Atlantic Highway

Read about our music travels up the Atlantic Highway

It was time to farewell Charleston, South Carolina.  Three nights at Mount Pleasant were in fact mighty pleasant.  My Days Inn hotel was quite adequate and I was surrounded by footpaths, squirrels, eateries, supermarkets and cafes, all within an easy walk.  So no need for the car except for traveling to and from The Southern Ground Music and Food Festival.

It’s Monday morning.  I need to be in Raleigh North by early Wednesday morning so decided to head toward Wilmington NC and spend some in Myrtle Beach SC on the way.  Right along the Atlantic Coast.  I googled best coffee in Myrtle Beach and came up with a name and an address, using that as my first reference point.

I was soon out of Charleston and among lots of trees (mainly pine) and numerous waterways.  Through Awandaw in the Frances Marion Forest on Highway 17.  The weather had started out sunny and was clouding over.  Tom Price was standing for U.S. Congress and man, he must have a lot of helpers, staking signs along the road for miles and miles.  If signs were votes, he’s in!

Just as I reached Georgetown, the heavens collapsed, torrential rain so hard and persistent that it was not advisable to pass anything.  A large group of motor cyclists had stopped on the side of the road, completely exposed to the weather, presumably too dangerous to do anything else.  Georgetown looks like it has a large paper manufacturing plant and oil refineries.  I did not see the town at its finest, that’s for sure.

The rain stopped just as quickly as it had started.  By around noon I arrived at the nominated address in Surfside Beach only to find another establishment there.  Luckily, it was Benjamin’s Bakery (810 3rd Avenue South) and it served great coffee and had many delicious breads, pastries and cakes.

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Lisa and Latoya from Benjamin’s Bakery

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I arrived at Myrtle Beach – the streets were largely deserted and there were few signs of anywhere to eat other than a couple of fast food corner stores.  Despite all this space, it was hard to find a park without paying.  Large apartment blocks have been built right on the beach and they dominated proceeding – maybe they have their own stores inside for guests?  There were a few people on the beach but no sign of what else they would be doing while staying here.  The nearby theme park was closed.  At the boardwalk there was a merchandise store, a diner and a bar upstairs and to get to the boardwalk cost a dollar.

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The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and The Atlantic Ocean

I decided to hop back to the car and continue my journey along the highway, which was banked by mini-golf courses, seafood restaurants and countless swimwear shops – one of three brands kept appearing every block – Eagles, Whales and Wings.  I get the feeling that life gets really busy around summer here.  But today, it had that neglected, abandoned feeling.

I was listening to Sirius XM Outlaw Country as I motored on, Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale were interviewing, no just chatting, to the guitarists’ guitarist, Kenny Vaughn.  It took me back to the first time I saw Jim and Kenny, both in Lucinda Williams’ band on the DVD Live At Austin City Limits.  Well these guys on the radio were having a ball, talking about Kenny’s career and then Kenny played a few of his favourite tunes – it went for almost two hours.  What a trusty companion is Outlaw Country.

I passed the Cape Fear River Basin.  No way was I going there, in case Max Cady was still around.  Max was played by Robert Mitchum and Robert De Niro in the Cape Fear movies and supposedly they died in the end but maybe not…

It was time to think about where I was staying for the night.  I needed WiFi so I could use the iPad and book a room (too hard on my cell phone).  So I found a Tanger shopping outlet on the way, got some lunch and a good rate on a hotel only 4 miles out of downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.  It was just an hour away and the time went soon enough.  As I got closer to the hotel, the inner streets of Wilmington looked really nice – gracious old homes, trees and history abounding.

Checking in, I noticed that an Italian Grill (Carrabba’s) was just over the road.  I ventured over there for dinner and it was $12 three-course Mondays!  A great wine selection and good service to boot.  I noticed that Carrabba’s was a chain.  Now that I come to think of it, I’ve found it pretty hard to find restaurants that are not chains over the past four weeks.

Tomorrow I’m going to check out downtown Wilmington.

 

Read about our music travels up the Atlantic Highway

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Author: Rob Dickens

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