Sloan’s Day Out

When you have a baby, especially your first one, there is a tendency to be overprotective. One way this can be acted on is by keeping him or her safe and sound in the comfort of your home. With Sloan, we kept her happy and nourished inside our Myrtle Beach home for the majority of her 6-week life.

It is true, Sidney did take her on an errand here and there. We did take her off the premises for pediatrician appointments. Our baby did make regular trips to the house of family members. But it was never like we took her out on a “SLOAN MEETS THE WORLD” day-long tour. That changed yesterday.

This past Saturday, our little family went on a series of “adventures” through the Grand Strand area. I put ourselves at the mercy of Myrtle Beach traffic (one of the greatest fears I have is something happening while we are driving with Sloan) as we embarked on a packed day for our baby daughter.

We first went to the mall. If the trend of online shopping miraculously goes out of style in the next several years, it might be a place where Sloan spends time without us. We put her in the stroller and took her from one end of Coastal Grand Mall to the other. She did awesome.

Sloan enjoyed cruising the Coastal Grand Mall.

From the mall we headed to the Market Common, an impressive lifestyle area packed with restaurants, shops, condos, and entertainment options. There is also a giant park. Yesterday, the Myrtle Beach Dragon Boat Festival took place in this particular park. Sloan experienced her first ever fest as we introduced her to the throngs of people who had gathered on the 80 degree day for the popular event. I got some great practice maneuvering the stroller in a congested area, only managing to run over the foot of one stranger. We kept Sloan in a shaded area for most of the afternoon but we did move her up to a “front row seat” for the championship races.

We made sure Sloan had a front row seat for the championship races at the Dragon Boat Festival in Myrtle Beach.

Sloan’s greatest challenge of the day still awaited her, however. After the Dragon Boat Fest we all went home where we showered and changed. We then headed off to church…

This was a big deal. We were taking Sloan to her first ever mass. I have written about crying babies in church before. Would the Lord take me to task for my prior comments and make Sloan cry out and scream the entire service? Hardly. She was a perfect angel as she rested in her mom’s arms for the whole service, gaining the admiration and hearts of everyone seated near us. When we went up for Holy Eucharist, our new parochial vicar at St. Andrew, Fr. Jose Quilcate, broke into a large smile and commented “what a cute baby” before he blessed her. After the mass concluded, we talked to Fr. Jose again. We told him he had presided over the first of many masses for Sloan and that she would be officially inducted into the Catholic faith at her baptism in June. As we walked away, he called out to us, “You have a great baby!”

Sloan wore her Sunday’s Best to mass at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach.

From St. Andrew, we headed off to a favorite restaurant of ours, Carolina Roadhouse. A large and noisy establishment (but incredibly delicious) we didn’t know exactly how Sloan would react. But she made us proud just like she did the entire day. We fed her a bottle while we waited for our food but for majority of the meal she peacefully sat in her car seat allowing her mommy and daddy to have some special time. After dinner, we troubled Sloan once more when we took her out of the car and up to a Redbox kiosk where she helped her parents pick out a movie. Her decision of “Collateral Beauty” was a good one.

Sloan hung out peacefully in her car seat during dinner last night.

Needless to say, Sloan slept GREAT last night. Even though stressful at times, it was so nice to get Sloan out in the community. She made everything so easy on her parents! Don’t Blink.

What More Restaurants Should Do

Yesterday, I ate lunch with Sidney’s family out on the patio at a popular Myrtle Beach restaurant. With temperatures reaching into the 70s, it was a great afternoon enjoying the atmosphere that River City Café provides. Part of the charm of the place is the ability to use provided crayons to color on the paper table cover. My niece and nephew certainly let their creative juices flow over the course of the lunch.

Enjoying our lunch at River City Cafe during the gorgeous Myrtle Beach afternoon (photo cred to Brenda).

This reminded me of my favorite restaurant in Spokane. Tomato Street is a well-known Italian restaurant in the north part of the city that offers amazing food and, just like River City Café, a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. In addition to the cans of tomato sauce that line the walls, the chalkboard stations that are installed around the restaurant, and the servers who take “flair” to a whole new level there is another “experience building” part of Tomato Street. Whenever a family sits down at a table, it is covered in a fresh white sheet of paper. A cleaned out can of tomato sauce filled with color crayons waits upon the blank slate. Customers go nuts letting their inner artist run wild.

Tomato Street in Spokane is my favorite restaurant.

When drawing on a Tomato Street table, you always want to do your best work. Why? Well, the restaurant will take the very best pieces of dinner art and display them in a glass showcase located in the very large waiting area. When we were younger, it was always a thrill for my family to go to Tomato Street and see if the drawings we did on our previous visit made the showcase. Before social media, it was one of the very best and creative examples of user generated content.

A drawing my dad did of me a couple years ago at Tomato Street. No, it did not make the showcase.

So, what is so special about coloring on the top of a table? Thousands of restaurants across the country do it, right? Yes and yes. However, these days I am surprised that more restaurants don’t do it, primarily because of the phrase I used to end the previous paragraph.

Besides being cost effective and besides serving as a way to entertain guests, Tomato Street utilizes paper table covers as a way for customers to help promote its restaurant (aka user generated content). When someone is drawing/coloring at a restaurant, the common tendency is to create something that is somewhat related to that restaurant. It was not a coincidence that the drawings that made the Tomato Street showcase had something to do with Tomato Street. Each piece of art hung was basically a testimonial for the restaurant.

Now we are in the age of social media. No longer do these pieces of user generated content need to be sheltered inside the walls of the restaurant for people who are already customers to see. Social media can now take these ultra-creative works of art and broadcast them out to an audience that could potentially reach millions. Forget marketing slogans, forget corporate designed logos, and forget staged photos…table cover art made by actual customers is where it is at!

Sure, any restaurant that converts from a traditional table cloth to one that allows customers to draw on it is not reinventing the wheel. The ploy has been around forever. But from what I have seen, businesses have yet to monopolize on this quirky method inside of the digital world. For the Instagram or Facebook account of any restaurant looking for fresh content to post, I think a gold mine awaits with customer produced table art. Don’t Blink.

Sub Zero Ice Cream

Sidney and I just didn’t eat pizza this weekend. We packed on the calories by indulging in another beloved treat as well: ice cream.

Because I love ice cream, I naturally like all the recent industry gimmicks such as Dippin Dots, froyo, and ice cream prepared on stone/marble. As long as it is cold enough to induce a brain freeze, I don’t mind if it is a couple scoops of the classic stuff served in a cone or a cup containing a mixture of flavors and toppings weighed on a scale.

I once ate seven scoops of  ice  cream in five minutes.

I once ate seven scoops of ice cream in five minutes.

This past Saturday, just a couple hours after our MOD Pizza experience, we tried the newest ice cream craze. Not really craving ice cream since we were still full, we went inside of Sub Zero Ice Cream just out of plain curiosity.

Sidney and I visited the Myrtle Beach Sub Zero Ice Cream shop on Saturday.

Sidney and I visited the Myrtle Beach Sub Zero Ice Cream shop on Saturday.

Sub Zero Ice Cream puts quite the spin on the classic dessert. You order which flavor of ice cream you want along with the mix-ins desired at the counter. Then, the magic occurs. The staff makes your order right in front of you by using the science of liquid nitrogen.

Let me back up and explain this process a little better by using our order as an example. Because Sid and I were so full from lunch, we decided to just split a regular sized cup. Although Sub Zero has several creations with many mix-ins available for customers to choose from, we decided to go simple. We wanted just vanilla ice cream and Oreo cookies.

But even the simple is complex. We now had to decide what type of cream we wanted as our ice cream base. Given options such as low-fat, vegan, yogurt, lactose-free, and more, we chose original. The staff member poured the cream into a big silver bowl, added the Oreos, and then placed it under a liquid nitrogen shower/gun contraption. As the nitrogen engulfed the cream, puffs of vapor rose up, creating a pretty cool scene. After a couple more shots with the gun and after some serious mixing, our ice cream was ready.

A look at the set up behind the counter at the Myrtle Beach Sub Zero Ice Cream location. If you look to the left, you can see the staff member pouring the cream into the silver bowl.

A look at the set up behind the counter at the Myrtle Beach Sub Zero Ice Cream location. If you look to the left, you can see the staff member pouring the cream into the silver bowl.

As I paid for our dessert at the counter (it was around $5.50), I thought to myself how it was pretty cool that basic liquid cream could be turned into actual ice cream in just a couple minutes.

With the cup now in front of us, Sid and I dug in. It took just one bite to realize that we were eating some very rich and very heavy ice cream. Of course in the ice cream world that description translates into a taste that is nothing short of delicious. You know how with some ice cream you can dig out a spoonful and you can just see the creaminess and texture in it? This is what Sub Zero Ice Cream is like. Because our vanilla and Oreo cookie mixture was so flavorful and rich, we couldn’t help but think what a chocolate type of ice cream would taste like with multiple mix-ins.

This was our ice cream cup. As you can probably tell, it was very creamy.

This was our ice cream cup. As you can probably tell, it was very creamy.

While we were impressed with the ice cream, I don’t know if it is a place we will frequent that often. Besides the steep prices, it takes a long time for orders to come out, which is semi-understandable since they are making the ice cream right in front of you. But it took us at least 10 minutes from the time we walked through the doors to get our order, and there was just one person standing in line in front of us.

My photography skills are lacking in this photo because I failed to capture the intense vapor that is produced when the mixing occurs. However, you can still see a little bit of it.

My photography skills are lacking in this photo because I failed to capture the intense vapor that is produced when the mixing occurs. However, you can still see a little bit of it.

Also, part of the reason why I like ice cream places so much is because of the ice cream atmosphere. I love the fresh smells, the quirky décor, and the tubs of ice cream visible under the glass. At Sub Zero Ice Cream, you obviously don’t physically see all the flavor choices because everything is made to order. Also, the chain adheres to a science theme so instead of pleasant colors and neon signs, you have depictions of molecular formulas on the walls and liquid nitrogen tanks lining the floor area. It just doesn’t feel that welcoming.

A look at one of the walls inside the Myrtle Beach Sub Zero Ice Cream location.

A look at one of the walls inside the Myrtle Beach Sub Zero Ice Cream location.

Sub Zero Ice Cream hits it out of the park with its product. However, the atmosphere, and, to an extent, the experience, just doesn’t justify me becoming a regular customer. Don’t Blink.

Finding Bethlehem In Surfside Beach

Those of us who love the holidays all have images ingrained in our heads of Christmas magic. For me, I have a few that jump right out: the Christmas tree farm my parents would take us to each year, the festive looking trolley my family rode through the streets of Walla Walla one Christmas Eve, and the fireplace at my grandparents’ house where we would lay out cookies for Santa. I can close my eyes right now and conjure up a vivid image of each scene.

This past weekend, Sidney and I enjoyed a very special Christmas visual that from now on will always resonate within me.

We were traveling back to Myrtle Beach from Murrells Inlet where we had just finished up a 3D ultrasound. About 10 miles separate the two areas. To be honest, the drive is an eyesore. Throughout stretches of the trek you are treated to very uninspired landscape. No colors, scattered trees, little architecture. Since it was 5 p.m. it was starting to get dark, making the trip even that more dreary. As we were driving along, we saw police lights flashing on the side of the road. Thinking the cop had pulled someone over, we drove past without thinking anything of it. After we had passed the police car by about 30 feet, something caught the corner of both our eyes…

In the dark, unimaginative area we were in, we saw a sight that transformed everything. To our right and off to a distance we saw lit tiki torches, white Christmas lights, and high powered lamps. We saw structures made to look like a town from about 2,000 years ago. Sidney squealed when she could make out the shapes of a camel and other animals (you just don’t see that type of wildlife in the Grand Strand area). Finally, you saw people that looked like they had jumped right out of the Bible.

From a distance, we could see a makeshift town complete with biblical characters and animals. We knew we had to go check it out.

From a distance, we could see a makeshift town complete with biblical characters and animals. We knew we had to go check it out.

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere on a dark highway, we had just seen a very unusual site. However, it didn’t take long for it to click for Sidney. She immediately identified it as a Drive-Thru Nativity. Overjoyed by the scene, we didn’t need much convincing. Although not the easiest thing to do, we managed to turn left down a street so we could reverse course on the divided highway and head in the opposite direction back to the Nativity. Once we were going toward the scene, we had to reverse course again once we passed it so we could get on the side of the highway where all the excitement was happening. As we approached the flashing police lights we saw earlier it became obvious…law enforcement was helping out with crowd control. We turned right past the car as a cop waved us in.

Sidney and I had managed to drive by the Church of the Resurrection at just the right time so we could see its Return to Bethlehem Drive-Thru Nativity.

Sidney and I had managed to drive by the Church of the Resurrection at just the right time so we could see its Return to Bethlehem Drive-Thru Nativity.

We had arrived at the Church of the Resurrection, a place of worship I never knew existed. Even though the church was a tall structure with an impressive steeple, it had never popped out to me while driving the monotony of Highway 17 Bypass in the past. On this particular weekend, the congregation was putting on its “Return to Bethlehem” Drive-Thru Nativity. As we drove by the church up to the gates of Bethlehem, we stopped at several stations. Each of these stations had a board with scripture written on it setting the stage for the different scenes we would encounter after going through the gates.

This was our view right after we turned into the property of the Church of the Resurrection in Surfside Beach. The church itself is on the left and the board you see right in front of our dash has scripture on it, describing one of the seven scenes of the Drive-Thru Nativity.

This was our view right after we turned into the property of the Church of the Resurrection in Surfside Beach. The church itself is on the left and the board you see right in front of our dash has scripture on it, describing one of the seven scenes of the Drive-Thru Nativity.

Church members arranged cars into one of three lanes in front of the Bethlehem gates. When we were given the go-ahead, we slowly drove forward. Two teens dressed as guards in armor halted us.

“Are you here for the Census?” one of the teens questioned.
“Yes we are!” replied Sidney.

We convinced the guards at the gates of Bethlehem to let us in so we could see the Drive-Thru Nativity put on by the Church of the Resurrection.

We convinced the guards at the gates of Bethlehem to let us in so we could see the Drive-Thru Nativity put on by the Church of the Resurrection.

With that the gates opened and we entered the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

For the next ten minutes or so, we were treated to several scenes that told the story of the birth of Jesus. So much effort was poured into the presentation. Each scene was built with care and craftsmanship. The church members serving as actors had microphones so you could easily hear from the comfort of your car. Church members not playing a part gave us clear directions on when to drive up to the next scene. The animals did not disappoint. Besides the camel we also saw goats, llamas, and sheep.

A look at some of the scenes we saw at "Return to Bethlehem," a Drive-Thru Nativity put on by the Church of the Resurrection in Surfside Beach..

A look at some of the scenes we saw at “Return to Bethlehem,” a Drive-Thru Nativity put on by the Church of the Resurrection in Surfside Beach..

All the special moments from the actual birth of Jesus to the angel appearing to the shepherds to the visit of the Magi were depicted. My personal favorite scenes were the first and the last. Starting off the Drive-Thru Nativity was the angel telling Mary that she would conceive the Son of God and concluding the display was a joyful performance by a choir of angels singing Angels We Have Heard on High.

My two favorite scenes included the angel telling Mary that she would conceive Jesus and then the choir singing "Angels We Have Heard on High" at the end.

My two favorite scenes included the angel telling Mary that she would conceive Jesus and then the choir singing “Angels We Have Heard on High” at the end.

The presentation was perfect, as was our timing. Not knowing about this event at all, we had arrived right when it started on the first of the only two nights that it was offered. It certainly was special.

But as I mentioned above, what will really stay with me from last Saturday night was the scene we saw while passing in our car. In the dreariness, we saw the town of Bethlehem fully illuminated, inviting us to stop. I won’t forget the image of the people, the animals, and the light that seemed to cry out to us as we drove by. Thanks to the Church of the Resurrection for doing such a cool thing. Don’t Blink.

Go Out For Breakfast!

This past Saturday, I asked Sidney to go out to breakfast with me. Kindly, she sacrificed some of her well-deserved sleep and obliged. At 8:30 a.m. we drove to one of the many breakfast houses that line Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. This particular one was called Southern House of Pancakes and we made sure to bring our appetites.

We sat in a worn booth inside the busy but warm restaurant. It was the type of place that had the silverware placed in plastic sacks, waitresses that called you “hun,” and a system where you brought your check up to the cashier when you finished. This particular place had a little more personality than your typical breakfast joint though. The owner joyfully mingled with staff and customers on the restaurant floor and the walls were lined with colorful southern phrases. Sidney made me laugh by saying each one with an exaggerated accent (which is very exaggerated considering she already has a thick southern accent).

I took this photo of Sidney with our food on the table at the Southern House of Pancakes in Myrtle Beach.

I took this photo of Sidney with our food on the table at the Southern House of Pancakes in Myrtle Beach.

I ordered pancakes, eggs, and sausage. I also ordered a hot chocolate complete with whipped cream that seemed to reach as high as a foot above the mug. Sid got a waffle and hash browns. We traded bites of our food and had a delightful morning.

A close up look at our food that we enjoyed at the Southern House of Pancakes in Myrtle Beach.

A close up look at our food that we enjoyed at the Southern House of Pancakes in Myrtle Beach.

I say this not to promote the Southern House of Pancakes nor to go off on another pancake tangent. Rather, I am writing just to say this: go out for breakfast every now and then.

I advocate eating breakfast at a restaurant for a few reasons. First, doing so helps get the day off to a great start. Sleeping in on the weekend is nice, but getting up when others are sleeping and sitting down for a warm meal is even nicer. Second, breakfast is more of a treat than anything. When you go to a diner for the first meal of the day, you aren’t eating salads and fancy hors d’oeuvres. Rather, you are eating pancakes, French toast, waffles, biscuits and gravy, bacon, and crepes. It is your time to indulge in something hearty and sweet. Third, breakfast is just low key. Prices are cheaper and people are more relaxed.

But the main reason why it is important to go out for breakfast every now and then is simply because of the experience. Most of the time when you go to these breakfast houses, it is just pure nostalgia. Many of these places haven’t been updated in years. At the cash register you can grab a mint or an issue of some strange alternative newspaper. Glassware is simple, the menu is straightforward, and the atmosphere is warm. Even for people who don’t drink it, the rich aroma of coffee dominates the inside of these places bringing a soothing feeling. The butter is whipped, the milk is from a machine, and the syrup is homemade. To me, the yummy food is just a small part of the breakfast appeal.

When Sidney and I went out for breakfast this past Saturday, it was our first time doing so since our honeymoon. It proved to be just what we needed. Are you overdue for a warm breakfast at a family restaurant? Perhaps this weekend is your chance. Get up a little early and enjoy yourself. Don’t Blink.

Our 2016 Voting Experience

Today it was the pleasure of Sidney and I to perform our civic duties and vote. We went to Ocean Bay Elementary School in Myrtle Beach to cast our ballots.

We voted at Ocean Bay Elementary in Myrtle Beach today.

We voted at Ocean Bay Elementary in Myrtle Beach today.

We quickly learned we weren’t just poking our heads in to vote. With the line stretching outside the school, it made for a long afternoon. Inside, the line stretched and curved all around the school’s cafeteria.

The turnout at our voting precinct was heavy. The line snaked around the entire cafeteria and out the door.

The turnout at our voting precinct was heavy. The line snaked around the entire cafeteria and out the door.

We passed the time in line by talking to our neighbors in front of us and in back of us. As South Carolina is very much a red state, I overheard a lot of people voicing their support for Trump. One man said he would “wait all day to vote for Trump” while another commented that he didn’t care about the rest of the ballot, he just wanted to vote for Donald.

After we checked in at the voting precinct, we were given these little "vote" cards that we eventually would give to the voting official at the front of the line.

After we checked in at the voting precinct, we were given these little “vote” cards that we eventually would give to the voting official at the front of the line.

After two hours and 20 minutes in line, Sidney and I finally reached the front of it. A main reason for the long wait wasn’t just because of the strong turnout, it was also because out of the seven voting machines installed, only three were in working order.

After two hours and 20 minutes, we finally reached the front of the line.

After two hours and 20 minutes, we finally reached the front of the line.

Once we submitted our ballots we received our coveted stickers and took the obligatory “we voted” selfie. Then, hungry from the long wait in line, we went off to lunch.

Wearing the stickers to prove it, Sidney and I posed for this selfie outside of Ocean Bay Elementary after casting our ballots.

Wearing the stickers to prove it, Sidney and I posed for this selfie outside of Ocean Bay Elementary after casting our ballots.

My story, along with the millions of other voting experiences shared by others today, is a major example of why the United States of America is the best country on the planet. To have the opportunity to voice our opinion for the top leader in the nation along with our preference on many other races and issues is an extraordinary right that we all need to appreciate and take advantage of. I voted and I am proud of that. Don’t Blink.

Proud To Be A Myrtle Beach Local

Last night, Sidney and I attended Taste of the Town, a Myrtle Beach event where over 40 area restaurants set up booths and offer food samples. As we walked up to the convention center I looked at Sid and said, “Can you believe this is the third year we have attended this?”

This was Sidney and I at Myrtle Beach's Taste of Town last night. The event is sponsored by the St. Andrew Catholic community.

This was Sidney and I at Myrtle Beach’s Taste of Town last night. The event is sponsored by the St. Andrew Catholic community.

Although I have come to realize it for at least a year now, when I asked her that rhetorical question the truth couldn’t have been more obvious to me: I am a genuine Myrtle Beach local.

Of course I was immediately a Myrtle Beach local the day I moved here by way of my address but I don’t think from a psychological standpoint I was. Now, almost exactly two and a half years since I arrived here in a U-Haul, I don’t think they come much more local than me.

Besides still messing up on directions every now and then, I would say I am a solid Grand Strand citizen. I work here, got married here, and our baby will be born here. I know about all the popular restaurants, the diviest bars, and the best ice cream parlors. I am familiar with all the local high schools, car dealerships, and putt putt courses. I have spent enough time on 501 to last a lifetime and enough time in the surf shops to know that if you have seen one you have seen them all.

But back to Taste of the Town real fast. It really is a fabulous event. Besides the restaurants I mentioned above, there is also entertainment, a beer garden, activities for kids, and much more. It is a major Myrtle Beach event and it is all put on by the St. Andrew Catholic community. As Sid and I walked around during the peak period of the event and admired what seemed to be the entire city inside that convention center, we felt very proud to be members of St. Andrew.

But you know what else I am proud of? Being a Myrtle Beach local! This place is my home and it is much more to me than just a popular tourist town. Don’t Blink.

The Hollywood Wax Museum in Myrtle Beach

On Friday night, Sidney and I wanted to do something a little different to cap off our date night. So after we finished dinner we decided that we wanted to act like tourists. How did we do that, you ask? We decided to go to one of the biggest tourist traps (I mean destinations) in town.

Sidney and I ate dinner at an Italian restaurant called Maggi D's on Friday night.

Sidney and I ate dinner at an Italian restaurant called Maggi D’s on Friday night.

The Hollywood Wax Museum in Myrtle Beach is an impressive structure. The exterior is built according to a popular King Kong scene. A version of the New York skyline takes up the outside base of the structure and at the very top is a giant King Kong gripping an airplane from atop the Empire State Building. You see, when you are driving down U.S. 17 Bypass it is impossible not to look. As Sidney and I drive by it almost on a daily basis, our curiosity finally got the best of us.

Before we walked inside on Friday night, I took this photo of the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Before we walked inside on Friday night, I took this photo of the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Believe it or not, the Hollywood Wax Museum isn’t solely a wax museum. It also is home to a mirror maze and a haunted house. The price for out-of-towners for an all-access pass good for all three attractions is $27. However, since Sidney and I are proud locals, we only had to pay $20.

Although I was probably more interested in the mirror maze and haunted house, we decided to tour what the center was named for first. After getting our picture taken in front of a King Kong backdrop, we entered the wax museum. Quickly, for those who don’t know, a wax figure is a replica of an actual person made out of (I am guessing but don’t know for sure) wax. The artists of these figures do their best to pinpoint the physical characteristics and mannerisms of each person.

The Hollywood Wax Museum is filled with replicas of famous celebrities.

The Hollywood Wax Museum is filled with replicas of famous celebrities.

With that said, some wax figures were dead on when it came to portraying the person they were supposed to. Other figures weren’t even close. However, Sidney and I would both say that the accurate ones were much more abundant than the ones that missed the mark. Another thing we can say for sure is that the total number of wax figures exceeded our expectations.

Some of the wax figures depicted certain celebrities right on while others were a little bit of a stretch.

Some of the wax figures depicted certain celebrities right on while others were a little bit of a stretch.

Each wax figure had a screen with a description about that particular person. It contained the name of the person, his/her career highlights, and usually some obscure fact(s). When Sidney and I first entered the museum we started to read each screen. However, as it became clear that we would be there all night if we did, we started to pick and choose.

This isn’t a museum where they encourage you to put your phones away. In fact, it is the absolute opposite. To promote selfies, the museum offered props at several of  the figures for visitors to use. For example, Rocky Balboa and Hugh Hefner each had robes on a hook that you could put on. Harrison Ford (as Indiana Jones) had a hat you could don and a snake you could drape around yourself. It was a nice touch.

Several of the figures came with props that you could use while  taking photos.

Several of the figures came with props that you could use while taking photos.

The museum was set up in sections. In one part you had iconic figures from the 1950s such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean. Another section had horror film legends. Another had action heroes. One section had divas. Another one had current female pop stars such as Pink, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry. The museum was very organized, vast, and clean.

Me hanging out with some of the 1950s icons.

Me hanging out with some of the 1950s icons.

When it came to our favorite figures, I especially liked the John Travolta replica. Sidney sided with Justin Timberlake. My favorite section was the horror one but coincidentally it was Sidney’s least favorite. She wouldn’t go inside it with me. Overall, we had a great time “meeting” all of those famous people .

Sidney liked Justin Timberlake and I liked John Travolta.

Sidney liked Justin Timberlake and I liked John Travolta.

After we finished at the museum we took a look at the gift shop and then hopped on an elevator to the basement for the mirror maze and the haunted house. We did the maze first.

A look at some of the figures in the horror section.

A look at some of the figures in the horror section.

We went through the doors and entered a room with a screen. Surrounding the screen were what seemed like hundreds of different mirrors projecting our reflection. After we adjusted to seeing our reflection in so many unique ways the screen turned on and a king gave us our mission. We had to go save the princess. This wasn’t like the mirror maze at the fair we all went through when we were younger. This maze was an expensive production. It was built like a castle. Music played, lights flashed, smoke rose. It almost seemed like it was half reality, half virtual reality. It took some teamwork on our part to get out but we made it. If you want an actual look at Sidney and I navigating through the maze, there is a video on my Facebook page of us doing just that.

Sidney wouldn’t do the “haunted house” with me but she didn’t miss too much. I used quotations because it is officially not a haunted house but rather a “zombie apocalypse outbreak.” The premise of the attraction is that a government experiment went completely wrong and zombies took over. Visitors have the opportunity to walk through the center where the failed experiment went down. I went through with two other couples. You watch a video and the doors open but it is just downhill from there. The whole thing is on autopilot. You go past zombies that are set to move or light up based on proximity sensors. There was only one live actor at the very end of the attraction. For someone like myself who loves haunted attractions, I was not impressed.

But the $20 was worth the admission for the wax museum and the mirror maze. The Hollywood Wax Museum is definitely one of those things that you only need to do once. However, that one time you do it will definitely make for a fun and unique date night. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Best of the Beach

Four years ago, I ripped off a standard content hog of every newspaper you will find in this country. Do you know what I am talking about? Every publication has a “Best of (insert city here)” where readers are polled and asked to vote on their top choice of restaurant, bar, news personality, realtor, ice cream shop, etc. etc. Well, in 2012 I used this blog and published my “Brent’s Best of the Zoo” post. For those not familiar with Montana slang terms, “Zoo” is a nickname for Missoula.

As I have lived in Myrtle Beach for over two years now, I decided to take a stab at naming some of my favorite places and activities in town. In order to keep this blog post from getting out of control, I decided to limit it to 15 categories. Speaking of categories, I tried to choose ones that are relevant to this area and ones that I can actually speak on (i.e. I have never ate sushi before so “Best Sushi in Myrtle Beach” is not a category). So enough with the explanations, let’s get to the winners!

Best All-Around Restaurant: Drunken Jack’s

Although it is on the Marshwalk in Murrells Inlet, I am counting Drunken Jack’s in Brent’s Best of the Beach. In my option, Drunken Jack’s boasts the best salad bar, the best hush puppies, and the best seafood/steaks in the area. Not only is it the best when it comes to food, it is also tops in atmosphere as well. Built to give the illusion that you are eating on a pirate ship, the place feels cozy. While you wait for your table you can enjoy complimentary popcorn while taking in the beautiful views of the water. If you want the best in scenery, personality, and food, Drunken Jack’s is for you.

This is a collage of my brother, Sidney, and I enjoying an evening at Drunken Jack's.

This is a collage of my brother, Sidney, and I enjoying an evening at Drunken Jack’s.

Best Bar: Remedies

I enjoy Remedies not just because it is a locals bar. I count it as my favorite because it is covered in televisions and because it is non-smoking. Throughout the past couple years I have gone to Remedies on numerous occasions to watch my western teams play as their TV package allows them to bring up pretty much any game. The food is excellent and the drink prices are very good. The bartenders are welcoming and treat you well the whole time you are there.

This is Sidney and I at in 2014 when we went to Remedies to watch the Montana football team play.

This is Sidney and I at in 2014 when we went to Remedies to watch the Montana football team play.

Best Miniature Golf Course: Mt. Atlanticus

Talk about the category with the stiffest competition! Myrtle Beach is covered with “Happy Gilmore” style putt putt courses. I made the tough decision choosing Mt. Atlanticus as my favorite because of how the course makes you ascend up. The holes are creative, especially the 19th ball return one, but it is the gradual climb of the course I like the most. When you conclude your 18th hole, you are high above in a tiki hut type structure looking over the whole course. Other courses might have dinosaurs, exotic animals, and pirates but Mt. Atlanticus has a view.

Sidney and I at Mt. Atlanticus in September of 2015.

Sidney and I at Mt. Atlanticus in September of 2015.

Best Ice Cream Place: Meyer’s Ice Cream Parlor

This is another category with extremely tough competition. Ice cream parlors dot every corner in the Grand Strand area. But my favorite is clear cut. Meyer’s Ice Cream Parlor is an inviting place with the BEST ice cream. The exterior is covered in different colors and ice cream cut outs and the inside takes on a New York Yankees theme but it is the ice cream that stands out. All flavors are fresh and the sundaes are fun and huge. You will feel nostalgia and happiness when you eat inside Meyer’s. I can’t recommend it enough.

This is me at Meyer's Ice Cream Parlor (notice the Yankees memorabilia and pink walls in the background) enjoying one of their classic sundaes.

This is me at Meyer’s Ice Cream Parlor (notice the Yankees memorabilia and pink walls in the background) enjoying one of their classic sundaes.

Best Signature Activity: Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens

In Myrtle Beach you have a hundreds things to do with top entertainment options, the ocean, and numerous golf courses. However, if there is an event that stands out from the Myrtle Beach mainstays, it would be Nights of a Thousand Candles. Every December for a few weeks, the big sculpture garden in Myrtle Beach, Brookgreen Gardens, becomes a Christmas cheer destination. The event will make you forget about the fact that Myrtle Beach doesn’t get snow. Event organizers set up thousands of candles and lights throughout the gardens. You walk on paths and admire the beauty as talented people perform Christmas carols. It is a peaceful and warm way to get into the holiday spirit.

Sidney and I at Night of a Thousand Candles in 2014.

Sidney and I at Night of a Thousand Candles in 2014.

Best Movie Theater: Coastal Grand Mall (Cinemark)

A couple months ago I would have given this nod to the Grand 14 at Market Common (Stone Theaters) but the cinema at Coastal Grand Mall is now tops. The theater recently replaced all seats with electronic recliners. Now, each auditorium just has a capacity of 50 people but if you get a seat it is well worth it. The theater is always clean and you can’t beat the location considering it is attached to the best mall in Myrtle Beach.

Best Sit Down Pizza Place: Mellow Mushroom

When I was home for the holidays in Spokane I found myself at the casino. I was at a blackjack table sitting next to a woman. She asked me where I lived and I told her Myrtle Beach. She remarked that she visited there for a short time several years back. I asked her what she remembered most. Her response? Mellow Mushroom.

Yes, the pizza is that good. I highly recommend it.

Best Delivery Pizza Place: Marco’s Pizza

I like nothing more than enjoying a low key Friday night in with Marco’s Pizza. Much better than the national delivery chains (you will have to pay a little extra), you can count on fresh toppings and plenty of grease. Make sure to order their garlic sauce and you will feel like you made the best choice ever.

Best Grocery Store: Publix

The hype is real. When Publix came to Myrtle Beach I didn’t know if it would be a game changer for the grocery habits of Sidney and I. But it is. Although we will usually still go to Lowe’s which is just two minutes away from our house, we will frequent Publix if we want an out of the ordinary shopping experience. Where else can you go to get a loaded ice cream cone as a sample? Where else can you go where the baggers still insist on taking your groceries out for you? Where else can you go where the store brand is legitimately better than the premium brand? There isn’t a better supermarket option in Myrtle Beach than Publix.

Publix has a terrific line of products. Check out this ice cream flavor.

Publix has a terrific line of products. Check out this ice cream flavor.

Best Sandwich Place: Which Wich

When I tried Which Wich for the first time I immediately fell in love with the concept. You walk in and fill out your order on a brown paper sack. Your sandwich comes out exactly how you wanted it. The food is as perfect as the ordering process. The submarine sandwiches are unique in both build and taste. You will want it again and again.

Best Place to Take Visitors: Broadway at the Beach

Although Broadway at the Beach is undergoing an evolution of sorts right now, it is still a great place to take visitors. You can enjoy sports bars, frozen drink bars, Mexican bars, live music bars, and clubs. And that is just the adult portion of it. Broadway at the Beach also has numerous restaurants, specialty shops, carnival rides, putt putt, kiosks, surf shops, a movie theater, and more. Did I mention that the place is built around a man made body of water that is stocked with ferocious-looking hungry fish? Broadway at the Beach earns my designation as the “best place to take visitors” because there is something for everyone.

Sidney and I enjoying a moment at Broadway at the Beach.

Sidney and I enjoying a moment at Broadway at the Beach.

Best Place for a Date: Market Common

As Myrtle Beach is a destination city, it is filled with tourist traps and gimmicky entertainment centers. The Market Common was built as a classy lifestyle center with locals in mind. With several unique restaurants, upscale bars, designer shops, and a nice movie theater all built on a strategically designed and well landscaped property, a relaxing night out at Market Common is easy to enjoy for any couple. I can’t count all the dates Sidney and I have enjoyed out at the area.

Best Beach Area: Springmaid

The Springmaid Pier is away from all the avenue beaches that bring in hoards of tourists. But don’t think Springmaid is full of locals either. Whenever we go, the beach is never full but it is always very well maintained. With plenty of free parking available, it is the most convenient place to go to take full advantage of the beautiful beach. Don’t pass it up.

This is Glen and I at Springmaid Pier

This is Glen and I at Springmaid Pier

Best Breakfast: Johnny D’s Waffles

Go up and down Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach and you will see probably around 30 different pancake houses. Many of them taste the same but Johnny D’s Waffles is in a league of its own. From their red velvet waffle to their cinnastax pancakes to their filling skillets, nothing matches Johnny D’s in terms of unique variety and freshness. The restaurant isn’t huge and there is usually a wait but it is definitely worth it.

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So there you have Brent’s Best of the Beach. Perhaps next year or in a couple years I will do a second version with other categories included. If you aren’t one of my Myrtle Beach readers, I apologize for boring you. If you are a Myrtle Beach reader, please let me know what you think of my list. Have a great week, everyone! Don’t Blink.

My Top Ten Photos From Our Wedding Day

When we received our wedding pictures back, it was a little overwhelming. Hundreds of photos and hundreds of memories were suddenly under our noses. We took our time looking through them, taking a break, looking through them again, taking a break, etc.

I am now at the point where I am well-acquainted with the beautiful work that Nicholas Gore Weddings took on our special day. For today’s blog post, I thought I would highlight my top ten favorite photos from June 11, 2016. Please keep in mind that I didn’t pick out the top photos that a photographer probably would if he/she scanned the album. Rather, I just picked the ones that I enjoyed and that meant something to me. So, in my best attempt to go in chronological order, here are my ten favorites.

Behind the Scenes – Our photographer went to the house of my sister-in-law prior to the wedding to capture Sidney and her bridesmaids getting ready. This photo of Sidney with her robe still on but her hair and makeup done really shows the excitement of what is about to come. I love the behind the scenes aspect of it too.

Sidney getting ready for the big day to come (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Sidney getting ready for the big day to come (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Sid and Her Mom – This photo is cool just because it is the point of no return. Sid is getting in the car to go to the church. With her mom helping her, it is both a sweet and serious photo.

My mother-in-law, Brenda, helps her daughter into the car to go to the church (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

My mother-in-law, Brenda, helps her daughter into the car to go to the church (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

We Did It!! – The look of joy and relief on our faces as we walk up the aisle after our ceremony says a lot. This is one of my very favorite photos that Nick took.

Now that looks like one very happy couple! (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Now that looks like one very happy couple! (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Making It Legal – After the ceremony ended and we embraced our family, we went back to the altar where we signed our marriage certificate. This shot is meaningful because it shows Sidney and I with the man who married us, Father James LeBlanc.

Fr. James LeBlanc, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Myrtle Beach, looks on as we sign our marriage certificate (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Fr. James LeBlanc, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Myrtle Beach, looks on as we sign our marriage certificate (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

The Wedding Party – How can’t the wedding party photo be one of my favorites? You might have seen it on my Facebook page yesterday but here it is again. Not a bad looking group, right?

This was our wedding party (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

This was our wedding party (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

A Picture Says a Thousand Words – In an earlier blog post I featured a photo showing the profiles of both Sid and I during our first dance. However, this one focused on Sidney just expresses so much more. All you need to do is look at Sid’s eyes to learn everything you need to about the photo. And even though the picture is of the back of my head, you can still see that I am smiling.

No caption needed for this one (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

No caption needed for this one (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Reaction Shot – This photo captures a special moment as it was when my brother was giving the best man’s toast. We loved it how Nick scanned down the whole head table and focused in on the reactions of Sidney and I.

When Glen delivered the best man toast, the camera focused on the reactions of Sidney and I (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

When Glen delivered the best man toast, the camera focused on the reactions of Sidney and I (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

It’s All About the Kids – The Coin Dance is an Italian tradition where reception attendees throw coins on the floor while the bride and groom dance. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it also produces the best photos. I love this shot of Sidney and I laughing while the kids scramble to pick up coins. Coin Dance photos serve as the best historical record because they manage to capture most of the kids at the wedding. About 20 years from now this photo will be a lot of fun.

Kids get on hands and knees to pick up money during the Coin Dance (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Kids get on hands and knees to pick up money during the Coin Dance (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Cutting the Cake – I really enjoy this artistic, vivid photo. The way Sidney gently guides my hands as we cut the cake is captured perfectly.

Sid's hands guiding mine as we cut the cake (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Sid’s hands guiding mine as we cut the cake (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

The Moment Before – This image was taken the second before Sidney threw the bouquet. You can really see the contemplation running through her head. The fact that she looks absolutely beautiful in it makes the photo even better.

Sidney getting ready to throw the bouquet (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Sidney getting ready to throw the bouquet (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Additional Special Moments…

The Ceremony – Fr. LeBlanc officiated a great wedding. The images below are a couple of my favorite from the ceremony.

Some shots from the ceremony, including our glamour shot up at the altar.

Some shots from the ceremony, including our glamour shot up at the altar.

The Little People We Love – Nick made sure to get some awesome photos of our nieces and nephew. On the left is my sister’s little girl, Mikayla. On the right is Harrison, the son of my sister-in-law, Stephanie.

Great shots of Mikayla and Harrison.

Great shots of Mikayla and Harrison.

Embracing Russell – Not forgetting our other niece, Sidney and I each shared special hugs with Russell (Stephanie’s daughter) after the wedding.

Sharing a moment with our niece, Russell.

Sharing a moment with our niece, Russell.

Family Is Everything – After both of us said “I Do,” we officially became parts of new families. On the left I am with the Mathis Family and on the right Sidney is with the Reser Family.

Sidney and I with our new families.

Sidney and I with our new families.

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Thanks again to Nicholas Gore Weddings for doing such a great job. We will cherish these images forever. Don’t Blink.