Myrtle Beach - A time for rest and reflection

January 24th, 2019

My thoughts on our Myrtle Beach Vacation March ‘22

 

This is my 2nd time writing this as my laptop went dead, my editor said not to write like this but it’s a blog post and not the same thing, so I am. As with Vegas, I’ll start with the negative (which is very little) and all the rest will be positive.

 

    

 

Usually, I book flights for a trip 6-8 weeks in advance. This year there was still so much uncertainty with going to Vegas in February that I decided to wait and book the tickets for Myrtle Beach (MB from now on), while we were there, big mistake! Our flights going down were rough, 3 different flights with 2 different airlines meant a LONG day coming down, coming back was worse. On the way back we had 4 different flights (2 airlines) over 2 days, I know that doesn’t sound terrible, but it still makes for 2 very long days and I had to get up and go to work the next day. Suffice it to say I’ve learned my lesson, barring any emergency I will never book a flight less than 6 weeks in advance again.

 

   

 

I used to be relaxed almost all the time, especially on vacation. The pandemic (and I suppose work, family, health, and everything else that’s changed for me as I get older) makes it a lot harder for me to really relax but I get there. So, while I enjoyed my time in MB for the first 5-6 days, it was after that I really loved it and felt at ease. One last bit of pandemic talk (as I hate it and really hope it’s completely done soon), we had to leave MB early in 2020 (for obvious reasons), and going back there was a little bit of me saying “screw you Covid! I get my full vacation now!” and get it we did.

 

  

 

I booked a different condo this time, The Patricia Grand for a couple of reasons. First off, I wanted a place with a king-sized bed, on the beach, close to a cycling trail and with a balcony, this had all that. It also was a pet-friendly building and while we didn’t bring our cats (that would be really hard but maybe someday when it’s not just for a visit), my wife loves dogs and she got to see (and pet) loads of them while we were here.

 

  

  

As you may also know from reading this blog, I’m into marijuana products, CBD and THC ones for now. I was pleasantly surprised to see that companies (and stores in MB) are now making full use of the 0.3% THC law in this state. Without too much explaining this basically means that they can sell a product with THC as long as it is less than .3 percent of the whole product. It also means the product has to have some CBD in it, which is fine with me. So, I bought some gummies (30 actually), 5 CBD pop drinks, 2 powders (these go in any liquid and are flavored), and 10 CBD pills. I have to say all of them are excellent, the only drawback being I’m used to Indicia (a strain of marijuana) and the gummies were Sativa (a different strain with different effects for me). CBD and THC both help me feel good, just in different ways.

 

  

 

I suppose I’ve become something of a foodie. As such, I actively plan restaurants to go to and like to find both food I already love to eat and new/variations on things I haven’t tried before. MB is a touristy area and as such there are plenty of restaurants nearby. Also of course we needed groceries and were quick to head back to a place we loved, Fresh Market. This place has a lot more made-in-store options than a usual supermarket would, and it focuses more on organic/healthier food (and oddly enough more unusual kinds of wine and beer). Before this becomes a full-on food blog, I’ll bring it back to the most important things I want in a trip somewhere warm. I don’t like crowds, I don’t want it too hot, I like being around friendly people, I MUST be by the beach, be able to sit outside on a balcony and I must be able to rent a bike and ride it around, anything else is less important. The place we got in MB had all these things (and more) and I did my best every day to enjoy them.

 

 

  

I also think one of the best things about a vacation is doing things you can’t do at home. For example, our Cineplex still does not serve alcohol at movies (it really should, if you can get it in a restaurant why not a theatre?) but in the US you can. So, on the first rainy day we went to a movie (Spider-Man: No Way Home) and I had a nice drink of red wine. If you haven’t seen it, by the way, go to Spider-Man! (Or get it digitally) it’s a hell of a movie, that was my second time (Joanne’s first). On the last day of our trip, we had loads of time before our flight, so we went to another movie, Uncharted, worth seeing if you like Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, also in the Cinemark, they have such comfy seats! The staff there were also excellent, very friendly and the two times we were there it wasn’t crowded either.

 

Something else I can’t do at home (at least not without having better connections than I do now) is going for a helicopter ride. So, for the first time in both our lives, we went for one! Let me tell you if you’ve never done it before (and you don’t mind spending at least $100) I would highly recommend it! It was a blast! Right away I loved it as the pilot told us her nickname was Hollycopter (her name is Holly) and she said “you didn’t know you’d get a comedy show as well did you?” Being in the sky but lower than a plane (and going slower) you could see so much! I never felt unsafe for a second, I was so busy looking around on this sunny, calm day. My only regret is that we didn’t pay for the premium ride so it would have been longer.

 

       

 

Speaking of unique, there is a restaurant called “The Melting Pot” that I have to mention. At this place, there is a hot plate built into the table and 3 of 4 courses involve dipping/cooking your own food. To start there is cheese heated up (the server does this, which is also fun as you get to know him/her a little better than you would at a normal restaurant) and you dip bread and fruit in it with metal skewers. The skewers are color-coded so you know which ones are yours. Then we had a salad, followed by the main course which involves heating up a broth (we had vegetables, but you could have chicken or beef stock) and then putting your meat (or tofu) in the pot and cooking it (5 minutes for meat). When it’s done you take it out and get a variety of dips to use. It’s a yummy and unique meal that I quite enjoy. For dessert, it’s chocolate fondue where you dip fruit and cookies and for an added touch the chocolate is lit on fire (flambé) to start! My only complaint is that the lighting is so low (to create the atmosphere I’m sure) is that it’s a little hard to read the menu and they were out of tofu when I was there.

 

 

  

Another place worth mentioning is Pier 14. I’ll be honest, the food wasn’t great and the service was slow but what a view! I have never eaten on a pier this large before and been directly over the ocean! It was a very relaxing and beautiful spot where I had a drink (a green one of course! It was on St. Paddy’s Day) and could just watch people stroll by on the beach and the waves go in and out. I had also had a gummie and was pleasantly high by the time our meal was almost finished. To digress, if you have never been high and eaten at a restaurant before you need to do it! THC enhances your senses and it not only makes you hungry it also makes food taste better. As this also includes sight, hearing, and smell, which also makes being outside even better. The right amount of THC also just makes you happy (I’d have to look up whether it creates endorphins or stimulates the pleasure center of your brain, though it really doesn’t matter) and made the whole evening better for me. Afterward, we walked to the end of the pier (you have to pay to get on it or be having dinner at the restaurant, so it can’t be too crowded) and took some pics.

 

      

 

One more restaurant worth mentioning is Crave, an Italian one that was close to our condo (it’s one of the great things about Myrtle Beach, almost everything you want to go to is no more than 15-20 minutes, lots of stuff even less than that.) and discovered by a friend of ours, Steph, on the internet. I love pizza possibly more than any other meal and I always want to go to pizza place’s anywhere I travel. This one promised the stone oven kind of crust (though I think woodfire or Stonefire oven crust is often even better) so we went. Right away we were treated to valet parking (which was odd as it was a small parking lot) and the manager (perhaps the owner) greeted us as soon as we walked in. It’s always a little unusual when you’re in a restaurant and there is live entertainment, you’re eating/talking and then you stop to clap but overall, it was a pleasant surprise (he was a good singer, and my wife gave him a tip!). While the pizza was very good (salad was ok), the dessert (tiramisu) was the best part, that it the upscale/relaxed atmosphere.

 

 

Aside from the restaurants, we went to we also had two delivered with UberEats. I had never used UberEats before and I must say it was an easy app to use and having a delivery person bring our food right to our condo was an easy and pleasant way to order in (and great if you’re high, don’t even need to leave the room!). I gave both of them a tip and would certainly use it again. We had a local pizza place (just ok, though I did eat all of the leftover slices!), and the second place, BurgerFi was better. The fact that it took 40 minutes for our BurgerFi order to get to us did mean it wasn’t hot like it should be. I’ll be clear here I knew it would be 40 minutes, I would, however, like to suggest that Uber splurge and supply drivers with insulated bags, this would help food stay warm and I’d be more inclined to order from further away. When I think of it despite all the problems of the world we live in an amazing age of technology and convivence. Never even 10 years ago would I have imagined that one app on my phone would allow me to pick out a restaurant, see how long it would take my order to show up, place an order, pay for it and then check on the delivery progress all in one spot! Oh, also worth adding, BurgerFi aside from good burgers has excellent milkshakes.

 

That’s enough food talk, as I mentioned before while I was there, I rented a bike. I went back to the same store as I did two years ago, Beach Bike Shop. They were very friendly, and it was an easy process, anytime I have that kind of experience I’m likely to repeat it. This time I just got a regular pedal bike with gears (as opposed to Fat bike which has large tires and can be ridden on the beach or a mountain bike, which can be used in the woods or rougher trails) to ride on a trail nearby. What I soon discovered is that the trail was a good 10-15 minutes from our condo and while I enjoyed riding on it (and the new subdivision that the trail turned into after a short time), it just wasn’t worth the effort. I had very seldom ridden directly on a road before (I don’t trust people and it’s not as relaxing) but I forced myself to do something different and I’m glad I did. There is a bike lane along most of Ocean Boulevard in MB and it doesn’t have much traffic. I soon found riding along beside the ocean to be a wonderful, (mostly), relaxing trip and I quite enjoyed just hopping on my bike and going. I developed a routine that when I was ready to head back, I would stop at a beach entrance, have a snack, look around and take some pics. I even took a video on my bike riding back once and aside from listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks, also called my good friend John (headphones have a built-in mic).

 

Let’s talk about what a lot of people have forgotten, southern hospitality/friendliness. I know that the south gets a bad name and as I mentioned above, I see what happened to parts of Florida but MB (at least the limited exposure I’ve had) had some of the nicest people I’ve met in a long time. I’ll give you an example, one day I was chaining my bike up outside the condo (this was in the parking lot, all I could find was a palm tree) and one of the staff of the Patricia Grand came up to me. I thought I would be in some kind of trouble, told not to put it there but what happened was much more pleasant. He smiled and questioned, “you trying to put your bike somewhere?” I said yes and he said, “let me show you a better place for it.” He brought me inside the building and suggested I chain it to the stairway on the first floor as he explained “this way it won’t get wet, it’s out of the way and less chance anyone will mess with it.” I agreed and thanked him, realizing he was right, this was a better spot and now I could go down the stairs (we were on the 5th floor, and I often walked up and down rather than use the elevator). It’s the kind of place where people greet you when you walk in the door of a store and when you leave, they wish you a good day or evening. I should also say I love a southern accent (especially when it’s not too strong), it just brings up pleasant memories from TV shows and movies.

 

Another thing we did (not food-related!) was go to this attraction called the Sky Wheel. It is latterly glass pods attached to a huge wheel that slowly rotates so you get a nice view of the beach and some of the surrounding area (this was down near Pier 14). I decided to pay for the VIP package (because I like to get the best experience, at least the first time I do something) and we had a full 8 rotations of the wheel. Also included were 2 t-shirts and our pod had nicer seats and a glass floor (which the others didn’t have). It was a nice experience (though maybe a little long) and quite relaxing. It also gave us a great view of one of the only intense things to do there, the Slingshot, something we both felt we might be too old for. Here are some pics and a video of the Sky Wheel.

 

     

 

Also worth mentioning is our second trip to Ripley’s Aquarium. While I don’t own fish (haven’t since I was a child), I quite enjoy looking at them and I like visiting aquariums. My wife enjoys them too and we made a point to go back to Ripley’s again this trip. Going through a tunnel on a pedway with sharks swimming all around is somehow but a surreal and yet calming/beautiful experience. It would have been even better if fewer people were around (we went on a Saturday) but still I quite enjoyed it. The funny part of this is that my wife forgot to buy something at the gift shop for one of our neighbor’s kids (he snow blows our driveway for us sometimes and is an excellent neighbor), so we went back for a second time that same day! Thankfully when you purchase tickets you can go back as many times as you want that day. Also, by then it was 7 pm at night, there were fewer people and I was getting high, so it was a more pleasing experience for me (my wife drove back to the condo).

 

 

When I go on a trip, I try to do different things, activities I either can’t do at home or that are at least a little different. As you saw above, I did that, but vacations are also about doing the things you love, just in a different place. I love role-playing games; I have been playing them since I was 12 years old (so almost 40 years now!) and now with Zoom, it is easy for me to run a session when I’m away. Currently, I’m the Keeper (Cthulhu’s term for a Game Master or DM) with a Call of Cthulhu campaign. It’s a lot of fun (here’s a link to explain a little about RP, it’s too much to go into here) and I was hoping for 2 sessions while we were in MB but was still happy to get in one. While I have had RP with strangers, it’s always more enjoyable with friends. As such, we hadn’t played in 3 weeks and the first part of the session was chatting/catching up. I was telling everyone how I was high a few nights before and just laying on the bed (taking a break from my tablet) and there was this kite outside the patio (the condo we rented was on the beach). The kite wasn’t the usual cheap/crappy kind, it was meant to look and move like a real bird, it was red and orange, and I was in the right state of mind to just stare at it for a few minutes. It was just a lovely moment, the sun was setting, I was in a good mood, and I was watching this kite that looked and moved like a bird, I knew it was fake but it every few seconds it moved like a real bird was and it was a lovely moment, a stillness that you don’t get very often in life, the moment just seemed to stretch out and I had to stop what I was doing and take it in. I told this story (and as always some people had more interest than others, perhaps no one did and they are all just polite, I don’t really care) and when I was almost finished (or so I thought at the time) the final player, Heather, turned up. She said, “I want to hear the kite story!” so I told it again, much to Danny (another player’s) chagrin. This is when things started to get funny, after I told it a second time Heather said, “Oh, I actually heard that story”, so I was already starting to chuckle and grin, Danny at this point had been off-camera for a while (as he had heard the story already, this is all on Zoom of course) and was now back. It took me a few seconds (as it was just part of the screen after all) but I noticed that he had made a kite out of a stick and a piece of paper and was moving it around the screen. I quickly exclaimed, “Is that a kite?!” and he said “Oh this? Why yes, it is” and we were all laughing, it was funny and the kind of dry/unexpected humor I really love. So, if Danny is reading this, that was an excellent joke and I really loved it, thanks!

 

Another afternoon I was in the condo (I like to have at least 2-3 days during a trip where we don’t go anywhere and just completely relax) and was high (I plan to be high a LOT when I’m retired) and I just lay on the bed and started to read comics on my tablet. Sure I know people go on holiday to do various things but you really should take at least one day out of any trip and just enjoy your immediate surroundings, if you’re somewhere warm walk, swim, drink and be merry, just you and your significant other (or just by yourself), I promise you that you’ll enjoy it and be glad you did.

 

     

 

If you have never used it (and you’re a comic book fan), I would highly recommend the Marvel Unlimited app. I have loved Marvel comics since I was 13 years old and the ability to read new ones every week (to be clear new to me, they are 3-6 months behind the shelf date). The fact that DC has FINALLY made their app available to Canadians will only increase the number of comics I read. Back on point though, this is one of the best things about getting high, it forces you to slow down and just enjoy the moment. While I was reading comics I would frequently stop, look outside (it was a nice day, so many of them are in MB), and listen to the waves, the people, and music drifting in from the pool area. If you have never fallen to sleep to the sound of the ocean it can be WONDERFUL, the constant sound is soothing, and aside from the night when the sand grooming machine woke me up, very helpful to fall and stay asleep.

 

         

  

While I can go for a walk at home anytime I want on the trail (and on a rocky beach), it really can’t hold a candle to walking on a sandy beach. Strolling along a sandy beach when it’s warm out with your feet in the water is such a wonderful and simple experience. Even if it’s hot out the ocean cools you down as it goes in and out. MB (at least when we were there in March) was not too crowded, so you had plenty of moments of quiet (even more so at night, I’m getting there.) You may have guessed where I’m going but yeah, like so many things walking on the beach is WAY better when you’re high. We went for a walk one night to see the lights on the houses (unlike where we live where houses are often only decorated for Xmas), in MB they just turn on lights at night around the houses, trees, and walls of houses right on the main road, some of them are quite lovely to see. For variety, we walked down the road and came back to the beach. I really must impress on you that walk on the beach, at night, as the sun is setting, it’s getting dark and you’re high, JUST WOW! The beach is so wide and flat and with hardly anyone on it that night you really feel a connection with nature. It’s just so unlike my home in NL, Canada, it’s almost like you can imagine you’re walking on the surface of another planet. What’s nice is that because it’s so flat you have no worries about tripping up in something (as you could on many roads/trails in other places) with all the condos lit up at night there are zero worries of getting lost. I felt perfectly safe and at ease with myself and the world, I can see myself spending many a night just sitting on the beach and chill’n (especially in a high state of mind!). For that matter just having the patio doors wide open for almost 24 hours and hearing the ocean constantly and feeling the breeze flow through the condo, it’s a wonderful feeling and it just makes me relax, even more, I love outside when it’s warm and here in NL we have so much wind/crappy weather/flies (and even if we didn’t my cats would get out), suffice to say it’s something I can almost never do at home.

 

This has turned into quite the long post; I’ll be honest with you I am going to write a travel book and parts of this will certainly go in there. When you travel you learn more about the world, you see how people live in other places and you get a feel of the atmosphere in that place. I think also though, though, you learn more about yourself. When you’re not home you are more inclined to try new things but also you see can clearly see what it is that really matters to you, the things that truly make you happy. For example, while I love living in a house (have only lived in an apartment twice and one of those was a dorm room with a roommate, so that’s a whole other kettle of fish), I can see the benefits of living in a condo and see us doing it one day. I didn’t see it before (as our trip was cut short and I was too stressed to enjoy it anyway) but I do now, Myrtle Beach is a special place, and I was really happy there. I could see living there, once I found people to play poker with! Seriously I could always play online and as the laws are changing on pot in the USA, I can see a day when poker is allowed there too. MB is full of tourists, and I felt right at home, it also had something I love, the main drag that runs right along the ocean, it reminded me just a little bit of downtown St. John’s, a place that I love to go. The fact that almost everywhere I wanted to go (and do) was only 15-20 minutes away (including the airport) is a huge plus as well. I’m not ready to move there tomorrow, but I think after a few more visits I will be. Until that day comes, I very much look forward to going back to MB, maybe even with a friend or two. It’s the way FL used to be (and still is in certain parts like Key West), warm, friendly, not crowded and just relaxing, and as James Taylor says, “in my mind I’m gone to Carolina”, maybe after reading this you will be too.

 

 

 

 

 

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