I don’t like the beach. There, I said it. I think it goes back to my whole OCD thing about being neat and clean. The beach is neither one of those things. The sand. The salt water. The sand sticking to every conceivable square inch of your skin (and even in some areas that are not exactly on the surface). It’s just icky.
Having said that, the kids absolutely love it. Hence, we scheduled a quick trip to the beach for Wednesday thru Saturday. Jayme and I decided we did not want to go to Florida this time and chose Hilton Head. After hearing good things about it from many other people, we thought we’d give it a chance.
We didn’t rush to get up (hoping the kids wouldn’t start off in grumpy moods), so we didn’t actually arrive in Hilton Head until about 4pm. Which was actually kind of nice, because we went straight up to the room, dropped our stuff off, and prepped for our first jaunt to the beach.
I hung around at first to take a couple of pictures of the kids and Jayme in the water. I had actually assumed one of them would want to start with a sandcastle, so I was prepared for a little bit of a wait until we ventured out in the water. Not so. Brian, especially, was eager and willing to go full tilt. After seeing the kids hit the water with such ferocity, I had to get my whale self in the water, too. Did I mention I look like Casper from neck to knees? Not a pretty sight, but I sucked it up and got out there with them.
Caroline was kind of nervous about the “heavy” waves (the wind was blowing pretty good at that point). She would venture out a ways and then come back because she was scared of the break of the wave itself. Brian, on the other hand, was absolutely fearless. Unlike his older sister, he just attacked the waves. A wave would knock him down and he’d get right back up with even more vigor. The little guy is amazing!
After about 2 1/2 hours of playing around in the surf, we headed back to the room to clean up so we could go get some dinner. We ended up at Marley’s Island Grille, a couple of miles from the hotel. Think of it as a seafood version of Chili’s (or something to that effect). The most interesting part of the place was they had a kid’s drink called a Smurf. (If this is not unique to Marley’s, I apologize. It was my first exposure to it.) The kids each ordered one (we were on vacation after all). When they arrived, Brian took one swallow and declared it a dud. Caroline got through about 3 swallows before asking for water. Wanting to see what it was, I sipped it. It was like club soda with a bucket of sugar. I can’t say that I blamed the kiddos for that one. We told them not to worry, as we’d get ice cream after dinner. Which they loved!
The next morning, we planned on more of the day before. We got up around 8:30am and put on our (cold and wet) bathing suits from the day before. We headed to the pool, a destination I much prefer over the beach. First lesson learned: to get a “spot” (or a chair) by the pool, you’ve got to get up and going pretty early. We arrived around 8:50am and could not find a folding chair. At all. Anywhere. Oh well. The kids and I swam (while Jayme sunbathed) for about an hour before they wanted to go back to the beach. Joy.
But this time, I was wrong. I had a blast at the beach. Essentially telling myself to get over myself and just commit, I waded into the water right away with Jayme and the kids. I ended up sticking with Brian most of the time. He was a blast. He kept asking me to go farther out to find the “bam” waves. As there was no prayer he could stand, I carried him out there in my arms. We met our fair share of “bam” waves and were knocked back a couple of times. One of the best times of my life, I have to say!
Of course, as with every time I…you know, get out of bed…I injured myself. While in the waves with Brian, I stepped on something. For my own sanity, I’m going to pretend it was simply a rock. But, it left a nasty bruise on the underside of my right foot. I had no problem walking on flat surfaces, but for the rest of the time we were there, it was painful walking on the lumpy dry sand.
After the beach, we went to get cleaned up and headed out to lunch. A local hamburger joint was on the menu (Caroline’s request). Nothing to write home about, except for the insane prices. I mean, come on, these are hamburgers for goodness sake. But, it’s vacation…stop worrying about money. (At least that’s what I kept telling myself).
Next, we searched out a putt-putt place. As a kid, the highlight of a beach vacation was not the beach (for obvious reasons). It was playing putt-putt. In Panama City, back in the day, they had a place called Pirate’s Island. Given the obvious pirate theme, it was always fun read all the signs and be a pirate golfer for a little while. Guess what we found while driving the main road on the island? Pirate’s Island Golf. Hells yeah!
The difference between childhood and adulthood is you are aware of certain things as an adult that are completely glossed over as a kid. First thing: price. Whether it be the price of Hilton Head specifically or just the rise in the cost of living over the past 20 years, I had no idea how expensive putt-putt was. We’re talking roughly $50 for the 4 of us to play. AYFKM? Vacation, Lee. Vacation.
Second thing: heat. Ho, Ho, Holy crap was it hot out there!!! Yes, the thermometer only read 95 degrees (which is hot enough), but the damn humidity index had to be off the chart. We were through one hole (that’s out of 18, for those not familiar with the concept) and we were all dripping sweat. I don’t remember being this hot and sweaty doing putt-putt before. Of course, that was probably mostly my fault, seeing as though we went about 2pm in the afternoon. In August. Not my best decision.
Needing to cool off, we went back to the hotel and rested for about 30 minutes. I’m pretty sure Jayme and I dozed off there for a minute. Not the kids, though! No sir! When they (or should I say, Jayme and I) were ready, we went back to the pool and swam in the late afternoon/early evening sun. It was much better now. There was a slight breeze and the pool (after having been baked all day) was slightly warm. Perfect for just lazing! We did that until about 7pm, and went back to the hotel to get ready for our 7:30pm reservations at Antonio’s.
The kids had never been to a “nice” restaurant, so this was their introduction to a couple of lessons on “acting right” in said nice restaurants. Before I go on, my kids are really good kids, but they do get excited and forget their surroundings from time to time. Caroline was especially curious about all of these rules. Which is funny, because I don’t really remember learning some of these until the Holiday Socials in high school. Anyway, we all filled up on Italian food (excellent eggplant parmesan!) and went next door for some gelato afterward.
When we got back to the hotel, it was dark, but we decided to give the kids a treat. We walked down to the beach and just walked along the water for a long while. The wind was blowing, the air was (beach) fragrant and there was nothing else on my mind except for my wife and kiddos. Perfect! We even saw a couple of people near the water shining their flashlight on something. Turns out, it was a ghost crab that had washed up. He looked a little pissed, as he scurried about. Strangely, it was the first time any of the four of us had ever seen a live crab “in the wild”, so to speak. A neat, little experience, and a perfect way to end the day!
Seeing as we were so close to Savannah, we figured we’d make a day trip to see River Street, grab some pralines, and munch on some beignets. While we certainly did that, I think I’ll remember this trip to Savannah for two things.
1) Shrimp and Grits
We always go to Huey’s on River Street for some beignets. But, what I never remember is what I eat before the beignets are served. My guess is something to do with chicken. This time, though, I thought I’d be adventurous. In homage to my officemate back in Smyrna, I ordered the shrimp and grits. The waitress said it was the best thing on the menu. And I must say, she was right! I love grits anyway, but the Creole sauce and the shrimp added a whole new spin on the grits. Yummmy! Top that off with a couple of heavenly beignets and I was stuffed and happy.
We love Savannah. We love the parks in Savannah. We love the history of Savannah. We even got engaged in Savannah! But, I have never been more miserable by the end of a day than I was that day. After lunch, we walked the length of River Street, going in and out of shops as the kids scoured for their one Savannah souvenir. By the end of it, we were hot and a little tired of walking. A city tour was in order. No walking and you could hear some cool stories. Let’s do this!
Unfortunately, toward the end of the tour, it had started raining. We were sitting on the back of the trolley, so it was actually a nice feeling at first. But, the rain did not last very long. In fact, it lasted only long enough to wet the sidewalk and further moisturize the air. Couple that with the fact that Brian had fallen asleep on the trolley and had to be carried, Jayme and I were hot, dripping, and miserable. Brian’s sweaty head only added to it. We decided to go grab the candy we wanted from River Street Sweets and get out of there. Good decision!
We grabbed dinner on the way back to Hilton Head and decided to go for a swim when it was dark. (The kids had discovered the pool was still open the night before and wanted to try it). When we got to the pool, though, we were in for a nice surprise. The hotel had set up a big screen at one end of the pool and we getting ready to play a movie. So, for the next 90 minutes or so, we (along with 200 of our closest friends) watched Toy Story 3 while wading around in the pool. A unique experience, and a very enjoyable one! The kids had a blast and Jayme and I, having never seen Toy Story 3, enjoyed ourselves as well.
Our last day in Hilton Head started (and ended I guess you could say) with a stint at the beach and the indoor pool. Caroline really wanted to build a “proper” sand castle, so we set off to do just that. My big DSLR was acting up due to the insanely humid conditions, so my iPhone stood in well for documenting the construction and finished product of her castle. And Brian, not wanting to feel left out, built his own volcano out to the side of the castle. Very cute, seeing these guys work to build it. Although, I must give props to Jayme’s patience in working with them. Not surprisingly, they can become frustrated easily (I have no idea where they get that from!) and she was always (and is always) there to get them back on track.
Once the sand castle (and volcano) were completed and subsequently kicked down, we said goodbye to the beach and headed for the indoor pool. I guess they wanted to hit every aspect of the resort before we left. After many times of throwing Brian into the water and watching Caroline demonstrate her swimming skills, we packed our stuff, got a few gifts for a couple of their friends from the gift shop, and hit the road.
You know, I am always hesitant when the notion of vacation is brought up in our house. As a parent, you know there is no such thing as a vacation when your kids are with you. There’s always parenting to be done and little ones to watch after. So, rest and relaxation are hard to come by. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re getting older or maybe it’s just that I’m just softening up or something, but I had a lot of fun! It was relaxing. It was enjoyable. It was fun. It was even, dare I say, a real vacation. Even if it did involve the beach! 😉