And then, this one time, Ben Buonviri came to Charleston.
Ben is a very dear friend of Jonathan’s from both their days at Mary Washington and Maritime; friends for approximately 15 years. However, Ben has lived in the Jiangsu Province of China for about 3 years so they do not get the chance to see each other very often. In the 3 years he has lived in China, Ben acquired a girlfriend there called YuanYuan (pronounced like “you-when, you-when”). Ben plans a trip home every year, back to Virginia to see his parents, family, and friends, and also to do some vacationing around the US with YuanYuan. Over the past couple years, I have been fortunate to meet/hang out with Ben and YuanYuan on two occasions for several days at a time. I like Ben very much, and I am glad that he and Jon are such good friends.
Ben and YuanYuan came back to the US a couple weeks ago for their yearly trip home, and for Ben’s sister’s wedding. They visited Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and back to Virginia. I invited Ben to travel down to Charleston, and spend some time with me. Even though Jonathan is out on a ship, I wanted to extend an invitation as I know Jon would have wanted me to – but also because I like Ben and wanted to offer him the chance to visit a place he has never been to before. In spite of the oddly placed bit of cold weather we were having in Charleston as a result of Hurricane Sandy, he took me up on the offer, and he and YuanYuan arrived on Monday afternoon.
After they arrived and were settled, we took a walk into Downtown Charleston. It was pretty chilly on all the days of their visit, but the first evening seemed to be the chilliest. We walked all around to get a feel of the city, and so they could make some notes on places they wanted to visit while they were here. Ben & YuanYuan wanted BBQ Ribs for dinner, and so we enjoyed a nice meal and bottle of red wine at Southend Brewery. After our meal, we took the long walk home to get in more of the evening sites.
Throughout their visit, they enjoyed eating the pumpkin pie that I made the night before their arrival.
Tuesday we awoke to another very chilly day. I cooked breakfast and we got ready for our day. We headed out to the Magnolia Plantation. Jon and I have taken many visitors here, like Camille the French Girl and my Father. It is always a hit! The Plantation was built in 1676, and is one of the oldest in Charleston. The gardens cover about 70 acres and has been open to the public since 1870. Plus – there are many alligators there! We saw some alligators on this visit, which was a grand treat for them both. We also saw a Carolina Wolf Spider, to which I ran away squealing….. so gross….SO GROSS!
After hiking through the riverside, the gardens, the swamp area, and looking at the plantation house itself, we then made our way to the plantations petting zoo. I had never been to the zoo in all my visits there. We saw ponies, peacocks, colorful hens, turkeys, hogs, deer, reptiles, goats, albino raccoon and albino squirrel owls, and much more. None of the animals were nervous or spooked by us being there.
In fact, Ben made great friends with a little baby black billy goat, who followed him everywhere and wanted tons of love and attention from Ben. I was followed, kissed, and snuggled by a fawn doe who was so sweet and loving.
After we had our fill of the animals, we headed back home for a little rest and check in on the Monkey Dog before venturing out again.
Ben and I each had a shot of Cinnamon & Ginger ‘Shine, and then Ben, YuanYuan, and I left the house for our evening out. First stop was Fuel for drinks and appetizers, then back downtown to window shop, stopping in at other bars as we went along for a drink or two. We stopped in at a haberdashery to try on hats, and cause a scene. Then YuanYuan wanted to buy some boots – and while she would try things on, Ben & I would again cause trouble…. putting on accessories and being all around silly. Must do something to entertain ourselves with all this shopping and shopping and shopping!!
Walking, laughing, drinking, and shopping – we made our way to Tsunami for Sushi dinner. We ate a ton of sushi – but YuanYuan and Ben found it to be very delicious and were very pleased. Ben & I once again shared a bottle of wine, and the three of us ate, drank, and talked until about 10:45pm. All the days activities, exercise, and drinking hit us with full bellies – we all were suddenly tired and ready to head home.
We had only gone a few blocks from Tsunami, when this fire truck was slowly driving by – also leaving from a restaurant One of the young firemen gave a little flirty “shout out” to me, to which my response was to run behind the firetruck, and grab onto the back! Ben and YuanYuan laughed at my shenanigans, which was the point after all.
Wednesday morning we woke up late, took time getting dressed and then I cooked Jon’s Deer Brat with Sauerkraut and Honey Mustard (Jon’s own homemade batch) on toasted bread. We all enjoyed it – and what a nice fall meal.
We once again headed downtown. This time I took them through East Bay, Saw Fort Sumter & Moultrie from across the water, the Battery Park, the Waterside Park, the pier, Market… etc etc….. we stopped off at the Noisey Oyster for beers and hushpuppies (Ben had a craving) then back to shopping.
This was a true shopping day for YuanYuan, and we followed along – stopping off for drinks when we could. We were out and about from 12n until 7pm. Needing to get home for the Monkey, and to eat supper – we walked back home. This was Halloween night, so as per the Guests request, we ordered some pizza, had a couple beers, and watched original Tales from the Crypt episodes – which was very cool to see again.
Thursday morning, Ben and YuanYuan had to head back to Virginia. I would say that it was a very nice visit, and it was very wonderful for me to have something new and people to talk with to occupy my time while Jon is out to sea. I was very glad they came down and had a good time on their visit, even without Jon. I am sure if he was home it would have been an even better trip for Ben – but as it was, I think I was an okay host.