South and north along the East Coast
Bob and Terry on Tour 2016
New York to Florida, and points in between
Days One, Two and Three (and a start of Four) – South Carolina – On to Myrtle Beach


Welcome to one of the strangest tour diaries I will likely ever produce.

(Yeah… that definitely deserves a bit of an explanation.)

Over the past couple of years, for a variety of reasons, Terry and I had been trying to figure out a way to take some time off… hit the road… and effectively have a vacation while spending as little money as possible. The odds were stacked against us when it came to anything significant for this journey. But we didn’t give up.

After a sudden opportunity led to a wave of brainstorming and e-mailing and phone calling, we arrived at set of fairly interesting possibilities…

  • Mom and Dad were willing to loan us their car… an extremely well-maintained 2004 Camry with significantly fewer miles on it than any of our vehicles.
  • A room at Orange Lake in Orlando for a week. (More specifically: A week at one of our favorite places on the planet, the tremendous Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee, Florida.)
  • Anyone that has looked around my web site… specifically the interviews and photo galleries… knows that I love Legends in Concert, and that over the years Terry and I have become friends with several people that are part of the group. Legends has a theater in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Some friends of ours in and around Myrtle Beach offered up some suggestions for an inexpensive place to stay and some things to do if we wanted to drive down the coast and stop there along the way.

The trick was… see the initial concepts presented in this very effort… dollar signs mattered. It was something that had kept us quite limited in our travels since 2013. While we would have the ability to splurge a bit here and there, any designs or thoughts or activities had to involve keeping things low cost. That meant pools instead of theme parks… cereal and picnics and saved gift cards instead of eating out for every meal… and you see where this is going.

Because of the eventual way things played out, this trip is going to be divided into four entries… three tour diaries and one “Best of…” column.

The first entry for the diaries—this one—covers our departure from New York state, the drive south, and the stay in Myrtle Beach.

The second diary will begin with our journey from South Carolina to Florida, along with the first four days in and around Orlando. The third diary continues with our stay in Florida, moving over the four days until we left on our drive back home.

Unlike most of our other travel efforts for the Backpack, there is no ribbon on the end of the trip. There is no clear moment involving a plane for the flight home, the returning a rental car, or the last group meal before heading off in separate directions to serve as a bookend. Plus, in part because our travels to Florida have been documented in the past and things were so low-key, the “Best of…” effort focuses only on our time around Myrtle Beach.

This entire trip was strange and fun and great and exhausting. It found us enjoying some tremendous opportunities and thrills and entertainment that worked out phenomenally well… and a hurricane that tossed a massive curveball into the early stages of the journey. And it all kicked off with an alarm going off well before sunrise…

Day One – Wednesday, August 31, 2016

We are awake and moving and it’s not even 5am. (And while not an unusualy way to start one of our adventures, this time we don’t have a plane to catch or friends to meet. Awake… moving… on the road (and on the road for a while)…)

Basically, in the darkness it sure seems like we’re a bit crazy. But there is a bit of a method to our madness.

I don’t mind driving. I don’t love it the way I used to… but I am ok with it, even over several hours and long distances.

What I do mind is putting in ten or eleven hours of driving, and—cue music and explore opportunity to insert a literal and figurative nice sunset—after a day on the road add another long stretch to it while driving in the dark. I hate that. It’s tiring, grueling, and creates moments where time and distance and even sanity all blend together in a mind-numbing warp of reality.

During the day, I find you can put on a pair of sunglasses, pick the right music or topic of conversation, and a drive will have stretches where hundreds of miles fly past.

In the dark, you glance at the clock on the dashboard and it’s 2:03am. You adjust the temperature since you don’t need the AC anymore… change the radio station and hum along for the last chorus of a great song, only for a so-so song to follow and you consider changing the station again… think about why more songs can’t be as good as that great one, and realize the last time you heard it was when you were on vacation two years ago… reach into the back seat to grab a bottle of water or perhaps that bag of pretzels… rub your eyes… decide when you get back home you’re going to buy that great song, wait, no, it’s on a great album so you’ll buy the whole thing… wonder if that’s a motorcycle on the other side of the highway, or a car with one headlight burned out… rub your eyes… try to stretch and take a deep breath… turn the radio off since you’re not listening and the rest of the passengers are sleeping… see a sign announcing an upcoming rest stop and debate if you’ll be ok since the same sign also posted that once you pass it the next rest area is forty-five miles away… drink some water… rub your eyes… decide this isn’t too bad, and with everyone comfortable you might just keep going beyond your assigned time behind the wheel and let them sleep until sunrise or so when you stop for some breakfast… adjust the temperature since it’s getting warm in the car… breakfast sounds good, maybe you can find that place selling that great sounding new egg and sausage sandwich… blame yourself for not grabbing a couple of bags of those chips you spotted earlier in the day because they would sure taste good right now… realize you’ve been fidgeting and thinking for quite some time, the miles must be clicking away, and… glance at the clock and it’s 2:03am.

I don’t like driving at night.

We’ve made some interesting plans for this trip hoping to minimize the overnights on the highway. And since we have about thirteen or so hours of driving ahead of us today, we have a bit of time to explain what’s going on.

Terry and I were presented with an opportunity to enjoy a week at our favorite resort… Orange Lake in Florida. Being quite aware of budgeting for this trip, with the ability to have fun and do things as long as we don’t go crazy, we decided that the combination of plane tickets and a car rental wasn’t going to work out too well for us.

We quickly realized that while it meant driving down and then back up the east coast, bringing our own car would allow us some to include several things as part of the adventure. We could visit Richard in Ocala… stop for a few days and see Justin and Jason in Maryland and Pennsylvania… plus, Terry had the ability to add some time on both sides of our stay in Kissimmee, which meant that driving thousands of miles didn’t have to destroy massive chunks of time from a short window.

The one thing Terry left no doubt she wasn’t crazy about was an all-in-one-run dash from north to south. On the drive back, we would stop to visit the boys for a few days. She wanted to find a way to add a stop on the way down. And as we considered a couple of thoughts, a somewhat unexpected option emerged.

Some e-mail exchanges with a few friends raised a bit of awareness about Myrtle Beach. Neither of us had ever really stopped and looked around South Carolina. Myrtle Beach had always been a place we were interested in seeing, and for this trip it sounded fantastic. Our friends made arrangements for us to get a great rate at an oceanside hotel, suggested tickets to see a performance of Legends in Concert, and offered a few recommendations of things we could check out while in the area.

As Myrtle Beach settled into place and the timing for meeting with the boys was confirmed, we had our outline…

Leave early on day one, hitting the road around sunrise in order to reach Myrtle Beach before sunset. Stay in South Carolina for two nights before heading off to see Richard in Ocala, and then move along to the Orlando area for a week. Into the car on Saturday the 10th well ahead of daylight to begin the longest drive of the trip to Pennsylvania. Stay on the farm while seeing everyone for a couple of nights, and then complete the final leg back into our driveway to wrap up an interesting and exciting thirteen days of travel.

And now back to the first leg of our journey…

We’ve barely crossed from New York into Pennsylvania and Terry already has a suggestion for adjusting our approach to things. The sun is up… weather is good and drive so far has been fine… stopped at a McDonald’s for breakfast and decided to use that stop as a chance to fill up the gas tank… so far, so good. Terry’s suggestion?

The conversation after breakfast had turned to the drive overall. Initially we’re just talking about the roads we’ll travel and state lines we’ll be crossing, if either of us has any preferences for stops and eating beyond rest areas or anything that appears when we’re hungry, and the weather down south which is beginning to show a hurricane winding around our destinations. Really basic stuff. Then she asks about my plans for returning the car to my parents in Rhode Island. I had been thinking about doing that on my own a few days after our trip wrapped up. She is wondering, since I had been on my own a few days earlier going to pick the car up, if it would save me any driving time by adding that stop in after Pennsylvania. She has the days off at the end of the journey, would love to keep me company instead of setting up another long drive on my own, and she’s up for heading out that way for a night to swap vehicles back.

We don’t commit to it, but it sounds like an option both of think could work out well for us.

It’s around noon when we make the decision to skip lunch. We’ve brought a cooler with beverages on ice along with us, and we have plenty of snacks. Combine that with us making decent time and not encountering any issues on the road, and we are both thinking that an earlier arrival in Myrtle Beach with a nice dinner easily tops any late arrival with two fast food meals involved.

It’s not yet 6pm… and everything has gone as well as we could possibly hope… approximately 850 miles behind us and we’re closing in on the entrance to the Crown Reef Beach Resort. But first…

We’re sitting at a red light on route 501. This has been one of the stranger finishes to a long drive that I can recall. And our finishes are usually strange. See…

Generally speaking, when you go on a long drive there are three segments to it. The middle part—the actual long drive—usually involves a highway or two (or three), with perhaps hundreds of miles to cover and, hopefully, cruise control ready to go. The beginning and end though are a bit different. The opening drive has some twists and turns and red lights and intersections to navigate in getting from the starting point to the highway. Maybe a car to load and a quick bite to eat. The end could involve roads you’ve never been on before, with some more twists and turns and red lights and intersections to navigate. The idea being, the start and finish tend to be a bit choppier… start and stop… maybe some uncertainty… and you expect that.

Myrtle Beach is a different kind of choppier though. Depending on the path you take, Myrtle Beach is miles away from the highway. No… really… miles.

For example, 501 is a good road to be taking in toward Myrtle Beach. There are a few ways to connect from 95 to 501, and based on where you do it will be more than 60 miles of travel just on 501 to get you from 95 to the main areas of Myrtle Beach. That’s well over an hour of driving after you get off the highway.

But that’s not what you’re prepared for. You get off of 95, and in your mind and from past experiences, you’re thinking that some twists and turns and red lights are on the way. You’re also thinking you’re close. It is absolutely not in your mind that you have more than an hour of reduced speed driving still to go. (Back to our red light…)

We’re on 501, sitting near the entrance to the Tanger Outlets, and off to the side of the road is a billboard with a changing video display. And there it is… the Big Dogs logo. Terry and I love Big Dogs sweatshirts and more. Great stuff. The stores disappeared a while back and are really non-existent now in the northeast. We might just have found a place we need to check out before we depart. But first… the light turns green… we cover another ten miles of driving… and finally…

Welcome to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina!

We pull in to the garage at the Crown Reef Resort and walk in to the front desk. As we go through the process of checking in, I’m asking some questions… about the pools and lazy river… about dinner recommendations… and, ok, most importantly about dinner recommendations.

We had been kicking around whether or not we’d go out to dinner all the way back to before we actually set off. Drive time… being too tired… for all these reasons and more, we still weren’t sure when we left the house if our first night would be a visit to a restaurant or a drive-thru.

One of the people at the front desk begins talking about a restaurant called Driftwood. He can’t say enough positive things about it. We’re a bit skeptical when the best he can do for getting us there is to direct us to looking it up on our phones. Granted… yes… these days smartphones are virtually a given. But it seems a bit weird that he’s telling me to search for it on my phone. Still, he seems convinced of the recommendation.

We do find Driftwoods Seafood & Steak… I found a restaurant with the same basic name, was able to pull up the menu, and one of the items he was talking highly about is there. It’s more than twenty minutes and over ten miles away. We decide to try it anyway. And…

It was ok. It would not be something we highly recommend.

We decided to try a few things… she crab soup… hush puppies… stuffed mushrooms… a burger. Turned out, the burger was the best part of our order (and not all that memorable). Food was ok, but nothing rose above the level of so-so. While I certainly hope to find my way to Myrtle Beach again in the future, I have feel certain we won’t be returning to the Driftwood restaurant.

(Side note: Whenever I write a travel piece, I end up doing several searches and using the internet a lot. Usually it’s to confirm things, like names and locations. I couldn’t find this restaurant’s regular web site any more, though I swear they had one. Actually, not just swear, I KNOW they had one, since looking up their menu in our hotel room and comparing it to what the guy at the front desk said was how I was certain we were going to the place he recommended. Now they just have a Facebook page. Not too certain that the shrinking presence on the web is a coincidence.)

As we arrive back in our room, the dominant questions are about Hermine… a hurricane churning around and threatening to hit Florida and possibly move toward us. Forecasts are still a bit all over the pace as far as speed and true path, but it certainly looks like our intended move on Friday is going to involve planning around a storm.

Day Two – Thursday, September 1, 2016

Today was one of those amazing days that you really would never believe could possibly happen in these circumstances—a vacation—unless you’ve headed off on an adventure with Bob and Terry.

We’re in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (A beautiful place, and I’ll tell you know is one that earned a spot high on our we-need-to-get-back list of travel desires.) We’re only here for two days (and basically, today since we have outlined leaving tomorrow for Ocala)… with a storm defining its path to include a sweep directly through the middle of our plans (and possibly move that drive to Ocala)… and really aren’t looking to settle in, explore the tourist musts and discover a hidden treasure or two. We want to relax. We want to see a show. We want to find a good meal. And even with that…

Having decided not to set an alarm clock after yesterday’s thousand-mile-marathon drive, we awaken to that old cliché of a calm before the storm sun-shiny day. And, we’re going to kick off our enjoyment of it by heading to… a factory outlet.


That Big Dogs sighting yesterday stuck with us, and we simply can’t pass up the opportunity to stop in. (And those of you that know us and our love of St. Bernards cannot be too surprised.)

We park and head in to the Tanger Outlet on Highway 501, stopping at Auntie Anne’s for a quick snack. Big Dogs is next on our list, and we spend a fair amount of time in that store. And then… another surprise.

Terry has stopped in a shop to check out some clothes. She has found a top she really likes, but they only have one left in a smaller size. Inventories checked, there is another store not too far away with the shirt in stock. It looks like we are actually going to head about 15 miles away to the other Tanger Outlet.

Yes… vacation in Myrtle Beach… two factory outlet stops. And we are both happy, laughing, and having a terrific day as we leave the second Tanger Outlet and begin heading back to our hotel.

We have tickets to see Legends in Concert later tonight. We have decided to get a bigger meal in the mid to late afternoon (hence Auntie Anne’s this morning). For now… we have time for the beach and the pool and the lazy river.

And this is perfect.

Ok… ok… not perfect. The Crown Reef is a nice resort. We’d stay there again, even though I’m not certain it would be our first choice. We enjoyed our stay, thought the staff we interacted with were friendly, and had no real issues. Our room was on an upper floor, with a decent kitchenette, and the view of the beach and ocean was terrific.

That said… as anyone that has pulled into the Crown Reef Resort garage will acknowledge… the entrance and parking is a feat of engineering design that boggles the mind. And the pool area is actually a perfect example of what I mean by boggles, since just about everything about the design choices at the Crown Reef can be described that way.

They have multiple pools. Walkways to the beach and ocean. A lazy river. In fact, just like pretty much every place where you find a lazy river type set up, it winds its way in and around what I’ll call the fixed locations such as sitting areas and pools. The trick is, in making use of every square foot of space to put in another pool they have created an area where: you aren’t sure where to get a towel, you aren’t sure if this set of stairs is leading you to a pool or the lazy river or a line to something else entirely, you aren’t sure which door leads to the elevators and which leads to the indoor pool and which leads to an employee only area.

The Crown Reef web site boasts of twenty water features… which I believe definitely covers the water slides and whirlpools and indoor pool, outdoor pool, bridge pool… I think you get the idea. In trying to have everything, it gets confusing to understand anything.

One more time… can’t say it enough… we liked the Crown Reef Resort. While we might consider other options on our next visit to Myrtle Beach, we would stay at the Crown Reef again if it became an option.

From the moment you hit the ramp off South Ocean Boulevard and move up into the parking garage though, nothing seems to be where it should be. Parking the car… the front desk for check in… the elevators to the room… the river and pool and beach… it all seems two floors, three turns, fifteen feet and obstructed behind a wall from where it should be.

But I said perfect a moment ago. Let’s get back to perfect.

There’s something to be said for timing. Certain events or experiences taking place at certain moments. For lack of a longer description, with various examples and conditions, suffice to say this-is-exactly-what-I-needed-right-now events.

It’s what allows a cheeseburger and fries to top the most expensive entree to be found at a recipient of multiple fine dining stars. Same concepts for a favorite blanket, broken in just right sneakers, and more than a handful of wines that can be found for ten-dollars a bottle (or less). Each and every one… in the proper moment… perfect.

And so it was, on Thursday, September 1, 2016, that the afternoon at Crown Reef Resort was proving to be perfect.

We took a short walk along the beach, checking out the waves and wondering what was ahead from the storm. We wandered from pool to pool, spending some time in a couple. And we floated along the lazy river, completing a few carefree laps spent contemplating absolutely nothing. Sun and sand and water and relaxation.

The floats in the lazy river might have been uncomfortable in the vast majority of our attempts for use. There could be other moments of inconvenience or confusion. None of it mattered. The afternoon was perfect. (And, a terrific example of why the Crown Reef is the cheeseburger and fries of resorts. It’s not the cleanest, the nicest, or the most expensive of resorts offering an amenity for each and every desire. But there is a better than average chance that you will find it incredibly satisfying and exactly what you needed. (We did.))

Back to the room… clean up a bit… and we’re off. Time for a bit of a look around, something to eat, and then a show.

I have a few things plugged in to the GPS… ranging from the South Myrtle Beach location of Christmas Mouse to Broadway at the Beach… past a few potential dining options… and getting a feel for our surroundings.

And it is pretty cool.

After a few stops, we pull the car into a parking lot to get serious about dinner. Part of our exploring led us to circle Broadway at the Beach, but we’ve basically decided that we need to put that off for another time. Just seems to be too much to do, and we’re not sure we’ll be happy about stopping if we begin looking around. Terry works with someone that had recommended a place he has enjoyed on several visits… Carolina Roadhouse… and after a quick phone call to confirm the location, we’re off.

And it is… very nice.

Actually, wait, impressive. Impressive is a better word.

There’s just something about the interior. Honestly, I never really was able to figure out how big the place is. There are a few steps here, tables and booths there, design features all around, basically just immediately connects as very comfortable and familiar although you recognize it is large and… yup… impressive.

Terry’s friend described it as being a Carolina-style steakhouse, and I think that’s a fair assessment. Still… we were looking at the menu while thinking barbecue and seafood, from a casual dining perspective.

The hush puppies were very good. I went with a barbecue rib meat sandwich, and Terry ordered a shrimp po boy. Both of us were happy with the choices, though the menu has enough that we could stop in several more times and the only repeat on our table would be the hush puppies.

Legends in Concert has their own theater in Myrtle Beach, which for the sake of landmarks is across the street from Broadway at the Beach. It is a terrific facility with a comfortable theater. Our lineup included Adele, Brooks & Dunn, the Blues Brothers, Bruno Mars and Elvis. Couple of quick notes…

J.C. Brando as Adele. Brilliant. Outstanding. Awesome. Incredible. I had seen and photographed her performing in Connecticut previously. Fantastic to see her again.

I’d met Dan Meisner and Russ Peterson (Blues Brothers) and seen them perform years before in a different location. Great to see them on stage again, though we made a quick exit after the show and I didn’t have a chance to say hello tonight.

We had our picture taken with Isaiah (Bruno Mars) before the show, and Terry went over to pick it up and speak with him during a break. She said he was incredibly friendly and polite.

I admit, I have some personal interests in Legends. I have attended many of their shows, and consider several people that I have met from their casts and crews to be friends. That acknowledged, I have always been impressed by the professionalism and kindness that I have been treated with each and every time I see a show or interact with a member of their team. Amazing people.

We both enjoyed the entire evening, and the show was fantastic.

On our way back to Crown Reef, we make a decision about Hurricane Hermine. Our original plans involved leaving tomorrow morning for Florida. Even though most information we have sets up Hermine for a downgrading to tropical storm status overnight, the travel path has been narrowing and coming into focus. The storm is expected to cross the top of Florida, enter Georgia and continue into South Carolina while following the highways and roads we would be using to get to Richard. A Friday drive where we’re going is out of the question… we’d be asking for hours of dangerous travel straight into the storm.

We’re now settled on staying in Myrtle Beach for another night and heading to Orlando on Saturday. Our Friday night in Ocala and staying with Richard is out… we’ll figure out how to see him a few times during other days of the trip.

And with that decision made, we pull into a Krispy Kreme location. If we’re going to be in a hotel room, playing cards and weathering a storm, a dozen donuts is a solid addition to the kitchenette.

Day Three – Friday, September 2, 2016

The day starts off more or less where you might expect… looking at, acting, and to a degree reacting to Hurricane Hermine.

To really start the day off, we make a few phone calls to organize the additional day in our room.

The trick wasn’t adding an extra night… although we never did really ask about things like the upcoming holiday weekend being matched up with possible storm-related cancellations or delays. We knew from speaking with a few people at the front desk the day before that we would be able to get a room with no problems.

Instead, the question was staying in the room we’ve been in. Because we had inquired after regular business hours, with lots of phone calls coming in about the weather keeping staff busy and occupancy predictions a bit off balance, the people at the front desk couldn’t make adjustments and commitments concerning which rooms were truly booked or available. All of it was set to be sorted out this morning.

Phone call made… we’re staying in our room.

Next up is getting both of us to focus in on the storm itself. Hermine has been playing games. Rather than picking up any speed, the hurricane keeps slowing down. The projected path still has it swinging through Florida into Georgia and then more or less along the coast and Interstate 95 into South Carolina. And it is weakening. But the arrival in immediate area is getting pushed back… and pushed back… and pushed back… and…

We’re thinking we might just have time to get some lunch. And… well…

There’s a great scene in the movie Caddyshack. (Yes, absolutely, there are several great scenes in the movie Caddyshack. This one is specific to our day.)

I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite a while.

And that pretty much sums up what is about to happen with Terry and I in Myrtle Beach.

(Ready? Ok…)

We’ve been watching the weather reports and forecasts and news on television. We’ve been checking out weather apps and looking up details on the internet. And everything points to the storm having slowed down while weakening… yup, “the heavy stuff” is still off in the distance, and not hurricane-level heavy stuff.

Some investigative work is also showing a few places nearby are open. (At least for lunch.) A trip to the front desk (the final portions of finishing off the additional night at Crown Reef)… I meet a few people claiming the roads aren’t too bad.

Terry and I are dressed, ready, and heading to Broadway at the Beach.

We know Joe’s Crab Shack is open, and we’ve enjoyed eating at other locations in their chain before. Our hope is that a few of the shops might be open as well.

We still haven’t found any post cards, know that there are some unique possibilities around Broadway at the Beach, and while we’ve got no desire to stay out for too long it seems like this just might be the place to find a couple of interesting options to explore.

We’re partly rewarded.

After circling the property, we park the car and head in to the restaurant. It’s obvious that most of the businesses are closed, and we don’t spot one retail shop open around the restaurant. Strike one for exploring.

Joe’s Crab Shack is indeed open. We order a crab bucket (with Dungeness crab, snow crab, shrimp and sausage), their classic sampler appetizer, and shrimp nachos. (I’m not big on shrimp, so Terry is going to enjoy that side of our order a bit more while I get extra snow crab.)

During our meal, we can see the rain and wind are getting worse outside. No longer is it a polite kind of annoying because it’s wet. It’s not pouring. It’s storming. Rain and wind… strikes two and three on exploring the Broadway at the Beach property.

While we pack up our leftovers and prepare to leave Joe’s, and since this is likely to be our last excursion around the vacation wonderland, here are a few notes about Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach, and postcards.

First – Broadway at the Beach – Loved it, and we saw pretty much none of it. The rundown… about two dozen restaurants, more than twenty entertainment options (shows, movies, museums/aquariums, arcades, escape challenges, etc.), roughly six dozen retail shops. Felt like a terrific place and one we fully expect to visit again.

Second – Myrtle Beach – Ok, yes, between factory outlet shopping and a hurricane, combined with a stay of just a few nights that were bookended by long drives… you could easily say we never settled in and saw much of Myrtle Beach. Still… awesome. There was a comfort level about everything that we enjoyed, and we were especially happy to find that things seemed much different than so many high tourist vacation destinations. Myrtle Beach did not present itself like so many oceanfront locations, which often can be wonderful but look exactly the same. It appeared to have plenty of unique opportunities, and easily made it known you weren’t going to see everything and would need to come back.

Third – Postcards – What is it with finding postcards in Myrtle Beach? We could not do it.

My family tends to find postcards an amazing thing. It’s not quite the same as it was when we were younger and traveling, but we still look for them and send at least a handful around during our trips. So it was that Terry and I thought we’d grab a couple and send them off from Myrtle Beach… since most of our family had seen ones from us in Florida.

The Crown Reef front desk is basically a room with a bit of everything… check-in and the hotel shop.

No postcards.

In fact, when I asked about postcards I got a look from the cashier that really seemed very close to having never heard of one. (Not kidding. It wasn’t a look that said something like “we never sold that many so we stopped stocking them” or that “everyone just snaps a selfie and texts their best wishes” with a side of wondering why we didn’t do the same. Nope. Definite confusion about the very idea of postcards.)

As we get in the car to drive back to the hotel, I mention to Terry that if it isn’t too hideous driving I’m thinking of making a stop or two at the souvenir-style stores along the ride. We do make two stops… but only because they were in the right places and on our side of the road. The driving was hideous.

No postcards. But, for some amazing reason, the first shop we stop in does have store gift cards.

That offering startled me for a few minutes, so I’ll repeat it with a few more details.

After walking around for five minutes or so, I went to the counter. I mentioned to the cashier that I was looking for postcards. She said they didn’t have any, but did sell store gift cards in a few different styles and that people collect them. I stood there for several moments, frozen while a duel took place in my head of thinking that she didn’t understand why a gift card wouldn’t work as a postcard against the thought that she just told me people collected sets of souvenir shop gift cards.

The streets aren’t flooded. They are overflowing in places with water surging along in riptide-like currents. Rain is dropping in sheets from the skies. It is breathtaking in scope and power, having really moved in seconds from strong storm to sweeping ferocity of danger. The heavy stuff is apparently coming down.

We take our time, drive slowly, and eventually see the ramp in the Crown Reef. Parking on level two actually seems like a pretty decent idea now.

Outside our balcony, the views continue to stun and amaze. Now for totally different spectacles. Waves are rising and crashing, with whitecaps as far out as the eyes can see. Precipitation is whipping sideways past our deck. Rivers have appeared along the beach, forcefully flowing from the streets into the ocean.

Inside our room, we flip on the television, set up a table, and begin playing some cards. It’s our version of Stink Foot Canasta (a wildly expanded version of the Hand and Foot style of playing Canasta), and we split a couple of games before deciding to reheat our leftovers.

Tigg wins the nightcap card game, and we settle in for a quiet evening of quality programming (meaning whatever we could find since so many stations were focusing on Hurricane Hermine updates).

Tomorrow we check out of the Crown Reef. We’ll move the car out of Myrtle Beach and toward the highway. We’re prepping for Orlando.


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