

Agriturismo wine

Agriturismo wine

Well deserved wine down.

Well deserved wine down.

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