The day after Memorial Day

Many people headed back to work today after a long weekend or an even longer vacation.  Memorial Day is a Free Day Off for working folks.

For several years after I first moved to Atlanta, my roommate and I took the week before Memorial Day off for vacation.  That way we got both the pre-Memorial Day lower rates plus an extra day off.  We'd leave town on Friday after work and drive to the beach and not return until about midnight on Memorial Day, giving us ten full days of vacation using only five vacation days.

We always went to Pawley's Island, South Carolina, and stayed in a quadraplex unit at the South End which featured both a screened porch and a deck.  (The other units had one or the other but not both.)  I think the first year we stayed there the cost came to about $125 for the week.  We then moved down the beach to the Tip Top Inn for the extra couple of days (with meals) for another $50 or so.

Since we lived in a busy city with plenty of activities and nightlife, our vacations were designed as true getaways.  Each of us packed an entire bag of books, plus Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit, and our daily agenda was something like this:

Breakfast on the screened porch, watching for dolphins
Morning on the deck, reading
Long walk down the beach before lunch
Lunch on the screened porch
Afternoon on the beach, reading, throwing frisbee, swimming, bird watching, etc.
Another long walk
Dinner on the screened porch
Beer and games
Repeat the next day
And one day we would spend in Charleston, usually the day we needed to get over some sunburn.

We had very different tastes in books, but we enjoyed telling each other about what was happening in whatever we were reading.  It wasn't unusual for each of us to read five or six books on the trip, plus we got to hear about five or six more.  I always had my bird identification book, too; we loved to watch the little sanderlings running on their wind-up legs along the shoreline and there was a large assortment of ducks on the pond at the place where we checked in.  Our meals were pretty ho-hum by my current culinary standards (cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, mac and cheese) but that made our one or two forays into town for seafood dinners extra special.

The most exciting thing that happened on one of our otherwise dull-looking (to others) vacations was when my roommate's car caught on fire.  It was the day we drove to Charleston and we pulled into a restaurant and suddenly lots of smoke was coming from under the hood.  Fortunately, just as we got out, a truck pulled into the parking space next to us and the driver got out carrying a fire extinguisher.  It was as if our guardian angel had arrived complete with tattoos and a fire extinguisher in the back seat of his truck.  We got the car to a garage and they found a crack in something and fixed it and we were on our way.   That was kind of how life seemed to roll back then.

Those were great vacations.


Ray Barnes said…
Fascinating! It's so totally different from anything I ever experienced it makes America sound like another planet, not just another country.
The one thing I can really connect with is the books. I used to walk along the street reading (how I never walked into anyone, or under a bus I'll never know)
Thanks for sharing this.
Well, Ray, sometimes I look back and it seems like it was in another planet to me, too. We had frantically busy lives in the city and it was great to just go flop for the week in the sun with some books and a few beers. It's all much more complicated now. And I suppose one could take a Kindle loaded with a week's worth of reading instead of a bag of hardbacks!