Hilton Head Island Vacation (Deep Sea Fishing) – July 18, 2008

Deep Sea Fishing
The in-laws took Nathan and Katelyn deep sea fishing today. They got up around 7 and were at the dock by 8 a.m. The captain’s name was “Chip” and he was quite reasonable. He took the 4 of them on a 4 hour fishing trip for $400.00. The kids had a blast. Katelyn mostly just took pictures, but Nathan and Don (my father-in-law) both caught a total of 7 sharks! In fact, Nathan hooked a 200 lb. Hammerhead Shark that was about 6 ft. in length. This was the first one of the season according to the captain. They were unable to fully bring the shark into the boat because the line snapped when the shark swam beneath the keel of the boat and snapped the line. They did get a good look at it though. Nathan was naturally just beaming with pride! If you’re going to do deep sea fishing we whole-heartedly recommend Captain Chip see his website here.  His number is (843) 290-0371. While the kids were away with the in-laws, Shan and I headed back to Coligny Plaza, and a few other shops around town while the kids were gone with the in-laws. This has been truly one of the more relaxing vacations we’ve ever taken.

Time to Start Packin’
As much as we hated to start to, we had to start packing our things up for the drive-out tomorrow. We have made every attempt on this trip to try and not rush the vacation away. We started out the vacation with the mindset that we were going to take it slow so that we could enjoy it, and not be able to say, “man that vacation went by fast.” So far, we’ve been able to do just that. The pace is so much slower here in the south which helped a great deal. For the first day or so, we had to check our selves to not fall into that northern mindset of rush, rush, rush!

Hilton Head Island Vacation (Savannah Day Trip) – July 17, 2008

Tybee Lighthouse behind the Palms by Rodger Mangold

Savannah, Georgia – Just 80 or so miles from the villa is Savannah, Georgia.  My in-laws went there earlier in the week and were very pleased withtheir trip. Shannon and I opted not to go with them, but today, unknowns to me, the Tybee Island Lighthouse is located just outside of Savannah, and we decided to go see it. My in-laws wanted to come along for the ride. On the way we had a lengthy discussion about our GPSwhich helped us navigate to our destination without incident. My in-laws have a Magellan that they are not happy with and I was touting all the features of my Delphi Nav200. Their son, David, has one as well and they were going to look into getting one. I say “were” for a reason…read on!

The Tybee Island Lighthouse – A very picturesque setting plays home to this stripped behemoth of a light. Black and white and almost 200′ tall and Ordered by General James Oglethorpe, Governor of the 13th colony, in 1732, the Tybee Island Light Station has been guiding mariners safe entrance into the Savannah River for over 270 years. The Tybee Island Light Station is one of America’s most intact having all of its historic support buildings on its five-acre site. Rebuilt several times the current light station displays its 1916 day-mark with 178 stairs, and a First Order Fresnel lens (nine feet tall).

Believe it or not, I was able to make it up all 178 steps to the top and what a spectacular view of the ocean, and the surrounding fort. The cost was $6.00 for adults and $5.00 for seniors. Certainly worth it considering how beautifully the grounds and the light are kept up and cared for. I didn’t make it to the houses surrounding the lighthouse (I was taking too many pictures), but Shannon said I should have, she was very intrigued with the history.


Downtown Savannah, River Street –
With being so close to downtown Savannah, we had to stop by the River Street Shops. We originally were looking for the Peanut Shop. My in-laws had purchased a huge can of some of the best peanuts I have ever had, WAY better than Planter’s ever dared to be, and we wanted to by some for ourselves. In addition to the large can of peanuts, we bought cashews, mixed nuts, and some New Orleans flavored peanuts. On our way to the Peanut Shop however, we were detoured by the smell of the Savannah Candy Kitchen where they make pecan praline and give out free samples. This was so mouth watering we had to buy some. We also bought several of their other treats including their Divinity, roasted pecans, and salt water taffy. Everything tasted so wonderful! If you are ever in Savannah, this entire strip is an absolute MUST!

Savannah Yarn Store – Wild Fibre
Of course no trip would ever be complete unless we plugged in a yarn store. We did just that and using our VZ Navigator located a store called Wild Fibre. If length of visit is any indicator here, Shannon really liked this store. She walked out with a bag chocked full of yarn, and a pattern. She is a woman on a mission now for sure. She spent about $75, and was thrilled with the store. I was content to sit in the car like I almost always do and keep the chariot ready for the Queen of Knitting! Shannon would highly recommend this store for knitters if you are in the area. There website is http://www.wildfibreyarns.com/1.html. It is located at 409 E. Liberty Street in Savannah between Habersham and Price Streets (Map HERE).

GPS in FlamesGPS Crash – Nicknamed “Betty” my GPScrashed on the way out of Savannah. After all the bragging and promoting I did for this fantastic product, the Delphi Nav200 locked up and would not provide us with directions back to Hilton Head. At one point, I was getting so frustrated (yes me), we were driving over some railroad tracks and I threatened that if she didn’t start working, I was going to toss her onto the tracks! I even went as far as to re-name what GPS stood for…GETTING PRETTY STUPID! Fortunately, I had my VZNavigator for a back-up. I am amazed and ashamed at the same time how dependent we have become on technology. I know I could have broke down and bought a map, but witha $200 unit, and a $200 phone, both with GPS, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The VZ worked just fine and we made it home, only to have Betty kick back on. The error message I was getting was, “non-sufficient memory to perform this operation.” I think she may have gotten over-heated. We used her for the rest of the our entire vacation without incident.

Hilton Head Island Vacation – July 16, 2008

Putt-Putt and Shopping – Since my injury prevents me from playing real golf, and since I have endured watching some poorly executed tee shots from our deck, I have had the itch to try my hand at golf. Unfortunately, putt-putt is as close as I’ll get for a while. We found a great place on William Hilton Parkway, near our villa called Legendary Golf. This plays unlike any putt-putt course you’ve ever been to. Each hole is set up and contoured just like a miniature golf hole. There are bunkers, water hazards, roughs, and flags at each hole. The total price for our family was $34.00, but worth every penny. Interestingly enough, each tee included a scripture about the gospel; very inspirational, educational, and recreational all in one. This will likely become one of our Hilton Head Haunts when we return.

Outlets – There are several outlets in Hilton Head, two of which are Tanger Outlets and the kids love going to them as do we. We didn’t spend a lot of money, but enjoyed walking around looking for bargains. Nate and I bought a pair of tennis shoes at the Famous Footwear Shoe Outlet, located at Hilton Head Village 1460 Fording Island Road, Suite 240, Bluffton, SC 29910 Phone: (843) 836-3304. I bought a pair of K-Swiss for me and a pair of Hurley’s for Nate. Our bill came to $60 for 2 pair of designer shoes. My shoes are so comfortable to walk in, even with the brace and my support sock.

My Reading Material – The Innocent Man by John Grisham – There was a lot of leisure time being at the villa so I took advantage of that by reading a book by John Grisham called the Innocent Man, which is a true story about a small town police force and small-time prosecuting attorney in Ada, Oklahoma, that wrongfully brought about the conviction of several innocent men, one of which was sentenced to die by lethal injection. This was a superbly written novel, that reads more like fiction and the reader will be amazed at how corrupt the judicial system can be. If you’re a supporter of the death penalty, this will make you second guess your logic.

Shipyard Plantation – Galleon Golf Course – My favorite place to read was on the deck in view of the 6th hole of our resort’s Galleon Golf Course location in the Shipyard Plantation. Here is a VIDEO of a flyover of the golf course. Interestingly enough, there were several botched tee shots that found there way on the very deck I was reading on, many others hit some of the homes across the fairway from us as well. Be very careful when reading or enjoying time on the deck. If you hear the tee shot, be watching for the ball!

The Weather – The weather was forecasted to be thunderstorms everyday. We ran into some weather off and on, but nothing that took away from our trip. One night the thunder and lightening was deafening, unlike any I had ever experienced. The next day, there were tree limbs and such blown in the roadway and bike paths, but all in all, it sounded much worse than it was. There is a tropical storm (later turned hurricane) in the middle of the Atlantic called Bertha that is causing a bit of a raucous with the beaches, but nothing that prevented us from enjoying the water. The waves were a little more rough and the weather man warned against rip currents that actually were blamed for 3 deaths on the New Jersey Coastline.

Hilton Head Island Vacation – Tuesday 7/15/08

Rodger Dale & Shan at Harbor Town Light July 2008

Harbor TownThe kids wanted to spend as much time as they could at the beach, so more often than not, that’s where they were today. Shannon and I wanted to see the local lighthouse at Harbor Town which was just a short drive from our villa. There were many small shops and a quaint little harbor, but the view of the harbor, from the top of the lighthouse was breath-taking. I was able to negotiate the 114 steps up and was it ever worth it. Every few steps, there was a landing where you could read about the history of the island, which provided me with an opportunity to take a break while making the climb with my cane.

18th Hole of the Sea Pines Resort Golf Course from the Harbor Town Light Look-out Photo by Rodger Mangold

There was a small fee to gain access for the day to the Sea Pines Resort where the lighthouse was located ($5.00/day/car) and another fee for going up into the lighthouse ($3.00/person). The views were not only of the harbor, but of the ocean, and the 18th hole of the Sea Pines Resort. You can view the web cam HERE to see almost the entire area surrounding the lighthouse.

Murphy’s Fish ‘n’ Chips – One of my favorite dishes of all time is fish and chips. When reading up on some of the local flavor in Hilton Head I stumbled upon an ad for Murphy’s Irish Pub and Restaurant. Mr. Murphy states in his ad that he’s from Ireland and serves authentic Irish cuisine including fish and chips. I was immediately “hooked.” So for lunch, Shannon and I head to Murphy’s and were the only people there. In fact, Murphy was the gent that waited on us. True to his ad, he was in fact an Irishman, and his fish and chips did not disappoint. Made with cod fillets, they were scrumptious. He tended to our every whim. He took our order, cooked, served it, visited with us some, and was very pleasant. He kept smiling a “wee” smirk. I think he was tickled that I told him we were putting his fish and chips to the test.

The place was a bit small, and more pub than restaurant. We were the only guests there so it was quaint and quiet. We enjoyed visiting with Mr. Murphy and watching his feed from the UK of a soccer tournament while we ate. Plus, in the background he was playing Irish/Celtic music. I know we were in Hilton Head Island, but for a few moments we felt like we were in Ireland. Murphy says he appeals to a smaller crowd and is considered a stepping stone to larger restaurants and pubs in the area. He doesn’t mind he said, it keeps the atmosphere more family friendly. Incidently, our bill with (2) meals and (2) iced teas came to about $22.00.

Salty Dog Café – Later we took the kids to the Salty Dog Café where we had some ice cream and took in some of the sights. We were told, anyone that goes to Hilton Head Island, MUST go to the Salty Dog. It was a quaint outdoor café with a souvenir/general store. The ice cream was excellent, but a little on the costly side. There is a webcam here as well that is located next to the thermometer in the café. There are two red-painted foot prints to stand on to be in view of the webcam. In addition to the Salty Dog Café, there is a Salty Dog T-shirt Outlet. The kids chose to pass up on the T-shirt or any of the souvenirs.

Hilton Head Island Vacation – Monday 7/14/08

Tourist Nightmare ALERT – What I am about to describe is a pure tourist nightmare, and consider this a warning. We stopped by a “visitor center” that was actually a disguise for a rental property company that lures you into listening to their sales pitch for “90 minutes,” as the try to entice you to by into a “time-share-type” of plan that would enable you to stay at any resort within their catalog. I did not want anything to do with going to this meeting, but they promised us $100/couple for listening to the plan. We took it with the intention of being able to put the money toward a deep-sea fishing trip for Nathan, Katelyn, and my in-laws. MISTAKE!

The whole presentation wound up taking almost 3 hours, the didn’t want to give us the $100 when we were explicitly told that’s what we would get. Actually, if you figure, we should have been given $200/couple since they took 3 hours of our time instead of the promised 90 minutes. The guy would just not take no for an answer. Finally, Shannon had to get out-right rude, as did I, to get him to just cut us a check and let us go! We weren’t even interested in the plan, we just wanted the cash. I know this guy had to make his living too, and he did a great job of explaining the plan, but honestly, how many times, and how many different ways can you tell a guy NO? FYI the name of the property group was Spinnaker.

Coligny Plaza Shops – A tourist trap that is a must for any visitor to Hilton Head is Coligny Plaza. There are tons of small shops, ice cream stores, a True Value Hardware Store, a souvenir shops, restaurants, and even a Piggly Wiggly! We had ice cream at the “Ice Cream Cone” shop. Katelyn had her hair braided “corn row” style at “Hair and Company.” Nathan and Katelyn both bought sand-dollars and star fish at the “Shell Shop.”

Hilton Head Island Vacation – Sunday 7/13/08

Getting Around Town – Our first order of business, once food was taken care of, as with anywhere we go for the first time, is to familiarize ourselves with the area. Thanks to our Delphi NAV200 GPS we were able to quickly get to where we wanted to go. In addition to the GPS my phone, the Blackberry Curve 8830 from Verizon Wireless, is equipped with GPS, call VZ Navigator. The VZ Navigator was especially helpful in finding area restaurants, stores, and attractions.

Bike Rides – Our bikes were indeed delivered as promised by Patriot Bike Rentals of Hilton Head Island. They were excellent bikes for getting around the resort and getting to the beach. That was just about our first order of business, trying out the new bikes and seeing the beach. I was a little worried that with my injured ankle that riding a bike would prove too much. My doctor gave me the approval so I made the attempt and I am glad I did. I was able to get around fantastic on the bike. There was a short distance that I had to walk the bike to the actual beach, which proved challenging on the softer sand, but once I was on the packed sand, it was exhilarating riding the bike along the beach with the waves crashing to the shore.

Mangold Vacation 2008

This is one of our most exciting times of the year; VACATION! Each year, with the Lord’s help, we have been able to enjoy a modest vacation away from the hectic pace of life. This year, thankfully, will be no different. Our destinations include the following:

Pigeon Forge, TN: July 3 – 4
Hilton Head Island, SC: July 5 – 11
Charleston, SC: July 12 – 13
Frederick, MD: July 14 – 20


Pigeon Forge
We will be in Pigeon Forge, TN for just a couple of days to celebrate the 4th and to take in some mountain music and air! We booked a reasonable hotel at the Econo Lodge Riverside at 2440 N. Parkway Pigeon Forge TN 37868. It promises to be a great time, in a great location. I was told by the clerk that fireworks are viewable right from the hotel. I will be posting my review of the hotel during our stay. It’s been billed from a 2 to 3 star hotel but several sites. Incidentally, I located this hotel at Kayak.com for a rate of $79.99 (Thu.) and $99.99 (Fri.). This rate includes a non-smoking room with 2-queens with a AAA discount.

Hilton Head Island
We are super excited about this new venture for us. We have never stayed in Hilton Head and have heard many great things about it. Our friends, Pam and Ray Slone, recommended this destination to us. We booked a villa on the island at Resort Rentals of Hilton Head. This was a superb find and very affordable, especially when you can split the price with another family. In our case, my inlaws are going in “halvers” with us. The rate for the week came to $1386.45. Here is a link to the actual unit we will be staying in (LINK). As is the case with the accommodations at our other destinations, I will be posting a review of the unit here.

Charleston
Yet another recommendation from several people, Charleston is an historic destination by the sea. Some have even said, this would be even a better place to stay than Hilton Head. Of course, that remains to be seen. Our accommodations are at Sleep Inn Charleston 1524 Savannah Hwy (US 17 S) , Charleston, SC, 29407 Phone: (843) 556-6959. The rate was a bit more than I really wanted to pay, but not having been to the area, I had to rely heavily on the reviews of former guests at the hotel to determine a clean and safe hotel to stay at. According to Hotels.com this hotel would be recommended by 77% of its guests and is a 2 star hotel. Our rate was $115/night for 2-queens, non-smoking with the AAA Discount. With taxes, the room comes to $132. We typically like to keep it under $100/night, but again, not having stayed there before, we chose to hedge our stay by spending a bit more to ensure we are in a good area and at a good hotel.

Frederick
Of course, if you’re a visitor to this blog, you may have stumbled upon the fact that we have many relatives that live in the Frederick, MD area. Our accommodations here will be with family. Uncle Mike and Aunt Sharon Mangold will be our hosts and we so look forward to seeing them. But no visit to Maryland would be complete unless we frequented my Aunt Yolanda and Uncle Donny Johnson’s home where my Mamaw Dovie lives as well. This leg of our journey will be pure relaxation and lots of quality family time catching up with them. We have not seen them since last July. Way too long for my liking. Here I will visit with Mamaw and show her some of the new pics that my newly discovered cousins were kind enough to share with me.

Gas Prices
A huge crimp in our style this vacation is of course the gas prices. I created a spread sheet that I will be using to track gas prices as I go through the trip. I project our fuel cost for the entire round trip will be between $400 – $500. An actual figure, bar any other long distance trips, is $420. The total miles at 2168, with an average gas price of $4.00/gal. I know this may seem conservative considering gas is now over $4.00/gal in some areas. But, doing a search of gas prices in each area, the average still is around $4.00 with prices ranging from Michigan at $4.17 on down to South Carolina at $3.79/gal. So taking into account mountain driving and flat terrain driving, I estimate our price per mile will be approximately $.19/mile for fuel. I will track it throughout the trip to see how close my estimates are. Gas prices were taken from the AAA website Fuel Price Finder. Mileage and time estimates were made using Google Maps.

GPS
The GPS we will be using is the Delphi Nav200. I purchased this unit last November (2007) for $129 at Sears. It has been a terrific unit that has seldom steered us wrong. I tested this unit in 2007 for our trip to up east in Maine. We used to travel from Bar Harbor, ME through New York, NY to Maryland with excellence results. Just getting through New York sold me on this unit. Granted, there are slimmer and trimmer models on the market, but this unit has proved itself worthy of my demanding qualifications and will accompany us on yet another Mangold Family Vacation.