Dolphin Head Playground

We moved to Hilton Head Island on July 1, 2010.  This adventure started in a rental I saw online with a lease signed via fax.  We had  never seen the house.  I left Ocean City, New Jersey, where we had been living with my sister, in a SUV packed to the gills, a 5 year old, a three year old, and CadyGirl our 10 year old black lab.  We took two days driving the 14 hours down 95 S,  and pulled in around noon the day our lease started.  My husband and his buddy were about 4 hours behind us in the rented Uhaul and an old but beloved Honda Accord.  We unpacked all day and most of the next, as his buddy headed back north he wished us good luck and good vibes for unpacking.   Shortly after he left, our kids told us they wanted to do something fun, this to parents everywhere is a good indicator that they are bored and could be on a one way trip to trouble.

Our first house.  The only house I ever lived in that I did not see before move in day.

The only house I ever lived in that I had not seen before.

We took a break, got in the car and headed to find a playground.  Prior to this, we had been to Hilton Head one time and one time only, and that was to go house hunting.  As I previously mentioned, we were renting this house, so the house hunt was unsuccessful. The world of renters was actually a nice break from the responsibility of home ownership.  We did not know the area, or the roads, and were not acclimated to Hilton Head Plantation at all.  We knew there was a playground here, but had no idea how to get there.  We were trying to find Dolphin Head, and ended up on Ribault Island.   There is no playground on Ribault Island, but if the gate is open, (and it is usually not) it is an experience to look at the beautiful homes that make up this  ultra-private section of Hilton Head Plantation.

When we finally wound our way along the beautiful tree lined streets, past the golf courses, and lagoons, we found the Dolphin Head Recreation Center.  The Sea greeted us with a warm smile.  For a moment I sat in the car and took it all in.  The playground equipment, basketball courts, Mossy Oaks, Sea Wall and the Port Royal Sound.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  This was my playground, this was where my children would come to swing, climb and spin.  I thought about the playgrounds back in Pennsylvania, and even in all my beloved New Jersey Beach Towns and nothing could compare.  We had made the right choice.

The view from the Swings at Dolphin Head Playground.

The view from the playground at Dolphin Head Recreation Center.

Dolphin Head is so much more than a playground, there is a little beach house you can rent with a full kitchen.  We have had many a birthday and family event in that little house.  There is also a walking path along the bluff and a beach you can walk, play and have awesome scavenger hunts on.   If you walk all the way to the end of the beach and around the point,  you will find yourself at a point between two bodies of water, it is beautiful, and is also my husbands favorite fishing spot.

My husband's favorite fishing spot.

My husband’s favorite fishing spot.

Dolphin Head Recreation Center in located within the private gated community of Hilton Head Plantation.  Unlike Sea Pines, you can not pay to enter Hilton Head Plantation, you have to know someone to visit so they can call in a guest pass.    I believe hands down that the playground at Dolphin Head is the most beautiful playground around, and as an added bonus, if you get there at the right time, you can catch the most beautiful sunset around.

Sunset from Dolphin Head.

Sunset from Dolphin Head.

I will be highlighting many of the playgrounds on Hilton Head, and other coastal towns in the coming months.

It’s All My Mom & Dad’s Fault

If you have ever dreamt of packing it all up, selling your house, quitting your job and raising your children by the sea, this is how we did it.  Our dream started a very long time ago.    My parents were not beach people, but  they were boat people, so from the age of 6, every weekend from April through October, we would pack up the car and head to our boat on the Chesapeake Bay.  I learned from an early age that water calmed me.  So in essence I can blame this entire adventure on my mom and dad.

Our dream started to come to fruition in 2008.  We were in the middle of the ugliest real estate market my generation had ever seen and quite possibly in the history of real estate.  So of course, it was during this time that my husband and I decided we should sell our house.  We did not play the real estate game right, I had friends that bought and sold and upgraded houses coming out on top with every sale, and managing to find themselves in their ‘forever’ house when the market went bust.  A busted market is only a busted market if you are trying to sell your house.  If you have no intention of moving, a busted market really doesn’t effect you.  We were not in our forever house, we were in our 2-4 year house.

Oh, how I miss a boat!

                                                      Oh, how I miss a boat!

 Our plan had always been to sell the house before our oldest started school since we did not want to send him to the school district we lived in.    They say hindsight is 20/20 and we never should have bought in a school district that we wouldn’t use, but when we bought things were staying on the market for days, and we loved the house and the neighborhood, just not the schools.

So we put the house on the market, which is a challenge with a 4 year old, 2 year old and a dog.  We had lots of people come, but only one offer.  We were hoping to break even, start fresh, make up for it on the other end, all those things you hear when you are not getting the price you want for your house.  Well we ended up taking a hit.  We discussed ‘short’ sale, but didn’t want a blow to our credit score, so we kid people that we had to pay someone to buy our house.  We had to take money to the settlement table to sell our house, and thank goodness we did, because I frequently look at www.zillow.com and that house is worth even less now than it was three years ago.  So step one was complete, but that left one small problem, we were homeless.