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My Beach trip

aka "If I had only known..."


As many of you already know, I was scheduled to go to the beach this last weekend (8/17/01). I was getting free room because the wife, child and I were going down to meet the group she sings with, the Good Samaritan Colony. For those who don't know, the Colony is a Christian drug rehabilitation group. Yep, you read that right the first time. Christians, drug abusers. What a combination. I had many fears and reservations before the time arrived, as you may have guessed. I was told that we had to attend the actual concert for two hours and that the rest of the time would be free. Yeah, right.

We were to meet some of the folks Friday 8/17/01 at 6:00 in McBee, SC. Since this is a minimum of a 1.5 hour trip, we made all preparations to be pulling out of our driveway by 4:30. I got off work an hour early, picked up Kathryn and made it home by 4:15. Five minutes later, I was packed and ready to go. Mrs. Martin decided that 4:30 was a good time to pick out a toy or ten for Ms. Martin to play with. I was very glad she did this after we arrived.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Sorry.

We left Rock Hill. We drove to Lancaster. There, Mrs. Martin felt she needed to sit down and eat instead of eating in the car. We were already behind, as I knew we would be, and I didn't put up a fuss. We ate at Wendy's. We left Lancaster. Mrs. Martin told me to get on a back road that led to Kershaw. She was sure that you could get to McBee faster that way. Ten minutes later, she was calling the folks we were to meet, asking where we were. They gave us directions through Kershaw, Bethune and finally to McBee. We arrived there at 7:00 or so. Only an hour behind schedule. I was surprised.

But wait, the lack of planning gets even better.

We walked in to their house, talked for a few minutes and then began to leave. I asked where we were going, they told me. Garden City beach, the Chapel by the Sea. Had I been forearmed with this information, we would have made our way there by  around 8:00 by ourselves. They then asked "Have you eaten?" Of course, we had, they had not. We followed them for a while, stopping at , you guessed it, Wendy's! They (an older woman, a middle aged woman, a 5 or 6 year old boy and a 3 year old girl) ate dinner, we ate frosties. We left Wendy's in the dark and only made one more pit stop before getting to the beach. With that many women, I thought it would be more. I was happy. We were finally at the beach. I had no clue what highway we had traveled on. I bemoaned the fates again when I realized that we were turning onto highway 17 NORTH of N. Myrtle Beach.


Basically, we had another hours drive before reaching our destination. It was 11: feakin 00 when we arrived. I was tired. I was not in a good mood. We arrived to see a bunch of people who had obviously been having fun all day without us. I later learned that play time was pretty much over for the weekend. I dragged bags up to the second floor of this large establishment to find that we were to stay in true dormitories. I also found out that we were supposed to bring things like bath towels, sheets, pillows, etc. There was no radio or TV, so I was glad we had bought some toys for Kathryn. If I had only known. Visions of pulling the credit card out and finding a hotel danced in my head. I was very tired however, and after finding a blanket and small pillow, I jumped onto the very lumpy bed the farthest away from the rest of the people in that room and fell asleep.

Saturday morning came in a blur. I heard and ignored several people getting up and moving around. Kim came in and woke me up around 8:00. I showered and dressed, then spent 10 minutes enjoying the sunshine and the view of the ocean from a rocking chair on the front porch. I should have stayed. We hit McDonalds for breakfast. We made a quick run to the beach store next door to get Kathryn some new 'swimmies'.We drove to the golf course where they were having the concert. Where was this course, you might ask? Well, of course it would be all the way up on the other end of north Myrtle Beach! Yep, an hours drive there.

Once there, we watched them complete lunch and setup. I mostly played with Kathryn. The concert was supposed to be at 1:00. The golfers didn't start coming in until 1:30 or so. Of course, so did the clouds, thunder and high winds. Great, just great. They performed their little 4 song concert and then gave out trophies for the golf tournament, then had a raffle. It was 4:00 before we left. It was 5:00 when we got back. Mrs. Martin had promised Ms. Martin that we would go water sliding. We stopped at a water park place, I moaned at the prices we were to pay for an hour and a half of fun. We were supposed to meet the bunch back at the dorm at 6:00 for a dinner run. I paid $38.50. The ticket printer broke. We were told it would be just a minute. Kim and Kathryn went to the girl's room to change. I acquired a locker. I then changed. We went back to check on the tickets. They still weren't printed. The girl finally actually called someone. I said we were going in with the receipt, she said we couldn't do that. Kim said "let's go". The guy finally came by, I told them I wanted my money back because we had been sitting there for close to thirty minutes now. He printed the tickets and handed them to me. I stuck my arm all the way in the little hole in the Plexiglas and said "Nope, please give me my money back now.". He did so. Getting our money back for our 15 minute locker rental took another supervisor and another five minutes. We then went back to the dorm. The gang was not back yet. We decided to hit the ocean while we had a chance. The storm was out to sea, but it made the surf rough. We played in the ocean for only about half an hour before we were all battered and sick of it. Well, Kathryn wasn't, but I was holding her. We went back, hit the showers and cleaned up. The rest of the folk were just getting back. Instead of Dinner, they decided to have a baptismal service in the ocean. We watched. Actually, there were three girls in bikinis playing nearby. I kept one eye on them, the other on Kathryn.

Finally having enough of the water, the group got together and headed to Murrell's Inlet for dinner. We went to some place I'll never go to again. We separated our parties, but were still charged a 15% gratuity for using their buffet. Bastards. We then went back to the dorm, I played with Kathryn for a while, then she and Kim went to bed. I decided that even though I was dead tired, this was probably going to be my only free time. I walked the two blocks to the arcades. The first one was full of shooting games I had never seen  before and several boating/kayaking/biking games. All cost at least$1 to play. No one was actually playing the games, the other patrons were crowded around the pool tables. There was enough smoke in the air to kill an elephant. None of the patrons looked over 13. No parental guidance was in evidence. The proprietor was selling them cigs. I left. I walked to the next arcade, played $2 worth of Tekken Tag. Fun game. I watched a half drunk and very cute young woman modeling herself in front of the funhouse mirrors. Her friends thought it was quite funny when she had her butt sticking out just 3 feet away from me. By this time I was visibly sizing her up. Everyone got a good laugh out of it. I walked back to the dorm and fell asleep on he world's lumpiest mattress.

Now before the wife went to sleep, the plan was laid out thusly; She would set her insulin pump to wake her up at 8:00 AM. If I was awoken before that and found that we needed to be up and around, I was supposed to go wake her up. Otherwise, she would wake me shortly after 8:00. Of course, it didn't quite work out this way. I remembered someone sticking his head into the dorm area and yelling 'Breakfast' once before closing the door. I did not know it at the time, but this was my wake up call. I was actually awoken at 10:00 by my wife and daughter who were standing by the bunk fully dressed. The message my upset wife relayed to me was basically 'you should have gotten up sooner, we are ready to go, you will just have to skip breakfast, I'm pissed, goodbye'. Great. I showered, went to some storefront church on Hwy 17 where the group of 27 of us quadrupled the normal congregation and sat through it with my stomach growling.

After the service, we went next door to Joe's place. Yep, we ate at Joe's. I had breakfast. We all had a lot of smoke from the mostly redneck looking crowd. We left. Food was pretty good, even if the servers were slow and inaccurate. We made our way back to the dorm. The head of the group said he was going to ask the facility manager if we could use the pool for a while. There is this nice Olympic size pool sitting there with a big fence around it.  After an hour of waiting , the doors were finally opened. I spent that hour helping the drug folks pack the vans and watched and gave advice on fixing one van that didn't look like it was going to make it home. Do you know the long bolt that holds the alternator on? It had maybe 2 threads left before it was going to fall of. Nasty, that.

Anyway, we swam for about an hour and a half. This was the most fun I had all weekend. Kathryn and I both love playing in the pool. We then dried off, changed clothes, finished packing the Honda for the trip, went to K&W for dinner and got home about 10:00 or so.


I've spent the rest of the week trying to catch up on my sleep.

If Kim wants to do this again next year, I know a few good places to stay that have comfortable beds, pools that are actually open, TV's, radios and privacy.