Drinking and Dolphins, Not at the Same Time

I didn’t write anything yesterday, because I mostly took the day off, reading, napping, and watching movies (Bullet Train was hilarious). Now, though, I’ll share the fun Lee and I had on his last weekend here at Hilton Head.

Full moon (not Chinese balloon) from the hot tub.

Yesterday we had all sorts of plans, but while it was sunny it was way too windy and cold to go on another hike or on a dolphin cruise. We had planned to go visit Mitchellville, which was the first self-governed settlement of emancipated enslaved people, but when we got there, we realized so was everyone else on the island, due to a big Black History Month event. Lee is not a fan of crowds, so we let the celebrants celebrate.

Heron is also a hermit.

So, we did an indoor activity, which was visit Hilton Head distillery, a place I like very much. Lee had never been there, and I think he enjoyed seeing their stills and learning how they make their spirits. I enjoyed it for the second time, and had a good time with the tastings and all that. The tour guide, who also works there making spirits, did tell a lot about the Gullah people’s history and their importance on the island, so I got a little of the history stuff I’d been looking for, anyway!

I do wish I’d had the foresight to eat more than a fig bar before we got there. I ended up rather tipsy, though I managed to enjoy a nice meal at the Sea Shack, which is a real favorite down-home place with great food. However, when we got back to the condo, I fell asleep for quite some time, so no more activities other than quiet ones. I sure felt silly!

Today it was a lot warmer, and the threatened rain was off the coast, so we booked a dolphin tour. First, we went for brunch at a place called Skillets, which serves food in…skillets. How about that? My meal was interesting fried or baked “grit cakes” topped with spinach, shrimp, poached eggs, and a benedict sauce. It came with very crispy/tender rosemary potatoes. That was extra delicious and fueled me up for the day’s activities, like I wish I’d done yesterday.

I had already eaten one grit cake before I thought to take a picture.

Then we went off to the docks for our ride out into the local waters. I used the same company I did when Anita and I went a few years ago. It’s a smaller company with smaller boats and longer rides. There was just one other couple on the tour.

Not a fancy boat, but quick

We enjoyed ourselves immensely. I got to see lots of interesting birds, though most of them were too far away to photograph well. There were terns, gulls, cormorants, anhingas, cried, and lots of cute bufflehead ducks. I also saw an osprey on patrol and a bald eagle in its giant nest. Of course, there were also various herons and sandpipers. It was really pretty out on the barrier islands and in the inlets.

I figured we’d see a couple of dolphins out in the distance, and that would be it, but we lucked out and saw quite a few. The best time was when the guide saw a pod he knew and we followed them in a quiet inlet. There were six of them, and he had names for them all, based on their distinguishing characteristics, like fin shape and scars. At one point, the guide turned the boat engine off and we could hear the dolphins breathing and splashing, very close to us. It was so nice to see them in their habitat, not in some show.

I don’t think the other couple had as much fun as we did, especially the woman, who seemed pretty pouty. I think she was expecting a grander vessel. The boat was not at all grand, which was fine with us. The exciting part of the trip came when we were going back at a good clip and suddenly hit a sand bar. Pouty Girl had been sort of lounging on the bow of the little boat and was thrown forward. This displeased her greatly. She whimpered at her spouse the rest of the way back and jumped off the boat as soon as we landed. We all laughed, which wasn’t very nice, I guess.

After driving through some historic old neighborhoods and getting some shoes at the outlet mall (Lee volunteered for this), we’re settling in and watching the sunset as I get ready to cook Lee a nice going away dinner. I regret to say that the Baltimore oriole I saw at the mall flew away when I tried to get its picture, which was the only downer of the day. However, I did SEE it!

We will see what I come up with to do on foot when he is gone!

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Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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