Ray Battiston, Canadian Travel Medical Insurance Broker visits Myrtle Beach,  and the Grand Strand, South Carolina

Travel Insurance for Canadians and Visitors to Canada

An Outsider's Tourist Guide to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Planning a visit to the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina or the  Grand Stand?  We just visited for the first time in early March, 2001. Come along with my wife and me as we drive south (and back).  I have tips, suggestions and ideas for you. Many of the attractions, restaurants, and sights are "linked" so you can get more information.  Just click the Link you are interested in and if this page has been helpful to you,  please bookmark it or e mail it to a friend.

Myrtle Beach has been welcoming tourists for  years.  If you are either a Golfer or a shopper, seafood fan, or just walk on the beach, you will truly enjoy your trip. The "Grand Strand is 60 miles of wonderful clean beaches with a number of towns located on it. Something like 2000 restaurants (honest), and some of the largest shopping outlets on the East Coast.

Our Mar 3- 11, 2001 Road Trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Our trip was scheduled 9 days. According to CAA/AAA it looked like it  would take two full days of hard driving. The trip back actually measure 1,839 kms or 1,142 miles. There were a number of routes which could take, but CAA/AAA recommended Hwy 11 south to Toronto, onto QEW, crossing over at Fort Erie; West on I 90 and south on I 79, which eventually runs into Hwy 19, then onto I 77, finally crossing over East at Charlotte to Myrtle Beach.  More about this later!

We left North Bay, Ontario  at 8:15 am Saturday March 3, 2001 on a bright sunny cold day, (9 Degrees F) driving south on Highway 11 towards Toronto.  At 1:50 pm we crossed the  Fort Erie bridge (US Border). Getting low on gas, we made a pit stop at the Angola New York overpass at 2:40.  An interesting stop, you can cross right over I 90 on a covered foot over pass.  There is  a Mobil  service station outlet on each side the of the divided interstate, and also a good sized food court and small gift store.  We purchased some New York Lottery tickets and then headed back out again.  (Checking the internet later when we got home I discovered we lost again, but hey, what can you do with $6,000,000 US anyway?)

There are three Cracker Barrel restaurants along this stretch of the I 90, in fact the first one is just over the US border and you can easily miss it.  We decided to stop at the second Cracker Barrel in Jamestown at 3:35 pm. The third one is located in Erie, PA.  If you read my Cape Cod tourist guide, you'll know that I can't say enough about Cracker Barrel.  If you've been in one, you'll find that every one looks the same, with minor variations in stock.  A great country store in the front with Rockers (big and small) on the porch for sale.  Inside the store you will find  a wide selection of gifts, kitchen ware, dolls, kids toys, nut and syrup items, candies, jarred and canned goods, Sweat and T Shirts, sweaters,  caps, etc. Each store will have similiar items but different enough that's it worthwhile just to stop at any Cracker Barrel  to browse the Store.

Then you'll get to the restaurant. .  If you're hungry, it's best to go straight to the restaurant and then check out the store later.  Because if you're not alert, one or more buses may pull in and all of a sudden you've got a long line up, waiting to get seated. However, even if you do have to wait, it's well worth it.  There is a huge selection of breakfast, lunch and supper choices with a wide variation in prices. Matter of fact, it can be hard to choose just what you want to eat.  One good idea is to pick up a breakfast and lunch menu (they're separate) and peruse them while you're on the road. I'm assuming your "navigator" will be doing the reading for you, and you can zero in more quickly on what type of meal you can look forward too.

Cracker Barrel loves to sell a big breakfast special, the only problem being you'll actually end up with two breakfast portions.   Which is fine if you can really eat it.  For instance on our trip we saw the following advertised (and delivered to another table): A Blackberry Pancake Sampler- two (large) buttermilk  pancakes, with blackberry sauce and real whipped cream. Two eggs, a portion of ham, sausage and bacon, choice of fried apples or hash brown casserole for $5.99 US.  A 20 oz size of Orange Juice was $1.99 and coffee was $1.19.  I might add there was a disproportionate number  of very large people- in the 250-300 lb range who were ordering these types of meals.

I ordered the baked ham sandwich for me, and the turkey sandwich for  my wife.  On lightly toasted sourdough bread, these sandwiches are great!  Cracker Barrel is well known for it's Sugar Cured Ham.  Try it, you'll enjoy it too!

Back on the road again we reached the Pennsylvania border at 4.22 PM and Erie, PA at 4;54 PM where we exited onto I 79. The driving was fine, the temperature was increasing. It had reached 35 degrees F.  However we had heard on the news prior to our departure there was a cold front coming in from Canada and warm front heading north from Florida and there were warnings of  "the storm of the century" coming with as much as two feet of snow in some areas of the North East, including bad weather as far south as Richmond Virginia and heavy heavy rain forecast for Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday afternoon. We had a quick stop, and then reached the Virginia Welcome Center at 7:50 pm.  The temperature has increased to 37 degrees.

By this time we had already picked up the Interstate Motel Discount Coupon magazines and were planning a stop at the Day's Inn at 228 Middletown Rd. Fairmont, West Virginia. I spotted the exit sign and got off I 79 ok, however I managed to miss the turn sign and took a scenic trip into town which added about 20 minutes or so there and back to the correct turn.  As soon as I got back close to the Interstate I noticed the Day's Inn sign where I should have turned. So I guess we can say we ended the days trip at 8;30 PM.  Like I said a hard days driving of  990 kms or about 615 miles. At this time of night we were pretty tired and simply had some juice and fruit in our room.

This Day's Inn was quiet, however the housekeeping was very lacking.  It needed a good cleaning. The room was $45.78 US or $71.34 Canadian at the special Interstate Discount Coupon booklet rate.

Sunday March 4, 2001

Up early in the morning, we awoke to cool wet weather with an outside temperature of 39 degrees F.  This Day's Inn advertised a "Continental Breakfast".  The office was quite neat, and had a small eating area.  I was impressed as there was a selection of cereal, coffee, tea, Orange Juice, cinnamon buns and fresh apples.  We enjoyed a light breakfast and picked up a couple of apples to take with us. We quickly packed up our belongings from our room, checked out, filled up our tank at the Sunoco station for $1.439 per gallon and left at 7:30 AM.

Warning: Speed traps on Highway 19, West Virginia!

70 mph legally in West Virginia. Except for the speed traps! Which we'll soon get to.  Although the coffee was nice, it soon necessitated  a  Rest Stop at 8:25.  At 8:56 AM we reached the junction of Highway 19.  And this is where you really have to watch yourself, both north  and south of Summersville.  Remember you were blithely driving along at 70 or even 80 or more in the 70 zone.  But  now, you're going to go through various zones of 60, 55 and even less on roads that were designed for much higher speeds.  Having been "caught" in this speed trap before driving 66 in a 55 zone headed north to Canada over  four years previously, I was being very careful to watch the speeds signs and adjust my speed accordingly. In fact, so much so, that in much of this driving I was "legal" all the way.  However three young girls in a compact car driving beside us weren't as careful. They took off very quickly from a stop light.  The driver didn't even see the new unmarked white police cruiser take off behind her in hot pursuit.  She must have really built up the speed because all of a sudden she was gone, and further up the road over the crest of a hill, pulled over by the friendly local police department.  And ahead of her another new white unmarked Police SUV had pulled over a truck.

Now here is how these speed traps work:   The first tip off should be if you are lucky enough to be warned.  In this area there are plain sign warnings: "Speed Strictly Enforced" or "Radar enforced".  Next keep a look out for the Police. They drive white unmarked sedans  and SUV's.  Why do you think they are unmarked?  Then the speed zone drops like a rock.  You better too.  Just going with the flow won't protect you either.  At times a whole row of cars may be pulled over.  Or just the Out of State plated vehicles since they are not likely to contest the ticket.  You can also research the Net for these speed traps. Highway 19 is one of the famous ones.  Matter of fact when I looked it up (just type "speed traps, radar enforcement, etc into your browser) I read one article that estimated $8,000,000 US or more annually  in speeding fines were levied in this area. That's a heck of a lot of tickets, and the average one is about $117. US.  So you've been warned.  If you have to speed, don't do it in this area!

Our slow little trip along Highway 19 ended at 10:12 am when we reached Beckley, or about a hour and 16 minutes drive time. We stopped in the Beckley Cracker Barrel,  walked around a little, but the restaurant had a pretty good line up, and we decided to stop and eat at the next one at Exit 9 in Princeton about 35 miles farther south.

We drove through the big mountain  tunnel and crossed the North Carolina border at 12:00 noon. We reached Charlotte at 3:11 pm, and exited Highway 74, headed South East to Myrtle Beach. We were amazed at the clusters of large auto dealers- Arnold Palmer Cadillac, Mercedes, BMW, Saab, Volvo, Ford, GM, etc. in the Charlotte area.  They seemed to be on every block.

 Now the real tedious part of the trip begins. Stop and go traffic, city and small town traffic and lots of exiting.  From 74 we exited on 52 South, then 9, then 38 south and finally 501 South. Rather excruciating at the end of the day, and finally arriving at our Hotel- Day's Inn on the Oceanfront at 21st. and North Ocean Blvd at 7:12 PM.  Another full day. 869 kms or about 540 miles. (Check out the alternative routes at the end of this article).

We had pre booked our Hotel from North Bay and I had reserved an Ocean Front room.  I checked ourselves in at the front desk and was assigned an efficiency on the 4th floor.  The current temperature was 52 Degrees which wasn't bad for a night temperature this early in the season.  In fact it was quite comfortable.  It was breezy and although I wanted to walk down to the beach I was outranked and advised I could do that tomorrow.  The surf was quite loud and due to the lights form the high rise hotels, fairly bright on the beach.

We hadn't had supper and I asked the desk clerk where a nice simple restaurant was.  She suggested the "Bumz Beach Cafe" which was only a few doors down the street,  beach side.  An awful name, but a delightful little spot. This was a fairly small one story restaurant which was was quite neat, with large picture windows and a deck, surfside.  Since it was 8:00 pm, we were eating inside.  There were only about a half dozen other dinners, having a liquid supper at the bar.  I chose the Grouper sandwich (blackened) and Marion had a Philly sandwich.  I ordered a draft and Marion had a coffee. $19.76 US plus tip. The food was excellent and we planned to go back.

It seemed there were as many sporting clothes stores as restaurants-names likes Wings, Bargain, Surf, etc.  Since a few were only a block from our hotel we stopped in one and I picked up a nice beige sweat shirt, with a collar and zipper. Mid way through our trip I learned you're not supposed to pay the actual price listed on these clothes, but instead bargain the retailer down.  One friendly store owner even offered "if you see anything you like and don't like the price, just ask me".  However some of the prices are pretty good to start with, but if you enjoy bargaining, go ahead.

Monday, March 5 2001  Sunny, windy and 57 degrees!

Up bright and early to a gorgeous day, we took a little stroll on the Beach.  Too cold to stick a toe in the ocean, but warm enough to walk by the surf.  Very small sea shells littered the beach.  A few other walkers out early as well.

I went down to the Hotel office and picked up a couple of coffees, miniature muffins and a cinnamin roll.  No juice. "Not in season yet".  Funny,  I can get orange juice  back home, even in winter.  So the "Continental Breakfast" was a big disappointment again.  Note to Ray: Find out what a Continental breakfast means when reserving room.

We decided to check out some of the shopping areas.  Driving in through Conway, yesterday,  we had noticed a lawn ornament business and were on the look out for a replacement deer and fawn which had been stolen from our front steps while on vacation in Cape Cod the previous year.  We made that shop our first stop, and found some deers, but they weren't anything like our original ones.  We had found out after the theft that the concrete deers were made in Massachucetts, which was pretty ironic as we could have probably bought a spare set when we were down there.  However we hadn't planned their theft while we were away.  And the darn thing was they were over ten years old, purchased in Florida by us, given to my in laws, and then given back to us when they sold their Florida mobile home.  So we decided to keep looking but never found ones we liked.

Onto   Myrtle Beach Factory Outlet on 501.  What a big place.  The down side was  all outdoor entrances, which would have been fine in warm weather, but there was a cold wind blowing.

We also stopped at Dicks Pawn Shop on 501. The old computer equipment was greatly over priced.  The collection of semi automatics, revolvers, rifles  and even an AK 47 were pretty frightening.  Lots of jewellery and Rolex watches to look at too.  Interesting store.

Back on Hwy 17 in Myrtle Beach we stopped at Grandmas' Kitchen for a buffet lunch.  The old guy at the front cash register was busy on the phone and didn't  acknowledge us.  The food was ok, the fish good, but the surroundings were fairly scruffy, and this one was de listed from a repeat visit. The bill was only $13.00 plus tip (US).

Back to the hotel and another long walk on the beach.  We walked over to the Pier 14 Restaurant  (yes it is on the pier, one of many piers along the beach.) A combination bar, restaurant we decided to have a beer and check the menu for a possible return for dinner.  Very nice surroundings plus a nice little gift store on the premises with jackets, sweaters, t shirts etc.  We decided to come back later for supper.

Heading back to our hotel room I caught a catnap for about an hour and one half.  After all this is a holiday.

Walking out to the beach again, we headed south towards Pier 14, stopping in at the Gau Dolphin. Now I better explain this one. It was not a gay bar, not that there's anything wrong with that, but being husband and wife, not husband and husband, or wife and wife we prefer heterosexual bars and restaurants. After all there's nothing wrong with that. The Gay Dolphin is in fact a gift store or rather a series of gift stores, all under the same roof.  You name it, you'll probably find it in there and it's quite interesting. It was highly advertised on the local TV stations as were many of the other attractions and restaurants.

Due to my catnap, and our side trip, we missed getting a window seat at Pier 14 for supper, but we were only one row over and still had a good view of the ocean and beaches.  We had pretty much decided to order the Lobster Tail at $14.95 each (US), and it was a good decision. Excellently cooked, I told myself not to worry about the Exchange rate and just enjoy the meal, which I did. Adding tip and taxes this meal would work out to $37.14 US or about $59.50 Canadian for the two of us.  And that was only with ice water and no appitizers.

Unfortunately, South Carolina restaurants have not heard of "no smoking" areas, and this we really missed.  Cape Cod is way ahead of them in this area.  I think Cape Cod  had a no smoking policy in all their restaurants.

Tuesday March 6, 2001  Sunny, windy and 47 F degrees

Yikes, it's cool this morning! No sun bathing on the beach today either.  And golfers would probably have to wear gloves. However, we're headed to Waccamaw Factory Outlet, right on Hwy 501, just over the Inter coastal Waterway. Basically comprising four separate indoor malls, this place has everything.  I've already called my friend Bud, who's also from North Bay, visiting Myrtle Beach to set up a date for supper with ourselves and Bud and his wife Joyce.  It's ironic that we not only spot Bud's car in the parking lot, but we also bump into Joyce as she's waiting at an entrance door for Bud to bring the car around.  Bud's taken the same route south as we did, but the day before our trip, and  we've managed to book adjacent hotels, ours at the Days Inn and theirs at The Breakers.

Being on the lookout for a small luggage bag we stop at the Samsonite Factory Outlet Store.  We find a small one similiar to our existing set, purchase it for $58.00 US, and Marion finds a bargain, a Buxton wallet at $8.00 US.

Feeling a little famished we stop at one of the food courts which is almost deserted and pick up one large Pizza slice and drinks and split the slice.  One of our lower priced lunches at $6.25 US. Walking on solid concrete really gets to you after a while, and we feel relieved when we decide to call it a shopping day and head out.

We  walk over to the Breakers for before dinner drinks with Bud and Joyce and then Bud chauffiuers us all to supper. Bud's found a nice Italian restaurant, about a mile south of our hotel on the main drag: Romana Villa Restaurant. The surroundings are quite pleasant. The wait staff very attentive.  There's even an accordian player who comes in later.  However we'll miss "Mother", the matriach of the family who usually visits the dinners to see how they are doing. The special is spaghetti and meatballs, salad, rolls, and wine and it's an excellent choice.  The bill was $67.46 US for four ($107.93 Cdn) Bud tells me it's my turn to pick the restaurant tomorrow night.

Wednesday March 7 2001  Sunny, Windy and 54 F!

The day is certainly looking nice.  As we have an efficiency unit, we start off our morning with a fresh glass of Tropicana orange juice and cereal in our room, sitting by the front balcony (not on the balcony -too cold right now), watching and listening to the surf. The only down side to the efficiency is that the large 15 cubic foot fridge, although it appears almost new and is spotlessly clean, makes a fair amount of noise at night. Little did we know that the fridge will be the least of our problems late at night.  I'm also wondering why the wall paper is missing and peeling over the kitchen counter, then I realize there used to be a microwave bolted in there, but it's not now.  Maybe someone took it. Hopefully not the guest before me.

Another long walk on the beach.  There's a new high rise condo being built just to the south of our Days' Inn. However this time of year, there's a pretty limited number of other walkers out.  Although some sun bathers will come out later in the morning. This section of the beach is all commercial buildings- hotels, motels and restaurants. Further south or north, you'll find more residential areas mixed in with the commercial ones. Some of the designs are quite interesting.

Myrtle Square Mall is located not too far from our hotel at 2501 N Kings Highway. Their anchor stores are Belk, Sears and Peebles. Another good shopping area to visit. We find a couple of nice Nike baseball caps for our son Kipp at Champs Sports.

Krispy Kreme Donuts Alert

Walking and shopping is a sure way to make you hungry.  I had  heard different stories about Krispy Kreme Donuts. All good. Matter of fact, most of them sounded like they came from Over Eaters Annonymous.  Marion had never heard about the chain, but I had noticed one right on Highway 17 (Kings Hwy) not too far from our Days Inn.  So I suggested we should stop there.  Actually I was going to stop there anyway,  I thought "suggesting" would be the polite thing to do. We pulled into the lot, looked over the counter and I spotted glazed raspberry filled donuts right away. I said that's what I'll get.  Marion agreed and we both ordered a donut and coffee.  Sure we were hungry by this time. We agreed these donuts were the best we've ever eaten, anywhere. The Tim Horton Donut Chain back  in Canada may start to shake, as Krispy Kreme is supposed to be  headed north of the border..  Fortunately for Tim Horton's, we found the Krispy Kreme coffee to be ok, and not as good as Hortons'. After we got back home Marion saw Donny Osmond on a TV talk show and he said he had bought a whole box of Krispy Kremes and eat them all. At one seating. We only had one donut, honest!

Walmart Superstore Highway 501

The day being still young, we had previously spotted Walmart and decided to check it out. Superstore was a good description. We had what we thought was a big Walmart store back home, aren't they all?  But this one was huge. Even a grocery store on the premises.  We ended up buying some fresh grapefruit (was it ever!), apples and single serving fruit cocktail.  Over in the toy section we found some nice little Matchbox vehicles that our grandson Connor, age 2, is crazy about. It used to be Canadians would buy a ton of stuff in the U.S. as the prices, even with exchange were much lower.  That's not the case now, and we had previously discovered many items, including food was much more expensive in the U.S. Computers can be cheaper in Canada. Video cameras can be much cheaper in the U.S. Hard liquor is cheaper in the U.S.  Wine is cheaper in Canada and you can enjoy a low cost Canadian wine, but a cheap US wine will taste like swill.

Back in town we stop at one of the local Chamber of Commerce buildings (there are a few) and purchase a good city map.  Then it's off again, driving down Highway 17 and stopping at more  tourist traps. After, we head back to the hotel,  take a walk out on the beach again before supper.

Back at the Days Inn, we notice there's actually sunbathers on the beach.  What a strange combination I think: sunburn and pnuemonia!  Actually once you get away from the high rises, the wind velocity decreases somewhat and with the sun shining, it's quite nice.  Another walk on the beach is declined by the Boss.  Her turn to rest.  I put on my shorts and short sleeve shirt just in case this is the last chance to wear them and decide to head down the beach to Pier 14 again.  I had purchased a nice embossed  cotton sweatshirt for $13.00 on Monday.  On special as it was a second.  I had asked the clerk why, he replied "something wrong with the logo". I couldn't see anything wrong at all.  It took me some time to find out the logo was just slightly tilted. However if you were not looking for it, you wouldn't notice , so I decided I should get another one, since I liked them and the original price was $25.00.  Ok, I decided I liked the price, but they were 100% cotton.  Anyway, I was in luck and found a green one in my size, to match my other blue selection. This time the clerk added .65 sales tax so it came to a whopping $13.64.  And there were still more "off" sweatshirts left.

Planet Hollywood here we come.

Never been to a Planet Hollywood before.  And it was my turn to pick a restaurant for me, my wife, and Bud and his wife for supper.  I had heard the food there was pretty expensive, but it sounded like an interesting place.  Tons of actual movie props and clothing.  So our guests buzzed us at 5.00 and we headed out this time with me as the chaffauer. The restaurant is easy to find, right across the road from the Hard Rock Cafe and Broadway by the Beach.  However the parking lot was nearly deserted.  We wondered if it was even closed and weren't sure which door to go in (up the stairs or at street level).  We chose up the stairs as people were coming out there.  It turned out the street level entrance led into the gift store, which in turn led directly into the restaurant.

We were greeted warmly, and seated right underneath  the Porsche Speedster driven by Luke Perry in the TV series 90210. Never watched the series, but I was assuming they had taken the engine and any other heavy part out of the car and were using really strong wires to hold it up.  I was feeling a little paranoid until both Bud and the wives mentioned their unease at our seating arrangements, and they didn't believe the waiter either when he said "Don't worry, it'll never fall down".  So we simply moved  to another "clear" table,  much to the surprise of the waiter when he came back.  The waiter was very friendly and asked where we were from, then offered to take us for a little tour around the restaurant.  That was the most interesting part of our supper. We'd seen a lot of the movies in which the memorabilia appeared and it was pretty neat to see the stuff up close.

Thursday, March 8 2001

It's been a noisy, partying, drunken night.  No,  not us, the people next door! Finally at 5 AM I'm about to call up the Front Desk to complain, when we hear the pounding on the door next door and "Open Up! This is the Myrtle Beach Police Department.  Open Up! I'm not going to ask one more time!" The noise level suddenly drops to nothing.  I'm almost tempted to open the door and check out what's happening, then I think maybe that's not a good idea.  I peer out the peephole and see the Police a couple of doors down. Apparently someone finally complained and now we can get some sleep.

It's a very cool morning when we do get up. In fact only 28 degrees F. It will eventually warm up to 58 degrees, then cool down again in the evening.

We're headed to North Myrtle Beach and our Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  Cracker Barrel will kill you with the food if you're not careful.  But we had a light breakfast.  And it was very good as usual.

Onto our next stop - Barefoot Landing , lots of shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. An interesting concept, it was relatively quiet the day we went.  Lots of factory stores (13) and about 100 other stores, all set around a huge pond that you could cross over a couple of boardwalks.  

We made a few  other stops on the main street, including a Christmas type store.  

Back at the hotel, took another walk on the beach, then walked over to Pier 14 Restaurant  for supper.  We were smarter this time, arriving about 4:30, so we got a seat right by the window, overlooking the beach and ocean.  We ordered a jumbo shrimp cocktail to start (just one - we split), then ordered the Flounder.  When it came I thought they made a mistake and given me two orders.  It was huge! And delicious. $34.24 US before tip. Plus some live entertainment.  A very enjoyable meal, we recommend this restaurant!

Friday March 9, 2001, Last Full Day in MB

7:30 AM and it's 55 degrees F, cloudy with a light rain.  With our effeciency unit we've had a lot of our breakfasts in our room.  This morning we'll try the Olympic Pancake House, just up the street and across the road.  A nice little restaurant, I try the Pecan Pancakes and Marion has the Buttermilk Waffles. $11.72 US.  Very enjoyable

Then it's off to Murrill's Inlet, a area known for it's Seafood Restaurants, located on the ocean, just south of Myrtle Beach. We stopped at the Inlet Mall  on Highway 17 for a little walk around, and then drove through Murrill's.  A lot smaller than I imagined. A lot slower pace. Some nice looking restaurants, and interesting homes. Hoping to stop for lunch, we found most of the seafood restaurants closed.

So we headed back, and by chance I turned off a side street, and ended up in Garden City Beach, one of the smaller and prettier residential areas along the Grand Strand.  There were hundreds of rental homes, most on stilts and multi unit buildings and condos.  Many had "for rent" signs on them and it was extremely quiet. At least this time of year.  We tried to find some public parking so we could walk along the beach but it seemed to be wall to wall private housing.

Fortunately we came across the Conch Cafe at1482 N Waccamaw Drive, on the beach.  There were a few cars in the lot and we thought we'd try it out for a late lunch.  Good decision. We got a seat by the window and enjoyed the ocean view. Marion had the Po Boys Crab cake. I had the shrimp.  Very tasty,  good service and reasonable at $16.61.  I asked our waiter about all the fire work stores we had seen.  Apparently almost everyone who comes into town for  the summer rentals sets off fire works on on the beach at night.  Thus all the stores.  And "no smoking" in the stores either!

Time to pack up our suitcases and get ready for our trip back north.

Saturday March 10 2001

7.55 am and we're checked out and heading home on the same route we came in. We stop at a fireworks/slash/pecan store on the way out.  The owner talks me into buying unshelled paper thin pecans. A bargain.  Until I get home and spend about one hour or more cracking them open.  (Note, just buy the bagged, shelled pecans next time).  We picked up a few Claxton Cakes for my father in law too. The owner asks where we're from and then makes a few suggestions as to where we should have stopped on our visit.  Damn, why didn't we bump into this guy when we came in!  Oh well, maybe next time!

We stop at Sparky's on the way out as well.  A must see!  What a tourist trap, they have everything! A good way to blow 30 minutes. The drive back out seems not as slow as the tail end of the trip coming in.  However it still is somewhat of a wagon trail getting back to the main interstate.  We reach 95 about 10 am. and Charlotte at 12:20.

Time for a break again, we stop at  at the Mooresville SC Cracker Barrel for a rest and lunch.  Excellent as usual.  Wish we had them back home!

Entering Virginia at 2:30 we note the temperature is 53 F.  At 7:00 we stop at Shoney's for a quiet supper at exit 119.

AT 8:20 in W Virginia, we pull into a newer Super 8 at Fairmont.  What a nice place! and $48.00.

Sunday March 11th 2001

7:30 am and 31F degrees. Brrrr. We reach the bridge through Pittsburgh at 9:20 am and at 10:45 am stop at Cracker Barrel in Meadsville.  At 1.50 we reach the Bridge at Canada and it's still only 33F!

Time for a real cup of coffee at the local Tim Hortons in Fort Erie. We reach the 407 bypass at Toronto at 3:20 and at 5:00 pm we're delighted to find Webbers Hamburgers open north of Barrie.  What a great place.  At 7:30 pm we pull  into our driveway in North Bay and a chilly 20F.


We enjoyed our Myrtle Beach trip.  I always wanted to visit Myrtle Beach, and wondered what it was like.  Now we know!  Certainly if you are a golfer this place will be even more of a must stop, however if you like sun, restaurants, shopping and the ocean, Myrtle Beach has it all.

Would I stay at the same motel?  No.  As usual we picked the busy area of town. Fortunately we didn't pick a real budget place as the real budget motels are magnets for the kids who like to drink and party. Next time I'll pick a more expensive hotel/motel or one further out from the main drag.


Editors update March 13  2017:  I noticed I had this page uploaded years ago and  sort of forgot about it.  Then when I was searching the net, I noticed it again after years of just sitting there.  Whats changed with us?  Well, a lot of years have passed,, we're older now, we added more grand kids, upgraded our car a few times, and added a second one, we moved twice, and our present home is located in St Davids, a short 7 minute drive to the Queenston Lewiston Bridge, and 13 minute drive to the Nexus only Whirlpool International Bridge, which makes car travelling to the US and flights out of Buffalo much more easier.

The Cracker Barrel Restaurants are still around and just as good.  Early March travel to Myrtle Beach can still result in chilly weather. Matter of fact my wife asked why Myrtle Beach Tourism was running TV commercials in March por traying Beach weather. (Yes it can be warm,  average high temperature in March is 68F and average low is 46F)  Or in the 50's F when we visited.

Days Inns like a lot of the older chains are gettting..... older.  Older doesn't always equate run down but it can. An old hotel or motel can look quite nice on the outside, until you get inside. The Days Inn  we stayed at in 2001 - 16 years ago- is obviously older again, and when I checked Trip Advisor reviews seems to have a lot of unhappy customers.   We now try to stay in newer hotels.

The Days Inn in Fairmont is still listed and had a 2 Star review in Trip Advisor in 2017. (More bad to Terrible reviews than Very Good)

The Days Inn in Fairmont is also still listed  and had a 3 Star review in Trip Advisor in 2017. ( mixed reviews)

To be fair to the more budget motels, hotels out there, generally you get what you pay for.  You can't compare them to a level such as Hiltons or Hamptons. In the Niagara Falls Ontario area we have the expensive hotels such as the Marriot, Hilton, Fallsview Casino Resort, Great Wolf Lodge (great for families),  and others, and on the other side of the scale, many Mom & Pop motels, including some lower scorers on Lundys' Lane. Best to check Trip Advisor on any of these hotels/motels keeping in mind you have to balance the good and bad reviews on the same location.

The speed traps are still there along Hwy 19 in West Virginia.  I googled it.

I haven't googled all the restaurants we visited in Myrtle Beach.  I did check Pier 14, and its still there.  Bumz Cafe was still listed.  I suspect many of the other ones are there as well.

Gas prices in the US (compared to Canada) are still very reasonable.  But in 2016-2017 we are being pummelled by the low Canadian dollar.

Mr. Trump has also scared the pants off a lot of travellers, and I've even had some clients cancel their US tavel plans because of the current political environment.


 email me at Ray@IceColdNorth.com

(c) Copyright 2002-2017 Ray Battiston
 March 12 2017 Revision


Contact me today  for personal service on your Travel Medical, Visitors and Expatriates Insurance requirements

   Ray Battiston, BA, CAIB, CIP Canadian  Insurance Broker                     
   PO Box 510 St Davids Ontario  L0S 1P0

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