Goin’ to Carolina in my mind

For as many years as they could manage it, my parents used to pack us kids up and take us to South Carolina for spring break.

We drove all night most of the time. I remember my dad used to bungee strap a large coffee thermos to the arm of his seat and fashion a makeshift three-sleeper bed in the back section of the van. Though certainly unsafe by today’s standards, we thought it was perfect. We fell asleep in the snowy Midwest and generally woke up at a Waffle House in sunny Tennessee.

Then, we’d spend a week on Hilton Head Island, the perfect spot for our family. With a sandy beach circumference, biking paths throughout, and clay tennis courts scattered all around, Hilton Head offered the kind of healthy, free-wheeling vacation we all craved. We had the freedom  to do our own thing during the day — biking, beach combing, playing tennis, jogging and resting. Then we had dinner together every night, often in Harbor Town, where a guitar playing gentleman entertained families under a large tree. His name escapes me, but I can still sing the song he taught us all to annoy our parents “Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme some bubble bubble bubble bubble bubble bubble bubble gum baby I wanna blow your mind.”

The Family Circle Tennis Cup took place annually when we were there, so we could also wander around the practice courts and watch the stars of the day — Tracy Austin, Andrea Jaeger, Pam Shriver, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova — hit tennis balls that sounded like cannons coming off their racquets.

We always arrived in South Carolina pale and a little cranky, and left sunburnt (well, three of us were anyway. The rest of them tanned) and relaxed.

A few years ago, I enjoyed a perfect girls trip to Charleston, South Carolina where my friends and I lounged by the pool, body surfed in the ocean, danced at rooftops bars and generally had a rip-roaring good time.

I’ve been thinking about the Carolinas, and the people who live and own vacation property there, all week. I’ll continue to do so as Florence makes her way through and I know we’ll all do whatever we can to help any of Florence’s victims.

Then, hopefully sooner rather than later, we should all head to that beautiful coast to spend some tourism dollars and make some lifetime memories.

Can’t you see the sunshine?
Can’t you just feel the moonshine?

I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind.

Hilton Head
This picture is from one of our first trips to Hilton Head, and that is the beach behind us. I’m guessing it’s from 1976. It’s a long drive from Appleton to Hilton Head but, once we got there, we all used our bikes to get around. One Sunday as we walked back along the beach from church, my Dad got a goofy idea and we all ended up swimming in the water in our church clothes. That’s just one of a thousand fond memories I have of South Carolina.






10 thoughts on “Goin’ to Carolina in my mind

  1. It’s where I finally believed the ocean had a bottom! We stopped in Hilton Head on a Florida road trip a few years ago. There was still a man singing under the tree. We climbed the lighthouse and walked the beach. Great memories!

    1. I remember Dad putting you on his shoulders and walking into the water to prove it had a bottom. You screamed but eventually you believed.

  2. Your drive reminded me of one of our trips from New England to Memphis to see my parents. It was nightime and dad wanted to catch a nap. Feeling that mom couldn’t mess up if she was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, he moved to the back seat to sit with my brother and dozed. I woke up to bright flashing lights and my mom’s “Oh dear…Fritz!!”. Somehow mom had gotten off the PA turnpike and was about to get on the New Jersey Turnpike. We pulled off at the first Howard Johnson’s we came to and needless to say, my dad drove the rest of the way!

    1. Reminds me of the time my Dad let my brother drive and we ended up in the middle of an Atlanta neighborhood. Dad never gave up the wheel again.

  3. I remember hearing that song in Harbor Town! I wish I could remember the lyrics or find a video of it!

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