#34 July 2011 St. Simons Island, GA - Shelter Cove Marina, Hilton Head Island - Isle of Palms, SC

We began the month of July in Shelter Cove Marina, Hilton Head Island, SC, and are loving being here.  Never would we have expected to find ourselves in SC in July but after 102 degree days last July in Washington DC, we decided to take our chances.  We can't deny that it was HOT but think we fared far better than much of the country.

Sea Pines Oak
In 1663, Captain William Hilton saw a headland near Port Royal Sound's entrance so he named it after himself---Hilton Head.  The island has 12 miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront as well as a rich history beginning thousands of years ago with seasonal occupation by native Americans.  It continued with European exploration and cotton trade and was an important base of operations for the Union blockade of the Southern ports during the Civil War. Hundreds of ex-slaves flocked to Hilton Head once the island fell to Union troops and this is still home to many of whom are descendants of freed slaves.  They are known as the Gullah (or Geechee) who have managed to hold onto much of their cultural and ethnic identity.

An even earlier historical fact is that near the east entrance to Sea Pines Forest Preserve is an ancient Shell Ring that's 150 feet in diameter.  It's believed to be over 4000 years old and is one of only 20 in existence.  Archaeologists believe that it was a refuse heap that the Native Americans created and they lived in the center of it which was kept clear and used as a common area.  The ring is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by law.

Sculpture at Harbor Town
This is a very eco-friendly island that minimizes the impact of development and governs the style of buildings and how they are situated among existing trees.  Because of this, the area enjoys an unusual amount of tree cover relative to the amount of development.

Everywhere the landscaping is meticulously maintained.  We never see any litter--not even a cigarette butt.  The buildings surrounding this harbour have been here approximately 35 years and are expertly nurtured, showing no sign of their age.

The heat didn't keep us off our bikes.  Those little 20" Michelin tires rolled many miles.  We discovered a rustic little park with pine needle strewn paths leading to beautiful marshes with Port Royal Sound sparkling in the background.

The month passed far too quickly.  There are bike and running trails that take you anywhere on this  that you wish to go and we're right in the middle of the island making everything positively convenient. 

An example of the bike/running trails
I have a "soap box" or two (don't look so surprised!!!) and one of them is bicycle safety.  I wouldn't think of riding around the block without my helmet. We've both gone down in considerably benign situations and (of course) with no warning.  Our helmets saved our skulls!  I consider riders without helmets as organ donors. Bike rentals here are tremendous and rarely do I see any of these riders wearing a helmet.  Parents will have a toddler or small child either in a little bike seat or on a tag-a-long and no one is wearing a helmet which smacks of total irresponsibility.  Why would that not be considered child abuse?  I just cringe to think of those tiny little heads hitting the asphalt.  We've heard many of the parents admit to not having ridden a bike in years and that's so obvious by the way they're swaying like a willow in the wind.

Our own "physical maintenance" has been put on the back burner for 3 months so we're taking advantage of this exercise-friendly place in an effort to get us whipped back into shape.  Despite the July heat, the paths are canopied by beautiful trees that are bearded in moss, providing much appreciated shade.  We've been here several times before but always felt our stay was too short...and now a month has felt too short.

After returning from the Bahamas when no boat maintenance was done, 3 months of neglect took its toll not only on our level of fitness but also on our boat.  Bright work has been happening----
This is what "doing bright work" looks like!

Lots of scrubbing and cleaning (we're still finding Bahamas sand in the most unlikely places); phifertex sunscreens were made for inside of lower helm station windows; salt crystal build-up from Bahamas sea water has been purged from lines---just lots of 'catching up' to do to keep her ship-shape.

Tuesday's  fireworks as seen from our fly bridge
Each Tuesday night, Shelter Cove treats us to a dazzling fireworks display and many tourists come here to watch the show.  People-watching is almost as much of a treat as the pyrotechnics.

Shoulder to shoulder mob scene on Tuesday evenings in anticipation of the 9 PM fireworks
Our friends from our old hometown of Greenville, SC, were here for a week.  Jim and Bill have known each other for years through their employment at Michelin Tire.  Marybeth and I used to do our swim workouts together at 5:30 AM (which is hard for me to believe ever happened as viewed from my lazy sleeping-in days of retirement).  Their daughter, Heather, who's teetering upon her freshman college year, came with them to "decompress" from a mission trip and "rest up" for pre-college parties.

The famous Neptune sculpture serves as a popular centerpiece at Shelter Cove Harbour
The towering 12-foot bronze statue of Neptune, which is also a larger-than-life sundial, serves as an iconic symbol of Shelter Cove Harbour at Palmetto Dunes, welcoming visitors to the entrance of the popular waterfront dining and shopping location. This much-loved statue serves as a tribute to the Roman god of the sea and depicts a bearded Neptune holding his signature trident. The statue is mounted on a 26 foot circular base whose edge is numbered. When the trident’s shadow falls across the base, the numbers indicate the precise time. It is said to be the world’s largest figurative sundial. Engineers made meticulous measurements (but isn't that their nature?)  ensuring that it would be located at the ideal angle to indicate the time. The sculpture is oriented toward true south by  aligning the constellation Ursa Major with the North Star. 
Shelter Cove Marina Office and Ship's Store
We concluded our month with an evening at a intimately small theatre which is a very short walk from the marina.  Smokey Joe's Cafe, a most delightful and enjoyable two hours of 39 rock and roll, rhythm and blues song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and outstanding choreography.  The cast was 9 singers and dancers and the songs were performed with no unifying theme nor dialogue.  There were novelty songs ("Charlie Brown"), romantic ballads ("Spanish Harlem") and infectious melodies ("There Goes My Baby").  If you've not seen this musical, run, don't walk, to the nearest venue where Smokey Joe's Cafe is playing.

                                          "...but only God can make a tree."  Joyce Kilmer

Besides loving all this area has to offer, the marina staff is par excellence.  We are sad to say "goodbye" but we will be back.

It isn't often that we see a sunrise but this will be a long hot day so the earlier the start we get the better it'll be.  This month ends as well pull into our slip at Wild Dunes, Isle of Palms, SC.

                  We arose with the sun for a change to get a head start on our long day to Isle of Palms

Bill and Laura
Shelter Cove Marina
Hilton Head Island, SC


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