Sunday, January 24, 2016

Myrtle Beach, SC ~ December 2015

Steve and his family have been visiting Myrtle Beach for several decades where they used to camp near the beach. During the 90's Paul and Sue bought their first property on those exact same campgrounds, currently known as Kingston Plantation. It was the first place Steve took me on vacation in 2001 and since then, we have visited Myrtle Beach at least 19 times (wow! That took some research...) In January 2006, we were engaged on the beach and in July 2006, we were married at Kingston Plantation. I guess you can call it a second home and a place that has gifted us with countless memories.

When it was time to start planning a celebration to commemorate Paul & Sue's 50th wedding anniversary, Myrtle Beach was an obvious choice. It's a place where we have all shared many fond memories as a family. Once we determined the place, we still had to pin down a time. As we all know, organizing work schedules can be a daunting task. When the Cavs schedule came out in August, we immediately looked at the time between Christmas and New Year's and were thrilled and shocked to see there was a nine day stretch without any home games. In Steve's 20 years with the Cavaliers this has never happened, so the pieces of the puzzle were coming together nicely.

September 4, 2015 is when Paul and Sue celebrated their monumental 50-year wedding anniversary. Gretchen had arranged for some family and loved ones to join them at church, followed by cake and the unveiling of the video collaboration by the Lemings, Schurs and Horans. Not only was the video an expression of our love and admiration, but also an invitation for them to join us all in Myrtle Beach!

Fast forward to December and we all met on the beaches of Kingston Plantation for a week+ of fabulous weather, family, food and fun.

From the start we knew we wanted to stay at The Margate at Kingston. Although Paul & Sue own a different condo at the resort, we wanted places that were larger and oceanfront. The Margate is the newest and largest property at Kingston, so we were pretty sure we couldn't go wrong.

As you may know, I am a bit of a master at finding great deals and this trip was no different. I looked at over 100 units before finding a three bedroom/three bathroom unit on VRBO. We planned to share the unit with Gretchen, Scott, Paul & Sue, while Karen would find another place for her family. Karen and I searched high and low to find the perfect place for them and she finally decided to rent though Kingston. They had a four bedroom/three bathroom unit across the hall from us. Although it was massive (honestly too big...) the location could not have been more ideal. Truly perfect.

During the day, we kept the doors open to both units and closed them off to the hallway. We essentially had our own "wing" on the 18th floor, complete with 7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and 6,000 square feet of living and oceanview/oceanfront balcony space. It was huge. Even with 8 adults and 2 kids, we didn't come close to utilizing all of the space.

Due to a Cavs home game on 12/23, Steve and I weren't able to leave Lakewood until Christmas Eve morning. We woke up extra early and were on the road by 5:00 am. We predicted an 11 hour drive, but due to the nearly flawless weather and perfect road/traffic conditions, we made it to Myrtle Beach by 3:00 pm. Within the next hour, we were joined by Paul, Sue, Gretchen and Scott who had left from Connecticut the day prior. We did our fair share of unpacking and grocery shopping followed by a few pizzas from The Office Italian Workplace (for Locals) to top off the night.

On Christmas morning, we woke up to a wall of fog. This is a view from the balcony vs. a clearer day during the rest of the week.

We began the day with a beautiful breakfast of pancakes, bacon and fruit made mostly by Steve and Scott. A true team effort.

Scott and Gretchen had brought strings of lights, so Scott put a few on the balcony and decorated one of the artificial plants. Once in the festive mood, we opened up a few gifts from under the tree.

Despite the fog, the weather was truly outstanding and in the mid/high 70's during our entire vacation. In an attempt to take advantage of the weather, Gretchen, Scott, Steve and I took a six-mile walk before returning home to finish making dinner and watch the Cavs/Warriors game. In truly SMS fashion, we just couldn't resist representing our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Christmas dinner consisted of a delicious pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas and great company.

By the time Christmas evening arrived, the skies had cleared and we saw the extraordinary full moon from our balcony. 

The next day, Steve and I drove three hours to Lexington, SC to visit with our friends Karen and Greg and their daughters Lauren and Rachel. Steve and Greg went to USC together and we have tried to stay in touch. We try to see them whenever we're in SC, but it's never frequent enough. The last time was at Rachel's baptism in May 2013 (Steve is Rachel's Godfather).

The next day is when the Horans arrived from Massachusetts. Lorelei and Julian were quick to find their stockings and then we all made our way to the beach. 

 Karen and Andrew's suite had oceanfront views and they were quite breathtaking.

The day finished with cocktails, Chinese take-out and a few more drinks on the balcony overlooking the Apache pier.

Having been to Myrtle Beach so frequently, Steve and I have a few "must-do" things when it comes to food and establishments. We always try to go to The Office Italian Workplace for Locals (yes, that is the name) for drinks and (hopefully) pizza. We managed to get that out of the way on our first night.

Our ultimate "must-do" is the house salad and wings at California Dreaming, so we went for lunch at our first opportunity. We both absolutely love them along with a warm croissant.

Our next "must-do" is the shrimp and grits at Flying Fish. We shared the lunch portion along with a side salad and it was quite delicious.

Next on the list is a tour and tasting at New South Brewing. Gretchen and Scott had done the tour with us on a previous visit and it was on their "must-do" list as well!  This was by far the most crowded tour we have been on at New South. I'd like to attribute it to my TripAdvisor reviews :) After all, I am their first reviewer and after 257 reviews you can barely get in the door!


Karaoke is something we (more Steve) has done in Myrtle Beach ever since I can remember. We know we can always count on one of the local bars to offer a night or two or five of karaoke. Soon after we arrived, we found a nearby bar with karaoke and dragged Andrew along with us. It was a good time and a short-ish walk from Kingston. A fun night overall!

Andrew's only "must-do" was after a conversation with his barber in Massachusetts. She recommended eating at "Burro on the Beach" and since we had never heard of such a place, we decided she meant El Burro Loco, a Mexican restaurant that is not on the beach.

Carolina Vineyards isn't a must-do, but we always end up there. It's a bit of an inside joke. Years ago, we were visiting with friends and may have had a few too many samples. The next thing we knew, we were walking out with two cases of wine. I've walked out of many places (i.e. Trader Joe's) with a case of wine, but Carolina Vineyards has Sweet, fruity and not wine. We always find ourselves there again to remind ourselves of how bad it really is. One "flavor" was actually pecan pie. Ridiculous, but good times!

Not only did we enjoy great company and some of our favorite places, but we also enjoyed nice walks on the beach. The weather was so incredible and there were very few people on the beach. We could walk for hours in either direction. 

Lorelei and Julian had their own "must-do" list and it surely consisted of pool and beach time! A visit to the aquarium, bubbles on the balcony and Christmas gifts were probably on that list as well :)

We had dinner as a family every evening and took turns making food for a crowd.

Steve and I were first up with my almost famous lasagna with garlic bread, salad, red wine and key lime pie! My lasagna is one of Steve's favorite recipes and I was happy to share it with the rest of his family.

Gretchen and Scott were next when they made breakfast for dinner and we all dressed in matching pajamas!

I never thought I'd be a part of one of "those" pictures, but here it is...

We all gathered together during this trip to Myrtle Beach to celebrate Paul & Sue's 50th wedding anniversary. We thought it would be nice to treat them to dinner at one of their favorite Myrtle Beach restaurants. Ciao! offered a nice variety of Italian and we all enjoyed the company, food and celebration.

Karen and Andrew made our New Year's Eve dinner complete with linguine and mussels in a white wine sauce and a lucky lentil salad. 

Following dinner, we drove to the Brookgreen Gardens to enjoy their New Year's Eve light display. There were thousands of hand-lit candles, holiday lights and music. It was pretty spectacular and a sight to see, 


After returning home, Lorelei and Julian enjoyed fireworks from the bedroom window, while we all enjoyed a Guinness toast to Kate O'Connell.

We rang in the New Year with a couple of bottles of champagne and stories from years past. It was a quiet and enjoyable way to ring in 2016.

On New Year's Day, Steve and I headed home and were sad to say good bye. It was a nice trip and we enjoyed everyone's company. We just couldn't stand to take off our pajamas :)

Love to all and stay warm!

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