Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Virgil the Innkeeper

Last month we brought our basset hound, Virgil, to the Pelican Inn for his first trip to the beach. He is a loyal and affectionate dog whose male companionship is greatly appreciated by our father, who would be the only man in our family if not for Virg.

We were excited to give the hound his first taste of sand and ocean, and he happily followed Emma along on the boardwalk to the beach—until he encountered the sand and saw the water in front of him. While everyone else walked down towards the ocean, Virgil quickly scampered back up the boardwalk stairs to the house. He did not like what he saw. 
 Virgil's first impression of the ocean had him running back to the safety of the Inn's front porch

While initially amusing, we feared that Virgil’s distaste for the ocean would be the unforeseen kink in our plans for the Inn. We sisters grew up loving the ocean and sand for swimming and sandcastles--things Virgil probably wouldn’t come around to. But we also loved the beach because Dad loved it. He had showed us how activities that were usually unremarkable (sitting and thinking, walking, etc) became remarkable when done at the beach. We hoped Virgil, as Dad's only boy, would learn this, too.

The next morning, Virgil gave the beach a second chance to impress him--and it did. Dad proudly reported that his dog ran and ran and ran, and even let the ocean get him a bit wet. Despite assumptions that this venture would leave Virgil tuckered out for the rest of the day, he wore me out later that afternoon trying to keep up with him. And I run marathons. 

I suppose we weren’t too surprised how quickly the dog came around—as a member of the Taylor family, love for the beach is probably in his blood.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Our First Guests...

Caroline, my 10 year old, and I were enjoying the spectacular wildlife of Pawley’s Island. She called me out to watch a beautiful pair of Bald Eagles fish off of the dock. We caught fat blue crabs and anything else careless enough to get in the crab trap. We noted muddy raccoon tracks all over the dock and traced the footsteps all the way up to –oh great! – our house.

That night, Caroline and I were awakened at about 1:00AM by what sounded like a massive cat fight under our bed. The racket was coming from under the floor near the air conditioning vent. After a few minutes I decided that mother raccoon must have gone out for her nocturnal feeding and her babies were squabbling in her absence. Caroline rolled over and went back to sleep with the complete confidence that mama would take care of the interruption. However, the party continued until about 5:00AM.

The next morning we visited our friends at the hardware store and acquired a Have-a-heart trap and a can of sardines. No luck. On day 3 of the siege my husband arrived. After old man Taylor was jolted out of bed by the ruckus, he finally admitted that I was not just hearing “wind off the marsh”; Enter Paul from Nuisance Wildlife.

After a meticulous inspection that revealed no evidence of raccoon, Paul began examining the duct work with this contraption that looked like a colonoscope. We were pondering the scope when Emma yelped, “Oh snap! Got your raccoon right here!” The raccoon was sitting there fat and sassy watching us search for him. Paul caught the critter, determined that it was a male and escorted him off the island. After another night of raccoon domestic discord, Paul returned the next day to evict the rest of the family.

Paul told us that the raccoons like to nest under the houses in early spring and that spring break always brings the busy season for Nuisance Wildlife. “Wind off the marsh” my fanny.

Corinne Taylor

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beach Eats: Frogmore Stew

For as long as I can remember, our family trips to Pawleys have included a Frogmore Stew Night, which I have looked forward to almost as much as Trivial Pursuit & Pie Night, Crab Cake Night and (now that I'm a "grown up") Hearts & Manhattans Night.

If you are not familiar with this South Carolina tradition, let me first inform you that there are no frogs in this stew and, well, it's not really a stew.

Consisting of sausage, shrimp, corn on the cob, and sometimes red potatoes, this low country boil is not only delicious but also fun to eat. The "stew" is dumped in the middle of the dinner table, which is covered in newspapers, and everyone grabs as much of everything that can fit on a plate. Cocktail sauce is served for the shrimp, but if you're eating with my family take heed--Emma & I have been know to mix in extra horseradish when the parents aren't looking!

Once the feeding is underway, empty shells and cornless cobs are thrown back onto the table to make room on plates for seconds and thirds. Unless, of course, the promise of a delicious dessert encourages you to practice moderation.

I've cooked Frogmore Stew at home and found that while it's always tasty, some of the charm is lost when it's eaten in a civilized manner in a land-locked state. As if I needed another reason to return to the beach.

Don't have your own Frogmore Stew recipe? The Beaufort County Library has several versions, as well as a brief history of the dish. Cooking it while at Pawleys? Let us recommend the Pawleys Island Seafood Market on 10517 Ocean Highway for your shrimp.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Things we love about Pawleys: the rope hammock

One of my favorite things to do on vacation is nothing at all. That is to say, I love to relax. I have yet to find an invention more conducive of pure relaxation than the Pawleys Island rope hammock. This ingenious creation was meticulously designed in the late 1800s by riverboat captain and Pawleys resident Joshua John Ward, who found traditional mattresses and canvas hammocks too warm to be comfortable in the heat of summer. 

If you ask most people why a rope hammock is the perfect place to relax they will tout the benefits of the double-latch weave, which encourages the cotton rope to meld to your body and creates a personalized support system. Another common answer is the calming properties of the gentle sway in the breeze. But there’s another factor that is often overlooked. 

Compared to a lounge chair or rocking chair, the hammock requires a bit of effort to climb into and situate oneself properly (particularly with a friend or two). Once your limbs are balanced, your butt is properly placed, and your head has hit the hammock pillow, you joyfully find that the hammock is perfectly enveloping you, and there is little urge to disrupt the perfection. Why even bother picking up that book? The obvious and inevitable choice is to simply lie there, perhaps daydreaming, until you wake up from an unplanned nap.

This has happened to most of us who’ve visited Pawleys, and our experience has taught us that when friends or fathers go missing for a few hours, the first place to look for them is the trusty weathered rope hammock.

You can visit the Original Hammock Shop on 10880 Ocean Highway to watch the hammock weaving process, which has not changed much over time.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The P.C.J. Weston House

There is a rich history behind Pawleys Island and the Pelican Inn. For this post, we will focus on the origins and architecture of the Pelican Inn itself. 

Originally built as the summer house for Plowden Charles Jenrette Weston of Hagley Plantation in the late 1840s, the architecture of the Inn is representative of the majority of the island’s original houses.Houses were often made of cypress lumber, as was Weston’s, and utilized wooden pegs, mortise, tenon joints, and hand cut nails. They sat atop high brick foundations, which protected against high tides.

The Joseph Blyth Allston House
Families came to Pawleys for their summer retreats during the May-November months, so doors, windows and piazzas were carefully designed to maximize ventilation and utilize ocean breezes to cool the houses. Breezeways at the rear of the houses led to the kitchens. Servants’ quarters, usually two-room cabins with fireplaces, were located on the grounds. Boardwalks extended both into the creek and over the dunes.

The dunes have protected structures against coastal storms, but a more effective buffer is the live oaks. The Pelican Inn has the advantage of not only sitting behind the highest dunes on the island, but also benefits from the protection of a small “forest” of live oaks that stand between the Inn and the dunes and line the boardwalk to the beach. 

 Live oaks lining the boardwalk at the Pelican Inn

This has spared the structure from serious damage from storms that destroyed other houses on the island, including Hurricanes Hazel (1954) and Hugo (1989). Of course, it is said that if you heed the Gray Man’s advice your house and family will be safe, but more on that later…

Monday, April 12, 2010

Let us introduce ourselves

This is the Pelican Inn and we are the Taylor Family.

We've enjoyed many slow, relaxing summers on Pawleys Island, but none of us have seen the history that this building has known.

Our family is thrilled to continue the Pelican Inn's tradition of Southern hospitality in the "arrogantly shabby" way that makes Pawleys so special.

We would love to hear your favorite memories from the Inn and hear why it has been a special place to you and your family.

Check back often for updates regarding the Inn and Pawleys Island. We look forward to becoming acquainted!

Bruce, Corinne, Emma, Caroline & Kelly