A ‘Spectre’ of Light After the Dark

Only on Hilton Head

Unedited version submitted for the Island Packet, Sunday, October 30, 2016

After three weeks of hurricane disaster news and heroic recovery efforts, it’s good to know that anticipated, community-oriented events are still being planned and executed by business leaders who themselves are also recovering from Matthew’s devastation.

Mann's in Cinema Foyer

Larry and Lucie Mann enjoy intermission with wine and popcorn at their movie theater in Park Plaza, Hilton Head, SC.

Lucie and Larry Mann, owners/operators of Mann’s Park Plaza Cinema are hosting the Concours d’Elegance kick-off event Thursday, November 3, 2016, in a grand, silver screen party in the courtyard of their business located at 33 Office Park Rd, Ste 201, in Park Plaza just outside the main Sea Pines gate, next to Harris Teeter.

“We’ve been clearing debris from around our business and house, but as they say, the show must go on,” said Lucie on Sunday while she and her husband worked selling movie tickets, bartending, and conducting a Q&A via Skype with the filmmakers of an independent documentary about eating a plant-based diet called, “Eating Your Heart Out.”

It was like watching those motorized housekeepers on that old cartoon, The Jetsons, zipping around on motorized wheels, sweeping, while taking corners, smiling, talking, fielding questions about completely unrelated topics, films, and causes, heads swiveling to take in the whole business while staying focused on the conversation at hand.  I thought to myself, “I want what she’s having,” like the woman in that Rob Reiner movie.

Understand, this kind of multi-tasking is awesome to me.  I had just left my car parked in front of the box office and completely forgot about it for like, fifteen minutes because I had to remember both, buying popcorn, AND getting my mother seated AT THE SAME TIME.  Lucie carefully, kindly, and discreetly, tiptoed down the aisle and leaned over to me in the dark, saying, “Carmen, can you please move your car, so others can drop off their guests in front of the theater?”

Delicately implied at the end of that question, of course, was the word “numbnuts?”.

Hand-made earrings by Lucie Mann

Lucie Mann’s original, hand-crafted earrings, “No Two Are Alike”, are sold in the movie theater for $15 – $30/pair.

Lucie and Larry both bring an array of skills and talents to their partnership, which always culminates in amazing productions at their business.  Lucie is an architect by trade.  She also crafts her own earrings, and participates in local events that promote healthy, organic cooking and eating.  Larry’s background in contracting dovetails perfectly with their shared passion for neighborhood and community events, and of course all of these interests logically pointed them to buying a movie theater, right?

So, thanks to their shared passions, on November 3, 2016 at 5:30 pm, islanders will get a glimpse of Hollywood glamour, in the shape of one of the ten Aston Martin DB10’s made specifically for Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond movie, Spectre, (which will get it’s premiere Hilton Head screening also at Mann’s Nov. 3rd event).  This custom made car – estimated worth $3 million – is the only one currently being displayed in the United States as EON Productions rolls out its latest Bond movie, which also marks a fifty-year partnership between Astin Martin and EON, the company behind the 007 franchise.

Ilya Kagan, regional manager for Aston Martin, explained the precision and detail that went into the creation of the DB10, as well as the difference between “hero” cars, and “stunt” cars, when it comes to custom designing a car for a film.

James Bond and Astin Martin

Daniel Craig as James Bond, Agent 007, poses with one of 10 Aston Martin DB10’s made for the movie, Spectre, premiering on Hilton Head November 3, 2016 at Park Plaza Cinemas.

For the movie, Spectre, ten Aston Martin DB10’s were made.  Some were stunt cars, driven by the stunt doubles for the movie’s action sequences, and others, termed hero cars, are piloted by Daniel Craig as James Bond.  Unfortunately we, drooling cinematic plebeians, don’t get to know which of these cars will be on site at the Park Plaza Cinema courtyard on November 3, 2016.  But hey, who cares, right?  A three million dollar car is a three million dollar car, no matter whose derriere graced the driver’s seat, in my book.

“We at Aston Martin The Americas are excited to be able to bring this piece of cinematic history to a local movie showing at Hilton Head, SC. This is a very extraordinary vehicle, with only ten of them made, and with one of the examples of this car being sold On 19 February 2016, at a special auction at Christie’s in London for £2,424,500, or about $3.5 million, it makes for a very rare opportunity to see something like this in person,” said Kagan.

Attendees will get photo-ops with the DB10, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and a screening of

Rows of red chairs in theater

Spectre attendees will enjoy the screening in Park Plaza Cinema’s new luxury reclining red theater chairs.


Sounds like Vincent Chase’s sneak preview party in the movie Entourage, right?  Only, we’ll all keep our clothes on during the party, ‘kay?

Proceeds from Thursday’s event will go towards the Concours D’Elegance, and to the non-profit, Driving Young America (DYA), A Hilton Head Island High School program that supports students interested in pursuing a career in the automotive industry. Local vendors participating include, Ruby Lee’s, It’s Greek to Me, Delishee Yo, Whole Foods, Java Burrito, Signe’s Bakery & Café, Butch Hirsch Productions, TR Media World, and Crush Entertainment, Hugo’s Seafood & Steakhouse, 843 The Restaurant,

 Tickets Are Going Fast, So Buy Now

Spectre Event Specifics:

What –  Spectre Screening; Concourse D’Elegance Kick-Off Event
Food, wine, photo-op with Aston Martin from film
When – 5:30 pm, Thursday, November 3, 2016,
Where – Mann’s Park Plaza Cinemas, 33 Office Park Rd, Hilton Head
Tickets – $25.00 online here, Spectre Event Tickets or visit              www.mannsparkplazacinemas.com for more info.
Contact – 843-785-5001


A First Date with Joe Maffo

Man holds alligator

Joe adorns me with a snake necklace while showing off  one of his toys; a baby (live) alligator.

If you haven’t yet been to the Joe Maffo’s exhibit at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn, then you are missing out on something special.  Held outside on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, Joe and his staff of students and volunteers educate delighted crowds about reptiles, chickens, and rabbits, among those he had the day I visited with Johnny D.

Brothers  Brothers, Miles and Owen, share a python.

kid holds baby gator

Local student assists Maffo as summer job.

kid with snake

Visitor from Beaufort, Miguel wears a python “hoodie” with Maffo.

Joe carefully wraps onlookers with his friends, then explains how and what they eat, and why they should never be approached in the wild.

“I want people to educate people to respect our wildlife, but not fear it.  We are all part of the same eco-system,”  says Joe.





And we’re not the only ones who appreciate Maffo’s expertise.  Featured in August’s Men’s Health magazine, pg. 34, he’s gone nationwide.  Also look for a piece in the Wall Street Journal called What’s in My Bag, for a look at what Joe Maffo carries around with him… maybe you don’t want to know!

chicken on guy's shoulder

Johnny D bonds with a chicken.

For more information about Critter Management call, 843-681-8050

Or check out the exhibit schedule here: http://www.coastaldiscovery.org/home/discover-and-learn/site-tours-programs/







Ciao, Hilton Head!

George Paletta & John DeCecco

‘The George’ Paletta, Vice President, with the ‘Legendary Johnny D’, President, of the Italian-American Club of   Hilton Head at 2012 Italian Heritage Festival, Drown the Clown dunk tank.

Okay.  You knew there was no way I could let Hilton Head’s 2013 Italian Heritage Festival get by without posting a blog about it.  Last year, I had to bite down on my nails to keep from commenting on, and displaying the proud images I now depict.  No, last year, I had to limit myself to sending these visual gems in covert emails with restrained captions, to close friends and associates near and further north, because it might smack indecorous, given that the two gentlemen portrayed thusly, en masquerade, are also Board Dignitaries of the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head (IACHH).

Please note, I have exercised enormous restraint in recent print media descriptions over which I had some control, by not taking advantage of all the literary parallels, puns, metaphors, and ironies implicit in two Italian-American men being dunked at the Drown the Clown booth – one’s face covered by an Obama mask, the other, behind Italian flag sunglasses – during an election year in America… and BOTH wearing fuggetaboutit! t-shirts.  The only inappropriate, tactless item that seems to be missing is a bottle of non-FDA approved jug of homemade grappa from Cousin Luigi’s backyard cantina (thankfully, that was hidden somewhere during this auspicious photo-op… along with Cousin Luigi).

Yes, I held off the laughs, in deference to my husband’s sincere commitment to the IACHH, a wonderfully philanthropic community organization that donates proceeds from the annual Italian Heritage Festival  (along with that of four other yearly events) to local island non-profits, and high-school graduate scholarships.

So now I bask in some relief, knowing that I have finally shared one of the funniest pictures ever taken, with all my friends and patient readers.  And it brings me to question why, for the life me, they, didn’t publish it alongside the article in September’s issue of Hilton Head Monthly – that classy, sophisticated publication, with accompanying cerebral content – that sits on the coffee tables of our most stylish vacation beach homes, residences, and gets mailed to subscribers all over the world.  Why on earth would they choose images of lovely children and cultural activities, and not the above delicate portrait of two pillars of the Hilton Head community?  One can only guess at the wisdom of such censorship.

Which brings me to my plea.  If you thought you might, y’know, lay low, this weekend because you just need to rest, or you can’t get a babysitter, and you can’t get too excited about anything after weathering the most humid, wet, summer-from-hell in the lowcountry, please reconsider, amicos.  First of all, this is a family-friendly event, and children under 10 enter free.  Secondly, this Saturday at Shelter Cove Park, from 11 am – 4 pm, the 4th Annual Festival being held in honor of the Feast of St. Gennaro, will be bigger and better than ever.  And, as in the past, the Island Recreation Center partners with the IACHH, and the proceeds go to local non-profits and scholarship funds.  And if you need more encouragement, see the video below for Flash Mob activity at the 2012 Italian Heritage Festival.

There will be food prep demonstrations, grape-stomping, stickball, bocce ball, live music, and the incomparable cuisine prepared by the best Italian restaurants south of the Mason-Dixon.  And that’s saying something.  See below for further details, or IHFestivalProgram2013.  Or, if you prefer a more high-brow article and pictures with details, you can click here, or here.  Otherwise, always check with HiltonHeadBlogAngel for the fraternity-level take on anything.

What: The 4th Annual Italian Heritage Festival in Honor of the Feast of St. Gennaro


Italian Heritage Directional Signpost

Where: Shelter Cove Park, 39 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head, SC  29928

When: Saturday, September 21, 2013

What Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Cost: $6.00 at the gate, children 10 & under, free

Contact: 843-682-4625

Why: fuggetaboutit!

Great News for Hilton Head Porsche Lovers!

911 S Carrera

Yellow Cabriolet Model is Newest Design in Carrera 911 Evolution; ie, 991 Series

JohnnyD Porsche

‘Which one will I buy?’

What a relief for all my friends who have told me through the years that as much as they love Porsches, the reason they don’t own one is because there’s really no place on Hilton Head Island where they can open it up so the engine can get the exercise it regularly needs.  Apparently, they say, the frequent shifting of gears on paved, flat roads, with rotaries, and stoplights interrupting the flow of traffic, would simply be too hard on the engine of this Stuttgart-bred machine.  Therefore, their reasoning goes (usually after several Jaegermeister snorts, and loud interruptions), in deference to the well-oiled, coiled inner workings and pedigree of said Porsche, they’ve decided – somewhat magnanimously, I must say – to allow the next guy in line to buy it, and they would instead settle for the more eco- and island-friendly Fusion.  As you can see, we are careful to select friends whose priorities place the environment, and the feelings of German-made machines, well above their own selfish impulses to own them.

Well, good news friends!  Your sense of compassion and patience has paid off.  Now, you can sign on and drive off with a Porsche, with no ill-effects to the engine or the environment!  Yes!!  We just found out that there’s a racetrack nearby that Porsche-owners have access to, for stretching their little Turbo Olympians, without upsetting the local laws or noise ordinances.  Isn’t that great?  Located outside Savannah, the Roebling Racetrack is home to the Coastal Empire Region Porsche Club of America’s (CERPCA) quarterly rallys sponsored by Porsche of Hilton Head dealership.  And boy, they really know how to roll out the red carpet for their members, who are also very generous when it comes to sharing the joy with non-members,  the wanna-be’s, the maybe’s, and the can’t-get-out-of-our-lease-until-next-yearly’s.  Johnny D and I fall into the last category, but our good friend with a great sense of humor, Roy Stine (aka, Porsche Client Advisor, Extraordinaire), doesn’t let little details like contracts get in the way of Johnny D’s day on the racetrack.  Remember Ferris Bueller? No Siree, Bob, nothing’s getting in the way of Johnny D’s day to burn up the track.

And, especially now that Johnny D has been elected to President of the Italian-American Club, Hilton Head Chapter, for the next year 2013!  JUST YOU TRY TO STOP HIM! RUN FOR THE HILLS , if you think for one minute you will not be swept up in IL PRESIDENTE’s New Year’s wake as Johnny D shows us all how it’s done down here in the Lowcountry (more on this recent development in international political news will be forthcoming in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned, breathlessly, and I will regale you with the details in a couple weeks. I know, you’re dying to know more right now, but I’ve already digressed too far.)

woman rides in porsche

Going for a Ride, Clyde.

Back at the track; the New River Auto Mall catered this special day with a lunch buffet from Jim & Nick’s BBQ at noon.  Then, a presentation by industry professional race car driver, Andrew Davis (who recently won the Rolex GT Series), followed by an afternoon rolling around the track, test-driving the newest Boxster and Carrera S models, or as in my case, riding shotgun with Davis, while white-knuckling the little side handle-thingy’s.  After that, the Club members took their own cars out and yes, exercised their little protégés.

So, there you have it.  No more worries about where you can open up the engine and bust 130 mph, you can go buy that brand new Boxster Spyder, or Carrera 911, secure in the knowledge that you will be able to give it the exercise it needs.  Call Porsche of Hilton Head, 866-831-9008, visit the website, or just go there now and buy one. After all, it’s the New Year, we’ve survived the end of time, as the Mayans would have it, AND you can open up that baby at the Roebling Racetrack, with no fear of upsetting the very serious German automakers who worked so hard on it.  In fact, that is my New Year’s call to action to Hilton Head road lovers; GO BUY THAT PORSCHE YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED NOW!

And if you still need a little further motivation, check out the overview of our day in the video below.

Porsche of Hilton Head, New River Auto Mall, 107 Drivers Way,
Hardeeville, SC 29927 Phone: 888-370-3590

Porsche of Hilton Head was established at the New River Auto Mall in 2005. The dealership sells new and pre-owned vehicles, and has a service and parts department that is available to maintain both new and older-model Porsches. With many vehicles in stock, Porsche of Hilton Head has a wide selection from which to choose, and there is also the option of ordering custom vehicles from the manufacturer. The dealership also sells a wide variety of other pre-owned luxury automobiles. The sales associates and technicians are constantly trained and kept up to date on the newest technology and features that Porsche has to offer, so customers can be assured that their needs are met.


Open M-F, 9 am – 8 pm, Sat, 9 am – 6 pm, Sun, 1 pm – 5 pm.

Forget Polo; Our British Mates Want to Fish When They Visit Hilton Head, SC.

Bayrunner Charter fishings

Four Horsemen of the Bayrunner

After an exciting summer of spine-tingling activities like ziplining, parasailing, and dining out, on Hilton Head, I couldn’t wait to share my new extreme sports repertoire with my friends from Great Britain when they came for a visit.  Except that, they weren’t interested in being very extreme.  No, far more preferable to flying through the air while hanging from buckled straps attached to something you hope will carry your weight, they thought that offshore fishing would actually be, brilliant.  

Kid with Big Fish

A Happy Bayrunner Customer

Now, if you’ve ever heard an English teenager say the word brilliant with genuine emotion, you know it sounds a whole lot more inspiring than some of their American counterparts who might say, “cool,” if they can hear your voice over their earbuds plugged into iPods, while glaring at you through half-closed eyelids; or maybe a whole thought will come out like, ” Zipline?  Big deal.  You have to do the stupid ground-school thing, and then you have to go the  whole two hours without texting… like, Dude, what if something major happens, right?”

To which, we American parents, respond by hanging our heads, sadly realizing how totally uncool we are as parents, and wondering what made us think, after the hundred and fifty-seventh time of getting excited about something we thought our kids would like – and showing way too much emotion when making the offer to “HAVE FUN, OUTSIDE, ALREADY!” –  did we ever think that ziplining through trees from eighty-feet up would be remotely fun to our teenagers?

Okay, back to my point about how fun it is to entertain kids from across the Atlantic who think that off-shore fishing from a boat for three hours with a cooler full of bait, sunscreen, and soda is quite, actually brilliant!  To which my response was, “cool!”  With real emotion, because my friend from way back years ago, Miles Altman, has a fishing boat right here in Shelter Cove Marina, called the Bayrunner, and he knows how to fish these waters better than anyone.  He also knows how to clean and cook the catch better than anyone because Miles also owned, for many years, a restaurant called Captain’s Seafood Restaurant on Mathews Drive AND he supplied most of the restaurants with their fresh fish catches of the day for more than twenty years, back in the day.  In short, Miles knows his stuff.

So this day, my best mates from England (and one from Seattle, named Michael) took off at around 8:45 am from Shelter Cove on the Bayrunner.  Captain Miles had already been out catching live bait (big, crawly looking shrimp) before we arrived, and off they went.  It was very hard not to sing, “on a three-hour tour… a three-hour tour,” over and over because they were indeed going out for “a three-hour tour… a three-hour tour…” but I managed to keep myself in check for the most part. Except, when I left a message for their grandfather on his phone and I sang the entire Gilligan’s Island theme song, laughing like an idiot.  I’m sorry, I’m way too immature to let some things go, unacknowledged and unsung like that.  But I think it’s all out of my system now.

Circle Hook Used on the Bayrunner

They returned at noon, having had a wonderful morning, trolling the island coastal waters, catching all matter of species, small and large (for more pictures of what you might catch with Miles on the Bayrunner, check out his website and Facebook page).  And, in case you were wondering, Miles uses a circle hook to catch fish, which is designed to be less painful to the fish.  So, if you decide to throw it back in the water, you can pull the hook out of its mouth without hurting it too much.

The lads were definitely ready for lunch, and had plenty of pictures on their smartphones to show me. They were also ready to go out again on a shark-fishing charter, which Miles explained, has better results in the evening, when all manner of predators awaken and feed, like raccoons, vampires, and lycanthropes; aka, werewolves, to the uninformed.  No, Miles did not say this.  I just happened to make the connection while looking up some other things online.  You know how that happens.

In closing, I hope you enjoy this video story we created for your viewing pleasure and enjoyment. And, if you want to go offshore fishing, lowcountry style, with Captain Miles and the Bayrunner, call: 843-290-6955, to charter a trip.  You won’t be sorry; in fact, you’ll feel brilliant!

Parasailing Above the Calibogue Sound of Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island.

Parasailing above Hilton Head

Hello from Above! Carmen & Jesse Parasail Over Harbour Town

Hello again. You’re probably wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks (or maybe you’re not, and now you’re thinking, “Wow. Is she full of herself or what, if she thinks I’ve checked here for a blog post in recent memory. I sure have lots more things to do than see what trivial minutiae Blog Angel is yammering on about.”), and if you are, I’m sorry to be remiss lately in reporting on the many extraordinarily fun things there are to do on Hilton Head Island.

But you see, in order for me to write about these extraordinary activities, I have to experience them myself first, while collecting information with note-takings, research, picture, and video-taking, and/or, chasing down other people’s smartphone pictures who were enjoying the activity with me and had to take the pictures (because I couldn’t take a picture of myself at the same time as holding onto the straps of a parachute with both hands). Then, I have to edit the notes, pick the best pictures, and/or edit the video and then search iTunes for suitable accompaniment to the visual art.  It takes alot of time and painstaking thought to intertwine this multi-media feast into a coherent blogpost, and I can’t just go into my own playlist and throw up any old Velvet Underground rockin’ song that I happen to like with a video that may not speak to Hilton Head Blog Angel‘s audience demographics.

All of this investigative journalism takes great time and care and fact-checking, and so that’s why sometimes a few days or weeks go by between blog posts. I know that’s a bit more information than, “the dog ate my homework,” but I like to explain where I’ve been, so you all don’t think I’m just kicking around down here, lollygagging on the beach days, with an umbrella drink in my fist, laughing my way to the bank.  Which, by the way. is something I’ve never seen anyone do (laughing their way into a bank, that is). Real artwork is always in progress, and sometimes I have to wait a little extra for the content to be workshopped at the Boston area’s Exclusive Writer’s Forum, a very elusive group of elitist-type writers, who critique one another’s work with filet knives and switchblades, thereby rendering you a sobbing, insulted artiste, with nowhere to go but up.

Digressing, again…

Back to parasailing. My cousins from Virginia were in town a couple of weeks ago and 17-year-old son, Jesse, had not experienced this exciting watersport activity before, so we scheduled a trip for him to join me and get an aerial view of the gorgeous, lowcountry seascape for which Hilton Head is so famous. Leaving out of Harbour Town on  an H20 Sports boat with two, rather buff-bod parasailing experts to hold our hands, we trolled out into the Calibogue Sound with all the other fun, outgoing, watersports-lovers who were going out on paddleboards, pirate ships, sportfishing boats, and kayaks (and sort of rolling their eyes at us novices giggling our way out to sea pointing, at every stupid thing that jumped, swam, or flew by),

Sean, our gentle leader, explained in a very relaxing voice, with cool undertones of been-there-done-that-please-don’t-worry-and-enjoy-this-fun-ride, what we would be doing before and during our delightful journey floating above the beautiful, scenic, southern end of Hilton Head Island. While, Jesse, my astute companion wondered aloud, what those dark, swirling clouds were doing a little over there, off in the distance above the vast Atlantic ocean, and asking, “isn’t this hurricane season down here?” To which we all responded, firmly and with courageous contempt, “Oh don’t be so alarmist, Jesse, they are just a few clouds that are blowing our way, and will pass by us with no drama. Please, can’t you enjoy yourself?”  To which, he just looked at us quizzically, and saying nothing, looked down to make sure the life-preserver jackets were indeed under our seats, somewhere.

Before going up on parasail

Jesse & Carmen Ready for Anything

No, we did not get caught up in a hurricane later that morning, but my clever young cousin was later fully vindicated, by news reports in the local paper the next day of water spouts (hurricanes’ ugly and dangerous second cousins) that did encircle Hilton Head at exactly the same time that we began heading back from our trip.  The moral of this tangent in my story, being, “listen to your teenagers and don’t write them off with scornful ha-ha’s, when they notice odd, weather patterns in the sky”.

So, to make this long story just a little longer, I want to say that we had a marvelous ride for about twelve – fifteen minutes, rocking quietly with the breeze and looking out over God’s blue earth from a comfortable, secure five hundred feet or so, while the boat pulled us lightly through the sky. It was a truly joyful experience and I thoroughly recommend this activity to anyone visiting Hilton Head and who would like to get a different angle on our little oasis along the southeast American coastline. H20 Sports did a great job explaining everything to us, and if we wanted to explore the area by kayak, or paddleboard, or simply cruise around the sound (among their many other watersport offerings), at a later time they were there to accommodate with similar experience and USCGA-licensed staff, secure equipment, and professional services.

Give them a call, 1-877-290-4FUN (4386) or check out their website.

Adios, and have a great week on Hilton Head!

Blog Angel signing off.

A Rippin’, Zippin’ Fun Ride at Broad Creek Marina.

Zipping Along at 75 ft.


      At The Vacation Company, we’d heard about it, read about it, and talked about it for weeks, and finally, Johnny D and I experienced it.  And for those of you who have been living under a rock for the past six months, I am speaking of the ONE, the ONLY, Hilton Head Island ZIPLINE at Broad Creek Marina.  This is a blast for the whole family (please check website for age/weight limits), and takes the pressure off parents who feel they  have to know everything. 

      Staffed with professionals, you are pre-screened for alertness and physical ability (read; awake and sober, preferably at the same time), then fitted with straps, harness, buckles, clips, helmut, gloves, and counseled to thoroughly sort things out under your clothes, so that nothing vital gets pinched during your zip (and for those of you semantically challenged, from here on out, zip refers to the ride, not the mechanism holding your pants up). 

      Then, there’s ground school.  These guys don’t miss a trick, and our guy Tom, a certified, career, risk-taking climber (among other certifiable things), carefully prepared us for all eventualities, including getting knocked in the head by an asteroid and dangling unconscious from the end of our lanyard hooked to the cable.  This of course, being a worst-case scenario as Tom also used much humor to relax us each time he told us something very serious.  Like, “Pay attention on each landing because there are no hand rails, and if you fall backwards, you’ll bang your shins like there’s no tomorrow.  The good part, is that you’ll never forget that there are no handrails again, right?  Ha, ha, ha…”  Johnny D thought Tom was very funny.

Landing Between Zips

      I will say that by the time we went for our first zip, I felt very comfortable and safe.  All the guides are very experienced and take their responsibilities seriously. Each group runs with five to eight people accompanied by two guides; one who leads off, and one who brings up the rear.   The front guy takes the zip first so you can see how fun and easy it is, while the back-end guide gently prods each zipper up to the line, reminding her or him of how fun and easy it is.  “Put your right hand on the trolley first, then the left, and cross your legs,” said Ashley to six different people, times seven ziplines.  Hey.  I know it sounds simple, but you try to remember all three things at seventy feet up in the trees while college kids on the ground point and laugh at you.

      The cool part is that you don’t have to get it perfect the first time.  You have several zips that take you higher and higher into the trees, until you are on an eighty-foot tower looking out over Broad Creek.  It is a beautiful view and very rewarding.  And actually, by the time we got to that point, it was no longer work, but had become the enjoyable ride for which we had hoped.  Each zip is a little higher and longer and faster than the one before, easing you into the whole experience.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something new and fun to do with the family.  Currently, the zipline course takes about two and a half hours from beginning to end, and costs $85/person; which isn’t a bad deal for half a day’s ride through the trees.  Call for reservations: 843-682-6000 or book online.

Zipline Hilton Head is located at 33 Broad Creek Marina Way, Hilton Head Island, SC  29926.



Culinary Arts Center at Hilton Head; a Delightful Dining Experience

         Every once in a while, something comes along that penetrates my ongoing Blog-Writer’s-Block condition (thank goodness The Vacation Company keeps bringing me fabulous vacation rentals and special deals to write about).  Today’s block-breaker has to be the current best-kept foodie secret on the island.  The Culinary Arts Center (CAC) at Hilton Head Health (H3) located just inside the Shipyard gate from Pope Avenue, is open to the public for all kinds of tasty events that will leave you feeling sated and, a bit more cerebral about food, even if your only expertise heretofore was throwing chicken breasts on the George Foreman.   

Executive Chef Jen Welper Answers Questions at the Wednesday Night Chef's Table

       This season is the introduction of the CAC at Hilton Head Health as a separate entity and open to the public.  Their mission states, “the Culinary Arts Center… is a state-of-the-art kitchen designed to enhance the overall culinary experience, while educating you how to prepare healthy, gourmet cuisine in a comfortable and warm environment”.  Meaning that, more than chef’s dinners, guests can enjoy themed dinners, such as Date Night (every other Saturday, 5:30-9:00 pm) where the chef takes you through a romantic three-course meal for two in an interactive atmosphere.  There is also an interactive cooking class on (Thursdays and Sundays from 2:00 – 3:30 pm).  And every other Saturday, a hands-on session packed with strategies for creating low-calorie meals to fit into an everyday schedule.  This one covers a variety of themes, such as ethnic cuisine, as well as seasonal and holiday foods.  

       Recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing the Chef’s Table, held every other Wednesday at 6:00 pm, at H3’s soft-lit restaurant.  There were about ten other guests with me sitting comfortably around a large, polished-granite countertop facing an unpretentious looking (yet highly efficient), state-of-the-art kitchen, while Executive Chef, Jen Welper, prepared our three-course meal.  I’ve attended chef’s table dinners before, all of which were wonderful, however, intimidating.  Such was not the case at the Culinary Arts Center, and the experience was exceptional. 

       And while Chef Welper explained what she was preparing, the head server, Lauraa introduced the wine pairings prior to each course, describing it perfectly and why it was selected for the course.  Especially useful were the recipe packet describing the dinner (including the sides, like the grilled asparagus) and extra page listing the wines, including an image of the label (very helpful when shopping for it) and brief description.  All in all, a very thorough presentation without taking the fun out of the experience.        

Full View of Chef's Table & Restaurant

     Several servers quietly delivered our dishes and kept the bar clean while we interacted with each other and the chef, who graciously answered all of our questions without making any of us feel stupid (this thoughtful behavior, I happen to know from my own extensive hospitality experience, is quite a challenge for an executive chef).  Many guests brought pencil and paper, as they were here taking part in the H3 program.  However, the materials we were given were so thorough, it made note-taking redundant.  The menu this night was simple fare, yet delicious and savory and extremely fresh-tasting:  turkey bacon-wrapped scallops to start, followed by grilled herb-rubbed filet, and crowned with vanilla bean crème brulee.  All the ingredients are geared towards helping guests develop healthy eating habits, without sacrificing flavor.   

              The best part about all of this is that a DISCOUNT IS OFFERED IF YOU ARE A GUEST OF  The Vacation Company!  So, don’t wait for a rainy day, these classes don’t take that long and are really fun besides being informative.  Questions? Call 843.785.3919 for information and reservations. Or, visit their website for more details. Address:  14 Valencia Road,  Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

How Well Do You Know Your Island’s Hot Spots?

A Sunny Day on Hilton Head,  From a Different Angle.

     I am astounded by how often I pass a landmark or street sign on some part of Hilton Head that I’ve never seen before.  Living here off and on for over 35 years, visiting the island regularly no matter where I was living, how much could go unseen on an island 15 x 3 square miles, right?  Wrongo.  For example, if I ate out at a different restaurant every lunch and dinner for several months, I still wouldn’t have tried all the restaurants locally owned on Hilton Head – there are over 275.  In the same vein, you could ask every staff member at The Vacation Company the same where-to-go, what-to-do question, and you will get a different answer from each person; and you wouldn’t go wrong taking anyone’s advice!  That’s because there is something for everyone here.
     So, in the spirit of learning more about this island we love so well, HiltonHeadsUp.comwill post a photo like the one here, every so often, and ask readers to identify where the picture was taken on the poll to the right.

     These will all be photos taken on Hilton Head, in places that most people have been to at one time or another.  (I chose this first photo because the tree to the right of my dog Sam, always reminded me of a drawing in a Dr. Seuss book, like Horton Hears a Who).  I’m curious to see how many of you walk or ride along, missing as much of the island’s uniqueness as I seem to do (even when carrying my camera looking for something unique and unusual, I miss the obvious along the way!).
     In order for me to tell who first selected the correct Picture Poll answer, you must also email me with your selection, and the date and time you made it.

     Take your time, and enjoy the scenery.

Beat the Heat with a Smooth Sail Aboard Cheers!

Are You Looking at Me?


How do you beat these dog days of summer?  Charter a sailboat and let the ocean breeze cool you down.  Cheers!has been a popular Hilton Head charter for over twenty years, and recently two of our guests spent their vacation down time on a sunset sail through Calibogue Sound with Owner/Captain John and the crew of Cheers!

Cheers! glides smoothly through the summer.


Summer cruises are usually two to two and a half hours long and satisfy whatever seafaring yearnings your group might have; from morning, dolphin-watch rides, to the breezy afternoons and sunset cruises, and even occasionally a cocktail and star-gazing jaunt down through Skull Creek.  Call ahead to confirm times and rates: 843-671-1800.

      At The Vacation Company, we’d like to know how YOU beat the heat in August on Hilton Head.  Send me your cooling-down activities so I can list them on HiltonHeadsUp by clicking here.  Better yet, if you have a picture or video of your gang chilling down while staying in one of our luxury vacation rentals, send that also, and I’ll post it on our Facebook page, or YouTubeaccount.