On Island Time

6 Jul

Despite a couple of random updates the past couple of days, I’ve spent the long holiday weekend in Hilton Head, visiting Amanda. I finished work on Tuesday, went to Abingdon with Alli on Wednesday, spent Thursday framing a painting and doing other such errands in town, and then left early on Friday to drive to the beach. It’s been a lovely vacation, and I even came back with a tan! That’s unusual for me, if you’re familiar with my long tradition of lobster-like sunburns, despite my genetic history.

Anyway, for a beach recap, which included great shopping and even better food.

Like I said before, I drove down on Friday to see Amanda. I stopped in Spartanburg on the way to have lunch with Melody. I haven’t had a good, long conversation with her in a long time, so it was nice to catch up. She’s still in the process of looking for a house in Charlotte, a project that doesn’t seem to be making much progress. I told her about my recent potential roommate drama and my upcoming DC trip. We ate at Groucho’s a fun little deli I haven’t been to in ages. At the end, we even signed the wall, representing FM ’08 and ’09. Melody added the famous Lost number sequence, because no autograph wall is complete without it.

The drive between Spartanburg and Hilton Head was pretty uneventful. There was some traffic outside of Columbia, headed toward the beach, of course, but other than that, nothing much going on. Just long stretches of highway, flanked by trees. That’s the thing about driving to the beach – it’s flat and kind of boring. I made it down to the island, though, to meet Amanda for dinner. She’d heard about this great restaurant called Skull Creek Boathouse from one of her OT clients and wanted to check it out. She loves seafood almost as much as I do, and you can’t go to the beach without getting prime seafood. We had such incredible food. We got coconut shrimp and tuna tartare nachos for appetizers. We had a pretty hard time deciding which ones we wanted; honestly, we probably could have made a huge meal on just appetizers alone. Those nachos were amazing – think sushi meats nachos. Sounds weird, I know, but it was just incredible. I would have been happy to stop there, but I got a Calibogue casserole for dinner. It was basically a seafood pot pie – flaky pastry filled with shrimp, crab, scallops, whitefish and mushrooms in a lobster cream sauce. Add in a Rum Runner to drink – what more do you want?

After dinner we drove back to her apartment to let her dog out and unpack my stuff. Her dog, Bear, is so cute, and he’s gotten so big since I last saw him! He’s some kind of shepherd mix, and he’s so bouncy and adorable. I guess he’s kind of my adopted nephew. Anyway, after some down time to digest our food, we ventured back out to go see a movie. We saw Bad Teacher, which was pretty funny. I hadn’t been that interested in seeing it, but it was decent, and I wanted to be a good houseguest. It was a laid-back night because we were both tired, Amanda from working, and me from driving.

The next morning, we woke up and had a leisurely breakfast of eggs and biscuits. We also made a picnic lunch to take with us to the pool at the apartments. We got out swimsuits on and hauled everything out to the pool, where we basically camped for the rest of the day. It was hot as balls outside, obviously, but the pool made it so nice. I applied sunscreen religiously, which is thankfully how I ended up more tan than red. We had our outside lunch sitting in pool chairs and basically just vegged out the whole day.

After going back to the apartment to get cleaned up, we headed out for some late outlet shopping. They have two big Tanger outlets there with some of my favorite stores. Amanda and I both found some pretty cute stuff. We even ended up with matching bracelets – totally unplanned, of course. We had dinner that night at Kobe, one of those Japanese places where they cook right in front of you. I’ve been to those places before, but this was maybe the best one I’ve ever eaten at. I don’t know if it was the shrimp sauce or the fresh seafood, but it was just amazing. The leftovers that I had the next day for breakfast were possibly even better than the first meal. Anyway, our shrimp and scallop stir fry was amazing, and I even caught a shrimp in my mouth when the chef tossed it to me! Granted, it took me three tries to get it right, but I still did it. And no one else wanted to attempt it, so I was pretty proud of myself.

Sunday was our beach day. We ate our Japanese leftovers for breakfast and headed onto the Island for some shopping and lunch at Coligny Plaza. There were some beachy shops that we wandered through. I bought a pretty Peruvian ring and got some UV-sensitive nail polish, meaning it changes color in the sun. We ate lunch at The Frosty Frog, known for its pizza and daquiris. As in, put it in a styrofoam cup and take it with you. Which is exactly what we did. We took our huge daquiris right down to the beach, which took a while, considering all the annoying drivers and obnoxious parking. We finally made it, though, and spent the rest of the day out on the beach. We were pretty far down from the main public beach entrance, so there wasn’t a huge crowd around us. The water was warm but not uncomfortable. It was a relaxing day of reading, drinking, and tanning.

On our way back from the beach, we stopped at Sweet Carolina Cupcakes for some sweet treats. I got a couple of different kinds to eat leisurely over the next couple of days. Back to the apartment to shower and rest, and then it was out again for dinner. I have to devote an entire paragraph to it, because it’s likely my last supper meal. Seriously, if I could have one last meal before I died, it would be from Red Fish, just off the island. I’ll just list everything for you. Albarino wine. Hot, crusty bread with a cilantro-lime pesto sauce and butter. Blue crab dip with tortilla chips and Cuban bread. Shrimp and grits with chorizo gravy, fried okra and sauteed kale. Seared jumbo scallops with lobster macaroni, asparagus and proscuitto. Seriously, the only thing that could have made that better would be creme brulee. And believe me, they have it. We just didn’t have room for it. Without a doubt, one of the best meals of my life. I wish I could eat there all the time.

After such a fabulous meal, there was nothing left to do but go home and sleep it off, dreaming of the next gastronomic adventure. The next morning, we got up early and took Bear to the beach. It was his first time seeing the ocean, and I don’t know that he quite knew what to think of it. He liked the water so long as it wasn’t coming right up at him. He liked chasing his ball across the sand, too. But what he really loved was the attention he got from everyone around him. In Amanda’s words, he thinks that everyone loves him. And everyone should, because he’s so cute and friendly and silly. It was a fun morning. After that, we looked for a dog-friendly restaurant to have brunch. We ended up at Skillets, which allowed dogs on their very nice open patio and even had a dog menu!  My skillet was called the kitchen sink, and included two fluffy, buttery pancakes with real syrup, bacon, sausages, skillet potatoes, and poached eggs. Two perfecty poached eggs, that when cut open the runny yolk slides down over everything, creating that sweet and salty goodness that comes with mixing pancakes, eggs, and bacon.

After our lunch and a quick trip to Petco, we headed out for more afternoon pool time. Thank goodness I brought along my music and a long book – I definitely got in some great reading time! We didn’t spend as much time out there that day, because, being the 4th of July, we had some fireworks to watch that night. We left the pool. showered, and headed out to meet Amanda’s roommate, Rachel, and her boyfriend, Eric, and one of the local resorts. We picked them up and headed out to Sea Pines to have dinner and watch the fireworks. There were tons of people out there, of course. We ate at a seafood restaurant, where I got a plate full of fried shrimp, scallops, catfish, hush puppies, the works. I figured that was the one kind of seafood I hadn’t had since I’d been at the beach, so why not? A couple of cold beers and I was good to go. The fireworks were set off right over the yacht club harbor, which was really nice to see out over the water. Lots of people were watching from their boats, and all honked their horns and made noise after the fireworks show was over. Getting back to the car took forever, because everyone at the resort had all been bussed up from the parking lots. We must have waited in line for over an hour. It was a good bonding experience, and I was determined to keep a good attitude, instead of complaining like I normally would have. We eventually made it back home, not too terribly late, and all headed off to bed.

I got up early the next morning and left town. Amanda had to be back at work early that morning, and she took Bear to dog camp that day, so I didn’t see either one of them that morning. Before I left town, I made one last stop at the outlets to hit up some stores we didn’t have time for on our first trip. I’d found a Polo shirt for my brother, and wanted to go back and make sure I really couldn’t find the one he’d described that he really wanted. I stopped in Columbia on my way home to drop off his present to him. It was his first day at his month-long pharmacy rotation, so I didn’t stay but a minute to drop it off. The trip home was good, and uneventful. I was home less than 24 hours before I headed out on the road again, this time to DC. I didn’t even bother to unpack, besides taking out my dirty clothes. This current trip is a story for another day, though. Until then, happy belated 4th, and happy summer travels to all!


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