Thursday, January 5, 2012

Last Day at the Beach

We’ve succeeded in prolonging our last day at the beach by having started the day at two o’clock this morning in response to a fire alarm. Just as we bumbled our way into the hallway along with the other startled guests in the building, the piercing alarm stopped and we were seamlessly reabsorbed into our respective compartments. After such an eruption we were too disconcerted to return to our lairs. We made a pot of coffee and pretended to begin the day as normally as possible, although it wasn’t long before we again submerged ourselves under the duvet. We reawakened closer to the more respectable hour of seven o’clock not much worse for wear.
Our entire vacation will consume nineteen days, thirteen of which are here at the beach resort. Without question the beautiful clear weather has lubricated the speed at which the days have gently passed. I have accomplished everything I hoped to do on the vacation, nothing more complicated than bicycling, reading and sun tanning, not a tall order but perfectly sufficient from my point of view. We deliberately avoided any manufactured diversions like day-trips to nearby places such as Savannah (which we hurriedly visited last year almost as an obligation). This year the only time we removed the car from the parking lot was to get groceries, get the car washed or go for massages or dinner.

Already we are planning our return next year though perhaps at a different resort. Comparing Hilton Head Island to any others we’ve visited in the past this place is still our preferred destination. Granted we’ve removed some of the gloss from the experience, the inevitable result of getting to know a place no matter how superficially. On the balance however Hilton Head Island has more going for it than most other places. I think it is because Hilton Head Island is such an enclave that it is able to preserve its uniqueness undamaged. It does little to encourage the more boisterous element of traveling society. Naturally our vantage at this time of year is more than a little coloured. On January 2nd we distinctly felt the sudden disappearance of a large part of the tourist population. By January 3rd the beach was reclaimed by the local residents and not many of them either.

As I age the issue of driving three days to get here takes on some relevance. This concern is likely in tandem with matters relating to health generally. For a holiday where one expects to prepare one’s own meals, having a car is necessary though I suppose one could rent. But I do not like rented cars.

After breakfast at a delightful bakery (Signe’s Heaven Bound Bakery) where I had the most superlative lemon square of my entire life, we dipped into Vacation Destination on Pope Avenue. Within minutes of our arrival the very helpful clerk had provided us with keys and passcode to view two three-bedroom beach-front apartments in the Sea Pines Resort. We completed our very satisfactory inspection of the place (on Turtle Lane) and returned the keys to the estate Agent. She will send us a quotation, which we anticipate to be slightly more than we are now paying, but it is a larger accommodation. The place consists of a five-storey structure which is the only one of its kind in Sea Pines which is immediately on the beach. There are three units per floor, and all units face directly onto the beach. Although we have been fortunate in the past two years to have secured a unit which fronts directly onto the Ocean, it isn’t assured at this place. I prefer to have the assurance rather than remain merely hopeful, especially if we are settled for two weeks.

Pleased with ourselves for the fruitful early morning diligence we returned to the villa, unlocked our bicycles for the last time and headed into the wind to Harbour Town. Once there we were the only persons in the little bakery. When we ordered merely coffee, the proprietor expressed her disappointment that we were not going to improve her waning business by also buying a muffin. Several other people arrived while we sipped our coffee on the outer porch.

The ride home along the beach was very pleasant. We had the wind at our backs and the sun was warm. I spent the remainder of the afternoon perched on my usual chaise longue by the sea grasses. I finally finished my book (and started another). This evening we dine out once again. We’ve just had a bracing coffee. I have begun packing for our journey home. As usual I brought more clothes than I needed.

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