Saturday, June 19, 2021

Hilton Head, SC

Usually we make a goal to do a certain number of home-state and out-of-state adventures as a family. We quickly abandoned those goals the first quarter of 2020 and...didn't really set any for 2021. So we decided that while we were on this vacation, hitting multiple of home-state adventures (Ocmulgee, Tybee South, downtown Savannah, Tybee North, UGA aquarium, etc.) we may as well hit an out-of-state adventure, too! After all, we were so close to South Carolina!

Georgia's coastline is only  about 100 miles, which sounds small (considering Alaska has about 6640 miles of coastline, North Carolina has about 300), but it's also the 16th longest coastline of any given state and states that I automatically consider "coastal states," like Rhode Island and Delaware, technically have less coastline (at 40 and 28 miles, respectively), though I suppose they have more coastline when you consider their overall size. I had honestly never considered Georgia a coastal state before moving here; I still have trouble considering Alabama a coastal state, but my mom's cousin in Alabama has been posting a ton of articles about Alabama's coastline lately so I guess they are (and looking at a map, this is true—they have about 50 miles of coastline). But when I'm thinking of coastal states I'm never like, "Oh, Alabama. Best beaches!" Nope. Alabama doesn't even cross my mind.

The west coast is easy. California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alaska. There are no states sticking a sneaky finger into the coastline pie like there are in the east. I'm looking at you, Alabama. And New Hampshire, with your 13 miles. What even is that? Anyway...

To get to South Carolina, all we had to do was cross this bridge over the Savannah River (you might recognize it from our river walk downtown):

And then we had to drive halfway across the Little Back River bridge and—presto!—we were in South Carolina (redefining bravery). 

Hilton Head Island is a little more built up than Tybee Island is. For example, we were able to find public beach access (which was almost lucky since there are so many resorts on Hilton Head) that had a foot shower at the end of the boardwalk! We could not find any amenities at the beaches in Tybee—no foot showers, no public restrooms, nothing. Maybe we just weren't good lookers, but we sure were glad to have the promise of being able to at least rinse off some sand before climbing into our car!

The beach itself was relatively uncrowded, compared to our mega-beach-day on Tybee the day before. I don't know if it's because we waited until later in the day to go (we went after going to the aquarium), but it was kind of nice to have a bit of the beach to ourselves. And the sand was so clean and fine. The kids would bring me a shell every time they found one because there were simply so few shells to be found. I think they found, like, three the whole time we were there!

There were many, though. Miriam found a number of what I believe are some sort of tellina. We put a few in a bucket to observe and then put them back in the ocean. The kids each solemnly swear they were bit by various crabs in the water. And we saw several little fish swimming about.

Oh, and we found this horseshoe crab shell (the only shell on the beach):

The waves were a little too mild for boogie boarding, but everyone had fun attempting it, anyway. The waves weren't actually weak...they just...broke too early (or something) to carry anyone very far, which was kind of disappointing.

Prepare yourself for too many pictures...once again...

Here's Alexander (I think he stuck with boogie boarding the longest out of anyone on this particular day):

Here's Benjamin and Miriam colliding with a wave:

Here's Miriam again:

Here's Alexander popping up from the waves after a little wipe out:

Here's Zoë splashing in the waves while Benjamin does a back float and Rachel...walks around:

Here's Alexander paddling off to who knows where:

Come back, baby!

See how all the other kids have chosen wave jumping over boogie boarding, except for Alexander, who is still going strong?

After this I think Andrew made Alexander take a break because he (Andrew) was tired of carrying him and the boogie board out into the surf to catch waves (and I don't blame him because, honestly, it is kind of exhausting). So Alexander decided to build sand castles, which he finds almost as enjoyable as boogie boarding.

Rachel and Miriam joined us and we made some sand sculptures together.

It started with a dolphin that I made leaping out of the sand, which Rachel thought was a platypus, and which Alexander accidentally squished before I could take a picture. So here's a post-squish picture:

Then Rachel and I made an owl for Alexander:

And Miriam made a sea turtle with a nest of eggs and some hatchlings:

Alexander made some "baby owls" by our big owl, which Rachel didn't recognize as sand sculpture and accidentally squished, making Alexander rather sad. 

"You squished my baby owl!" he cried.

"I'm sorry!" Rachel said. "I didn't know it was a baby owl. It just looked like a blob of sand!"

I'm...not sure how that apology was supposed to make him feel better. Like, sorry I squished your sand really wasn't that neat to begin with (probably how Alexander felt when I told him he squished my dolphin). 

Alexander turned to her with his angriest expression.

"A blob of sand with eye holes!" he spat out, defending his creation (and also giving a very accurate description of what his baby owls looked like—a little pile of sand with two holes poked in it).

And speaking of bad sand creations, Miriam made a mermaid tail for her feet. But, just her feet. Her legs were still poking out of the sand. And it looked hilarious:

Meanwhile, Andrew was out at sea with Benjamin and Zoë:

We all got worn out a little earlier on Thursday than we did on Wednesday (I assume because we were all still rather worn out from Wednesday), so we spent more time just chilling on the beach together.

Alexander really wanted me to take this picture of him sticking out his tongue:

Benjamin really wanted me to take this picture of him being a sand monster:

Here are Rachel and Miriam writing everyone's names in the sand:

Miriam also made this track from our spot on the beach to the water, which was kind of a genius idea because when the kids would wash up on shore feeling disoriented they could just find the track and follow it back to our chairs (instead of accidentally joining a different family while we're all shouting and waving our arms, for example). Though I only think this idea works well if the beach isn't terribly trafficked; otherwise the tracks would end up getting erased by zillions of other footprints.

Alexander walked back and forth on this trail so many times to fill his bucket. He dutifully followed every little twist and turn. It was rather funny to watch.

And when we decided it was time to leave some previous beachgoers (or beachleavers, by this time) had left some lovely tracks for us to follow back to the boardwalk by pulling something along the sand (some sort of cooler or wagon, we presume). The little kids happily followed the tracks through the sand all the way!

I'll take a moment to say how cool it is to have older children: it's pretty cool to have older children. We take about the same amount of stuff to the beach as we ever did when we had fewer, younger children (though we've added a couple of boogie boards), but when only Andrew and I were big enough to be truly useful, lugging everything to and from the beach was so exhausting. We'd both be loaded up with stuff, stuff, stuff, and then we'd also be trying to hold hands and carry babies and...

It's kind of nice to have some extra sets of arms now that we have children who don't cry because we made them carry their own water bottle or sand bucket (for example (you can see that Zoë and Alexander are carrying those items and they definitely whined about having to walk and carry things, but the older kids and their capable arms were so helpful)).

Here's our traditional "family picture at the beach":

Don't ask me why Rachel appears taller than me in this picture. She's not (yet). She's close, but she's not. I must not be standing very tall. 

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