Posted on

Don’t Leave Myrtle Beach Without Visiting These Places

Fun things to in Myrtle Beach

Let’s take a look at some of the places that you definitely do not want to leave Myrtle Beach without first visiting!

Myrtle Beach Family Golf

When you want to go beyond the beach and engage in an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone, head over to Myrtle Beach Family Golf for a few hours of great fun. Here, you will find five miniature golf courses in themes that include Jungle Safari, Jurassic Golf, Dragon’s Lair, Shipwreck Island, and Captain Hook’s Adventure Golf. Fun characters add the special effects that are needed for a round of golf like you’ve never experienced before. You can head over to the driving range to fine-tune your golf skills or enjoy some time on any one of the courses.

Myrtle Beach Safari

The Myrtle Beach Safari is something that you won’t find just anywhere. Take the tour and see animals like Ramses the Cheetah, who moved to Myrtle Beach all the way from South Africa, Ahren the African Fish Eagle, who was rescued from Tanzania, Gibbons the Ape, who spent the first years of her life exploring the rainforest of Southeast Asia, and many more. You can even see tigers on your choice of a guided tour or safari. With over 130 animals to see, you can interact with many of them on this interactive experience. Come and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Myrtle Beach Water Sports

If you are feeling a little adventurous during your trip, consider checking out Myrtle Beach Water Sports. Family owned and operated for over 25 years, the owners go above and beyond to give everyone a personalized, memorable experience. You can try out jet skis, pontoon boats, a pirate cruise boat and more. Have some fun on the water while learning an activity that you’ve only dreamed of trying.

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

Have the time of your life as you stroll along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. Here, you will find so many things to do that you may not know where to start. Ride the Myrtle Beach Sky Wheel for a view that you must see to believe. Visit I Love Sugar, a truly unique candy store where you can find things like giant gummy bears and candy sushi. You’ll see fireworks shows, carnivals, and much more. Enjoy year-round festivals, or just sit, relax, and take everything in for a while as you immerse yourself in everything the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk has to offer.

The Asher Theater

Catch a show while you are in town at The Asher Theater in Myrtle Beach. With fun events held all year-round, there is always something spectacular going on there. This quaint theater is inviting for everyone and is truly a warm, one-of-a-kind experience.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

At Ripley’s Aquarium, you can enjoy amazing experiences such as sleeping with sharks, and getting up close and personal with stingrays. There are several can’t miss exhibits including the Rainbow Rock Experience, the Living Gallery, and the Pearl Harbor Experience. You can take a Glass Bottom Boat Adventure and even catch a live show while you are there. Make sure to bring your camera, because photographs are certainly encouraged. You will have the time of your life as you see two levels of aquatic life like frogs and lizards, spotted eagle rays, horseshoe crabs, and many more.

Blueberry’s Grill

When you are on vacation, it is worthwhile to make sure mealtimes are just as fun as the rest of the trip. That is exactly what you will find at Blueberry’s Grill, as you enjoy unique, made to order menu items in a casual, modern environment. Find food that you cannot find anywhere else. The menu has offerings such as Chicken and Waffles with Sugar Pears, Bananas Foster French Toast, the Hey Blueberry Omelet, and much more.

Simply Southern Smokehouse

Eat like a true Southerner when you visit Simply Southern Smokehouse. Make sure you arrive good and hungry because this establishment offers an all you can eat food experience that you don’t want to miss out on. This no-fuss restaurant is known for excellent home cooking, with items that include Southern favorites like Chicken and Dumplings, Sausage and Onions, Pork Chops, and more. Or, you can choose from the Specials Menu, with meals like Baked Spaghetti and Meatloaf and Smoked Ham and Fried Gizards. Save room for dessert, because you’ll find plenty of that as well.

Pier House Restaurant

You’ll definitely want to enjoy some fresh and local seafood while you are in Myrtle Beach, and Pier House Restaurant is the perfect place to do just that. As the name suggests, you will have your meal overlooking the 2nd Avenue Pier and the amazing views. Have a cocktail at the open-air bar, or sit on the patio and take it all in. Choose from a selection of delicious offerings that include Seaside Spinach Dip, a Georgetown Grouper Reuben, a Fried Seafood Platter, and much more.

Daddio’s Ice Cream

When you want to cool off with a sweet treat after a busy day sunbathing or on the go, Daddio’s Ice Cream has just what you need. You’ll find some of the freshest homemade ice cream in town. Have desserts such as sundaes, banana splits, and milkshakes. With over 20 flavors to choose from, you’ll want to come back time and time again so you can sample everything that Daddio’s has to offer.
Be sure to keep in mind that you can go beyond the sand and water when you plan a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There are many activities for everyone, so explore the town and have the vacation of a lifetime!
worldvia-email-subscribe-local700

Posted on

Traveler’s Guide to the Best Southern Festivals in America

Seafood boils, barbecue, jazz and blues, gumbo cook-offs and hillbilly hoopla thrill ears and tickle taste buds in America’s southern states. Here are a few Southern festivals to experience with the whole family.

Mardi Gras

Lake Charles, Lousiana

Everyone has heard of the traditional southern festival Mardi Gras in New Orleans. However, it has a reputation for being too crowded, crazy, and not always kid-friendly. For an alternative, drive over the Calcasieu River High Bridge to Lake Charles to take in the Mardi Gras parades and pageantry that look like they were transported from New Orleans to a more family-friendly location.
With more than 50 krewes, Lake Charles is second in the state for parade size. It has a rich tradition of krewes outdoing each other with royal courts, costumes, and floats. On Saturday, the Gumbo Cook-off showcases each krewe’s cherished gumbo recipe. This is followed by the Royal Krewe of Barkus parade with a hundred pups and dogs, some in carts, decorated and costumed, and competing for the Top Dog prize.
On Sunday, the Blue Dog Cafe serves up a brunch feast with live jazz. The Children’s Parade then begins at 3 p.m. with more than 50 floats, some elaborately decorated, others spruced up trucking rigs, showering children of all ages with coins, beads, stuffed animals, and other toys.
Monday’s Royal Gala is the only public access Mardi Gras gala in the U.S. For a five-dollar ticket anyone can see the spectacle of each krewe’s elaborately costumed royal court before they go on parade the next day. More families than dedicated party drinkers line the streets for the magnificent Mardi Gras parade.

Memphis in May International Festival

Memphis, Tennessee 

Memphis in May is a southern festival you cannot miss. Memphis, known as Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, celebrates music and food all month long. The major events include the following:

  • The Beal Street Music Festival is a rain or shine, four-stage event featuring more than 60 top musical acts. With music booming on-stage, beating in bars, and the sweet sounds of sax on street corners, it is a total immersion experience into American music. In homage to the city’s Blues heritage, the festival has a two-thousand seat blues tent for touring and emerging artists and an outdoor performance area that presents the sounds of today’s Delta.
  • The World Champion Barbecue Cooking Contest brings 230 pitmasters and their teams from more than 25 states and several foreign countries to smoke the town and tantalize taste buds from a park that runs along the Mississippi River.
  • The Great America River Run includes a half marathon and a 5K. The half marathon races, walks, jogs, and sprints along the river while 5K runners dash through the city. A massive post-race party includes food, drinks, and Memphis’ legendary music and barbecue.

National Shrimp Festival

Gulf Shores, Alabama

More than 250,000 seafood lovers converge on this gulf-side town in mid-October to sample shrimp and other seafood cooked every which way and served by restaurants and vendors on the Food Board Walk. At this southern festival you can see and sample the wares of 300 exhibitors offering everything from edibles to arts and crafts. Continuous music features major national recording acts as well as all the local favorites. The Children’s Activity Village lets kids turn their creative talents loose, and a sand castle competition is enjoyed by everyone on the beach. The event includes a 10K run/walk and a golf tournament.

Hillbilly Days

Pikeville, Kentucky

Highlighting Appalachian culture and all things hillbilly, this unique southern festival in mid-April includes hillbilly music, local food, a cornhole tournament, quilt show, and shenanigans. Parade jalopies and trucks look like they drove out of the Dust Bowl or a movie set for the Grapes of Wrath. Beauty queen contestants vie for the most tattered overalls and bushiest mustaches. Missing teeth get extra points.
More than 300 vendors man booths throughout the city showcasing their products and homemade items. This is your chance to sink your teeth into a deep-fried Twinkie and place your bet on an authentic pig drop. Carnival rides, games, and dancing to live music performed on three stages add to the energetic vibe of this celebration of an iconic American culture. Be sure to dress down– way down. Find your hillbilly name here. The funds raised support Shriners Children’s Hospital.

Lowcountry Oyster Festival

Charleston, South Carolina

Shuck ’em and suck ’em in January at the world’s largest oyster festival for your personal pleasure or in competition to see who can shuck and eat the most oysters. The event is held at the Boone Plantation, just outside of Charleston and presented by the Charleston Restaurant Association. It attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world who consume 80,000 pounds of oysters. The event includes live music, a food court showcasing local favorites, as well as a children’s area.
The plantation dates back to 1743, and the massive live oaks dripping with moss were planted about that time. The estate is one of America’s oldest working farms. Visit the plantation mansion and walk through the nine original slave cabins for new insights into Black history.

Atlanta Dogwood Festival

Atlanta, Georgia

In April, celebrate spring in Piedmont Park while the trees are in bloom and stirring their sweetness in the air. Enjoy art and craft exhibits, carnival rides, and plenty of food vendors serving tastes of the South. Local chefs offer samples and breweries offer sips and swigs so people can vote for their favorites. The International Stage hosts 300 amateur and professional performers. They will demonstrate music, martial arts, drumming and more from 20 countries and cultures, including Arabian and Far Eastern. Booths provide additional information about the various countries and some hands-on opportunities.
Each region of the U.S. has a distinct flavor to it, and so do their festivals. In the South, tea is sweet, seafood is prized, gumbo recipes are family treasures, and barbecue is a major food group. Southern hospitality is known worldwide, so expected to be greeted enthusiastically when you visit for a southern festival.
worldvia-email-subscribe-festivals700

Posted on

Insider’s Guide to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

South Carolina Beach

North Myrtle Beach is a town of 16,000 at the northern tip of the Grand Strand. It lacks the spring break vibe and lively boardwalk of Myrtle Beach and hovers beneath the vacation radar. But once discovered, it is seldom forgotten. The slower pace and fewer crowds of North Myrtle Beach make it a great vacation destination for families and for people who want to take it easy. It is also an upscale retirement haven: senior friendly and plenty of golf courses.
Like most small towns, their local gems are not splashed on billboards, but people familiar with North Myrtle Beach have shared with us their favorite places:

Discover Platt’s Seafood

1108 Sea Mountain Highway, North Myrtle Beach, open all day every day

Fishing tackle and bait are just the beginning for Platt’s customers. They sell all you need for coastal cooking including mixes for cheesy grits and hush puppies. With daily deliveries from local boats, they offer the freshest fish and shellfish around. Their crab cakes are nearly all crab with just enough filler to hold them together. Their housemade soups, chowders, and seafood salads are culinary delights, and their key lime pie has won awards. You can order your seafood prepared for the table or purchase it raw. The knowledgeable staff will tell you how to prepare it. Order their low country boil of shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob–and don’t forget a key lime pie for dessert.

710 Bowling and More

1105 Highway 17 South, North Myrtle Beach, opens 3 p.m. daily

You’ve waited all year for this beach vacation, and now it’s pouring. You are grumpy, the kids are fighting, and not everyone loves bowling. 710 is so much more than a clean, family-friendly bowling alley with a good restaurant and bar. Bocce, darts, table tennis, corn hole, and board games are free. Billiards and shuffleboard are $5 an hour. 710 has many coin-operated games The food is reasonable and tasty with a children’s menu and an entire page of Southern comfort food in addition to typical pub fare. Trivia Thursdays are popular, particularly when the weather is not cooperating.

Learn To do the Shag

North Myrtle Beach is the home of the shag, a partner dance often described as the jitterbug on quaaludes. Main Street bars such as Fat Harold’s offer free lessons, and live D.J.’s play the music to dance to. For the best shag shoes, the Shoe Center, 710 Highway 17 South, has fashionable shoes with soles that grip the dance floor so you won’t go spinning into the street — unless you are innovating a dance move that involves golf carts and pedestrians.

Enjoy a Festival

North Myrtle Beach’s main festivals are the fall Irish-Italian Festival, St. Patrick’s Day Festival and parade, and Mayfest, a kickoff to summer fun. These festivals rock with live music, local crafts, great food, and family-friendly fun. Instead of the parking nightmare of festivals in larger cities, North Myrtle Beach organizes free parking venues and shuttles to the festivals. Golf cart rides, some as short as three blocks from car to Main Street, add to the fun as friendly locals give warm Southern welcomes and free rides.
The Great Christmas Light Show features more than 2 million lights festively displayed along a 1.5 mile drive through North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex. Over 500 magical light displays, some up to 55 feet tall, are custom made for the show. Visitors experience 20 enchanting animated figures and holiday scenes where the lights come to life accompanied by music. After the light show, families enjoy hot chocolate and s’mores in Santa’s Village, tube down Santa’s 40-foot inflatable slide, and, of course, meet Santa.

Taste the Real Italy

The Grand Strand including North Myrtle Beach has a large selection of Italian restaurants that range from ho-hum chains to family owned and operated pizzerias. The best and most authentic is Rapone, 3303 Highway 17 South, North Myrtle Beach, an unassuming trattoria next to an ice cream shop. As in Italy, this is a neighborhood gathering place for pizza and Southern Italian cuisine made from family recipes brought by immigrants from the old country. Many ingredients are from Italy such as 00 flour, Marzano tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella. Pizzas are cooked in a traditional brick oven, and the limoncello is house-made.

Visit Little River

This little fishing village neighboring North Myrtle Beach has a quaint, little downtown, but its biggest attractions are two restaurants favored by residents of North Myrtle Beach. The Parson’s Table, 4305 McCorsley Avenue, Little River, dates back to 1865 when it was a church. Restoration work used wood from old barns and stained glass from old churches to form an intimate restaurant of several rooms. Staff will point out their one Tiffany glass. The catch of the day is always excellent, and their She Crab Soup is highly praised. Surf, turf, or Weiner Schnitzel, your meal is guaranteed delicious and the ambiance is enchanting.
Across the street from the Parson’s Table, The Brentwood Restaurant and Wine Bistro, 4269 Luck Avenue, Little River, is a renovated 1910 house with several dining rooms and a patio. In summer, you can enjoy a lobster boil and live music on the patio. Year round, the cuisine is Low Country French. The restaurant is haunted, and guests can sign up for a ghost tour after dinner.

Bring the dog

North Myrtle Beach is one of the most dog-friendly places in the U.S. Most restaurants with outdoor seating welcome Fido and most will supply a bowl of water even before you ask. Grocery and other large stores have no problem with shoppers putting dogs in their carts. Smaller stores are concerned only that the pet is leashed and well mannered. Dogs are welcomed on beaches; but during the summer season, they must be off the beach between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
North Myrtle Beach is an all-season getaway depending on your vacation aspirations. Beach walking, music, low country cuisine, golfing, and laid back activities are popular year-round. If swimming and tanning are your goals, May through October are the best months to visit.

Posted on

Southern Hospitality Rediscovered: Barbecue, Breakdowns, and the Unexpected

Southern Restaurant "Peace-N-Hominy"

Travelers well know the charms of iconic southern spots like Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans. Beyond the pages of the well photographed plantation homes and the gentile invitation of historic coastal row houses, I rediscover southern hospitality on a recent weekend getaway. In the process I realize that the south has many surprises to offer in unexpected places. Fear not, the south is living up to that famous saying, and then some.

A new baby nephew sparks the family to pile into the car and head from Atlanta to Charlotte, NC. Save a few glimpses of beautiful Lake Hartwell just across the Georgia-South Carolina border and numerous billboards promoting a burgeoning moonshine industry – yes, this is the south – the drive between Atlanta and Charlotte is largely unremarkable. The first sign that we are getting close was the Peachoid, a gigantic water tower that is both shaped and painted to look like an over-ripened peach.
We plug on, and eventually arrive to the outskirts of Charlotte where we are greeted by our family at their new home and set in to spend time with their new baby boy.
Babies are cute, and as the father of three girls I am fascinated to play with my three year old nephew (and his toys – sadly my girls aren’t into Iron Man) while my wife held the new little guy. With the new baby and all, we decide to order in. “Barbecue? I’m asked by my sister-in-law. Um, Yes, please! It isn’t a grand to do, nor a special search for the best barbecue in North Carolina. We just seek out the nearest local barbecue joint – and those are just the kind where you can discover something unexpected.

Peace N’ Hominy

My brother-in-law and I head to pick up the order from Peace N’ Hominy, where they describe their love of barbecue as “the peaceful coexistence of all bbq and corn, be it hominy, maize or grits,” a clear tout to their corn bread, creamed corn and cheesy grits. Here I discover the first great surprise of the overnight trip. Barbecue, generally speaking, is a culinary conundrum. Styles and variations pervade this great country from east to west and each has their own signatures that should not only be appreciated, but outright honored. North Carolina’s take on southern barbecue, has two predominant styles: Eastern style and Lexington style. True to their name, Peace N’ Hominy throws the rule book in the smoker, and pursues fantastic flavor, the rules be damned.
In the world of southern barbecue, preparation, cooking style, and serving are each, on their own, relatively straight-forward (although not easy to execute). Taken together though, they present a challenge that can only be conquered by someone who’s earned the pitmaster title through years of blood, sweat and smoke. The quality of the ingredients used is paramount to good southern barbecue and their absence can be detected, even by a novice, more so than almost any other style of cooking. Fortunately, Peace N’ Hominy has us covered.
We arrive to Peace N’ Hominy, an unassuming little building with patrons buzzing about (a good sign to be sure). We walk in the rear entrance, a little back porch offering a spot in the shade with a few small tables. Maybe on my next visit during the fall, I think. Making our way inside, the small interior is full and we saunter up to the counter to secure our order. After the usual pleasantries, payment, and a brief exchange inquiring about an extra side of hot barbecue sauce, we thank them and are stopped by a young man as we turn for the car.
Nevermind that we’re two capable, grown men, he informs us that he will carry our takeout box to the car, no, he insists. While walking to the car we explain that we really can carry the box, that it is an unnecessary jesture. We are quickly informed that their policy is both clear and strict – customers with large take out orders are to be helped to car. There is no room for interpretation. We thank him again and I can’t help but wonder if this would happen back home in Atlanta. Sure, Atlanta is still most certainly the south, but it is increasingly an international city (mostly for the good). While there are pockets of old southern charm, it isn’t something you encounter everywhere you go. This experience at Peace N’ Hominy is the south – and I like it.
We make the quick drive home, the smell from the backseat taunts us to press the pedal a little faster. Into the house and a quick impromptu buffet setup later, it is time. The amazing spread is anchored by pulled pork and carved brisket (that’s beef for those of you in Bar Harbor), smoked in a blend of apple and hickory wood. The mains are surrounded by a heart-stopping assortment of side dishes: creamed corn, 6 cheese mac & cheese (um, for the kids, just for the kids), an additional style of chili-mac, because in the south one mac & cheese just won’t do, bourbon beans, and crowned with a pan of corn bread and rolls.

The Peace

The pulled pork is well prepared and very good. Though, in a head-to-head battle, the carved brisket delivers a knock out and takes home the title. The flavor of the bourbon beans oozes with brown sugar molasses and pork. The contents of my plate begin to intermingle as the meal moves on and the brisket, beans and the sauce unite in an exceptional song of southern barbecue goodness.

The Hominy

I like corn bread, sure. It isn’t a food that I would normally write about though. This cornbread, however, makes we wonder if Aunt Bea from Mayberry might have been squirreled away in that kitchen (interesting note: the real town of “Mayberry” made famous by the Andy Griffith Show is located a little more than an hour up the road in nearby Mount Airy, NC). Sweet, not overly dense, and full of real corn flavor, it is a great execution of an old favorite. So skip the rolls and go straight for the corn bread.

The Southern Barbecue Surprise

The big surprise of the meal is the chili mac & cheese. My brother-in-law insists we try it and I oblige. I’ve had chili mac before mind you, and it has never been my cup of tea. Like Jack Nicholson’s show-stealing performance over lead actor Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, this side dish, turn superstar, takes the spotlight. No kidney beans or thick tomato sauce here, this is more aptly titled Beef Mac. The ground beef is beautifully minced with a wonderful blend of spices, and just a hint of heat, then chunks are slightly layered into the mac & cheese. Enough to get a good bite of the beef, but not enough to overpower the penne-style noodle. It is simply fantastic.
To a purist, the spread from Peace N’Hominy isn’t traditional carolina southern barbecue, but I am never one to get caught up in rules and formality, and besides, this sure is darn good barbecue.
One evening in, a few great southern barbecue surprises, delightful southern hospitality, and a sleeping baby. This is shaping up to be a great weekend.

The Peachoid

We wake to a nice breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls, bacon and Davis Special (a simple traditional family recipe from my wife’s side of the family consisting of pan-friend sausage and scrambled eggs that undoubtedly goes by a thousand different names in a thousand different families, but is nevertheless tasty). We spend the morning with the kids at the pool, sit and talk some more, then pack into the ol’ family truckster around noon to head back to Atlanta for work on Monday.
Remember the big Peach-looking water tower?
Apparently the kids didn’t get enough to eat at breakfast, and okay, I am hungry again too, so we stop about an hour into our drive back for lunch at a chain restaurant that sat underneath the Peachoid. We put the car into park, and well, it doesn’t park. The car is stuck in gear and the gear shifter just flops around (if this is happening to you right now, it is a broken shifter cable, yes, that’s a thing). Making this doubly frustrating, we had this exact problem repaired in Atlanta just three days earlier. On the verge of a hangry group, we decide to put the parking break on, turn off  the engine and head in for lunch. We’ll sort it out while we grab a bite.

Gaffney, SC

The small town of Gaffney, SC sits about half way between Charlotte, NC and Greenville, SC. Not to be the condescending city folk type, but there isn’t a lot going on in Gaffney, especially on Sunday. We walk into the restaurant with limited expectations, just glad to be in the air conditioning, and inform them of our car trouble. The manager greets us genuinely, and warmly, assuring us it is no problem, that we should come on in and sit down. Our minds race with worries of rescheduled appointments, canceled kids’ activities, and figuring out how to get our car fixed and it and us both back home. The manager’s gentleness helps to diffuse the stress of the situation.
We sit down and our server picks up where the manager left off, bringing us some cool drinks with a warm smile. We order and begin to make phone calls. First, the repair shop in Atlanta explains that they can’t do anything about their shoddy work unless we get the car back to them. Unfortunately, that is 180 miles away. We quickly discover that in Gaffney, SC very little is open on Sunday.

Meet Warren, Southern Hospitality Personified

My wife connects with the owner of a local repair shop, Warren, who can’t help us at the moment (because it is Sunday, and they are closed, and he is about to into a movie with his family – and we remember why all businesses used to be closed on Sunday). Warren gives us the name of a towing service that can take the vehicle to his shop and promises to check back in with us in a few hours to make sure everything is worked out. We aren’t interested in a local tow, we need to get the car to Atlanta (so the local mechanic can fix his errors). We call the towing service, who again, is very kind, but unable to tow it that far. They give us another name and we call. They’re open, but it sounds pretty clear that they don’t have full staff on Sunday. A 180 mile tow job would be a stretch. They kindly ask if they can check with their staff to find a driver and call us back. Pinned down like Davy Crockett at the Alamo, but resigned to get home, we have little choice but to agree and hope that we fare better than Davy.

Edward To The Rescue

A short while later we receive a call back. Edward, the owner of the tow service would make the trip and get us home, personally. Relief, we’d be late, but we’d get home tonight, much to the childrens’ disappointment who thought that a night in a hotel sounded like a great adventure. Note: To be fair, my 13 year old daughter wanted absolutely nothing to do with us or another night away from home and her laptop.
We enjoy our lunch and the great service and conclude just as Edward pulls into the lot with his honking big F-450 flat bed tow truck. The rescue is here. Introductions complete, Edward positions the truck as we explain that the car is stuck in gear. After a few head scratches he simply says “well… they didn’t tell me that.” Uh oh. Long story short, this throwback to a time when men were men puts his body on the line to manually disengage the gear under the car while I stand on the brakes. He states without emotion, “the worst that will happen is that it will roll over my arm.” This is insanity. My wife is near panicked at the thought of him being crushed. We all pray the car doesn’t roll down the slope of the parking lot, crushing Edward, once the gear is released.
The breaks hold. Once he is free from the undercarriage, I slowly guide the car, rolling backwards to line it up with the tow truck bed.

We all cram into Edward’s hulk of a truck and say goodbye to the Peachoid, the odd peach water tower landmark that many have passed, but few have actually sat underneath (for several hours). Wanting a bit more space for the family to make the drive home, we plan to stop at the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport about 35 miles down the road where a rental car is hopefully waiting for us (again, nothing open on Sunday in Gaffney). Barreling down I-85 in Edward’s black beast, the smell of Marlboro 100’s is thickly fused into the upholstery. While brave, and courteous, Edward wasn’t much for conversation, simply responding to my wife’s curiosities with a polite Yes, Ma’am or No, Ma’am.

The Wizarding World of Car Rentals?

Normally, the prospect of going to the airport to pick up a rental car ranks somewhere between a root canal and watching your wife try on clothes. You have to do it, but you aren’t going to like it. I’m sure this will be an hour long exercise in frustration. Yet another surprise – this airport isn’t a nightmare – at all. A lovely tree-lined drive that easily, and without fanfare, brings you to the terminal building marks the approach to Greenville-Spartanburg Airport. We approach the terminal and I jump down (literally) from the massive truck and head into the parking garage to find the rental car counters while my wife settles up some payment details with Edward. The distance from where I launch myself from Edward’s truck to the rental car counter is about a 40 second walk. Wow, that was easy.
I approach the Enterprise Car Rental counter and Drew, the Manager, offers a friendly welcome.  Drew pulls up my reservation as I share some of our misfortunes, thankful a vehicle is available on such short notice. As if a graduate from a some mysterious school of wizardry and manners, Drew couldn’t be nicer or more engaging. Sometimes, plain old friendliness, is the hallmark of southern hospitality. He lists a few vehicle choices that he can make available to me for the same rate, and one sparks my interest. Yet another surprise. He happily and efficiently completes the rental and directs us to our vehicle – a Ford F-150. Awesome, I’ve always wanted a pick up truck, but have never bought one. The day is finally looking up. Our car is being towed home and I’m sitting in big, bad, slightly jacked up pick-up!

Southern Hospitality In Action

We cruise down I-85 in our sweet pickup (that is surprisingly smooth) and meander through town towards home. The phone rings, uh oh. Phew, it’s one of my daughter’s friends asking if our car is on a tow truck. Good, Edward still has it! Just as we turn onto our street the phone rings again and my stomach sinks a touch. My wife answers and it is Warren, his trip to the movies with his family no finished. He wants to check back in to make sure everything is under control. We thank him for the follow-up and assure him all is now well.
We make it. The family piles out of the Ford and into the house, the welcoming sound of barking dogs signal the road trip is complete. Just as we begin to settle in, Edward pulls up to the house. As he lowers the car into the drive, we offer thanks for the bad day that turned into one full of good surprises .
Southern barbecue, southern hospitality and two kick-butt trucks. I do love the south. If you are ever rolling down I-85 between Charlotte and Atlanta, I recommend a visit to Gaffney, SC, even for a quick bite, to enjoy what southern hospitality looks like in the real world.