Exploring Hilton Head Island on bicycle
As the rest of my family played on the beach, it was hard to ignore that two of them were missing. I walked up to the house to see what was keeping them, and found both of them with their hands and eyes glued to the electronic devices—my father answering e-mails and checking in on work, and my son busy gaming with friends back home.
It’s not exactly what I had in mind when I booked our family vacation on
Hilton Head Island
. These two were “connected,” but it wasn’t with us.
I had an idea.
“Who was at the door?” my son asked not long after.
“A surprise,” I said. “I rented bikes so we could go explore the island!”
My son was not thrilled.
“Oh go on,” said my father. “You and your mom will have fun.”
“Nice try, Dad,” I said. “I got one for you, too.”
I then watched my 60-year-old father and 12-year-old son walk out dejectedly, generations apart, but both wearing the same resigned expression.
Back to basics
“So how far are we going?” my son asked, only a few minutes into our ride.
“I thought we would ride down to Coligny and get some lunch,” I said.
Luckily, the promise of food was enough to keep him interested.
The old adage “like riding a bicycle” proved true as Dad and I found that we were riding like teenagers again as we started down the path beside the main road.
As we pedaled, my mind drifted to my own teenage Hilton Head Island vacation memories—miniature golf with my brothers, firework displays over Shelter Cove, my mother telling my father how to navigate the traffic circle.
We arrived at Coligny just in time to grab an outdoor table to enjoy lunch and a great view.
“Do you remember that summer I had to bring you down here to meet that boy for a lunch date?” my father said with a smile.
“Mom?” my son asked unbelievably.
“Oh yeah, I think half the teenage boys on the island left here in the summer with a crush on your mother,” he said. “But this boy … your Mom really liked him.”
“Who was it you said he reminded you of, honey?” my father asked.
“Jon Bon Jovi,” I said embarrassingly.
“Ugh, that old guy?” my son said incredulously.
“Hey,” I said. “Watch it!”
Pedaling down Memory Lane
After lunch, my father told us to follow him. He wanted to show us something.
We rode down Forest Beach Drive a few blocks, and my father stopped, put a hand on my son’s shoulder, and pointed to a beach house with a big deck looking out on the beach and said, “That’s where your grandmother and I used to stay when we first started vacationing here.”
“In fact, we used to eat dinner out on that deck, and slow dance under the stars.”
I couldn’t help but smile, thinking about my parents, newlyweds in love, twirling around that deck for all to see.
We took the long way back home, cruising through Shelter Cove, and stopping for the obligatory picture with the Neptune statue overlooking the harbor. My son looked on embarrassed as I posed on the ground like I did each summer when I was young, acting like Neptune’s giant trident was stabbing me.
We continued through Shelter Cove Community Park, enjoying the views of Broad Creek, until we reached the Veterans Memorial. Standing before it, my father turned to my son and said, “Have I ever told you about your great grandfather’s experience at Pearl Harbor?”
Even though I’d heard the story many times before, listening to it again, shared from grandfather to grandson, was like hearing it for the first time.
It was still dark outside when I felt a hand nudging me awake. I opened my eyes and saw my son standing over me.
“Is everything okay?”
“Oh yeah, I just wanted to see if you wanted to ride with me and Grandpa over to Barker Field to watch the sunrise.”
I thought I was dreaming until I smelled the cup of coffee he had for me in his hand.
“Sure,” I said. “I’d love to.”
We rode up to the Observation Deck just as the horizon was turning what seemed a thousand hues of orange.
“Just in time,” my father said. “What a way to the start the day.”
My son and I nodded silently in agreement, trying to take in the magnificent scene in front of us.
As I stood watching the sunrise for the first time in years, my father on one side and my son on the other, I realized that with each of those miles pedaled the day before, we were disconnecting with our hectic lives and reconnecting with each other.
“Hey Mom, do you want to ride bikes to Old House Creek today to go crabbing with me and Grandpa?”
“Absolutely,” I said. “Absolutely.”
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