The drive down to Hilton Head was the only truly eventful part of our driving around. The rest was spent relaxing, playing mini-golf, spending 6 hours at the beach (no sunburn for me, which I think is unprecedented....I slathered on sunscreen so often, people probably thought I was suffering from OCD). But here are some last thoughts on the trip, related to the title, Flora and Fauna.
Hilton Head, unlike other vacation destinations like Myrtle Beach South Carolina and Panama City Beach, Florida (also known as the Redneck Riviera) does not cater to the airbrushed t-shirt, henna tattoo, party crowd. It doesn't have miles of boardwalk where you can entertain kids with complete crap, go-carts, a million mini-golf courses (it has 4 or 5, but not the density that Myrtle Beach has), etc. It's just a peaceful island. And, the best part is, zoning ordinances do not permit massive advertising of businesses, and large businesses are all hidden behind row after row of palmetto trees. I have actually fallen in love with the palmetto, as we were able to drive by multiple Home Depots and Wal-Marts and not even know it, because they were hidden from the road by palmetto trees. The palmetto is in the palm family, but shorter, with thicker trunks, and they don't bend like palms. They are great trees to have around so that your vacation isn't spoiled by views of large orange home improvement stores.
And, one can never understate the wonderful smells in the air from jasmine and magnolia. In New Jersey, you can be a mile from the ocean and know it, because the salt water smell is pervasive. In Hilton Head, you can be the length of a football field from the water, and you don't have that smell of salt filling your nostrils.
Is it odd that I was disappointed that I didn't see one single alligator? Mind you, I would be thinking very differently if I DID see one, I think, but just to see one from maybe 100 yards away, sunning itself on a golf course, would've been cool. When we played mini-golf at night, Thing 1's ball was launched into some short brush near the course. We wacked around the weeds, and then saw them moving on their own, so we decided going for that ball was simply not worth it.
You know you're getting into South Georgia when the dead opossums on the side of the road (the animal with the 2nd lowest will to live in North America) are replaced by dead armadillos (the animal with THE lowest will to live in North America). If you've never seen one, an armadillo is basically an opossum with friggin' armor. They have to be one of the creepiest looking animals out there. Only once have I ever seen a living one, they are usually found dead on the interstate. They come up from Texas and Florida, but their advance seems to have been stopped dead (literally) by I-16 from Savannah to Macon, I-20 from Atlanta to Dallas, and if any get past I-20, then I-40 from Knoxville TN to Little Rock AR takes care of them (surprisingly, they can cross the Arkansas River!). We saw our first dead armadillo 1 mile onto I-16, and then saw dead ones every other mile all the way to Savannah.
Also on I-16, I saw two wild boars....black, with bristly fur. It kind of made me shudder. Without the protection of my car, I know those things would've charged at me. I've seen The Thornbirds, I know what a pissed-off boar can do. It was kind of cool though, I've never seen one in the wild. It kind of felt like the first time I saw a wild bear. Thankfully, he was on the shoreline of a lake, and I was on a boat.
Once on Hilton Head, and at the beach, the only interesting animal I saw was a dead jellyfish, ten feet from our blankets. I brought both my daughters over to it (Thing 1 already knew to stay away). To Thing 2, I said, "you know in Spongebob? When they touch the jellyfish, and they get zapped, and it hurts?" She nodded her head. "That's what'll happen if you touch that, so be sure to stay away from it, OK?" She nodded her head again and went off and played in the water. The jellyfish didn't have its tentacles, so it couldn't have stung, but still, no sense tempting fate. I got sick of looking at it, so I scooped it into a sand bucket and dumped it into the trash can a couple hundred feet away.
Oh, also at the beach, some douchebag found a horseshoe crab swimming in the water and he picked it up and tried to carry it off the beach. The beach patrol blew the whistle, telling him to put it back. Reluctantly, the guy did.
On the way home, we noticed a funny smell in our van. I pointed out that the sand bucket at one time held a dead jellyfish, and currently held dozens of seashells, all of which were the home to a living animal at one point, and likely still had organic matter in them that the seagulls didn't rip out. Hilton Head does not have a lot of decent seashells on the beaches except in the harbor on the eastern end of the island (called Harbor Town). There, the beach is literally covered with them. And I mean covered, you are walking on shells, not sand (it's not a recreational beach). It was basically a mollusk graveyard. Naturally, we were stealing the headstones for our kids' amusement.
On the drive home, we also saw a brown billboard with while letters that said: JOHN 3:16
I think this is South Georgia's way of saying, "Beware of Macon and its Rub N' Tugs filled with male Hispanic masseurs."