As we are on our way home from Myrtle Beach, Mel is driving, so after waking from my nap I have time to write a little. I contemplate why it is that we take these long drives to find a place to relax when it tires us so much to make the return trip home. We usually need a vacation to get over the vacation. So, here are few reasons I can come up with, in no particular order, why people subject themselves to the pain of a Myrtle Beach trip.
Seafood: There must be at least 142,348, +/- one or two, seafood restaurants on the Grand Strand that are all wwwwaaaayyyyy overpriced. It’s odd to me that you drive 250 miles, or more, to the sea where seafood comes from and it cost three or four times more than at the fish camps at home and the waiting period for a table is always 2 or 3 hours. I’ve never met a shrimp that I would wait 2 or 3 hours to eat. A lot of people crave the crablegs on the “all you can eat” buffets. To me, it’s a lot of work for the little bit of meat you get out of it. My brother and son-in-law both love them. When they eat them it reminds me of a 60’s TV show that Daddy never missed called “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” with Marlin Perkins. On one particular show Marlin and Jim took a trip into the jungles of Africa and ventured into the Elephant Burial Grounds. It looked like what their plate looks like when they finish eating crablegs, as if a dead elephant was on it.
Neither Mel, nor I are big seafood eaters. I much prefer a piece of pan fried chicken, dark meat please, or a big ole piece of red meat, a little pink in the center, with potatoes fixed any way on the side. A bread product of some kind to sop up the left over juices is a must, plus, there in the center of the table, right beside the salt and pepper shakers, a big bottle of ketchup. All of which are not conducive with my heart condition but are my preference just the same. So anyway, seafood isn’t our reason to head to the coast.
Shopping: There are shopping centers everywhere you look. I counted at least 42 WalMarts in the Grand Strand area alone. Then there’s Broadway At The Beach, Barefoot Landing, two or three outlet malls, not to mention a couple of enclosed malls, and little strip malls stuck in every unused corner of the King’s Highway. That doesn’t include the 1367 Eagles, Wings, and Whales stores that are everywhere. Between Murrells’s Inlet and North Myrtle Beach there are about 6 Lowe’s and 6 Home Depot’s. Like I’m going to drive all that way to pick up a weed eater or a couple of hanging baskets for the balcony of the hotel room or a couple of 2x4’s to strap on the top of the SUV and bring home to finish that project I started before I left for vacation. Maybe a shop vac to suck all of that sand out of the car that gets in no matter how much you knock off of your shoes before you get in. Oh yeah, don’t forget that box of screws you needed.
I hate to shop when I’m at home and I’m certainly not going to take a 4.5 hour trip to do so. So, shopping isn’t our reason to head to the coast.
Shows: Myrtle Beach has become the Branson of the South. There are several music shows and dinner shows on the Grand Strand. The Carolina Opry, Alabama Theater, House of Blues, Dixie Stampede, Medieval Knights as well as a plethora of others. I have attended several of these and all are very good. However, they are all rather expensive and for a family of 4 or more it’s almost cost prohibitive to attend one of these shows unless you’re the CEO of some big company.
Since neither Mel, nor I, are CEOs, shows are not our reason to head to the coast even though we do enjoy one occasionally when it’s just the two of us.
Sand and Sea: Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty, (no pun intended). Our favorite reason for a trip to the coast. Even though the two of us enjoy it differently we both use the same resources to make our trip worthwhile. We both love to hunt shark’s teeth. It’s a hobby we started about 30 years ago on a trip to the beach with some friends. We visited a lady that worked with our friend and she had a permanent site at one of the campgrounds. She had jars sitting all over her house full of shark’s teeth. When we asked about them she showed us how to spot them while we were in the ocean and we’ve been doing it ever since.
By enjoying it differently I mean that Mel likes to take her beach chair down to the edge of the water where the waves just barely reach her and cover her feet as they come in and back out and she sits there and reads a book. When the tide moves in or out a little she repositions her chair accordingly. My routine differs in that it usually includes sand and shade because I don’t get a kick out of sunburn. It hurts. In years past I’ve always rented an umbrella and 2 chairs from the lifeguard for about $25 a day which winds up being over $100 for the entire vacation. This year I wised up and bought a 10x10 canopy for less than the umbrella rental fee for the four days we were there so next time I use it, be it at home or on vacation, it starts paying for itself. Comparatively speaking, that’s more shade for the buck. Since the main reason we went this year was the SC State Firefighters Conference and I had to attend morning meetings Thursday and Friday, Johnathan had to go out to the beach in the mornings and stake a claim on our 100 square feet of sand and turn it into 100 square feet of shade. I gave him my daughter, the least he could do is set up my shade!
I’m a people watcher. I watch all kinds of people, male and female, short and tall, big and little, pretty and ugly. Wait, that wasn’t nice. I should have said real pretty people and just barely pretty people. All people have their own styles. Some children have similar styles to their parents such as the way they walk or talk, etc. Usually, if you watch them long enough, you can find something unique about them. Therefore, I sit in my shade and I watch.
I find it amusing to see what some people, male and female, try to stuff into a bathing suit that’s too small and walk out amongst the hoards of people as if they were Miss America or Mr. Universe. Now that’s self confidence. You’ll see guys with six pack abs and guys whose abs looks like a whole keg, walking just as proud as if both thought they were the perfect specimen of the human male. I know I’m big better than anybody knows. I see it every day in the mirror but at least my bathing suit fits.
In most animal species, the male of the species is the most colorful and prettier than the female. They usually take on the role of the flirter and are responsible for attracting the female mate. Take the Cardinal for instance. The male has the beautiful bright red feathers and the crown on the top of his head while the female is grey with an orange beak. The Mandrill apes are another example, the male with the bright red and blue face and the female without color. Or, the Lion whose mane looks like he just left Vidal Sassoon’s salon but the Lioness has no mane at all.
The human race is different though. The female is the one who usually is the fairer of the race. You can see this at the beach if you are a people watcher. Take the 6 or 7 sixteen or seventeen year old girls with their bronze bodies in their skimpy bikinis walking together down the beach strutting their stuff and 15 or 20 yards behind them are 6 or 7 boys of the same age. One has a football and another goes out for a pass that happens to be overthrown landing right in front of the group of girls. So it begins.
Behind them is the newlywed couple in their early twenties walking down the beach holding hands and making goo goo eyes at each other as the diamond ring sparkles on her left hand. Behind them is the couple in their mid to late twenties, both holding the hand of a three year old little girl with her mama’s golden curls and her daddy’s eyes. Up under an umbrella is a mid thirties couple talking to a fourteen year old girl. You over hear her say “But Mama, I know I just met him but he’s a nice boy. Why can’t I walk up the beach with him?”
On the other side there’s a mid fifties couple in their chairs under their canopy with a two year old between them playing in the sand with a shovel and pail. In front of them, out of the shade of the canopy, are the parents of the two year old working on their tans while behind them in the same 100 square feet of shade is a couple in their late seventies. Him in his baggy legged bathing suit, her in her one piece with a skirted bottom. You overhear the middle aged woman say, “Mom, Dad, do you need anything? Can I get you a bottle of water or a sandwich?” And Dad says, “No honey, we’re fine.” as he looks over at his beautiful white haired bride of 58 years. Somewhere in the recesses of his memory he sees the sixteen year old girl that he met some sixty years earlier on this same beach as he failed to catch an overthrown pass of a football that almost hit her and a sly grin appears on his face as he reminisces.
Everybody has their reasons for making the trek to the coast. None are better than others, just different, and it’s okay to be different. Bottom line is that everyone needs time away from their normal rat race even if it’s to attend a different rat race. Enjoy your vacations this summer, I did.