Monday, August 10, 2015

Vacation 2015

Spent the past eight days visiting the in-laws down in Hilton Head, SC. Six days actually; the first and last Saturdays were spent in the Pilot driving from and to the home base in New Jersey. The way down took us fifteen hours, which included two meal and bathroom breaks. Back up only took a little over twelve. The difference is the omnipresent traffic mysteriously centered around Quantico, Virginia. Going down we did this twenty-five mile stretch in an hour and fifteen minutes. We smartened up and the return trip – the wife used her Waze app to reroute us to 295 north, completely cutting out this nonsense.

The trip was mainly for the two little ones. This was by far the most action-packed Hilton Head vacation for them, as this was the first time in five years I’ve gone down, since having me around helps the wife greatly in the whole crazy logistics of it all. The girls swam at the plantation pool four days and at the beach twice. They visited two zoos, seeing an exhibit on butterflies and holding bunnies, chickens, turtles, snakes (!), and alligators (!!). They learned how to fish for shrimp and crabs (I guess the verb should be “shrimp” or “crab” instead of “fish”). Each had two hour-long tennis lessons with professional instructors they loved. We went to a “haunted” campfire marshmallow roast and were stalked by two baby gators (and a snapping turtle). The girls made pizzas with their grandpa, an annual tradition. Oh, and we went to see local attraction Greg Russell at Sea Pines and the girls were picked to sing in front of 350 people. So very proud.

As for me, well, I went to three of those four pool sessions and hit the beach twice. I’m not a beachgoer. In fact, this might be the first time I’ve been on the beach in at least fifteen years. The first day monstrously threatening storm clouds blew in a half-hour after we set up while the girls splashed and boogie-boarded. Rain chased us away. Next day I got in the ocean with them, keeping a wary eye out for sharks and jellyfish. We all had a good time.

My in-laws’ wifi worked the first half of the week we were there, so I was able to do some work on my project and surf the web in the evenings. Then, a falling branch took it out for the remainder of the week. I brainstormed improved titles for my novel at the local library one afternoon and skimmed through its back issues of Scientific American. As far as current reads, I finished two books. One on an alternate religion, the other on the history of physics. 

Picked up a quartet of books at the thrift shop where my mother-in-law volunteers:

Voyage to the City of the Dead, by Alan Dean Foster

The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk

The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and the Laws of Physics, by Roger Penrose

The Universe, Time-Life Books circa early 70s

All for $5.50. For charity.

Tried to read Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker, as promised in a prior post, and put away forty pages poolside. However, I found it dull, plodding, flat, unidimensional, and the big ideas – what ones that were revealed and what ones I guessed were coming – did not excite. Still, it is a classic, so possibly I was just not in the correct frame of mind. It goes back on the bookshelf, perhaps to be plucked five or ten years down the road. I made an unsuccessful stab at Gurdjieff’s Meetings with Remarkable Men, but found that the other book I was concurrently reading (the one on an alternate religion) provided better similar themes.

My father-in-law is a huge Cubs fan, so with both the Cubs and Mets surging, and factoring a late-season collapse by my team, we might have a friendly bet over a Wild Card series in two months. And since he’s a gourmet chef by night (architect by day), we all ate like royalty five of those six nights. The other dinner we had at their club after tennis lessons.

My mother-in-law gave Little One her old Dell laptop provided we could move a hundred or so photos off it and on to her iPad. An impossible challenge! But we tried our best. Friday morning, in the pouring rain, multitasking at a Starbucks, downloading this, searching that, we finally threw all the photos on a flash drive. Best we could do, as Apple and Microsoft are mortal enemies and we didn’t want to upgrade Nana’s OS to get iTunes on her Dell.

Other highlights:

Touched an SUV-sized piece of an Atlas rocket from a 2010 launch that had washed up on the beach sometime earlier and now was cordoned off near an animal preserve.

Meditated twice and walked four miles, one of those with my youngest, Patch.

Learned more than I ever wanted to know – and seen more than I’ve ever wanted to see – of Banana Spiders.

Sunbathed for the first time since that awful Sunburn of ’94. Didn’t get scorched, but didn’t get tan, either.

Came up with 27 alternate titles for my first novel while skimming both it and a “philosophical biography” of Friedrich Nietzsche.

And since all four of us had to share the spare bedroom, Little One would smack my feet several times a night to get me to stop snoring. We can laugh about that now …

All in all, a great summer vacation, my first in five years, not counting this unemployment-induced holiday I’m currently experiencing.

Pictures tomorrow.

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