Spring was in the air and so was a sense of anticipation and excitement about all that the month of March held for us here in Aiken.  Al and I looked forward to our first visits from children and grandchildren, granddaughter Jada from Alexandria, Virginia and grandson Marley with Mom – Deb and Aunt Amy from Safety Harbor, Florida.

We also hosted 6 friends from Naples, Florida for a tour of Aiken and Woodside Plantation and their first ever Steeplechase experience.  There was much to prepare for and much to be glad about as March brought a welcome spring.

Grateful for Grandkids

Kicking off our busy month was a visit from Marley, Debra and Amy from Florida.  It was a quick trip but we managed to squeeze in some fun with them and show them around our new hometown.

There are seven lakes inside Woodside Plantation and they all offer up lots of Bass for resident fishermen.  Ken Ziomek heads up the fishing group and he keeps everyone informed on where the fish are biting and how to catch them.  He also oversees several fishing contests each year complete with prizes for the luckiest anglers.

Grandpa and Marley tried their hand at fishing Spaulding Lake; the fish weren’t biting but they had fun casting and just hanging out together.  Soon Marley did what boys do and moved on to other adventures as reflected in the pictures below.

Marley is the first grandkid to climb the amazing retaining wall that surrounds and supports the driveway on our sloping lot.  We knew it would be a kid magnet and he proved us right… up he went with an expectation, wisely interrupted by Grandpa, to jump off the big wall!

We took a ride into Aiken to show the kids our charming and friendly downtown Aiken.  A walk up and down beautiful and bustling Laurens St. netted an antique nightstand, from Aiken Antique Mall, for Grandma and left Debra and Amy wishing they had more time to “shop” and promising to come again soon and stay a little longer!  It also provided some impromptu amusement for the ever-curious Marley and left him wondering just who the old ladies were on the park bench outside Shoetopia and why they sat so still!  They did keep him engaged while Grandma stepped into Shoetopia to check out the new location and latest styles and visit with Stacey Manney, proprietor of this unique Aiken shoe shop!

The next grandchild to visit was Jada.  She currently lives in Alexandria, VA but in July she will be moving back to Sumter, SC as Mom retires from the Air Force and will be, geographically, our closest grandchild.

Aiken is a place that Jada will love!  She has been riding horses since she was just four years old, she loves, loves, loves to fish and she loves anything that has to do with being in nature or interacting with animals.  Aiken offers every bit of that and more for this adventurous young girl.  She is also quite artistic and loves to draw birds and other animals.

When we knew that Jada was coming for a visit we tapped on our good friend and expert fisherman, Keith Encapera.  He graciously invited us to his home on Oakman Lake, in Woodside, to give Jada an opportunity to wet a line and to learn about the local fish and how to optimize your chance of catching them.  We all had fun trying our luck on Oakman Lake and learning the lingo of lures (ever hear of a Hoochie-Koochie) and the lure of this sport that our granddaughter, Jada, loves!

Keith and Ellie have something else that Jada loves and that would be resident dogs and cats.  Jada loves all pets and animals and enjoyed playing with the Encapera’s marvelous menagerie.   Thanks Keith and Ellie for a very fun visit!

Another stop for this young equestrian was to feed Trigger and Tarday, two Palominos that Al and I became acquainted with when we leased a cottage in The Village at Woodside as our home was being built.  They pasture on the Village Trail and with the owner’s permission Al and I fed them carrots fairly regularly so it’s a fun place take the grandkids armed with a good bit of carrots.

This day progressed with a visit to one of our favorite walking trails, Boyd Pond Park and other locals to feed.  Al and I walk here very often and there is a resident duck dubbed “Daisy”.  The park overseer, Vincent, and another pair of avid walkers, Jim and Linda and their faithful dog Beau are in the park most everyday and always with a bag of bread to feed Daisy and a gaggle of local Canada geese.  Today we came with a bag of treats for Jada to feed these newfound feathered friends.  Daisy will also join us on the path for a little hike.  Not to be out done by China and their Peking Duck, the national dish in China, Aiken can boast their very own Hiking Duck!  Fortunately, for Daisy, she will never become the national dish of America!

Back at home, Jada settled in with paper and pencils in a chair near the window bird feeder and there she sat and drew pictures of the many visitors to the feeder.

Several of the grandkids (we have 10) registered big complaints when we told them we were selling our Florida home with the big swimming pool and moving away from Florida; Jada was one who wasn’t ready to give up on making memories in Naples.  However, the inaugural grandkid visits to Aiken were a big success and we know they are already looking forward to many more adventures in our new hometown and so are we!

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