“As soon as I learned how to read, I read everything I could get my hands on, especially southern literature, folklore, and mysteries. In junior high, I started writing whodunits and short stories with O. Henry endings, so I thought I might become a mystery writer. During my sophomore year of high school, I became interested in journalism and gave serious consideration to becoming a journalist or war correspondent. I studied Journalism at the University of Tennessee and later received a Master’s Degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina. While I was working on my graduate degree, I realized that what I really wanted was to be a travel writer. Traveling to far away locales, learning about new places and people, and sharing these experiences through articles and photo essays, seemed like the perfect job.
I began my career as a freelance writer/photographer, specializing in adventure travel. Over the years, my photos and features have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazine. I have traveled extensively to every continent and lived all over the world, spending the most time in London, England; Oahu, Hawaii; and the Carolinas. Like most travelers, I’ve had good and bad experiences. I’ve seen the sun set over the magnificent Taj Mahal, piranha-fished along the Amazon River, explored the Lost City of the Incas in South America’s Andes Mountains, taken an elephant safari through Nepal’s desolate Royal Chitwan National Park, survived Class V rapids and crazy river guides while whitewater rafting on West Virginia’s famed Gauley River, wandered the chaotic and unforgettable medina at Fez, and petted a live, baby rhino while on safari in Kenya. Conversely, I’ve suffered terrible chigger bites, been stranded in Morocco, had the scare of a lifetime when a tiger circled my tent one night near Katmandu, and learned how to drive a stick shift in Rome when the trains went on strike and I had to get back to Paris to catch a flight home.
After booking my own travel arrangements (as well as those of friends, family, and acquaintances) for years, I combined my passion for travel with my years of globetrotting to become a travel agent. “The sporadic pay of freelancing led me to it!” These days, I’m happily too busy writing to do more than book travel for family and friends. I have written two dozen books on travel and about the folklore, and history of coastal North and South Carolina. I have made many television appearances and given countless speeches on my favorite subjects.
Award-winning writer/photographer Terrance Zepke still loves crisscrossing the globe, but she always comes back to the Carolinas and “…will always proudly call them home.” Zepke divides her time between central North Carolina and a small beach community in South Carolina. Her favorite activities include exploring historic sites, chasing ghosts, planning her next trip, and being walked by her 100-pound Old English Sheepdog, Bandit.“
My Top Five Favorite Mysteries (Fans of strange stuff, be sure to click on GHOSTS GALORE for more information).
Strange phenomenon intrigues me as much as a good ghost story, so I thought I’d include some of my favorites. I must admit it was hard to narrow the list down to five since there are so many incredibly strange and mysterious things in this world but here is what I came up with:
Bermuda Triangle. I remember when I was 7 or 8 years old and my parents went on vacation. I overheard my mother and our sitter talking about how my parents would be flying through the Bermuda Triangle and I was terrified. Even at that young age, I knew about the Bermuda Triangle. I was sure that they were never going to come back, that their plane was going to be swallowed up by some great unknown ‘force’ or aliens.
The Bermuda Triangle is an area over the Atlantic Ocean where ships and planes have mysteriously disappeared. In 1918, the USS Cyclops, a Navy vessel with a crew on board of 309 vanished without a clue, last heard from at Barbados. Flight 19 is another famous disappearance involving our military. In 1945, a small plane carrying five U.S. Navy bombers set out on a training mission and was never heard from again. In 1948, A DC-3 carrying thirty-two passengers was en route from Puerto Rico to Miami. It too disappeared with no communication or signs of wreckage.There is some dispute as to how extensive this triangle is. Some believe it goes from Florida to the Bahamas while others believe it includes all of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. There are also many conflicting theories attempting to explain what has happened. It could be as simple as equipment malfunction or human error or as eerie as UFO abductions.A great Carolina tale that is as mysterious and fascinating as this one is the ‘Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals’ (found in The Best Ghost Tales of North Carolina). It remains one of my favorite Carolina ghost stories.
Area 51. Area 51 is a nickname given to a government military base in southern Nevada. In the middle of it lies Groom Lake, a military airfield. The purpose of the base is to support development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons, at least this is what we are told. Until July 14, 2003, the U.S. government denied the installation’s very existence. Nowadays, it admits the facility does exist but offers no other explanations. This has led many to speculate what is really happening there is the storage and study of aliens and their spacecraft, as well as the development of time travel and teleportation. The military is certainly protective of something. Folks standing on public ground taking photos can and have been detained. Trespassers can be shot on sight! I wonder what we would find if we could get a peek inside?
Roswell/UFOs. What really happened at Roswell? Do UFOs exist? What exactly is a UFO? Could it be something other than an alien spaceship or secret government weapon? Many believe that a UFO crashed northwest of Roswell, New Mexico during the summer of 1947. The military quickly recovered the debris after the incident was reported by a rancher. The debris was flown to three separate government installations, including Area 51. The government covered up the story by saying that a weather balloon had crashed. Officials confiscated all evidence to the contrary, such as reporters notebooks and a recording of an interview between a reporter and the rancher who found the UFO. The government was definitely hiding something, but what? There have been many UFO sightings over the years but we still don’t have any answers, only questions…
Crop circles. These are patterns created by the flattening of crops, such as barley, corn, rye, soy, and wheat. They vary greatly in complexity and size. What causes them is the big mystery. Some believe they are ALL man-made hoaxes. Others believe they are geological anomalies. Still others believe these intricate patterns are made when UFOs land. I don’t have any answers but it does seem hard to believe that the 12,000 or so crop circles that have been discovered throughout Japan, Soviet Union, UK, U.S. and Canada are ALL man-made hoaxes. So what’s going on here?
Voodoo. Who isn’t fascinated by black magic? Spells…Omens…Potions…Boo Hags…The Evil Eye…This is a complex subject that has long fascinated me. I spent two years researching Lowcountry Voodoo: Tales, Spells, and Boo Hags. If you find this topic as fascinating as I do, this book is the best place to begin your research, if I do say so myself!