Photography
Laramee Love

Hilton Head Island Vacation

We finally made it to the beach! As much as I love Colorado, there are certain things about it that will never measure up to the East Coast. One of those things is… the BEACH! There is something so relaxing about salt air, Spanish moss, and the sound of gentle waves.

The first full day that we arrived in Hilton Head, we spent the cloudy morning and early afternoon actually on the beach. There were tide pools collecting on the beach which were absolutely perfect for little ones who can’t swim. Savannah loved running up and down the tide pools and digging in the sand, and Orion enjoyed crawling and splashing in the water. Orion was also fond of the occasional fist full of sand as a snack. This was, after all, his first time at the beach.

It was so fun to relax and pretend to be a kid again. I helped Savannah build several sand castles, jump over waves, and dig a giant hole for her to sit in. It was perfect; and when we got hungry, we just walked off the beach and sat down for lunch at the beach side restaurant. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Afterwards, it was time to head home for naps… for all of us.

The next day, I was up bright and early to catch some photos of the sunrise while my mom and the kids continued to sleep in. It was nice to get some time out alone with my camera and enjoy the calm and quiet. And sunrise at the beach never disappoints! The colors are always so bright and vivid, and on this particular morning, a small line of clouds added an extra layer of pop to the rising sun.

After my sunrise session, it was time for a biking adventure with the kids! We pulled the child carrier out of the garage and hooked it up to my bike. Once we loaded the kids in, my mom and I both said a silent prayer that there would be no screaming or hitting along the ride to our final destination.

Luckily our prayers were answered! Although sitting next to each other, both kids did great. I think Orion fell asleep within the first 15 minutes which probably helped limit any potential arguments from his sister. We biked down to Harbour Town to see the lighthouse and stroll around looking at the yachts and shops. We also decided to climb the 114 steps to the top of the lighthouse. Carrying a 20lb child up the stairs is no easy feat, but the view from the top is always spectacular. You can see the harbor down below, boats and parasailers off on the ocean, and miles and miles of swaying sea grass.

Once back down on the bottom, we did a bit more shopping; or at least as much as you can do with a toddler and a pre-schooler in tow. Orion “chose” a new sun hat that he was less than pleased to wear. Afterwards, we went across the street to Harbour Town Bakery & Cafe to get some delicious lunch. This quaint little cafe has expanded its menu since the last time I was there about 18 months ago. I loved it just as much now as I did then!

After lunch, Grandma took the kids over to the playground so I could once again walk around at my leisure and snap a few photos. Hilton Head has always been a special place for me. Not only is it a wonderful place to go to the beach and eat delicious seafood, but it is also where we used to go on family vacations when I was very little, where I spent a summer during college working at one of the local restaurants, where I’ve spent multiple Thanksgivings with extended family, where I got engaged, and where my husband and I got married. I have many fond memories of Hilton Head, and to this day, it still remains one of my favorite places to visit.

Walking around to the other side of the harbor, I saw a lump of organic material which I initially thought was a pile of floating dead sea grass. However, on closer inspection, I almost thought I could make out a fin. I had heard rumors about manatees living at Hilton Head, but did not think that I would be fortunate enough to come across them during my visit.

Boy was I wrong! There it was! A wild manatee! I was so excited!

And not only one. A second manatee popped up for air during my observation! How neat! Hilton Head is always so full of life. I’ve seen multiple gators (one even crossed the golf cart path in front of us!), snakes, baby raccoons, deer, sting rays, sharks, crabs, hundreds of flocking butterflies, dolphins, and many various bird species just to name a few. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, some new creature or animal experience befalls me. Just another one of the many reasons I love visiting.

After meeting back up with Grandma and the kids, we spent a few more minutes on the playground and then it was time to head back for nap time. However, since both kids feel asleep in the bike carrier to my gentle peddling, we bypassed the house and headed straight down to South Beach about 4 miles further. As anyone with kids knows, once they fall asleep, they’ll never go back to sleep for a nap once they wake up!

Once at South Beach, we ate Salty Dog Ice Cream and played in the pool. Orion’s teeth were chattering with cold, but he was intent on making us walk him around the shallow end of the pool. Dinner time approached, so we changed the kids out of their bathing suits and went across the parking lot to the Salty Dog Cafe. If you’re at all familiar with Hilton Head, then you know the story of the salty dog, Jake. He’s quite famous! The story goes that a black dog named Jake (who maybe also wore a yellow rain hat?) was out fishing on a boat with his owner. Suddenly, a massive storm rolled in and the little boat tossed and turned. Jake’s owner was knocked into the sea! The brave black dog jumped in after him and guided him safely to shore. And then a restaurant was named after him. And from that restaurant blossomed a salt water taffy company, a t-shirt company, an ice cream company, and another restaurant; all of it unique to Hilton Head Island. As I mentioned before, he’s quite famous amongst the locals.

The next morning was our last day at Hilton Head, so we had to make the most of it! We loaded the kids up in the bike carrier again and headed over to Lawton Stables, one of the local horse stables. Lawton Stable has a small ‘petting zoo’ with goats, chickens, cows, horses, and pigs and also offers equestrian experiences for all ages. Savannah was so excited to wait in line for her chance to ride one of the ponies.

She’s never been on a horse before, so this was an entirely new experience for her–but she loved it! She was smiles and giggles the whole time. It so exhilarating for me to capture this moment for her.

She rode the brown horse Sebastian and also overheard a story about the white pony Dusty. Dusty experienced a severe eye infection some time ago and had to have one eye removed. She was so intrigued by his story and proceeded to tell it to me again and again in 100 different ways on the bike ride back to the house. It was sweet.

It was time for our Hilton Head vacation to come to a close. We were looking forward to many new things we would get to experience in the upcoming days, but sad to be leaving such a wonderful place. I always enjoy my trips to Hilton Head, and this time was even. more special because I got to see Hilton Head through the eyes of my children. From splashing in the tide pools, to seeing the top of the lighthouse, and walking around the stables, I will treasure these memories forever.

October 17, 2020

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Photography
Baileyana Rose