So I am recently returned from a long, fabulous trip. I never write about travel because I hate reading travel posts because I don't particularly care about travel. I could only ever see two places for the rest of my life and be content. You might think that makes me dumb and small minded and one of the perks of being dumb and small minded is that I don't give a fuck. Perhaps I don't have the bandwidth. I pity the fool who needs to go to
to expand their mind. Please
don't read this as me being judgmental of those who live to travel. It's not.
It's me being judgmental of those who act as if travel is the only way to learn. You know the type. You can learn lessons of the world by
watching people in the grocery store if you have a philosophical imagination. I respect those who would rather spend $700
on a plane ticked than on a Le Creuset bathtub.
But give me the LC and you can have my air miles too. It's just not my thing.
I traveled a lot as a kid and don't remember much except traffic and threatening to pee my pants because the hotel check in was taking so long. Isn't it ridiculous how long checking in used to take? I don't like hotels--the way they smell, specifically. And there's such a tension in hotels. Whenever I am in close proximity to strife or acrimony, I can't help but charge in and mediate. I can't fix the Johnsons' marital problems over a continental breakfast. But I will spend the rest of the day wondering how their fight shook out and if she murdered him. I hope she did. The world doesn't need a man who wears all that aftershave and wrinkled pleated shorts.
Oh? and airplanes. Fuck me with a rusty shovel, no thanks. Like everything else, I attribute this at least partially to being a Taurus. We are not a fast moving people and I think it all just happens too fast and with too much bad lighting. And the air. Just thinking about breathing recycled airplane air gives me a panic attack. And I hate airports and how ugly luggage is now and why is there always some jackass eating a fried fish sandwich screaming into his phone trying to convince us he's the most important man in
? We don't give a fuck, Tallahassee, Florida Gary.
So I deviate from my generation in that I find myself and connect with my ~true self~ at Jaguar dealerships and outlet malls instead of volunteering at a sanctuary in
that treats butterflies with low self esteem.
|I miss the blinding sunlight terribly|
|Vacation laundry is so attractive|
So, yes, my true self is an over-tanned, white convertible driving, pastel wearing Southern imposter. Therefore,
Hilton Head Island is my
sanctuary. I have been going there
forever and I still cannot get enough.
The only thing that is painful
for me is that my grandparents toured Sea Pines in the 1950s and had the
opportunity to buy a huge parcel of land for nothing and they didn't. They truly, honestly couldn't afford it but I
am still mad. If they had both been a
little less selfish and sold a kidney and some liver I think they could have done
it. As it turns out, I prefer its rival
Palmetto Dunes much more anyway.
|My sister loved having me at her beck and call as her|
Instagram photographer. I got her this kimono for her
|My sister loves a daytime jumpsuit. She had five for the trip|
We were howling laughing taking this one. We may have
had a few g&ts
Because Hilton Head is built on entertaining tourists from the Midwest, New England, and
it's not the real South. Many of the elements are there--the heat, the
palms, the live oaks, the Spanish moss, the occasional well-behaved
alligator--but it's rare to see a South Carolina
license plate on Hilton Head Island. Most are from Ohio,
New Jersey, New York,
and Connecticut. In fact, I think I hear the ubiquitous OH-IO
chant/greeting more down there than I
do up here. Mainly because it's a thing
to have an Ohio State
tent/cabana at the beach and wear Ohio
State clothing out to dinner. I want to
be annoyed by this but I find it charming.
I don't wear shit, but I smile a
little when I see it. Ohio
|Barbie sleeps very well on vacation|
But the OSU tourists are not my people either. My people are the assimilated locals who play Southern. They act like they can't recall how long they've lived there when it's only been like 19 months, they invite you for sweet tea on their porch that's just iced tea because sweet tea to a Northerner is disgusting, and they never quite get out of the slightly sunburned phase of their tan. They drive champagne or white convertibles with license plates like NO MOR NJ,
BYBY NY, GON 2 HHI,
U L8R, and my favorite WAS HIS. They
convene at the beach at 6 and are back home by 7, everyone has a black OHBYEOH, DC Labrador or Golden Retriever rescue, and they only meet
up off-beach once a week for a revolving happy hour. Occasionally there are dinners if someone
wants to cook or got some good shrimp for less than $10/lb. That seems to be a sticking point. They pay $300 to have the pollen washed off
their car and detailed seemingly once a week but over their dead bodies will
they pay more than $10/lb for fresh, perfect, beautiful, amazing, local shrimp. No one ever talks about politics and no one
ever gets pale. I didn't even know
Donald Trump had enough delegates until Friday when I caught the front page of Chuck
and Mary's paper.
|Our weather was perfect the entire time, had we left one day|
later travel would have been much more difficult.
|Though I am opposed to shore fishing, this man was very nice and released his|
catches very quickly.
|Pardon the crack, this is a blacktip shark.|
I enjoyed meeting Greg of Barnacle Bill's Seafood Market and got the best shrimp I've ever had. I think they were $14/lb but I absolutely would have paid $20. I had read about BB's a few years ago but did not actually visit until urged by our fabulous server here (which was 100x better than it was last year). It is an open-air seafood market where the inventory changes daily. Greg recently took over and I was very impressed. If you're visiting, go see him! I intended to boil these shrimp but my first night in the rental house I had no cooktop because the pool guy accidentally turned off the gas. With all the shrimp prepped, I opted to roast instead and they could not have been any better. I made them four more times! A Le Creuset braiser is ideal here. If you do not have one, improvise with something similar. You want a lot of heat and steam. I de-veined my shrimp using shrimp scissors and a bamboo skewer. Cut in just about an inch to keep the shell on but still access the vein. Greg says one need not de-vein but I haven't assimilated that far yet.
Roasted Peel & Eat Shrimp
2 lbs shell-on head off shrimp
1 stick butter (yes)
1 bunch parsley, chopped and divided equally
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
4 cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons Old Bay
1.5 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Toss shrimp with lemon zest, garlic, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, old bay, salt and 1/2 of the parsley. You may wish to toss delicately with silicone spatulas as the tails are sharp. If you have Kevlar hands like me it doesn't matter. They can be roasted right away but I think they are best when marinated for an hour. In the refrigerator in a bowl nestled on top of ice in a casserole dish (my vacation fridge is a little on the warm side). Have oven preheated to 400F on convection. Spray a braiser with cooking oil and add shrimp. Slice the stick of butter and nestle around the shrimp. Cover and roast about 6-10 minutes. Uncover, toss quickly as to distribute butter evenly and put back in just until the shrimp are an attractive color and not overcooked. For me in my vacation oven this is about five more minutes. Though I suspect at home in my more powerful oven, it would be about three. Once finished, remove from oven, toss in additional parsley, tossing butter sauce again. Serve immediately. Shells will be easier to peel as shrimp cool slightly.
|Le Creuset outlet stores have braisers in every color for about $130-50. They|
ship free within the continental US so you need not pick up in person.
I also went on more dates in two weeks than I have in the last five years. I think the culture of the place contributed to this but I also think I might have turned off my barbed wire high voltage electrical fence I've been known to surround myself with. What can I say, 700 times bitten (some of them good) and 701 times shy or something like that.
Hilton Head Island is
not a place to impress your Instagram followers or sleep in a yurt. It is too boring for many, and not much
changes. Most of the restaurants are
decent at best and there isn't much culture or economy outside of
resortdom. It is my favorite place in
This year, I opted to delay my birthday celebration with my family until we were all down in HHI. My birthday is the 19th and we could all be present by the 21st. So I moved my birthday to Tuesday the 24th. Tuesday of the weeklong HHI trip is my favorite day. We're all settled and have slipped into vacation routine but the thought of leaving is far away. For my birthday the past few years, I've celebrated with a gin and tonic crabcake luncheon. Men must wear navy or green (I can wear coral cause it's birthday) and ladies must wear pink or green, Lilly Pulitzer preferred. No one follows this dress code except my sister and me but that's okay. Part of my schedule on this day is to go take a long walk at the beach in the 10-1 time frame when most of the house is still waking up and getting ready. Barbie stays home because it is too hot and long for her. Plus she is exhausted from sunrise at the beach. I think birthdays ought to include some solid reflection. And what better place to do so than where you can walk aimlessly for hours and still be in your favorite place?
|Shortly before my departure, I couldn't resist making a birthday cake at home.|
Yellow cake with chocolate-orange frosting and macerated berries
|A giant strawberry shortcake. I will post this recipe.|
After I had been walking south for quite a while, I noticed a familiar silhouette of a condo building where my family had once stayed. This was back in the day when my dad planned the trip and before I cooked any of the meals. It was even before I figured out HHI's proximity to a million gay marines who couldn't be too picky because of DADT (I'm glad it was repealed but it's made my vacations a little less fun). We stayed in these condos when I was just a kid who loved getting on the beach before the sunrise to look for shells and pet dogs. I would be out there all day with my various field guides for shells, invertebrates, birds, and optimistically turtles. I would often meet up with my grandparents on my third or fourth walk as they headed out on their first.
Back to 2016, as I took note of this condo complex and remembered my time there I was struck by a vividly familiar memory. A memory so clear and strong but so previously unaccessed, I first thought it was deja vu. A good looking older couple walking at a steady clip. Midway between the surf and the dunes as to maximize the view to include both ocean and real estate. The woman was wearing a red sweatshirt even though it was hot and the man was wearing denim shorts with high white socks and a navy polo. For a moment it was them. Looking to be what I thought was old then so young now. Walking without concern, laughing, independent. My grandmother always wore her
sweatshirt at the beach because she was damn proud to be associated. There they were, coming more into focus. Just as I remembered them all those years
ago. I began to reach into my slightly
ill-fitting heavily discounted mint green Ralph Lauren shorts and take a photo
of this time bending lucid memory.
As I grabbed my phone, I stopped
and turned around. I feared the camera
would reveal an inaccuracy I did not want to see. I opted not to walk past them, rather to let
all three of us keep the moment forever.
|Not bad after 1.5 bottles of rose|
|At least I have other talents.|
|Munching on a baby shark|
|Do you know what this is? It was the talk of the beach...|
|A trail belonging to HHI's most important visitor This one decided|
to come back later.
I suppose most of life is forging new paths. Sometimes you're lucky enough to stumble onto one of the good, old ones.