Happy Valentine’s Day! The American Reformation Era Has Begun, Chapter I.

Super Blood Moon

THIS was my last glimpse of the VERY RARE, super moon triad, as the energetic portal closed, January 31st, 2018.

Just when I was about to give up, the Eagles won the Super Bowl, and I knew, at that moment, the Era of the American Reformation had begun.

Oh, the symbolism and signifiers surrounding this year’s Super Bowl winners abound, and I can barely wait to symbol, and signify, for anyone who cares to read beyond this point. (I’m ecstatic!)  To wit:

  • The Super Bowl occurred barely a week following the closing of the super triad blood moon portal on January 31st, 2017; a very rare cosmic event, that creates volatile energy bursts, positively kicking us into the next six months with edge, and agility. (Okay, I’m pretty sure I explained that whole lunar thing wrong, which is why I included the hyperlink, for anyone who would like a little clarity on this tangent.)
  • Eagles soar, with majesty.  And of course, our country’s symbol, is the American bald eagle.  This matters a lot right now, because this past year, flying both high, AND proud, has not been our nation’s catchiest jingle.
Eagles nest

The eagle’s nest behind the 10th green at the Golden Bear Golf Club in Indigo Run on Hilton Head Island, SC, got a celebrity visitor from Philadelphia this week.

  • In politics 2017, executive orders were signed, followed by devastating hurricanes, mass shootings, earthquakes, the Russia investigation, protest marches turning into crime scenes, then California suffered forest fires, and landslides…  And Puerto Rico –  a shameful national disgrace!  Not taking the biblical hint, the Orange Menace actually became MORE insulting (if that was even possible from the year before, he did manage it without breaking a sweat).
  • As you can imagine, I forgot to look at the bright side of last year, which has kicked us into a stellar, TAKE THAT 2018! Starting with my prediction that…
  • Mr. Kaepernick WON’T be short on job offers into the new year.  Movie rights on the book deal (plenty of escarole…) Oh! Endorsements galore in the coming few years for being the American Reformation Era civil rights harbinger.  So, I wouldn’t worry too much about the over-fed, pale-faced, NFL plantation owners NOT picking you up for another season, my new favorite celebrity athlete.  The world is now your oyster.  As far as I’m concerned, the NFL has major soul-searching to do, before they make any more public statements about… pretty much, anything.  You can check out The Intercept for a bit more on THAT tangent.
  • I forgot – and then remembered (real quick, I remembered!) that I spent my first ten years growing up just outside of Philadelphia, before moving to Hilton Head, SC. So, there. I was born an Eagles fan! Go figure.
  • All right now.  Since when, did cheaters, and liars in this country start getting off the hook, with a wink, and a fine just for getting caught?  WHEN DID THAT CRAP BECOME OKAY AROUND HERE?  I never received an addendum to the list of deadly sins and Commandments saying, “(heh-heh), deflating footballs, inflating market values, rigging voting elections, doping yourself with steroids, and betting on games you have a stake in, aren’t a big deal any more, so have at it.  America will bail you out, as long as you’re rich, white, and remember to vote for the Man.”  Some of us, who still respect good sportsmanship, AND THE LAW, don’t just get over it that easily!


  • Time is of the essence when it comes to establishing a new era, so brevity is our goal today.  Yes, I can hear some of you chortling to yourselves, “Carmen wouldn’t know brevity if it smacked her three pages down.”  I know, very funny.

It might be hard for you to believe, this past year has been difficult containing myself after downsizing my firm, in the interest of… reducing my carbon footprint, among other reasons.  Since restructuring here at hiltonheadblogangel.me, we have found a more suitable schedule and, of course now, since the lay-offs, and less overhead, well, it’s just me and Sam here, running things, for now.

Beagle on the beach

Hi, it’s Sam. Blogging to you, from Hilton Head.

So, that means, we expect to see you guys back here next time, because we’ve got a lot more work coming up.

Like, I’m still busting a gut, waiting to see if Trey Gowdy will repeat – with a straight face – what he said on Face the Nation last Sunday, “I enjoy the pursuit of fairness as a virtue.”   Yep.  He said that with yellow whiskers growing awry all over his face.

It’s okay, if you all need to go somewhere and put you finger down your throat, go ahead.  This is probably a good stopping off point for today.

See you next time for Chapter II of the American Reformation Era!



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/







Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; An Oasis For Artists

Nancy Mitchell paints outside on Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island Plein Air Artist, Nancy Mitchell, loves to work outdoors whenever possible.

*One of the joys of living on Hilton Head Island is knowing that, when it comes to retiring from a lifetime of ‘the grind’, the relocation aspect is already knocked.  The next thing to check off – while taking that last ride home on the commuter train – is pursuing a lifelong passion that, for many people, is to follow an artistic vision.  So now, the question arises, if one is a working artist, living in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where does one go, and what does one do, when it’s time to retire?  Hmmmm.

Brucie Holler, Artist, works in her studio.

Impressionist painter, Brucie Holler, at work in her studio.

Hilton Head’s natural surroundings are further blessings to those lucky enough to wake up here each day.  To many people around the world, the natural habitat of the lowcountry, is truly a work of art, and cannot be overstated as a luxury, especially, when considering that much of this community’s resort development began during an era when little, if any, consideration was given to the environment, and greenhouse gases hadn’t even made it into the political lexicon.  Landscaping in the sixties and seventies on the east and west coast of the United States consisted of razing shoreline forests to erect high-rise dwellings with penthouses, and city skyscrapers.   It simply wasn’t vogue to leave trees standing, where rent could be collected.

Joe and Marilyn Bowler

Portraiture Artist, Joe Bowler pictured left, with late wife, Marilyn, in 2008

Yet, in spite of this, Hilton Head developed as it did, creating a land/seascape on the southeastern shoreline, second to none.  Ancient live oaks, veiled with Spanish moss, and wax myrtle trees grow unhindered, where alligators, snowy egrets, and herons fish standing next to each other.  Really, one can almost hear them talking to each other.  And, as recently as two years ago, Asian community developers began visiting Hilton Head to understand what made it so aesthetically pleasing to investors and vacationers, so they could mimic it in their own resort planning.

Which begs the question, how does one feel artistically inspired in a place that is itself, a natural work of art?  Hilton Head Island is a glorious little nook, a most pristine example of developed shoreline in the lowcountry along the eastern seaboard.  The answer is that inspiration resides within the artist, evidenced during the research and interviewing of this article highlighting four distinctly different, renowned Hilton Head working artists who live and create just around the corner from one another.

I. Robert Rommel

predator bird catches fish

‘Osprey Catches Flounder’, in this award-winning photograph, by Robert Rommel.

Schoolteachers on Hilton Head make great use of field trip opportunities inherent just by virtue of living and learning on the island.  Any numbers of locally protected areas easily bring textbook illustrations to vibrant life, so that everything learned in the classroom, can be applied to the immediate natural habitat.

Fortunately, the lowcountry is a veritable biosphere of wildlife, encouraging constant outdoor studies.  Science classes often include trips to the beach, trolling for shells and exoskeletons scattered, layered under eons of tides.  With this as background, research biologist/wildlife photographer, Robert Rommel, takes advantage of his surroundings to amplify the range of his own camera art, as well as, to give him a unique perspective when teaching photography workshops.

Photographer Shoots Fiddler Crab

Wildlife Photographer, Robert Rommel Waits Out the Fiddler Crab Mating Ritual With Extraordinary Patience

Fiddler Crab close-up

Fiddler Crab Prepares to Impress His Date




Fiddler Crab Dance

Wow, She’s Impressed. I am, too.





His current project, conducted on location at Fish Haul Creek Park at Port Royal Plantation beach, includes a scenic trail walk through the park, opening out to one of many of Hilton Head’s awesome, natural surprises.  A constantly changing seascape view including shoreline, huge rocks, tide pools, and just over the waterway, Port Royal Plantation.

The mating ritual of the sand fiddler crab fascinates Robert and his Nikon today.  Yes, fascinates.  In fact, until he gets his shot, one goes on blind faith that the silent, patient, wildlife photographer, lying stretched out prone, for hours on the sand, knows that what he is waiting for, flat on his stomach, is going to be worth it.  And the resulting photos don’t disappoint, (see captioned photo) as he catches the male sand fiddler crab doing quite a dance with one claw waving madly about, trying for the attention of a mate, who has to be totally impressed by this.  But what more could a female sand fiddler want, out here at 10:00 am in the salt marsh of Port Royal? Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
Robert’s work recently won a Wildlife in Focus Contest and a portfolio of his work can be found on his website, http://www.robertrommel.com, where one can also find out when and where he teaches photography workshops.

Impressionist painting, 30 Panels

‘Murmurations Squared,’ by Impressionist Painter, Brucie Holler

II. Brucie Holler

In the Gallery of Shoppes, overlooking Greenwood Avenue just before the Sea Pines gate, Brucie Holler’s more recent “starling murmurations” –inspired paintings can be found.  Vibrant acrylics on paper abstracts decorate the walls, floors, and tables of her studio, compelling the gaze over and over as her brush strokes mimic the reverberations of a flock of starlings that hauntingly sweep the skies.   YouTube videos set to music, illustrate this wildlife phenomenon, and Brucie’s abstract interpretations are breathtaking.

“As a non-representational painter, I am interested in exploring the source of inspiration,” writes Brucie.  She wonders how people experience the natural world, life, beauty, music, language, “and translate that into authentic, personal transcendent art?”

Prior to the mixed media murmurations studies – a wondrous, mixed media panel consisting of thirty, eight by eight-inch squares, can be bought as individual squares, or as a whole (see captioned photo, above) – and concurrent with this work, is much of Brucie’s abstract art which distinguishes itself by the use of multi-layered aqua-teal colors, and charcoal strokes (see abstract painting, right).  Her work is mainly informed by two constant sources, language and the natural world.  Language, as expressed through poetry, as well as the natural energy created by wind, gravity, and stillness, inspires her lines and what happens between the forms as aroused by the starling murmurations.

Impressionist painting, oil on canvas

‘Sky’s Big Hand’, Oil on Canvas, 60×72

A South Carolina native, Holler pursued graduate work at the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore, after receiving a BA in painting at Florida State University.  She has pursued her artistic vision through teaching art, and working administratively, while constantly honing her own craft studying with other internationally known artists, including Richard Smith, and Truman Lowe.  Her work has been shown in galleries in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado.

Represented by Camellia Art locally, and Parker Gallery on St. Simons Island, Brucie appreciates that she can be prolific and evolve, as she is inspired.  Her work can also be viewed online, at http://www.brucieholler.com/

III. Joe Bowler

Portrait of Little Girl, Regan Boyse, by Joe Bowler

‘Whistler’s Daughter,’ by World-renowned Portrait Artist, and Long-time Island Resident, Joe Bowler

One island neighbor, award-winning and world-renowned commissioned portrait artist, has lived locally in surprisingly, well-preserved privacy, since 1972.  What an honor for native islanders to grow up near such an eminent, prolific artist, whose credentials extend from 1952, when he was elected to the Society of Illustrators, all the way to 1992, being inducted into the Illustrators Hall of Fame.  In between, Joe established himself as an internationally acclaimed illustrator/portrait artist, whose commissioned work has kept patrons queued up for ten years at a time.

After contracting polio in 1958, Bowler nonetheless, committed himself to his art; indeed, grew and evolved, with each passing decade from the business world of nationally recognized illustrations, to commissioned portraiture on Hilton Head, where he found time to create his own inspired art between and around commissions.

Joe Bowler portrait, Regan Boyse

Portrait, ‘Regan Boyse – 2010’, by Joe Bowler

Referring fondly to his years working as errand boy, palette and brush cleaner at Cooper Studio in the early years, his first break came when Saturday Evening Post artist/illustrator, Coby Whitmore, took a sample portrait the nineteen year-old Bowler had been working on, and sold it for him to Cosmopolitan magazine for $1000.  Bowler made $35.00/week at that time.  In 1967 the Artists’ Guild of New York named Joe their Artist of the Year, and by this time, magazines were commissioning him to do portraits of well-known people including a McCall’s article portraying eight presidential candidates’ wives; works that landed the covers of such well-known publications as the August 1971 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal portrait of Rose Kennedy, and a Saturday Evening Post cover of Julie and David Eisenhower.

Encouraged, and managed by his late wife, Marilyn (see captioned photo near the top, by Mark Staff), Joe drew inspiration from her tireless support, inherent understanding of the working artist, and fifty-eight strong years of marriage.  Currently, daughter Jolyn Bowler, is the organizer and keeper of the Bowler flame.

Joe Bowler’s works can be viewed online at http://www.joebowler.com,  http://www.morriswhiteside.com, or in person at the Morris-Whiteside Gallery at The Red Piano, 220 Cordillo Parkway, Hilton Head Island, SC  29928; phone, 843-842-4433.  Anyone with inquiries regarding portraits or non-portrait works can either call Jolyn Bowler, at 843-671-2702, or send an email to bowlerportraits@gmail.com.

IV. Nancy Mitchell

Recent painting by Nancy Mitchell

‘Gullah’s Ark’, by Hilton Head Artist, Nancy Mitchell

For the same reason Hilton Head Island stands alone as an incredible testament to the art that is inherent in nature, renowned muralist, wildlife painter, and now, sculptor, Nancy Mitchell, has carved out an artistic niche for herself over the past thirty years; the shared motivation being, environmental respect.  Because, just as Hilton Head Island’s early developers insisted on maintaining the natural beauty of the island during building, Nancy’s profound respect for native flora and fauna is always evident in her work.  And, not only does she draw inspiration from local land/seascapes, she belongs to the Lowcountry Plein Air Society, an organization devoted to nature, and painting outdoors.

Nancy lives her art, and her art lives within her.  There are no other words to describe this totally dedicated, talented, authentic, artist on Hilton Head.  Her work evolves through natural textures and hues, and she is unafraid of learning new tricks.  As a commissioned muralist through the years, she graciously gives of herself through her art donations to animal relief charities and other non-profit organizations.  A true renaissance woman in the new millennium, Nancy’s artistic output is matched only by her glowing smile and sincere desire to return to the earth its natural resources, in any way possible.  If Hilton Head Island were personified as an artist, Nancy Mitchell would be its muse, without a doubt.

“Making a living as an artist has only been possible because of diversity. Murals and faux finishes are still an important part of my repertoire as is commission work for clients and designers,” states Nancy.

Nancy Artist, Plein Air Society Artist

‘Beachpath II’, by Nancy Mitchell, Was Recently Completed on the Easel in Her Back Yard (see Photo at the Top of Artist at Work)

Her love for animals, especially rescued pets, and the local marsh tackies indigenous to coastal Carolina, has led her to animal drawings, mixed-media works, and animal sculptures more recently.  Much of what she has learned has been adding to a fifteen-year brainstorm that has culminated in her current work-in-progress, Life is a Carnival, which will include large, highly textured, sculpture pieces of mixed media, silhouettes, and dynamic shadows, a project inspired largely by the Shriners’ Savannah Carnival.

Represented by The Red Piano Too, Art Gallery, 870 Sea Island Pkwy, St. Helena, SC 29920; phone, 843-838-2241, http://www.redpianotoo.com/ Email: redpianotoo@islc.net, The Filling Station Gallery, 69 Calhoun Street, Bluffton, SC;  phone, 843-263-4796, Mitchell divides her time between shows, commissioned works, and selling her art at farmer’s markets, and weekend art festivals.  Those who would like to learn more about Nancy’s passion for oil painting, can take her October 2014 workshop, at the Art Academy.

Each of these artists works in a unique setting of their choosing.  Joe Bowler and Brucie Holler prefer their own studios, while Robert Rommel and Nancy Mitchell would rather work outside.  The two things they all have in common are 1.) inspiration to create, which only comes from within, and 2.) the extraordinary protective landscape that is Hilton Head Island.  Of course, a work of art in and of itself.

*Please note: This article was commissioned by, and first appeared in, the July, 2014, issue of Hilton Head Monthly on page 22, in the magazine’s, Vibe section.  This is the writer’s uncut, final version.  Any errors of spelling, fact, or inaccuracies that occur herein, please email me, Carmen Hawkins DeCecco, carmenhawk1@gmail.com, with your concern and contact information, and I will address promptly.  Thank you.

Picture This; Renowned Hilton Head Artist, Mira Scott, is also Patron of the Arts

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is;  artist, Mira Scott and partner, photographer, Mark S. Tierney, create their own exquisite art, while also promoting all of their regional, neighboring, and not-so-neighboring artists (see Robert Stark, from Pennsylvania – recent October exhibition).

Mira Scott, 1980's

Mira Scott Portrait, by Mark Tierney

What does that mean?  I’ll tell you what it means; contrary to our parents’ thoughtful counsel to cut our hair and get real jobs in this day and age of high-tech, global, corporate, conglomerate, market-share, bail-out-or-bust, high finance, it means that, one can follow one’s passion for creative expression as a legitimate trade, and survive.   Not only survive, but do quite well, thank you very much.  Let’s face it, almost everywhere on Hilton Head Island, we are treated to some form of artistic representation, OR we attend a celebration that has been created, produced, and funded, by local artists and their patrons.  Two of these fully-engaged patrons of the arts, are Ms. Scott and Mr. Tierney.  We don’t know how lucky we are to have their talents right here on Hilton Head Isle, right along down26 Palmetto Bay Road.

Mira Scott, artist

Artist Mira Scott, Hilton Head’s Own Patron of the Arts

Painting by Mira Scott

Butterfly Metamorphosis by Mira Scott

Originally from Quebec, and influenced early on by her father’s appreciation for animals – a zookeeper – Mira began watercoloring wild beasts on canvas from a young age.  And from her mother’s side, a

Russian-Polish persuasion can be detected in her use of repetitive patterns, similar to European folk work.  But what is essentially Mira; ie, what only she brings to the artistic tableaux (as it were), is the bright, cheery palette she uses to define her shapes and images.  Unmistakably, clear, festive blues, bright yellows, orange hues, and pinks, reminiscent of the hippie, flower-child era, yet touched with a linear maturity, elegant lines, and faces, are evidenced in all of her subjects.  A delight to behold, Mira’s paintings would be perfect starting points for decorating any room if one needed inspiration.

B&C Landing, Photo by Mark S. Tierney

B&C Landing, Jasper County, SC by Mark S. Tierney

Brick church ruins in Sheldon

Spanish moss enhances drama of Sheldon Church ruins, only by Mark S. Tierney

Mark S. Tierney (Mira’s partner), a talented photographer, whose work reflects a profound intensity to his subject matter, came to Hilton Head via submarine, back in the day.  Based in Charleston with the Navy during the early eighties, he became drawn to the lowcountry geography and landscapes, such as swamp cypress trees growing

out of the brackish water of Savannah, and acutely aware of the effects of the ephemeral shadow-play of Spanish moss on structural skeletons like the Sheldon Church ruins (images that became part of a later photography exhibit).

He is unafraid to explore nature’s drama with black and white choices, nor to plumb the depths of his own grief with blunt intimacy in his self-portrait nudes against the unforgiving backdrop of outdoors; as though trying to find his own place in the world, or rather, a Mark-shaped hole where he feels he fits, in the proverbial grand scheme of things.

Man in Tree Hole

Tierney explores grief in this untitled self-portrait – one in a series – 2010

Powerful imagery, no matter how you view it, and truly unique to him.

Mira Scott's art

Art panels of Mira’s work at Picture This Gallery on
Hilton Head Island, SC

Together, they fill the space at 78 Cypress Square with vivid art, carefully selected crafts and jewelry, and a constant stream of exhibits by other local artists, as well as fundraisers (usually catered by Trattoria Divina, another of my Hilton Head Island favorites), and of course, a little champagne (what self-respecting gallery host wouldn’t supply champagne or wine at the opening night of an exhibit?).  Mira’s attention to detail is evidenced everywhere, as she work the room, selflessly promoting other artists’ work, putting local personalities together for business, for future fundraising partnerships, or just for a good laugh… you couldn’t ask for a better, more sincere or gracious patron of the arts, than Mira, whose work is, in and of itself, full of inspirational charm that makes you never ever want to leave this island again!

For a look at recent popular events hosted by Mira and Mark, like the Concours d’Elegance Poster Exhibit, All Things Indigo, Art; Bubbly, and Cakes, check out their Sales and Events page, or for a schedule of classes and upcoming events, call 843.842.5299.

Also featured in the gallery are local, hand-made, creations, such as Gullah Sweetgrass Baskets, lowcountry sculptures, and an extensive selection of hand-crafted jewelry.  And if fabulous, original, local art isn’t enough to get you in the door, framing services are also the business du jour, at Picture This (in case you were wondering what they do with all their spare time).  But, truly I speak from firsthand experience, when I say you won’t find better attention to detail and pricing for picture framing. Call for more information on framing services, 843.842.5299.

What else is there to say?  Stop buy Picture This, during this holiday season and support your local artists, of course!

Mira Mira Studio & Picture This Gallery, 26 Palmetto Bay Road, Hilton Head Island, SC  29928

Hours: Mon – Fri 9:30 am – 5:30 pm, Sat 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, or by appointment.

Phone: 843.842.5299

Email: mirascott101@gmail.com

China Looks to Hilton Head for Resort Development Ideas

Harbour Town’s Liberty Oak Tree Graces Us Nightly While Gregg Russell Sings to the Children

Harbour Town’s Liberty Oak Tree Graces Us Nightly While Gregg Russell Sings to the Children

It seems the Chinese have cottoned on to what we already knew about Hilton Head, SC; it is a gorgeous island with high, environmentally sensitive, building standards to which developers must adhere when beginning construction on any kind of building or attraction. Last week – reported the Island Packet on July 10, 2010 – several representatives from two development corporations in China and Thailand, came all the way across the world to Hilton Head and toured Harbour Town, with Ed Modzelewski, Chairman of Applied Technology and Management Inc. (ATM), which has offices in Hilton Head and Charleston.

Apparently, they had all first met each other earlier this year in Shanghai at a boat show (go figure) and the Chinese representatives wandered up to Mr. Modzelewski, and said, “Hello. We are corporate partners developing a twenty-two mile stretch of land along the pacific coast where, up to now, we do alot of shrimp farming. But we want to turn this beautiful coastline into an economic stomping ground filled with marinas and condos and beachside towns and hotels and vacation rentals, but we’ve never done this before and do you know somebody somewhere on this green earth that could show us a model or something of how to build such a community without tearing down every single tree, blade of grass, coconut grove, and rubber plantation?”  Or maybe, something similar to that, and in the Chinese language.

To which, Mr. Modzelewski probably responded, “Duh. Hilton Head Island, SC, on the other side of the world, was built up in the 1970’s by the Brothers Fraser, Charles and Joe… and some other people, but the Fraser boys were the ones who were adamant about leaving the wildlife and trees and marshes right where they started and we would just have to put our little roads and restaurants and houses in the little spaces in between the trees and the beaches,” is maybe what Ed Modzelewski said to David Zhidong Li, the head rep of the Vanion Group from China.

map of Hilton Head

Hilton Head Island, SC

All of which led to this great visit from our Chinese friends who want to see how we shake things up in Harbour Town with live music under the Liberty Oak tree, and cocktails, yachts, charter boats, condos, shops, a lighthouse, a golf course, and everything highlighted in lowcountry style. Well, I imagine they collected alot of good notes and tips from all the realtors and builders here, and will be able to use that information when they go home to China and start building their own marina resort development project.  I hope we can visit this new place when its done, and maybe get a ‘locals’ discount on a dinner or charter boat or something.

Hilton Head Wrack and Roll!

Seaweed, known as wrack.

Seaweed, known as wrack.

We are ever grateful that this island is home to so much carefully preserved and honored wildlife that we, the domesticated, evolved and reasoning creatures that we are, tend to step back on occasion screeching thusly…. “AAAGH!!! DID YOU SEE THE SIZE OF THAT SNAKE?”, forgetting for a moment that we have intruded upon their (their, being Nature that was here waayyyyyyyyy yonder before us), territory in recent years, which, if you measure in geologic time amounts to about the size of a quarter against the globe of 4.6 billion years, which is how long the earth has been in existence.  Apparently, they say we (we, as in humanoids) have been here only a short burp compared to the earth’s raging gastrointestinal offspring of dinasaurs, ice ages, and meteor she-bangs, and I believe them, (“Who?” You might ask is saying we are only a blip on the earth’s radar screen, if eons were measured as blips on radar screens, and I will answer, “people who have made it their business to research and dig in the dirt to prove and make us feel like we are an ego-driven, selfish race of species that will self-sabotage before any asteroid comes close to the widening hole in our ozone layer.”)

Neanderman seeking birdie

Neanderman seeking birdie

I mean really, we’ve got alligators (prehistoric), enormous, birds of prey that spread their wings and you think a seven-forty-seven is taking off from the lagoon at the 16th tee of the Sea Pines Club Course, some days. Turtles get bigger and bigger, and forget sea turtles… have you ever seen a loggerhead up close?  You’d think you maybe took a step back to the Pleistocene age sometimes when walking around our pristine and scenic sand dunes.

Which brings me to my point, believe it or not (I know you’re thinking, ‘is she ever going to get to the point, or what?’), which is that seaweed – also a prehistoric life form, but has not evolved much from then to now – a natural and necessary feature of our delicate ecosystem, sometimes crowds the beach after a super moon tidal party that does not involve us, except as spectators.  Having applied all my literary skills to describing this beautiful ocean algae that sustains invertebrates such as crabs and insects, as well as providing nesting for shorebirds, I shudder to call something so essential, accenting the beaches like eyebrows, gracing our shorelines, and harmless, as “wrack”, but there you have it.  That’s what it’s called. Wrack.

Having said all that above, I and my dog Sam, know the true purpose for wrack; Beach Beagle Back Scratcher!

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.



Celebrate World Ocean Day with the Coastal Discovery Museum Friday, June 8, 2012

World Ocean Day, June 8, 2012


What better way to wind up a Hilton Head vacation week, than to visit the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn for a full day of presentations honoring our delicate ocean systems and wildlife? (That was a rhetorical questions… there is no better way.)  Beginning at 9:00 am on Friday, June 8, with Dr. Michael R. Denson of the Waddell Mariculture Center, followed by six more forty-five minute presentations ranging in subject from seafood in lowcountry restaurants, hearing measurements of bottle-nosed dolphins, sea turtle habits, sharks (natch), and human impact on marine environments.

Loggerhead Turtle


Space for each lecture is limited to the first sixty people who arrive.  For more information, check out their Facebook page for a full schedule of events, or call: 843-689-6767 or email: info@coastaldiscovery.org.  And if you can’t make it on Friday, check out the website for daily family and kid-friendly events and classes all about the lowcountry wildlife, history, and environment.


And for those of you who have never been to the Coastal Discovery Museum, take a walk around the gorgeous grounds of what was once known as Honey Horn Plantation… and bring your camera!

Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn

Located at 70 Honey Horn Drive, Hilton Head Island, 29926 just off the Cross Island Parkway:

If You Are What You Eat, This Gator Was a Beer-Guzzling Sports Fan


Soccer, Anyone?

I thought my little Beagle Sam, held the record for most obnoxious objects to put in his mouth (hairclips, eye glasses, underwear…sigh, yes, underwear… and plastic squeaks from inside the chew toys I bring him).  But nooooooooo, Sam must concede to the thirteen-foot alligator that was chased and caught yesterday at Jarvis Creek Park.  This guy likes to kick back and watch the games live, apparently, considering the contents of his stomach.  A real sportsman, is he.  Baseballs, tennis balls, fishing lures, and a beer can were just a few of the items revealed during the autopsy of said deceased gator.  Fortunately, the only body parts discovered were several turtles, and an intact four-foot alligator he had ingested at some point.  I understand now how these creatures have survived since the age of dinosaurs; they can stay alive feeding on literally, anything at all.  And if you had any doubts as to the seriousness of the signs that say, “Please do not feed the alligators,” keep in mind, this one grabbed a soccer ball for his dinner.  For more details, check out the Island Packet.

      By the way, just in case you were wondering, Jarvis Creek is nowhere near The Vacation Company’s vacation rentals.

Happy Easter, From the Vacation Company

Sea Oats swaying on the beach, Hilton Head Island
    Flowers in bloom, sunbeams shine through swaying sea oats, children laughing in colorful apparel, large straw hats and fancy scarves, lowcountry cooking, fine wine, good vibes, perfect weather, 
graceful golfing, no cell phones, pink sunrises, painted sunsets, hushed and grateful crowds… 
it must be Easter on Hilton Head Island. 
    From all of us at The Vacation Company, have a joyful Easter weekend with your loved ones.