Vacation follies


Allen Worrell/The Carroll News
If you can dodge the roundabouts and high-end consignment shops, Hilton Head Island is a great place to be as this bald eagle flying over the island attests.

If you were looking for a column last week from yours truly, you were out of luck.

Who am I kidding? You obviously had better things to do than to listen to a middle-aged man ramble. That’s beside the point. Anyway, the reason you didn’t see a column last week was because the family and I took off for a much-deserved trip to the coast. After three months of manning The Carroll News’ editorial department by my lonesome, Hilton Head Island was calling my name.

And, oh, what a wondrous time it was. From the first 10 minutes of the trip, I knew we were in store for something magical. Before taking my first steps out onto Port Royal Sound, something told me I needed to bring my camera with me. After just a short stroll, medium-sized crabs were all around my feet. Eureka! My intuition had paid off.

But little did I know what was about to happen. Having no idea bald eagles inhabit the area, you can only imagine my surprise when one of the massive, magnificent birds flew directly over my head. My reaction went something like this.

“Wow, that looks like a bald eagle.”

“Holy crap! That IS A BALD EAGLE!”

“HOLIEST CRAP! I HAVE MY CAMERA AROUND MY NECK!”

The next few moments must have been like one of those doofuses on Finding Bigfoot trying to get footage of the elusive beast…either that or a pre-pubescent teenage girl trying to photograph Justin Bieber. For the love of God, I have no idea what thought process caused my mind to even conjure such a horrific scenario. EGAD!

Anyway, somehow I managed to fumble that camera around just in time to actually fire off a decent shot of the old bird. Man, what a glorious sight. To have photographic proof was even better. I must confess, though, the rest of the trip was dedicated to getting more bald eagle photos. It never came.

Oh well, there were still plenty of other memorable moments during our weeklong fiasco. There was my son’s episode with the MOLLUSKS! Don’t ask. Snails apparently can be quite frightening creatures.

But not nearly as frightening as trying to drive around Hilton Head Island. The place itself is lovely. Filled with wildlife and nowhere near as much hustle and bustle as Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head is quite the relaxing place. But whoever designed the roads down there needs a good, old-fashioned kick to the giblets. Sweet Mother of Jesus, what a cluster that was. Roundabouts are EVERYWHERE.

After driving in to Hilton Head for the first time, I must admit I got us lost two or three times before we reached our destination. My wife was on driving duty the rest of the way because those confounded heaps of madness drove me absolutely nuts. They work pretty simple. Apparently you just turn in the opposite direction of the way you think you are supposed to be going. My only cognitive response is these things must have been designed to incite road rage. After all, they were invented by the British – the same people who brought us taxation without representation and bad teeth. Ah, maybe it makes sense now after all.

But perhaps the most truly terrifying experience came when my wife, Crystal, and stepdaughter, Monika, thought it would be good idea to spend a day shopping. That is painful enough for a man, but my son and mother decided to be good sports and soldier on. Well friends, let me tell you, I have found there is only one thing worse in life than going shopping in a high-end women’s clothing consignment shop with $200 purses. That thing would be going shopping in a high-end women’s clothing consignment shop with $200 purses that also plays opera music. OPERA MUSIC? Are you freaking kidding me? The only thing missing was a sign out front saying ‘Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.’

In case you are unfamiliar with that saying, it comes from the first part of Dante’s epic 14th century poem Divine Comedy, more particularly his journey through the underworld. Had Dante lived in modern times, he would have included a 10th circle of Hell in the Inferno, the one reserved for high-end women’s clothing consignment shops that play OPERA.

In each of Dante’s nine circles of Hell, each layer was reserved for a certain punishment. The second circle was for lust, and these souls are blown back and forth by the terrible winds of a violent storm, without rest. The third circle was for gluttony, where violators are forced to lie in a vile slush produced by ceaseless foul, icy rain. My only guess is the circle I entered in that consignment shop was reserved for road rage from those dadburned roundabouts. Seriously, this form of punishment should be considered for war criminals. Sheesh.

But roundabouts and opera music aside, this was a fantastic vacation. It was also a much-needed one to recharge the old batteries. I hate I had to miss the Carroll County softball team’s two regional victories last week, but this was literally the only week we could go on vacation. And at least I will get to be there this weekend in Lynchburg when Carroll battles for the state crown. Go Cavs!

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