Posted in: Exploring South Carolina, Guest Post

TepeTravels Tabloid Tidings (Guest Post: Dan)

When a great, awesome, fantabulous adventurer (and family?) invites you to participate in their yearlong expedition, only a cad could refuse.  However, my camping days are 30-40 years behind me, so I needed an out.  Myrtle Beach to the rescue.

It seems that the Tepe Travels, Inc (or is it an LLC?) was only coming as close as Myrtle Beach, to the lovely village of Oriental, NC, where I currently reside (but, not for long).  As I have told many folks in the years that I have spent in Oriental, “You can’t get here from there.”

Knowing the “Tepe Squad” would be in Myrtle Beach State Park campground around the end of March, I made plans and arranged my own campsite.

Having arrived in my “digs” I questioned my timing.  It seems that the 31st of March, 2021 was selected to be the day of a new record low temperature for MB.  What luck!  As you can see from the beach pictures, the turnout in MB was sparse.  Can you blame them.

Diving right in, we arranged a rendezvous point (the sidewalk in front of my campsite seemed the best bet) and we all headed out for a campsite meal.  Courtesy of Fuddruckers carry out services. 

With the adjacent pond police keeping visitors under control.

How many miniature golf places can one town support?  MB hasn’t found the limit yet?

Back at the MBSP campsite, we broke out the Jameson’s whiskey from the Tepe Trailer, and the Bartley Bag.  It seems we had both thought ahead to the proper way to inaugurate a visit.  Next, we all got to observe Ben (and Nick, when his Dad wasn’t looking), attempt to cause themselves serious injury with a hatchet, preparing kindling.  Ben tripped over the flip-out grating on the fire ring, twice, before he had even touched the Jameson’s.  But, in a testimonial to his great agility, no falls, and no blood. Sarah did have a fully stocked first aid kit nearby.

Despite the “record low” temps for that evening, the roaring fire was enough to offset Mother Nature and we talked about adventures, and the pride I had for this whole “famn damily” in taking on this great expedition over the last year.  I also told Will and Nick that I had the utmost respect for these young men in how they had carried on, and participated fully in the TepeTravels, Inc, endeavors.  Ben and Sarah muttered in the background!

The evening went on until around 10:30, when I realized it was way past this old man’s bedtime, and I should probably call it a night.  Unfortunately, when Ben and I got to the main gate, by way of returning me to my camp site, we found the MBSP gates closed and locked.  I was forced to walk the 3 miles back to my campsite all alone.  Not really.  Ben called Sarah and found out the combination to the padlock, and we were off.

The next day was Thursday, April 1st, and it was my turn to make lunch over the roaring campfire.  Luckily, there was a Nathan’s nearby, and I picked up lunch on the way over to MBSP.  At the entry gate I encountered a rank abuse of the power of the state in the form of a daily entry fee charge.  I advised the lovely lady that I was an “old fart” and that I thought it was UNFAIR that the state of SC discriminated against old farts from the North.  North Carolina that is!  She laughed and charged me the SCOF rate.

We ate Nathan’s at the campsite, while we planned our trek for the day.  I surprised Ben and Sarah with my plan to take them all out to the “Medieval Times” dinner theater there in MB, for our evening entertainment.  We decided to save the surprise from the boys until later.

We packed our gear, and set off to……………….COSTCO. 

Where I was indoctrinated into the “COSTCO Camper’s Cult.”  And, it didn’t hurt a bit.   Actually, Ben paid, but the boys showed me their favorite muffins.  Sarah, very smartly, had decided to take advantage of some alone time, and let the “men” clear a path through the wilderness on their own, while she enjoyed some well deserved peace and quiet back at the park.

When we returned to MBSP, we actually did set out to see the sights, and the sites, of the park.  We first went to the fishing pier, which besides featuring oversized furniture, had a interesting display along the length of the pier of the common types of fish that one might find (dare say CATCH?) on the SC coast. 

But, the crowning touch of the days outing was seeing the BBITW (Ben’s title).

BBITW=Best Bench In The World

It actually does come around to feeling that way after you sit in it for a while.  We all tried it, but boys being whatever they are?  Will and Nick had to turn into “Tormentors.”  “Hare Harriers” to be more specific.  Together they combined their tormenting talents to try to trap a tiny critter.  Sorry, I ran out of “T” words.   Final score:  Nick/Will – 0,  Major League Bunny – 10

After taking pictures of every possible angle of the impending sunset from the bench, I rallied my lazy butt, and joined Ben and the boys in a lazy game of “Kennedy-esque” football tossing (mostly dropping) on the grass of the MBSP stadium. But, the game was called by darkness, and we returned to the campsite for a snack before our evening’s entertainment. That is when I informed Ben and Sarah that today was April 1st.  April Fools!  No “Medieval Times” outing tonight.  Good thing we didn’t tell the boys, right?  I might have been burned at the stake over that night’s campfire! Actually, I wasn’t that cruel.  I just hadn’t planned ahead enough, as that evening’s show was sold-out.  Good thing Ben bought pizza.  Another night, another fire.  We had a roaring fire, a little more Jameson’s, and talked around the campfire.  We had a nice long talk with Will about his next big adventure, and how he was preparing for it, but I will let Will tell that story when it is time.

I said goodbye to the “TRAVELING-TEPES” that evening, and expressed my thanks to Sarah, Will and Nick for allowing me to participate.  My admiration for this family only grew during my short visit on their trail.

One final connection the morning of Good Friday, as Ben and I went in search of terrible service at the Plantation Pancake House.  We picked it the night before, based on its’ proximity to my “campsite.”  Ben, of course, using his highly refined technology skills, hit the reviews page on the restaurant’s web site.  He was enthralled by the terrible accounts of the service received by earlier patrons from a server we will call “Vickie.”

So, on the morning of Good Friday, in the spirit of redemption, we set out to find “Vickie.”  No luck.  No Vickie.  Just great service by a masked server whom we just couldn’t seem to find any fault with.  I hope Ben wrote a review?

Now, back to my boring life,

Dan Bartley (Guest Blogger)

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Campground Review, Exploring South Carolina, Hiking, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Myrtle Beach State Park Campground: Campground Review

For our final stop in South Carolina, we went to Myrtle Beach and stayed at the Myrtle Beach State Park.

The state park does have some nice amenities to it: walking trails, touristy type of shops (1 in the campground, 1 at beach), walking distance to beach. If you are staying in the park, you do not have to buy the daily park pass (as long as you have your window tag displayed).

It was very dark at night, as there were not any street lights throughout the campground. Bring a flashlight if you are taking a walk or going to the bathroom! There are signs about copperheads throughout the park. There was air noise from the airport and helicopter tours. There were a couple of airplanes that flew so low that the RV rattled.

The sites are nicely shaded, although they are long and narrow. The sites had a picnic table and fire pit (with flip down grill). The gates closed and locked at 10:00 pm, although they do give you the code. It was a very weird experience, as you have to get out of your car in the dark near the woods to unlock and open the gate, drive through, get out again to shut it. Having a keypad code for the gate would be a huge improvement. The park also states that there is no alcohol permitted in the campground or park.

The camp store had some souvenir type of items, firewood ($7.49/bundle), ice, and some drinks and ice cream.

There were several bathrooms/showers around the campground. The laundry facility wasn’t too far from our site (in loop 5). Washers and dryers were $2/load.

Bottom image: entrance to the campground (campground to the left, beach to the right)

The beach did not close at night, so we did get a couple of nice nighttime walks in.

There was a patch program for the kids through the state park (a little like the Junior Ranger Program at the National Parks). The Nature Center was at the edge of the campground and was a nice spot to sit and watch the birds at the feeders. It was also a great spot for the kids to find lots of information for the scavenger hunts.

We did not see many animals, other than birds and squirrels in the campground. We did see some crabs, starfish, and a jellyfish at the beach. Nick and I also found shark teeth, which was lots of fun and a new experience for both of us. There were also shells to find, which is always a plus for us at a beach.

CONCLUSION:

CONS: Air noise, the gate, tightness of the campground

PROS: Walkable to beach, campfire ability, shade trees, amenities of park and campground, patch program for kids

If we were in Myrtle Beach, we would stay here again.

VIDEO: Walking Tour Myrtle Beach State Park

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3.5 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Back-in (dirt/sand)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: Yes

Amenities: picnic table, fire pit, playground, community grills in state park, second playground in the state park, close to beach, walking trails in state park, patch program for kids in park

Cabins: Yes (6)

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30/50

Pool: No, but ocean is close

Food On-Site: No

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Fishing: Yes (no license, but daily fee: $8/day ages 16+, $3 ages 3-15)

Posted in: Exploring South Carolina, Food, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Gretel’s Candy House

Hi guys, it’s Nick and this is my blog about this candy place in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina so here is the story. My Dad and I were driving home when we saw this candy store. We had seen it before and thought it would be fun to go to, so we drove on over and got some pictures of it from the outside. Then we went in, well let’s just say the outside is the cool thing about this place.

Inside it had two things that looked cool: one was called a Goo Goo Cluster and the other was Devil’s Toe. There is a big fake tree in the middle but that is it. It was just about all the normal candy you get at a basic candy or grocery store. I would not most likely go back to this place, but it is good for pictures and there is an ice cream place across the street. People were using this places parking for it though. So that is our candy store adventure.

Video: Walking in Gretel’s Candy House

Posted in: Exploring South Carolina, School, Sightseeing

Myrtle Beach State Park Patch Program

Nick is starting to get into the National Park’s Junior Ranger program. He didn’t want to do it for the first several (…many…most…) of the parks, but now he enjoys it. He wanted to check out if Myrtle Beach State Park had a program as well. They did have a patch program! Due to COVID, the program had changed a little bit. Before, you had to attend programs to earn a patch, but now you have to complete 3 scavenger hunts in different parts of the park.

The scavenger hunts are available online. Most of the items are things you can find on the informational signs around the park. Nick had a fun time as we walked around this week so he could find the signs. We all enjoyed finding the tree branches that made the shape of South Carolina.

Nick turned in his paperwork and got to pick out which badge he wanted. He said they had a box full of different designs, but of course he went with one that had a turtle.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring South Carolina, Sightseeing

Myrtle Beach: Visiting the beach

We were lucky enough to be able to walk to the beach from the campground. It was only about a half mile to the beach. The state park did a nice job with walkways to the beach, outdoor showers, and informational signs along the paths. There was even a QR code to scan to check local beach information (tides, etc.).

I took the boys to the beach on Sunday for some fun in the sun. The water was still a little chilly and there was a red flag out, so we kept to wading in the water near the shore. If there wasn’t the flag, I think they would have gone swimming though! The boys made another fort and Nick made a sand penguin to go inside it. They didn’t do too bad of a job considering they didn’t have a bucket or any tools.

When it was low tide we went for a walk along the beach looking for shells. We found a few neat ones. I found a shark tooth as well! I didn’t know beforehand, but Myrtle Beach is known for having shark teeth wash up on shore. The teeth are fossilized and have a dark grey or black color due to the minerals absorbed during fossilization. Nick and I had fun searching the beach. The teeth can be small, so we would crouch down to search through shell piles.

Later in the week, we saw a jellyfish close to the shore, but didn’t get too close to it. We found a couple of starfish and small crabs too. By the end of the week we found 3 crabs, 1 live starfish, 1 dried out starfish, several clams, 1 jellyfish, and 6 shark teeth.

Ben and I even took a night time walk on the beach. It was amazing to be within a quick walk to the ocean.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Campground Review, Exploring South Carolina, Hiking, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

KOA Mount Pleasant/Charleston: Campground Review

For our stay in Charleston, South Carolina, we stayed at the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA. The campground is located in Mount Pleasant, about a 15-20 minute drive from Charleston.

The campground had some nice features, including a camp store. The campground is located near a plantation, and offers wagon rides when the plantation is open. Unfortunately, the plantation house was under construction when we were there and the wagon rides were not going on.

The campground had corn hole, a nice walking trail, a community fire pit, hanging swings by the lake, fishing (catch and release, no license needed), pool (not heated), rec room with camp kitchen (2 stations) and little library, dog park, and bike/canoe/paddle boat rental. The office sold firewood bundles. There was a propane station and an ice machine near the office as well.

The laundry room was on the side of the office building and had 4 washers and dryers. Although there was not a coin machine in the laundry room, you could get quarters at the office. Washers were $2/load and dryers $1.50/load.

The bathrooms and showers were located on the backside of the officel. They are separate though: women’s bathroom on one side, individual shower rooms in the middle, and men’s bathrooms on the other side.

We enjoyed the walking trails. The trails go by a little creek and we saw some small crabs and turtles.

There was WiFi available. The signal was pretty spotty where we were. However, they do offer routers to borrow. These are on a first come basis. We were finally able to get one with only 2 days left in the trip, but it made a big difference! The speeds were a lot faster plugged in.

The campground was close to grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and several parks. Charleston was about 15-20 minutes away. The Costco and Walmart were within 2 miles. It was in a pretty convenient location.

VIDEO LINK: Campground Tour

The night before we left, we found a postcard on the door reminding us of check-out time.

COVID Review: Masks were required in the office. The office staff was friendly and always had them on. However, employees working outside (including those that show you to your site) and other campers really didn’t wear masks.

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile (slow)

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through, Back-in (mostly gravel, saw a few concrete pads)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: No stakes allowed in the ground due to underground wires

Amenities: picnic table and fire pit at sites, some upgraded sites had a grill, cable, two playgrounds, pool, rec room/camp kitchen, little library, corn hole, dog park, bikes for rent, paddle boats and kayaks for rent, ice machine $2/bag, firewood $7/bundle (although after taxes/fees it came to $8).

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps:

Pool: Yes, not heated

Food On-Site: No, but camp store has a few items

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes. Routers provided at office, first come first serve, to help boost signal

Accepts Mail: Yes

Fishing: Yes, no license needed, catch and release

Posted in: Exploring South Carolina, Museums & Tours, School, Sightseeing

Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon (Charleston, South Carolina)

            Hey guys! It’s Will here with another blog! Today we’re visiting the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon. It costs $10 per person with reduced rates for seniors and students. The Dungeon is set below the Old Exchange where they traded everything from cotton to slaves. Auctions were rarely held in the dungeon (basement) however, but held just outside the Exchange. This might have been helpful so that once you bought something you could go pay your taxes on it. Two birds with one stone.

                On the main floor you enter on, there is a lot of information and it is easy to get overwhelmed. In the back is the history of some South Carolina’s cash crops and some plaques on special people who brought or invented them in the State. In the room to the left of the entrance there are some cool pieces they have received such as a case of old weapons such as flintlocks and muskets. They also have an old desk that was used by plantation owners back in the day. To the right of the door is a historic room where they made it look like it would have. It also serves as the meeting spot where the Daughter’s of American Revolution, I think that is the right name, meet. On the top floor are some more plaques that are made to tell you about the life of an enslaved person and of a women’s role and life in pre-Civil War period. George Washington also visited Charleston, so there is information about his visit here too.

            Now let’s get to the part you all want to actually read about…Provost Dungeon! The dungeon itself needs a tour guide as they have rigged the rooms with only mannequins so if you don’t go with one of the offered tours you will have no idea what you are doing. During the Revolutionary War is where we will focus in for now. Charleston had it’s own Tea Party and stored the tea in the Old Exchange. They later sold it to pay for weapons to fight the British. Eventually, the British captured Charleston and they needed somewhere to keep their prisoners. The actual prison was full and so they made due with what they had…The Old Exchange. They turned the basement into a jail and used the top parts as living quarters. When the city knew the British would win, they hid their gunpowder behind a fake wall in the Old Exchange. The British never found it! I thought the museum did a good job explaining everything and the history of the Exchange and if you want to learn a lot of new things be sure to make a visit The Old Exchange.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $10/adults, $5/child (ages 7-12), discount available for military, teachers, students, seniors. COVID Restrictions: masks required
  • HOURS: Daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Years Day), Tours are every 1/2 hour from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • PARKING: Pay parking on street or nearby lots
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Exploring South Carolina, Food

Shaved Ice or Snowballs: The North vs The South

When it’s hot outside, one of the boys’ favorite treats is a shaved ice. Back home in Ohio, we also sometimes get an ice ball. It is ice cream topped with a shaved ice. Shaved ice are pretty common, but only a few places offer an iceball.

I’ve noticed that down south, that a snowball is what we call a shaved ice and you can “stuff” it with ice cream. Topping it with a drizzle of sweet milk (aka condensed milk) is a common offering as well. I thought that sounded gross, until we tried it. It’s actually good! It adds a creamy texture to the shaved ice and a different type of sweetness.

The boys got a shaved ice with condensed milk in New Orleans. We tried a Hawaiian shaved ice in new flavors in Savannah at Hokulia. Hokulia had large servings, was on one of the main streets in Savannah, but also had a long line and was slow getting out orders. Everything had a nice flavor though. In South Carolina, I got a Mudslide (coffee and chocolate flavored) snowball from Pelican’s Snoballs. They had a nice outdoor seating area, was right off of Highway 17, had a ton of flavors, and the staff was very nice.

What do you call it (shaved ice, Hawaiian ice, snoball, snowball…)? What’s your favorite flavor?

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring South Carolina, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Charles Pinckney Historical Site

The Charles Pinckney Historical Site was located pretty close to our campground. Although the house was closed (COVID), the grounds were open. We still wanted to go see it and get a nice walk. There was a Ranger vehicle parked there, but we didn’t see a anyone, so Nick didn’t get to do the Junior Ranger Program at this site.

There were a few walking paths around the property. One was really well laid out with a mulch base. I’m not sure how they did it, but the mulch all stuck together and felt a little bouncy. It was nice and even and made for a nice walk. The others were more nature trails and were dirt (or mud) through trees and brush. There were several signs warning of poison ivy and snakes (copperheads are apparently common down here). We took both trails and read the informational signs along the way. Pinckney was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

I did almost step on a snake, a tiny brown snake that was very quick and blended in with the dirt very well. I think it was maybe a rough earth snake, but I was so startled that I didn’t get a picture. It certainly got my heart pumping, as I had thought that I had been paying attention pretty well to the ground in front of me. We do make sure to always wear boots or closed toed shoes when we are going on any type of walk.

The site was ok. I’m sure if the house was open it would be interesting, but otherwise it was a little boring. If you are in the area, I would check it out, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to see it. We were there there for about a half hour.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Free. COVID Restrictions: masks required
  • HOURS: Closed Monday and Tuesday. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring South Carolina, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Isle of Palms Beach, South Carolina

The boys were on spring break, so we tried to do some fun things during the day. One afternoon we went to Isle of Palms beach. We got there around 10:00 am and we found a great parking spot near a beach entrance and restrooms and outdoor showers. The beach was pretty empty.

As we were setting up our spot, we saw some military helicopters flying overhead. Video link: Helicopters Over Isle of Palms

The boys swam for a little bit, but the water was chilly so they didn’t stay in too long. We looked for shells and they built sand forts. Because we had just been to all of the forts, they named them Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and Fort Moultrie. Once we were done with swimming, we browsed some shops and the boys got ice cream. As we left, all the parking spots on the street were taken and the beach had started getting a little more crowded.

Parking was available at the county park ($5-$15 depending on time of year) and in lots and at meters ($2.50/hour) on the main street with shops and restaurants.

We drove around the area later in the day with Ben and did see some free parking on the side of the road near the residential areas. If you are just going for the beach and not souvenir stores or food, those spots seemed like a good option. Nick found a couple of Little Libraries along the way as well. It was a cute area and we had a nice time exploring.