Smith Mountain Lake Mystery Writer

Contemplations from a quiet cove on Smith Mountain Lake.

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Location: United States

I'm a Southern gal who loves life, my husband and our family (which, to date, includes 13 grandchildren). I enjoy being with friends and family. But I also like being alone and thinking up plots for future books. I've published two novels, both mysteries, and I'm working on my third. For more about my books, visit me at If you ever hear me say, "I'm bored," please get me to the ER immediately! Paddling my kayak and snapping pictures of the critters I see relaxes me. Beach music has the opposite effect--when I hear those old "doo-wops" I want to dance.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Edisto Island Memories

Once a year Ron and I pack the minivan with bicycles, suitcases, a cooler crammed with food, lots of sunscreen, and head off to Edisto Island, South Carolina, one of our favorite spots. Sometimes we tie our kayaks on top of the minivan so we can explore the marshes, but not this time. Besides, that’s another blog.

This year we invited our daughter, her husband, and their seven children (ages 9 months, 2 1/2, 6, nearly 8, 9, 11 and 13 years) to join us. By now, some of you are probably thinking hubby and I had lost our minds. Not so. The time with our family was a blast. I'm sure we'll do it again.

We met in Gretna, Virginia, and caravanned through North Carolina and South Carolina. With a newly- potty-trained child and a nine-month old baby who needed feeding, the trip was a long one. I don’t think we passed a rest area without stopping. Three grandchildren rode with us. We played old travel games and invented new ones that required vivid imaginations and good memories. And we laughed until our faces hurt.

Edisto Island, a shell-seekers dream and the complete opposite of crowded Myrtle Beach, is located about an hour south of Charleston. There are no high-rises, no Wal-Mart, no huge shopping centers. Instead, individual houses, condos and townhouses dot the landscape. Several restaurants offer scrumptious seafood. Bike trails wind through beautiful backyard alleys, alongside roads and throughout the island. The Edisto Book Store offers a huge selection of books; I always buy several by local and/or Southern writers. The Edisto Serpentarium—complete with poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, alligators, turtles, and other creepy-crawlers—is fascinating and educational.

An old Piggly Wiggly is the only grocery store on the island. Whatever you do, don’t go on Sunday check-in days to buy the immediate necessities or you’ll fight frustrated, hungry crowds and their carts in the narrow aisles. We’ve learned to either take enough food with us or to buy food in Walterboro so we can avoid the chaos.

Local produce stands provide fresh vegetables and fruit. King’s produce sells vegetables grown on land farmed by the same family for six generations. They also make and sell the best-ever key lime pies.

Every year since 1987, we’ve stopped by George and Pink’s to buy veggies and to soak up some of the local color. Live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss line the road. My daughter Christine and I rode horses down this soft, sandy road that passes George and Pink’s place. I can still remember the thud-thud-thud of the horses' hooves as we trotted and cantered down a road that looked two hundred years old, a road that seemed capable of leading us to Scarlet’s “Tara” in “Gone With the Wind.”

Charleston, one of my favorite cities in the whole world, is only an hour’s drive from Edisto. Our family lunched at the Fleet Landing Restaurant in Charleston, and visited the Charleston Aquarium for the first time. Not a gigantic facility, the aquarium is still well done, lovely and educational. Well worth the drive. While there, the children were allowed to pick up different aquatic critters. We learned how to handle horseshoe crabs, were told that they can’t hurt you. Later that day while swimming back at Edisto, 13-year old Jacob felt a horseshoe crab bump his leg. Because of what he’d learned at the aquarium, he picked it up, showed the crab to the rest of us, then returned it to the water. We watched the crab swim away.

At Edisto we made memories none of us will ever forget. During the day we picked up shells, biked, swam, played tag with the ocean waves, built sandcastles. Evenings we watched glorious sunsets, played silly games. Ron and I re-discovered how much each family member has to offer, how precious and different each of the children is. And we will continue to make memories as long as we can.

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