FUN: I Spied with My Little Eyes…

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It’s not a clinical problem – but I have a short attention span.

And short attention spans can cause you to MISS out. I know this so that’s why I routinely tell my middle school creative writing students to practice not only LOOKING but SEEING. With an impending trip with my husband to Asheville, NC, I decided to give myself the same assignment – to practice what I “preach.” The only qualification is that these discoveries had to be something I’d have overlooked if I hadn’t stopped – you know – to notice. Honestly, I didn’t know WHAT I’d see but I knew I would know WHEN  I saw it.

You’ll have to take my word for this one since I don’t have a photo, but my first finding sat on a bush near the entrance of the South Carolina Welcome Center in Hardeeville. While my husband would have been happy to stay on the highway, I insisted that we stop and be “officially welcomed” – besides I needed to “stretch my legs.”

It was there, on an average, everyday green bush that I spotted it – a dragonfly!

Big deal, I hear you thinking. Dragonflies are common.

Right you are but that’s not ALL I saw. Besides slight wing movement as it parked on its leafy perch, I leaned in slowly only to see the thing opening and closing its jaw! Of course, I won’t go so far as to say it was talking to me. But if a ventriloquist had been nearby, well, let’s just say it woulda been a great Candid Camera moment! Then, as quickly as we’d realized what we’d seen, my husband and I looked at each other to confirm we were not hallucinating. Good. We were NOT.

Secondly I learned that people who work in South Carolina’s Welcome Centers are certified! I met a nice woman named Debbie working the counter and beneath her name was the line Certified Travel Counselor. Not saying I was job hunting, but I was impressed to know that the friendly folks there were more than minimum-wage earners who simply pointed to the ginormous racks of activity brochures and maps. Debbie is a great

Debbie greets newcomers at the South Carolina Welcome Center at Hardeeville.

Debbie greets newcomers at the South Carolina Welcome Center at Hardeeville.

conversationalist and after a few short minutes I knew where all nine SC Welcome Centers were located, the names of the state’s different regions and a myriad other interesting facts. She should know. She’s been doing this for 28 years!

My third sighting took place in Columbia, South Carolina. Those good folks sure know how to make life convenient. I never knew how well I could multitask at the gas station. Stop for a fill up. Grab a bag of mulch. Who knew I could check off my

South Carolina timesaver: gas up and get mulch!

South Carolina timesaver: gas up and get mulch!

complete landscaping list in one easy stop? I can’t promise variety, but mulch it was nonetheless, and not just at ONE gas station. MORE than one. My husband will verify. He is an accountant. AND, I have a picture!

My fourth detection occurred at “America’s largest private residence” (The Biltmore), which contains 250 rooms. After an inside tour (not all 250 rooms!) we enjoyed a stroll through the various landscaped, floral gardens behind it. The well-established “backyard” paths made it simple to explore.

“Shhhh!” I heard my husband say as he walked ahead, turned back and looked at me.

Why the alert? I wasn’t even talking to myself. But shush I did nonetheless only to discover the first of many Biltmore bunnies, munching the rich, green grass. Heck, that little cutie almost looked camera ready for the “close up” I took moments later. Yes, you get to see him! Too bad the photo’s not in 3D.

This cutie lives in luxury in The Biltmore's backyard!

This cutie lives in luxury in The Biltmore’s backyard!

We also saw three others doing their hop, skip and a jump routine. Pretty picturesque!

My fifth discovery took place while exploring Linville Caverns. For not much more than the cost of a Number 1 McDonald’s combo meal, our adventure took us into the 50 degree semi-darkness where we “oohed” and “aahed” at stalactite and stalagmite formations. What I didn’t expect to see was freshwater inside the caverns AND blind trout, swimming practically in place.  Our tour guide Shelby explained historical info about the cavern’s discovery – I won’t spoil that for you – and the many rock formations inside such as “The Wedding Chapel” where you could “see” a groom, a bride, a priest and a mother-in-law’s nose and the elongated

The "Guess What" formation in Linville Caverns is really known as "The Booger".

The “Guess What” formation in Linville Caverns is really known as “The Booger”.

vertical “Guess What” formation, which Shelby said little kids have nicknamed “The Booger” because of its greenlike appearance. She even let us experience complete darkness without the lighting making it possible to see inside for the tour.

It was there in that moment of absent light I realized how much I preferred SEEING to looking AND I had five examples making my trip a first-rate memory.

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