Having your birthday while on vacation is pretty cool. (I need to make a point to do it more often.)

We got up really early and took a kayak tour with Ben Turner, owner and operator of Native Guide Tours. I had found him in the guide book put out by the Hilton Head Island visitors bureau, and based on the testimonials on his website, I was sure we would have a great time, and we sure did. Mike took this picture about two minutes after we’d started out into the May River:


Yup. That’s a dolphin. The May River doesn’t drain from freshwater creeks and streams; it’s actually an embayment fed by tidewater and rainfall. Its salinity level makes for a rich food web, and all sorts of sea creatures make their way into the area to feed (Ben called it their grocery store). This dolphin placidly surfaced and dove in front of us for a while, trolling for breakfast.

Our tour included high tide, and over the course of the 3+ hours we were on the water, we could see how it rose and fell.


Here we’re paddling right through the spartina — the abundant sea grass that shows up everywhere along the coast — at close to high tide. About an hour before this, with the water levels dropping, we had to find little channels between patches of what seemed like much taller spartina.

It was gloriously quiet, and I was so glad to be sharing this with Mike. One of the things I love best about him is that he’s patient enough to stand still and just watch for a while, because he knows he’ll see something cool eventually. And we sure did see a lot of cool somethings.

Finally, after a late second breakfast at the Squat ‘n’ Gobble (love that name!), we stopped by The French Bakery (which I had found on the web) and picked up the cake I had ordered for myself before we left.


It tasted absolutely as fabulous as it looks: four layers of white cake, filled with vanilla buttercream and apricot mousse, and iced with more buttercream. It was probably the best birthday cake I have ever had, and I wish I could get one from them every year.

Ooh! And Mike totally surprised me with his present: a very compact and lightweight cordless drill that has enough umph to drill into our hardwood window casings for hanging brackets, but won’t break my arm when I’m trying to use it holding it over my head. It’s fabulous! I don’t know that a lot of people would get too excited about such a gift, but it was so thoughtful: I know I complained out loud that his drill is too heavy, and he tucked that away and remembered it for me. All around, a fantastic birthday.