Lori has a large extended family, and this year, they decided to have a family reunion in Myrtle Beach, with off-season rates for lodging.
We flinched at flying, because of the cost and because of the madness of flying on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. (And Lori caviled at asking her new boss for time off then, so we would be leaving after she got out at noon on Wednesday.) So we drove down. But we had to finish packing before we could leave, so we got off around 2pm.
It was a long drive, so we sacrificed Roadfooding for places we could easily reach from the interstate. In Fayetteville, West Virginia, we stopped at Tudor's Biscuit World (my country ham biscuit was really pretty tasty). In the restaurant, we asked about a picture of an old billboard, and ended up with a long discussion with the fire chief of Fayetteville about the creepy story of how five of the Sodder's children disappeared in the Christmas eve fire. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5067563 has a reasonable summary and a picture of the billboard; other websites added more lurid and potentially dubious details.)
We stopped again near midnight at a Waffle House, where Lori had an undistinguished hamburger and I enjoyed the "all the way" hash browns. I found a bit of a second wind and managed to finish the drive to Myrtle Beach, arriving around 2:30 am.
We had a very nice suite; it had a room for each of the three couples, a reasonably complete kitchen, and a balcony looking out onto the beach.
Brunch at the Spring House, late enough that we had to plead for them to serve us breakfast food instead of the Thanksgiving menu. I think I had biscuits and gravy.
Took a walk on the beach. Of the beaches I've experienced firsthand (not all that many), this is one that conforms most to my mental image of beaches, with broad flat sand instead of big rocks.
Thanksgiving dinner was a buffet at Magnolia's, the restaurant associated with the hotel. By my judgment, about 20% of the items on the menu were good, and the rest fair. This is probably about what you can expect from a buffet.
We didn't manage to play for the family miniature golf championship at Lost Mine Miniature Golf until the evening. I shot a 51, six strokes above the winning score.
Les, Paul, and I went off to Wilmington, NC to tour the USS North Carolina Memorial. It's pretty impressive - it was essentially an industrial plant that could float and fire 16-inch shells 20 miles.
Dinner at Magnolia's again, because we could get the upstairs room again for karaoke and a crowd.
We joined a bunch of cousins for Wonderworks, which is more or less a for-profit science museum with even more of an emphasis on flash and glitz over building scientific appreciation. Coolest bits: the hurricane simulator, the ropes course (which gave me some alarming moments), and the family laser tag game.
One last big dinner at Bonefish Grill, a chain where I seemed least satisfied among all the family.
Played miniature golf with Lori and Paul at Mount Atlanticus miniature golf. It was a fun course, but I was disappointed not to encounter any moving hazards in either miniature golf game.
Started the drive back with breakfast at the Spring House. I had creamed chipped beef on toast (S.O.S.) for the first time, and enjoyed it.
Stopped at a roadside stand because they advertised boiled peanuts, a Southern specialty that I'd never tried. They tasted very leguminous, like very firm black-eyed peas.
Because we'd prioritized family over Roadfood for so many meals, I really wanted to find some Roadfood barbecue in North Carolina on our way back home. But I didn't call ahead, and so I got travelin-manned at Wink's King of Barbecue. Sunday in North Carolina is a bad time for barbecue—all these devout god-fearing pitmasters are very inconvenient for a barbecue-seeking sinner like me. We finally ended up at Hill's Lexington Barbecue, where the pork was pretty good but the chicken was so old and dry that Lori had to send it back.
Lori started to get sick on the way home, so I did about ten hours of the driving. It wasn't as bad as the late drive down, but I was eager to stop driving by the time we got home.