Asher on Aspen: Meet me in Charleston |

Asher on Aspen: Meet me in Charleston

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen
Broad Street Panorama in Charleston, South Carolina, USA.

Sometimes, you just need to get out of town to get a new perspective. But you can’t always see that you need a new perspective because well, you need a new perspective to be able to see that.

This is exactly why I love offseason in Aspen. With most restaurants, shops and galleries closed this time of year, locals tend to flee town in hopes of finding a livelier city. The offseason months allow locals the opportunity to escape our mountain town bubble and explore new places and new cultures.

About twice a year, a group of girlfriends and I get together and reunite in a new city. Since our friend Taylor recently packed up her life and moved to Charleston, South Carolina, we decided that this stunning Southern city would be the perfect meeting spot. We were able to get the gang back together while also helping our friend get settled in.

For our first full day in this wildly beautiful city, we ventured to Seabrook Island where we embarked on a thrilling excursion: shark fishing. That’s right, shark fishing! We casted our lines off the shore and waited until we saw a bend in the rod. Whoever spotted this movement first would yell, “Shark!” and then eagerly run over to reel in whatever sea creature caught the bait. It didn’t become real until we actually witnessed a shark’s fin above the water swimming toward us.

After observing a few friends, I decided I would give it a whirl and join in on the fun. The next tug we received, my friend called me over to reel it in. After about a 10-minute tug-of-war between me and the shark, he finally got close enough for my friend to wrestle him down and lift him up. My friend asked, “Do you want to hold him?” I said, “Absolutely,” without giving it too much thought in fear that I would change my mind.

I grabbed his tail firmly with my left hand and squeezed his neck tightly with my right. I was holding a shark! I could barely believe it. Surprisingly, the shark’s skin was rough and tethered, making him somewhat easier to hold onto, compared to a slimy, squirmy fish. I had a moment with my new friend (who I named Bruce) and then walked him back into the water to ensure that he swam off happy and alert. It was a surreal experience. Yet I felt like a kid on a carnival ride wanting to do it again and again. We fished for nearly five hours, and ended up catching four Atlantic sharpnose sharks, two blacktip sharks, and one ornery stingray. It was an incredibly eventful day that ended with an epic bonfire on the beach.

The next day, we set out to explore the Holy City. You can spend hours roaming the streets. The walkable, historic downtown was brimming with charming architecture and hidden treasures around every corner. The centuries-old cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, flower-filled window boxes and pastel-colored houses made it look like something out of a fairytale. I especially enjoyed browsing the grand antebellum facades and the piazza-lined “single houses.” It felt like a European city in the middle of the Deep South.

Before dinner, we explored Ravenel Waterfront Park, which is home to the famous multi-layered, pineapple-shaped fountain that faces the Cooper River. It was the ideal spot to take a group picture. Eventually, we reached our dinner destination, which was a unique establishment called 5Church. Located inside a former church, this posh restaurant still contains most of the original bones — stained glass windows and an arched roof (which now has the entire text of “The Art of War” painted on it).

The rest of our trip was spent exploring Folly Beach, the island where we were staying just 12 miles from downtown. This lively beach town was filled with surf and souvenir shops, palmetto-fringed streets, and live music spilling out of almost every doorway. Our Airbnb was only a block from the beach, and we walked there every day to have our morning coffee or to watch the sunset. It was the ideal way to spend a vacation with some of my closest friends.

After being gone for two weeks and exploring both Nashville and Charleston, I came back to Aspen with a refreshed perspective. I was able to fully open my eyes and see things from a new point of view. The simple act of getting out of town and exploring a new city made me see more possibilities, and in a way, it gave me more hope for things back home. Breaking routine and seeing new cultures is such a treat. Sometimes, a shift in perspective is all we really need. It’s like hitting the reset button. And who doesn’t need a good reset every once in a while?