Sunday, November 11, 2018


There is little better than dinner and wine on a chilly night at the beach with a lovely lady and a tube o' fire.
Some months ago, Ms. B. signed up for a November arts-and-crafts retreat at Myrtle Beach, SC, and asked if I'd like to come along and geocache while she was artsy-fartsying. So I figured, well, why the artsy-farts not? Not only would we both get to indulge in our favorite pastimes, there would also be ample opportunity to spend some quality time together at the beach. Thus, it all seemed a win-win proposition. Even better, it turned out that friends Bridget (a.k.a. Suntigres) and Gerry (a.k.a. BigG7777) would be at their Myrtle Beach condo at the same time. Win, win, and win!

The retreat took place at the Sun & Sun Resort on S. Ocean Blvd., which pleased me intensely, as the hotel is two short blocks down from Regency Towers, where my family used to own a time-share condo, which I visited every summer for almost 25 years. I spent some of the best times of my life at that place. And the building that is now the Sun & Sand Resort used to be the Sheraton Hotel—where, sometime in the early 1990s, two nights running, my brother and I won their bar's karaoke contests (good for $25 bar tabs—not shabby in those days). Win, win, win, and win!

So this past Thursday, Ms. B. and I went to work for half a day and, at noon, set out in the Ms. B. Mobile for parts known and unknown. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at Compadres Mexican Restaurant in Randleman—a favorite from many caching adventures over the years—and, yes, a handful of caches. We arrived in Myrtle Beach just after dark, checked in at the Sun & Sand Resort, and then made our way down to Russell's Seafood Grill in Murrell's Inslet, which has been a favorite of ours in years past. While enjoyed our dinners—oysters on the half shell and fried crawfish tails for the old man, broiled scallops for nice lady—I fear neither quite reached the excellent quality we have previously enjoyed. Way too much breading on the crawfish and rather fishy-flavored scallops. Perhaps on another visit....

That said, November, my friends, is the time to hit Myrtle Beach, especially on weekdays. The crowds are relatively slim, the temperature is cool but not frigid, and the geocaching is virtually muggle-free. On Friday morning, Ms. B. and I  had a light breakfast in our hotel room and then went our separate ways for the morning—she to the conference area for her artsy-fartsy thingy, and I to Myrtle Beach State Park, just a mile or so down the road to hunt the baker's dozen geocaches lying in wait there. It actually turned out to be a warm, muggy morning, and the mosquitoes attacked in merciless schwarms, leaving me itching and drained of blood. I found all but one of the caches I sought, that one by all evidence missing. Brugger and I got together again for a light lunch, and afterward, while she returned to her artsing, I plopped down to relax for a bit, as I had no more blood left in me. I spent much of the rest of the afternoon logging all the caches I had found.
Boggy Creek monster?
Mosquito heaven at Myrtle Beach State Park
Friday evening, Brugger and I met Gerry and Bridget for some liquid refreshment at Coastal Wine Boutique at 21st Avenue North. We had enjoyed visiting their other location in North Myrtle Beach on our May beach trip, and this one was equally enjoyable. The night was pleasant enough to sit outside, firepit blazing, and both spirits and service proved excellent. Once done here, we all wandered (wandered, I said, not staggered) across the street and reveled in a seafood feeding frenzy at Dirty Don's Oyster Bar. Fried shrimp for Brugger, spicy steamed shrimp for the hungry old dude. I think Gerry and Bridget also ended up with shrimp. Fantastic all around, and damn if I don't think we've found a new favorite seafood feeding frenzy establishment on the Grand Strand....

Back again to the Sun & Sand. For nice lady, more arts & crafts. For me, out into the night for more geocaches and a little roam around Regency Towers to reminisce about some of life's most wonderful moments. Done, done, and done.

Saturday morning, following a longstanding Rainey beach tradition, we sought out a pancake house for breakfast, which turned out to be the nearby Woodhaven Pancake House, where I think the Rainey family had enjoyed pancake breakfasts way back in the dawn of man. Ms. B. had a big old plate of pancakes with sausage, and I had a big old plate of... not just French toast... but Paris toast, which was a fancy first-rate bread, butter, and egg combination, accompanied by bacon, the lot of which about sent this old man to the moon. Lord have mercy, we are talking good.

From there, guess where Brugger went. Yep. Guess where I went. Yep, I joined Gerry and Bridget to reactivate Team Beach Hounds from our previous Myrtle Beach geocaching venture last May. We trucked ourselves over to a big shopping area off Highway 17, and then, once we'd cleaned it up, set off on foot after a nearby series of caches called "A Walk Around the Block," which gave us a couple of miles of opportunity to burn off a portion of breakfast. We found all but one of the 15 or so caches, that one again by all evidence missing. We hunted and killed lunch at Abuelo's Mexican Restaurant, an ostensibly upscale but pretty much standard Mexican establishment. I enjoyed the chile relleno and margaritas, but I have to tell you, the "spicy" salsa didn't even reach Tabasco on the Scoville scale, and when I asked for something in the habanero vein, they had only Cholula hot sauce to offer. That's like red-colored water. My friends, as I said, the fare here was tasty, but to me, it ain't proper Mexican unless I'm consuming molten magma. The far less expensive fare back at Compadres in Randleman more than hit that sweet spot.

No matter, this is all about the experience and the fun, and that it was. Following lunch, we made our way out to Pine Lakes International Country Club—where my dad and I had played golf back in the late 1970s—to claim a relatively new virtual geocache ("What Happened Here" [GC7B64Y]). Here, we ran into some geocachers from Illinois, which was cool. Then Team Beach Hounds split up for the day, and I returned to the Sun & Sand, after stopping for another cache along the way.

Come evening time, Ms. B. and I opted to find some Asian food, which we did at CO Sushi, in a self-contained little village built within the confines of what used to be Myrtle Beach Air Force Base (the planes from which I used watch from the balcony of Regency Towers). It was chilly outside, but they had a tube o' fire burning on their terrace (see the photo up top), and we enjoyed sushi, beef, and banh mi in reasonable comfort. An altogether pleasing experience.

Back at the hotel, while Ms. B. artsed and fartsed some more, I put on Hunting Grounds (a.k.a. Valley of the Sasquatch), a cheesy Bigfoot movie (because I've been on a cheesy Bigfoot movie kick recently). Fun enough shit. Now, lord knows why, but down at yonder retreat, Brugger participated in an ugly Christmas outfit contest, and dang... how she didn't win, I'm sure I'll never know. See for yourself, if you please....
Not the cache

And this morning, sadly, it came time to depart. Beforehand, I did get to snag a few more nearby caches, most notably a daunting bridge hide called "Trolling for Smilies" (GC124VE), which I almost ended up giving up on, but perseverance paid off. Thankfully, low temperatures had enervated the inhabitants of a wasp nest damn near as big as my noggin up under that bridge. At another nearby cache, I was blessed with the opportunity to view, remarkably close up, a vintage B-17 passing overhead at only a few hundred feet as it came into MYB—almost certainly for a Veterans Day to-do. I wish I'd had an opportunity to get a photo, but it wasn't in view long enough for me to activate my phone camera. As today is Veterans Day, I ought indeed take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all those who have served in our armed forces. You are, from this quarter, more than appreciated.

Sadly, come noontime, Ms. B.'s retreat, and our most enjoyable stay at Sun & Sand, came to an end. We did go out with a bang by having a fine lunch at LuLu's Restaurant in North Myrtle with Gerry and Bridget. On the way home, as one might guess, we stopped for a few last caches. Then, once back home, I wrote this little chronicle for posterity's sake.

Damn, that artsy-fartsy stuff is some kinda fun. Hey, Brugger, let's do it again. Tomorrow.
That's Russians out there, it's just gotta be.
Martian heat ray narrowly misses Ms. B. in a little graveyard, where we stopped to grab a cache.
Damned Martians.
Nighttime view from our twelfth-floor lodgings
Regency Towers on S. Ocean Blvd, where my family had a time-share condo for nearly 25 years

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