Mid-August Thursday Rundown

Let me tell you something, it definitely feels like mid-August. We have had some brutally hot and humid days here in Myrtle Beach. I hope all my readers are staying cool. For your approval, here is my latest Thursday Rundown…

Happy 37th Anniversary, Mom and Dad – Today my parents celebrate their 37th anniversary. Every year I try to mention the special date in my Thursday Rundown (I actually wrote a whole post once too) so what I am about to write might sound repetitive but it is worth repeating. My mom and dad exemplify what a happy, respectful marriage is. I know I am not alone when I say they have had a major impact on how I conduct myself in my own marriage. Thanks to their selflessness, loyalty, and Catholic faith, they have enjoyed a beautiful life together. Congrats, mom and dad!

My mom and dad in their earlier years. Happy anniversary!

RC Cola and Shasta – Earlier this week, I read that the Cleveland Browns will now exclusively serve RC Cola in their stadium. I got a chuckle out of the deal because who expects to be served RC Cola anywhere? Usually if you go to a restaurant and order a Pepsi and they don’t have it, the server will counter with “Is Coke okay?” Or, if you order a Coke at a restaurant that doesn’t carry it, you expect to hear “Can I get you a Pepsi instead?” Imagine ordering a Coca-Cola or Pepsi and being told, “We don’t have that, but we do have RC Cola.” Hmmmmmm.

I tweeted about the situation. My co-worker and friend, Geoff, saw the tweet and brought me another junior varsity cola to my office just to be funny. Thus, yesterday I found myself drinking Shasta at my desk. Geoff and I both drank Shasta as kids but it had been a long time since I had “enjoyed” one. Believe it or not, it actually quenched my thirst after a long, hot day running around campus.

Geoff gave me this can of Shasta Cola yesterday. He also gave me a can of Shasta Tiki Punch this afternoon.

It Is Starting – Well, it is “back to school” but it isn’t “back to school.” Sid and I are both taking major steps when it comes to walking away from summer. Monday was Sid’s first mandatory work day. She has been in meetings and trainings all week. Although the first day of school with students is not until next Wednesday, it is only a small consolation, as Sid will reply, “It doesn’t matter, I still have to do stuff.” I am just about in full student mode as well. First day of classes at Coastal Carolina is on Monday but Move-In Weekend starts tomorrow. I have used this week to prepare content for the start of the semester and I was actually working with multiple students today. Here we go!

Sid and Sloan before my wife went off to work earlier this week.

Unique Dish – On Saturday after church, we went to one of those fast food restaurants built in the 1980s to resemble a diner in the 1960s. Called Burkey’s, it is a Myrtle Beach favorite for Sid. It was my first time actually eating inside the restaurant and when I looked at the menu I saw something that intrigued me. Three-way chili. It was a combination of chili, cheese, and SPAGHETTI. I couldn’t resist. In addition to my cheeseburger, I got a bowl of the chili/spaghetti mix. I really enjoyed it! However, my belief that it was a Burkey’s original dish was soon dashed. After I took my excitement to Twitter, multiple people told me they too enjoy three-way chili – and they don’t order it from Burkey’s.

Our order from Burkey’s last Saturday. If you can’t see the three-way chili, you must be blind.

Intergender Professional Wrestling – I read a thought-provoking piece of sports journalism today. The story reported on the underground world of male vs. female professional wrestling and raised many good questions. The writer, a female, presented both sides of the issue, detailing the arguments of those who support it and those who oppose it. Believe it or not, guy vs. girl wrestling used to be mainstream in the WWF during the Attitude Era. However, with the transition from the WWF to the WWE and a more PG-13 approach to storylines, the company abandoned these types of matches. Intergender pro wrestling is now reserved for small, shady promotions. I encourage you to read the article and make your own judgment.

Intergender wrestling is very controversial. I encourage you to read the article (image courtesy of ESPN.com).

—————-

Stay cool, my friends. If you find yourself dehydrated in this heat, perhaps you should reach for a can of RC Cola. Have a great weekend. Don’t Blink.

This Memorial Weekend Has Been…

It has been a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Because the last thing you want to do on your day off is read my blog, let’s dash through 10 things this weekend has been (so far)…

This weekend has been about the aquarium. We took Sloan to Ripley’s Aquarium here in Myrtle Beach, an experience she really enjoyed.

Sid and Sloan enjoying Ripley’s Aquarium.

This weekend has been about watching movies. Sidney and I watched “A Beautiful Mind” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”

This weekend has been about worship. We attended Holy Trinity mass at St. Andrew and heard Fr. Morgan deliver a powerful homily that had Sidney and I looking at each other at its conclusion mouthing “That was good!”

This weekend has been about Coastal baseball. The Chanticleers won the Sun Belt tournament title and earned the right to host the NCAA Regional round in Conway.

The Coastal baseball team will host Regionals.

This weekend has been about family. On Saturday night we ate pasta with Sidney’s parents at our house.

This weekend has been about the outdoors. Sloan and I went on a long walk together and the next day Sidney, Sloan, and I went to the pool.

This weekend has been about Dave and Buster’s! We had a nice dinner ordering off the eccentric menu and enjoying the atmosphere. Our plans to play any games fell short though when Sloan had a vomiting episode (thanks to our server, Connor, for being so helpful!).

Sloan hanging out at Dave & Buster’s (before she threw up).

This weekend has been about catching up on sleep. Sloan miraculously slept until 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, allowing mommy and daddy a chance to snooze a little longer than usual.

This weekend has been about donuts. Earlier this morning, Sid brought me home Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins.

This weekend has been about remembering those who served. Over 1.3 million men and women have lost their lives in combat and we all need to take several moments to reflect on that.

———————-

I hope everyone enjoys the remainder of this holiday weekend. We can’t thank enough those who made this weekend necessary.

Myrtle Beach Food Truck Festival

Over the past few years, I feel as if the food truck concept has been romanticized. Social media, movies, and news organizations hail them as quirky mini restaurants on wheels with delicious and creative food. Brightly colored food trucks with social media handles plastered on them have become commonplace on our nation’s streets.

With the success of food trucks, it didn’t take long for event organizers to ask a question: What is better than a food truck? Easy! How about a couple dozen food trucks?! Thus, the birth of food truck festivals.

The second annual Myrtle Beach Food Truck Festival was held this past weekend. The backdrop for the fest was the ocean (this is not my photo).

This past weekend, the second annual Myrtle Beach Food Truck Festival took place. As someone who has found himself swept up in the hype of food trucks I described above, it didn’t take much convincing when Sidney asked me if I wanted to go. So, on Saturday, our little family, plus my in-laws, ventured to downtown Myrtle Beach. Hearing about large crowds and a food shortage that plagued last year’s event, we made sure to show up right when the festival opened at 11 a.m.

Sid and Sloan at the second annual Myrtle Beach Food Truck Festival.

Because we showed up right when it started, we had an unobstructed path to browse the 30 (yes, THIRTY) food trucks that had parked on the site of the old pavilion, right next to the boardwalk. The selection covered all genres from sandwiches to burgers to burritos to pastas to fried foods to noodles to desserts to anything else you could imagine. Alcoholic beverages were available, a band was playing, and kid activities were offered. It was a neat setup.

I enjoyed BBQ chicken macaroni and cheese from the Downtown Curbside Kithcen.

Here is what we ended up deciding on:
Me: BBQ chicken macaroni and cheese from Downtown Curbside Kitchen (based in Charleston)
Sid: Buffalo chicken flatbread pizza from Charleston Flats
Brenda (mother-in-law): Classic grilled cheese sandwich from EZ Cheezy
Mr. Sid (father-in-law): Sausage dog
Sloan: Bucket of Fries
Shareables: Funnel cake and deep fried Oreos

This is the food truck I got my mac and cheese from, Downtown Curbside Kitchen.

As I put together a plan for my food festival experience, I envisioned splurging and purchasing at least two different entrees. However, the mac and cheese dish I got came with homemade chips and a mini Moon Pie, draining my enthusiasm (and stomach space) to buy something else. I still ate half of Sidney’s pizza and a good portion of Sloan’s fries though.

Sidney’s buffalo chicken pizza from Charleston Flats.

Our desserts, fried batter at its finest, also made me think twice about visiting a second food truck. It was for the best. I got to sit comfortably with my girls and in-laws as we chowed down and sipped adult beverages while enjoying the band.

These deep fried Oreos were on point.

For the most part, the food was good. Not exceptional cuisine by any means, but it did hit the spot. As I alluded to above, pop culture attributes food trucks to offering mouth-watering and unique food. I would say that once you take off the rose-colored glasses, the “unique” part of the description is usually more true than the “mouth-watering” part.

This is the E.Z. Cheezey Grilled Cheese food truck that Brenda got her sandwich from.

We had a good time at the Myrtle Beach Food Truck Festival and would go back again. I think arriving early was a key to our enjoyment and I can imagine we will be early birds again in 2019. Don’t Blink.

The Highlights of Sloan’s Spokane Grandparents in Myrtle Beach

At the end of last week and through the weekend, my parents visited our little family here in Myrtle Beach. It was great to see them and catch up. Most of all, it was special to watch them bond with Sloan. My parents arrived on Wednesday and left on Monday. I thought the best way to organize this trip recap would be to describe my favorite moment from each day they spent here. If that is okay with you, I will begin.

Wednesday, April 4: The highlight of this initial day was just watching the joy of my parents as they reconnected with Sloan after 100 days apart. We thought Sloan would be a little apprehensive toward my mom and dad since it had been so long, but she picked right back up at the same comfort level from where she left off. My mom was able to give her granddaughter all the kisses she had saved up over the last several months and you could just tell that both of my parents were at total peace in Sloan’s presence.

My parents were so overjoyed to see Sloan again that first day.

Thursday, April 5: The aspect of this day that really stands out to me is the dinner the five of us shared. We went to Rivertown Bistro, a creative and tasty restaurant in downtown Conway that is beloved by the entire Grand Strand community. If you want to treat yourself, it is the place to go. We were given upstairs seating where we sat at a booth that overlooked scenic 3rd Avenue. The food was incredible and Sloan was on her best behavior as she sat at the head of the table in her cute outfit and bow. It was a relaxing and memorable experience.

We had such a lovely dinner at Rivertown Bistro in Conway.

Friday, April 6: For obvious reasons, my parents weren’t able to attend Sloan’s birthday party on March 17. However, we made up for it. After I got off work on Friday afternoon, the five of us gathered around the table for an encore celebration of Sloan’s birthday. We had an extra smash cake stored away that we brought out. I cued up the slideshow I created for her birthday party and Sidney stuck a candle in the cake and we sang “Happy Birthday.” It was an intimate celebration that made my parents feel included in her birthday festivities and that allowed Sloan to stuff her face with more cake!

Sloan enjoying her second birthday celebration, this time with grandma and papa.

Saturday, April 7: My mom and dad kept talking about how much they enjoyed this morning so it was a no-brainer to include it as the Saturday highlight. We went to the Paula Deen Family Kitchen for breakfast, a restaurant that serves meals family style. We all ate way too much but we then walked it off by exploring Broadway at the Beach, an outdoor entertainment area in the heart of Myrtle Beach. With the weather absolutely perfect, we strolled around the premises while my parents shopped for souvenirs. Sloan enjoyed the favorable conditions as we all took turns pushing her in the stroller. It was a very pleasant way to spend the first half of the day.

My parents having some fun at the Paula Deen restaurant at Broadway at the Beach.

Sunday, April 8: The dinner we had this evening was just as memorable and delicious as the dinner we had on Thursday. We met Sidney’s parents at Greg Norman’s Australian Grille for some good food and better conversation. It was important to Sid and I that we got both sets of Sloan’s grandparents together. The fact was not lost on anyone that during those moments, the six people who love Sloan the most were all seated around her at the same table.

Both sets of Sloan’s grandparents outside of Greg Norman’s Australian Grill on April 8.

Monday, April 9: My parents said goodbye to Sloan in the morning, right before I took her to daycare. However, since their flight didn’t leave until 2:30 p.m., I was able to take my lunch break to meet up with them one final time. We convenrd at Chick-fil-A for a quick lunch. As we ate, we talked about how much we enjoyed our time together and how much we appreciated each other. We recapped our trip and my parents never missed an opportunity to tell me how lucky I am to have two wonderful girls in my life. It was the perfect way to cap off the trip.

My parents at Chick-Fil-A on April 9. Great way to conclude the trip.

———————

My parents keep thanking us for letting them come stay at our house but they have it all wrong. Sidney, Sloan and I want to be the ones to say THANK YOU. We were spoiled and catered to the entire duration of their stay. Mom and dad, we already miss you. Sloan can’t wait to see you this summer. Don’t Blink.

The Attraction and Danger of Facebook Quizzes

Given the current state of Facebook, it is safe to say we are subjected to a substantial amount of garbage each time we “go for a little scroll.” Political rants, fake news, multi-level marketing, annoying blog links (haha), and GoFundMe scams are just a few examples of awful content we sift through.

If not for all that I just mentioned above, perhaps online quizzes would be Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to undesirable Facebook content. However, because of the proliferation of partisan venom, untrue headlines, and shameless sales pitches on our newsfeeds, spotting a quiz that promises to identify your spirit animal is almost a welcome relief. However, take it from me, Facebook quizzes are sometimes more trouble than what they are worth.

I recently sat down with WPDE ABC15 anchor Summer Dashe to discuss the dark side of social media quizzes. Summer used our discussion along with other interviews to put together an extremely well-done and creative package. It aired during the station’s big post-Academy Awards Sunday night newscast. Click here to view the story.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Summer Dashe with WPDE ABC15 to discuss Facebook quizzes.

During the interview, the major point I told Summer was that some social media quizzes are absolutely harmless – but others aren’t.

I mean come on, how bad can a quiz be that tells you which season of “Family Matters” opening credits you are?

Most of the time, at the very least, the makers of these Facebook-based personality tests are going to capture your profile information and potentially sell it to third parties so they can target you in ads. It is simply the day and age we live in. The current advertising climate places a very high premium on digital advertising and companies are willing to shell out money for lists of people who fit within their target audience. If you don’t mind the phenomenon of having a digital ad served to you that seems to read your mind, you don’t need to stress too much about this.

However, unfortunately, sometimes these seemingly harmless Facebook quizzes are a little more sinister. Some exist solely to hijack your information and make duplicate social media profiles of yourself. Selling “likes” and “followers” is a big business. Companies who specialize in this trade will provide their clients with a load of FAKE and duplicated profiles, created off of the information you consented to release before taking the quiz. Even more shocking, some quiz makers will take the information you provide entirely off the digital sphere and use it for classic identity theft purposes in the physical world.

Thank you to Summer Dashe of WPDE ABC15 for producing an educational and creative story.

Finally, some sketchy social media quiz makers will practice what is called like-farming. Think of it as a bait-and-switch – a Facebook quiz claiming to tell you what Disney princess you are appears on your newsfeed. All you have to do is click on the link to start the assessment. Much to your horror, instead of taking you to a multiple choice quiz, you are taken to a website that infects your computer with malware. The link originally started out as a legitimate quiz that garnered a lot of likes and shares. After it established credibility, the scoundrels behind the quiz edited the post and changed the link. Watch out for this dirty trick! 

I gave two big recommendations to Summer:

1. Don’t participate in Facebook quizzes that ask to access your Facebook profile or ask you to log in to Facebook. Consenting to these requests, which is usually as easy as clicking on a blue bar, will sell out your information to the entity administering the quiz.

Even though it might look official, don’t click on blue bars that ask you to login to take a quiz.

2. If you have an appetite for knowing what “Saved by the Bell” character you are or what ice cream flavor best describes your personality, take a Buzzfeed quiz. Not only is Buzzfeed the most popular option for online quizzes, it is also the safest. Buzzfeed won’t ask for any of your information before taking the quiz but will give you a safe option to post your results to Facebook at the conclusion of it.

In the most general terms, use common sense. Before clicking on a social media quiz, scrutinize it for a couple seconds. Blue bars, long URLs, misspellings, and obscure graphics are all signs to accept an F on the quiz by just not taking it.

Thanks again to Summer and WPDE for the effort they put forth to produce such a well-researched story. An important message was delivered to the Myrtle Beach area, one that everyone else in the country could benefit from. Don’t Blink.

A Disappointment for Myrtle Beach

It was supposed to be a glorious winter wonderland. Unfortunately, for many, it feels like the Grinch swooped in and stole Christmas.

Our area has been bracing for a winter storm for several days now. Our local media stations reported on the arrival of Winter Storm Grayson non-stop. Public safety outlets prepared for the collisions that would undoubtedly happen due to inexperienced winter drivers on the roads. Emergency management personnel worked around the clock to inform the organizations they work for about the intricacies of the storm so officials could make the best decisions about ceasing/continuing operations. Even social media professionals (cough, cough) worked hard to let their audiences know about closures and delays.

In terms of hysteria, this winter storm was right on par with your typical hurricane. However, instead of taking precautions to battle a tropical storm that can bring deadly winds, flooding rain, and violent destruction, we were bracing for 1-3 inches of snow.

To my friends out west, laugh all you want. Yes, we call that amount of snow a “dusting” where I am from, but I completely understand why people out here were calling it “Snowmageddon.” You see, these winter events typically don’t happen in the south. Most adults around these parts who have lived in the area most of their lives can count on one hand the amount of times they have seen snow. Most years, South Carolina is shielded from the white stuff and citizens don’t have to worry about the havoc and inconvenience it creates. Driving in snow? Removing snow? Dressing for snow? These are usually not concerns.

That was supposed to change today…

Sidney and I have listened to countless people joke with us the past two days…looks like you guys brought the snow with you from Spokane. Well, I don’t know if we can take credit for giving Myrtle Beach hope for its first actual snow accumulation in eight years but I do admit, it is kind of ironic. However, half of me kept wishing that we did leave it out in Washington. Personally, I hate snow.

In 2010, Myrtle Beach received snow accumulaton.

But many people out here don’t share my sentiment, or at least think they don’t. It was a very exciting time for Myrtle Beach residents as they anticipated a weather pattern completely out of the norm. Folks down here were straight up giddy. It looked as if a late holiday present was coming. So, while half of me didn’t want to see a single snowflake drop, the other half was hoping my friends down here would get their wish.

As the week went on, the forecast for snow kept increasing. By Tuesday night, it was a certainty that our area would be covered in a white blanket. The confidence this morning only grew. Once the day transitioned to the afternoon, our meteorologists had decided to up the ante. We would not get 1-3 inches; instead, we would get 3-5 inches!

By this afternoon, we were supposed to get between 3 – 5 inches of snow. We ended up getting nothing.

The local news told us the snow would arrive at 3 p.m. But it didn’t. They moved the time back to 4 p.m. Nothing. It was adjusted to 5 p.m. Then 6 p.m. at the very latest. Still nada. Some weather people put out a last-ditch estimate for the snow to start at 7 p.m. When that deadline came and passed with absolutely no snow fall, the meteorologists conceded that it was a “busted” forecast. After all that, Myrtle Beach would not see snow.

I found this tweet from popular meteorologist Ed Piotrowski of ABC 15 very funny and also humbling.

So even though I didn’t move to Myrtle Beach to see snow, I still feel bad for my friends and family who really hoped to experience it. There was a lot of buildup and excitement that never materialized.

I also feel bad for the meteorologists. They work so hard and put forth a lot of effort forecasting this storm. I know they wanted to deliver on the snow but no one can completely predict the crazy turns the weather will take.

The snow that was supposed to come as early as 3 p.m. never came at all.

If there is any consolation for the Myrtle Beach children who saw their hopes dissolve this evening, it is that they get another day off tomorrow. Although we didn’t get snow, we got a lot of ice. Thus, in addition to the “snow day” they got today, Horry County School students will get one tomorrow as well. Of course that means if the students don’t have school, neither does Sidney. But it won’t just be Sid and Sloan spending the day together. The Coastal Carolina University campus is closed due to the weather so I will be working remotely in the comfort of our own home. Although I am not a fan of snow days, I am doing the best I can to enjoy the time off with my girls.

As I look outside of my house right now, we have absolutely no snow.

Stay safe, everyone. I hope the people in the towns surrounding Myrtle Beach who did receive snow enjoy it. To those individuals going to bed this evening disappointed, don’t get too bent out of shape – snow really isn’t that great. Don’t Blink.

T.G.I.T. Thursday Rundown

Buenos Noches mis amigos! It is time for my weekly Don’t Blink tradition…the Thursday Rundown. Here we go with my latest five topics…

Same Shirt, Same Pose – A couple months back in a previous Thursday Rundown, I wrote about wearing the exact same shirt on the same date. I had worn the same black polo on July 6, 2017, that I had worn on July 6, 2016. However, that fashion faux pas was put to complete shame this past Sunday. I wore a multi-colored polo that, thanks to Timehop, I had worn exactly five years prior. Yes, I have clothes in my closet that date back five years that I still wear.

Taste of the Town – On Tuesday night, Sidney and I left Sloan in the loving care of my in-laws and the two of us went out on a date night that has become a tradition for us. For the fourth consecutive year, we attended Taste of the Town, an event where you can sample appetizers, entrees, and desserts from restaurants in the area. This year’s Taste of the Town was the best one yet! We enjoyed delicious food, saw lots of people we knew, and chatted with both of our priests. Ah yes, I forgot to mention, the event is put on by St. Andrew. The major fundraiser for the grade school, I am always so proud to be part of the St. Andrew Catholic community when we go to Taste of the Town just because it is such a well-done event that practically all of Myrtle Beach attends. This year was once again no exception.

Sidney and I at the 2017 Taste of the Town.

The Dethroning of a Jeopardy Champion – Last week, I boldly declared that I would continue to incorporate Jeopardy phenom Austin Rogers into my Thursday Rundowns until he was knocked off. Apparently my declaration was his kiss of death. Just an hour after I published last week’s Rundown, Austin lost to a contestant named Scarlett. I was jumping around the living room with joy as he came up short in Final Jeopardy. Although he grew on me a little bit, I fiercly cheered against him throughout his entire run. Austin, you are incredibly smart and a great Jeopardy player but I am glad I no longer have to see you at 7:30 p.m. each night.

T.G.I.F…what? – Another testament to my advancing age is that apparently college students have no idea what T.G.I.F. is/was. Our Homecoming theme this year plays off of the epic 2-hour block of programming that I looked forward to each Friday during my childhood. However, Monica, my student intern, and her friend, Ethan, had absolutely no idea what T.G.I.F. was other than an acronym for the end of the work week. Other students have admitted to not knowing about ABC’s late 1990s/early 2000s ratings bonanza as well. If T.G.I.F. has indeed completely swept by this generation, perhaps I should just get a walker and retire.

Although Ethan and Monica modeled the TGIF-inspired CCU Homecoming t-shirts, they had no idea what T.G.I.F. was.

Growing, Growing, Growing – Sloan turned 7 months on Tuesday! How did she celebrate? Well, before we dropped her off with Sidney’s parents, she got four shots (poor girl) at the pediatrician’s office. However, she took them like a champ, and was back to grabbing things and clapping her hands in no time. The comment we received the most this week has been she is getting so big! It is true, she is now almost 17 pounds and she seems to be growing right in front of us. She turns 31 weeks tomorrow.

Here is this week’s photo collage of Sloan.

——————–

I hope everyone has a great autumn weekend. Sloan has a photo shoot on Saturday so hopefully I will be sharing some professional photos of our little girl soon. As always, thanks for your support and readership. Don’t Blink.

Changing Gyms

After over three years of attending the beautiful HTC Center for my workouts, I joined a new gym last month. The contrast between the sparkling facility we have here at Coastal Carolina University versus the place I am going to now is quite striking.

In short, the former is really nice while the latter is not. But trust me, I am completely fine with it.

Because the hours of operation for both Coastal’s gym and Sloan’s day care don’t mesh well together, I had to find a new exercise center, one that was open 24 hours and preferably close to our house. It didn’t take me long to pinpoint a location.

I am now a member of Gold’s Gym (you want to lift some iron, bro?). Before I address the stereotypes let me explain why I made this decision.

I am now a member of Gold’s Gym in Myrtle Beach.

Believe it or not, I have a history with Gold’s Gym. When I would return to Spokane for holiday and summer breaks when I was a college student, I would pull together the little money I had and use it to purchase whatever promo deal the local Gold’s Gym was offering to get me through the couple weeks or month I was home. Additionally, over the last couple years, I have frequented the Myrtle Beach Gold’s Gym on days the HTC Center was closed (on holidays and when campus shut down for weather events). Thus, because the Myrtle Beach Gold’s Gym is open 24 hours during the week and because it is within 10 minutes of my house, based on the familiarity I had already established with the brand, I went ahead and purchased an actual membership.

As I said, the HTC Center and Gold’s are worlds apart. I went from working out in a spacious, top of the line facility to sweating it out in an old, cramped gym. I went from exercising in the company of fit college students to being surrounded by extremely muscular and intimidating adults. I went from enjoying brand new equipment to lifting weights that could easily be confused with inventory meant for a prison gym.

I do get in a good sweat at Gold’s (and that is all that matters). The Myrtle Beach Gold’s Gym has an actual hardwood gym that I use at the end of my workout. I took this photo a couple weeks ago.

But hold on for one second. I am being a bit dramatic. Although the above comparisons are for the most part true, I do actually enjoy working out at Gold’s Gym. Even if it feels as if I am stepping into the 1980s each time I walk through the doors, it is the atmosphere that makes a gym. At Gold’s, people work hard and treat me with plenty of respect (even the ones who can bench press 1,000 pounds). The staff is incredible. The facility and equipment might be old but it is conducive to what I need to complete my workout and feel good about myself. Most importantly, Gold’s Gym allows me to show up before 5 a.m. so I can get in my workout and get home so my wife can go to work and I can take Sloan to day care.

And, in the end, I am not turning my back on the HTC Center. Although the majority of my workouts take place at Gold’s, I still have the pleasure of exercising with the campus community twice a week. However, I have learned one thing: although luxuries are nice, it is not the gym itself that works the magic; it is the person utilizing it. Don’t Blink.

Spared by Irma

Hallelujah. Hurricane Irma decided to spare us.

On Thursday, I noted that one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to touchdown in the United States could potentially steamroll through Myrtle Beach. Thankfully for us, that won’t be the case.

Despite earlier forecasts that showed our area in the 5-day error cone of the storm and despite plenty of worry and build up, we won’t go toe to toe with Hurricane Irma. Meteorologists, who cautioned the whole time that the storm could shift, proved correct when Irma decided to take a westerly track, not only comfortably bypassing Myrtle Beach but steering clear of most of the entire state of South Carolina itself.

We are all extremely happy. After living through Hurricane Matthew last year, a storm dwarfed both in size and power by Irma, I told myself I was fine if I didn’t have to deal with another Mother Nature assault for a while.

However, as I have mentioned, Hurricane Irma is a massive storm. Because of this, although we won’t be anywhere near the eye of the storm, we will experience “fringe effects” from Irma. Starting tomorrow and lasting through Tuesday morning, the Myrtle Beach area is expecting tropical storm force winds with the possibility of tornados.

Horry County Schools, my wife’s employer, canceled all classes tomorrow. Sidney and Sloan will have the day to snuggle and rest comfortably inside our home while the wind howls. As for me, classes at Coastal Carolina University are also canceled tomorrow (as well as Tuesday) but staff will still report.

Sidney and Sloan will be safe from the fringe effects of Hurricane Irma as they stay home tomorrow.

My thoughts and prayers are with the millions of people who have and will be impacted by this nasty storm. Since my family was spared, it means another young family to the west of us who originally thought they were in the clear now will have to brace for danger. I feel for them.

Thanks to everyone who reached out over the past several days, you are all the best. Do know we are doing fine and that we are completely out of harm’s way. Don’t Blink.

Jamming Out at the Carolina Country Music Fest

Once an avid concert-goer, I have slowed down attending shows over the last few years. However, this past weekend I returned to the live music scene in a big way. To celebrate our anniversary, Sidney and I attended the Carolina Country Music Festival. A mammoth four day fest that attracts some of country music’s biggest superstars to Myrtle Beach, the CCMF is a big deal.

The CCMF was actually a first for me. While I have attended arena shows, outdoor shows, and even an awards show before, I had never went to a music festival. I was excited to sit outside, enjoy the vendors, and meet our 20,000 “neighbors”…

….I just wasn’t ready to do it for four days.

Sidney and I during the first day of the Carolina Country Music Fest.

Sidney and I attended the middle two days of the CCMF on Friday and Saturday. While we knew it would be nice to see acts that performed on Thursday and Sunday such as Jason Aldean, Montgomery Gentry, Chris Young, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, and others, the two days we did go provided us with more than enough fun.

On Friday we arrived at 5: 30 p.m. and stayed until midnight. We saw Parmalee, Kip Moore, Billy Currington, and Darius Rucker. On Saturday we showed up at 4 p.m. and watched LANco, Chris Lane, Granger Smith, Lee Brice, and Kenny Chesney. It was midnight when we left on Saturday as well. So, for those keeping count, we saw nine different acts perform over the course of 17 hours. Talk about a lot of music!

A look at where we were standing on Friday night.

Before I address who we liked best, I did want to mention the fest itself. Although the CCMF is only in its third year, I must say that the organizers seem to have it down to a science. Getting inside the event area was quick and easy. The wristband system is extremely convenient. There was no shortage of food options. Beer stations were all over the place. Different sections at the fest (such as general admission, VIP, Super VIP) were clearly distinguishable and a heavy security presence was on hand to make sure everyone stayed where they were supposed to. Large screens were set up everywhere so those who were not close to the stage could still follow the action. Except for a couple instances, I never really saw much disorganization.

I didn’t understand the magnitude of the event until I walked through the gates the first time on Friday evening. The festival was absolutely packed! However, for the most part, people were really cool. Sidney and I had the opportunity to meet new friends while also enjoying people-watching at its finest. Although we felt really young and really overdressed at times, we had a great time being part of the crowd.

Here is an aerial shot of the CCMF on Saturday night. It is a massive event (photo courtesy of CCMF).

When it came to Friday night, my favorite performer was Billy Currington. He brought a lot of energy to the stage and it was fun to sing aloud to his songs (especially “People Are Crazy”). Darius Rucker was good but I had seen him before, and like I said then, he is pretty much no frills when it comes to his shows. Currington played his set during the period when it went from day to night so to jam out as the sun went down was pretty scenic/fun.

I enjoyed the music on Saturday better. Because Sidney and I arrived a little earlier this day, we moved much closer up in our section. We brought a blanket with us that allowed us to sit and relax during the early acts. Sidney loved Chris Lane’s act. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised by Lee Brice’s set. I saw him when he performed at Coastal Carolina last fall and I didn’t think the show was anything special. However, up on the CCMF stage with the ocean behind him, Brice put on an incredible show. The crowd was really into it and he touched the emotions of most of us with both his sad songs and his party songs. Although proposals at concerts are sometimes cheesy, the couple he had come up on stage made everyone go “awwwwwwwwwwwww” when the dude popped the question and the girl responded with “I absolutely will marry you.”

Sidney and I during the day on Saturday. The second day was our favorite.

But it wasn’t even a question of who the best performer was during the two days we were there. Kenny Chesney was by far and away the greatest entertainer that took the stage. He opened by performing “Beer In Mexico.” The moment he sang the song’s opening lyrics, starin’ out into the wild blue yonder, I looked at Sidney and said WOW.

Chensey’s voice was so distinctive, so clear, so effortless. After hearing the eight previous acts, he just stood out so much. We loved his set. He stuck with his more upbeat hits (so no, he didn’t perform “Don’t Blink”) and just entertained us. His band was awesome and he tried as hard as he could to convey that he was having a good time. He told funny and meaningful stories in between playing hit after hit. After waiting so long to finally see him, I can unequivocally say that Kenny Chesney did not disappoint.

Attending the Carolina Country Music Fest was a great way to spend our anniversary weekend. If we do it again, we might opt for a VIP package and just go one night. One thing plainly obvious to Sidney and I over the course of the two nights was that we can’t hang with the young bucks like we used to. However, we did our best and had a very memorable time. Don’t Blink.