I spent yesterday creating a photo album that has um, over 100 pictures in it from our trip. I'll try to keep this post brief.
Famous last words...
The first thing we did before even leaving for our trip was to recruit another vacationer. We invited Ebby's friend Danielle along for the week because a) we like Danielle and b) the boys always have each other to pal around with and Ebby is often the odd girl out. And as she used to say when she was 3, 'that not fair everybody!' Fair or not, we were delighted that Danielle was able to join us. Her parents dropped her off on Friday night, April 16th with the promise of having her returned by Sunday April 25.
Day 1: Saturday
depart home at 6am. Drizzle. First stop: Starbucks. Hit traffic in CT & NJ. Note that all rest stops on I-95 in Delaware are closed (ok, there are only 2, but when you have to go to the bathroom...). Have first real meal of the day at IHOP in Laurel, MD at 2pm. Decide to take a little detour into Washington DC because Danielle's never been. Hit more traffic. Finally make it into the city and nab a nice parking spot on the street. Visit the Lincoln Memorial, give Danielle a nonstop narrative about the sights and history of Washington. More traffic in Virginia, 6 miles of it. At 7pm we make it to our hotel for the night in Richmond. Bobby Law uses his Starwood points to book another room, giving us 2--one for the boys and one for the girls. There's a prom going on at the hotel but we're so exhausted, we sleep just fine.
Day 2: Sunday
On the road again by 8am. The weather is beautiful & sunny and I'm driving. Nice, easy ride to Charlotte, no traffic. We decide to visit J R in Statesville because Bobby Law is the only one who's ever been. It's way more than cigars. It's creepy dolls, oversized puppets and a collection of objets de resin that rival The Christmas Tree shops. This is where Dr. Moody joins our posse. We're running a bit late but I insist on visiting the boys' old school, now that it's built. We drive around, it's lovely, I'm jealous. I take a bunch of pictures while everyone else waits in the car. Finally we arrive to see Steph & Amanda! We take everyone out to Mac's for lunch. After lunch we kidnap yet another 7th grade girl, taking Amanda with us to visit the old neighborhood. We see a few old friends, chat, and get an escort to our old house. Emboldened by the 3 young girls with me, I sweetly ask for a tour and the new owner graciously agrees. It feels big, voluminous. I see our old closet, once again I'm jealous. It's like 'Moving Up' without the tv cameras. Doug Wilson, where are you?? They have a lot of exercise equipment stashed about. They kept the paint in some of the rooms, including the robots and Galaxy of Art in the boys' room. Awww. Overall it looks nice, much more model home-like. Bobby Law has declined to step foot on the property and is waiting with the boys outside at another neighbor's house. We drop off Amanda and head into Charlotte. Our next stop is Meyers Park and another family of former neighbors. Their baby is 3 now. After a brief visit Bobby Law takes the children and heads to the hotel in Charlotte, leaving me and Miss Diane to take a chat filled power walk around the booty loop. She later drops me off at the aLoft at the EpiCenter. Once again we have 2 rooms. I'm feeling like I've barely seen Will and Cuyler since we left home.
Day 3: Monday
The sun is shining once again as we head south at 8:30am. We pull into the resort around lunchtime, a mere 53 hours after we left home. Our 'room' is ready and the front desk clerk issues everyone key cards with their names on them. The boys are thrilled. We unload the car and move into our home for the week: a 2 bedroom, 2 bath 1245 sq ft 'vacation home'. We are right near the pool (but not too close) and the center of the resort. Much like the rest of the week, we sunscreen, hit the pool and relax. Bobby Law plays Plants vs. Zombies on his iPad. We decide to head to the Salty Dog for an early dinner. Because the 3 other places we tried weren't serving food. Note to self: 3pm is an awkward time to get a meal. We pay the $5 gate fee at Sea Pines and drive in. We eat & talk about our totems. Daddy has had a spiritual vision and is assigning us all totems for the trip. He isn't picking them, the spirits are speaking through him. He is the pelican. Danielle, dolphin. Will, whale. All fine. When he gets to me (tuna) and Ebby (eel) and Cuyler (catfish, crab), we're not so happy. Ebby eventually switches to the starfish. We take pictures outside by the marina where Danielle does her best to capture a decent photo of the 5 of us. When a passerby volunteers to take a photo of all 6 of us, Danielle cheerily responds, 'that's ok, they're not even my family!' She says it so nonchalantly, we can't stop laughing. We shop at the Salty Dog and Bobby Law replaces his Jake dog in a raincoat backpack buddy that he gave to a rude woman with a screaming baby on a cross country Jet Blue flight a few months ago. She never returned it. We check out the Beach Club pool and beach that's part of the Disney resort but located about a mile away from the main resort. We don't have our bathing suits, but the boys go in the empty pool anyway. Danielle joins them, realizing a few minutes too late that her cell phone is in her shorts pocket. We buy rice later that night at the Piggly Wiggly and try to dry it out but it's dead.
Day 4: Tuesday
Beach Club pool. Resort pool. Dinner is the Lowcountry Boil at the Beach Club pool. The food is good, the lone singing banjo player providing the entertainment is also very good. The boys play a game or two of late night pool at Big Murgie's Den in the main lodge, I supervise.
Day 5: Wednesday
We wake to cloudy skies, but as soon as I go to the pool without my sunglasses at 11:30am, the sun comes out. Me, Ebby, Danielle & Cuyler go on a pirate's treasure hunt, a resort activity. Will & Daddy go to play pool. Later in the afternoon we hop in the car and head to Coligny Plaza for some shopping and cupcaking. We visit the Tee Hut and load up on Hilton Head gear. After sampling some delicious cupcakes at Sweet Carolina Cupcakes, the boys and the girls split up to do some shopping. When we finally all meet at the car again, the girls had bought a fab Spartina 449 linen tote (me) and some silly bands (Ebby & Danielle) and the boys had bought...2 turtles (live) and a large pelican statue. This is why we don't let the boys shop alone. I tried to contain my excitement and we drove once again to Sea Pines to meet more former neighbors who were renting a house there for the week. Back at the resort we were going to attend the campfire and have s'mores but decided all the camp song singing was not for us. Instead I took sunset pictures and the kids went to the pool & spa.
Day 6: Thursday
Even warmer, and more sun. A great morning to hit the links. The mini golf links at Pirate's Island. Things went well for a few holes and then meltdown mania set in as the boys grew frustrated: they were able to hit hole in ones during their practice shots, but 4 putted when it counted. Good times. The good times continued during lunch at Fuddrucker's. It took 15 minutes for me to coax Cuyler out of the car and about 10 minutes inside the restaurant before I returned to the car with my own mini meltdown. Luckily we all cheered up with a visit to the beach and Beach Club pool in the afternoon. Late in the day I gathered the girls and we visited one of the island thrift shops along with Walmart and Barnes & Noble. I felt much better with some reading material. More pool and more swimming in the evening.
Day 7: Friday
My cousin Laura drove down from Charlotte and arrived right around noontime. We gave her a quick tour of the resort and then whisked everyone over to the Beach Club pool. The kids (and Laura) had lunch from the snack bar served in a (clean) sand bucket. I had the tuna wrap. After sunning, reading and swimming, we headed back to the room so I could shower and get ready for...Savannah! I kissed my peeps goodbye and we headed out to cross yet another state line. Savannah did not disappoint: lovely sunshine, a refreshing breeze, charming shops, historic squares and homes and delicious cupcakes. You can read more about Savannah on my other blog: Jen Bowles Design. I managed to tear myself away from the Hostess City of the South by 7:15 and we were back at the resort by 8pm. There was packing and lounging and chatting and swimming, all going on at the same time.
Day 8: Saturday
On the road again by 7am--over 2 hours later than Laura who was rushing back to Charlotte to move to a new apartment. After we had the car all loaded and the room all cleared, I realized I was missing my sunglasses. The good news: I called Laura and they were in her car. The bad news: they're prescription and I need them. Oh well. We hopped in the car and I silently prayed for non-rain producing cloud cover for our drive home. It started raining about 20 minutes after that. We drove through intermittent showers for a good part of the morning, but nothing too heavy. Save for a few hours of bright sunshine in the middle of the day, non-rain producing clouds were my friend. As was darkness. We couldn't resist a stop at South of the Border -- the 70+ plus billboards along the road wouldn't let us. The restrooms had seen better days and Danielle was the only one who would accompany Bobby Law into the fireworks store. Soon enough (and $50 lighter) we were on our way to the real highlight of the day: lunch at CiCi's pizza, Exit 92 off I-95North in NC. It was the highlight for Ebby & Cuyler anyway, especially Cuyler. Daddy and Will went off to get gas and search for clip on sunglasses for me. Cuyler was so excited to be eating at Cici's for the first time in more than 2 years. He hugged me at least twice and thanked me profusely. After that stop, it was pretty much drive, fuel up, use the restroom, stretch your legs, eat snacks, repeat. For 14 hours. Things were actually going pretty well until we hit traffic around Exit 6 of the New Jersey Turnpike. The drive went from bad to worse when I chose the 'Express' lane instead of the 'Local' lane on the approach to the Geo Washington Bridge. We were in traffic there for about an hour. Even if I'd made the better lane choice, we still would've been in traffic for at least 30 minutes. At 10 o'clock on a Saturday night. Cuyler had to pee so we stopped (finally) at the Connecticut Welcome Center around 10:30pm. Or maybe it was 11pm. Who knows.
Day 9: Sunday
The kids all slept the rest of the way, including when we made the final driving switch at 1am in Rhode Island. Even Bobby Law fell asleep after that, leaving me along with my Extra sugarless mint gum, my Sirius satellite country radio station in my headphones and my half full bottle of water that I alternately drank and poured down my shirt to help keep me awake while I blasted the a/c at 65 degrees and cruised down the highway. We pulled into our driveway at 2:07am, a mere 19 hours after we left Hilton Head. The dogs, having been retrieved from the kennel by Uncle, bounded outside as soon as Bobby Law opened the back door. Maisy celebrated seeing us by taking off with one of Danielle's flip flops. We had everyone in bed by around 2:30, including Ebby who was babbling something about wanting donuts. I was the last one to hit the hay, having detected a foul odor in our bathroom. After a brief search, it was evident that our not-invisible cat Brady had, for various reasons, been using our linen closet as a litter box during our absence.
Now go ahead, check out many more photos in our Hilton Head photo album, here or linked in sidebar. You know you want to...