Saturday, September 26, 2009

THE HILTON HEAD EXPERIENCE – PART 2

Day 3: The “Wood-man” and I continued our exploration of the island yesterday with a nice little 24 miler utilizing the impressive network of bike paths that the Hilton Head planners have created. Thus far, I’ve yet to find a public place on the island that can’t be reached by bike path.

We set out from our current place of residence at Palmetto Dunes and headed west along the William Hilton Parkway, which is a very busy split dual lane highway that moves traffic rapidly across the island. It doesn’t take long to really develop an appreciation for the bike paths as they keep you safely separated from the high speed traffic.

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We pedaled approximately 10 miles along the paths finding only short sections of path where we could pick up our pace. The paths do an excellent job of providing alternative transportation but aren’t what a cyclist would look for to do training runs. We rode to the end of the paved bike paths near Mile 1 of the Parkway. Realizing we had gone as far as we could in this direction, we headed back to look for Spanish Wells Road, which runs along the western edge of the island according to the highly illustrated map we used to navigate our way on the island.

This section of bike path turned out to be the prettiest and least busy of the areas that we rode. The paths in this area were well groomed and without obstruction similarly to the paths in the busier sections of the island. Notably, less people were riding these paths than those along the William Hilton Parkway. We crossed one marsh with some excellent views on a wooden bridge.

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Our ride continued along Spanish Wells Road until we intersected with Marshland Road. Marshland cuts back northeasterly across the island and took us to Mathews Drive, which then returned us to William Hilton Parkway. We found several longer sections of bike path along Marshland that allowed us to air it out on the bikes. We declared it interval training and was able to get in a few quick, hard sprints. This area of the island appeared to be the residential section for local service and other workers. This was definitely not a “touristy” section of the island. We passed lots of mom’s awaiting the arrival of school buses with their kids along this section.

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At Mathews Drive, we had a choice to make: turn left or turn right. Given a 100% chance of not being wrong, we chose left and followed Mathews back to William Hilton Parkway, which ended up putting us back on the section we had previously ridden that day. Had we turned right, we would have intersected Wm Hilton Parkway approximately 1 mile above our temporary abode.

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We will hopefully get to explore the southwestern end of the island before our stay comes to a close.

A disconcerting end to the day: Upon our return to our very nice rental unit, we discovered that some unscrupulous room-mates, who shall go unnamed here, had raided the fridge and left us only 1 cold libation each. A quick cell phone call confirmed that our “roomies” were still on the beach and needed assistance returning “their” cooler to the room. We gladly complied as we harbored the secret thought that perhaps a “cold one or two” had managed to hide in the bottom of the aforementioned cooler. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the 6 pack –err case.

Of course, one door closes and another opens. This turn of events provided the opportunity to try out their rental bikes with monstrous (to me) Fuji seats, single speed, and coaster brakes. A quick pedal down to the local general store replenished supplies and all was well once again on the lagoon. We reduced our carbon footprint and added another mile or so to our day’s total. But, then things got complicated…

While in the shower and soaped up prepping my bald head for the evening meal, I felt a sliding sensation on my left ring finger followed by the sound of metal hitting the shower enclosure. Realizing that my wedding ring had just slipped from my hand, I quickly began trying to locate it. I was tracking it by sound because I couldn’t see it. I realized that it was headed toward the giant maw of a drain, which must have been 10’ across at this point. I realized another sound was prominent as well. It seems that I was emitting a series of sounds that drew my wife’s attention from her nap. In a moment of incredible prescience, she opened the bathroom door and stated emphatically, “You lost your wedding ring, didn’t you!” It wasn’t really a question – more a statement of the known.

Yes, that golden symbol was gone. It has been on my finger for 26 years, 9 months, and 7 days. It has been off only 4 times – all of which were mandated by health care officials when I was having a surgical or medical procedure. My sense of loss was acute. I was and continue to be impressed at how my hand somehow doesn’t feel proper. But, it is a symbol and only a symbol. Hopefully, a phone call or two and a visit to our local jeweler will get a new symbol headed my way…

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(Self-snapped image from the sunny shores of Hilton Head Island)

Until later,

- Zeke

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