Picture This; Renowned Hilton Head Artist, Mira Scott, is also Patron of the Arts

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is;  artist, Mira Scott and partner, photographer, Mark S. Tierney, create their own exquisite art, while also promoting all of their regional, neighboring, and not-so-neighboring artists (see Robert Stark, from Pennsylvania – recent October exhibition).

Mira Scott, 1980's

Mira Scott Portrait, by Mark Tierney

What does that mean?  I’ll tell you what it means; contrary to our parents’ thoughtful counsel to cut our hair and get real jobs in this day and age of high-tech, global, corporate, conglomerate, market-share, bail-out-or-bust, high finance, it means that, one can follow one’s passion for creative expression as a legitimate trade, and survive.   Not only survive, but do quite well, thank you very much.  Let’s face it, almost everywhere on Hilton Head Island, we are treated to some form of artistic representation, OR we attend a celebration that has been created, produced, and funded, by local artists and their patrons.  Two of these fully-engaged patrons of the arts, are Ms. Scott and Mr. Tierney.  We don’t know how lucky we are to have their talents right here on Hilton Head Isle, right along down Arrow Road at 78 Cypress Square.

Mira Scott, artist

Artist Mira Scott, Hilton Head’s Own Patron of the Arts

Painting by Mira Scott

Butterfly Metamorphosis by Mira Scott

Originally from Quebec, and influenced early on by her father’s appreciation for animals – a zookeeper – Mira began watercoloring wild beasts on canvas from a young age.  And from her mother’s side, a

Russian-Polish persuasion can be detected in her use of repetitive patterns, similar to European folk work.  But what is essentially Mira; ie, what only she brings to the artistic tableaux (as it were), is the bright, cheery palette she uses to define her shapes and images.  Unmistakably, clear, festive blues, bright yellows, orange hues, and pinks, reminiscent of the hippie, flower-child era, yet touched with a linear maturity, elegant lines, and faces, are evidenced in all of her subjects.  A delight to behold, Mira’s paintings would be perfect starting points for decorating any room if one needed inspiration.

B&C Landing, Photo by Mark S. Tierney

B&C Landing, Jasper County, SC by Mark S. Tierney

Brick church ruins in Sheldon

Spanish moss enhances drama of Sheldon Church ruins, only by Mark S. Tierney

Mark S. Tierney (Mira’s partner), a talented photographer, whose work reflects a profound intensity to his subject matter, came to Hilton Head via submarine, back in the day.  Based in Charleston with the Navy during the early eighties, he became drawn to the lowcountry geography and landscapes, such as swamp cypress trees growing

out of the brackish water of Savannah, and acutely aware of the effects of the ephemeral shadow-play of Spanish moss on structural skeletons like the Sheldon Church ruins (images that became part of a later photography exhibit).

He is unafraid to explore nature’s drama with black and white choices, nor to plumb the depths of his own grief with blunt intimacy in his self-portrait nudes against the unforgiving backdrop of outdoors; as though trying to find his own place in the world, or rather, a Mark-shaped hole where he feels he fits, in the proverbial grand scheme of things.

Man in Tree Hole

Tierney explores grief in this untitled self-portrait – one in a series – 2010

Powerful imagery, no matter how you view it, and truly unique to him.

Mira Scott's art

Art panels of Mira’s work at Picture This Gallery on
Hilton Head Island, SC

Together, they fill the space at 78 Cypress Square with vivid art, carefully selected crafts and jewelry, and a constant stream of exhibits by other local artists, as well as fundraisers (usually catered by Trattoria Divina, another of my Hilton Head Island favorites), and of course, a little champagne (what self-respecting gallery host wouldn’t supply champagne or wine at the opening night of an exhibit?).  Mira’s attention to detail is evidenced everywhere, as she work the room, selflessly promoting other artists’ work, putting local personalities together for business, for future fundraising partnerships, or just for a good laugh… you couldn’t ask for a better, more sincere or gracious patron of the arts, than Mira, whose work is, in and of itself, full of inspirational charm that makes you never ever want to leave this island again!

For a look at recent popular events hosted by Mira and Mark, like the Concours d’Elegance Poster Exhibit, All Things Indigo, Art; Bubbly, and Cakes, check out their Sales and Events page, or for a schedule of classes and upcoming events, call 843.842.5299.

Also featured in the gallery are local, hand-made, creations, such as Gullah Sweetgrass Baskets, lowcountry sculptures, and an extensive selection of hand-crafted jewelry.  And if fabulous, original, local art isn’t enough to get you in the door, framing services are also the business du jour, at Picture This (in case you were wondering what they do with all their spare time).  But, truly I speak from firsthand experience, when I say you won’t find better attention to detail and pricing for picture framing. Call for more information on framing services, 843.842.5299.

What else is there to say?  Stop buy Picture This, during this holiday season and support your local artists, of course!

Picture This Gallery, 78D Arrow Road (in Cypress Square), Hilton Head Island, SC  29928

Hours: Mon – Fri 9:30 am – 5:30 pm, Sat 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, or by appointment.

Phone: 843.842.5299

Email: bozena@hargray.com

Ciao, Hilton Head!

George Paletta & John DeCecco

‘The George’ Paletta, Vice President, with the ‘Legendary Johnny D’, President, of the Italian-American Club of   Hilton Head at 2012 Italian Heritage Festival, Drown the Clown dunk tank.

Okay.  You knew there was no way I could let Hilton Head’s 2013 Italian Heritage Festival get by without posting a blog about it.  Last year, I had to bite down on my nails to keep from commenting on, and displaying the proud images I now depict.  No, last year, I had to limit myself to sending these visual gems in covert emails with restrained captions, to close friends and associates near and further north, because it might smack indecorous, given that the two gentlemen portrayed thusly, en masquerade, are also Board Dignitaries of the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head (IACHH).

Please note, I have exercised enormous restraint in recent print media descriptions over which I had some control, by not taking advantage of all the literary parallels, puns, metaphors, and ironies implicit in two Italian-American men being dunked at the Drown the Clown booth – one’s face covered by an Obama mask, the other, behind Italian flag sunglasses – during an election year in America… and BOTH wearing fuggetaboutit! t-shirts.  The only inappropriate, tactless item that seems to be missing is a bottle of non-FDA approved jug of homemade grappa from Cousin Luigi’s backyard cantina (thankfully, that was hidden somewhere during this auspicious photo-op… along with Cousin Luigi).

Yes, I held off the laughs, in deference to my husband’s sincere commitment to the IACHH, a wonderfully philanthropic community organization that donates proceeds from the annual Italian Heritage Festival  (along with that of four other yearly events) to local island non-profits, and high-school graduate scholarships.

So now I bask in some relief, knowing that I have finally shared one of the funniest pictures ever taken, with all my friends and patient readers.  And it brings me to question why, for the life me, they, didn’t publish it alongside the article in September’s issue of Hilton Head Monthly – that classy, sophisticated publication, with accompanying cerebral content – that sits on the coffee tables of our most stylish vacation beach homes, residences, and gets mailed to subscribers all over the world.  Why on earth would they choose images of lovely children and cultural activities, and not the above delicate portrait of two pillars of the Hilton Head community?  One can only guess at the wisdom of such censorship.

Which brings me to my plea.  If you thought you might, y’know, lay low, this weekend because you just need to rest, or you can’t get a babysitter, and you can’t get too excited about anything after weathering the most humid, wet, summer-from-hell in the lowcountry, please reconsider, amicos.  First of all, this is a family-friendly event, and children under 10 enter free.  Secondly, this Saturday at Shelter Cove Park, from 11 am – 4 pm, the 4th Annual Festival being held in honor of the Feast of St. Gennaro, will be bigger and better than ever.  And, as in the past, the Island Recreation Center partners with the IACHH, and the proceeds go to local non-profits and scholarship funds.  And if you need more encouragement, see the video below for Flash Mob activity at the 2012 Italian Heritage Festival.

There will be food prep demonstrations, grape-stomping, stickball, bocce ball, live music, and the incomparable cuisine prepared by the best Italian restaurants south of the Mason-Dixon.  And that’s saying something.  See below for further details, or IHFestivalProgram2013.  Or, if you prefer a more high-brow article and pictures with details, you can click here, or here.  Otherwise, always check with HiltonHeadBlogAngel for the fraternity-level take on anything.

What: The 4th Annual Italian Heritage Festival in Honor of the Feast of St. Gennaro


Italian Heritage Directional Signpost

Where: Shelter Cove Park, 39 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head, SC  29928

When: Saturday, September 21, 2013

What Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Cost: $6.00 at the gate, children 10 & under, free

Contact: 843-682-4625

Why: fuggetaboutit!

Father’s Day Special – Hilton Head’s Own, Steppin Stones, Featuring a Chip Off the Old Block

Rockin on Hilton Head

Steppin Stones Drummer, Ryan Tye, Vocals and Lead Guitarist, Hannah Wicklund, and vocals & bass guitarist, Mick Ray

Have you ever gone completely slack-jawed, blown-away by a live band that you’d never heard of?  Well, now I have.  And that band is Hilton Head Island’s own, Steppin Stones, born and bred right here on the South Carolina geologic tennis shoe.  I first saw this band at the Chamber of Commerce Christmas After Hours party 2012, where I had gone to connect with local businesspeople and promote myself.  I ended up connecting with exactly - goose-egg – new business contacts, except for Gregg Russell and Mira Scott (two of Hilton Head’s most renowned artists, whom I already know, and who don’t need my services by any stretch of the imagination), who were also hanging out front row while the Steppin Stones blasted out “Gimme Shelter like nobody’s business.

It might amuse you to know that the Steppin Stones is comprised of three teenagers, who rock down the chandeliers with as much talent and  gusto as their predecessors, a la Steppenwolf, and the Rolling Stones; two bands by the way, who entertained us waaayyyyyyyy back yonder before these kids were born.  But you knew that already.  The great thing about this band is that you can bring the whole family and totally rock yourselves OUT.  Your kids will love this group, because they’re watching their contemporaries on stage, while you will also love them, because they’re playing our favorite tunes from our own, said, formative years.  The whole event resolves the paradox of being safe AND totally cool.  And, as everybody knows, that’s really hard to do these days.

band poses for album

Picture from self-titled 1st cd portfolio shoot.

How did such a trio begin?  Well, apparently, while many kids around the age of seven are watching tv and playing video games after school, these three decided it was more fun to make a whole lot of racket in the garage.  So, under the watchful tutelage of two well-known island artists, Nancy Mitchell and Matthew Wicklund (lead singer, Hannah Wicklund’s, parents) the Steppin Stones emerged out of Palmetto Bay bedrock.  Oh joy, you say, will they be on America’s Got Talent?  Not any time soon, since this band is already booked all summer long, and everybody within lowcountry regional earshot has already heard of them.  Lead singer and guitarist, Hannah Wicklund, and bass guitarist, Mick Ray, started out playing piano when they were each six years old, and went on to take guitar lessons for five more years.  Ryan Tye began drumming at age eight.  Their manager/roadie/sound guy is Hannah’s father Matt Wicklund, who is the go-to man if you want ever want to book this group.  Mom, Nancy Mitchell, is renowned for her paintings and murals that can be seen in various island public venues and private homes.

Since officially forming the band in 2006, Hannah, Ryan, and Mick, have improved and honed their repertoire substantially, taking on classic rock songs with edge and confidence.  Not afraid to tackle the difficult ranges of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Mick Jagger, they will transport you to a time when young up-and-coming bands actually played instruments and wrote their own music.  And in keeping with their rock muses, the Steppin Stones also write and produce their own music, which is for sale on cd’s at any of their concert showings.  Sample the video below, where they sing one of their original songs, “Make Up Your Mind,” (starts about four minutes in).  This past January, their 2nd cd hit the Internet called, Handle Me, and is doing quite well.  Currently appearing three nights a week at different Hilton Head venues (see schedule below), Hannah and her bandmates – now, age sixteen, Mick, seventeen,  and Ryan, seventeen – graduated high school this year, and are looking towards their own careers in music.  So, if you want to catch up with them before they are too famous, and tickets to their concerts are the price of a small mortgage payment, you will most definitely want to check them out this summer on Hilton Head Island.


Thursdays 6:30-8:30 pm, Coligny PlazaFridays 4:00-7:00pm, Hilton Head Beach and Tennis; and Saturdays 7:30- 9:30 pm, under the Liberty Oak in Harbour Town 

For info and bookings, call: 843-842-2380 or email: thesteppinstones@aol.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And finally, in honor of Father’s Day, I implore only islanders who have been here since the early ’80′s to read on (anyone else will be bored to tears beyond this sentence).  For those of you who may or may not have been of a certain age and living in Hilton Head thirty years ago, you may wonder, from what pedigree doth Hannah Wicklund spring?  Ah… I am pleased to connect some dots for those of you who weren’t drowning in a beer bong at that time (or maybe you were).  There once was a seaside cantina upstairs on the beach side of Coligny Plaza, in what is now known as The Big Bamboo restaurant.  The cantina was known to local ne’re-do-wells as Dos Borrachos, which translates (most inauspiciously, I might add) to Two Drunks.  Yes, I know.  We are so proud, that this classy, gentile, family-oriented island was once home to a Mexican restaurant so named, Two Drunks.  Very impressive.  Well, it certainly spoke to the clientele, as I remember visiting (for entertainment and educational purposes only) with my best friend Amy on occasion, which would make us, dos senoritas entering to enjoy con queso and imbibing mucho cerveza, and exiting as dos borrachos.

Why do I mention this short-lived late-night dining pleasure from back in the day?  Because starting at the early-bird crack of 11:00 pm, playing until the wee, 3:00 a.m.-ish on the weekends, we would rock out like idiots to the vivid music of Joe Walsh, Lou Reed, and the Young Rascals, as played by a  local musical ensemble known as, the most prestigious, Bonzo Brothers (who later became the Truly Dangerous Swamp Band).  Again, you ask… the point?  Well, the point is, the drummer for the aforementioned Brothers Bonz’, was the one and only manager/roadie/sound guy of today’s rockin’ Steppin Stones, Matthew Wicklund, FATHER of lead singer, Hannah!  (Whew… wasn’t sure I could put all that together coherently for you; or maybe it wasn’t very coherent, I’m sure I’ll find out.)  So how cool is that?  A Truly Dangerous Bonzo Brothers Legacy, lives on as we live and breathe on Hilton Head Island.  Now, wasn’t that worth reading all the way down to this point?

And if I wanted to riff on the Dos Borrachos connection all day long (but I will spare you my immature ramblings for the most part, except for this one more thing), I could mention that sometimes, I went to the late-night cantina with both Amy, and another best bud, Steve; then I could say that three amigos entered the bar known as Two Drunks, and came out as Tres Borrachos.

Okay, that’s all.  I’m done now.  I think that’s enough double-pun-entendres.  Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

A 2013 Wish From Sam, the Hilton Head Beagle Blogger

Sam the Beach Beagle

I’m Sam. Standing in for HHBlogAngel Today.

Hi.  My name’s Sam.  I’m subbing for BlogAngel today, because she’s sick with something called blog-writer’s block.  At least, that’s what she calls it.  If you ask me, it’s more like, laying-around-in-my-pajamas-with-an-attitude-in-the-middle-of-the-winter-writer’s block… but that’s just me.  What do I know, right?  I’m just a hound dog she sprung from the can a few years back, and nobody asks what I think about anything.  Now, I’m no Einstein, but I can tell you one thing, you aren’t going to burn up the tar to riches, sitting around in your pink, checkered pajamas, while the early birds are out there catching worms, and you’re just catching some more zzzzz’s (Johnny D says stuff like that when Mom’s moping around, and it really ticks her off).

So, I thought I’d sneak up here on this fun, swivelling chair, and take a stab at this writing thing, which, by the way, looks really booorrrrring to those of us who’d prefer to run around in crazy eights on the beach.

Hey. How hard can it be, right?

Sam and John type

This typing looks pretty easy…

You just sit here and push down on these keys, and you don’t even have to have opposable thumbs; I know, because when I need Johnny D’s attention, I have to stand on his desk and stare at him, and that’s when I see him typing with just his two index fingers, really slow-like (sometimes swearing in between the key punches, and sometimes shouting down to Mom – that’s BlogAngel – “How do you spell, mozzarella?“).  So I know, any idiot can do this writing thing.

Anyhooo… woops, i just hit an extra “o” on ‘hoo”.  Didn’t mean to do that.

So, I’m known around here as the Beach Beagle, but I didn’t start out as a ‘beach’ anything, because, well… I’m from Providence - which is a city in Rhode Island, a BIG city, the capitol city where Johnny D’s from, too – and to be truthful, I’m a beagle mix.  Which, really doesn’t mean anything, Mom says, except that the “mix” part of that label adds spice to my character.  She’s always saying stuff like that about me, because… well, Mom loves me.

I mean, REALLY loves me.  I know, I know, you think you love your dog as much as Mom loves me, but there’s no way… no.  She’s my soul mate.  I knew it the first day I laid eyes on her and she knew it, too.  We HAD to be together forever.  But, there was just one problem with our romance back then; see, I was living in the city shelter, on account of, I got cut loose by my hunting pack, and I kinda’ had a rough time of it for a while in those early years.  I got picked up a couple of times for stealing food, and both times, nice families came and bailed me out (with just a few dollars, called an adoption fee).  But, for some reason, I dunno… something about chewing, biting, baying (What the heck is baying anyway?), the families kept dumping me back in the can.  They were always sorry, but we had a good time, right?  Jeez!  How was I supposed to know that the rubber bone I was chewing while lying on Grandma’s lap, was an oxygen hose!  Who knew?  Why didn’t someone say, “Sam, don’t chew Grandma’s oxygen hose?” or,  “Here Sam, have a treat, Grandma needs the hose to breathe.”  No.  They just all assumed that because I was housebroken, I knew everything already.

So anyway, Mom had a husband named Johnny D, who would never, never, NEVER, allow a dog near their apartment because he thought they should own a house before getting a dog, and…  Okay, so I guess that’s two problems we had with our early romance; I was in the can, AND she had a husband.  Oh boy, when I say it that way, I don’t know how we ever made it this far – wait… quiet… I hear the key in the door -

Beagle and Johnny D

I’m Ready for My Goodnight Belly-Scratch & Smooch

Uh-oh, Mom’s coming, and I’m not supposed to be climbing up and all around the desk, so I’ll have to wind this up, quick;  I just want everyone to know, if you’re even thinking about a pet for your family, then please think about springing one of us out of the clink before shopping around the breeders and puppy mills.  We really appreciate it, and I was thinking last night while Mom was smooching my neck and scratching my belly (she does that after Johnny D. falls asleep on the couch while watching a movie), that if I had one wish for 2013, it would be that ALL my compadres from city shelters everywhere, could have what I have now.  Who would believe, after getting picked up for loitering in Cranston, Rhode Island four years ago, I’d be so lucky to be living here in the lap of luxury on Hilton Head Island, with a dizzy blonde cuddling me every night?

It just goes to show you – woops, here she comes.  Gotta go…

OKAY Mom, I’m done over here! … No, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and I did NOT chew that yellow sticky-pad on the floor over there… No… it was there, all chewed up like that before I even came into the room…

Hilton Head Humane Association

10 Humane Way, Hilton Head Island, SC  29926


Providence Animal Rescue League

34 Elbow St., Providence, RI 02903



Great News for Hilton Head Porsche Lovers!

911 S Carrera

Yellow Cabriolet Model is Newest Design in Carrera 911 Evolution; ie, 991 Series

JohnnyD Porsche

‘Which one will I buy?’

What a relief for all my friends who have told me through the years that as much as they love Porsches, the reason they don’t own one is because there’s really no place on Hilton Head Island where they can open it up so the engine can get the exercise it regularly needs.  Apparently, they say, the frequent shifting of gears on paved, flat roads, with rotaries, and stoplights interrupting the flow of traffic, would simply be too hard on the engine of this Stuttgart-bred machine.  Therefore, their reasoning goes (usually after several Jaegermeister snorts, and loud interruptions), in deference to the well-oiled, coiled inner workings and pedigree of said Porsche, they’ve decided – somewhat magnanimously, I must say – to allow the next guy in line to buy it, and they would instead settle for the more eco- and island-friendly Fusion.  As you can see, we are careful to select friends whose priorities place the environment, and the feelings of German-made machines, well above their own selfish impulses to own them.

Well, good news friends!  Your sense of compassion and patience has paid off.  Now, you can sign on and drive off with a Porsche, with no ill-effects to the engine or the environment!  Yes!!  We just found out that there’s a racetrack nearby that Porsche-owners have access to, for stretching their little Turbo Olympians, without upsetting the local laws or noise ordinances.  Isn’t that great?  Located outside Savannah, the Roebling Racetrack is home to the Coastal Empire Region Porsche Club of America’s (CERPCA) quarterly rallys sponsored by Porsche of Hilton Head dealership.  And boy, they really know how to roll out the red carpet for their members, who are also very generous when it comes to sharing the joy with non-members,  the wanna-be’s, the maybe’s, and the can’t-get-out-of-our-lease-until-next-yearly’s.  Johnny D and I fall into the last category, but our good friend with a great sense of humor, Roy Stine (aka, Porsche Client Advisor, Extraordinaire), doesn’t let little details like contracts get in the way of Johnny D’s day on the racetrack.  Remember Ferris Bueller? No Siree, Bob, nothing’s getting in the way of Johnny D’s day to burn up the track.

And, especially now that Johnny D has been elected to President of the Italian-American Club, Hilton Head Chapter, for the next year 2013!  JUST YOU TRY TO STOP HIM! RUN FOR THE HILLS , if you think for one minute you will not be swept up in IL PRESIDENTE’s New Year’s wake as Johnny D shows us all how it’s done down here in the Lowcountry (more on this recent development in international political news will be forthcoming in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned, breathlessly, and I will regale you with the details in a couple weeks. I know, you’re dying to know more right now, but I’ve already digressed too far.)

woman rides in porsche

Going for a Ride, Clyde.

Back at the track; the New River Auto Mall catered this special day with a lunch buffet from Jim & Nick’s BBQ at noon.  Then, a presentation by industry professional race car driver, Andrew Davis (who recently won the Rolex GT Series), followed by an afternoon rolling around the track, test-driving the newest Boxster and Carrera S models, or as in my case, riding shotgun with Davis, while white-knuckling the little side handle-thingy’s.  After that, the Club members took their own cars out and yes, exercised their little protégés.

So, there you have it.  No more worries about where you can open up the engine and bust 130 mph, you can go buy that brand new Boxster Spyder, or Carrera 911, secure in the knowledge that you will be able to give it the exercise it needs.  Call Porsche of Hilton Head, 866-831-9008, visit the website, or just go there now and buy one. After all, it’s the New Year, we’ve survived the end of time, as the Mayans would have it, AND you can open up that baby at the Roebling Racetrack, with no fear of upsetting the very serious German automakers who worked so hard on it.  In fact, that is my New Year’s call to action to Hilton Head road lovers; GO BUY THAT PORSCHE YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED NOW!

And if you still need a little further motivation, check out the overview of our day in the video below.

Porsche of Hilton Head, New River Auto Mall, 107 Drivers Way,
Hardeeville, SC 29927 Phone: 888-370-3590

Porsche of Hilton Head was established at the New River Auto Mall in 2005. The dealership sells new and pre-owned vehicles, and has a service and parts department that is available to maintain both new and older-model Porsches. With many vehicles in stock, Porsche of Hilton Head has a wide selection from which to choose, and there is also the option of ordering custom vehicles from the manufacturer. The dealership also sells a wide variety of other pre-owned luxury automobiles. The sales associates and technicians are constantly trained and kept up to date on the newest technology and features that Porsche has to offer, so customers can be assured that their needs are met.


Open M-F, 9 am – 8 pm, Sat, 9 am – 6 pm, Sun, 1 pm – 5 pm.

Hilton Head Off-Season, Beats In-Season, All Day Long

Guys playing beach volleyball

Hilton Head Sports Enthusiasts Prepare for Winter

We, here in Always Paradise Isle, have known all along that Hilton Head is tops when it comes to, well… just about everything to do with living life fully, stylishly, outdoors, under swaying palms, while slurping frozen libations, and wearing flip-flops, regardless of where we fall in the Conde Nast Travelers, Readers’ Choice rankings (#8 this year, for Islands in the United States, in case you were wondering).

And that’s because you can’t beat the off-season down here for motivating you to do just about anything outdoors (or, for seemingly endless good hair days).  Or, for meeting locals and running into old friends that you thought had moved away, died, or were doing time in the can, because you haven’t seen them out and about in so long.  This is the time of year to hook up with our old buddies and laugh (or cringe) about the old days on the island, and talk about how Hilton Head has evolved so well into the new millennium, while we, adjust ourselves to changing development, cultural needs, politics, and another huge growth- spurt in the vacation rental and hospitality industries.

The up-shot of all this is that, no matter what we are doing, or who we are bumping into from around town and around time, it’s happening on the beach, on the golf course, and on the tennis courts.  Where else, in America, say you, is hometown so much fun?

When I went to college in New England, lo, those many moons ago, my friends all wanted to come visit my family with me.  I was suddenly, very popular in the middle of snow-crusted winter, Rhode Island.  While my college friends from the mid-west, and New England, had to go home to… well the mid-west, and New England for the holidays (I can’t name a mid-west town for an example in this blog, because then it would be like I’m saying Hilton Head is better than that town, which it’s not.  It’s just warmer and on the beach, which to some people, may seem better, but that’s not what I’m saying, okay?), I got to fly home to a sunny resort, to visit my family.  Then, I started dating Johnny D, who seemed to relish telling his friends he was going to Hilton Head for the RBC Heritage Golf Classic presented by Boeing every year (back then it was simply the Verizon Heritage, but we won’t split hairs), and that he had a perfect back deck view of the 11th tee, and all the pros walking by because his girl’s family lived right there on the course.  And his friends would say, “Eh – oh!  Who’s better than you, Johnny D?”  And Johnny D would say, “Nobody, because my girl’s father also gets us passes for the tournament, and I get to eat beer dogs with Brad Faxon.  How’s that?” (That last part is rhetorical).

Clayton sitting on the floor

Clayton Lewis, Dean, Sea Pines Academy, Back in the Day

And while I run into old friends on the beach with my beagle, Sam, I also meet new ones, like Peter Cooper, headmaster of Hilton Head Prep, while walking his dog, Vicki.  This brings up great memories because Mr. Cooper is a friend of Clayton Lewis, who was the Dean of Sea Pines Academy, back in the day when Hilton Head Prep was known as Sea Pines Academy, which is a long way back and we don’t need to get specific about the years; suffice to say off-season on Hilton Head is not only great vacation time, it’s also great nostalgia for those of us who dare to look back.  And, if you do dare, that is, you can take a look at the video we made last year to raise money for the HHPrep Alumni Fund.

You may recognize some islanders, you may see yourself, you might even cringe a little.  Which is a good thing, because it means you cut your hair since then, and you probably don’t wear your add a bead necklace anymore.  We had fun making this, and if you are a Sea Pines Academy, May River Academy, or Hilton Head Prep graduate reading this, we hope you enjoy the video.

And if you haven’t already, please go to HHPrep.Org, click on Alumni and start filling in your information. Really, I know it’s annoying to create these accounts and write your bio and all this stuff, but if you don’t, they have no choice but to identify you by the worst high school picture they have on file, and take a blind stab at where you are today, based on what you wrote when you were seventeen.  It’s not always pretty, what they come up with, so do yourself and us a favor, and go to the Alumni portal (I know, it sounds like you’re going to step into a pod that shoots you backwards in time, like, “Step aside from the Alumni Portal, I MUST REVISIT the Christopher Cross years!”), and update your bio, so we all don’t think you really did peter out in rehab after chasing the Dead for ten years.  And then, connect with everyone on Facebook.  Yes, you must do that, too.  Like, Tweet, and Pin; yes, you must.

And if you really want to impress us with your achievements since high school, how about contributing a pile of dough-ski to the Alumni Fund and make us all jealous.  Like, wow, you made so much money, you can throw THAT much back at your alma mater?  Eh – oh!  Who’s better than you?

Election Day, Hilton Head Style; Vote, Then Get TJ’s Take and Bake and Watch the Returns

Race cars around the Sea Pines Circle

Sea Pines NasCar Circle, Sponsored by TJ’s Take & Bake, Summer 2012

Of course, voting day is not the only day to enjoy my favorite take-out food, but it’s as good a reason as any other to NOT HAVE TO THINK about what to prepare for dinner.  Another good reason to not want to think about cooking dinner, would be jury duty.  There are plenty more good, solid reasons for not wanting to think about cooking dinner, but I will digress rapidly if I start down that road.  And speaking of roads, this is the best time of year to get back outdoors on the road, if you’re an islander and have been hiding out for a few months, after having suffered whiplash at the Sea Pines NasCar Circle during the summer, along with getting the finger gesture (because apparently, whiplash isn’t punishment enough for attempting to merge in or out).


Pie Prepared for You to Bake

Yes, getting the finger and then whiplash, are early signs for islanders to shutter ourselves in for a few months, till the commotion dies down, going out on strategically planned days that don’t conflict with check-in/check-out.  And for those of us really in the know, we take the back roads to the 1st TJ’s Take and Bake south end, beginning its 10th year, in the Island’s Crossing Plaza around the corner from Starbucks.  Locally known as the best-kept secret around for incredible, fresh-tasting pizza, where you can get in, get out, dodging the traffic, sneaky-like.  And during the season, if you’re a well-trained, covert islander, you’ll call in the order from Reilley’s Triangle while watching the Yankees take another inning on the chin at the outside bar, then zip across the street, grab your pizza and head home, still avoiding the Sea Pines Racetrack; like a stealth-bomber, nobody saw you coming, and you made it home with a pizza and maybe a buzz, and no one’s the wiser (and being a well-trained, covert islander, I will not elaborate on the back roads to avoid NasCar Circle here – ONLINE – for just anyone to see).

Chalkboard Menu

TJ’s North End Restaurant, Menu Board

If this is the first time you’ve heard of TJ’s, you may be reminded of early Seinfeld episodes, in which Kramer has the big lightbulb idea, that people want to pay to bake their own pizza.  Okay, but that’s where the similarities begin and end.  TJ’s menu reads like a delightful, gourmet pizza menu.  The difference is that they do everything, except bake the pizza for you.  You call in the order, pick it up, take it home with ‘Baking Pizza for Dummies’ directions stuck to the plastic, and you’re eating a delicious, hot pizza in about the same amount of time it would take a delivery person to bring you a not-so-hot pizza, already baked, maybe more or less than you would have liked.  And TJ’s is more than a novelty, the pizza is really superb, because a.) they use fresh ingredients, 2.) there are no chemicals in the dough (I know chemicals, right?  The other guys put chemicals in the dough?), and c.) 100% extra virgin olive oil.

dog with girls

Sam Will Have the Chef’s Special, Thank You.

And now, there are two ways to enjoy TJ’s Take and Bake.  The 2nd being the new, north end full-service restaurant, located in the JBanks Building at 35 Main Street, where they have a lunch menu that includes pizza slices, salads, and awesome butternut squash soup.  This novel idea has been so unique and successful, that the owner, Jay Conrad, along with the original owner, Tom Jans (TJ’s), also have a consulting division for start-up take-and-bakes in places like Texas, Iowa, and Minnesota (Poppi was Kramer’s New York consultant on Seinfeld, right?  In case you were wondering, I even quote Seinfeld one-liners for everyday events, like when my dog Sam, doesn’t  deposit his business during our morning walk, I run in the door, yelling – with the Soup Nazi accent – “NO POOP FOR YOU!”… I know, there’s probably a 12-step program for this).

Back to TJ’s; so now, you can lay low during the summer months like the rest of us, waiting patiently for the fall months, grateful that the economy is humming along nicely (depending on who you voted for; one side says the economy’s in the tank, the other side says it’s climbing back with substance.  All I know, is that this island gets more bloated with each passing year, and if this is a down economy, we may all have to move, if things start looking up around here).  Because, where would we be without our summer season, right?  You got it; NOT living on Hilton Head with our small tourist-dependent businesses.

The point is (yes, there is a point to this), you can enjoy TJ’s Take & Bake any time of the year, with or without traffic, no matter who’s sponsoring the Sea Pines Circle Race. And if you check their website, you can print out coupons, and Like them on Facebook.  So, go do that now… Like and get coupons for great pizza! Click here for directions, or call, to place your order – South End, 843-842-8253; North End, 843-681-2900

A Vacation From Our Vacation; How Does One Leave the Best Place in the World, Even for a Week?

South Beach Sunset, Hilton Head

Good day to you from cloudy, rainy, chilly, Providence, Rhode Island.  The worst thing about living in Hilton Head, South Carolina (not that there are any other bad things to compare it to), is traveling away from the island to vacation someplace else.  It’s really a tough call.  There is no place like Hilton Head, and to spend money traveling elsewhere just to take a break from… from what?  Warm days all year, wide, sandy beaches, gorgeous natural land/seascapes, painted sunsets, scenic bike trails, year-round tennis & golf, and frolicking dolphins?  We need a break from that?  When I go online to look for places to go on vacation, they all list the things I just listed here, as fabulous one-of-a-kind amenities that usually cost additional fees.

So, now what?  Well, we plan many of our trips around friends and family who live in other places, so that when we get there, if the flora & fauna doesn’t quite do the trick, the company more than makes up for it.  And this always works.  We come back home, feeling suddenly very popular and appreciated, and well-fed.  Now that’s a vacation!

The second worst thing about traveling away from Hilton Head, is trying to explain to Sammy the Beach Beagle, that it is only for a short while, and that, upon our return, we will once again romp and play in the sand, scare up some squirrels, and roll in all things dead and stinky (Sam, not me, will roll in dead, stinky things).  After which, we will boldly go to Red Rover on New Orleans Drive, for a massive power wash, that leaves Sammy somewhat befuddled since he has just taken great care in applying Eau d’Ecomposing Horseshoe Crab to his entire body (several times he must swivel his body into the shell’s innards, because the first roll doesn’t always take, as you may know), and then within a mere two hours of washing, scrubbing, conditioning, blow-drying, defurminating, and spritzing, he now smells like a pinch of vanilla-laced lavender.  The look on his face after this sudsing is, as you can imagine, totally worth it.

Sudsing Up at Red Rover

Red Rover is a blast, by the way.  The owner Paige, is as nice as you’d want your dog’s hairdresser to be.  She owns a couple of dogs who also work very hard with her at the salon, greeting humanoids and welcoming stinky beach bums like Sam.  They also sell super premium dog food, and keep treats by the door for all good little boys and girls.  Sam likes the Lucky Dog meals and we buy a couple bags every so often, which helps him like the place a little better than when I dropped him off – me handing him to Paige with one hand, while my other hand holds my nose.

The best thing about Red Rover, is that you can join in the fun yourself.  The friendly staff helps you into your apron, and helps your buddy up to the platform, then they show you how to use the hoses, which shampoos to use, how to scrub him and massage him (the massage part makes the experience less annoying to Sam, who by then starts looking a bit dopey), and how to blow-dry his fur completely.  After you get the hang of it, the assistants wander over to other clients, yapping and licking and sniffing (like the salons we go to), leaving you to bond with your sweet angel of the sulphur-swamp. Sam and I like this part, because I sing to him and tell him jokes and scrub-a-dub, while he starts to unwind after his hard morning coaching seagulls to fly away all at once in a panic.

The fees at Red Rover are very reasonable, and are adjusted to less, if you like to do the washing, drying, brushing, scratching, singing, and smooching all by yourself without any help.  And they will still help you at the end or the beginning if you need it, and charge you less; that’s how phenomenal they are. For information or a grooming appointment, call: 843-671-9274 (WASH), or visit their website or Facebook page.

Now to give you a full idea of how our trips away from home effect Sammy, you may enjoy a little video called, How I Can Make Mommy Stay.  It’s a tear-jerker, so make sure you have a kleenex box next to your screen.

Forget Polo; Our British Mates Want to Fish When They Visit Hilton Head, SC.

Bayrunner Charter fishings

Four Horsemen of the Bayrunner

After an exciting summer of spine-tingling activities like ziplining, parasailing, and dining out, on Hilton Head, I couldn’t wait to share my new extreme sports repertoire with my friends from Great Britain when they came for a visit.  Except that, they weren’t interested in being very extreme.  No, far more preferable to flying through the air while hanging from buckled straps attached to something you hope will carry your weight, they thought that offshore fishing would actually be, brilliant.  

Kid with Big Fish

A Happy Bayrunner Customer

Now, if you’ve ever heard an English teenager say the word brilliant with genuine emotion, you know it sounds a whole lot more inspiring than some of their American counterparts who might say, “cool,” if they can hear your voice over their earbuds plugged into iPods, while glaring at you through half-closed eyelids; or maybe a whole thought will come out like, ” Zipline?  Big deal.  You have to do the stupid ground-school thing, and then you have to go the  whole two hours without texting… like, Dude, what if something major happens, right?”

To which, we American parents, respond by hanging our heads, sadly realizing how totally uncool we are as parents, and wondering what made us think, after the hundred and fifty-seventh time of getting excited about something we thought our kids would like – and showing way too much emotion when making the offer to “HAVE FUN, OUTSIDE, ALREADY!” –  did we ever think that ziplining through trees from eighty-feet up would be remotely fun to our teenagers?

Okay, back to my point about how fun it is to entertain kids from across the Atlantic who think that off-shore fishing from a boat for three hours with a cooler full of bait, sunscreen, and soda is quite, actually brilliant!  To which my response was, “cool!”  With real emotion, because my friend from way back years ago, Miles Altman, has a fishing boat right here in Shelter Cove Marina, called the Bayrunner, and he knows how to fish these waters better than anyone.  He also knows how to clean and cook the catch better than anyone because Miles also owned, for many years, a restaurant called Captain’s Seafood Restaurant on Mathews Drive AND he supplied most of the restaurants with their fresh fish catches of the day for more than twenty years, back in the day.  In short, Miles knows his stuff.

So this day, my best mates from England (and one from Seattle, named Michael) took off at around 8:45 am from Shelter Cove on the Bayrunner.  Captain Miles had already been out catching live bait (big, crawly looking shrimp) before we arrived, and off they went.  It was very hard not to sing, “on a three-hour tour… a three-hour tour,” over and over because they were indeed going out for “a three-hour tour… a three-hour tour…” but I managed to keep myself in check for the most part. Except, when I left a message for their grandfather on his phone and I sang the entire Gilligan’s Island theme song, laughing like an idiot.  I’m sorry, I’m way too immature to let some things go, unacknowledged and unsung like that.  But I think it’s all out of my system now.

Circle Hook Used on the Bayrunner

They returned at noon, having had a wonderful morning, trolling the island coastal waters, catching all matter of species, small and large (for more pictures of what you might catch with Miles on the Bayrunner, check out his website and Facebook page).  And, in case you were wondering, Miles uses a circle hook to catch fish, which is designed to be less painful to the fish.  So, if you decide to throw it back in the water, you can pull the hook out of its mouth without hurting it too much.

The lads were definitely ready for lunch, and had plenty of pictures on their smartphones to show me. They were also ready to go out again on a shark-fishing charter, which Miles explained, has better results in the evening, when all manner of predators awaken and feed, like raccoons, vampires, and lycanthropes; aka, werewolves, to the uninformed.  No, Miles did not say this.  I just happened to make the connection while looking up some other things online.  You know how that happens.

In closing, I hope you enjoy this video story we created for your viewing pleasure and enjoyment. And, if you want to go offshore fishing, lowcountry style, with Captain Miles and the Bayrunner, call: 843-290-6955, to charter a trip.  You won’t be sorry; in fact, you’ll feel brilliant!

Parasailing Above the Calibogue Sound of Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island.

Parasailing above Hilton Head

Hello from Above! Carmen & Jesse Parasail Over Harbour Town

Hello again. You’re probably wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks (or maybe you’re not, and now you’re thinking, “Wow. Is she full of herself or what, if she thinks I’ve checked here for a blog post in recent memory. I sure have lots more things to do than see what trivial minutiae Blog Angel is yammering on about.”), and if you are, I’m sorry to be remiss lately in reporting on the many extraordinarily fun things there are to do on Hilton Head Island.

But you see, in order for me to write about these extraordinary activities, I have to experience them myself first, while collecting information with note-takings, research, picture, and video-taking, and/or, chasing down other people’s smartphone pictures who were enjoying the activity with me and had to take the pictures (because I couldn’t take a picture of myself at the same time as holding onto the straps of a parachute with both hands). Then, I have to edit the notes, pick the best pictures, and/or edit the video and then search iTunes for suitable accompaniment to the visual art.  It takes alot of time and painstaking thought to intertwine this multi-media feast into a coherent blogpost, and I can’t just go into my own playlist and throw up any old Velvet Underground rockin’ song that I happen to like with a video that may not speak to Hilton Head Blog Angel‘s audience demographics.

All of this investigative journalism takes great time and care and fact-checking, and so that’s why sometimes a few days or weeks go by between blog posts. I know that’s a bit more information than, “the dog ate my homework,” but I like to explain where I’ve been, so you all don’t think I’m just kicking around down here, lollygagging on the beach days, with an umbrella drink in my fist, laughing my way to the bank.  Which, by the way. is something I’ve never seen anyone do (laughing their way into a bank, that is). Real artwork is always in progress, and sometimes I have to wait a little extra for the content to be workshopped at the Boston area’s Exclusive Writer’s Forum, a very elusive group of elitist-type writers, who critique one another’s work with filet knives and switchblades, thereby rendering you a sobbing, insulted artiste, with nowhere to go but up.

Digressing, again…

Back to parasailing. My cousins from Virginia were in town a couple of weeks ago and 17-year-old son, Jesse, had not experienced this exciting watersport activity before, so we scheduled a trip for him to join me and get an aerial view of the gorgeous, lowcountry seascape for which Hilton Head is so famous. Leaving out of Harbour Town on  an H20 Sports boat with two, rather buff-bod parasailing experts to hold our hands, we trolled out into the Calibogue Sound with all the other fun, outgoing, watersports-lovers who were going out on paddleboards, pirate ships, sportfishing boats, and kayaks (and sort of rolling their eyes at us novices giggling our way out to sea pointing, at every stupid thing that jumped, swam, or flew by),

Sean, our gentle leader, explained in a very relaxing voice, with cool undertones of been-there-done-that-please-don’t-worry-and-enjoy-this-fun-ride, what we would be doing before and during our delightful journey floating above the beautiful, scenic, southern end of Hilton Head Island. While, Jesse, my astute companion wondered aloud, what those dark, swirling clouds were doing a little over there, off in the distance above the vast Atlantic ocean, and asking, “isn’t this hurricane season down here?” To which we all responded, firmly and with courageous contempt, “Oh don’t be so alarmist, Jesse, they are just a few clouds that are blowing our way, and will pass by us with no drama. Please, can’t you enjoy yourself?”  To which, he just looked at us quizzically, and saying nothing, looked down to make sure the life-preserver jackets were indeed under our seats, somewhere.

Before going up on parasail

Jesse & Carmen Ready for Anything

No, we did not get caught up in a hurricane later that morning, but my clever young cousin was later fully vindicated, by news reports in the local paper the next day of water spouts (hurricanes’ ugly and dangerous second cousins) that did encircle Hilton Head at exactly the same time that we began heading back from our trip.  The moral of this tangent in my story, being, “listen to your teenagers and don’t write them off with scornful ha-ha’s, when they notice odd, weather patterns in the sky”.

So, to make this long story just a little longer, I want to say that we had a marvelous ride for about twelve – fifteen minutes, rocking quietly with the breeze and looking out over God’s blue earth from a comfortable, secure five hundred feet or so, while the boat pulled us lightly through the sky. It was a truly joyful experience and I thoroughly recommend this activity to anyone visiting Hilton Head and who would like to get a different angle on our little oasis along the southeast American coastline. H20 Sports did a great job explaining everything to us, and if we wanted to explore the area by kayak, or paddleboard, or simply cruise around the sound (among their many other watersport offerings), at a later time they were there to accommodate with similar experience and USCGA-licensed staff, secure equipment, and professional services.

Give them a call, 1-877-290-4FUN (4386) or check out their website.

Adios, and have a great week on Hilton Head!

Blog Angel signing off.