Making Lemonade in Walterboro, South Carolina

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As I wrote in the fall of 2014, among all our photographs of all our travels – from Orlando to Outer Mongolia, from Beijing to Beaufort, from Moscow to Montego Bay – the above photograph will remain one of my favorites.

It’s a shot of our children on a nondescript playground in a nondescript place – could be anywhere. It was taken on Jekyll Island, and I think of it as the lemonade shot.

As so often happens with travel, despite all our planning and good intentions, despite owning a travel agency, despite doing everything right – everything went wrong. We ended up 500 miles from home in a beautiful out of the way place on a beautiful fall day – crystal blue skies and calm seas, a day to forgive all sins, our room reservation gone awry and not a vacancy for miles.

First-world problems you say…indeed, but what left a lasting impression on me from that day is the attitude of my children.

They shrugged their shoulders and headed for the swing sets. 

Following their lead, Jennifer and I ordered a pizza and a few beers from Red Bug Motors Pizza Pub. We all enjoyed the afternoon, headed back to highway, and found a decent room along I-95 – we watched hours of the Disney Channel and fell asleep happy and in all reality, privileged.

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That photo may go down as my second favorite shot of all time.

Why?

Nearly a year to the day after the Lemonade Shot, we found ourselves in travel trouble again. This time stuck on the south side of the South Carolina flooding fed by Hurricane Joaquin. It was Sunday afternoon, we were headed home from a week at Walt Disney World, the kids had school on Monday, and I had an important business meeting.

Upon reaching South Carolina we found Interstates 95, 26, and 77 all closed.

We were frustrated and annoyed as we checked into another hotel alongside I-95 in the little town of Walterboro, South Carolina. Again, it was our kids that reminded me we are pretty fortunate folks.

Instead of worrying about another business meeting that wouldn’t matter the day after the meeting, much less a year from now, I watched our kids spread out in the hotel lobby, work on homework, and laugh about how they were getting yet another night of vacation.

Jennifer and I then realized we had a bottle of sparkling wine in the cooler – a gift from my mother for our wedding anniversary three weeks before – something we had barely mentioned much less taken the time to celebrate.

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We again took a lesson from our kids, and transferred that bottle to our room’s little ice bucket.

We celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary in a hotel in Waltersboro, South Carolina with plastic cups of sparkling wine amongst a 1000-year flood, again feeling privileged and most thankful that we had not lost life, limb, or property to the ravages of the weather.

What can we take from two grainy digital photos, from two trips up and down the east coast?

Memories – of course, and a few lessons about travel:

Stay flexible…

Stay thankful…

And take a hint from the kids.

Oh, and never forget to:

Relax…you CAN get there from here!

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