by Bill Cleary
(cnbnews.net) For years we travel to Florida in the winter to spend a month in the warm sunshine. This year we decided it was time for a change so we traveled to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We rented a place in Sea Pines Plantation. What a beautiful area. The home was surrounded by tall pine trees. Scattered among the pines were palm trees and some southern oaks with Spanish moss hanging from the tree limbs.
There are no street lights, or utility poles, and all wires are buried underground. I didn’t give much thought to that fact
The next day I told one of the residents that I was out walking the dog last night. “You don’t want to do that again”, he said. “This time of the year the alligators come out at night to mate.” I laughed to myself, thinking he was pulling my leg. That afternoon we drove up to a nearby lake not far from the rental property. Laying on the embankment sunning themselves were two gigantic alligators. My neighbor wasn’t joking. Seeing them ended the evening stroll.
Hilton Head Island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. It is 12 miles long by 4 miles wide. Finding the beach was a challenge since the state allows homes, condos, hotels etc. to be built close to the shoreline. As a result you can’t see the beach from the street. Once we found it we were surprised how immaculate it was. No trash or litter lying about on the white sand. You are allowed to walk your dog on the beach as long as you keep it on a leash. Bike riding on the beach is also permitted. Hilton Head has 14 miles of bike paths all intertwined between the golf courses, ponds and the forrest. Our daughter and her family came to visit during our stay and just loved riding on those trails.
photo: The entrance to the beach is flanked by palm trees, along with public rocking chairs, swings, beach lockers, and showers. Dogs are allowed if walked on a leash
Besides beautiful scenery and a great beach Hilton Head is known for its golf courses. Neither Connie or I play golf so our days were spent sight seeing or shopping in one of the 200 stores that are on the island. Included in that number were two mall outlets filled with name brand stores. There are also 250 restaurants. We spent a month at Hilton Head so we had plenty of time to sample the food at a number of dining establishments. If you ever visit the island make sure you give the Salty Dog Cafe a try. That was one of our favorites along with One Hot Mama’s, great ribs, the Harbor Town Grill, the Harbourside Burgers and Brews and The Crazy Crab. If you like salmon Marley’s Island Grill is the spot.
In addition to our family visiting us Babe and Bill Tourtual spent some time on the
island along with Gary and Phyllis Marcucci. Former Gloucester City resident Howard ‘Butch’ Shaffer along with his lovely wife Lenore live about 30 minutes from Sea Pines at Sun City. We had lunch one day with the Shaffers, and Marcucci’s. For those who don’t know Butch let me just say you have missed out on meeting one “funny guy”. For six hours he told stories about growing up in Gloucester City that brought tears of laughter to our eyes. One escapade after another, each one a little funnier than the last.
photo: on the left, Phylliss and Gary Marcucci, on the right, Leonore and Butch Shaffer
He is one of few true Gloucesterites that are still alive who remember living in the community of Gloucester City and the South Jersey area during the late 40‘s, 50‘s and 60‘s. A great time to be a teenager, young adult. I am ashamed to say we didn’t appreciate what we had until after we became old men and women.
We intend on vacationing next year in Hilton Head: we already made our reservations. Driving to the west coast of Florida was an 18 hour trip. The trip to Hilton Head Island is 11 hours or 700 miles. We like the end of February, the month of March as the temperatures are in 60’s and low 70’s. Towards the end of March the temperatures are in the low 80’s. Grant you it is warmer in Florida, in the 90’s some days, but we like the fall like cooler temperatures at Hilton Head Island.
below: Our family, Connie Lynn, Brianna, Dave and Dave Jr. Woods