Palmetto Overboard

My husband and I have not had the best experiences when it comes to boats. Our first boat trip as a couple took place in Dahlonega, Georgia when we went canoeing. First, it took an hour to get the thing to go straight. Then the boat would get stuck on the shallow parts of the river. Finally, when we got the hang of paddling and steering, we misjudged a turn, hit a tree, and capsized. You would think that my husband and I would have learned our lesson but no, we decided to go on a Caribbean Cruise for our honeymoon. The ship would make stops in Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. If we had it to do again, we would have just flown straight to Ocho Rios. We had gone before to a wedding for friends and that was the best couples vacation ever. It was so relaxing and I can honestly say that I haven’t had the same feeling of tranquility since. Anyhow, we went cruising. Huge mistake. First, the cabin was the size of a postage stamp. The bathroom alone was barely large enough for one person. Good thing we were newlyweds, huh? Secondly, there was absolutely no privacy on the ship. Every inch of that boat was occupied by someone. Lots of someones. The most irritating was this family reunion that loved to tour the boat en mass of seventy people. Seventy loud people. You also had to bum rush for the deck chairs by the pool, which had throngs of people. It was like weaving through beached porpoises. Although food was free, the drinks however, were not. This included the soft drinks. That was a shame because it was hot. When we were in Ocho Rios, everything had been included, even the drinks. After a half a dozen glasses rum punch, we were feeling no pain. But the boat was a different matter. I even got sea sick, which is an awful feeling. And embarrassing because I have been on plenty of boats. I had to take one back and forth everyday when I worked on Daufuskie Island for a couple of summers and have never gotten sick. I thought it would get better when we finally docked in Grand Cayman. I enjoyed the large sea turtles, but as an island girl myself, I was dismayed to find it so Westernized. The last think I expected to see as we disembarked was a KFC on the dock. If you’ve been following my blogs, you know that I was looking for original “ah-ketecture”. The day trip into Ocho Rios was more enjoyable (although my husband dropped his sneaker into the ocean). We rode bikes down the mountain, which entailed visiting the villages along the way and ended with us swimming in a cove. It was truly a treasured experience. Then we had to return to the ship. Nightlife included watching the NBA finals on the big screen in the lounge and hitting the casinos. My husband and I aren’t really gamblers, so it was not our idea of a good time. We did play a game of chess with the giant game pieces, which reminded me of playing Wizards Chess at Hogwarts.

So with these experience in the back of my mind, I could not have been one of those people on that Carnival Cruise that got stuck out on the Gulf of Mexico and had to be towed in. According to those poor people, they had to find creative ways to use the bathrooms and get food. I heard that there was a six-month pregnant woman on the disabled ship. I thought that it was bad when I was at five months and our train derailed in Louisiana (Another blog) but food and bathrooms are essential for a woman in that condition. I saw her interview and she was in good spirits. I would not have been, however.

I’m not a boat person. I don’t ever think that I’ll be, but I do wish that I could travel back in time and spend a day riding the riverboat with my grandmama. During one of our talks she told me about the boat trips she would take to Savannah from Hilton Head. Going to “town,” which is what she called Savannah, was a huge deal and the boat would be a party. There was music, dancing and food to make the seemingly long trip fly by. The way she talked about the trip actually seemed like it was so much fun. In my mind, I can see her dancing (I actually had the privilege of seeing that at my sister’s wedding and she could really get down with some Marvin Gaye). The big cruise ship though, I’ll leave it to that family reunion.

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The Promise of Palmettos is Celebrating its One Year Anniversary!

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The Promise of Palmettos is celebrating its one year Anniversary on October 12,2013. In celebration of this milestone event, The Promise of Palmettos with be absolutely free for that one day on Kindle.

10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head (Part 3)

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I got a little bit down to business on Part 2, but went for a lighter approach with these last four points. And now for Part 3…

4) Stay away from Touristy Areas where Hilton Head Islanders, who spot you wearing the t-shirt of said place(s), won’t roll their eyes at you. – Yes, I know that was a long title, but it really needs to be said. People need to know that there are other places to brag about visiting that aren’t quite so um…cliche. If you visit Hilton Head, may I point you in the direction of Roast Fish and Cornbread; Spanish Wells Seafood; The Grant’s Business Complex on Highway 278 that consists of a mini market, gas station, a diner, and fresh produce market. I also love The Crazy Crab, although I’m not a fan of seafood, so it is a great place for my family to get their fresh fish good eatin’, while I grub on the chicken.

3) Don’t Ignore Broad Creek. – While a visitor may feel inclined hang out on the south end of the island, there are some activities within the island’s interior for the whole family to enjoy:
*ZipLine Hilton Head
*Daufuskie Island Ferry
*kayaking

2) It takes work to find public beach access. – I alluded to this in #6. It is a crying shame that an on an island that is known for their beaches, it is difficult to find a place to get to the beach! When I was young, getting to the beach was the least of our problems. These days, out of 12 miles of beach, the public has access to maybe three places if they are outside of a subdivision. So here are the three that I know about:

*Burkes Beach – Get yourself there early because parking is limited. Or just bike there. Also, the good
thing about this beach is that there is a park nearby as well, if you want to vary your activities.

*Driessen Beach – There is more parking here, but you’ll have to pay a small fee. There is an excellent boardwalk here where you can access the beach and a small playground.

*Coligny Plaza – Again, there are parking issues, so go early. Or go during transition (You know as well as I that some beach goers prefer to go during the heat of the day and some prefer to go at dusk). If you’re lucky, there are spots close by or else search for on-street parking. If you go to Coligny, be on the look-out for an awesome oak tree. It’s a great place for a photograph.

1) Drive Carefully. – This is last, but certainly not least. There are a lot of people (and cars) on an island that is only 12 miles long and 3 miles wide. Take away public access for the majority of the island, and that’s even less space to accommodate weird driving habits from people all over the country (and world). Please take that into consideration as you are racing towards your next activity.

Many of these issues that I have counted down in Parts 1, 2, and 3 can be read about in my novels, The Promise of Palmettos, Marshland, and coming this fall… Destination Wedding.

So as you visit Hilton Head, take in the island through the eyes of an islander, considering all that I have discussed. Most importantly, enjoy your stay.

Traveling to the Palmetto State

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Yesterday we set off for a much needed time with family, beach, sun and most importantly, a reconnection with history. My son wanted to know how long it took to get from Knoxville to Hilton Head. Although we had to go over that huge mountain, it still doesn’t take as long as if we had … Continue reading

Expanding the Palmettos

I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a guest blogger for one of my reading groups. This was a real honor for me. It gave people the opportunity to get to know me and present my work. In turn, I was able to share the reason why I have selected Low Country Fiction as my chosen genre. I invite you to visit the link below.

http://www.suspensemysteryhorrorandthrillersinblack.com/?p=288

The Palmettos Celebrate Mardi Gras

My decision to attend the University of New Orleans for my masters degree was an important one. It was during a time when I needed a serious life change. I wanted to go to a place that was unfamiliar but held as much history as the home I was leaving behind. New Orleans was indeed different. The music. The lingo (which I have to remember on each return trip). The food. The culture. It was all so different. But it was familiar. I would listen to some of the accents and they would remind me of how my grandmother used to sound. Surprisingly, I could understand some of the patois, even though it was not Gullah, because it was similar to that of the low country even with the French influences. They also use piliau so of course I would love the jambalaya. I’m a red rice kind of girl, remember? Add some different spices and there you go! The music – oh the music – what can I say about the music? The first time I heard that New Orleans bounce music on the radio I was floored. It wasn’t GoGo, it wasn’t House music. I was like nothing I had ever heard. I had to find a station that played some Biggie Smalls or something. Eventually though, I found myself bouncing right along with it. I love the live brass bands. I love the Zydeco. I can get down with some Mystikal, Juvenile, and Master P. (I think sis stole my cd though). Br’er Rabbit stories. They tell Br’er Rabbit stories according to the curator at the Laura Plantation. My daddy can tell a Billy Beaver story at the drop of a hat.

While in New Orleans, I met the best person I could for a girl who loves history (Not discounting my other NOLA buds – shout outs to ‘Miss A’, ‘Miss D’ and others…) For the sake of this post, I will call my friend, ‘Miss M’. Miss M knows as much about New Orleans as I do about Hilton Head, and that’s a lot. We met at some crazy function, which will remain anonymous in case those people are still in operation. Let’s just say that it’s no place for a devoted Catholic and A.M.E. So I think our agenda at that function was trying to sift through the nuts, not drink the Kool Aid, and find someone half-way normal. I think we took to each other immediately (along with another girl who ended up leaving school after the first semester) especially when we found out that we were in the same Planning Masters program. From that weekend, it was on and we were going everywhere, and everywhere had a history lesson. There was so much over my two years there so I’ll stick to the highlights. Some outings deserve their own blog post. There was the French Quarter. Going to the French Quarter required wearing the “French Quarter boots”. There was always a party going on there and people partied hard. I had to keep a straight face while having a conversation with a dude in a leather vest and matching thong. There were the clubs, shops, and restaurants of course, but there were also the magnificent “ah-kitecture” and the secret interior gardens. There was Louis Armstrong Park and Congo Square, which is an excellent historic site as it’s the birthplace of jazz. Too bad it’s always gated… There are the above ground cemeteries, which is a necessity seeing that the Crescent City is below sea level. I saw them on the way into the city and was intrigued. I never thought of a cemetery as a good place to visit, but it was really interesting. There is one site that is the resting place of the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, which is marked by a series of “x’s”. Saint Louis Cathedral would hold a special memory for me in the future. The Garden District held the sprawling mansions, City Park, and Tulane. Treme held Claiborne Avenue, dissected by the 1-10, which had its own Black American history and plenty of oak trees, now gone. Of course I can’t forget about the Mardi Gras Indians. I think the first time I saw them in full dress was at the Zulu Ball.

We went everywhere that first year. No matter our destination, there was the standing order – DO NOT BUY MARDI GRAS BEADS. Little did I know that there would be more than plenty. The first place we went that Mardi Gras season was to the Quarter. Miss M and my sis (who was visiting that weekend) got a few beads from the people in the balcony, but they didn’t get as much as those who bared themselves for all to see. I didn’t get any beads. Not to worry, there were more opportunities at the parades. I got plenty from Bacchus, Muses, Endymion, Thoth, Orpheus, and more. I got more beads that you could count, including a really huge one when a total stranger lifted me up to the float. The coveted beads were the ones with the name of the Krewe and I managed to get a few of those as well. All of this happened before Fat Tuesday even arrived. I had never heard of the parade we would head to that morning. I had awaken and gotten ready at an hour in the morning that usually leaves me very cranky, but we had to stake out a prime spot for this particular parade. I don’t even remember which street we ended up on, but at least we were up front. What parade was this, you ask? This was a parade where sure, you may have gotten a few beads, even some with the name of the Krewe and that year’s icon, but what you really wanted from the Zulu Parade were the coconuts. These coconuts were handed to a person, not thrown (Imagine the concussion. Worse, imagine the beat down). It’s a real prize, so much so that I saw this guy almost let this kid get squished by the rolling float so that he could grab the one that was being handed to him. It was unbelievable with all of the hands reaching for the painted prize.

I didn’t get one that first year. Miss M got two and being the friend that she is, gave me one. I did get a spear, which I still have. The next year, being a bit more savvy in Mardi Gras, I actually managed to get three. Take that! Over the years, I have collected about six coconuts, a couple given to me by Miss M, and a boatload of beads. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of them over the years with all of my moving around. I still have the really big one, although in pieces thanks to the snatching hands of a particular 18-month-old. I have not been back to Mardi Gras since graduating from UNO, although I’m itching to go. Maybe an early anniversary gift (hint). Meanwhile, I have to settle for the reports from Miss M on the parade front. Right now she’s throwing ‘bows for coconuts and I suggest those who are out there get out of her way.

The Big Beads

The Big Beads

The Spear from the Zulu Parade

The Spear from the Zulu Parade