The Sand Sculpture Class trip for 2018 is done and dusted and what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't share all the fun details with you? And really, the week blew by so fast and had so much packed in it, this will probably help me remember things.
Bright and early Monday morning we piled up in our vehicles and headed to the coast. The van and the "van people" left from school.
However, the van was kinda tiny and the students failed the part of the trip where they were asked to "pack light". So Professor H-Dawg had to throw some luggage and students in Professor Singletary's car and follow behind the van.
Meanwhile out in the middle of nowhere, I had the surfboard on the roof and had 19 shovels, 3 rakes, 8 buckets, a flag, some luggage and 2 more students with me and we pointed ourselves toward the beach.
My truck must have left a little early and we made good time so we ended up arriving about an hour ahead of the van people. It was lunch time so we decided to grab some food before heading to the hotel. I had been craving a crab melt for months so I introduced my riders to The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company. The weather was so nice we took a table outside and enjoyed the breeze. It was the best possible start to the week for me.
Once the van people arrived and got settled, we met on the beach in front of the hotel for our first sand sculpture project.
Talking about sand sculpting in a classroom is one thing. Putting a shovel in the sand and making something is quite another thing. People were sweating, muscles were aching and everyone got their first taste of how much work was going to go into the week.
We piled up sand and made the mandatory skull and then used our creative minds to also include a human heart (or strawberries), an arm, and the lower half of a sand woman.
The students practiced piling up sand, pouring buckets of water over it and packing it down before carving with their hands. Oh, check out that Sand Sculpture flag! Holloway suggested it and G and I made it.
McSelfies with Jarecki and Jocelyn...
and Singletary and Katherine
Our first finished sand sculpture and our first group photo.
We were lucky to have H-Dawg with us this year to document everything with a real camera. One that you can't call and text with.
And she has a sense of humor so when we do ridiculous things, she's up for photographing it.
We cleaned up a bit, had dinner at Moe's Original BBQ, hit the grocery store and headed back to the hotel to call it a night.
Tuesday started like this. Such a good sunrise and perfect running weather. But it started early...like a 5:30am alarm early. Beach slogging started at 6am sharp.
And we had a big crew of sloggers. BHP, Jarecki, Tradd, BOLT! & Gazelle all joined me for a little over 3 miles.
After a shower, some coffee and breakfast, it was time to get to work on individual projects. Studio time started at 9am. We brought some signs with us this year to let everyone know where we were from.
The students explored various sizes of projects and several different methods of working in sand.
Some students like Jessica really took off in this new 3D material. Jessica and several others have just finished their freshman year and this was a good chance to explore using a new material.
Last year we learned the power of marketing and we made sure all the news outlets knew we were coming again this year. WPDE came out on Tuesday to take some footage and to interview Emily.
Sabrina didn't take the sand sculpture class but since she lives 20 minutes away and because she's fun to hang out with, she brought her sassy self up to us each day.
At some point everybody has to make a turtle or a fish or an octopus. Kelsey was getting her turtle done early in the week.
We have to talk about the weather a minute. The long term forecast called for rain every single day. Then the short term forecast called for rain and thunder storms every day. With a trip like this, planned a year in advance, you get whatever you get and you deal with it. Monday was perfect and Tuesday was great too but in the middle of the day Tuesday this dark cloud came up fast and opened up on us. We were already hot so it wasn't completely unwelcome. Since we were drenched in seconds, we all just ran into the ocean to goof around. It was great.
The benefit of rain is that it packed our sand for us. During the early afternoon we put some finishing touches on things, like this cartoon lady from Bob's Burgers by Mary Catherine.
And this really big cartoon head by Seth.
Grace made this really good, really big hippo.
You may not know that in her previous life as a Lander student, H-Dawg was an Advanced Sculpture student. She dusted off her 3D skills and made this big cheeseburger chair.
Emily mad a big Garfield head.
I still had energy to spare at this point so I moved a lot of sand and worked all day on this really big sleeping dog. Near the end of the day the side of his face fell off. A perfectly timed lesson in how to see opportunity instead of frustration. I hollowed out the eye socket and added a popped out eyeball. One man came over and proudly announced he figured out what it was, an octopus! I did not correct him. Another lady told me how much she loved it and then told me I had a "sick mind". People say the darndest things, huh?
If you've ever spent 6-8 hours working in the sun without a nap, you can relate to how tired my students were Tuesday afternoon. This is some pretty serious manual labor. A few had tangled with the sun and at least one was very low on water intake. This sort of thing can bring down morale so Singletary and I make sure to plan fun things to do after the work is done. Tuesday took us to The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company. (Again for my passengers and me...my bad) We piled in the small restaurant and took it over completely. Not everyone loves seafood and crab cake as much as me, but I was thrilled to eat it again. I'm betting G will make us eat there at least twice in a couple of weeks.
After eating, it was a short drive down to Gilligan's Island miniature golf course. A brief downpour while we were eating cleared out the course and we had the place mostly to ourselves. Running 20 people through 18 holes took a while but it was very fun. And, I beat Singletary by one point!
This is only the second year of the Sand Sculpture class but already some well loved traditions are developing. Like our trip to Painter's Ice Cream in Surfside. The ice cream is magnificent, my suggestion is "the Monkey" but honestly we go for the tattoos. Last year Luke put a temporary tattoo on my lower back area for laughs. I forgot about it and when I got up to run the next morning, I ran in public with a butterfly "tramp stamp". This year it was even more fun. The tattoo vending machine was broken which bummed us out but the ice cream girls were quick to offer to bring out the box and let us pick what we wanted. This led to us spending about $10 on 50 cent tattoos. BHP got a great one and put it on his neck. It had glitter!
We took a group photo showcasing our temporary ink. You'll need to zoom in on that to see the visual goodness. Oddly enough this photo reminds me of a really messed up version of the Last Supper.
And since Singletary took the group photo, I had to include a separate shot of her butterfly tattoos.
This was how Wednesday started. I know, right? You just can't top that. When I'm at the beach I see this same sight almost every morning and it is never exactly the same and it never gets old. And when you're actually there, in that photo, standing in the sand, hearing the waves, watching the birds, seeing the clouds move - there's just nothing on Earth like it. For me...this is it. This is it.
And getting to share what you love with other people is certainly a perk of my job. After a big slogging group Tuesday, we were back to our old faithful sloggers. Gazelle and BOLT! sweated and ran with me while enjoying the sunrise.
This huge group of brown pelicans decided to slog with us. They were showing us their formation and I think we're going to try to adopt it. I'm a little fascinated by pelicans. Completely unrelated.
Wednesday was the only day I made it out to breakfast at the hotel. The continental breakfast last year featured a cool robot pancake cooker. The robot was gone this year and I've been trying to balance out my waffle obsession with a little healthier granola breakfast, so I opted to have my good coffee, a banana and a granola bar on my balcony each morning after yoga. Wednesday I finished early and needed some sketchbook time and some orange juice, so I walked over to check out the breakfast area. Outdoor oceanfront breakfast isn't bad at all. And having it with smiling, happy people isn't terrible either.
And then it was back to work. Back to digging, packing and carrying 5 gallon buckets of water from the ocean. Emily was in her second year of Sand Sculpture and she was a pro. She came out each day knowing what she was going to do and she did it.
Seth was still recovering from some intense labor the day before so he decided to experiment with some patterns and textures in the sand on a larger scale.
Wednesday morning WBTW sent Hannah Rucker out to do a feel good story on our class. She spent a lot of time with us doing interviews and getting footage. She put together a really good story on us and even went live from our beach front gallery on the 6pm news. She asked Hannah Elmore for an interview and loved her. She ended up following Hannah around with the camera while she worked and used a lot of that footage in the story.
She also interviewed BHP and me. Jarecki was nice enough to remind me that I vowed to never do another TV interview without a shirt on....but she waited until after I did another TV interview without a shirt on to remind me. Thanks Jarecki.
In an eternal effort to improve my selfie skills, I pulled in a professional on camera face. I still look awkward. I'm really trying y'all.
Wednesday was a shorter studio time so the projects were a little smaller in scale. That's Kelsey's cat fish.
And Hannah's melting sand snowman.
And my unfinished sunbathing guy. This was when I started to realize that I wasn't going to have as much time to sand sculpt this year. As fun and vacationy as this all seems, there really is a lot of work to be done.
BHP made a sand kayak.
The reason the studio day was a couple of hours shorter Wednesday is that we were headed over to Brookgreen Gardens for the afternoon. Brookgreen is the largest and probably best outdoor sculpture garden in the country. It features mostly figurative sculpture from Anna Hyatt Huntington and her contemporaries in the early 1900s but as a preserve of 4 former rice plantations, it's also a wonderful place to hang out even if figurative sculpture isn't your thing.
A new thing we did this year was the tidal creek excursion on a boat. After almost sinking from a "small mechanical issue" (kidding about almost sinking) we explored the creeks and canals off of the Waccamaw River and learned about growing rice in the old southern south. We also saw alligators.
Our whole group minus H-Dawg behind the camera.
Then we saw the art. The sculptures at Brookgreen are grand in scale and they are all beautifully incorporated into the garden landscape.
I've been to Brookgreen a few times and I do love it, but this time I found myself taking photos of everything but the art. That's a weird portrait of BOLT! in one of the courtyard galleries.
And these water plants stopped me in my tracks.
I did steer a group of students with me over to my favorite sculpture in Brookgreen, "The Thinker" by Henry Clews. There's so much going on in this sculpture with symbolism and really fun, creepy imagery that it gets my attention every time I see it. We talked about it a while before sitting on a bench to enjoy the breeze. Armir also read us some poetry. That was pretty awesome.
Here's a fun and perhaps surprising McAbee fact: I'm a big fan of Emily Dickinson. Write that down.
The artwork in the interior galleries is always changing so we spent a good bit of time in those. This very large bronze woman was striking.
There was also a Patrick Dougherty sculpture at the welcome center. Singletary and I had the honor of helping build one of these sculptures with Patrick in Rock Hill many moons ago. He takes pruned branches and discarded brush from the location of the installation and uses the native materials to weave these large scale structures. My people loved it. We also know how to take a photo.
After walking the grounds everyone was pretty beat. While waiting for the last of the group to get ready to leave I found Emily in a very relaxed state looking very sculptural.
Habanero's Mexican restaurant in Pawley's Island is becoming another tradition. We took over the outdoor seating area exactly like we did a year ago. I had this awesome thing served in a pineapple and Emily and I may or may not have had virgin Piña Coladas again. Sadly there was no live music this year.
When we got back to the hotel, a small group of us gathered at the pool seating area to hang out. We laughed and talked for a while before becoming distracted by two small dogs. The dogs were service dogs of some sort to a very talkative and extremely outgoing lady. She let us pet the dogs but we had to pay in conversation. We couldn't figure out if she was a guest at the hotel or if she was just there to hang out but she asked all sorts of strange questions and regaled us with her stories before wandering off into the night. It was a hoot.
Then we were off to bed. Or at least I was. By Wednesday I was feeling my age with little sleep at night and a 5:30am alarm each day. I like to think that my students head into their respective rooms when I do and that they sleep well when they're out of my sight. This is what I choose to believe...don't screw this up for me.
Stay tuned for part two coming soon...