Flippin' Fripp Island - April 17th

Friday was our last full day of vacation and we wanted to make the most of it.

When we rented the house the owners mentioned they had another house on Fripp Island and if we would like, they would leave us guest passes at the gate (it's a private island) so we could go to the beach - that's all the instructions they provided us.

We were planning on going to the beach earlier in the week but it was never really warm enough - quality "beach weather." But Friday was looking pretty good, so we thought we'd go for it. Fripp Island is one of the islands located near Beaufort. Honestly, I thought it was right around the corner, but I guess circumventing all the water and the particular road we were on - it took a good 45 minutes to an hour to get there.

As we were driving along the only road that would take you to Fripp Island, I kept thinking "where would people do their food shopping???" I think the closest store was near beaufort - what a pain!

We were passing the time by stopping at a couple of shops - it seemed we'd never get to Fripp Island.

So when we finally arrived at Flippin' Fripp Island (it's new name christened by us, since we were now a little punch drunk in the car and annoyed) - we got to the gate and gave the guard the owner of the rental home's name. Unfortunately the guard said that they had no record of us coming from the owner and therefore we couldn't enter. Apparently if we did have a pass they only last one day - which we didn't know, but again, they never told us anything.

So we were miffed because the owner never said when we had to visit on a particular day and we were upset because this was another thing they did not follow through on. Again, the house was wonderful, but you tend to get a little cranky when things fall through the cracks: unclean house, no bikes, filthy grill, Flippin' Fripp Island - need I go on?!? So we turned around and left Flippin' Fripp Island.

Just over the bridge was a state park that Larry and I had been to a few years ago with Vern and Joann, so we thought since we drove all the way down this rediculously long road...we should at least do something!

We walked out on the pier to see the water and to mock Flippin' Fripp Island (do I sound bitter???) - it was just beautiful; we then visited the on-site museum.

The park had some trails, so we thought we'd get a little exercise before lunch.

As you can see, the scenery was just beautiful.

As we were headed back towards Beaufort we thought we'd grab some lunch at one of the roadside seafood shacks, which looked fabulous - but unfortunately they were all closed for lunch because it was after 1pm - can't seem to catch a break!

The game plan was to then go to Port Royal for a snack, dinner and later for drinks at Bateaux, which is this beautiful restaurant near the water that has this great upper porch we thought we could watch the sunset.

So we headed up the ungodly long road to hopefully food and drink hevean.

A Night at the Lanes & Some Miffed Bowlers - April 16th

After the highlight experiment and a day at the spa...we were ready for some action Thursday night...bowling.

OK, maybe it's not THE hot spot at night in Beaufort, but we thought it would be fun to go bowling on our 2nd-to-last night in vacation.

So we headed to the bowling alley. When we parked, and this is important, there were only a few cars in the lot.

We walked in and headed for the rental desk. This very tall and menacing woman waited on us and we told her we want to buy individual games. She said, "you should do the special for XX dollars and you get unlimited amount of games." So due to her recommendation we went for it.

Then she assigned us to one lane, which we thought was odd because there was a couple next to us that had 2 lanes and we had 4 people.

We were having fun until half way through our second game, she announces the lanes are closing and we had to close out within five minutes.

We then realized we were completely ripped off because there was no point buying unlimited games if we were only going to make it barely through 2 games. They didn't even let us finish our second game!

We tried to complain, but honestly, you would NOT want to mess with this woman. So we were muttering under our breath all the way out..into the parking lot..out on the street etc. The only thing of course that would cure this was a trip to Friendly's...which managed to cure our frustration.

Things NOT to Do on Vacation…And the Spa to the Rescue! – April 16th

I like to think of myself as somewhat of an intelligent woman, but I’ve decided that I have this uncontrollable (and perhaps not so smart) urge to alter my hair while I’m on vacation or away for the weekend.

Without fail, if I’m away somewhere, anywhere, I will decide that I need a bang trim/hair cut/color treatment etc. And almost always without fail, the end result is not a pretty picture. Again, not sure why I subject myself to this torture…maybe I am some sort of hair-masochist?

Anyway, I decided while on this vacation I was going to highlight my hair and I was going to talk Gwen into doing it for me. Now, I should point out that I have very dark hair, which should be a GIANT WARNING SIGN to NOT do on your own hilights and instead head right to a salon. And I knew Gwen was very nervous that I was doing this and on top of that talking her into being my partner in crime on this little adventure was probably NOT the thing to do to my wonderful friend.

For some odd reason, despite the fact that I have had several hair disasters with my spur-of-the-moment-out-of-state-hair experiments, I always believe that if it turns out bad, I can always fix it – unless of course, it was fried off or shaved – that might be “harder” to fix!

I guess I had it in my head that after having my hair highlighted several times at a salon and “carefully” observing the stylist, I of course would expertly know how to foil my hair or anyone else’s for that matter! AND…the model on the highlighting kit box looked great…so why on earth would I not look just as great?!?

So on Thursday before our previously scheduled day at the spa (massages and pedis), I thought now is a good time as ever to try this foil-experiment-thing.

So I sat in a chair in the bathroom as Gwen was a foiling-wiz around my head – it actually looked quite professional and I was having fun, so I/we threw caution to the wind and continued with the process.

Well…I/we learned several things that day: 1) You will NEVER look like the model on the box and 2) It takes you so long to finish the foils that by the time the first set of foils are ready to come off, apparently the later ones are still processing and they are not ready to be taken off at the same time.

So when it was “go time” I removed the foils – I was by myself so I didn’t stress out Gwen – and completely started to laugh in hysterics. My hair was literally dark brown, yellow and orange! When Gwen came upstairs I think she was in a panic, but I said this was all my doing and I made her help me. Honestly, I really was OK with it because I could slap on some dye over it and fix it.

So I called the spa we were going to later in the afternoon and begged them to fix my little experiment – thankfully they could fit me in after the spa treatments.

So we walked over to the spa – with me looking like some 30-something punk chick and laughing about my hair disaster!

For our spa treatments we went to an Aveda salon (love Aveda!). It was really cute – a quaint house turned into a spa. My massage was fabulous and my pedicure was even better. And I learned a great trick from Gwen – keep your fingernails and toes a light color and they’ll go with everything and any chips will go relatively unnoticed! I always have dark polish on my toes and getting the light color made all the difference – great tip Gwen!

After the spa treatments I had my hair color corrected by this fabulous stylist, who used a dark brown/chocolate permanent color to correct my rainbow look. It looked great and even picked up some of the highlight color only this time they actually looked like real highlights…not a crayon box!

So I think I finally learned my lesson with experimenting with my hair on vacation – fortunately I walked away this time with a great new color…albeit with a slightly lighter wallet.

Savannah & More Buttah! – April 15th

On Wednesday, the four of us headed to Savannah and probably testing poor Gwen’s car-riding tolerance to the limit!

Now I have been to Savannah 2 other times in my life and I will say it is a nice city. But over-all, I’m not sure I see the “draw.” The last time the four of us were in Savannah was several years ago when we ended up doing a last minute road trip from Folly Beach, SC. At the time we thought we “missed” something in general about Savannah, so we wanted to give it another shot. In a nut shell though, yes, I think it’s a nice city, but hands down I’d go to a larger city such as Charleston any day. But I will say, each time we were there, we were there for a short amount of time, so we very well could have missed many areas worth seeing.

This time, we at least embarked relatively early – after breakfast – and drove directly to Savannah’s River Street to park. The River Street area is the first street in from the Savannah River – it’s pretty touristy, but the building are old an beautiful and if you have a hankering for a beer, popcorn, a t-shirt or candy…this is the place for you! Actually, what we all thought was pretty interesting is that in Savannah, you can walk around with alcohol (it just needs to be in a plastic cup) and you are good to go. So when in Savannah…do as the Savannahites do!

We strolled down River Street with our cups in hand and pretty much determined that yet again, we’d zip through the city. But it was a nice day, so we figured just take it all in and enjoy.

After River Street we headed up (literally, it looks like River Street is at the bottom of a cliff) to walk around the city and check out the various squares that Savannah is known for. The city has a ton of Weeping Willows (at least I think that’s what I was looking at!) and everyone is dressed nice and it was just nice to take it all it.

Gwen and I made sure we directed Scott and Larry towards a favorite little shop of ours previously discovered during the last visit that has handmade concoctions of creams and oil perfumes, including my favorite Savannah Rain. The owner actually works in the store and she is so helpful.

This time however, Gwen and I hit the jackpot! The store at one point was selling Lancome and Perscriptive brand cosmetics. I guess the owner decided to discontinue selling these products, so they was a table full of stuff with everything costing $5.00. I almost fell over because one of the items I purchased, a face cream, would have been about $70 bucks in a department store! But of course, being me, I was waffling about buying, so I just bought the Savannah Rain body lotion.

We headed out for lunch and then I was saying to Gwen that I should have bought from the $5.00 table.

So back to the store we went! I grabbed what I could for my Mom and I and headed to the check out.

I actually believe we did this scenario of leaving and coming back in one more time because I am a goofball who can’t make a decision…but I was a happy camper after it was all said and done.

We then went to City Market, which is an area of several blocks of shops and restaurants that is cornered off for people to walk around – cute area!

The day in Savannah was nice, but we needed to head back to Beaufort for dinner so we weren’t driving the back roads in the dark, which gets a little tricky between Savannah and Beaufort.

On our way back, we thought we’d check out one towns near Beaufort for dinner. People had mentioned a place on the island of Port Royal that we thought was right the bridge from Beaufort, so we thought we’d check it out. Apparently, the place we thought we were supposed to go to wasn’t the one we saw over the bridge, which turned out to be this crappy restaurant with pseudo-seafood meals. We stayed for a drink and then bolted. I had snuck out just before we left and asked some people coming in where we could find a good seafood place. They recommended 11th Street Dockside Restaurant on Port Royal (apparently we weren’t even ON port Royal yet) – so we quickly left and headed for Port Royal.

It was too bad we saw Port Royal for the first time at night because nothing was really open…but what a cute town! But we DID find the restaurant, which was right on the water. You could see the restaurant’s fishing boats tied up and the sun was going down and it was just a beautiful evening – fortunately, we were able to get a seat after a short wait.

Over all, pretty good food, although, fried seemed to be a staple and I suppose you really can’t screw up friend food. I’ll also, point out that they served hushpuppies yet again accompanied by a large scoop of butter – sheesh…we couldn’t seem to get away from the butter!

Afterwards, we drove around Port Royal promising to come back during the day when we could check it out better.

As we were headed to dinner I had noticed one of my FAVORITE places in the world…Friendly’s Restaurant – know for it’s great ice cream, burgers, fries and New England Clam Chowder (at least that’s what I love about it!). So immediately after we left Port Royal I chirped up that a Friendly’s pit stop was in fact a must.

I’m not sure if my travel companions saw the draw of Friendly’s…but frankly I did not care…I was like a kid in a candy store, since Friendly’s is not in the Midwest.

We all had our scoops and went back to the house for another round of beer, wine and Dominoes!

Beaufort, Mrs. Bubba Gump & Boykins! – April 14th

On Tuesday we checked out Beaufort a little more by walking downtown and exploring the surrounding neighborhoods.

There are a couple of nice shops and restaurants, but overall not a huge tourist draw. I do see how people would like this area when they retire because it does have things to do, but not too much where you would get annoyed by tourists.

We went to lunch at a local joint and sat outside and enjoyed the view of the water while we waited and waited for our food – the place had great views…but horrible service.

After lunch Gwen and I hit a couple of shops while Larry and Scott trailed behind – probably muttering to themselves wondering how shopping always seems to be involved during our trips. Although, I suppose I could equally argue that the Cubs (games, stats etc.) always seem to sneak into our vacation one way or another. :)

We did have one freaky/Kismety thing happen – Gwen and I went into this she she store and were walking around when Gwen noticed that on this one bookshelf displaying creams and perfume there were 2 stickers stating "Gwen Loves..." and "Jill Loves..." Apparently there were 2 employees with the same names as us and the point was that they were recommending products. Gwen and I, of course, thought this was some cosmic alignment of the stars that this happened & that we saw it, so we pointed it out to the saleswoman who apparently did not see that this was not some cosmic alignment of the stars...Oh well.

Shopping downtown did not take that long at all, so we walked around the various neighborhood, even seeing a secession house.

We then were walking along a frontal road so we could see the water and admire the mansions facing it, when we came across a woman and her dog as she was weeding on her property.

Her dog came right up to us and dog lovers that we are...we all "pounced" on the cute dog to pet him/her.

The woman came up to us and started talking to us. She was so nice and gave us all these tips on local restaurants etc.

I couldn't help myself, so I mentioned how beautiful her house was.

It turns out that she and her husband had purchased the house and fixed it up. Unfortunately, her husband had passed away and it was just her and her dog Bay living in the house.

I just felt so bad for her because she was probably 50 if that and was now a widow.

We then chatted about her dog Bay, who was a Boykin - apparently SC's state dog - so cute!

She also shared that she and her husband owned quite a few houses in the area, including Bubba's house in the movie Forest Gump! The thing that really struck me was that her was this very nice woman, who apparently was very well-off and she was so down to earth - just a pleasure to talk to.

I can't believe we didn't ask the woman her name because we were talking quite awhile. She then completely floored us by inviting us in for a tour of her house. Again, such a nice woman - she didn't know us from Adam and here's she's inviting 4 strangers into her house.

What can I say...her house was stunning! In her study, she told us that she used a hand heater and scraper to scrape all the paint off the wooden walls - they might have been cherry - the room just glowed.

She had lovely-period piece furniture that I suspect was from her family heirlooms.

We went from room to room with Bay apparently acting as our guide.

Honestly, I wish I could have asked the woman her name because I would have loved to send her a note thanking her for her hospitality.

What a nice day in Beaufort!

Stepford, Hilton Head & Buttah! - April 13th

On Monday, we decided to venture out of Beaufort for a day trip and head down to Hilton Head. I had been there years ago, but only vaguely remembered it - lots of golf courses and Palmetto bugs - granted, I was a kid, so that's pretty much what I would recall.

I thought today's trip would be an excellent way to finagle a trip to Habersham (www.habershamsc.com), which a planned community in Beaufort that I had read about in Southern Living and always wanted to visit. The houses are cottage-style and they revolve around a downtown. So I figured, since I had Larry, Scott and Gwen captive in the car, I could talk them into a quick pit-stop before heading to Hilton Head.

I had originally thought that Habersham would have been built right near downtown Beaufort, but it's actually situated on the outskirts of town, a bit out of the way, but I suppose with good reason because the development is huge! The nice this is that there is more land than houses, so you really feel like your plopped down in some land preserve with lakes, walking trails and shops and restaurants - pretty much ideal if you ask me.

We first went to the "downtown" of Habersham, which had a few stores and restaurants, however, the odd thing was - and this was consistent with all that we saw while driving through Habersham - we couldn't find any people. Granted it was duirng the week, but no people. OK, maybe 1 or 2.

As my travelmates pointed out, it was a bit Stepfordish. I, of course, refused to accept this because the houses were so beautiful. I mean, if Larry and I suddenly won the lottery, I would love to have a house here or by one of the plans and build it in Crystal Lake.

We drove around for awhile and headed for Hilton Head.

When we arrived in Hilton Head, I was struck with how developed it was since the last time I was there. Yes it was golf course after golf course, which is what I expected, but the odd thing was it seemed like one strip mall after another! I guess I thought there would be a downtown Hilton Head or something for us to walk around - nothing...nada...zip. To each his own. but I think we were all happy that we didn't pick Hilton Head to be our vacation house spot.

First we went to the Tanger Outlets, which is pretty much a given with Gwen and I - who can turn down an opportunity to shop?!? I managed to get a few things - mostly at the cosmetic outlet which had some great deals on Bobbi Brown - love her stuff, but even at the outlet, she's pretty pricey.

It was already a bit late when we found the winery, Island Winery (www.islandwinery.com). I think we were a somewhat disappointed at first because 1) it started to pour, 2) the winery was closing in 10 minutes and 3) it was just a big metal building. I guess after visiting wine country in California I was expecting to see grapes growing in a field etc., not a building in a business park with a small store. On the plus side, we were able to do some quick tastings and Scott and Gwen bought some delicious wine.

So now it was about 6ish and we had a problem: although I found lots of restaurants on the Web for Hilton Head, they were all spread out and in god-knows where strip malls, so we had no idea where to go for dinner. Thankfully, one of the winery staff did point us in the right direction on some good options. So we hopped in the car and checked out a couple.

As it continued to downpour we decided it was ridiculous to search aimlessly for a place to eat, so we decided on The Old Oyster Factory (www.oldoysterfactory.com).

It was right on the water and looked great – packed – but great. So we headed inside and unfortunately had to dodge the rain as we bolted inside.

The restaurant reminded me of the seafood restaurants in Connecticut and it just made me happy because it had such a familiar feel to it – can’t take the East Coast out of the girl! I was just praying that we’d have good food since we seemed to be on a roll of great restaurants on this trip.

We had a great, albeit rainy, view of the water – we were pretty lucky with our table because even though this place was huge, it was still packed with people. We ordered our food (I ordered the petite fillet – yum!) and settled in with our drinks.

The waiter brought us a complimentary basket of hushpuppies (deep-fried balls of cornmeal - what's not to love!) and what I thought was a bowl of ice cream – having tasted HPs only once before, I wasn’t sure what the local custom was.

We were actually all staring at said bowl as the waiter set it down. We then realized that it was not ice cream but one “honkin’” bowl of BUTTER! We were actually all muttering that it was a huge amount of butter and the waiter said “You’d actually be surprised how many people ask for more butter.”

Now I LOVE butter – I have the hips to prove it! - but I know when to say when, and this was just an obscene amount if it. I felt my arteries clogging just by looking at it!

The food was pretty tasty and we all left stuffed and happy – thankfully, we only sampled the HPs and sans butter, so our arteries were left relatively unscathed.

Unfortunately it was still raining when we left to head back to Beaufort, so we napped in the car (except for Larry!) on the way “home” in order to rest up for an evening of wine, Rumicube and Dominoes.

The evening was topped off with several rounds of Dominoes, with Scott and Larry “arguing” over moves and Gwen and I just laughing, sipping wine, and laughing some more.

Easter - April 12th

Apparently the Easter Bunny likes to vacation in Beaufort, because when we came downstairs on Easter Sunday all the eggs we had decorated the night before had "mysteriously" disappeared and there was an Easter basket on the dining room table! No one would own up to it...but we eventually discovered that Gwen hid the eggs and Scott, unbeknownst to all of us, had purchased Easter goodies at the Walgreens we had stopped at the night before. Scott was very "sneaky" because somehow he pulled this off right in front of the 3 off us without anyone realizing it!

We managed to get ourselves ready for church relatively quickly and went searching for a church for Easter Mass - I didn't look up local churches because I thought the Catholic church a block down the street was going to have Sunday mass - later I found out that they built a larger church on the outskirts of Beaufort - unfortunately after the fact.

So we hopped in the car for when we thought would be when churches would be having service (10ish) and went searching for a church. We tried to go to several Catholic churches (all the churches seemed to be on one road) but each one we went to either was completely full or already in service. We were able to find a Lutheran church, which I felt good about because Scott is Lutheran.

I had never been to a Lutheran service and it was just lovely - very welcoming with fabulous bell ringers (not sure of the proper name) who played beautiful music throughout the service - it was just all around a nice thing to be able to experience a different church's service. You realize, of course, that if you are a person of faith, that regardless of what religion you may follow, we really are very similar and we all are a part of something larger - and that's pretty amazing.

After church we headed to downtown Beaufort and ate at what would be our "regular" breakfast place - the name escapes me now - but it was very good.

The rest of Sunday was spent just puttering, and checking out the neighborhood - of course, we also managed to go to Walmart again because we kept either running out of things or forgetting we needed something - pretty much what we did for the whole week - Walmart was a regular jaunt!