Going to Carolina

Kenley and I returned to South Carolina in November — for the first time since moving to L.A. in January — to help my cousin Laura celebrate her marriage and to spend Thanksgiving with our families.

We flew Southwest Airlines, which started flying out of the Greenville-Spartanburg and Charleston airports in March.

The flight from LAX to St. Louis had an unusually large number of children younger than 5 on the flight, which did not go unnoticed by the flight crew. If you haven’t ever flown Southwest, you should know that the flight attendants are a little loose with their interpretation of the flight-safety rules spiel. The attendant using the intercom instructed those flying with small children to put the oxygen mask on their favorite child first. And as the plane took off and the children began crying in unison, he also sang “Rock-a-bye Baby.” The parents did not find this amusing.

But the rest of the passengers clapped and cheered at the suggestion of a happy hour once the flight landed.

On our third leg from Baltimore to Greenville, S.C., the flight attendant said: “We don’t anticipate losing cabin pressure. If we did, we wouldn’t have come to work this morning.” And later: “If you’re traveling with small children this evening … what were you thinking?”

After a three-hour delay in “Bawlmer,” we made it to South Carolina early Friday morning and were greeted by my parents.

Later that day, I attended Laura’s bridal luncheon at the historic Cherrydale Alumni House on the picturesque Furman University campus. Laura read scripture at my wedding in January 2010, and I was the guestbook attendant at hers.

Friday night, we drove 20 minutes into the country to Travelers Rest, S.C., for a barbecue held at a farmhouse that belonged to one of the hosts’ families. In less than 24 hours, we had traveled from sprawling Los Angeles to the country, and gone from a balmy 70 degrees to near-freezing temperatures. But it was the perfect way to spend our first night back in South Carolina, and Kenley was excited to eat “real” barbecue provided by Bucky’s Bar-B-Q.

As all good Southerners know, “barbecue” is a noun that means “pulled pork,” not a verb that means “throwing meat on a grill.”

Robbie and August White, Chris and Mary Catherine Smith, Doug and Laura Shelley Stout, and Shelley and Kenley Young stay warm near a fire pit.

On Saturday, my brother arrived from Atlanta, and we went to the Nose Dive gastropub on Greenville’s Main Street for lunch, which I recommend if you ever happen to be in downtown Greenville. Kenley ordered a barbecue sandwich with pumpkin barbecue sauce, which added a different kind of tang. For dessert, we had mini roasted pumpkin pies. (If you share my obsession with pumpkin, read my “In Search of the Great Pumpkin” post here.)

My mom and Laura’s dad are cousins; our grandfathers were brothers. (My first name is my mom’s maiden name.) Our dads attended Clemson University together, and our families grew up tailgating together at every Clemson home football game and often made the trip to bowl games. So before the wedding ceremony, the tailgating crowd gathered in front of the hotel television, where Clemson got off to a rough start against North Carolina State. Things went downhill quickly from there for us Clemson fans. We joked that at least we had the wedding to attend to distract us from the game and give us a good reason to celebrate.

The ceremony was at First Baptist of Greenville, where Laura is the missions coordinator. Here I am welcoming guests and asking them to sign the guest book.

Laura looked beautiful in a strapless white dress with a rhinestone belt. See her wedding announcement in The Greenville News here. Beautiful fall flowers were hung around a large wooden frame at the altar.



The reception was at the Huguenot Loft at the Peace Center, which is an awesome space with large windows that overlook the Reedy River and downtown.

I loved the bold and dramatic decorations by Curly Willow Designs, which also did the flowers in the church. Owner Joel Kirby used a tree cut down from his backyard as a centerpiece.

Glass lanterns hung behind the bar for a warm and cozy atmosphere. Check out photos of the church and the reception on the Curly Willow blog here.

When we walked in, we were offered the signature drink of the evening, a chocolate martini.

The food by Good Life Catering included Southern classics such as shrimp and grits, and ham and cheese biscuits. There was a baked-potato bar with sweet potatoes and a fall classic with a twist: a grilled-cheese sandwich and tomato-soup shooter, with the mini-sandwich served lemon-style on the side of the tall shot glass.

One layer of the wedding cake was pumpkin flavored!

The  Answer Band was entertaining and kept adults and young children alike on the dance floor most of the night.

The children of the Clemson tailgating crowd got together for a photo.

Brian Shelley, Shelley Hill Young, Patrick Hill, Laura Shelley Stout, Doug Stout, Amy Shelley, Mark Godfrey and Kelly Hodge grew up tailgating together at Clemson football games.

It was also the first time the whole Hill family had gotten together in at least a year, so we took a family photo, which (spoiler alert) you might see later on a holiday card.

Kenley and I completed our Upstate South Carolina tour Sunday with a stop in Spartanburg to see my other cousin Carrie (her dad and my dad are brothers) and her two children, Eleanor and Thomas. We had a late breakfast at The Skillet, where we once ate as college students at Converse (Carrie) and Wofford (me).

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4 thoughts on “Going to Carolina

  1. It was wonderful to see you! We should ALL be journaling/blogging like this- you will enjoy revisiting it in later years. I will plan us a trip to LA. We need to visit!

  2. Thanks for the report of the wedding. I haven’t had a chance to talk with your mom yet, but you told me a lot more than my brother and sister-in-law did!
    Marybeth

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