Hey Southern Belle, What Have You Learned After a Year?

As I mentioned in Sid’s Mother’s Day post, she has now lived in Spokane for a year. Throughout the past 365 days she has definitely learned a thing or two about the culture and quirks of the Lilac City. For tonight’s blog post, let’s review 10 of the more prominent lessons taken in by Sid since May 2020.

After a year in Spokane, Sid has learned a thing or two.

1. Coffee stands are on every corner and no aroma is more prominent on the city streets than that of fresh brew.

2. Except of course for the pungent smell of marijuana that similarly can be smelled on every corner thanks to the surplus of dispensaries.

3. From smell to taste, Sid quickly learned that for what this city lacks in fast food chicken (think Bojangles, Zaxby’s, Popeye’s, etc) it makes up for it in fast food Mexican (Say hello to Taco John’s, Taco Time, and Senor Froggy).

4. Want a drink with that burrito? No matter how often my parents have said the word, a year is way too short of a time for Sid to ever think about referring to soda as “pop.”

5. Whatever you call your soft drink, at least it has a chance to stay cold for longer than a minute when you are outside in July. When Sid asked me why we weren’t sweating in the morning one summer day I remarked simply: Fresh air.

6. The climate isn’t the only thing that is at different ends of the spectrum in South Carolina and Washington. Political ideologies are at two different extremes as well. From the red to the blue for Sid!

7. Speaking of politicians, some might compare them to snakes and roaches. Thankfully Sid was able to escape the creepy crawlers (talking about the actual creatures) and now just has to worry about black widows and June bugs.

8. One thing Sidney doesn’t have to worry about is her accent. It is adored and celebrated by the locals who enjoy a Southern dialect in a town that is dominated by accent-neutral speaking folks.

9. Although her accent is celebrated some of her South Carolina idioms aren’t—or should I say they are just misunderstood? People here don’t understand what constitutes “being ugly” beyond bad looks and if you say “going to cut the grass” people will think you are getting your personal scissors out to do some precise trimming.

10. Sid is thankful she didn’t push harder for a riding lawn mower because gas prices to fill it are much more expensive in Washington (roughly $3.20 per gallon right now) than the cheaper prices in South Carolina. It’s okay though, moving to a state with no state income tax was a welcome treat!

Two great places, two vastly different ways of doing things. We love them both. Don’t Blink.

Not Completely Sold on Casinos

On the front page of this morning’s The Sun News, the primary newspaper of Myrtle Beach, appeared a story about casinos. The state of South Carolina is looking to improve its roads and in order to accomplish this, funding is needed. An idea that has been proposed to raise the necessary money is to build casinos.

Of course, the proposal has supporters and critics. The article in the newspaper did a nice job reporting on both sides of the argument. It basically boils down to this: Gaming is an extremely effective way to generate revenue. In fact, it works so well that 40 states in this country already have casinos. On the other side of the coin, casinos can lead to irresponsible behavior and crime. Many lives are destroyed by gambling addicitons and bad decisions.

I always hate not taking a side, but I have a tough time throwing my full support behind either the pro-casino or anti-casino stance. At the core, the arguments made by both camps are valid. Casinos are a gold mine for the economy but of course there is a price, the non-monetary kind, that comes with them.

The moment I turned 18, my friends and I hit the Vegas style gaming that was available to Washington state residents. Fueled by the poker craze that overtook the country a couple years before I became a legal adult, I was ecstatic to finally leave the basements of my friends and enter the big boy gambling establishments. It was an absolute rush and we all had a lot of fun…initially.

However, it didn’t take me long to figure out that gambling was not profitable. I lost much more than I won but I continued to go with my friends. We were heading to the casino multiple times a week. Thankfully, my casino days ended when I went off to college in a different state. When living in Montana, the poker machines and slots didn’t call my name like the Vegas style tables in Washington. My thirst for Blackjack, Paigow, and live poker tables slowly went away.

The same can’t be said for everyone else in my circle who I gambled with. Many ended up throwing thousands of dollars away and had to admit that they had a real problem. It wasn’t pretty.

These days, I consider myself a responsible gambler. When I go home to Spokane, I love going out to Northern Quest, a gambling resort, with my family. Because I can hardly stand to lose any money, I will gamble away $20 and call it good. While I am at Quest, I will spend money on food and drink and basically support the economy through other means besides gambling. For pro-casino folks, they would probably point at me now and say “This is the type of person we are targeting. The responsible, laid back guy who knows his limits and enjoys the atmosphere.”

But I wasn’t always this guy and that is why I understand the anti-casino stance. Then again, I also can concede that just because I was vulnerable when I became of age doesn’t mean that other people will be as well.

Basically I think we have to ask this: Will the dollars that will undoubtedly flow in from casinos justify the lives that will be ruined? It is a tough question and I can’t answer it. Don’t Blink.

Speaking to Middle School Students

Today I had a pretty awesome opportunity. I represented Coastal Carolina University and I went out to Loris Middle School to take part in the Roaring Lions Career Day. For most of my readers who don’t know, Loris is a tiny town located in South Carolina about 45 minutes away from Myrtle Beach. Early this morning I ventured out to the middle school to educate a bunch of eighth graders on what I do for a living.

I visited Loris Middle School today.

I visited Loris Middle School today.

When I worked at the University of Montana I visited a lot of elementary and middle schools because I was in charge of our Griz Student of the Month program. However, it never required me to stand up in front of a classroom for an extended period of time. Tasked today with giving a 40 minute presentation on all facets of my job, I just hoped that I wouldn’t bore the poor kids to death.

A couple minutes before it was show time.

A couple minutes before it was show time.

But in all honesty, I was sent to fight against such a reaction. We thought perhaps the eighth graders would enjoy listening to someone with a career in utilizing fun tools such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Yik Yak. So, with the understanding that I would actually be talking in their language, I thought my presentation had the potential to go over well. Armed with a PowerPoint full of Chauncey photos, plenty of giveaway items, and trivia questions sprinkled throughout my slides, I stood up in front of the classroom and did my thing.

Behind my gimmicks and corniness, I tried to stress one major theme to the students: Social media is a legitimate career that is on the rise. I tried to supplement that message with ways in which the students could position themselves for social media jobs in the future if that was the direction they wanted to head. I also went through what I do on a daily basis, objectives that are expected out of me, professionalism/salary/work ethic, and the reasons why I love my job. Except for the two students who slept through my whole presentation, the other 100 eighth graders seemed to be engaged with and interested in what I had to say. The lively Q&A sessions after each of my talks assured me that students are interested in new media careers.

Loris Middle School students starting to fill the classroom for my first presentation.

Loris Middle School students starting to fill the classroom for my first presentation.

With my last sentence, you are probably now aware that I gave more than one presentation. Believe it or not, I gave FOUR of them. Different eighth grade classes circulated throughout my assigned classroom during the morning. Let me say this, I gained a great appreciation for middle school and high school teachers (as I date an elementary teacher, I already have the utmost respect for them). Speaking for 40 minutes is tiring enough but to do it four times in a row is a bit taxing. Sure, you develop your delivery by the fourth time but everything starts running together. I was asking myself during the last two presentations whether I had already told the students certain points or not.

After each presentation, at least one or two students stayed behind to either ask me questions in a more private manner or to just shake my hand. I thought that was pretty neat. When the morning ended, all the professionals ate with the Loris staff in the teacher’s lounge. We were treated to fried chicken, green beans, rice and gravy, and peach cobbler. As sixth graders, seventh graders, and eighth graders all had various professional speak to them, about 12 people who “sacrificed” their mornings at work to attend the Roaring Lions Career Day filled the lounge. I sat at a table with a land surveyor, a lawyer, and a high school head football coach. It was a great way to end my day at Loris Middle School.

I had a rewarding time participating in today’s career day. Getting out of the office every now and then to speak to young people is a special treat. I hope to do this again in the future while continuing to educate students on the very real and prospering career of social media. Hats off to all the teachers out there who devote everything they have to the young people who are our future. Don’t Blink.

Lazy Weekend in the Books, Busy Week on Tap

Sorry to those readers who look to my Sunday evening blog posts as ones that might have a little more substance than the other ones during the week. Quite frankly, this one is pretty straight forward and simple.

I have not had a more low-key weekend for a long time than the one that is just getting over right now. Yesterday I got to enjoy the pool on an 80-degree day in late October…that there is enough to validate my move to Myrtle Beach. Then in the evening I just watched football. No frills, no trips, no amazing stories. Just relaxation.

The major event from today was going to a small South Carolina town called Marion. I went with Sidney to her grandma’s house for the Mathis family’s monthly birthday gathering. About 22 people gathered to recognize the family members who celebrated October birthdays. I got to enjoy a delicious chicken bog, eat yummy cake, and meet some more members of the Mathis Clan. It was a nice little outing.

Sidney and I on our way to Marion, South Carolina, today.

Sidney and I on our way to Marion, South Carolina, today.

This evening I went to campus and covered the Miss CCU Pageant. The kick off to Homecoming week, the pageant had fifteen young ladies competing for the 2014-15 Miss CCU Pageant title. I enjoyed watching our talented students battle it out in front of a packed house for the coveted title. A student by the name of Natalie Francis Harris was picked by the judges as the winner.

The pageant got started off with a group dance number.

The pageant got started off with a group dance number.

As I just mentioned, Homecoming Week is now underway. This marks the start of a very busy week for me that will ultimately culminate in the Homecoming football game on Saturday. Lots of events to cover and some late nights to come. But it is my first Homecoming at Coastal Carolina and I am excited! GO CHANTS!

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Have an awesome week as we inch closer to the big holiday at the end of the month. One thing is for sure, I got the itch to do a lot of Halloween activities this year. Haunted houses, ghost walks, dressing up, passing out candy, and having fun…I want to do it all! Trick or treat. 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.

First Weekend in Myrtle Beach Down, First Full Week at CCU Coming Up

I find myself in a very content position right now. I am coming off a super nice first weekend in Myrtle Beach and I have a lot to look forward to this upcoming work week.

Let me start first with the weekend. As I mentioned in my last blog post, Saturday started well with a great workout, the completion of some housekeeping issues, and pool time. But it only got better from there. My new friend Veronica and I went out to a great restaurant in Garden City (a small town about 10 miles from Myrtle Beach). Called the Guflstream Café, it is a coveted local steak and seafood place that was built right on the beach. The two of us sat on the upper deck overlooking the water and boats. For dinner we had New York steak and delicious salmon. It is also worth noting that the mashed potatoes that came with the entrees were to die for.

It was a very enjoyable dinner at the Gulfstream Café (clockwise: The view from the deck, the restaurant sign, Veronica with her salmon dinner, my steak!).

It was a very enjoyable dinner at the Gulfstream Café (clockwise: The view from the deck, the restaurant sign, Veronica with her salmon dinner, my steak!).

On Sunday I started the day off right by going to church. As I search for a Catholic church this morning I went with Veronica to her church called New Spring. I feel it is always good to go outside your comfort zone every now and then. After the service I came back to my apartment and spent some more time at the pool. This time though a couple fellow residents introduced themselves to me so I got to meet some people who live at my complex. After I took a stroll on the beach I went to a place called Broadway at the Beach, an area in Myrtle Beach that is full of shops, food, and bars. Although I loved the atmosphere I didn’t achieve my mission of finding a Mother’s Day gift.

The pool at the Alexan Withers Preserve complex is awesome! Great layout and atmosphere.

The pool at the Alexan Withers Preserve complex is awesome! Great layout and atmosphere.

From Broadway at the Beach I went the few block to TicketReturn.com Field, the baseball stadium of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. As a Minor League Single A (long season) team I enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and my seat located in the shade behind home plate. I dominated a bag of peanuts and enjoyed the time by myself…in my opinion, a perfect way to cap off the weekend.

I had a nice relaxing time at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans game.

I had a nice relaxing time at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans game.

I am stoked to get back to work tomorrow! It is graduation week at Coastal Carolina University and I will have the opportunity to work hard and do as much as I can to generate excitement and buildup through our social media outlets. Graduation itself will take place on Saturday in Brooks Stadium, the home of the football team. There will also be festivities prior to the ceremony that I will get to cover as well, just additional chances for me to get my feet wet and connect with the CCU community.

I feel fortunate. I feel fortunate that the staff at Coastal Carolina University has welcomed me so warmly. I feel fortunate that I met someone like Veronica who has taken the time to hang out with me and serve as my “tour guide” so to speak (she hates that term). I feel fortunate that I have the support of my family almost 3,000 miles away. I am blessed. Have a great week everyone! Don’t Blink.

Hello South Carolina!

I have arrived in my new home state! As I write this blog post I am on South Carolina soil where I will begin the next chapter of my life. The bouncing from state to state that has characterized the past several days is over.

But I am not quite in Myrtle Beach…yet. Although in last night’s blog post I hinted at the possibility of arriving at our ultimate destination a whole day early my dad and I made the call to complete the odyssey tomorrow morning. We didn’t make this decision because we are wimps and couldn’t go on for a couple more hours but rather we did it for practical reasons. My apartment community does not open for business until 10 a.m. tomorrow. Getting settled in my new home is priority number one and since we are both early risers we didn’t want to wait around doing nothing for a few hours. Thus, to help us get in Myrtle Beach right when my apartment becomes available and to allow us to get off the road at a reasonable hour tonight, we pulled off into a town called Camden. We are 120 miles from Myrtle Beach.

My dad and I outside a rest stop in Tennessee today.

My dad and I outside a rest stop in Tennessee today.

While yesterday could be characterized as the most exciting day on the road, today was definitely the most beautiful. I thought that the previous few days all showed great glimpses of beauty but today definitely took the cake. Hills covered in large full green trees that looked to stretch for miles while also seemingly reaching out to our U-Haul on the road dominated the landscape the whole way. Throw in the fact that we drove under blue skies on a brilliantly sunny day and you can see how we were treated to a very scenic 10 hour drive.

Some images from today's drive.

Some images from today’s drive.

We woke up in Paducah, Kentucky, and hit the road at 6:30 a.m. once again. Soon we crossed into Tennessee. We drove past Nashville and I got to see the stadium of the Tennessee Titans, LP Field. We then gassed up in Volunteer Country in Knoxville. Next we crossed the North Carolina border and we navigated through the windy and hilly roads until we got dumped into my new home state. Once in South Carolina we drove south to Columbia before heading east on the road that will pretty much lead us to Myrtle Beach. But the conclusion of that route will come tomorrow. This evening we are at the Holiday Inn of Camden for the evening and we are hungry.

Me at the end of the drive today. Next up...Myrtle Beach.

Me at the end of the drive today. Next up…Myrtle Beach.

Here are the stats from today:

Total Mileage Today: 611 miles

Total Mileage for Trip: 2,475 miles

Number of States Visited Today: 4 – Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina.

Number of Stops Today: 4 – Middle of Nowhere, TN (bathroom break), Knoxville, TN (gas and lunch), Border of SC (bathroom break), Camden, SC (ending point of the day).

Food Consumed During Today’s Drive: Convenient store chicken sandwich, convenient store corn dog, 1 pack of Frito Lay’s Flaming Hot Peanuts, 1 Reese’s Peanut Butter Easter Egg.

Drinks Consumed During Today’s Drive: Nothing.

Tomorrow this fun, expansive, and special road trip will come to an end. Because I won’t have internet set up at my new until at least a couple more days you might not see a blog post. But please follow me on Twitter (@BrentReser) for full updates and don’t be shy to tweet at me using the #BrentCoastToCoast hashtag. Thanks to all of you for keeping tabs on me during my travels, I have enjoyed sharing my experiences with you. I just want to offer up one fact with you before I turn this computer off and we go get dinner….my dad is absolutely AWESOME. Don’t Blink.