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Cooper out for a sunset cruise on Lake Murray

I love the summer. It’s just a different pace. Sure, it’s hot as all get out here in Cola Town (#famouslyhot), but a quick dip in the lake and a cold drink in hand quickly make it more tolerable. At one time, Lake Murray was the largest manmade lake in the U.S. I’m not sure which body of water has deposed it of its national title, but I’m pretty sure it still holds the state’s. And its beauty is what some people refer to as “The Jewel of South Carolina.”

The Lake “Shack”

And then there’s this place: my husband’s family lake “shack.” It’s just a cinder block structure with 2 bedrooms – just large enough for the beds in them – and one (ONE!!!!) bathroom, but this is seriously one of the greatest places on earth.

The family – plus various friends, neighbors and pets – spend as much time out here as possible when the weather starts getting warmer.

Sunset at the lake house

For the official kick-off of summer, Brian, Cooper and I spent Memorial Day weekend out at the Lake House – along with approximately 30 various and sundry friends and family members (not all at once, mind you, but still), plus dogs. It was a lot of people (and animals), but it was an absolute blast!

And the weather was truly perfect for being outdoors. South Carolina often gets shorted on its springtime, but we have really been blessed over the last month or so with quite pleasant temperatures (except for that one week…you all know what I’m talking about…). This weekend we enjoyed highs in the mid-80s during the day, and in the 60s in the evenings. Pretty much perfect.

Friends enjoying the lake!

Friends enjoying the lake!

All weekend we laid out, kayaked, pontooned (is that a word? I’m making it one.), swam (though with 60-something degree evenings, you can imagine that the water was a wee bit chilly…), grilled, and ATE to our hearts’ content. One of our friends is a grilling extraordinaire, and he marinated and cooked up some fabulous fajitas for us all to enjoy. You should be jealous. ‘Cause they were awesome.

Brian is also quite the grill master, and served up some amazing salmon early in the weekend for the two of us. You. Guys. You have not tasted salmon until you have had Earth Fare’s Scottish Salmon Filets grilled by my husband. The trick? Soak them in some olive oil and lemon juice for about 15 minutes, then sprinkle with grey sea salt (also found at Earth Fare) and fresh cracked pepper just before grilling. If you want to be extra-fancy (which we usually do when it comes to grilling salmon!!!), grill it on a cedar plank. Yum.

The million dollar view from the middle of Lake Murray

The million dollar view from the middle of Lake Murray at sunset

But one of the best parts of the weekend wasn’t the food. It was the view. If you’ve never seen the sun setting over a large body of water, you are really missing out. (And also, let me know so I can invite you next time!)

Last summer when Cooper was just a wee pup!

Last summer when Cooper was just a wee pup!

The lake is also a great place for energetic puppies. We got Cooper just a few days before the July 4th weekend last year, and he went from jumping on and chewing everyone and everything to sleeping for hours on end. This photo of Cooper and Brian on the dock from last year would not have happened at home. That little guy couldn’t be still for two seconds anywhere else. This year, now pretty much fully grown, he still gets worn out from swimming and playing with other dogs (and kids), and he’ll probably sleep for about two full days now that we are home! Thank goodness!!!!

Brian and me driving the pontoon!

Brian and me driving the pontoon!

But as much fun as it is to have a day off of work to get to enjoy our friends and the lake house, none of it would be possible without the men and women who have given their lives defending our nation against those who would seek to take away our freedom. Brian spent 4 years in the U.S. Air Force, which gives him an extra appreciation for those who fought and died to allow us to live freely enough to even have barbeques at a lake house in South Carolina. Even during our festivities, we did take just a few moments to pause and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Happy Memorial Day Week. God bless America.