The summer of '98 was starting to wind down and my two kids were constantly reminding me that I had promised to take them to the beach. There were only two weeks left before school started, time was running out, and kids never forget a promise. Never.
Now, this was a big deal to them because we haven't hardly ever taken traditional family vacations together. They had only been to the beach once before as toddlers. They wanted to go to Florida, but I suggested Myrtle Beach in South Carolina because it was closer, and I had been there a few times as a kid and a teenager. Plus, as far as I knew, I had no outstanding warrants there. So I took a week off from my job at the goose farm, we packed up and left the land of St. Peyton, NASCAR, advance check cashing, and Walmart and headed for the eastern seaboard... or the Atlantic Ocean, whichever came first.
We left Knoxville around 5 in the morning, drove over 400 miles through the wilds of North and South Carolina, and arrived at the beach some 8 hours later. On the way, I noticed these strange road signs that read "LET 'EM WORK, LET 'EM LIVE" that were all over the place in South Carolina. Very strange. I occupied myself while driving by wondering who 'EM were exactly. Were people giving 'EM a hard time? Why would anybody not let 'EM work? Were people considering killing 'EM? Has there been a controversial discussion in this state about the protection and preservation of 'EM? These burning questions remain unanswered. I never saw 'EM but yet I believe they exist. Hey, just go ahead and let 'em work and live, I'm on my way to the beach.
I made reservations at the luxurious Court Capri hotel. We had found this hotel through the internet. What really sold us on staying there was a photo of the heart-shaped jacuzzi located on the roof. After we checked in, we found that our room had a balcony with an excellent view of the ocean, and being on the 10th floor, it was also an excellent spot to drop objects onto unsuspecting victims below.
That evening, we decided to go to this attraction called "Broadway at the Beach" which was a very nice shopping, dining, and entertainment complex about a mile or two away from the beach. It looked liked Main Street at DisneyWorld. We went to the Ripley's (as in Ripley's Believe it or Else!) Aquarium which was purty durn cool. Lots of tropical fish, sting rays, and sharks. An unexpected treat was that every evening at 7 pm, the aquarium staff would allow the youngsters to club a dolphin to death. Just for fun, I yelled out "Let 'em work, let 'em live!" We were immediately ushered out of the building. As we exited the aquarium, it was pouring rain outside and we bolted to the car amidst thunderclaps and blinding lightning. We drove to the nearby Planet Hollywood and had a very blah meal. Even with all the authentic movie props and costumes around us, we were unimpressed. So, to heck with you, Big Deal Planet Hollywood. Give me Arby's anyday.
The second day, we swam or sat in every body of water that was available to us. The outdoor pool, the indoor pool, the small jacuzzi adjacent to the indoor pool, the heart-shaped jacuzzi on the roof, and one other... what was it?.... oh yeah... the ocean. Just to top it off, that evening I took a bath. The next afternoon, we had to get some beach supplies. We had gone to shop for beach towels before we left home, but all the beach towels we could find was over-priced, over-cute, Disney crap. So, at the beach we went into one of 6,000 beach shops and bought some cheap beach towels, a body board to ride the surf on, and a couple of laser pointers.
The second evening at the beach, we witnessed an awesome phenomenon. In Myrtle Beach, when the sun goes down, the laser pointers come out. You can't walk ten yards without being targeted by a red laser dot being trained on you, usually your rear-end. They were everywhere. And while we were swimming in the ocean, we'd notice numerous airplanes flying back and forth, up and down the beach, towing these big banners advertising these laser pointers for sale at beach shops. Of course, my kids each had to have one. We get the laser pointers the third day we're there and promptly put them to work. Night at the beach is quite a light show. From our balcony, my kids joined about 6 other points of light from other balconies that would beam down on people about 200 yards away. Sometimes they would all gang up on one person and the effect was similar to a swarm of bees surrounding the victim. At other times the dots of light would race around on the sand in front of a little kid and he would run around chasing it. It went on for a couple of hours.
I thought it was harmless fun and was laughing my head off... until I got The Phone Call.
"Mr. Longmire?" Yes? "This is the front desk. A security guard has noticed some of those laser pointers coming from your balcony and people have been complaining about them." Uh, yeah...? "If you didn't know, laser pointers are illegal in Myrtle Beach. If you get caught with one, you can be thrown out of the hotel. I just wanted you to know that." Well, OK... thanks, Damien." Click."
I went out to the balcony and immediately stopped the laser fun, actually picturing the shame and horror of being asked to leave the hotel. The kids were as dumbfounded as I was. It's wasn't just the absurdity of the actual act being wrong that confused us, it was the blatant advertising and the abundant availability of these laser pointers everywhere... something that was supposedly illegal. I wondered if we would see airplanes pulling banners the next day advertising "Beat the Heat with an Uzi -- Now on Sale at Eagles," or "All You Can Eat Oysters and Crack Buffet--Roy's Oyster Hut and Strip Bar."
Here we are at the heart-shaped jacuzzi atop the roof of the fabulous Court Capri hotel.
Hey, for those of you with phone in hand and have already dialed 9-1...
relax, this photo has been altered... I wasn't really naked.
The person taking the picture was naked, okay? I just wanted to clear that up.
My daughter and I enjoying a relaxing soak in the jacuzzi.
The kids got bored with the jacuzzi and got a little mischievous,
oblivious to the hotel rules and my warnings of impending danger.
I told those dang kids to stop horsing around on the railing and now look at them. Ha ha! Ha!
This is what happens to little jerks that don't follow the rules.
Heed me! Heed me, I say!
During our stay at the hotel, we had to use the elevator quite a bit. Every time we would pass the 8th floor, we would hear a commotion. Yelling, children crying, crashes, gunshots, country music, and for some unexplainable reason, the sound of tires squealing. Shouts of "you ain't my real daddy, you can't tell me what to do," and "daddy, put the belt down, I didn't mean to drink the last YooHoo." It was evident that that portion of the hotel was inhabited by what my son referred to as "the hicks on the 8th floor." Viewing the hotel from the beach showed that where most people hung their beach towels over their balconies to dry, the 8th floor balconies had bear skins and various other animal hides and pelts airing out. One night, the intercom system crackled to life with an announcement from the hotel management... "Ladies and gentlemen, we are currently experiencing a hick fight on the 8th floor. Local authorities are negotiating with the hicks to surrender their firearms and belts. We advise you to stay in your rooms until it has been brought under control. Thank you."
Some of those sea critters can get a bit frisky...
On our last day at the beach, we decided to dine in with burgers done up, Longmire-style.
Father and son sharing a Kodak moment.
A perfect end to a great vacation.
Overall, it was a great break from the daily grind of work and a very enjoyable vacation.
In closing, we here at The
Wonderful World of Longmire hope all your vacations are great, too...
"LET 'EM WORK, LET 'EM LIVE!"
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