Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Yay Hilton Head Vacay!

I have so been looking forward to our long-planned vacation in Hilton Head! It marks a transition week between the just ended school year and a summer full of home improvement, book projects and other to-do items.

I will chronicle our Hilton Head trip with photos. Lots of rain was forecast, which had us worried. We end up getting two clear and sunny days for what we really wanted to do: soak up some sun on the beach.

Five days on Hilton Head was a blast. Friday we drove the short distance to Savannah to have dinner and spend the night. Our trip culminated in a short visit to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.
Checking out the beach soon after our arrival 
Nice leading lines, beach, clouds and HDR effect

Tuesday and Wednesday were great days for hanging at the beach

Beach panorama shot with my iPhone 7

Marriott's Grande Ocean resort- all villas- excellent accommodations 

On Tuesday, the resort has a "Cooking With the Guys" free BBQ lunch- I stumbled upon this event

There are many daily activities at the resort- so next time I'll look more closely at the schedule

The chicken was very tasty and so was the price- free! (peach cobbler for dessert too)

Alesia looking great! I bought her this top at Mirror Mirror, an Orangeburg boutique opened last year by a former SC State student of mine, Kiiyah Stokes-Jones, a communications graduate. 

We went back to Santa Fe Cafe ("New Mexico Next Door"), which is a Hilton Head favorite of ours- we've been three or four times

Alesia looking lovely!

I really enjoyed my shrimp fajita

Spanish Coffee was a nice end to the evening

The beach was busy but not overly crowded in mid May 

Rain was predicted every day we were on Hilton Head so I felt lucky to have two days like this

Pretty scene from the outdoor bar area at the Grande Ocean resort

I caked on the sunscreen! Can't be too careful, right? 

It was neat to see a busy Piggly Wiggly store on Hilton Head. The once prominent Carolinas chain is making a comeback in the Charleston area, I'm pleaseed to see.

Michael Anthony's Cucina Italiana restaurant proved to be my favorite dining experience this week

We were treated to a three-course meal with wine pairings as part of our package with Marriott to explore joining its vacation club

I took photos of the three courses. I should have taken a picture of the menu so I could accurately list each part. 

This pasta dish was my favorite course and would go back to Michael Anthony's just for this delicious dish

The veal entre was also very good- different to me in that I don't eat a lot of pasta. Each wine pairing was spot on!

The ice cream dessert was very good too and the presentation was picture perfect as you see

The coffee at the end of this special meal was also excellent, capping off a unique and delightful dining experience!

This photo that I took and posted on Facebook's "South Carolina Picture Project" site was a big hit, garnering more reactions/like, share and comments than any of my photos ever posted anywhere!  One woman wants to paint it and another is purchasing a print from me. Wow, so exciting to get such a response! 

Like the above picture, I took this one with my iPhone 7, using its pano (short for panorama) feature. Panos are fun to given the right setting.

This photo and the Bluebird below I both ran through Snapseed's photo editing app on my phone. Snapseed is a free and wonderful tool for processing and enhancing images.  My favorite tools in Snapseed are the "Accentuate" and HDR effects. I can never remember what HDR stands for so here it is, maybe I'll remember now (but I doubt it): High-Dynamic-Range.

I didn't really do any birding excursions on Hilton Head and didn't see too many I wanted to try to capture around the resort. But I like this Eastern Bluebird shot that I gave some of that Snapseed HDR treatment.  

Welcome to Savannah!  Before heading home, we traveled a little farther south to Charleston's sister city of Savannah. This photo I took in the wonderful park near the market area.  

These drinking vehicles- pedals by the participants- are something you don't see in Charleston

A musician performs in the popular Savannah Market

We had a pleasant dining experience at the Little Duck Diner, though we had to move inside due to rain

Savannah's riverfront is the best! This is the Georgia Queen passing by.

I used Snapseed's HDR effect to make this photo look this way- cool right? 

A selfie while seated in the park across from the Andaz Hotel, which is a Hyatt concept property. We have stayed there before- very nice and in a great central location too.

We made a brief stop at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge before returning home

Cranes at the busy Savannah port facilities can be seen from the vast refuge

We walked for a way down this path- it was buggier than I thought it would be for mid-May. The horse flies were horrible!

For the brief time we were there, I did see and get some nice bird photos such as with Boat-tailed Grackle giving me the evil eye

Common Moorhens (or Gallinule) are common here

Boat-tailed Grackles are very photogenic with their big long tails (hence the name) and their fierce, piercing eyes

Common Moorhens from behind

Maile Red-Winged Blackbird calling for his mate (below) possibly

Female Red-Winged Blackbird- yes I'm here guy! 

Head on (or red on) looked at the Common Moorhens 

Tri-colored Heron scoping the landscape

Pretty purple flower- not sure its name

I later used a butterfly guide I own to ID this as a Gulf Fritillary

In fact, I think that I purchased my Carolinas and Georgia Leps (or butterfly) guide a few years ago at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Vistors Center/Gift Shop

These photos are out of the usual order I would make them due to using for the first time my iPad to do a Blogger post

I had been stumped how to do this but am glad to have finally figured it out

Last Christmas Alesia gave me the Apple cable that enables uploading my photographs to my iPad from my Canon DSLR

Initially the cable didn't work due to (I would later realize) having thousands of images on my SD card and they were just too much for a first-time transfer

Had to stop for a minute to see and photograph these elephants in front of a fireworks store in Hardeeville, S.C. Neat to see that they are part of Roadside America's website! 

Our arrival began with the scene of a firetruck in front of our villa building. Not sure what the call was. But we were soon inside our two bedroom place for the week- and how impressed were were!

The villa was very spacious. We did have an issue with a damp carpet near the entryway. Turned out it was a leaky air conditioning unit, we were told. We called it in and soon had a big blower in the room that dried the spot. The response from Marriott was quick and effective, so that was a good sign. 

We had a nice king-size bed
The bathroom was big and well designed, and we had a hot tub too!
A second bedroom would go unused this visit. It was nicely appointed and would be used to store our suitcases and some other things.
Another key feature is the full size kitchen with regrigerator and freezer, and dishwasher. The villa also has a washer and dryer. So it truly had all of the comforts of home!
This is the view from a deck at the Marriott. 
A pop up shower caused this exodus from the beach. 
The Grande Ocean resort has a fine tennis program, with clay courts and two instructors just across the street. I attended a clinic one morning but we got rained out after about 15 minutes of drills.  

We have made plans to return here next May! 

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