Recently, I had the opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison when I spent an extended vacation with cousins first at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and second, at our family home in southern West Virginia. Each place has special memories for us.
|Springmaid Pier at sunrise|
At the beach, we wanted to walk beside the ocean and marvel at its immensity and mysteriousness. We wanted to sink our feet in the sand, knowing they would never feel cleaner and forgetting that the itchy particles would cling to our ankles and between our toes, accompanying us back to the hotel room no matter how diligently we tried to shake them off, even tapping them steadily to beach music.
|Fish Tales Pier Store|
From the pier, we admired the sea's bounty, watching the fishermen take in silvery ribbon fish and large flounder from poles mounted on the guard rails.
|Brian Okes, Jim Okes, PGB, Gini and Chester Abee|
We ate our fill of fabulous shrimp and grits (prepared by dear friends, Gini and Chester Abee) and fresh sweet potato chips and fried green tomatoes at the wonderful Rivertown Bistro in Conway, South Carolina. Greeted by Mayor Alys C. Lawson, whose sister and brother-in-law own the restaurant, we learned that Darius Rucker recently filmed a video there for his new single "Homegrown Honey."
|Cousins at Mac's Pride Roadside Market|
We laughed at recollections of times past spent with our family members on vacations. And, as we left, we stopped at Mac's Pride Roadside Market in McBee, South Carolina, to have a peach enchilada (like a fruit turnover) with peach ice cream.
Driving to the mountains, we raised our eyes to the hills, thrilled to see the blue ridge appear in the distance. Entering Virginia, we began to ascend with rocky ledges on the driver's side and a stunning passenger view over the wide valley with the distinctive top of Pilot Mountain just visible and not obscured by mists. When we arrived in West Virginia, I couldn't help but remember the state song, "Oh, the West Virginia hills! How majestic and how grand, With their summits bathed in glory like our Prince Immanuel's Land!" And, I also might have hummed "Take Me Home, Country Roads."
|Amtrack to Charlottesville|
For an excursion,we took a train trip through the narrow passes to Charlottesville, Virginia, watching the rolling countryside with a car full of Mountaineer enthusiasts heading toward the game to be played in Maryland. Lots of blue and gold. We ate excellent beer battered cod and drank mango/strawberry/mint sweet tea at Charlottesville's Downtown Mall.
Back at our family home, my cousin grilled fall off the bone ribs and fried green tomatoes (following his father's recipe). On my birthday, we sat around an outside fireplace enjoying the beautiful chilly evening, the snap of burning wood, and some excellent wine. Before leaving, I felt compelled to stop for a milkshake at the Dairy Queen, remembering how I used to get one there with my aunts and mother.
|Charlottesville's Downtown Mall|
Where I live in Columbia, South Carolina, employers tell prospective hires that an advantage of the location is it's two hours from the beach and two hours from the mountains (which makes some folks ask what's in Columbia, but that's the subject of another blog message). I feel privileged to be in such close proximity to places where some of my happiest moments have been and are being made. So, if I had to answer E. B.'s question, I'd call it a toss up.
How about you? Do you prefer beach or mountains, or do you enjoy both equally?