Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Myrtle Beach Part 2: Highs and Lowcountrys

Jelly and I set out for Myrtle Beach, August 2010 edition, last Friday afternoon at approximately 1pm. After much back-and-forth with myself, I decided to keep her in a pull up for the 3-hour trip. Roughly halfway there, outside of scenic Lumberton, the non-napping child in the backseat piped up, ‘Try pee pee, mama!’ (it’s totally cute, she doesn’t just say ‘pee!’, she lets me know she think she’d like to try). At that moment I was zooming past a sign for an upcoming exit in ½ mile, so I took it. There happened to be a little Exxon station right there, and because it was totally all about us this past weekend, the outside restroom was – wait for it –UNLOCKED. So our girl made it into the bathroom, dropped off a variety of goods, and we were back on the road, happy and dry. To save you from excruciatingly boring details later, the whole trip was accident-free. On the way home we stopped at the side of the road. For our stay we had her potty chair with us. Even in the pool, she asked to get out and use the bathroom. So yes, you are totally right, Jelly IS amazing, I agree completely.

We arrived just after 4p, got checked in and unpacked, and hit the beach. Jenny met the ocean last Labor Day Weekend, when we went to Wilmington for our now-annual getaway with Ta. The meeting did not go well. She had only recently learned to walk, and the water played cruel, taunting games with her. She was not happy about any of it – the salt, the sand, the sun, the heat – not a fan. Therefore I was unsure how they’d get along this trip.

I shouldn't have worried.

I will say I think she was the youngest person on the beach in miles to brave the surf, headlong and howling at the top of her little lungs. She thought it was hilarious that the undertow tried to drown her. She got knocked down, over and over, with facefulls of saline, and bounced back up to yell some more. As if to say, ‘c’mon, BRING IT!!’. At one point I’m pretty sure she was actually playing tag. And winning. Several couples strolling along the beach attempted to dash in after her, thinking I was a negligent parent. Even more stopped dead, paralyzed by the cuteness of her bathing suit, and unable to move or utter anything other than a drawn-out ‘awwwwwwwwww!’. I had to drag her away from her newfound friend with promises of cupcakes and returning the next day.

She is dipping it in what was labeled 'Buttercream Shot' on the buffet. Seriously?! Is that necessary?!

We hit the strip and went straight to the most overpriced, tackiest establishment I’d read about, and always secretly wanted to visit. One of the many nice thing about a Just Jenny vacation was that I got to make up all the rules. She immediately lost her mind when we were greeted at the door by a pirate giving out bead necklaces, and when she saw sharks hanging inside – I didn’t think she’d ever stop talking about them. Going to a buffet by yourself with a toddler is tricky. If the place is small and you will always have eye contact, you can seat them and go get all the food, but this is rare. Instead, you have to constantly cajole and prod a hungry, tired 2-year old through a crowd of impatient, starving to DEATH vacationers while you juggle plates and try to at least snag a dry cracker for yourself. It’s tough, but you can do it. I learned that Jenny loves, and I mean, LOVES, some crab legs, just like her mama. She would not eat anything else on her plate, except for the aforementioned cupcakes and melon. I thought I was going to need some sort of wrist support for all the cracking I was doing.

The best part was that there was a play area below the restaurant for the kiddies, with play boats and toddler-level aquariums and rides and puzzles and dress up clothes and… you get the picture. We got to Original Benjamin’s Calabash at the perfect time – walked right in, served immediately. So we decided to play after dinner, where all the surly waiting-for-tables people hung out. We were fed, happy, and relaxed. Also, it rained while we were inside eating/playing and stopped exactly 3 minutes before we walked out, so our timing was great. Did I mention we got a parking spot right by the entrance?

After dinner we did a little shopping, to pick up a few souvenirs. I chose a hot pink ‘Myrtle Beach’ hoody, while Jenny talked me into getting her an ‘Elmo’ beach towel and a pool ring/floaty. When we got outside the sun had set, and the palm trees were lit up with Christmas lights. Since I’m pretty hardcore about little girl being in bed by 8pm she seldom sees nighttime, so was very excited. We ramped that up a notch when we got back to the hotel and hit the pool. Did I mention how freaking cool the pool was? When we first got to the hotel I was a little disappointed by the size of it, but quickly realized I was only seeing half of it. See, half the pool was outside, and half was indoors – there was a wall of windows about 2 feet above the middle of the pool, that I presume drops down or closes somehow or something in the winter, and you could actually swim back and forth underneath, inside to outside. SO COOL. Jelly thought it was the best thing ever, and referred to the indoor section as ‘the cave’. Also cool – since we were staying in an ancillary section of the main hotel, almost all the guests went over to the bigger pool, which was crowded and in the direct sun and noisy etc. We had our pool to ourselves almost every single time we went swimming.

After the swim I got the Bean dried off and into cozy jammies, cranked the A/C to 66, had cookies and milk in bed, read some stories, then down she went.

Saturday was pool, then breakfast, then beach, then poolside nuggets for lunch, then naps for both of us, then more beach/pool (I think I calculated 4 hour minimum in the water), dinner at a decent Sushi/Thai place (she ate calamari!! I ate a raw quail egg and almost threw it up!), another night swim (she caught onto that concept real fast – as soon as we hit the parking lot after dinner, it was, ‘Ny swim? Ny swim?’), then a bath and cozy jammies and the trip was done. Sunday’s weather was overcast and grey, and we hit a storm driving home, so we left at the right time. It was very short, but very fun. Why did I eat a raw quail egg? Well, because I didn’t know it would be raw, sheesh, and thought Jelly would like a little piece of baby egg sushi. And then when it arrived, I decided that I can’t teach her to try new things unless I’m willing to do it as well, so she watched wide-eyed as I swallowed it, gagged, drank some water, went beet-red, tried to think of anything other than the consistency of raw egg, and finally took a breath. Then she ate all my mango from the Mangoes with Sticky Rice. Stinker.

Doing it by yourself on vacation is hard, no question. There’s no one ‘extra’ to run upstairs to the hotel room for that one thing you forgot that you desperately want/need. There aren’t any extra hands, for water wings or wandering ones. Once the kid is asleep, you’re trapped in the room. It’s a LOT of one-on-one time. You have to have the kid at the bar with you, which gets you some looks. She still comes first. But I got a lot of extra hugs this weekend. As the pictures show, she was ear-to-ear grins for practically the entire stay. We were still away from everything, which meant relaxing. And, you know. The ocean. A salt breeze, laughter of happy people, good smells, excitement of things to come. The perfect Just Jelly trip.

And we get to do the beach again in less than two weeks, but this time with added bonus Ta (who Jenny asked to go see upon waking this morning, because 'Ta cute!').

You know, Labor Day; long weekend. How lucky are we?!


Barb said...

Awesome! You're inspirational. I don't have the energy for such an undertaking all alone, but you certainly make it sound worth the effort and the resulting exhaustion. Maybe I'll try it someday. Maybe. But for now I always manage to cajole someone in to coming with me. :)

Looks like a great trip, and how great is it that she LOVES the water!!! I love the vision of her playing tag with the ocean.

MommieV said...

Oh, ocean. And how 'bout everything lining up for you two! Unlocked bathroom, parking spot, incredible.

I'd like to try a trip to the ocean for my spring break next year (have to count in time to drive from Indiana.) I'll be bringing the Nan and Grandpa, probably, so I'll have some help.

Looks like an awesome trip!

chris said...

Wonderful trip and wonderful rendering! So happy you had an awesome Jelly break!!