Following summer with a trip south

We just returned from a long weekend in South Carolina to see grandson Mikke graduate from Marine Corps boot camp.

It was an interesting trip. On our arrival there, temperatures were near 90 degrees and very humid, kind of an extension of summer since that kind of weather has all but disappeared around here. We must have brought the cool weather with us though, as Friday and Saturday felt more like Michigan than a southern state should this time of year.

Since Wednesday was spent making connections and flying down, and Sunday was spent making connections and flying back (We could have driven more than half way down in the time it took getting to the airport, waiting on delays, boarding and flying, landing and locating luggage, then getting to our destination), we actually had just three days there.

Two of those days were full of activities at Parris Island for the graduation. A ceremony and family day took up most of Thursday, and graduation ceremonies for 640 starched and polished new Marines filled Friday morning.  The Island is the largest recruiting station in the country I found out, training about 20,000 new Marines annually. Graduation ceremonies take place every two weeks year-round. The first Marines graduated there 102 years ago.

It was great to see our nearly 19-year-old grandson looking “all grown up” and to meet his Pennsylvania family for the first time.

The rest of the time we spent eating, sightseeing, eating, shopping, eating and relaxing. I think I may have gained a few pounds, but am not going to check on that for at least a few more days.

We rode around in style since son Don and daughter-in-law Micki had rented a Cadillac for the duration of our stay. I fell in love with those heated seats…

I was intrigued with the names of places and shops. Near Hilton Head, where we stayed, there was a gas station called, believe it or not, “El Cheapo Gas.” It wasn’t the least expensive station though. Gasoline was much cheaper everywhere down there. The lowest price we saw was $3.25 a gallon; the highest was $3.45. Makes me wonder why ours seems to hang around the $3.90 mark lately…

We ate dinner Wednesday evening at the 11th Street Dockside where the seafood was so fresh, the boats that bring it in were parked just outside and the tide came in under the dining room. We have been there before and it was on the top of our “to-do” list this time too. I was told the docks there were the place used for the “Bubba Gump boat” in the movie “Forrest Gump” and that on one the bridges between islands, they filmed the “running scene.” In fact most of the movie was filmed around Beaufort, near where we stayed.

We also made a lunch stop at “Chic Fillet,” a totally delicious fast food place that specializes in (you guessed it) all types of chicken. One evening it was Italian at “Giuseppe’s”, and the other was steak at the Lone Star. We certainly didn’t suffer from a lack of good food. Next time I want to check out “Five Guys Burgers and Fries,” which, I was told has the best burgers in the entire U.S.

While we were there, Jack found out that he drinks “diet tea,” meaning unsweetened iced tea, and every place we went offered traditional southern style “sweet tea” on the menu.

No trip is complete without a little shopping and we did our share of that too. The stores on Hilton Head Island are in disguise. Every single one looks like an apartment building or professional building partially hidden with trees and beautiful landscaping. Summer may be over in Michigan, but it definitely is still summertime there with flowers blooming everywhere. The trees are all draped with Spanish Moss, beautiful to look at, but full of bugs according to Micki and Don, who lived in the area a few years back.

It was a great five days, but it was all over, as with any vacation, much too soon and Sunday evening we arrived back in Michigan – and the real world – again.