Saturday, May 26, 2018

Myrtle Beach Vacation-Part 2: On The Road To The Coast

Welcome to part 2 of my vacation series. This post is going to be more for the purpose of transition than anything else. It may not be that interesting but it's necessary to set up the rest of this series.  

The 2nd day of our 2018 vacation got off to a rather early start. That's because we had a long day head of us. 

We had to drive 2 hours east to meet up with my son and daughter-in-law in Crossville, TN. It's at exit 320 of I-40; about halfway between Bowling Green & Pigeon Forge. 

We got there a little early because I miscalculated the difference in time zones. 

When our kids arrived at the Pilot truck stop agreed on as our meet up point, we were sitting in the dining room of the Wendy's restaurant.   

I want to send out a big "Thank You" to them for taking the time out of their day to "save" our vacation. The entire round trip for them was over 5 hours. I appreciate them sacrificing their day to help us out. It was a unique and very giving Mother's Day present for my wife.

Around 11, we said "good-bye" to Michael and Heather and headed back east on I-40. 
We had about 9 hours and just under 500 miles ahead of us. We "lost" an hour going from the central to the eastern time zones.

As we drove through Knoxville, I made mention to Paula that sometime when we were passing through and had the time, I'd like to take the time to go visit the Sunsphere. It's one of two structures built for the 1982 World's Fair that are still standing. 

Paula and I have been going to the Smoky Mountains ever since 2001. Our favorite route to travel is taking 65 south to 40 east, getting off at the Sevierville, exit 407. This was the first time in a decade and a half of traveling that route that we went beyond that exit. 

It was at this point of our getaway that the adventure began for me. We were in a part of the country I'd never been before. I always like going to new places. You never know what you're going to find.  

The journey was a combination of a new experience and comfortable familiarity. I was driving and Paula was riding shotgun. 

As has become our routine when on the road, there was an open bag of cheddar cheese flavored Combos, the our drinks were in the cup holders between us, and an XM radio satellite station playing 70s music was on the Kia's stereo.    

In every marriage there is at least one or two places or situations that brings out the best in that relationship. It's different for each couple but there is at least one. 

For Paula and me, one of those is being on the road together. Whether its because we are heading for a single day event, a getaway weekend or a week long vacation, it is our "Sweet Spot". It has been from the very beginning. So even though getting to our destination this time made for a long day it was still "Us" at our best.   

We went through North Carolina on 40 turning southeast onto 26 just before Ashville. We crossed over to South Carolina heading toward Spartanburg. 

Of course along the way we'd make occasional stops to stretch our legs, take restroom breaks, get drink refills and putting gas in the car. I prefer Pilot truck stops but we did stop at other convenience stores as well. 

A turn east at Columbia took us to Florence via I-26 & I-20. From there, we went from a 6 lane interstate to a local county highway. It was 4 lanes but went through a lot of local areas speed zones ranging from 35-55 MPH. The last 75 miles of driving to Myrtle Beach took about 90 minutes. 

Along the way were many local businesses. We saw quite a few including: small fruit & produce stands, souvenir & area information centers, restaurants and more.

Once we passed the town of "Conway" on 501, we were in Horry county. The ocean front was still about 40 miles away but we had arrived the area known as "The Grand Strand". More on just that the region encompasses later. 

The sun was going down and darkness was setting in; we were getting road weary. We had been traveling for more than 12 hours. We were both in that "I just want to get there and get out of the car" mode. 

Although it was quite a bit away from the lighthouses along the South Carolina coastline, Rt 501 had its own plethora of "beacons" guiding us toward our destination. 

I'm talking about a never-ending series of billboards for the Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show. The Dolly Parton owned attraction in Myrtle beach had an overkill amount of billboards lining the highway from Conway to North Myrtle beach. I've never seen such saturation for one attraction. There were, what seemed to be, hundreds of them in clusters of 4-6 at a time. They went on for miles. 

Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of any of them. But if you ever take 501 into that area you will see them for sure. BTW, they proved to be effective, at least on us. 

Finally, we reached Myrtle Beach and made the turn onto South King's Highway. A combination of nightfall, our fatigued induced difficulty to focus, an unfamiliarity with the area and our GPS giving us rather vague directions, we had some trouble finding our resort. 

But eventually, much to our relief, we did find the Doubletree Oceanfront resort. As we checked in the anticipatory wonder of what our room was going to be like set in. 

We were in a part of the resort known at the "Palmetto" building; room 532. 

The room was amazing. It was rather spacious for a hotel room. It had a comfortable King sized bed and a balcony that looked out onto the beach. We could open the curtains and see the ocean from anywhere in the room. More about the room later in this series. 

We brought our luggage up to our room. While we were both really tired we still had a couple of things to do. 

We went out and picked up a pizza at a nearby Papa John's and did some initial grocery shopping at the local Walmart. 

By about 10 o'clock we found ourselves back in our room, sitting on the balcony eating pizza and enjoying the sound of the ocean. 

Our vacation had begun. I spent a few moments of reverie telling my wife how being on that balcony was so surreal. How she has made my life so much more than I ever expected it to be. 

As our 2nd day of our getaway was coming to an end I was extremely grateful to be where I was, for who I was with and what we were going to get the chance to do over the next few days. 

It would take us both a couple of days to get over the fatigue the activities of the weekend had caused. But this didn't keep us from enjoying where we were. 

This brings me to the end of part 2 of this series. In the next post I will share with you our first "official" day in Myrtle Beach.  

Thank you for reading my block. I will let you know when Part 3 is posted.  


No comments: