By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/23/2019
Occurred: 7/22/2009
Topics/Keywords: #Fireworks #Florida #Greenville #SouthCarolina #St.Augustine #Travel #Zachary Page Views: 3209
Michael, Zach and I spend the night in Greenville and then set off fireworks in Florida.

We arrived about 1 this morning at the home of my friends, Chris and Kim Renzi, and their daughter, Miranda, in Greenville, South Carolina. Chris and Kim had graciously offered to put us up for the night when they learned we would be passing through the area.

I've known Chris for many years. He used to work at Arlington Hospital as Director of Information Services, where he hired me first as a computer programming consultant, then as Manager of Information Services. Later, when we both left the hospital to form Adventech, a computer consulting and software firm. I knew Chris' siblings and parents—I'd made a mix tape for his brother Bob when Bob was dating his now wife (remember mix tapes?) and I'd been to Thanksgiving dinner with the whole clan after my divorce. I also knew Kim's parents and sister. We communicate frequently by email and phone. But it was really nice to be able to see each other in person after so many years apart.

The Renzies have the most beautiful home I've ever seen in person, only slightly less nice than that attributed to Tiger Woods (pictures of which made the rounds on the Internet a year or so ago, but which in reality is a $4000-a-night rental).

The Renzis' home in Greenville, South Carolina.

Michael and I were placed in a ground floor bedroom, while we put Zachary into a second floor room. Each had a private bath. Michael and I were in a waterbed; Zach, an airbed.

I was a little concerned that Zach might be nervous about sleeping in a strange room in a strange house, but that wasn't the case at all. And he was up at the crack of dawn, playing with Miranda (who is his age) and Simba, her puppy. Such a large house is a natural for playing Hide-And-Seek and that's how they spent several hours.

Having driven so late the night before, Michael and I were not early risers but when we did get up, Kim fixed us all a breakfast of bacon and eggs, plus homemade light, fluffy blueberry scones and homemade cinnamon buns. And our choice of several types of juices. If they are ever hit by the falling economy and lose their jobs, they should definitely consider opening a bed-and-breakfast!

Michael and Chris at Reedy River Falls Park. Patriotic Greenville, South Carolina is patriotic.

After eating and showering and getting dressed for the day, Chris offered to take us on a tour of Greenville. It didn't take long because the town isn't very large. The high point was a cascade in Reedy River Park, viewable from a curved suspension bridge.

Reedy River Falls Reedy River Falls

When we returned to Chris' home, we found that Miranda and Zachary had cleaned and vacuumed our rental car! For fun! What awesome kids they are.

Our route from Greenville, SC to St. Augustine, FL

Too soon, it was time to go. Hugs were exchanged all around and then we set out on our way south back to St. Augustine, Florida, a nearly 7 hour drive.

I had promised my high school classmate, Nancy, that we could go to dinner with one of our old teachers if we got back early enough. Alas, that was not to be. It was already about 7:30 pm when we met my sister, Louise, at Pizza Hut (thanks again to cell phones for making such coordination possible). She had with her, her grandson who is also named Zachary. He and our Zachary had spoken previously on the phone but had never met in person.

Zachary Dylan and Zachary Morgan: Together at last!

"Our" Zachary is Zachary Morgan; Louise's is Zachary Dylan. So I suggested we call them ZM and ZD, respectively, at least when they are together. This was of limited success; when I called "ZM!" or "ZD!" neither responded; when Louise called, "Zachary!" they both did. Still, this confusion didn't result in any actual problems, like our accidentally taking the wrong Zachary back with us to Arizona.

I should mention that, like Zachary Morgan, Zachary Dylan is an awesome kid and the two boys immediately bonded.

The big pressure to return to Louise's after our pizza was this: Zachary Morgan had purchased some sparklers and bottle rockets while we were in South Carolina. He knew he couldn't bring them on the plane, so this would be his last chance to actually use them.

The sparklers came first, and I was tickled to note that my Canon G-10's "Fireworks" mode imaged successful shots of the boys using them.

Zachary Morgan by sparkler light. Zachary Dylan with two sparklers.

After a few boxes of sparklers had been spent, the boys took out what we all assumed were bottle rockets. These had some sort of charge mounted on a stick. I never played with fireworks as a kid, so I really know nothing about them beyond the chemical composition of gunpowder and the different impurities that give the explosions color (copper for green and iron for red, for example). So I had to take everyone's word for what they were. Louise's husband, Mikey, would have known for sure but he was at work. So we were on our own.

Louise lives in a house surrounded by trees and it rains there at least once a day this time of year; so there wasn't any actual fire danger. However, shooting off fireworks is illegal and Louise explained—from experience—that if a deputy is summoned, he'll take the garden hose and soak any unexploded fireworks he can find.

Flight of the banshee bottle rocket.

The first of the 9 rockets in the package was stuck into the lawn, and the fuse lit. Everyone stepped back and I held the camera steady. I thought there might be a "pfsht!" sound as the thing took off, certainly nothing to attract the attention of any neighbors who didn't happen to be outside looking in our direction.

Instead, the rocket let loose a banshee cry that rattled the car windows and loosened my dental fillings, before leaping at least 300 feet into the air and exploding with a whistle and a crack that would embarrass any thunderbolt into skulking back into its cloud in utter humiliation. The four of us stared into the drifting cloud of spent gunpowder in deafened amazement. Then, when our hearing returned, Zachary Morgan picked up the remaining bottle rockets and extended them to Zachary Dylan, saying politely, "Would you like to have the rest of these?" Without being told, he knew the fireworks display for the night was over.

The two Zachs carried a mattress from Louise's camper into the living room to sleep on. (It was too hot and muggy to put them in the new camper, since it wasn't yet wired to the house for air conditioning.) Since we would be leaving at 5 am—no foolin', we had to in order to make our flight back home—we said our goodbyes before going to bed.

Our East Coast vacation was at an end.