Summer in the USA (aka, I’m Baaaack!)

American Flag over Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC

I took an unexpected break from blogging this summer. I didn’t mean to. In fact, I even photographed and wrote down a bunch of recipes that I planned to blog about. But we planned a long trip to the US this summer — three weeks with just the kids and me, and then another month with our whole family together. And, as these sorts of trips “home” often go, we squeezed in a year’s worth of hugs, quality family time and gab sessions with friends over nine cities. It was a dizzying amount of travel and logistics, and at the end of the day, I’d collapse in a pile, face down, before having to rise up to start packing and moving and making plans all over again.

Charleston Harbor

Taking a long step back wasn’t my first choice. I love blogging, and longtime readers probably have figured out that I’m pretty determined to make this little project of mine into something more one day. I fully believe that keeping with it, taking care to post regularly and constantly trying to improve my skills are an important part of that.

The upshot of the long break is that it allowed me to really soak in being back home. This summer the kids lapped up every minute they could with cousins and friends, both old and new. Along the way, we discovered the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger program, At almost every one of the National Park Service’s 400+ parks and historical sites, kids of all ages can ask for a Junior Ranger booklet with activities about the particular site. Once the booklet is completed, the kids can turn in their packets and receive a park-specific Junior Ranger badge along with a swearing-in ceremony. After our family visited Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, our kids were hooked.

By the end of the summer, we’d visited eight national parks or historical sites in four states — Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina. The program actually motivated us to make detours to places we’d otherwise never think to visit, and we all learned something new, too. Who knew that travel could be so educational AND fun?

The bulk of our time was spent in Charleston, South Carolina, which feels like home to us not only because we lived there for three years and were married there, but also because my parents still have a home there. Ge Ge especially loves summer in Charleston because he’s absolutely obsessed with fishing. He gets this from his “Gong Gong” (my dad).

Being in Charleston also allowed us to stuff ourselves silly with all the foods, like this meat platter from Lewis Barbecue:

Our summer ended with a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (and yes, the tackier environs of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge nearby). My parents rented a huge mountain cabin for all of their cats and grand-cats to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. Our family reunion was tons of fun and also somewhat inexplicable, like this epic staredown during a nature talk in the park:

By the time we boarded the plane in early September to head back to London, the hubby and I were a love-filled but exhausted set of parents, and the kids were walking buckets of tears. They didn’t want to leave behind the very special summer we’d had, the sleepovers with friends and cousins, or the food (my God, the food). It’s taken us weeks to unravel the madness of summer and settle back into our daily routine.

It’s good to be back though. And I have lots planned for the blog in the upcoming weeks, including a mega giveaway. Stay tuned!

Looking for more info about the South? Check out these posts:

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About me

I’m Ann, a mom / wife / lawyer / certified culinary enthusiast. I share recipes, travel guides and home life tips while living overseas. Currently based in São Paulo, Brazil.

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