I suppose spring break will mean something different once the boys are grown, but right now it’s a week where the four of us get away from it all and focus on being together as a family. 

For this week, Brenda stops being a teacher. Samuel and Charlie step away from their school duties, their sports, their Scouts and most importantly their Fortnight. As a mortgage banker, my job doesn’t fully stop, but if I wake up early enough, I can be done with most of my work by 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. when everyone else is finishing their cereal and drinking their coffee.

In years past, we’ve headed to the beach for spring break. Hilton Head has always been our mainstay. We love it there. There is a lot to do, we can bike everywhere, and it has just become a familiar tradition that my parents started with me when I was growing up. We always end up running into people we know from Atlanta and spend time with folks we otherwise may not have spent time with. 

We hit the French Kiss Bakery Sunday morning, have a normal beach day Monday, bike through the nature preserve and to Harbour Town Tuesday, and on and on. We have our traditions there. 

But this year we did something different. We spent our week in Hartwell, Ga. 

About 20 years ago, my in-laws had the foresight to buy acreage and a house along the banks of what was then a very undeveloped Lake Hartwell. Brenda’s sister’s family built a house there, and last fall, a very rustic cabin built in 1971 became available and now we have a place to stay there. 

The cabin is small and rustic and has no central heating and air. But it has a wood-burning stove and a wall of glass looking out over the lake that makes up for it. It was a different kind of trip than our normal Hilton Head trip. 

The closest grocery store is a good 25 minutes of country driving away. If someone says they are going into town, you aren’t going to see them for at least an hour or two. 

We came up here with the intent to remodel the kitchen, which had been doubling as a laundry room. We moved the washer and drier to a closet on the second floor and installed new cabinets and countertops. It was certainly a working vacation, but any missed time with the family will be made up on weekends this summer. 

Hartwell got a Home Depot a couple years back, and on Tuesday I went to town to get supplies there. One of the things I needed was spray lacquer for the wood countertops. I needed 4 cans and they only had 3 left on display. But I looked up and saw a box of it on the top shelf. The big, orange moveable stairs were close by so I scooted them over and walked up to see if my lacquer was up there. While going through the stored items on the top-shelf, I heard a voice from below:

“You work here?”

It was the Home Depot employee who worked the paint section. 

“Ah…no,” I said. 

“Well if you don’t work here, then you ain’t supposed to be up there,” she said. 

She was clearly unhappy with me. So when I got back down to the floor I tried to joke it off by telling her that I guessed I was a rebel. 

There was an older gentleman next to us who acted shocked when I said that. And it seemed like every isle I went to after that, there was that older gentleman, looking out of the corner of his eye to see what rebellious thing I was going to do next. Then when I was checking out, the cashier asked “you the guy who climbed that ladder in the paint section. Right?”

It’s not hard to make a scene up here in Hartwell. 

It has been a quiet week. You can’t hear traffic, just birds chirping and squirrels jumping the branches. The lake has been still, and the boys have been knee-deep in the woods. They played the best April Fools Day prank on Brenda, and I challenge any of you to better them. They spent a half-day while she went to town making it look like my car slid through the woods and into the lake. Worked like a charm. 

We’ll be back at it next week in Atlanta, recharged and ready to roll. And we’ll take some of the lake back with us. 


Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases. 


Geoff Smith


Personal: NMLS#104587

Business: NMLS#70876

*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group


Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases. *The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group.

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