My brother, Brad Hufnagle, and his fiancee, Laurie Spriggle Kratzer, recently visited me from central Pennsylvania and we spent two to four hours on the beach for eight straight days. We were joined for three of those days by my nephew, Robert Hufnagle, a Marine on a short leave from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Hunting sharks teeth is a family tradition and we did a lot of beachcombing. Pickings were rather scant, but the beauty is in the hunt. We also did a lot of swimming, sunbathing, people watching and catching up on days gone by. In short, we had a blast.
Brad retained his family bodysurfing title, but his giraffe-like legs gave him an advantage when pushing off the ocean bottom and jumping with the break of the wave. Robert got revenge by besting him (and me) on a miniature golf course, rallying on the back nine with a couple of holes-in-one. You might say that I “lagged” behind from the first hole. My putter had to have been bent. That’s right. When all else fails, come up with an excuse.
We enjoyed fantastic dining experiences at Nibils Restaurant, Mr. Fish and Michael’s Pizza in Myrtle Beach and at Crabby Mike’s and Bubba’s Fish Shack in Surfside Beach. It was the first time eating at Mr. Fish for my guests and I and we were pleasantly surprised. The food was terrific and we all ended up taking left-overs home. The service and ambiance were also great, and we shared a few particularly funny moments when Brad thought he recognized a Pennsylvania woman he knew. Laurie approached the woman and her husband at their table and it turned out the couple was from Florida. The woman, an Ellen Travolta look-a-like, returned the favor, stopping by our digs to share pleasantries.
Crabby Mikes, Michael’s Pizza and Bubba’s Fish Shack have long been among my favorite eateries. Special mention to Nibils, which my family has enjoyed since its opening nearly three decades ago. As many of you are aware, Nibils was unceremoniously dumped as the anchor restaurant of the Surfside Beach Pier a couple of years ago by the bozos running that town. Nibils’ food is still delicious, and I’m glad to report that business there seems to be just fine. Your loss is Myrtle Beach’s gain, Surfside Beach. Danke.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fun night we spent downtown. We visited with Mr. Pierce at Trader Bill’s in The Gay Dolphin and had a few sharks teeth wrapped, and then toured the amazing maze of a gift store. Our next venture landed us in the Fun Plaza and we spent the better part of two hours playing arcade games, taking home a few token prizes and even more memories.
I returned with Brad and Laurie to central Pennsylvania when their vacation ended, stopping for one day in Virginia Beach for a visit with my awesome niece, Lauren Hufnagle. Lauren gave us a tour of the beautiful resort town and introduced us to her, ahem, friend. He’s a heck of a nice guy. We stopped at Abbey Road, a cool joint adorned on the outside with Beatles murals and on the inside with Beatles memorabilia and with a salt-water aquarium. Of course we walked the beach. That’s what beach bums do.
It had taken us six hours to get from Myrtle Beach to Virginia Beach, then another nine hours to cross into Pennsylvania after experiencing heavy traffic before and around Richmond. For the first time in nearly nine years, I was back in the state in which I’d spent most of the first 38 years of my life.
I lodged with my mother, Linda, who turned a young 73 years-of-age on the day I write this. Happy birthday, mom. Her pad is in Northumberland on the banks of the Susquehanna River. Norrie was nearly the capitol of the Keystone State at one point; fate intervened and Norrie has retained it’s small town ambiance since. Me mum and I had a great time reminiscing and we spent hours watching birds at her feeder and the rabbit she feeds Cheerios and bread to in the morning and at dusk. “Bun Bun” has an eight-inch burrow across the street with three young ‘uns nesting beneath dried grass. They are precious, but we left them alone after taking a peek.
After eight days away from my adopted home in South Carolina, I started yearning to return. Like the sun and moon pull at the sea, I could feel the sea tugging at me. My kin and I will soon be parting ways again. They’ll be out of sight, but never out of mind.