A few days before the world came to a stop in mid-March, I reserved a condo at the Spinnaker at North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
While I shivered at the computer that chilly day, I anticipated the week of sand and sun my little family of four would enjoy in mid-July.
And then the coronavirus pandemic hit and every few days my husband and I would debate whether to cancel the trip. Surely the virus would be gone by July we reasoned.
We decided to go, hoping for the best.
My husband warned our teen girls that things would probably be a little different this year, that we should all be flexible and expect the unexpected.
On the way down, we made our usual stop at the Waffle House in Laurinburg for a late lunch. Noting the staff’s look of panic as we entered the almost deserted restaurant, I thought they were alarmed because my husband was wearing a bandanna rather than a mask. The navy paisley fabric did give him a slightly sinister air.
Instead we learned that their concern was that their afternoon cook had called in sick. Muttering something about pandemic relief money, “it’s hard to get anybody to work,” an employee shared, locking the doors to close for the day.
Creatures of habit, we always eat at Basil’s Pizza in Cherry Grove on our first night of vacation. Normally the restaurant is full of relaxed diners, and there is often a short wait for a seat.
Not so on July 12 — there was plenty of seating and no wait.
It would be something we would experience each night. Restaurants — even the Olive Garden and Hamburger Joe’s — were only about half occupied.
One night we opted to visit Tanger Outlets after supper only to learn that the stores were all closing at 7 p.m. We returned later in the week, planning to shop before dining and found that some businesses closed as early as 6 p.m. As traffic was lighter than usual, we let our 18-year-old daughter do the driving.
The beach where we were in the Windy Hill section was crowded in places — probably because there was little else to do. Many of the miniature golf courses and water parks were closed. Like Tanger Outlets, the mall had abbreviated hours. Most of the hotel and condo swimming pools, including the one at Spinnaker where we stayed, were closed. There were no theater shows to go see, even the tigers at Barefoot Landing were gone.
“Was it last year that we watched 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again'? I asked the family, reminiscing about how we usually enjoy a movie on our vacation. I would not have minded missing “Spy Kids” years ago, though.
Overall it was a relaxing vacation, and, as most shoppers and restaurant employees wore masks, I felt safe. Hope I am alive to go again next year.
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