Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sea Island, GA -- Part 2

The first day, we woke up nice and late, got some lunch at the beach club and drove up to Savannah. I didn't have any concept of what it was supposed to be like, so I wasn't able to fully appreciate it. Judging by the murmurs of my more well read friends, however, I'd say it was everything they hoped it could be. My favorite part was the square parks situated in the center of what you would call a round-about which were square shaped. They were nice and shady and contained various monuments to commemorate a miscellany of historical figures, one of which was a large rock honoring Indian Chief Tomo-Chi-Chi.

After a fine dinner, we headed back home to Sea Island and found ourselves in the middle of a sprawling thunderstorm. The rain was warm and steady as was the thunder and lightning. We got back into the house, poured ourselves some drinks, and lined up the rocking chairs on the back porch. Then we sat, listening to the raindrops fall on the house and on the plants outside. I remember thinking how different the world sounded in the rain, so many small noises and drips and shuffles. Every 20 or 30 seconds, a streak of lightning would shoot within the clouds and light up the entire marsh before us. In an instant, we would go from seeing 10 feet of backyard lawn and trees to miles of water and lush grass. Every so often, the clouds would send a streak of white electricity into the marsh and light up the world with a loud clap of thunder. All the while, we were dry and sheltered, rocking slowly back and forth on our chairs, warm with the slight tropical breeze, enjoying our drinks, the view, and the good company. I don't think I've ever been so content in years. It's little wonder that it became the defining moment of our trip for everyone -- an experience we wouldn't soon forget.

The next day, we went out for a morning horseback ride along the beach. You can guess that this was my idea. Some get post cards wherever they travel, some buy souvenirs, I ride horses. I was planning to go myself, but everyone seemed to like the idea so everyone signed on, including Will who's love for horses knows no bounds (he despises animals). As soon as we arrived, it was immediately apparent which horse belonged to Will -- the gigantic Clydesdale. When all 6'7" of him was finally mounted on his gigantic steed, I swear the only thing he was missing was a battle axe and plate armor. The ride itself was okay. I was hoping to canter along the beach, but the group was a bit too large and novice to really handle even a trot, so I ended up listening one of the guide's riding stories. Still, even walking along the beach was fun and relaxing. Kate seemed to enjoy it. Hawk, unfortunately, is as allergic to horses as I am. Seeing him after the ride, I understood what I must have looked like after my first ride, all puffy-eyed and breaking out into hives. The fact that I came out of that wanting to ride more make me wonder if I'm crazy.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Sea Island, GA -- Part 1

A few months ago, my roommate Will hatched a crazy idea to use up his parents' accrued Southwest frequent flier miles. He suggested that we all take a vacation together to his vacation house in Sea Island, Georgia. We' d all heard a lot about his place at Sea Island -- he always seemed to be going there for some reason or another. He spent almost every Thanksgiving there and all his family reunions were there. I began imagining what it would be like there. The name made it sound like small island off the coast of Georgia with a single house on top with kids running around outside by the crashing waves. I admittedly let my imagination run a bit wild on that one, but it was fun to think about nonetheless.

To Will's pleasure, we roundly praised the idea and began to make plans. Will and I had always joked about how we were swapped at birth and grew up in the wrong states, me among small asian women and he among tall blonde ones. This was our chance to prove our theory correct. After several months of schedule conflicts and aborted attempts, Will, Bill, Kate, Hawk, and I finally departed for the deep south on June 30th, just in time for July 4th weekend.

The flight there was a bit more eventful than we'd hoped. After an hour's delay, we boarded the plane and go under way. A couple hours into the flight, we heard the captain come onto the PA. At first, I figured he was just giving his usual greeting and providing flight information that I think only I care about, like altitude, air temperature, wind speed, etc. But instead, I heard, "There is no cause for alarm." Stop right there, I thought. That is NOT the right way to begin any sentence. Scenes from Airplane flashed through my mind. "There is a problem with the flight control system. We will be landing in Phoenix, Arizona where we will determine if we need to switch aircraft." He then went on to explain that the rudder trim was busted (and compensating in the wrong way to boot) -- a minor problem, but flying in a broken airplane is just a bad idea no matter how benign the problem.

Then we began the fastest decent I'd ever seen a commercial airliner do. Round and round we went as we corkscrewed down towards Phoenix. Finally, the airport came into view and even though I had faith that there really was no cause for alarm, I decided that if we crashed and burned now, I was happy with my life up until now and that dying would be less preferable, but ultimately alright. We made our final approach and landed safely on the airstrip. Far off, I could see at least six bright yellow emergency vehicles with their lights flashing, waiting for us on the tarmac. No cause for alarm, eh?

After stealing another flight's airplane, we were again on our way towards Nashville, and then Jacksonville Florida. By the time we made it to Sea Island, it was 2am and we were all exhausted from the entire day of traveling. We knew all of it was worth it, however, when we pulled up to Will's house and were stunned. In my Californian mind, it was straight out of Gone with the wind, the southern plantation style architecture was something I'd only seen in photos and movies, and just a little in New Orleans. Not only was it gorgeous, but it was big. Really big. It was one of those houses where you ask, "You mean real people live in those?" We got the grand tour -- all five bedrooms plus common areas worth. My favorite room was the spacious living room that had an entire wall of glass doors leading out to the back porch overlooking the marsh. That back porch was my favorite place in all of Sea Island and was to become the focal point for the six days and five nights of our stay.

The next five days were heaven.