By Joe Rector

Amy and I made our way to Isle of Palms for an annual vacation. We’ve been coming here for years and believe that it’s the best place to spend a week. Over that time, we’ve left early on more than one occasion for a variety of reasons.

We are lucky not to have little ones to care for on vacation. The family used to go to New Smyrna for a week of swimming and other activities. We stopped when reports named the place as one of the places that sharks visited often. We also went to Disney World a couple of times. I’m not a fan of theme parks, mainly because I won’t ride roller coasters or things that spin. Even the teacups can make me nauseous.

Before the turn of the century, we traveled to Alabama’s Gulf Shores for a week of sun and fun. I attached a travel case with bungee cords to the top of the old Pathfinder. As we sped down the highway toward a carrier tour, the cords let go, and the utility box skidded across five or six lanes of traffic. I don’t think we even tried to retrieve the thing since the contents consisted of our dirty underwear.

Isle of Palms is a small place that has its share of young families, teens, and senior citizens. By the time we travel in mid-September, most of the visitors are gray-haired or bald and walk with stooped shoulders or limps. Yep, it’s a senior citizen haven.

The beaches at IOP are wide and smooth. They don’t have the best assortment of shells; I’ve never seen one bigger than a couple of inches in diameter. Amy and I rented a couple of chairs and an umbrella. On one occasion, we brought our own, but a gust of wind yanked our umbrella out of the sand and blew it half a world away. Having things set up every day is much nicer, and we take advantage of the service.

On vacation weeks, we sleep late. These days, that means 8:30 a.m. Eventually, we crawl out of bed to brew a pot of coffee. Then we’re off to the beach. A cooler and towels take up the most room in our little wagon. We also toss in snacks, books, iPads, and earphones. For the next four or five hours, we read, listen to music, and nibble on snacks. At least a couple of times, we walk along the water and let the waves creep up to wet our feet.

Breakfast and lunch are eaten at the place we rent. However, our evening meals are more special. The first night, we ate at Acme Seafood. The place is listed as one of the top seafood restaurants in the area. I can eat seafood for supper every day, although I’m not keen on scallops and refuse to eat anything that looks like the product of a bad head cold (oysters). Like most tourists, we put on a pound or two during the week. I’m sure that I’ll lose the extra pounds when I return home and once again work in the yard and visit Planet Fitness.

This year, we are leaving our favorite place due to the death of the uncle of our “adopted” son Josh. We’ll only miss one day, and that’s fine if we can help Josh and his family in any way. Three years ago, we left early because Amy’s appendix went haywire. The doctor at IOP wanted to wait until the blood thinner was out of her system, but I had no place to stay. We hit the road for home, and she had the thing removed at 8:30 the next morning. The first time we left early occurred because we rented a small house a couple of blocks from the beach. The place looked and smelled like a condemned building, and Amy and I decided we couldn’t take any more of the dilapidated structure.

Vacation will be over in one day. The six-hour drive will have us home by midday, another factor that makes IOP a wonderful place to visit. If the good lord is willing and the creek doesn’t rise, we’ll be back next year, if not before. Our drive to Isle of Palms feels like going to our second home. I’ll count the days until we are on the beach again.