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: Exploring Virginia, Guest Post, Hiking, National Parks, Sightseeing

Guest Post: The Piatts

Hello Tepe Travels Readers!

As you may be aware, there’s a highly-rated series of books written by Matt and Karen Smith, entitled ‘Dear Bob and Sue.’  The books are a compilation of emails written by one couple as they travel across the country on a quest to visit all 59 of the US National Parks.  They share their experiences (good, bad, and just plain crazy) with – you guessed it – Bob and Sue, their long-time friends back home.  Today’s guest-blog post comes to you from the perspective of Bob and Sue (aka – Dave and Megan). 

We’ve been friends with the Tepes for more than 20 years now, so suffice it to say, we’re familiar with their unique pursuits and willingness to go against the grain.  And still, when they first told us about their plan to sell the house, buy an RV, and hit the road with their boys in tow – we said “You’re going to do WHAT????”  We thought that they were nuts, but it’s no surprise that they made it happen, and we’re so glad that they did.

In the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine and lock-downs, we’ve spent a lot of time this year living vicariously through our friends.  As the post cards roll in, we’ve tracked their journey by tacking them up on our own fridge here in Cincinnati – following them around the country, one blog-post at a time.  We’ve read enviously about their experiences sand sledding in Colorado or surfing in San Diego and less-enviously about learning to empty the waste tank from the travel trailer or trying to make Thanksgiving dinner in a tiny RV oven.  Those ‘learning experiences’ have kept us laughing and their pictures have kept us ‘oohing and awing’ and in some small way, they’ve given us the gift of sharing their adventure when the promise of adventure was something we all desperately needed. 

As spring break rolled around, we had the opportunity to meet up with Ben, Sarah and the boys in Virginia.  We went to experience Colonial Williamsburg and walk through the battlefield in Yorktown where the Revolutionary War was finally won.  The historical sites were great (especially for our Hamilton-obsessed teenage daughter), but mostly we went to see our friends – to share a camp fire and some stories and hear about this crazy adventure first hand.

It had been more than a year since we’ve seen them in person.  Initial observations are in line with what you’d expect.  We can report that Will is about a foot taller, Nick is even better with the guitar, Sarah is still a great cook (even with more limited tools) and Ben has found new ways to embrace his passion for hammocks.  But more impressive is the way they’ve learned to adjust and adapt.  We loved seeing how they’re using their space and resources to live, work and learn in such a small space.  We can certainly make a joke or two about how life on the road has brought them ‘together’ in more ways than one, but beyond all of the amazing sites they’ve seen on this trip, this seems like another intangible benefit.

It’s possible (likely?) that our own kiddos won’t remember the day we ‘met’ Thomas Jefferson or learned how they made shoes and chairs in the 18th century, but I’ll bet they remember the weekend they caught up with their friends at a campground in Virginia, learned about the places they’ve traveled and life on the road, and maybe sparked the inspiration to pursue an adventure of their own.