Four days after returning from California, it was time for the annual family vacation in South Carolina. We would have a full house, with children and grandchildren, plus Jack’s girlfriend Reed, and Courtney, Robin’s long friend from Dallas. Picked up a minivan at Charleston Airport, stopped for lunch (by long tradition) at the Wendy’s near the airport, then motored west to Kiawah Island. It was raining cats and dogs, and the weather app in our smartphones showed thunderstorm icons for the entire week. Happily, the rain stopped that night.
By long formula, beach-cruiser bicycles arrived the next morning, and I immediately headed out. They are lunkers, but the tires have air and the scenery is superb. I rode miles and miles each of seven mornings, trying to get ahead of heat and humidity – hard to do in South Carolina in the summer. Days spun past, thanks in part to a comfy large house that had its own pool. We ate in for breakfast and lunch, and went out each night for dinner.
Vacations really shouldn’t have to-do lists, but I had an assignment, to read Rep. John Lewis’ autobiography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement. During the Civil Rights Movement, Mr. Lewis was seemingly everywhere, and his detailed eyewitness account was powerful and moving. I wept at the injustice (after I returned home, I sent him a note thanking him for the book, which he signed some years earlier, “To Rob, Keep the Faith”).
Again hewing to formula, on Wednesday afternoon we headed into Charleston, one of America’s most interesting cities. Everyone split up, older granddaughter with Robin and Linda to the wonderful South Carolina Aquarium; Jack, Reed, and Carson for a drive through old neighborhoods and a tour of a historic mansion; and me to meet Sam, a Charlestonian and former student at Georgetown. We met at the Blind Tiger, one of many bars on Broad Street downtown, and had a good yak. He’s working for a multicounty consortium focused on economic, educational, and workforce development; on the side, he’s an aviation geek, so we yakked a lot about airplanes, including the big Boeing 787 factory in Charleston. We parted and I walked a few blocks to dinner with the family at a great place, Slightly North of Broad. Some scenes from Charleston:
The next two days zipped past. High points Thursday: One, driving the cart as Jack played 18 holes of golf at the Osprey Point course. Way fun to watch him drive and putt, along with Steve, a nice fellow (and relaxed player) from Charlotte. Two, cheering on Jack as he completed the second round of the day on the way-difficult Ocean Course.
Flew home Saturday. It was our ninth visit to Kiawah Island. When I was a kid, we went to the same simple resort on a lake in northern Minnesota. Before the trips back then and before the trips now I would think, “Maybe we ought to go somewhere different,” but then and now after a few days a familiar comfort sets it. Something to be said for continuity. And both the boreal forests of northern Minnesota and the fecund wetlands of coastal Carolina are breathtakingly beautiful, brimming with nature, and quiet. Perfect.