The Conway Ghost Walk

This past Friday, Sidney and I participated in a Halloween activity that was new for the both of us. Pairing up with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, the four of us went on the Conway Ghost Walk.

On Friday night, we attended the Conway Ghost Walk.

On Friday night, we attended the Conway Ghost Walk.

Conway is the small and historic town right next to Myrtle Beach. One of the oldest towns in South Carolina, it was founded in 1732. The town has significant ties to both the American Revolution and the Civil War. Well, we all know that old American towns with 300 years of history and connections to some of the bloodiest wars fought on our soil usually have one thing in common: ghost stories!

Officially called the Conway Ghost Walk: Spirits of the Lowcountry, the event was put on by the town’s downtown association. Participants were given the spooky opportunity to hear about the creepy legends of Conway as told by professional storytellers. I had four passes to attend the walk. Sidney, who hates anything scary, agreed to go on the adventure with me since the goal was more about historical awareness as opposed to getting frightened out of your wits. Courtney and John were nice enough to make the evening a double date by joining us.

This is one of the stops at the Conway Ghost Walk (we aren't in this photo). People dressed in 1700's clothing tell spooky stories (photo courtesy of the Conway Downtown Alive Facebook page).

This is one of the stops at the Conway Ghost Walk (we aren’t in this photo). People dressed in 1700’s clothing tell spooky stories (photo courtesy of the Conway Downtown Alive Facebook page).

The Conway Ghost Walk begins after dark falls. The tours leave every 15 minutes over the span of a few hours. Participants meet at the Conway Visitor’s House. Once you check in, they send you across the street to wait. If you arrive early, you can enjoy a beer/wine garden set up in the house’s lawn.

After a couple minutes of waiting next to an old cemetery, a Conway Downtown Alive official briefed us on the tour. Throughout the evening we would be escorted to seven different places in downtown Conway to be told seven different ghost stories told by seven different storytellers. We were told to follow our various guides and to expect to walk around a mile. We were then entrusted to our first tour guide, a woman dressed completely in 1700’s garb and carrying a lantern. She took us to a storyteller dressed in similar authentic clothing. This particular storyteller got more specific with the ground rules/background information of the tour but explained it more in a humorous/spooky way. After we finished with her, we walked to the lawn of a church that also served as a cemetery.

A look at what the storytellers look like (photo courtesy of the Conway Downtown Live Facebook page).

A look at what the storytellers look like (photo courtesy of the Conway Downtown Live Facebook page).

At this first stop, the gentleman who told the story, also dressed in 1700’s clothing, explained the legend of a girl who was buried alive. He told the story with passion and animation. After he finished, he thanked us for our time and instructed us to follow the tour guide and the lantern to the next spot. This is how it went for the next six stops. Our group would walk the dark streets of Conway until we came to the next location where the next storyteller would describe a spooky tale. The total Conway Ghost Walk took about 80 minutes.

If you are planning to go next year, let me tell you a couple things:

– The storytellers are actually in character and use theater to tell the story. Going in, I thought “professional storytellers” just meant they were going to tell a ghost story in a way that a favorite uncle might do so around a campfire.

– I mentioned it above, but the tour is not meant to scare. The evening is much more focused on the art of storytelling and the awareness of some well known local legends. It is very much kid appropriate.

– The best part of the tour, in my opinion, was just walking around Conway at night. They have luminaries guiding the walk path and someone with a lantern leading at the front. You go by beautiful old houses and you really experience a “Halloween” type feel.

———–

The Conway Ghost Walk was a unique activity to do in order to get into the Halloween spirit. I am glad we can cross a “ghost walk” off our bucket list because it has always been something that I wanted to do. However, I am still itching to get chased by chainsaws this Halloween season so I imagine a haunted house is in my future before October 31. Don’t Blink.

Ordering Off a Handwritten Menu

Yesterday for Boss’s Day our office went out to lunch at a very eclectic restaurant. In fact, I found more charm in this distinctively southern restaurant than the all-you-can-eat country home cooking buffet we went to last week. I am going to have fun telling this story.

Once again, we went deep into Conway, South Carolina, for our meal. This time though, we were headed in the direction of a place called Donzelle’s. Tucked away in a dusty mini strip mall was our lunch spot for the day. Parking was a goat rope but somehow the four vehicles we brought inside the disorganized parking lot managed to fit. I was literally rubbing my hands with excitement as we walked in because I knew I was going to get a real kick out of what I saw.

Walking into the restaurant!

Walking into the restaurant!

I was not disappointed. We walked into a complete blast from the past. A non-alcoholic bar greeted you as you walked in to your right. Basic tables and chairs covered the majority of the restaurant floor to the left. There were some booths on the sides. Old, crooked photos covered the walls. Because they didn’t have a table that could accommodate the 14 of us, I sat at a four-person table with three of our graphic artists.

First cool/eccentric thing I noticed? We had pieces of cake waiting for us at our tables. Donzelle’s had a sign that read “Life is too short, eat dessert first.” Next incredibly cool thing? The lunch menu was handwritten on a sheet of paper. I had never ordered off a piece of computer paper before. Take a look at that menu though…kind of a cool combination/variety to choose from, huh? (And I am not being sarcastic. I love how you can choose a main entrée and then choose three side items). I ended up getting the chicken bog with butter beans and rice & gravy. I decided not to venture for any of the bottom four choices.

The famous handwritten menu. What will you have?

The famous handwritten menu. What will you have?

Regis, one of our graphic designers, ordered the same combination I did. However, the waitress asked him if he wanted any onion rings or French fries thrown on the side. How random is that? I couldn’t help but smile. He opted for the onion rings. As we were ordering I sat back and watched as loads of people entered the restaurant. It didn’t take long for that place to fill up.

Speaking of not taking long, our food was out in no time. The waitress put in front of me a big plate of great-looking food. After our table was served she asked if we would like any corn bread or rolls to compliment our meal (free of charge). We said “yes please” to the corn bread.

This food was delicious

This food was delicious

How was the food, you ask? The best southern food I have had so far! It beat out the place we ate at last week, Radd Dew’s, by a long shot. That chicken bog was absolutely incredible as it definitely stuck to your ribs. Corn bread was very tasty and the rice and gravy hit the spot. I demolished my plate, eating every morsel of food in front of me.

Speaking of plates, I mentioned in last night’s blog post that we presented our boss with a plate with his face on it. His name is Bill Plate and surprisingly no one had ever given him a similar gag gift in his life. The reason why I bring this story up is because when we gave him his Boss’s Day gift we were all laughing like hyenas that the entire restaurant stopped what they were doing/eating and stared at us.

Some of the photos on the wall.

Some of the photos on the wall.

After chatting about the random photos and discussing the smothered beef liver that was on the menu we got up to pay. One-by-one we went to the cash register where the owner asked us what we had and then charged us accordingly. Don’t ever think about paying with a credit or debit card at Donzelle’s. As we walked out into the South Carolina sun I had the same smile on my face that I had when I walked in. Don’t Blink.

Eating at a Southern BBQ Buffet

All week I had looked forward to today. In celebration of the October birthdays in our office, we had decided to go eat at a very local restaurant. Much to my excitement, this certain restaurant was an all-you-can-eat BBQ/country cooking buffet. Needless to say, you can’t get much more southern than that.

We all piled into a few vehicles and drove deep into the heart of Conway, South Carolina, until we came to a modest joint called Radd Dew’s Bar-B-Que Pit. With a big pig out in the restaurant’s lawn, I knew this place was going to be an adventure.

Welcome to Radd Dew's Bar-B-Que Pit!

Welcome to Radd Dew’s Bar-B-Que Pit!

We walked in and It was honestly a blast from the past. The place looked like a diner from the 1960’s or 1970’s. The tables, chairs, floor tiling, buffet setup, and the memorabilia resting on shelves made it feel like a complete time warp. We went up in line to pay first. For under $10 you got access to all the delicious southern food you wanted plus a drink. Since it was a lunch for the October birthdays, my wonderful boss paid for me.

Here is a look inside of Radd Dew's.

Here is a look inside of Radd Dew’s.

Our table was already reserved for us so we hit the buffet right away. Taking a Styrofoam plate, I looked up and down the roughly 20 items in front of me. I then got in line and loaded my plate with BBQ pulled pork, fried chicken, chicken bog, green beans, macaroni and cheese, and a dish called Brunswick Stew. I went to our table and dug in. The BBQ pork and the chicken bog were both really good. The macaroni and cheese was so-so, my girlfriend and mom both make it much better. The green beans were green beans. The Brunswick Stew wasn’t bad. But what really made my taste buds delight was the fried chicken. It was the absolute best piece of chicken I had enjoyed since moving to South Carolina. You could literally taste the grease and the butter.

My first plate is on the left and my second plate is on the right.

My first plate is on the left and my second plate is on the right.

I was guilty of going up for a second plate. Although the buffet also contained cat fish, pork chops, French fries, rice, potato salad, and other things I couldn’t come close to identifying, I stuck primarily to my favorite items from the first trip. In addition to my second helpings of fried chicken, chicken bog, and pulled pork, I also got a biscuit. My co-workers told me it was straight lard…I enjoyed it.

The start of the buffet line.

The start of the buffet line.

Throughout the meal, people from my office kept asking me what I thought of the different items. They enjoyed watching me dig into the southern fare. They laughed at me pretty hard because of my former misguided western belief that “BBQ” was throwing hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill. It was a fun meal and even though I didn’t want to do it to myself, I was stuffed when it was time to go.

The three birthday boys next to a pink pig. Our student graphic worker in the middle is Daniel "Scoops" Mableton and our Director of Creative Services, Rob Wyeth, is on the right.

The three birthday boys next to a pink pig. Our student graphic worker in the middle is Daniel “Scoops” Mableton and our Director of Creative Services, Rob Wyeth, is on the right.

But while the food was good, it was the experience itself that made the trip to Radd Dew’s Bar-B-Que Pit so enjoyable. Eating off Styrofoam plates, using plastic utensils, observing the locals, admiring the quirky decorations, indulging in a dining concept that I had never enjoyed before, and having a good time with my co-workers made the lunch hour a lot of fun. I felt like a real South Carolinian today and I wouldn’t shy away from taking any of my western friends to Radd Dew’s for some soul food and culture. Don’t Blink.

Eating at Two Powerhouse Food Chains in the South

On my cross country drive to Myrtle Beach I started noticing something about the time I entered Missouri. Seemingly located every couple of miles of the remaining drive I saw a couple different restaurants over and over. One of these restaurants was Waffle House. I had never set foot in one before but knew of them because of pop culture and Bubba Watson. The second restaurant I kept seeing took me a while before I figured out what it was. Probably after passing the tenth one I saw I made out the name of Bojangles.

Well it took me almost two weeks in South Carolina to do so but yesterday I decided to eat at both of these southern staples. For lunch I dined at the Bojangles location right next to the campus of Coastal Carolina and then later that night I enjoyed dinner at a Waffle House a couple miles from my place. Besides gaining about ten pounds I also gained the experience of eating at these fine institutions. Also, since I ate by myself, I got to really take it all in and make some quality observations. Might as well stimulate my brain if I am killing my body, right?

The full name of the first restaurant I dined at is Bojangles Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits. As you can probably gather, they specialize in serving fried chicken and biscuits. The restaurant is set up like any typical McDonalds or Jack in the Box. You go in, order your food at the counter, receive a number, and then sit at a table or booth. You pour your own drink and help yourself to napkins/condiments.

A look at the outside of the Bojangles I visited and the view from inside where I sat.

A look at the outside of the Bojangles I visited and the view from inside where I sat.

I ordered the two piece chicken meal. In addition to the chicken I also got a home-style fixin’ (a side item), a biscuit, and a drink. For chicken I received a leg and a wing and I chose mashed potatoes for my home-style fixin’. My food came out less than two minutes after I ordered it. I got my tray and went to my table, looked at my phone one last time, and then started eating.

Me getting ready to chow down at Bojangles.

Me getting ready to chow down at Bojangles.

The chicken had a slight spicy taste to it which I liked. But after that taste dissipated I didn’t really find anything that made it better from KFC. The biscuit in my opinion was just okay, kind of a little dry. So that should say enough; the two items they pride themselves on, chicken and biscuits, both came out as subpar in my book. The mashed potatoes left no impression on me at all. Of course I still ate every bit of my meal. Afterwards I went to the bathroom for a long hand washing before going off to campus to watch softball.

My plate of food. While it looks really good it was average.

My plate of food. While it looks really good it was average.

I had a much more satisfying experience at Waffle House. Although I must say I didn’t go in with really high expectations. It seemed like everyone I talked to at work or the people I have met here gave the chain a less than flattering review. Words such as “sketchy” and “low quality” coupled with sarcastic laughter seemed to predominate. But I love waffles and I want the whole southern experience so I knew I would look past the warnings and give it a shot.

A look at the exterior of the Waffle House I visited and where I sat at the counter.

A look at the exterior of the Waffle House I visited and where I sat at the counter.

Waffle Houses aren’t big places. They are small diners with an open kitchen. You can sit at the counter right in the middle and watch them cook your food or you can sit at surrounding tables. Because I was by myself I sat at the counter. An employee came up to me and asked if I knew what I wanted. I had to tell him I needed to look at a menu because it was my first time ever in a Waffle House. The guy literally thought I was kidding!

Me enjoying my experience at Waffle House.

Me enjoying my experience at Waffle House.

I ordered a double order of hash browns with cheese on top AND a peanut butter waffle. To wash it down I got a tall glass of cold milk. The hash browns tasted great. As I ate I could sense how heavy the browns were. Each bite delivered a heavy dose of butter and grease. To give them an extra little kick I added some tobasco and chowed down. After I ate the hash browns I turned to my waffle. They did a nice job of completely covering it with little peanut butter chips. With the waffle still hot even though I ate the potatoes first I closed my eyes in bliss as I ate. Rich and tasty I ate it wondering how the place gets such bad reviews. Unlike at Bojangles where I didn’t find the signature items all that special I felt the waffles at Waffle House were the real deal. (Funny side story: My server cooked himself up the exact same order I put in because he thought it looked so good).

My meal was awesome! Look at those hash browns!

My meal was awesome! Look at those hash browns!

As Waffle House is open 24 hours and there are about 164,093 of them in this area I will surely eat there again. I will give Bojangles another shot too. But I got to use caution. The risk of gaining a lot of weight in my new home is very real. With me eating at these two places I have added another notch to my southern belt. I think the accent comes next. Don’t Blink.