We normally head due south to Destin, Fla., when we get away for vacation. This time, we chose a different site. Our good friends Neal and Kathy Cummins had been encouraging us to go to Hilton Head. We took their advice. The four of us loaded into my truck and headed to South Carolina. Hilton Head turned out to be awesome. Let me tell you why.
Actual driving time to Hilton Head was about 10 hours. Total trip time counting stops was about 12 hours. An important note about the drive was that it was four-lane all the way. We arrived at our Hampton Place condo in Palmetto Dunes at about 12:30 a.m.
The next morning, I quickly began to learn what makes Hilton Head so unique. First of all, Hilton Head consist of 55 square miles of land and water. The island is at an elevation of 10 feet above sea level. The year round population is 37,000, but the amount of people on the island can swell to 270,00 during peak vacation times.
While we were there, the number of people on the island was on the low end of those figures above. We never had to wait in line for anything. The most unique thing about Hilton Head, however, is the way they protected the environment while making it into a resort paradise. Condos and buildings cannot be over five stories high. The condos are also protected by about 100 yards of dunes between them and the beach. There are not any big ugly high-in-the-sky signs advertising restaurants and stores. Also, it takes an act of Congress to cut down a tree on the island. I have never seen a place with so much to offer that disturbed the natural beauty so little.
Don’t get me wrong. There was a Wal-Mart at Hilton Head. It was just nestled into woods with about 800 trees surrounding it. You had to know where to look for it and other retail establishments in order to find them. That is why you do need to take your first trip to HH with someone that knows his or her way around. For us, that was Neal and Kathy. Old Neal was one heck of a travel guide on the Island, which is shaped like a foot.
We rented bicycles, which everyone does, and rode all over the island on their abundant bike trails. We played four rounds of golf at an average cost of $30 a round. That is extremely inexpensive compared to most resorts. Oh yeah, there were alligators on every course. We played tennis on clay courts. There were 25 tennis courts in our little section of the island. Actually, that was just in one tennis center in our section.
There was shopping, eating and lots of sight-seeing. We made the trip down to Harbor Town and went up in the Lighthouse. We ate at the Salty Dog and learned the legend of the Salty Dog. Google it. It is quite interesting.
We even tried to represent Trigg County well. The four of us went to Casey’s Sports Bar and Grill on a Thursday night to watch the University of Louisville play football. Well, wouldn’t you know it? It was trivia night. Tables of four all over the packed restaurant were given sheets upon which to record the answers to 21 trivia questions. The questions were on topics ranging from history to science to sports to pop culture. I am proud to announce that our team of four, Neal, Kathy, Penny and myself, took home first place and the prize of $50 cash. We parlayed that into matching T-shirts from Casey’s. We looked like a softball team as we all wore them home on Saturday. You know, I am not really sure what the key to our trivia victory was. Could it be that we are four really smart former educators, or could it be that we were the only table in the sports bar that was not drinking? Hey, probably a little of the first and a lot of the later.
In closing, let me advise you. Take a chance on Hilton Head. Travel with great friends that know their way around. Go outside the peak season of summer and you will find a slice of paradise with all the modern conveniences yet left in its natural state. I have never been to a more laid back place in my life.
OT: There were many opportunities to kayak, fish and participate in other outdoor activities. You just can’t do it all in one trip.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to email@example.com.