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Stumbling upon Shangri La

We returned from Mexico and nursed dad back to health. It was a long haul but he fully recovered.  I remember a list of prohibited foods he was not allowed to consume, I am not sure if chocolate was on that list, but I distinctly remember making chocolate chip cookies sans the chips which I ate out of the dough to spare dad any ill effects. I am sure this simple act of kindness on my part was the turning point in his recovery. By summer he we were ready to hit the road again.

There are definite benefits to having parents that work in the education system. It may not be the most financially lucrative field but that drawback is far outweighed  by the delight as a child to having ones parents available to play when you are. I was quite old when I realized most families did not get to spend months on end traveling like vagabonds but are instead allotted a week or two in the year to stag a trip to Disney.  We spent the early 60’s exploring the east coast from the cold wind-swept northern beaches of Nantucket and Provincetown down to the moss draped plantations of South Carolina. Not having obsessive/compulsive parents who dutifully logged  the miles, route taken and stops taken in the trusty station wagon chronicling each local with photographs I am once again left with just scattered memories of Boston, NYC, the Great Smokey Mountains and the magical sand dollar beach on the shore of South Carolina.

Some of my favorite travel memories are of those stumbled upon quite by accident; often en route to a final destination with no real agenda or schedule in mind.  That was the case with the Sand Dollar beach. We mostly camped in those days and were looking for a place we could pitch a tent. I believe it was mom that suggested we check out this campground. Not being campers of the trailer-variety nor keen on the KOA scene it was often hard to find our version of Shangri La but this came close. Miles of white sandy beach lay beyond the tree-shaded camp area. Gently rolling waves and shallow warm water going out for what felt like miles where we would spend the day diving for sand dollars, paradise. It was kid heaven and probably pretty close to perfect for parents as we were entertained for hours and worn out by all the activity. I also remember the fogger truck that ambling through the campsite as dusk descended spewing clouds of DDT to keep misquotes at bay. While a common practice in the 50’s and 60’s my only memory of playing in the DDT fog is at the Sand Dollar Campground.

It was supposed to be a one night stand  but instead we ended up staying a week. I have done many google searches hoping to find pictures other than the grainy home movies we have of this bit of heaven on earth. This vintage postcard The Sand Dollar Camp Ground Isle of Palmsas well as someones home videos posted on YouTube from ’73 are the only remnants I have found of the Sand Dollar Campground on the Isle of Palms outside of Charleston, South Carolina. After a few emails with the gentleman who posted his memories on YouTube I have learned the sad truth I suspected all along, the place no longer exists. Part of me wants to know what type of development could engulfed my Shangri La while the other part is happy to learn there are others out there that have equally happy memories of paradise. Our own Shangir La can not be so easily erased from our hearts.