Our busy month Marched forward with 3 couples from Naples, FL; they are among the friendships we developed when we lived in SW Florida.  Our friendships have transcended time and distance and two of the couples had visited us in Aiken while our home was still under construction and we were staying in a leased cottage in The Village at Woodside.  This time another couple that wintered in Florida and summered in Minnesota also joined us.  They too, have become very good friends and came to find out what drew us to Aiken and why we love it here so much!

The fun was to begin on Thursday with everyone arriving around lunchtime.  They all made the trek from Naples without any problems and were ready for a welcome toast, a light lunch at home, settling in for the stay and a lot of catching up and chatter about old times.

The plan for the next few days included two rounds of golf, Spring Steeplechase and tours of Aiken and Woodside Plantation.  Mother Nature and the weatherman were not cooperating and the forecast showed rain, rain and more rain.  Okay, so what to do with 8 adults primed for fun and facing the possibility of no golf and a soggy Steeplechase?  Hmmm?

Thursday afternoon, Mike Manney came over and showed our newcomers around Woodside Plantation… they all loved the tour and our beautiful new community.  Thanks Mike!

Thursday evening we dodged the raindrops and made our way to Taco-Sushi, one of our favorite restaurants here in town.  The collective mantra was “Taco-Sushi, for real?”  “Come on, you’ll love it” was our confident response… and love it they did!

Friday was a big breakfast at home, family style.  The rain was still in the area so we opted for a visit to the Aiken County Historical Museum, a tour that Al and I have enjoyed a few times now.  “Know thy friends” – we do and they all have an interest in history!  I think that has to do with our age and that history is all wrapped up in our memory banks and its fun to look back and to realize that even though we can’t remember what we had for breakfast, we can still “remember when”!

Upon our arrival at the museum our luck took a big turn for the better and the deluge outside soon became a distant memory ready to be shelved like one of the displays in this wonderful old building.  The reason for our good fortune was the one and only Elliot Levy.  He was about to begin a tour and invited the 8 of us to join the other four guests already gathered nearby.  Elliot is Executive Director of the ACHM and, for today, he was also the Docent Extraordinaire. Unbeknownst to us, Elliot was about to weave all of us into the amazing history of Aiken!

We were led on a journey that encouraged… more like commanded us to relive the lives, feel the growing pains, party with the well connected, ride the beautiful horses, work alongside those who would, through their sweat and toil, build this place called Aiken and together, each in their own special way, bask in the collective glory in being a part of this wonderful southern town.

Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, friendly, accommodating, teacher, comedian, entertainer, lover of people, enticer, story teller, purveyor of history and all things Aiken…  suffice it to say there are not enough words to describe Elliot Levy. But he not only made us forget about the rain, which by the way had now stopped, he also made most of us wish we didn’t have an impending tee time because we weren’t ready for this journey to end!

But, we did have a commitment so hit fast forward back to real time and a partly sunny sky. We thanked Elliot profusely and vowed to come another day with hopes that Elliot would be “in the house” and willing to continue this amazing journey!

The rain had stopped, for now, so back to Woodside Plantation and another adventure on The Reserve Club course!  The gals managed to get in 9 holes and the guys finished 12 before the skies opened again.  We all gathered back at “The Love Shack” for some drinks and appetizers and relived our morning with Elliot and our afternoon on The Reserve Club Course.  Then it was time to get ready for dinner at the famous and historic hotel, The Wilcox!

This town really does accommodate paupers to Presidents and everyone in between.  If the walls could talk in The Wilcox… well we would probably have given up our tee time on The Reserve Club course to stay and listen to the stories.

The colorful history of the hotel permeates the bones of the old structure; you can feel it when you are there!   We enjoyed drinks in the lobby area and the music of the piano player.  Soon we were seated and enjoyed a wonderful dinner, with old friends, Wilcox and Aiken style!

Saturday was the big event.  We enjoyed a wonderful continental breakfast before heading off to the, much anticipated, 47th running of the Spring Steeplechase.  The clouds were still threatening to open but we made it to the track and into the big tent before the rain began and so it went.  It did rain, off and on, but it seemed to pause long enough for us to leave the protection of the tent and go watch each race that day.

Between races folks danced to the music of the Root Doctors and enjoyed the feast laid out on tables around the tent.  The food was great; our cups runneth over with drinks and the races were amazing and fun to watch.  Some bets were made among friends and we all took the opportunity to go out and cheer on the horse we had bet on and were sure would win!  As it turned out, we were all winners because we all had such a grand day at the Aiken Spring Steeplechase.

Sunday was supposed to be a round of golf on the Hollow Creek course but… still more rain.  We did more touring of Aiken and Woodside, enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Casa Bella Italian Restaurant  another favorite, topped off the visit with a stop at J. Flanigan’s for ice cream and got ready to say “so long” to our old friends!

It was a wonderful few days of friends, fun and fellowship.  They all loved Aiken and Woodside Plantation.  They were glad that we are so happy to be here and will come again to enjoy with us, our new hometown, Aiken, SC.

Submitted by Char Love

May 20, 2013

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