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Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Happy Place

Back in June, we took off for a family vacation in South Carolina.
It was the first time the kids had ever been to Hilton Head Island, one of my most favorite places to vacation and relax.

Hilton Head Island is a small island, about 40 square miles total. It's about 30 miles from Savannah, GA and it's so different from other vacation spots in South Carolina.
Where Myrtle Beach, SC is a jumping place and full of lights and activity, Hilton Head is really quiet.
Most businesses, even fast food joints, blend in with the scenery.

There's no neon shining at you while driving across the island, even on the main highway.
Hell, there's almost NO light shining at you. It's dark at night.
Really dark.
There's a road that is found in the plantation that we stay that is almost pitch black at night.
I love taking first time visitors to the island and driving them down that road at night.
If no cars are coming, you can kill the lights on the car and hear them gasp at how they cannot see anything. Nothing. (I biked that road at night when I was younger. The only light was from a car driving by. It never dawned on us to use flashlights, I guess.)

Almost everything closes by 10pm on the island. I think one grocery store stays open until midnight but the others are closed and dark right after 10.
The liquor stores close at 7pm.
Most of the restaurants are deserted by 11.
Because it's a family destination.
Everywhere you look, moms and dads tote around children of all ages.
You see them biking, walking, swimming, shopping, and eating wherever you look.

I love it there.
When I was younger, I spent so much of my time riding my bike with a friend to Harbor Town, where we could shop in our favorite store, walk around the marina, and climb the steps up to the lighthouse.
We would also listen to a man named Gregg Russell sing each night under the giant oak tree. (He's been singing in Harbor Town for over 30 years.)

Now that I am older, I find that my favorite part of the vacation is sitting out on the giant screened-in porch. It's got a ceiling fan to combat the heat, it's secluded, and there's a set of speakers out there so that you can listen to 80's and 90's music from cable.
Also, we sit on the most amazing chairs. Ever.

Yes, my kids are nuts. Yes, they wanted to be 'trapped' by daddy. And yes, those chairs are huge.
And so comfortable. It's a good bet that I'll nap on one at some point during the day, especially after swimming. Almost everyone that's stayed at the house and used the chairs has napped happily.
It's just that nice and peaceful out there.

Other than taking it easy, we eat.
Some of my favorite restaurants are on that island.
Frankie Bones is fantastic. If you are ever in HH or Ashville, NC, you should go eat there. Delicious!
And I love the decor. It's very old school Vegas... overly large booths, nice bar. And they will bring S'mores to your table for dessert. The kids LOVED that.

Marley's Island Grille is also a favorite. They have a crab cake dinner that I would eat everyday if I could get away with it. Attached to the restaurant is Marley's Ice Cream, handmade each day. he flavors are always different.

Wreck of the Salty Dog is in South Beach Marina Village, a place that's great even if you don't stop to eat. No matter where you are in the country, you've probably seen a Salty Dog shirt on someone you know or someone you saw out one day. I have several. (Note: Salty Dog Cafe in HH is TOTALLY different than the Salty Dog Surf Shop.)

And my most favorite...ever.
Giuseppi's Pizza in Sea Pines: It's a tiny, family run place. Did I mention that it's tiny? There are 3 booths inside and 3 or 4 tables. Outside on the patio, there are a few more booths.
They make a killer philly cheesesteak and great pizza.
But the best part of eating there?
Skinny Stix.
It's so simple: pizza dough topped rubbed with garlic and butter, topped with mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Simple yet one of the best things that I have ever eaten. I have taken many people to Giuseppi's over the years and they all fall in love with the Stix.
(Note: This Giuseppi's is in Sea Pines. There is a Giuseppi's outside of Sea Pines that has nothing to do with the other. Owned by totally different people and the menus are not the same.)

I love it there. While on the island, stress is just a word in a dictionary.
I swim, I eat, I shop, I nap. Every single day.

I'll end this post with a collage of kid pics from their first trip to the island.

Large pic: Button and Peanut at the top of the light house in Harbor Town.
Small pics, starting from the bottom left:
1) Ready for dinner a the Wreck
2) Peanut eating S'mores at Frankie Bones
3) Button eating S'mores
4) My husband playing with food at Marley's. (That's a lemon in his mouth.)
5) Ready for dinner at Frankie Bones
6) Being 'normal' in the vacation van
7) Peanut chilling in the van, loving sitting in the 3rd row.

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