South Carolina

 
Our final destination for the day was Hilton Head Island, South Carolina!
We stayed at a hotel on the beach so we could get in as much beach time as possible.
While the water was warm and the waves gentle, after coming from Destin, the beach itself was not as impressive.  The beach is hard.  The sand in Florida and California is very soft, however the sand at Hilton Head is so firm that many people rode their bikes along the beach.  It was hard to make a sand castle with.
But with kids, all you need is water!  Karlie was on the hunt again and found crabs and jelly fish to play with.  Dead ones!
 The next morning we played on the beach and in the pool until check out and headed to Harbor Town to visit the lighthouse.
 The lighthouse was initially the town joke and referred to the builder's plan as Fraser's Folley.  However, it soon became popular and is now the most recognized symbol for Hilton Head Island.
  From the top of the lighthouse we could see the 18th hole of the Heritage golf tournament. 
Someone had to do a little shopping, so the gang took in the views of the marina while they rocked in style.  I wish I could have brought one of the rocking chairs back as a souvenir!
 They have this incredible park.  The trees!  The trees!
 About the coolest tree house ever.
 It was nice to just let the kids play while we sat in arms of the trees.  In the shade with a light breeze, it was pretty blissful.
 But our tummies were rumbling, so we headed off in search of some famous South Carolina BBQ.
One Hot Mamma's was the answer!
This was our best family wide eating experience.  Everyone was in hog heaven.  Brisket, ribs, Mac-N-Cheese, collard greens, fried okra, and sweet tea.
 It is challenging eating out with Hank's allergies.  We rarely eat out at home and it is always nagging at us on vacation.  What if they say it doesn't contain eggs but it does.  What if they accidentally get nuts in his food.  It is always in the back of our mind.  And then it is always heart breaking when there is something he really wants, like ice cream, but it has eggs in it and he has to watch his sisters eat it while he gets a trusty Oreo I always have in my purse.  We nearly jumped for joy when the waiter said the Mac-N-Cheese didn't have eggs in it!  Yay!  He wolfed down his plate.  Everyone was in a state of food bliss.
While we were happily devouring our plates, (We all cleaned our plates-completely) Kaitlin asked me if I had asked about the roll that came with Hank's Mac-N-Cheese.  I shrugged it off because every time I had asked about bread it had been fine. :(  Then at the end of the meal Hank started to breath funny and he looked to me like he was going to be sick.  Max whisked him to the bathroom and I asked the dreaded question, "Do your rolls have eggs in them?"  She came back and said yes.  I asked her for some trash bags.  Hank always throws up when he gets eggs.
We decided to load up and sure enough he got sick in the car.  Poor guy lost all that delicious Mac-N-Cheese that he was so thrilled to get to eat.  All because I didn't bother to ask about the darn bread.  I couldn't be bothered in my food affair.  It crushed me.  It is one thing when bad stuff happens to your kids, but when you fail to protect them, it rips your heart out.  I am so sorry buddy.
Hank is a trooper and after getting everything out of his system he was feeling much better.  He went on to get an itchy rash.  I was grateful it was eggs and not nuts.  While he gets ill and breaks out with a rash with eggs, peanuts are life threatening.  After making sure our little guy wasn't having any breathing problems, we carried on to Congaree National Park.
Congaree is just outside Columbia, SC.  According to Wikipedia, "it has the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States."
 We walked a short ways along the Boardwalk Loop that winds through the swamp.  I say short because we practically had to pull Hailey out of the car to walk through the park.  She HATES bugs, especially mosquitoes.  This was like her Room 101!  We had a laugh at the Mosquito meter.  If this was 3, I can't imagine 6!  They were everywhere.  It was very hot and humid but we kept our sweatshirts on to protect us from the viscous mosquitoes.  I had planned on doing the 2.4 mile loop so we could see the tallest and largest Loblolly Pines alive, but the ones near the entrance would have to do!
Pretty cool trees, but nasty bugs.  We gone!
I tend to take it to the max and push everyone out of their comfort zone.  These trips are packed full of new experiences, foods, and sometimes uncomfortable.  The kids are so great about being good sports in both the good and bad moments.  We were down to our last hour and half in the car for this trip and everyone was happy about that.  North Carolina was in the horizon and home not too far away.
It was time to roll our windows down and just cruise...

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