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).
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)