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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Family Vacation 2014 : Hilton Head, South Carolina: Part Two

The worst part of posting this 100 year later? It's been sitting in my drafts since like November, just waiting for me to resize the pictures. Someone on Instagram asked about our vacation and I went to send her the link, only to realize that I never actually finished the post. WHOOPS. But thanks for the kick in the pants, Amy! Because if I hadn't published this, the world would miss out on the GIF of Carys cuddling a lizard. And that would be a damn shame.

So, here's part two of our vacation to Hilton Head (split so that your computer wouldn't completely crash trying to load all these pictures). You can read part one here.

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The next morning, we were hanging out at the house since the boys didn't have a tee time until late afternoon, and Carys caught a green anole, which she totally magically tamed with just one touch (it was probably in shock or something, but whenever I caught one it'd immediately run away and jump off of my hand, but when Carys caught one, it'd just stay on her even when she wasn't holding it down, so I prefer to think of her as an animal whisperer).




After the lizard adventure, I went on an early morning horseback ride at Lawton Stables through the Sea Pines Forest Preserve while Chris stayed with the girls (they had an afternoon tee time).  So much fun! I want a horse. Carys agrees.


It's hard to take a non-blurry pic on a horse, ya'll.


When I got back, Chris and I took the girls to the beach for an hour or so before he had to golf. His golfing itinerary was so jam-packed that this was really the only family time we got as just the four of us and his only chance to hit the beach (which is okay - we knew this going in - really, the girls and I were tagging along to his golf trip). We were hitting it right at low tide and I really thought we'd find a gazillion shells, but we didn't find any. Sad face. My aunt said it just wasn't a good shell beach.








No shells, but we did find a jellyfish!





Em was sleeping in the carrier most of the time, but woke up right as we were leaving.

A little crab she found on the way out.





We went back to the beach later that afternoon, again by bike.





Since our first dolphin cruise was kind of a bust, I decided to take the girls on another one. I called a few places, but our options were super limited since I planned it last minute and we were there off season (meaning that there weren't as many tours going out). And I forgot the name of the company we used for this one like ten minutes after it ended, but I *think* it was this one.  When I called, the booking agent let me know that they needed a minimum of four (or six? I think four) people to go out on the boat and that we were the only people who'd inquired so far. However, she gave the best recommendation of the trip thus far and said she'd just book the extra ticket - and it'd end up being the cheapest private charter ever. So I bit the bullet and spent the extra money and it was SO. WORTH. IT. This cruise went more into the intercoastal waterway, and there were so many dolphins. Dolphins everywhere. Dozens of them. We'd often be right in the middle of a pod of dolphins, with dolphins in every direction. We could have reached out to touch them a number of different times. Emmeline slept the entire time, but Carys was completely entranced - both by the dolphins and by the speedboat we were in. She kept asking the captain to "go faster! go faster!!!"

I was far too entranced and distracted by all the dolphins (and the gorgeous scenery) to take really great pictures - I'd start watching them and then be like, "Oh! Picture!" but by the time I got my camera up to my eye, they'd be gone. So lots of disappearing dolphins, but none of the pics really capture how close they were and how very many we saw.

The tour left from the dock in Harbor Town. This is looking back towards the lighthouse after we left.





Our first glimpse of the dolphins!







A "haunted" lighthouse on Daufuskie Island on the left.





After the ride, we hung out in Harbor Town for a bit and ate a late lunch at The Crazy Crab (which was pretty delicious and not too expensive) and sat in the iconic red rocking chairs (and got ice cream...again...of course).


Later that afternoon, Mary Jo (my aunt) picked us up and we picked Chris up, and we drove about 45 minutes to the Old Sheldon Church Ruins, which are just incredible. There's not much to them, but they're really fantastic if you have a few hours to kill.



















At this point, Carys was super tired, and the fact that we wouldn't let her somehow remove the cornerstone of the church (because it had a "C" on it and therefore was hers) launched her into meltdown mode and she ran away and sat under this tree (which was another contributing cause - there was a sign asking visitors to not sit on the low branches to help protect them and she of course wanted to sit on them).



However, Mary Jo absolutely saved the day by discovering this tiny brown frog, which captured Carys's attention and love and immediately ceased the meltdown.


Sharing the frog with Mary Jo.







We kept asking her to put the frog back in the tree stump, but she REALLY did not want to do so. She REALLY wanted to take that frog home. And we got it on tape and it's pretty hysterical. And OMG I cannot stand my voice (am I really that squeaky and high pitched?) but her little jump-grabs to catch the frog are so hilarious. 


After this, Mary Jo and her husband watched the girls while the adults went out to the. most. amazing. restaurant. ever. Vacation food is always way better than food at home, but this was amazing even for vacation food. Charlie’s L’├ętoile Verte. The menu changes daily depending on what the chef procures from the fish market and what fresh and seasonal produce he has. And it's so good. (Ok, and so expensive, but what's vacation without one really indulgent meal, right?)




When we got home and were walking Mary Jo out, we discovered another frog on the porch.




Carys was pretty disappointed that we weren't able to keep any of these animals forever.

We left the next afternoon, and to end our trip to Hilton Head, we decided to....swim. Well, Carys did. By putting on her swimsuit at 7:30 AM and begging to swim. I couldn't say no, since we don't have a pool at our house and this would be her last chance to walk out her front door and swim for the forseeable future.









It was hard to leave.

Goodbye, Hilton Head.


While we flew directly into Hilton Head, we flew out of Savannah, so Mary Jo drove us out there (she really seriously majorly took care of us). Carys totally wiped out on the way through the airport.


And thus ended what was pretty much a perfect vacation. I can't think of a single thing I would have changed. Great food, great beached, mostly well-behaved kids, a pool, bike rides, lizards and frogs, family...it was pretty fricking amazing. I'd recommend it for family vacations for sure - just please take me with you?

I'll leave you with a few short videos of Carys at the beach, because they're freaking adorable.



And one of her in the pool for good measure.