Halfway into a 6-week sleeping arrangement and I was pretty well ready to go. My work was done here but it was possible to switch gears and simply be an observant tourist.
With time to spare, how happy was I that friend, Scott dropped in from Pittsburgh for 5 days? We rode bikes and ate! It was gumbo at the Seafood Fest, fish & chips at Hudson's (in the family since 1967), grilled redfish from Bluffton Oyster Co (family run since 1899), and spanakopita at the Squat & Gobble. He claims he only came for the pecan sweet potato casserole at Bluffton BBQ (which I skipped), but I don't believe him. I was quite pleased to have conversation with a compadre all day long!
While I've listened to the stories of a few lonely men, I've not made a single connection here. People say 'hello' as a courtesy but that's as far as it goes. These are definitely not my people. I've been living in a comfy room in a lovely house with a family from Indiana, but the neighborhood feels like suburbia. This makes little sense as I'm a mile walk to the heart of Old Town Bluffton in one direction and the same to the Parkway bike paths in the other. But, built in 2016, it has that oh-so-planned feeling -- I've been calling it Pleasantville.
What I do like is the mix of ages which made for a jubilant Halloween season. Houses have been decorated to the max since October 1, and I sat outdoors with my hosts for 3 hours watching a parade of no less than 300 trick-or-treaters of all ages come by. I've had wilder holidays, but this was the most festive Halloween in years. In fact, I forgot to take a photo!
There have also been two more trips to Hilton Head to play and to learn more about the history of the island. Did you know that in 1861 the Union Army found Hilton Head abandoned and established it as their southern headquarters? It's why nearly two-thirds of nearby Bluffton was destroyed, and how millions of slaves were given freedom. Free and former enslaved people in the area served in the Union Army and the US Navy with knowledge that helped to win many battles. Even more surprising to me is that Harriet Tubman was working behind Confederate lines here and led a battle that freed over 800 slaves. She was everywhere! In 1862, the US Army established Mitchelville (see my last post) as a "freed men's village" on Hilton Head; a humanitarian and segregation effort.
What else am I up to? Riding. Walking. Reading. Writing. Working a tad. Pondering seasonal locations. Plotting travel for early 2022. And, in three days, I break my own rule and point south into Florida where I have 3 stops on the itinerary and 5 friends awaiting my arrival. I'm already thinking about eggnog.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover