So, this year has been bumpy. So bumpy that I’ve not stopped to work on updates here at all. But time moves on whether we are ready for it to or not and so I am now making time for some posts to catch up.
The year started out with my dad in and out of hospital. Eventually he died surrounded by friends and family. That blow, while not wholly unexpected, was a blow none-the-less. Then my health has been not that great over the last few years and finally came to a head at the end of June. I’m about to get a bit personal so if you’re at all “squeamish” Skip down to the next part. I’ll put ✤ at the start of the next bit so you know when you’re safe.
I have been deal with a rather large fibroid for some time which has made my menstruations something to fear. I had explored options other than a hysterectomy to deal with the issue and eventually had a fibroid embolization done to cut off the blood flow to the fibroid and get rid of it. Well, it worked so well I “gave birth” to the fibroid, but not all of it. I went in for surgery hoping that the rest of the fibroid could be removed, but knowing that it would not be so easy and I’d have to have the hysterectomy I’d been avoiding all along. I came out of surgery with one less organ than when I went it. Thus I spent most of my lovely summer on pain killers and just trying to recover from the surgery. Fortunately, it was done laparoscopically so it wasn’t the recovery of a full cutting, like for a caesarean birth.
✤ Okay, you’re safe now!
So, having had the surgery and recovering. It was time to give our family a little time away from it all and enjoy a bit of vacation time. AEB wanted to go to the beach, so I started hunting places to go. We’ve been to Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina beaches so I thought I’d search for some new beach that sounded interesting. I settled on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I’d heard of Hilton Head before, but knew very little about the island. When I’m going into a new place and planning for the family I feel pressure to plan something where no-one is going to be disappointed. My greatest fear is that I will have planned something and it will all fall to pieces at my feet like a washed out sandcastle. So, with fear in my heart, I started to look for places to stay.
I settled on the Sonesta Resort at Hilton Head. It had good reviews, though sometimes you have to take these with a grain of salt. And it seemed to be a good location on the island. There were some complaints that things were expensive, but being a resort I figured things would be more expensive. But my bigger criteria were that the rooms looked nice and spacious and it had beach access which I thought would mean it wouldn’t be as crowded as other areas of the beach. And the overall look of the place seemed inviting. I found a lovely reduced rate on TripAdvisor (I did look at Expedia and Travelocity for comparison and they seemed about the same so there really is no rhyme or reason as to my going through one over the other. I am, admittedly, a bit of a price whore and will go where I can find the best deal possible.) and so I held my breath and made the reservation. We were going in August so school was getting started in the southland so the place wasn’t as heaving as it might have been had we chosen to go in June or July.
We went the “long way” as as we were wanting to see friends along the way and breakup the driving time. We ended up stopping in Greenville, SC to see an old friend. In my youth, when we moved to New York City so my father could take on a pastorate there was a man who became known as the “pumpkin man” as he always brought me a pumpkin come Halloween. Mr. K eventually moved to the city and worked with my dad, but upon retiring he and his wife moved south to be nearer their grandchildren. We did drive further out of our way, but sometimes you do the right thing for the right reason, not because it’s convenient.
Mr K with mum and AEB
We then made it Hilton Head Island and got ourselves settled into our room. We were greeted by very personable valets/bellhops who helped us figure out where to park, took our bags up, and gave wonderful information about the island with recommendations for food and explorations. The room we had enjoyed a view over the front of the resort, but the palms and the Spanish moss made the parking lots more bearable. But truly, we weren’t there for the view but the beach and the island to explore. The room, I will say, was wonderful. There was no smell – no must, no mildew, no overt fragrance from the cleaning products or washing powder. Since Hilton Head can be very humid it was wonderful to be a room that fought the humidity. I am sensitive to fragrance and do have asthma so it’s important to me to be in an environment that is comfortable for me. The room ticked all the boxes for me.
We decided to eat at one of the restaurants at the resort. It was pricey, but we were expecting it to be, but the food was very nicely done. Living in Maryland meant that we weren’t going to be doing crab, but trying any of the other seafood options. I had the shrimp and pasta and they did not skimp on the shrimp. I came to the end with shrimp for every bite. AEB had the salmon which is her go to choice and she complimented the chef. For dessert I was convinced to try the Key Lime Tart. I was disappointed. The crust was not very flavorful and the filling was rather grainy and not as lime-y as I felt like it ought to have been. It was beautifully presented, but ultimately dispiriting.
points for presentation but negative points for flavor – disappointing
AEB wanted to swim before bed so we sat a let her enjoy the pool before heading down to the beach to see how close our room was to things. Our first night sunset was spectacular.
I hardly read as I enjoyed napping and people watching far more than the book I brought.
beach at night
We brought our own beach chairs and umbrella with us but the lifeguards will rent you chairs and an umbrella if you don’t have your own. We left our beach things in our car and then unloaded every morning. At the Sonesta they share the property with apartments and other living/rentals so the beach house for the community is open for folk to load and unload for easy beach accessibility. Most days we decided that we wanted to enjoy the beach in the morning, pack up in the afternoon, enjoy something on the island in the late afternoon and find some fun place to eat, come back to the room and then an evening stroll on the beach before just relaxing in our room with a movie or something else. We were there first and foremost to unwind, relax and enjoy the downtime at the beach and not really there to go to museums or other venues available for us to enjoy. Maybe next time.
Our first full day we enjoyed the beach and then went and had supper at Captain Woody’s which had been recommended by one of the helpers at the towel hut by the pool on our first evening. The food was fresh and really tasty. We had the place pretty much to ourselves as we were really eating a very late lunch and early supper. Then we just drove around to get a sense of the island’s size and finally a stop at the Piggly Wiggly to pickup some luck items so we could take a cooler down with us for the rest of the week. Though we didn’t have a kitchenette we did have a refrigerator in the room so we could prepare lunch to take with us.
Days 2 – 4 were filled with beach, more exploring, and good food. We enjoyed exploring the shops at The Sea Pines and specifically Harbor Town where the famous candy stripe lighthouse is located.
Harbor Town Lighthouse
The Sonesta has turtle feeding in the afternoons where guests can help feed the turtles in the large pond on the property. The turtles are so trained that even if you stand for some time at the edge they will all start making their way towards you in anticipation of a treat. One afternoon AEB and I were coming back to the beach and found a baby turtle trying to make its way across the path. I imagined it getting squashed by some unthinking child or adult and so I took my flipflop off and scooped it up and moved it across the way in hopes that it would find friends and not become a seagull or pelican’s next meal. I used my flipflop as I didn’t want to get my people smells on it in case that would mean its doom.
We enjoyed ice cream at Hilton Head Ice Cream. They make their own and have interesting flavors like: Spumoni, Lemon Custard, and Kalua Chip. It was worth the stop after a day at the beach.
We also ate at the Quarterdeck Waterfront Dining one evening. We got in just before the rain of the evening arrived. The food was lovely and our view was made enjoyable as we watched boats coming and going and supper cruises getting ready to set out for the evening.
Our last evening we visited The Black Marlin for supper. So good! We ate outside and enjoyed the bayside view as well as the live music that started while we were there. It was a nice way to end our time at Hilton Head. We got back and decided to try a kite that we had brought. It was far too windy to get it airborne but it was fun trying.
Ultimately, we enjoyed just being together and having the downtime that we all felt that we needed more than anything. We all three highly recommend Hilton Head Island for the beach and the warm water. The rest of what the island has to offer: the shopping, the food, the museums, etc. we dipped our toes into but will have to wait for another visit another year. But don’t take our word for it ⎯go and find out for yourselves.