The Grand Strand & Southward
Luck is a relative thing. I could say I'm lucky that I have a regular digestive tract. Then again there are guys who only consider themselves lucky in the just-pulled-the-handle-on-the-slot-and-won kind of way. I'm not one of those guys. Chance itself, though, has given me a pretty good buzz in the form of my dream job. Sure, I've got mad skills as an adventure photographer and a knack for finding myself in ludicrous situations, but somehow I convinced Baggers Magazine to hand over a Victory Vision and let me take her on a road trip from Washington, D.C., to Savannah, Georgia. Why? Hey, I'm still in shock that they trusted me, too. But my mission was to find the true meaning of freedom and share it with all.
In case it's not quite clear, these guys at Baggers actually paid me to ride a motorcycle, take photos, and avoid jail time. Two out of three ain't bad. OK, so I didn't end up behind bars. But I'm not sure I've exactly found freedom, either. So far I've written five out of six feature stories over six issues, detailing my misadventures, discoveries, conquests, and personal habits. After all of this, I still don't know what the heck freedom really is.
Clearly, many people have fought for it and died for it. But people have fought and died over crap in Wal-Mart on Black Friday, too. Is freedom a cheaper flat-screen TV? Is it running my own business? Or is it the very nature of my dirtbaggery lifestyle? Whatever it is, I still can't ride my motorcycle naked.
Clothed or not and no matter your criminal record, there's certainly an element of freedom to be found in crossing state lines. So once again I twisted the throttle in celebration of arriving in a new place. South Carolina was eating the rocks that my tires slung off of some fresh North Carolina asphalt. My destination was the famous Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach. Within the 30-mile stretch of the Grand Strand there are more biker bars, strip clubs, and other nefarious places to keep a stand-up guy like me busy for at least a week. The Grand Strand is a conglomerate of North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Surfside and Murrells Inlet.
The top of the must-see list for this area has to be Suck, Bang, Blow Four Corners in Murrells. And yes, there is a Suck, Bang, Blow 1. It's the original, just down the road a bit. SBBII is an old Home Depot or Lowes converted into a giant biker bar, and you're certain to meet a few tools or loose screws. But you can also pull your bike up to the bar or drive it into a fully encased glass box created for the sole purpose of doing massive burnouts and filling the chamber with smoke.
With 40,000 square feet of indoor space on five acres of outdoor space, three stages, an indoor burnout pit, the Original Suck Bang Blow opened its doors in 1996, and quickly gained a reputation for smokin' burnouts, hot girls, great music and, of course, the fact that you could ride through the front doors, right up to the bar, and order a cold one!
More strip clubs than you can count are also on this stretch of road according to a friend of mine. The reason: Myrtle Beach is known for golfing, and golfing brings men, and men like boobies. Unfortunately, I got lost and never found the stripping Mecca or the original SBB for that matter. And I still have my hefty wad of Ben Franklins. My friend with the directions may be a true aficionado of the nudie arts but his direction-giving skills are sub-par.
Tourist towns are notoriously dead during the off-season. Myrtle Beach was no exception. After sunset, I drove along the coastline looking for a suitable place to roll out my sleeping bag. I stopped at Second Avenue Pier to check it out. The pier itself looked a bit too fancy for my taste. A fancy restaurant and other "tourist" stuff cluttered the wooden expanse, so I decided to head down under. The darkness and possibility of getting to see up fancy ladies' skirts drew me to the location. I pulled out my camera and started snapping some artsy shots of waves splashing against the pilings. That's when some dude popped up out of nowhere and asked if I had any rolling papers. I responded with a negatory and suggested he use a discarded Pepsi can. He ignored my knowledgeable advice and two minutes later asked where I was from. "Chicago," I said, "Why you ask?" I was ignored again.
I proceeded to take a few more shots until I was interrupted. "You need a date for the night?" he asked. Now it was my turn to ignore him. I kept on working. Then he straight up positioned me: "I will curl your toes for $10." I politely said, "No thanks," and to my surprise he lowered his price. "I'll do everything for $5." Wow, talk about luck! Five bucks is a pretty good deal for a happy ending! A recession sale, perhaps? I guess he needed some extra cash. I would have helped him out, but he was missing some key must-haves on my sexual partner list: boobs, smooth skin, nice face. It's not my place to judge the guy. He just wasn't whom I would like to introduce to my Mom. I'm not sure of the politically correct way to deny a homosexual prostitute's proposition. Maybe it was rude of me not to say goodbye as I scampered back to my bike with camera gear in tow. I have been known to do lots of whacked things for a story, but this was a line that I wasn't interested in crossing.
And, that ladies and gentlemen, brings me to one more lesson on freedom: Freedom is what you make it, and I suppose whom you choose not to make it with--that is unless you are overpowered by a 300-pound woman. (See Baggers, Route 66 issue March 2008).
Although the politics surrounding the Myrtle Bach Bike Week have taken on a life of their own, the surrounding towns are still going to host the rally. Check out myrtlebeachbikeweek.com, for all the info. Be sure to check out the new laws enacted by Myrtle Beach and aimed at bike riders too, cityofmyrtlebeach.com/newlaws.html.
North Myrtle Beach
Crab Catchers on the Waterfront for food. Special of the day is whatever the boat next to the place brings in. Try the deep fried corn on the cob.
This multistoried heterosexual friendly establishment claims that it is the World's Largest Gift Shop. If you are in the need of souvenirs or some cool looking junk, check out the The Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, gaydolphin.com.
Home of the World's Longest Stretch Limousine, roadsideamerica.com/tip/7765. It sure beats going to prom in a tractor.
Garden City Beach
It's a house. It's a spaceship. Cool. Check out roadsideamerica.com/tip/1172.
Come to the SeeWee Restaurant for great food and old-school outdoor outhouses, seeweerestaurant.com.
Off The Beaten Path
If you are feeling guilty from too much debauchery head over to the Traveler's Chapel (roadsideamerica.com/tip/2436) across from Coastal Carolina University. Hopefully your sins aren't too large. This tiny church only holds 12 people and is one of the smallest in the United States.
Stoplights in SC are becoming more bike friendly, but you have to know a little bit how to make the light change. We've all been there--sitting through multiple cycles to get the light to change green. Look for the `loop' that's under the pavement just before the stop line and position your bike near the edge of the outline; the weakest part of the sensor is in the middle of the loop. Try it, it works.