Every year, I make resolutions to be more punctual and more organized, eat fewer French fries and drink less Diet Coke. None of those are any fun.
But this new year, I'm making different resolutions: to do more fun things and see more amazing sights in South Carolina with my family.
So in that spirit, here's my To Do List for 2014:
1. See strand-feeding dolphins along the beaches of the Lowcountry
Imagine standing on the beach when, suddenly, a school of fish comes flying up out of the water, flashing silver in the sun, and land on the sand where they flop and wiggle. And now imagine that right behind them, half a dozen bottlenose dolphins also leap out of the water and onto the beach to feast on the fish they just corralled.
There are just a few places in the world you could see such an amazing sight. Lucky for us, the beaches of South Carolina are one of them. Beachcomber Beach
on Kiawah Island is an especially good spot to be on the lookout.
2. Conquer the Intimidator
Last summer when we went to Carowinds
to check out their new Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit, we had a blast exploring the rest of this great amusement park
. Jimmy and I must have taken at least a dozen rides on their collection of roller coasters. But there is one that we didn't go on: the Intimidator
Now, I could blame the late afternoon thunderstorms that rolled through that day or my daughter's desire to go on more child-friendly rides for why we never made it onto the park's tallest and fastest roller coaster. But those would be lies.
The truth is, I was too afraid. But not this summer. This summer, I will conquer the Intimidator, with or without my children and husband.
3. Find the best ice cream in South Carolina
Most New Years' resolutions involve eating less ice cream. But these aren't resolutions. So bring on the chocolate marshmallow and raspberry chocolate chip!
We will find the absolute best ice cream in the state. If this involves eating several dozen scoops of ice cream, and traveling from mountains to beach to find it, so be it. I'll make that sacrifice.
in Columbia and Luna Rosa Gelato Cafe
are the current family favorites, but we are happily open to any and all suggestions. In fact, we're looking for them! What ice cream shops should we visit?
4. Float down the Saluda
On sunny summer days, when driving over the bridge spanning the Saluda River just outside Columbia
, you can see the bright specks of people lazily floating down the river in their inner tubes. It's looks like a dream of the perfect summer day.
I'd always felt that the kids were just a little too young to float down the river. But next summer, they'll be 10 and 8 (how did that happen already, and so fast?) and they're both good swimmers. So this summer we'll be some of those colorful specks you see relaxing on the water.
Saluda Shoals Park
, where we rented kayaks last fall
, also rents out tubes (year round, for those much braver than us). We'll be there on the first hot day this spring.
5. Camp on the beach
Imagine waking up to the sound of the waves crashing and seagulls squawking on a pristine beach with just the thin fabric of your tent separating you from salty air and soft ocean breeze, with no television or wifi to distract you.
Hunting Island State Park
has camping sites just steps from the beach, yet under shady trees. I can imagine myself there, with absolutely nothing to do but watch the dolphins jump in the waves and wait for driftwood to wash ashore.
"What! That's not going to convince any kid to want to go there," my nine year old son just said, as he read over my shoulder.
But the thought is certainly enough to convince me to put it on my wish list. I’m betting a lot of others out there would agree.