Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Beach Trek: The First Whiff of Salt Air Always Means Hitting the Brake Pedal

I drove from Greenville, SC to Holden Beach, NC over the weekend. It isn’t a bad drive as these things go, but nearly one-third of the 270 miles is on state and county roads.

Infiniti provided the abbreviated version of the FX35, the EX35, for this boondoggle.  Its comfortable surroundings and enthusiastic performance contributed heavily to the “fun” quotient of my drive. The window price sticker in the glove box told me the EPA expects it to get 24 mpg on the highway. I averaged 25.5 mpg on my little jaunt.

Once your target is north of Charleston, reaching the beach becomes a serious exercise in logistics.

I am used to Florida where I-95 runs down the east coast, often within a few miles of the beach. Sprawling four-lane highways are available to carry eager beach goers from the freeway to the ocean. Not so in the Carolinas.

It’s not fair to say, “You can’t get there from here,” but you almost can’t.

This is true of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, as well as The Outer Banks and, to my horror, Holden Beach in NC.

Because it was the weekend, traffic was light the entire trip; well, at least until I closed within 20 miles of my destination. There is something about motoring along close to a beach that magically transforms otherwise sensible drivers into meandering slowpokes.

Nearly no one drives the speed limit – already ludicrously low. No, they putter along 5 or 10 miles below the limit. It’s like being in a 500-car funeral procession.

Once the GPS took me off the freeway, I found myself in the sticks, driving through tiny burg after tiny burg. Sometimes the speed limit dropped all the way down to 20 miles per hour. Are you kidding me?

These aren’t towns or villages so much as block-long stretches of buildings composed of a gas station, general store and, maybe, a bar. With the few homes scattered about in this area, I can’t imagine that every bar has its own drunk. I suspect the taverns here share a drunk, passing him around in some sort of round-robin rotation.

“It’s the third Saturday in the month; it’s our turn for the drunk. Send Otis over!”

Despite the dwarf-like size of some of these little no-Starbucks hamlets, someone managed to scrape together the dough for a 20 mph speed-limit sign to post at the beginning of the block.

So, I would back off the throttle, slow down to a crawl and creep by the little collection of buildings before zooming all the way back up to 55 mph. Wheeeee!

It was a real waste of the EX35’s talents.

Holden Beach is a beautiful area. My friends rented a 5-bedroom house for a week right on the water.

Three hours in the sun provided the obligatory sunburn. After more than 20 years of coastal living in South Florida, you’d think I’d know better, right? Yeah, not so much.

I am not looking forward to the drive home. The weekend is behind me and the return trip will entail slugging my way through normal weekday traffic.

I expect the reverse trip to take an extra 30 minutes or so – if I’m lucky.

At least I will be making the drive in style.

1 comment:

  1. Just remember: There is a big difference between being known as the town drunk in Myrtle Beach and being the town drunk in New York City.