It happened again yesterday.
Someone told me visitors wining and dining in Bluffton think they are on Hilton Head Island. Maybe they’re doing more wining than dining, but I hear this a lot.
How does anyone have trouble knowing when they get to an island?
It’s after you cross a tall bridge or two. With water underneath it and land on the other side. Maybe a sailboat in the distance, and little hummocks poking up in the marsh. People glide by on paddle boards. Osprey build nests in a power pylon. Stuff like that. It’s a hint.
In defense of our lost souls, more stuff on U.S. 278 — the Bluffton Autobahn — is named “Hilton Head” than “Bluffton.” Give a hand to Bluffton Tire & Auto and the Bluffton Medical Campus of Hilton Head Hospital for coming right out and saying “Bluffton” for all to see. They must have attended a Bluffton Anonymous meeting and come clean.
People also often ask if Hilton Head could somehow prevent car dealerships and housing developments in Hardeeville from naming themselves “Hilton Head.” No, but it would be nice for the “Hilton Head” housing developments in Hardeeville to refrain from claiming they’re less crowded than Hilton Head.
So, where is Hilton Head?
For that matter, where did Bluffton go?
Bluffton used to be a quaint little fishing village with a drinking problem. Now it’s a drinking village with a fishing problem. Or is it a noise problem, or parking problem?
Someone asked a few years ago what we were going to do to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the day the Yankees burned Bluffton. I said, “Maybe we can burn it again.”
Bluffton has mushroomed into something unrecognizable this side of Atlanta. And the Census Bureau just told us that the Hilton Head, Bluffton, and Beaufort metro area, if you can imagine, is the 12th fastest growing community in the nation.
And that would include Lady’s Island, where the natives are more than restless at all the clear-cutting that is gouging the land like bombs.
This while we await completion of a fly-over, and Hilton Head discusses fixing congested Sea Pines Circle by returning it to its formerly broken state, before it was fixed. And in that discussion, someone mentioned the alternative of a “fly-under.” Do what?
So the poor visitor gets off I-95 at Exit 8 in Hardeeville. Larry Lighthouse has not even taken a bathroom stop for 10 hours, and he thinks he’s finally there. He thinks this is Hilton Head. And the state highway department sign at that location tells him he’s 34 miles from Hilton Head. That would be wrong. It’s 18 miles — or three Walmart Supercenters.
If our dear guest drives 34 miles, let’s hope the kids have already put on their flippers and snorkel masks.
But look at the bright side. They at least will know they have found an island, surrounded by actual water.