Two Saturdays ago I rode up to Tryon, NC with some friends to attend the 63rd annual Block House Steeplechase. While perhaps a little more casual that the Iroquois Steeplechase, and not nearly as fratty as the Carolina Cup, the Block House was a lot of fun. We had fantastic weather and I'd love to go again next year. It is also fairly affordable compared to the other two. Here are some photographic highlights (since that's obviously what you're here for):
A view of the finish line from our tailgate spot
Another view from the tailgate spot
Some of the hounds that were paraded around before the races started
Part of our motley crew
A shot of Ralph's sweet pants
Charles, probably doing something badass
Two of at least a half-dozen Mercedes station wagons that I saw
Since I, like most superstar bloggers, am awesome at breaking news stories before they come to the attention of the masses, I thought I would inform you that Luden's Outfitters down in Charleston is closing its doors after 140 years. I found this out last week on a forum that I occasionally post on, but you may have actually read about it in the Post & Courier article that was published back on April 6th.
For those who are unfamiliar with Luden's, it is a store down in Charleston where one might go to buy some waders, a kayak, a bow tie or a Barbour jacket. It's a little off the beaten path (i.e.- not right on King Street or the touristy part of East Bay Street), but worth visiting before they close the doors. While the article does a pretty good job explaining about the history of the store, I think that for a lot of Charlestonians it represented one of the things about the city that didn't change, no matter how many million dollar condos were built or how many Ohioans flooded the city.
Upon hearing about the closing, I asked one of my classmates, practicum teammates, Charleston native, and all-round badass, Charles Fitzhenry (pictured adjacent) if he had heard the news. He said that he had and had gone in there the day that their "Going out of business" sale started. In talking with one of the guys there, he was told that their landlord jacked up the rent on their lease and that they couldn't afford it (seemed to me like kind of a strange reason to completely go out of business). Anyways, the guy said that they were going to kind of see where things go with the economy and maybe open it back up again when things get better. This is all secondhand information, though, so take it for what it's worth.
Although I was disappointed to hear that Luden's won't be around any longer, I can't say that I was completely shocked by the news. At least in Charleston, if not everywhere else, I think that the outfitter/clothing store model is becoming increasingly difficult to pull off. Because there are so many retail options out there, especially with the internet, there doesn't seem to be much need for a store to be a "pretty good" outfitter and a "pretty good" clothing store (which I think would pretty accurately describe Luden's). These companies need to choose one or the other and be "really good" at whichever they pick. An example of this in Charleston is M. Dumas & Sons. From what I understand, they used to be much more of an outfitter than they are today, but they seem to have really minimized that portion of their store and are now mostly sell preppy clothing to tourists (which is a great market). To some extend, I feel that LL Bean also falls into this category.
Anyways, although I only visited Luden's twice, I am sad that I won't be able to drop in there next time I am down in Charleston (nor be able to pick up a belt with their logo on it).
Saturday before last was a beautiful day so I drove up to Lake Keowee (which is only about 15 minutes from Clemson) and took these photos from the top of one of the dams. Fortunately there were sailboats out on the lake to add to the scenery.
Sorry about the stray hair or whatever it is that appears to have been on the camera lens.
This past weekend I went back to my parents' house in suburban Atlanta to celebrate not only Easter, but also my 25th birthday (which falls on the same the day that Lee surrendered to Grant back in 1865, for those who are curious). Before I went home my mom asked what type of cake I would like for my birthday and "red velvet" was my automatic response. She got one from Piece of Cake down in Buckhead, and it was quite good. Please feel free to vicariously enjoy it based on the following photo.
Here's to another 25 years (and hopefully more) in the South.
With the weather starting to warm up, gin and tonics are sounding better and better. While I normally just drink Gordon's or Beefeater (if I'm feeling fancy), I've been thinking lately about making my own gin. Since vodka is basically just unfinished gin, it doesn't require much more than putting some spices into a bottle of vodka and letting it sit for a few weeks, it seems like a fairly economical way to create my own special blend.
After doing a little searching on the internet, I came across this website that seems to have a pretty easy guide, including a suggested recipe for the amount of spices to use. I am most likely going to start with this one, though I might try adding some cucumber to it, in the spirit of Hendrick's Gin (though I have yet to actually try it yet; the concept sounds good though). I will provide an update if and when I actually try it.