So since heights aren’t my thing, I looked down. The cast-iron steps I was standing on had holes in them that allowed for a bit of a “view.” This, my friends, was a mistake. I froze between steps and stopped breathing, my palms instantly sweaty, my stomach turning.
I was high up, y’all. Conveniently, at this point I remembered the disclaimer I had read on southcarolinaparks.com earlier in the week. A caption under a picture of the lighthouse read, “The Hunting Island lighthouse is currently open, but is subject to close without notice for repairs.”
What in the sam hill would need a repair other than something that is breaking? And given that it’s a decommissioned lighthouse, I could only think of two things that could break: either the stairs or the lighthouse itself. Either would not bode well for one’s survival.
And did you note the words “without notice”? (I italicized them because I care.) Theoretically, this means a tourist, like me for example, could be mid-climb when all of a sudden the elderly couple selling tickets at the bottom (who’ve been married for fifty-eight years) could suddenly scream, “We’re closing for repairs!” All because, to use the milder of the two previously-established possible catastrophes, a flight of stairs just collapsed.
Yes, on my honor, this is what I thought as I stood there frozen, lamenting the fact that I
had gone camping looked down in the first place. Okay, except I thought all of the above in bold.
LCB finally noticed my plight when he saw me bending over, breathing deeply, and clutching the wall. Honestly, I don’t really remember much of what we said to each other in the exchange that followed, but at one point, he offered to escort me back down.
I was going to climb this beast if it killed me.
Trying not to think too much about the small people climbing this deathtrap of a lighthouse that clearly might crumble without notice, I ordered LCB, “Forget me. Mind our progeny!” Obediently, he turned around and raced to catch up with the small people, who were now a flight ahead of us.
At a snail’s pace, I continued climbing. I thought about falling, puking, and my sweaty palms the whole way up.
Once I made it to the top, I took one look at the narrow balcony outside the lighthouse and decided there was no way on God’s green earth that I would ever step foot on it. I hugged the doorway and waited for LCB, who was walking around the balcony the way I walk around a palm tree firmly rooted at sea level. Happily, I also realized the balcony offered up a third option of what could possibly need to be repaired were the lighthouse to close without notice. I handed LCB my camera, and tried not to think about the fact that all my kinfolk were on a balcony that might, theoretically, close without notice should it break.
Y’all, this has shattered any romantic notions I had of someday vacationing in or even buying a lighthouse to live in. They make the idea looks so ethereal in the vacation brochures and the real estate ads that I always said I wanted to try it someday. What an idiot I am. I would have done just as well adding “Personally try a medieval torture device” to my bucket list.
After we reached the bottom and Christine became Christine again, we walked to the nearby gift shop and perused its wares. I purchased a Christmas ornament I’ll showcase in my upcoming annual Christmas ornaments post.
Then, we drove to the pier on Fripp Inlet, the inlet separating Hunting Island from Fripp Island. Located at one end of the pier, the nature center also has fishing equipment and bait available for those so inclined. My younger son was hankering to fish, so we decided to check it out.
Even close up, I still couldn’t make out anything he said.
Here, my son had a self-defining moment: After some contemplation, he decided he’s ultimately more of a surf fisherman than a pier fisherman, so he opted to make the most of the time we had left by instead returning to our campsite to build more fires.
On the way back, the small people finally deciding they wanted to see the beach, so we stopped for a while. They climbed among the roots and then we returned for a couple more hours of “Let’s make fire and beat our chests!”
We had reserved the campsite for two nights (a requirement), but had prepped the small people for the fact that we would probably only stay one night due to
Mom’s fear of public showers obligations we had the next day. The abnormally cold temperatures merely sealed the deal, so late Saturday, we began the task of packing up our tent. As the sun set, we finished packing and drove over the bridge off the island, the light gold against the marsh grass all around us.
At home later that night, while we were unloading the minivan, my younger son asked me a question, a question I knew had been brewing all day. “If we buy you a camper, will you go again?” The question was laced with all the hopefulness that he could muster.
“You don’t have to buy me a camper,” I answered. “I’ll go again.”
“Good, good!” he answered, clearly excited. “When?” he asked, hoping, I knew, for a commitment to a specific date in the near future. I suspect he was hoping I’d say next weekend.
“When it’s warmer, buddy. When it’s warmer.”