Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Carolina in my mind

In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine
Can’t you just feel the moonshine
Ain't it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind?
Yes I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind
-James Taylor

I couldn't believe that it had been a whole year since our last family vacation. As always, I desperately needed to see the water, hear the waves crash, and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. Something deep within my soul demands that I make a pilgrimage to large bodies of water at least once a year. Evolutionists might say that this is some instinctive behaviour passed down from some ancient ancestor. Well, I'm not so sure about that, but I do feel much more alive when I'm at the beach for some reason....

This year we headed to South Carolina to visit Michele's mom Suzanne, who has recently moved to Charleston with her husband, Mark. Michele has always been extremely close to her mom, so this move has been somewhat hard on her. Yet, Charleston is one of our favorite cities, so I'm sure that we will happily visit often. Mark & Suzanne live along the Ashley River, near the old plantations, just southwest of the city. They also are only 20 miles from Kiawah Island, Folly Beach, Sullivans Island, and other beaches... an added plus! The entrance to their subdivision is on Rhett Butler Drive (really). The live oaks and spanish moss signal your arrival in the ol' south.

On our first day, we went down to the waterfront to see the final departures of the tall ships which were in town for the Charleston HarborFest. Mark's office is in the Maritime Building, just steps from the waterfront park pier, from which these pictures were taken:

Personally, I don't consider it a "vacation" unless a boat is somehow involved. Luckily, we were all able to take a boat from Bohicket Marina on Johns Island to the mouth of the Edisto River at the Atlantic Ocean. Michele and I have taken this trip a few times. However, the new Sea Pro boats are much nicer than the old Carolina Skiffs (floating bathtubs) we used to rent. The Sea Pros came equipped with GPS, depth finders, marine radios, live wells, etc.

Before we arrived, Suzanne had been bragging to Mark about my supposed skills as a boat captain. We'd had an outstanding boating experience in these same waters over 17 years ago, and she used this as evidence for her claim (it's a good story, which has been properly embellished over time). My own family doesn't share Suzanne's confidence in my skills. Although I did get a "nice job, captain" from the marina's harbormaster, following this most recent trip, when we docked and tied up in a very tight space.

One of these days, I hope my family appreciates the experience and knowledge they've gained on boats. Michele is an awesome first mate. After numerous trips like this one, she instinctively knows what to do (and when) without any instruction from "the captain." We make a pretty good team, I think. Michele mans the anchor and bow, and she remains the best fisherman in the family. Nathan is learning to navigate, and Ian is....well, Ian is a good passenger.

We beached on the (mostly) deserted Botany Island. The boys, Michele, Mark, and Suzanne jumped ashore while I anchored in deeper waters. The beach scenes in the movies "The Patriot" and "Cold Mountain" were filmed right here. "The Notebook" was filmed just across the river on Edisto & Wadmalaw Islands. I can see why... the natural beauty of this place seems untouched by time and modernity.

After a short stroll and some shelling, everyone hopped back into the boat for a little fishing. We tried the nearby shell mounds (prehistoric trash dumps), which were likely built by the Edisto Indians over 4000 years ago. We didn't fare too well there, so we moved the boat closer to Privateer Point, on Seabrook Island. The fishing and crabbing was much better here. Ian worked hard to hone the fine art of crabbing with a chicken neck tied to kite string. He was able to catch one Atlantic Blue crab and one hermit crab using his trademark "toe method"....when you feel a tug on your toe, just pull up the line.

Michele caught a few nice fish, but the "big ones" just weren't biting on this day. Maybe next time. When we got home I took a peek at some previous vacation photos. I'd guess that I have at least 20 photos (dating back to 1989) of Michele with a fish, and they all look just like this current one...she just doesn't age.

After some dolphin (plus one shark) watching, and swimming (just me, due to aforementioned shark), we cruised back to the marina...another awesome day in the Carolina low country!

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