Two days after the Boston day-trip, it was time for summer vacation, back to the beach in South Carolina. Linda, Robin, Dylan, Carson and I squeezed into Robin’s VW and drove to National Airport. Spirits were high, then the 1:10 nonstop to Charleston canceled. Drat! But a pretty good recovery: I snagged a seat on the flight at 4:30, and the rest of the team would follow at 8:30. So I landed about six, picked up the minivan, drove 35 miles to Kiawah Island, bought some breakfast fixings for the next morning, checked into our villa, and drove back to the airport. It worked fine.
Was up at dawn on Sunday, bike shorts and helmet, onto the green cruiser bikes that we rent when we visit (this was our third trip to Kiawah). They’re clunky, but their tires hold air, and the scenery along the bike paths is superb. Kiawah is a barrier island, lush and green, with lots of tidal marshes brimming with wildlife: herons, egrets, ibises, pelicans, and other water birds. At the other extreme, hundreds of alligators, heads and spines just visible on the surface of the water, paddling slowly. It’s seven miles to the east end of the island and the Ocean (golf) Course Clubhouse, where I turned around and rode back. Did that jaunt four mornings, a great start to the day.
Later that morning, we headed to the pool, splashing and spraying and bobbing. Naps in the afternoon, dinner, some reading (and a little work), then off to sleep. After a nice morning at the beach Monday, we drove into Charleston, one of the oldest and most interesting cities in the U.S. We spent a great couple of hours at the South Carolina Aquarium. It had been years since I visited an aquarium, and I had more fun than the girls did, ogling the small and big fish, reptiles, and such. The focus was on S.C. waters, from mountain streams to the ocean, but they also had a cool temporary exhibit on Madagascar wildlife. Way fun. That evening was the culinary apex of the trip, dinner at the Hominy Grill, a simple place featuring “low country” cooking and lots of local ingredients. I tucked into a vegetable plate: deep-fried cheese grits, collard greens, okra and tomatoes, and succotash. Yum.
Tuesday and Wednesday were much the same, relaxing mornings at the beach or pool, nap, bit of work, reading a new novel and the newspaper, dinner out. A nice routine. After dinner on Wednesday night, a noteworthy faunal encounter: after dessert at an Italian restaurant in a golf clubhouse, Dylan, Carson, I went for a short stroll out on the putting green. There are “DANGER: ALLIGATORS” signs all over the island, and there was one near the green. Three siblings were playing on the green (putting practice was over for the day). Beyond them, we spotted what looked like a large (six- or seven-foot) ceramic alligator, which I assumed was a what-to-watch-for warning to Northerners. Then its head moved. Whoa, not ceramic. We stepped back, and witnessed the biggest yawn I had seen in a long time, jaws way open (seemed like two feet between lower and upper teeth), and an inside mouth a lovely shade of pink. After the yawn, the critter turned around and ambled back into a pond. Way cool.
I had to teach at Georgetown that Friday and Saturday, so on Thursday morning Linda drove me to the airport and I flew home to house that was way too empty and quiet (the girls’ day nanny, Jessica, was looking after the two terriers for the week).