Summer has finally arrived. School is out. Donna and Sandra pack bags of things to do in the car during the long car ride from Texas to South Carolina. They pack books to read, cards to play games with, and dolls to dress and comb. Mom is filling up a cooler with snacks while Dad is packing the car top carrier with suitcases.
The car ride seems to take forever. Donna keeps asking, “How many more hours until we get there?“ Dad gives Donna a map so that she can follow along – through the states – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia. They drive all night. The kids lay down in the backseats and fall asleep. Finally, the next morning, they arrive in South Carolina.
Granny is so happy. She rushes out the front door even before they knock.
“Hug my neck,” she tells them, tears streaming down her face. Papa and Uncle Eddie follow behind Granny. For a moment it is just a big mixture of everyone taking turns hugging.
“We’re sure glad you’re here,” Papa tells them.
“Well, come on inside.” Granny says as she takes hold of Dad’s arm and pulls him in the direction of the house.
The next morning the girls scramble out of bed as the first rays of sunlight shine on their faces through the large windows. They run into Mom and Dad’s room to shake mom awake to ask her to please go outside with them, but she’s not there. She’s already in the kitchen.
“Good morning, girls. I made you some breakfast. After you eat we can go for a walk on the beach.” She says with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face.
They walk the beach on Harbor Island. It’s more beautiful than Donna or Sandra had remembered from last year. They find a comfortable spot on the wet sand to build sandcastles. Mom sets up her lawn chair closer to the dunes, where the sand is dry and hot. As the girls build their castle, the warm water rushes up to them in rhythmic splashes, gently covering their toes, then their feet, then their ankles as the tide comes in. Water rushes into the mote of the sandcastle.
Dad comes out to join them on the beach. He wades in the water with the girls. She salty water splashes all over as the waves hit the beach. “Don’t go too far out,” Dad calls. The girls stay close enough that the undercurrent doesn’t take them away.
The next day Sandra, Mom, Dad and Donna head into town. Beaufort has a big playground along the waterfront. Mom and Dad swing in the big wooden swings while the girls climb all over the climbing frame until they are breathless and tired. Afterwards they all get ice cream on a cone. Donna likes Mint Chocolate Chip the best, but Sandra prefers Strawberry.
On the way home, they stop at the Crab shack on Lady’s Island. Mom started a tradition that each year they must stop there at least once and have a crab burger sandwich. The restaurant is a run-down little joint where the food is served hot and you can see the shrimp boats from the picnic tables outside.
The vacation days pass, one by one. Each day the girls do something different. One day Mom takes them to the pool. The other day they go with Granny to antique stores in Savannah. A different day they go to California Dreamin’ in Charleston.
The day before it’s time to go home Mom is in the kitchen filling a cooler full of snacks while Dad is outside packing the car top carrier full of suitcases. Donna and Sandra are packing books to read, cards to play games and dolls to dress and comb into a bag for the long car ride from South Carolina back to Texas.
As the drive away Granny is standing on the front porch, tears streaming down her face. Papa and Uncle Eddie are waving Goodbye. Donna and Sandra are in the car, sad to be going home after such a fun trip, but Dad reminds them that they will be back next year for another fun vacation.