High Times in the Lowcountry
Updated: Apr 3, 2022
After spending the first 7 years of my life bouncing around overseas, we moved to Hilton Head Island in the Lowcounty of South Carolina where I set roots and grew up. So it’s a real treat to be back in the region I call home, spending a week at Timbers Kiawah. Having the opportunity to share the sights, sounds, tastes, and history of this special area of the world with some of my Timbers Kauai family makes it even that much better.
After a couple weeks of swashbuckling on the Caribbean with Art and Victoria, they’re with me here in Kiawah along with our dear friend Lynn. Kenny & Stacy were supposed to be here, but circumstances beyond their control are keeping them in Texas at the moment.
My first night in Charleston was spent at my sister’s house over in Mount Pleasant. I’m always super stoked to get to spend time with Sarah and her family. Her girls are young, but growing up quickly and are non-stop fun and energy. If you meet them you might initially be a bit concerned that their diet consists solely of Red Bull and Pixie Stix, but I can assure you that they run mostly on carrot sticks, water, chicken nuggets, and some kind of dinosaur themed yogurt pops. They’ve just inherited Sarah’s enthusiasm for life and see absolutely no reason to hold it back.
Sarah and her super cool husband Travis have adopted a parenting style that accommodates this high voltage energy level by maintaining a Zenlike state of calm at all times. Something breaks? No worries, just direct the appropriate child to deal with it. The dog is pink? No worries, aim a hose at it. Even 72 “Mommy?”s into a question, Sarah is still able to answer without breaking from the conversation we’re having. I am honestly quite impressed with the situation. Both girls have plenty of room to develop their own personalities, and their parents have developed the type of patience in the face of chaos that creates great wartime leaders and generals.
After a much too brief time with Team Sarah, I scooped up our Timbers Kauai crew from the airport and we settled in to our absolutely gorgeous residence at Timbers Kiawah. The layout of the space welcomes the nearby beach and ocean inside, and the interior décor reflects the style and feel of the Lowcountry in a manner that mimics the welcoming spirit for which the region is famous. We all felt instantly at home, just wishing that Kenny and Stacy were there to share the experience.
The week has been cool, but comfortable. And we’ve packed it full of fun on and off property. You can’t come to Kiawah without playing some golf, and this crew took in some of the best that the island had to offer. They even learned firsthand why you don’t go after a ball on the edge of a water hazard down here, as a gator guarded one of Art’s tee shots. You can’t play every course here in a week, but an effort was made. We even added a delightful lunch out at the clubhouse of the famed Ocean Course which had just hosted a major PGA event a few weeks prior.
When we weren’t on the golf course, we were on the water. The exceptional crew at Charleston Outdoor Adventures took us out on an eco-tour of the island’s marshes and creeks that featured over a dozen species of birds, including white pelicans that are rarely seen in the area, and a friendly school of dolphins who swam by to say “hello”.
We also spent a day walking the historic streets of Downtown Charleston and visiting a couple of historic homes. Just cruising along the Battery and speculating about the conversations that have happened on those beautiful wraparound porches above their meticulously manicured gardens is a trip back in time.
Of course, with all of these activities we needed to stay properly fueled up. The man with the plan at Timbers Kiawah when it comes to food is Teddy Folkman. Teddy runs the little poolside grill here, but don’t get the wrong idea about what that means. This is no chili dogs and chips poolside grill. And Teddy is not your average chef. His resume is longer than I can include here, but all that really matters is that “Teddy Knows Food!”
Our first introduction to Teddy’s take on Lowcountry cuisine was a seafood focused menu that included raw oysters, fresh shrimp, lobster rolls, and even a “turf bonus” of perfectly cooked lamb lollypops.
Later in the week we were treated to a second feast as Teddy presented an in-residence dining menu featuring deliciously innovative versions of Frogmore Chowder, Fried Green Tomatoes with Gullah style Oxtail, and Pork Chops that were so huge they looked like they came out of an episode of the Flintsones, accompanied by Collard Greens and Truffle Mac and Cheese. That evening we were joined by Sarah and Travis – who, in addition to be an incredible cartographer, land use consultant, and conservationist, is also a historian. He was kind enough to share some of his most current work to us as a dinner presentation on the history of the rice industry as a driver of cultural, environmental, and economic evolution in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Having grown up in the area, and been a total nerd all through school (and to this day), I thought this was awesome. Any concerns that I might have been a bit off-piste with this topic selection for our group was quashed by the insightful questions that everyone asked throughout Travis’s talk. This is my kind of night; bringing together interesting people from different parts of my life and watching them interact.
Speaking of great evenings and wonderful people, the highlight of the week had to be a day trip down to Bluffton, SC to visit with the rest of my family and show Art, Victoria, and Lynn the place that I call home. After a whirlwind tour of downtown Bluffton, featuring a mandatory stop at my sister in law Emily’s shop, Gigi’s, we headed over to the beautiful creekside home where Emily and my brother Chris keep busy raising their four wonderful children. As with Sarah’s kids, each of these four also has their own very unique personality. I think it’s possible that the only thing that all 6 of my nephews and nieces have in common is that they are all Uncle Dave’s favorite. Otherwise they are a motley crew of jokers, artists, outdoorsmen, athletes, and entertainers that each hold their own place in the world and in my heart.
Upon arriving at Chris’s house, the only way we could have ended up in his boat more quickly would be if I had parked on the dock. We barely had the doors of the van shut when our welcoming committee of kids and dogs led us down to the water where we were soon off across the creek to meet my mother for a tour of Palmetto Bluff, the community where she might as well be the mayor. Mom knows everyone in this place, and kept the crew captivated with stories of how the neighborhood has grown and evolved over the time she’s lived there. Everyone we saw greeted us with a wave and a “Hi Sue!” as Mom kept us moving, knowing that if she slowed down the golf cart for even a moment we’d be in a conversation that would lead to drinks on someone’s porch until sunset.
As we climbed back into the boat after our whirlwind tour of Palmetto Bluff I spotted an old friend drifting by on his way back from a cruise. We flagged him down and pulled up to the dock where our crew was blessed with one of the best experiences in the Lowcountry Eco-Guide Community – Boo Harrell on a roll.
I worked with Boo at Outside Hilton Head where I learned what would become the building blocks of the business and life that I’ve built. Boo, Angela Marshall, Mark Wray, and Mike Overton taught me more about the outdoor industry, guide philosophy, leadership, and life than I could ever thank them for. Working with these truly wonderful people changed the trajectory of my life and I am forever grateful to them.
One of the highlights of my trips home is catching up with Boo. He manages their shop just a few hundred yards from my mom’s house. Usually he hits me with a couple of quality jokes, a few thoughtful questions about life, and some sage advice. Today however, he was rolling! We got about 16 stories in about 6 minutes. Each loaded with puns, insights, history, colorful characters and an extra dose of double entendre just for fun. One of these days I need to get this guy on film when he’s deep in his element. Boo is a work of art that repaints itself every time you see him.
After the show was over, we were back at Chris’s where our entourage of kids and pups led us back up to the house where a feast was just getting started. Within minutes we were all elbow deep in fresh Bluffton Oysters that were pulled from the May River the day before. We were soon joined by my Dad, my Uncle Jerry and his son Colter, Mom, and my good friends Bland and Alice. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it is to be surrounded by such a wonderful group of friends and family. We were all wishing that Sarah and Travis could’ve snuck down from Charleston for the night, and we always miss my brother Tim who’s working hard and living large out in Montana when we get together, and we were, of course, still missing Kenny and Stacy who are still stuck in Texas. But it was a night to remember.
Now it’s time to say goodbye to this corner of paradise and go explore another. Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. Art and Victoria are die hard Rams fans, and if I don’t get this crew to our residence at Timbers Jupiter before kickoff, we’re going to be pulling into the first sports bar we see on the side of I-95!