All posts by Sunny Bridge

I love travel, seeing and photographing new places, meeting new people, learning languages (focusing on French for the past few years).

Downtown at the Brown

Our little side trip to Colorado also allowed David to have a couple of important business meetings (which I got to skip), so on Saturday, we headed down to Denver. First, though, we stopped in to our once and future neighborhood to say hello to our friends and motorcycle buddies, the Psykos. (More about them and our Harley adventures here and here and here.) Everyone was very welcoming, which is a plus, since we’ve already committed to moving back to the neighborhood!

If you’ve been following our adventures in France, you know how much we like interesting old architecture, so you won’t be surprised that our favorite place to stay in Denver is the Brown Palace Hotel, where the Christmas lights were still up (woohoo) . . .

Atrium of Brown Palace
Atrium of Brown Palace

. . . and there were shimmering chandeliers everywhere . . .

Brown Palace Hotel
Brown Palace Hotel

. . . and you know how much I love chandeliers.

This hotel seemed especially appropriate for us this year, since there are a number of French things gracing the walls, especially in the Palace Arms restaurant . . .

Palace Arms
Palace Arms

. . . including  dueling pistols said to have belonged to Napoleon . . .

Napoleon's Dueling Pistols
Napoleon’s Dueling Pistols

. . . (presumably Bonaparte, although when I tried to confirm that, no one I talked to seemed aware that there were two highly significant Napoleons in French history. Sorry about that, mes amis français!

Kir Royale for Teatime at the Brown Palace Hotel
Kir Royale for Teatime at the Brown Palace Hotel

I managed to talk David into having afternoon tea in the lobby on Sunday, although before the time for our reservation arrived, he had figured out it was definitely a “chick thing.” Over the course of a couple of days, we saw three or four men and probably 70 or 80 women taking tea in the atrium lobby. Still. It was beautiful and tasty, and he survived. I appreciate that he didn’t make me sit there by myself!

It certainly wasn’t all flowers and wine, with technological glitches and human error making Monday live up (or should I say down?) to its reputation. And David is currently suffering from whatever bug is going around. But I imagine you’d rather see and hear about the good parts, so I’ll spare you those details. It does bring to mind a favorite quote:

The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun and some ecstasy. . . . Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home. ∼ C.S. Lewis — The Problem of Pain

Wishing you many pleasant inns on your way home!

Preview of Home

We snuck into Fort Collins a couple days ago for a surprise appearance at a friend’s retirement celebration, and it was a truly special evening. Great to be back in our once and future hometown, even though we only had time to see a few of our friends. We arrived late Thursday, and Friday was spent skulking around, trying to avoid running into anyone we knew, so as not to spoil the surprise before the evening event. If we missed you this trip, I promise we are looking forward to seeing you in the spring.

The weather was a bit cold and gray at times, but the lights downtown were glowing and festive:

Old Town Fort Collins
Old Town Fort Collins
Fort Collins Lights
Fort Collins Lights

Christmas decorations were still up at Moot House, and the fire was blazing, providing plenty of cozy cheer.

Moot House
Moot House

Tom Glossi←Then off to the celebration of our good friend Tom Glossi’s thirty-one years in ministry. So much fun to surprise him–and everyone else, really, since we had told NO ONE we would be there. It was a bit of a preview homecoming, since we won’t be back for good until April. The evening featured another surprise guest, longtime friend of Tom and Lexi and one of my favorite troubadours, Michael Kelly Blanchard. ↓

MKB (2)

Michael’s songs have a way of soothing the soul like a healing balm, something we certainly need as the headlines continue to be filled with hatred and violence. With Tom in mind and his characteristic quiet compassion, Michael ended with his song, “The Holy Land of the Broken Heart.” His deep, resonant voice washed over us in a truly holy, transcendent moment. Here’s a bit of it for you:

Oh the eyes of humankind, show the pain that numbs the mind,     Search the sorrow for a sign of mercy in the maze. . . .   

Jesus, Lord of all I am, hold me with your wounded hands,                                Keep me in the holy land of the broken heart.

Amen. Peace be with you.

Arty Charleston

While Chelsea was here, of course we had to take her into downtown Charleston, so there was the usual peering down intriguing alleys and winsome walkways:

Charleston
Charleston

Charleston Drive

Brick Alley

 

 

Fortunately for Chelsea, though, this time I was also on a mission. Coleman Fine ArtBoth my mom and my aunt had insisted I find Mary Whyte’s paintings, and so far I had either been on the wrong end of downtown or was walking by the gallery on a Sunday, when it was closed. But this time, we were in luck and had a chance to enjoy Coleman Fine Arts, where Mary Whyte displays her amazing watercolors, uniquely and creatively framed by her artist husband, Smith Coleman. Absolutely stunning. Do yourself a BIG favor and check out their website, and don’t miss the videos.

I know the arts are well-represented in lots of different places, including many we’ve visited on this adventure, but there is definitely something about this area that seems to spark creativity. A number of writers make this their home, and artists and artisans are everywhere, many displaying their wares at the Charleston City Market. It was great to have Chelsea along, since her shopping / browsing tolerance is MUCH higher than David’s! Remember Chelsea in France? Anyway, it’s not all high art, but still. Got my creative juices flowing a bit.

So I’m feeling inspired again. I’m devouring Mary Whyte’s books on painting and doing a bit of drawing, but I’m still not quite ready to share any of that with you, especially since there’s a great deal of PREPARING to paint, and very little ACTUAL painting. Sorry. Instead, here’s today’s little arty photo project: ↓

I’m absolutely captivated by the patterns left in the sand by the wind and the receding tide, especially in the oblique, golden light of the setting sun. Besides simply looking super cool, these swoops, swirls, ridges and streaks make me go all philosophical, thinking about the forces that shape us. May the forces that shape you be few of the harsh-winter-wind variety and mostly gentle as the wash of the tide.

 

 

Fun on Folly

I promised more about fun and funky Folly Beach a couple of posts ago, so here you go . . .

Folly Beach in Evening Light
Folly Beach in Evening Light

The beach itself–from the northeast end to the southwest end–looks much the same, wide, flat and firm–in fact, pretty perfect, so we’ve been taking lots of long walks. Usually, when we drive the five minutes from the condo, we turn right at Folly’s one stoplight, to drive down to the southwest end and the county park, where there’s lots of free parking. But one day we turned left and found this . . .

Morris Island Lighthouse
Morris Island Lighthouse

 

. . . the Morris Island Lighthouse just up over the dunes.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what else we found, one day in early-December . . .

December Kiteboarders
December Kiteboarders

I can’t help asking myself, if you have to dress like this . . .

Ski-Hat Kiteboarder
Ski-Hat Kiteboarder

. . . with gloves and a wool ski hat, should you even BE in the water?

December Kite Boarders
December Kite Boarders

But he was not alone. As you can see, he had lots of company out there. No, thank you.

Here’s another fun seeker I encountered one day down at our usual end, at Folly Beach County Park. His friend had one of these on his back already and was revving the engine. I didn’t stay to see what, exactly, he and his friend would do with these, but he did let me take a picture of it. ↓

Seriously. I have no idea.
Seriously. I have no idea.

Looks scary and loud to me. Apparently I am NOT an adrenaline junkie.

On a slightly calmer note, about a week or so ago, our youngest daughter, Chelsea, discovered it was only a quick one-hour flight down from DC, so she came down to join us late Christmas day and stayed through the weekend. Timing turned out to be perfect, because the weather was fabulous, even hitting 70 a couple of days. We dropped her luggage off at the condo and took her straight out to the beach for our walk. It just happened to be the lowest tide we’d seen yet . . .

Christmas Day with Chelsea
Christmas Day with Chelsea on Folly Beach

We ended up doing more shelling than walking. Chelsea actually found two LIVE sand dollars, something I’d never seen before, and later found a large live conch. (Yes, she put all of them back to live happily ever after.) Super cool, though.

So, okay, our version of fun is a bit less action-packed, but I guess to each his own. Some of my fun is in taking pictures and writing this blog for you, so thanks very much for reading (and commenting now and then).

Do anything, but let it produce joy. ∼Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough. ∼Emily Dickinson

Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings. ∼Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wishing you a fun–and safe–New Year’s celebration!