Monday, June 7, 2021

vacation adventures

Vacation week seemed to run up on me quickly this year.  We had graduation, the next day I was off teaching a class, and after being back a week, I was packing the night before our family vacation started.  I realize I'm getting old and that the relativity of time is becoming more of a thing, but the week seems like it just started and at the same time the first day of vacation seems like it was months ago.  Here are some of the highlights...

We started our vacation a day early by driving to Charleston on Friday.  Taking two vehicles meant that Violet and I could stop in Columbia on the way down to see the M.C. Escher exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art.  I've been wanting to see it and I knew it was going to close in early June.  We rolled up into a good parking spot right as I realized I used most of my car change on the parking meter a week earlier delivering artwork to Charleston.  Some kind soul had left 50 minutes on the meter near the museum and the handful of nickels I scrounged got us just enough time to see the exhibit and run to Starbucks for lunch.  

Violet didn't realize what artist we were seeing until we got inside.  Then she was very excited to see artwork she had only seen in school and on Youtube.

It was great for me too.  Escher's work blows my mind.  We marveled for over an hour and witnessed several viewers getting yelled at for getting too close.  I usually also go upstairs and see the permanent collection but we were officially on vacation, so we ditched and ate lunch at Starbucks.  While we were eating, the sunny day turned into a downpour, the first glimpse at what would be a weird weather week.  We made it to the car as the final minute ticked away and we were off to the coast.

A couple of hours later we were in Charleston.  We met up with Blue and G, found our hotel and made our way downtown to see the Piccolo Spoleto Juried Exhibit at City Gallery.  It was nice to see Esther and I was really happy to be exhibiting so close to my friend Kevin (Shark Boy in the background).  

After the gallery we walked along the waterfront and decided to eat at Fleet Landing.  It was our 27th anniversary.

We walked a little after dinner and then drove back to the hotel.  I happened to remember that we were somewhere near my friend Armir and he's been away from school for several months on orders.  I took a chance and texted him and we made plans to hang out after I took the kids to the pool.  Armir is climbing his way through the ranks of the Air Force reserves but it was cool to get to chat for a while with the OG "coffee with McAbee" guest.

The next morning I ran around a few streets and a parking lot and we drove back into downtown to walk around a bit.  On the way, Violet and I stopped for coffee at a Starbucks.  The lady in the SUV in front of us was a huge jerk to the guy taking her order.  Violet and I started looking for a piece of paper to make a nice note to give to the window person to make up for the jerk in front of us.  While searching the car, Violet finds two bathroom humor stickers she got from a Piggly Wiggly last October just as we pulled up to the window.  The nice lady leaned out to say hello to us and we were both cackling with laughter.  She looked curiously at us and Violet just held up one of the stickers.  It was a parody of a Pringles chips can that read "Dingle-berries" and instead of chips it had several little poop emojis.  The nice lady read the sticker and as it registered with her, she held back a laugh but couldn't stop the big smile spreading across her face.  We got our beverages, told the lady she was beautiful, and drove away.  Charleston is such a beautiful city.  We didn't find Bill Murray's house so we drove up the coast to find our beach house for the week. 

First stop was for a Crab Melt, of course.  The grocery store had our weeks worth of groceries ready to pick up and we spent the next hour or so getting moved in and unpacked.  We tried a new beach condo this year and it worked out well. 

I love staying close to the inlet.  As soon as we were settled, Violet and I took the walk to the jetty.  The wind was blowing so hard it sandblasted our legs.

We found a dead shark in a tidal pool.  Yes, I poked him with a stick.  It was the first wildlife encounter for the week.

Our condo had the ocean on one side and the marsh on the other.  The daily sunsets were really good.

The foxes were also a good amenity.  Right in front our our balcony there were two fox dens dug into the dunes.  Two young foxes lounged and played there most of the week. A couple of times an older fox came by to check in.  

I made a few sand sculptures.  The first day was actually pretty chilly.  It was cloudy and there was a strong wind all day long.  I wore a hoodie out to the beach.  It kept the beach pretty empty so I was able to work in peace.

The sunsets just kept coming.  There was a little outdoor seating area with this view.  We sat outside and played games as the sun went down.

Ok, let me explain.  So we were outside playing a game when we started hearing the Mario video game song blasting from the street below.  We look down and see the Booze Pops truck go by.  The kids were telling me to run down and catch him but there was no way I could have made it and I knew he would eventually have to come back this way.  There's only one way out.  So we waited.  The longer we waited, the more they encouraged me.  It was probably an hour later that the three of us decided to go find the truck.  We walked down the street a few blocks before seeing the flashing lights and hearing the music again.  A big family had flagged him down and they were all ordering as we walked up.  The kids got ice cream and I tried a piña colada pop and got this priceless photo.  Don't be fooled, they were the ones encouraging this.  It was hilarious.

The next morning the foxes were very playful.

I was feeling playful too so I made a drag-i-corn.  It was pretty large but I made it quickly so Violet and I could go kayaking in the inlet.

Both the kids and I have kayaked in the inlet in previous years, but this year we took our kayak so we could go more than once and save some money.  We put in at a different location and paddled across a big area of open water in a strong wind.  Way out in the middle we saw something on the water and went towards it.  We realized it was a sea turtle just as it realized we were close to him.  He looked at us and ducked under the water.  He did a little flip, waved with his flippers, and was gone.  It was very cool.

Violet didn't bring a paddle.  That's a very smart way of getting me to do all the work.

Each morning started pretty early.  I know I was on vacation, but my body must have really wanted to see the sunrise because it woke me up close to 6:00 am each day.  Most days I snoozed at least a few more minutes, but there's just something magical about running on the beach with the sun rising beside you.  I cherish those early runs with the salt air in my lungs.

The sand sculptures were pretty cartoonish up to this point and with the quick one the day before, I decided it was time to actually try.  This one is a self portrait, abstracted a bit to fit the demands of the sand.  I started putting my IG handle in the sand and people started to notice.  It was fun to watch people go by later in the afternoon from the safety of my balcony.  They'd walk up, pull out their phones, and you could see them looking it up.  It was also cool to be out working early each morning before it warmed up.  I was often one of the only people out and by the time I finished, other people would venture out.  We had some neighbors who accidentally put their beach chairs out behind my sculptures.  After I went inside everyone thought they made them.  I encouraged them to take the credit!

We ended up in the parking lot of a western store.  You know, the kind with cowboy hats and boots.  We were trying to eat at a restaurant that turned out to be closed so while G found a new place to try, the kids and I went inside to goof around. I totally think I could pull off a cowboy hat but the kids gave it a hard no.

Also, my head is huge.  Almost none of the hats fit my giant head.

Blue and I wasted some time walking around Broadway At The Beach.  We grabbed the butt drawing from Monday and looked for a good place to hide it.  Blue was embarrassed of my ridiculousness and wanted to make sure I didn't put it somewhere people would see me.  We opted for this spot.  I never heard anything from it so I don't know where it ended up.  

I built the bald head just inside the high tide mark and I was shocked the next morning when I went out to run that it was still there.  Not only did the tide not touch it, no humans touched it either.  A dog scratched at the right cheek just a bit, but that was easy to fix.  I toyed with the idea of trashing it and using the sand to make something new, but then I decided to just add on.  I was in the mood for ice cream so I made a giant cone.  Then, at the request of a cool stranger, I turned the ice cream scoop into a skull.

Up to this point the temperatures had hovered around 70 degrees and the wind each day was ridiculous.  This made the water feel a bit icy.  I hate being cold so I kept the surfboard inside.  But now it was warmer and it was finally time to surf.  I finished the sculpture and grabbed the board.  It was so great.  I'm not a good surfer but I did manage to ride a few waves on the choppy seas.  Violet was a bit skiddish with the rough surf so she just posed for a photo.  

The first day I went out to sculpt I was greeted by a lady within 5 minutes of starting to shovel sand.  She said she and her family were from Nebraska and this was their first trip to a beach.  She was excited that I was going to make something and she asked if they could watch.  The watching was from their ocean front deck so it wasn't weird.  The kids in the family said some nice things through the week and eventually they tried their hand at making stuff.  

This crab was pretty creative with the use of shells for eyes.

Just down the beach there was a cool shark head sticking up with teeth and some seaweed in its mouth.  Also creative.  Another lady who spoke to me asked if I noticed the other sculptures popping up around me.  That was pretty cool.  
The grandmother from the Nebraska family told me at the end of the week that the sculptures had been the highlight of their week.  That was a very kind thing to say.  A couple of nice ladies took photos with me and if you know me, you can imagine just how awkward I felt and looked in those photos.  They had connections to Lander and Greenwood and they said some very nice things.

The high tide kissed the ice cream cone, but did not destroy it.  That meant it was time to add on again.  What goes great with ice cream?  Bananas of course!  I cut the self portrait in half and peeled the skin off to reveal the skull.  Then I added an angry banana.  Keeping it weird in 2021!

Look at that fist!d  These sculptures were all very big.  My sculpture muscles are still a little sore from all this work.  I need a vacation from my vacations sometimes.  

Another cool thing...Blue and Violet's former elementary school principal now lives at the beach.  Every time we go she sends a message asking to meet us for ice cream.  The kids both love her and we all love ice cream.  She's so great.  She's been a loving mentor for so many kids and she seems to have no idea just how much of an impact she's had on thousands of lives.  Before we left she handed us some passes for putt putt and the kids were thrilled.  We checked the forecast and grabbed our hoodies and then I schooled the kids in mini golf.  Blue's getting better and he had a real shot at taking me down.  Maybe next time.

The putt putt place had a dog.  He was old, fluffy, and possibly blind.  He was also very friendly.  We love petting dogs.

Friday when I woke up at 6:00 am I heard several cracks of thunder.  Not what you want to hear when you're about to run a mile and a half down the beach.  I checked the radar and waited a few minutes to get a break in the rain.  I don't mind getting wet but I do object to being struck by lightning.  When I got my chance, I headed out.  As I started toward the beach I heard more thunder and decided to play it safe by sticking close to the building.  I ran on the sidewalk but didn't venture too far away.  Of course by the time I was done running the rain stopped and the skies started to brighten.  Violet and I took this as a sign that we needed to kayak again.

We went to the same spot we put in earlier in the week and found it was nothing but pluff mud at low tide.  We drove around a little and found another public landing and we were back out for adventures.  We paddled to Goat Island and said hello to several baby goats.

The goats are cool and they seem happy isolated from humans and other animals on their little island.

We stalked a couple of pelicans because, come on, pelicans are some of the coolest birds.  They're so awkward looking but also so graceful all at once.  I love pelicans.

We found this guy slipping around the oyster shells at the water's edge.  He was pretty shy.  He kept his door closed until we put him back.

This guy wasn't quite as shy.  He was scooting along the dock area and he got used to crawling around on Violet's hands pretty quickly.  Don't worry, we put him back too.

We paddled all the way across the inlet to see if we could get closer to the UFO house.  This place was across the street from us and I've seen it most of my life.  I'm really intrigued by it and I want to go inside.  No one seemed to be living there but every time I tried to talk the kids into trespassing they talked me out of it.  Since the tide was low, this was the closest we could get from the water.  If you know anyone who can get me inside legally, feel free to contact me.

Last fall Blue got a Lard Lad donut from the Simpson's Kwik E Mart at Broadway.  He raved about how good it was and planned to get one when we visited a few nights earlier.  Apparently lots of people enjoy them because they were sold out by the time we got there.  Since it was National Doughnut Day on Friday, Violet and I tossed the kayak on top of my car and drove to try to get Blue a donut.  I'm a doughnut snob and I don't mind telling you.  Doughnuts in their purest form are from Krispy Kreme and they're spelled "doughnuts".  These other deep fried dough-things with a hole in them are simply lesser specimens and spelled accordingly "donuts".  When i grabbed one for Blue, I also grabbed a pink iced with sprinkles for me to try.  (It's still bread right?) I will admit that it was pretty dang good...for a donut.

So the weather was a little un-summer-like, there were lots of cool animal encounters, it was a good sculpture week, a good art viewing week, a great food week, and a great family week.  Now we all have to turn our attention back to life in the summer.  G is back to the work schedule.  I have a lot of art things planned.  The kids said they had a lot to do this week and I asked them what they had to do.  They both replied "resting".

Here's to resting.  I hope you get a vacation or some rest this summer.


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