It’s really cool to walk the streets of Myrtle Beach this time of year. Exchanging salutations with locals as you pass their properties. Talking with early-arriving snowbirds upon meeting them on the beach. And just hoofing it along the streets without too much traffic in town.
After spending most of the past week and a half ridding my computer of a virus and a browser hijacker, Nation Zoom, and recovering lost computer programs and music files, I decided to spend a day chilling, making the five-mile jaunt downtown with little more than a digital camera, identification and keys in the pockets of my shorts.
The beach has virtually been desolate the last two months with few others hunting sharks’ teeth. So, I incorporated fossil hunting into my itinerary and sauntered to my destination. My only mission: to take a few photos of the boardwalk, signs that I find interesting, a landmark or two, and a mural.
Tuesday was a perfect day for a good hike, which I made wearing two sweatshirts. The skies were clear. The temperature reached the mid to upper-50s. And the city prepped for the arrival of the many snowbirds who come here for Christmas. Gov’ment employees beautified the streets and made minor repairs on boardwalk fixtures. Contractors worked on several hotels.
I found 13 small and smaller sharks’ teeth and a nice piece of fossilized coral on the first-leg of the journey, leaving the beach for a few minutes to get two photos of the Sea Captain’s House restaurant at 3002 North Ocean Boulevard, returning to the white sands and then leaving them again 11 blocks later to get some shots of the mural on the side of Lulu’s Cafe. Those mural photos, which capture the essence of the beach here very well, will be published soon.
I was quite thirsty before admiring the art. It was too early for happy hour so I stopped at a convenience market for a Coke. The clerk was a little dry when it comes to social graces and I’ll leave it at that. While cutting through Chapin Park to get to the boardwalk, a derelict shouted, “Hey. Hey,” as I meandered along a walkway about 40 yards from him. He raised his hand to his face, gesturing that he needed a cigarette.
He would have been in luck a little over a fortnight ago, but I shook my head, turning down his request. Yeah, I know. I promised my readers a while back – swore on my name, in fact – that I was done with that nasty habit, but it took the ordering of E-Cigs, the help of sedatives and a heavy dose of willpower to finally quit an eight-month stint of smoking a half pack of cigarettes a day. As if breaking that promise isn’t bad enough, I’d also sworn to my mother that I was done with legal butts. Aye-yigh-yigh. I still carry my E-Cig with me like Linus carries his blanket. Eventually I’ll outgrow it.
Another thought or two on Chapin Park and the homeless dude and I’ll wrap up this chapter. Myrtle Beach is magical, mystical and mythical. To a poor person, especially one not in the know, it might seem to be a great place to set up shop. A lot of transients pass through this city after discovering that it’s not the paradise that they perceived it to be. They aren’t the first people to have thought that paradise is someplace down the road and they won’t be the last. So many of those transients end up hanging out in Chapin Park sooner or later and, sometimes, often.
The park rests in the same two block stretch as Chapin Memorial Library — from 14th to 16th avenues north. The homeless use both the park and the library for respite. Having purposely walked among the homeless for more than a month, holding many conversations and giving them smokes, I’ve concluded that the vast majority are without a roof over their heads by choice. These people aren’t among the unfortunate people roaming the avenues of America who suddenly lost gainful employment through no fault of their own. Most of the homeless here choose alcohol and drugs over shelter and I have sympathy for them. Addiction, as I know well, is difficult to overcome. Nearly impossible without significant help.
After be-bopping briefly on the boardwalk, I headed back via the sands of time to the hobo hacienda, raking in another 12 ancient relics and meeting a friendly couple from northeastern Tennessee. They, too, were hunting fossil sharks’ teeth and the gentleman told me they were having some luck finding smaller ones. We agreed that sharks’ teeth are gems regardless of size and that it’s great just being out on the beach.
Arriving back at the bungalow five hours after leaving, it was time for some rest. My spirit soared, but my legs ached. Then I got back to writing. Something I hadn’t done much of in days. Something I like doing every bit as much as I like combing the beach and communing with nature.
Living a dream. That’s what I’m doing here. That was part of the plan when I sought shelter from the storm on the Grand Strand. She’s turned out to be every bit the paradise I thought she was. But Eden isn’t necessarily elsewhere. Earthly paradise isn’t a place. It’s a thought. The realization that wherever you go there you are. It took me a long time to accept that concept. Even longer to make the most of that with which I’ve been blessed.
I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.