On the first day of our journey, after checking into a hotel with a beautiful view of a marina on the Winyah Bay, we drove up to Pawleys Island--famous for their handcrafted hammocks--to spend a few minutes at the beach before heading out to see what other wonders we would find. A few minutes quickly turned into an evening after a twelve-week-old Golden Retriever pup named Savannah bit into the back of my Capris during a walk on the beach. While trying to extract those sharp puppy teeth from my new pants, my foot shifted in the sand and I somehow dislocated my hip. It was an excruciating pain that somehow outdid childbirth. With me in pain and my foot sticking off in an odd direction, things looked bleak, but as we know, all things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. Even the smallest of things. Despite the pain, the injury actually changed the trip for the better.
|Copyright Kimberli Buffaloe|
How is that better? Hampton Plantation was Plan B. Plan A had been a visit to an isolated, pristine island in an archipelago known as Cape Romaine Wildlife Refuge. We'd planned to take a ferry to the island where we would have spent the day exploring. We later learned the mosquitoes we ran into at Hampton were known to be horrible on the island that time of year. Had we gone, we would have been stuck there for several hours serving as the main course for thousands of hungry mosquitoes. Now that would have ruined our vacation.
The adjusted itinerary next led us northward. The day after visiting Hampton, we climbed into the car and crossed the bridge over the Grand Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers, where they empty into beautiful Winyah Bay. North of Pawleys Island, we discovered Huntington Beach State Park, named for the Huntingtons, who once owned the land and who donated it to the state to preserve the pristine shore. (Spoiler alert, I wove that detail into the story. Not as a gratuitous mention, but with a purpose.)
I was using my hiking stick as a cane to help me walk, but as I'd discovered at Hampton the previous day, walking longer than a few feet put an immense amount of strain on the injured joint. So while visiting the park, I could only walk a few yards down a boardwalk over a marsh. But oh, what a sight I saw. Acres and acres of marshland in water so clear, I could see down to the pluff mud where fiddler crabs (or muscle crabs as I call them thanks to their one big claw) skittered around clusters of oyster shells. Large white birds called egrets flew gracefully above the marsh under a sunny sky. I didn't want to leave!
|Copyright Kimberli Buffaloe|
When we found Huntington Beach State Park and Brookgreen Gardens, we had no idea we'd stumbled into a hamlet called Murrells Inlet. We found out when, during the trip, we cut down the business highway and drove down what some may call the main drag.
On the surface, it was a road with nice houses and then a strip of restaurants. But we sensed something more. Something that immediately captivated our imaginations. I couldn't explain it then any more than I can now, but I've met others who experienced the same.
I think it was the history. You can barely take a step on any spot of soil within South Carolina's borders without walking in some historical footprint. Murrells Inlet is no different, and it has an intriguing history. But we didn't know that during our first visit. We were simply mesmerized by the place. So much so, when we pulled into a parking lot of a restaurant and saw the scene before us (pictured below, which we used for the cover) a novel was instantly born. It was one of those occasions where I literally took a napkin and made notes on it while we waited for our food.
Months after a heart attack reduces his life expectancy, Adam Tucker leaves Atlanta and his workaholic ways to spend his final days relaxing in a forgotten paradise.
Paradise has other plans.
Fall in Eden. A love story for the Church. Available for Kindle on Amazon.