Esme's birthday was the fourth, and we went a little before that, to have time to visit the ocean at Myrtle Beach, something even I had never done before. So, it was a pretty special occasion.
We flew on a plane to get to Columbia, South Carolina - changing over at Atlanta, one of the busiest airports in the United States. It was an adventure there, too. Esme was quite nervous about flying but she did really good (there still might be some fingerprint marks in the seat armrests on those planes, though! kidding).
Esme got to see Mom at my 'most lost' when the rental car wouldn't start in the parking garage - but they gave us a different car and it was all good from there. I also admit I lost the rental car in the parking lot of a Walmart we went to for groceries one time -- but we found it just as the parking lot police were about to come help us. I also got lost a few times and had to work my way back with the Google Maps on my phone. But I think she also saw that you don't have to panic and freak out - you can get out of these situations and learn something.
The day we went to Myrtle Beach Grandpa still wasn't feeling very well, and his oxygen tanks were low.. it was a Sunday, so I put on my brave face and Esme and I took the hour and a half drive to Myrtle Beach by ourselves, arriving just a bit after eleven in the morning. We went to the boardwalk by the SkyWheel and then on to the ocean to gather shells. I think we were out there up to our knees for a little over two hours ,then I made her come in, and eat something, and buy some souvenirs.. including a towel and a sweatshirt. She really wanted a boogie board - and of course, to take it to the ocean and get completely submerged in the waves. It was a 60 degree day at best.. with nice sunshine but a cold wind. But armed with towel and sweatshirt I took her down to the beach again (after depositing like fifteen pounds of shells in the trunk of the car) and she rode waves for another 45 minutes. Then it was quick put on the dry things and get to the car to make the drive home.
on the beach near the Sky Wheel in Myrtle Beach, SC
Trying to push over the leaning tree at the Visitor's Center
Boogie boarding at the beach
Boogie boarding at the beach
At the Swan Lake Iris Park in Sumter, SC
Grandpa and Grandma giggle at a toy hermit crab
on the plane with her birthday gifts
tired and headed home!
Esme and her Grandma Gale made cupcakes together and Esme and I decorated them, and then they watched the Garfield movies. The next day, we went to the Swan Lake Iris Gardens park and Grandpa came with us to see the swans. Esme did get a headache halfway through there - but enjoyed seeing the swans and some turtles. We grabbed some chicken and went home, and then Esme and I got a few more things at a craft store. Later that night she opened her 11th birthday Owl, Harry Potter books and a sand dollar silver necklace I had gotten for her to commemorate the beach. Grandma Gale gave her a souvenir net with shells that says 'Myrtle Beach' across the top which now hangs in her bedroom on the wall.
We had a great stay at Grandpa and Grandma's house. Esme wishes she could have gone back for another day on the beach.. but she is happy with the shells and the boogie board and souvenirs and maybe a chance to go back in a few years (during a warmer time of the year!). Grandpa said we probably got as good of a haul of shells as we did because it was the off-season for beachcombers. When I finally asked Esme to come get in her towel to leave a six inch long blue conch shell (almost complete) washed up right by her elbow and I told her it was the Ocean telling her to listen to her Mother and it was time to go ;) heh.
We made all the connecting flights back (although I got off at one wrong exit on the way back to the airport, backtracked and got back on) and Daddy picked us up at the Nashville Airport for a long drive home in the pouring rain. We were so glad to be home and to have everyone together again.
One bad thing happened while we were gone - our dog Freckles ran out into the woods, maybe looking for us because we were gone, and she has not come back. We have to expect the worst. She was an excellent little dog, and we miss her. Her sister Lucy, especially, misses her. I got a sinus infection after getting home, as well, and that took up all the rest of my vacation time trying to get human again.
I'm putting together a 16 by 20 poster frame of some of the pictures and ephemera we collected on our trip. I'm going to hang it in the hallway beside the crayon drawing of the beach (and oddly, a plane overhead!) that Esme had made years ago 'in case we ever went to the beach it would be like this..'