His response surprised me and took me off guard but he followed it up with thoughts about the year we’ve had so far, one that feels marked by loss. We talked about our miscarriages and missing Ryan’s grandmother. We talked about how it’s weird little moments that set off a grief spiral – like driving past Talbot’s (his grandma’s favorite store) or seeing pregnancy announcements for babies now due months past our second “should be” due date. (When will those “should bes” go away? They are miserable.)
Though this weekend included times of reflection and sadness, something I think we both needed, it also included sandy beaches, long bike rides, doughnuts and laughter. Hilton Head Island was exactly what our family needed right when we didn’t even realize we needed it.
And then I woke up yesterday morning and read about the shooting in Las Vegas and the sadness came flooding right back in. What a horrible, hateful and senseless act of violence… an act of violence that only seems to add to the growing sense of desperation for peace and kindness in our country. I felt like I was in a bit of a fog as I began the day and then I read a tweet from Ellen that said, “Care. Love. Be outraged. Be devastated. Just don’t give up. The world needs good humans today.” We really do need more good humans. Let’s all try to be one today and every day. Las Vegas, I hope you can feel the prayers that are coming your way from millions of people right now.
Hilton Head Island: Day One
There’s really no graceful way to transition into sharing the highlights from our weekend trip to Hilton Head Island on the blog today other than to say that writing about our trip made me smile and count my blessings for the bazillionth time. The trip allowed me to unplug, focus on my boys and enjoy the things I so easily miss everyday like the feel of sunshine on my shoulders or the sound of crisp leaves crunching as a squirrel darted away from me as I walked by.
Hilton Head Island is a gorgeous barrier island located approximately four hours from Charlotte in South Carolina. I visited the island years ago as a little girl but was too young to remember anything so this trip felt like a first-time visit for our whole family. We left for Hilton Head around 4 p.m. on Friday and settled into our condo a little after 8 p.m.
We were invited to stay at the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort (they were kind enough to cover our accommodations for the weekend) and we commented on the wonderful location of our condo in Huntington Villas a number of times during our stay. It was warm and cozy and located within walking or biking distance of the beach and everything else we wanted to do during our vacation. We went to bed fairly early the first night, anticipating a full day of activity and adventure on Saturday.
Chase shocked us by sleeping in until almost 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. He went to bed close to 9 p.m. on Friday night (his bed time is usually closer to 7:30 p.m.) and since he didn’t nap very long on Friday, I think his lack of sleep caught up with him on the first night of our vacation. This gave me plenty of time to hop on a bike (we rented two from Hilton Head Outfitters) and ride to Palmetto Dunes’ General Store to pick up coffee, milk, yogurt and other snacky essentials to keep on hand during our stay. There was something so relaxing and vacationy about beginning the day by hopping on a bike and pedaling through the morning haze to get coffee that set the best tone for our trip.
I arrived back at our condo to find Chase still sleeping and Ryan reading, so I sipped my coffee on the back porch, painted my nails (this “Grey Matters” color I nabbed a week or so ago) and enjoyed a slow start to the day… a very rare treat indeed!
Once Chase was up, Ryan and I did our best to hype up biking and Chase’s “awesome helmet” since we weren’t sure how he’d handle our first adventure of the day. As it turns out, all the hype wasn’t needed because Chase was all-in on biking from the very beginning.
He loved his seat close to Ryan, thought his helmet was the coolest thing going and happily road around with us for hours over the course of the weekend. Though many of you recommended renting bikes during our visit to Hilton Head, I don’t think Ryan nor I anticipated using them as much as we did. We used the bikes the entire weekend to get us to and from everything from the beach to activities to food.
First up on our agenda for the day was breakfast! A couple of you told me we could not miss the pastries and food at The French Bakery, so we bike two miles from Palmetto Dunes to the beautiful restaurant and grabbed some food and drinks to go. The French Bakery is located in Shelter Cove Harbor, a charming marina lined with various shops and restaurants and, most appealing to us, a large community playground Chase absolutely loved!
Ryan and I ate our breakfast (the quiche was wonderful), shared a cinnamon bun croissant and spent a solid hour at the park with Chase. Everything was fantastic!
Chase ate a bit of breakfast back at the condo before we left for the park but seemed fixated on getting the doughnut we promised him on our ride over to The French Bakery. When the bakery didn’t have any doughnuts available, Yelp came to the rescue and directed us to Duck Donuts. We first discovered Duck Donuts in the Outer Banks earlier this year and even though they recently opened a location fairly close to our house, the doughnuts still felt like a vacation treat and I couldn’t resist trying their seasonal pumpkin spice iced doughnut with cinnamon and graham cracker crumbs.
Feeling adequately full, we set back out on our bikes and decided to use them to explore the island. We biked all over the place and meandered along the streets of Palmetto Dunes where we gawked at some of the stunning homes and admired the beautiful grounds.
We ended up biking out onto the beach and spent the rest of the morning kicking around a soccer ball, splashing in the waves and playing in the sand and surf.
As a former Florida girl, I’ve seen my fair share of beaches and yet I can completely understand the appeal of Hilton Head Island’s beaches. The shoreline is vast and the sand is mostly hard-packed, making it perfect for biking, walking or jogging. The ocean also creates tons of tide pools all over the beach which are great for little ones like Chase who want to splash around and play but get a little too scared around the bigger waves. Over the course of the weekend, the beach provided a great source of entertainment for our family and we loved swimming, biking and playing random beach games in the sun.
Around 1:30 p.m., we headed back to the condo so Chase could sneak in a quick nap. Ryan and I used this time to shower, make lunch and relax together and I gave myself full permission to keep my laptop closed all weekend which felt AMAZING. Once Chase was up, we hopped on our bikes again and rode off to Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf.
I am NOT a mini golf person mainly because it takes for-ev-errr and I am awful at it but we decided to give it a shot because Chase is in love with the mini putter he received for his birthday and hits golf balls around our house all the time.
Well, as it turns out, bringing Chase along on our mini golfing adventure made it WAY more fun for me, too, and I actually enjoyed the experience! We kept it short and only played around 12 holes, didn’t bother keeping score and laughed hard at Chase’s attempts to get the ball in the hole which often resulted in him picking the ball up and dropping it in. (I feel ya on that one, buddy.) We left when our stomachs told us it was time for dinner and biked to The Sea Shack, the restaurant that popped up over and over again as the must-try dinner spot on the island. When we arrived, the line was insanely long and long lines + toddlers + starving parents don’t mix very well, so we opted to grab food next door at Chow Daddy’s.
We had a great meal and and enjoyed dining outside as the sun began to set. (Pictured above is the avocado toast appetizer we shared to start and it was fantastic! The chewy multigrain bread stole the show!)
Ryan and I typically avoid going out to dinner with Chase because it’s rarely a fun experience (his interest in food has always been low and if you couple that with trying to keep him still in a chair for more than an hour, you’ve got yourself a recipe for the least-relaxing dining experience ever) but we were pleasantly surprised when Chase seemed to enjoy coloring and hanging out while we waited for our food and talked about the fun we had so far on our vacation.
We biked home at dusk and made a pit stop at the General Store for ice cream and wine to bring back to our place before settling in for the night. It was a great first day on Hilton Head Island and I’ll be back again soon to share a recap of day two!