MYRTLE BEACH OR BUST! – TIO TRASH SUMMER ROAD TRIP 2013
Summer has been flying by and I was in search of a summer adventure before Chicago winter creeps back around. My best friend, Tio Trash make up artist, Mondana V. and I have shared a tradition of a “best friend summer camping trip” for quite some time now. We had the opportunity to take a full week vacation and we decided on the perfect location, one we had never been to before, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
We planned for a Saturday – Sunday (8 day) road trip where we would spend 4 days camping in Myrtle Beach, and 3 days hiking and camping in Gatlinburg, TN (which is on the way back). We packed up my Chevy Equinox with all of our camping equipment, hiking gear, beach swag, and all of the shoes/hair products/clothes and accessories we could fit. Fueled on beef jerky, Redbull, and no sleep, our journey manically began at 4:00 am in Chicago and we drove straight through to Myrtle Beach arriving there at 11:00 pm. Of course we stocked up on old school “burned CDs” of all of our road trip faves: Pantera, Journey, A$AP Rocky, The Eagles, Metallica, Motley Crue, The Guess Who, Mushroom Head to name a few.
I don’t go anywhere in life without a costume, so I decked out in my finest white trash Americana goods and a sailor hat for my journey.
After a depraved 17 hour journey and a slight delay through some flash flooding in Florence, South Carolina, we arrived safely to a warm and neon city on the sea, Myrtle Beach!
The streets were alive with vacationers, Southern belles, carnies and creatures. Ocean waves crashed loudly in the thick salty air and ferris wheels and other such rides lit up the clear night sky. After unloading in a cheap motel for the night, we couldn’t wait to rome the city despite our lack of sleep. Energy buzzed through the air with the smells of funnel cakes and marijuana, music and laughter pumping out of all of the beach side bars. Not knowing quite where we were going, we headed straight for the large ferris wheel, which would lead us to the ocean. We didn’t waste any time running down the boardwalk and into the sand to quench our dry flat lander feet with a cool drink of the night ocean tide.
Having only spent my first 20 minutes in this crazy ocean city, I knew I had found a Tio Trash mecca beyond my wildest dreams. A city of carnies, white trash weddings, trailer parks, arcades, strip clubs, biker bars, beach bums, kitschy motels and waffle houses; Myrtle Beach is my Heaven on Earth.
On our first morning we set up camp at the super fun KOA camp ground. The camp ground is only 2 blocks from the beach and we were able to walk EVERYWHERE in Myrtle Beach, never once needing my car. We spent our first day at the beach; burning and body surfing followed by an evening of karaoke at a quasi biker bar, “Pop’s Place” next to our camp ground.
We spent most of our time at the beach, eating great food, site seeing, and checking out the night life. We experienced a mini tropical storm however on day 2 and our tent was flooded and tore up! Luckily, KOA moved us into a cabin for the next few days complete with bunk beds to allow room for tons of activities!
One of our “Myrtle Beach Bucket List” items was to find some dynamite fish tacos. We took a leap of Yelp faith and settled on the little known, “Mrs. Fish“. HOLY SHIT DUDE! It was a small Asian owned establishment that had the cheapest and most delicious fish tacos and hush puppies I have ever had in my life!
Delicious food and amazing service, this restaurant beat all the over priced hype sea food chains on the strip like the Calabash Seafood Buffet, no thanks! Full to the point of immobility, we decided to take a stroll to walk off our dinner. The nightlife was slowly rising from its’ daylight death and our eyes were peeled for a fun watering hole. And indeed a “hole” was found. A sign that read “Korrupted Karaoke” at Sound Hole stood out like a bullseye. An old southern style house with a haunting lure pulled us into our next Myrtle Beach adventure.
Inside the undead doll house, was an explosion of goth, punk rock, dungeon and tattooed glory. I list these many words because I don’t have the words to quite describe this place. It was creepy cozy and very rock and roll, a place I compare to Chicago’s Exit. The bar was seated with a crew of colorful and eccentric characters who were warm and welcoming to our strange new faces. They appeared to be a group of tight knit friends, witty and intelligent with their inside jokes and stories. I could have stayed and just listened to them interact, but the Korrupted Karaoke was yet to begin.
A tall beautiful tattooed woman with purple hair and a sultry smokers voice sailed through the bar on roller skates, captivating my attention. Her name was Shellie, the bar’s proud owner. Shellie and her friends explained the rules of “Korrupted Karaoke” as the love child of American Idol, karaoke and some such show or another … but the basis of the game is for Shellie and 2 other judges (Professor Brian Roessler far R) to listen to the performance, rip you to shreds and score you. Let’s just say I was terrified but Shellie wasn’t as scary as I had thought she would be after my performance! After many wonderful performances and hilarious reviews, Korrupted Karaoke had come to a close with a new winner.
As the night came to a close, Shellie began talking about her “second job” of starring on Myrtle Manor. Another bar patron had mentioned earlier in the night that the show had come to the Sound Hole for filming. I felt like a very lousy “Myrtle Manor” fan as I claim to be because I didn’t make the connection that she was the Shellie from the show! I LOVE the concept of the show “Myrtle Manor”, the kitschy trailer park, Jessica’s amazing style, the Myrtle Beach exposure, Bandit, the half scripted drama … but I did lose interest and boycotted by episode 3 or 4. I had only caught a few glimpses of Shellie on the show and she looks completely different in person! I don’t remember how she was supposed to even be portrayed on “Myrtle Manor” other than secondary to the 20 somethings’ drama, but the real life Shellie is definitely worth a closer look. Just a brief encounter with her and her friends gave me the sure feeling there is a great story behind all of these people.
The Sound Hole “family”, as they appear to be, is definitely a TV worthy crew! Shellie, Brian and the other judge, her colorful bartender “Soup” Owens-Fowler and his awesome wife Tonya Fowler-Owens and all of the unique and friendly regulars that have intelligent things to say and crazy fun, now THAT would make a great docu-series! It would be so cool to follow this group, the incredible and sometimes insane talent that performs there, and all of the antics that go into owning a bar in Myrtle Beach.
All I can say is that I am absolutely in LOVE with the Sound Hole in Myrtle Beach and would recommend it to any visitor who is looking for a fun and raw local experience!
As the week progressed, Myrtle Beach continued to be care free and fun! One of the highlights of the trip was our parasailing experience with Ocean Watersports of Myrtle Beach. A tad pricey, but worth it, especially for us Mid-Westerners who don’t get to do things like this at home! This place was right on the beach and had quick and safe service, very trust worthy!
The people of the area may be a little rough around the edges, but I finally experienced the meaning of Southern hospitality! Everyone in Myrtle Beach was so kind, helpful and welcoming, a nice treat to melt my Chicago black heart! The locals were more than happy to recommend places for us to visit.
One of the spots we were told many times to check out was “Broadway at the Beach“, the hot night spot for the young peoples. Broadway at the beach was sort of an outdoor outlet mall set up filled with shopping, restaurants, Ripley’s attractions and a bridge that crossed into the land of clubs and bars. Most of the bars/clubs were spring breaker franchises like Rodeos, Señor Frogs and the likes. “Myrtle Manor” cast mates like Taylor and Jessica are known to host parties and events at these locations and all of the young action happens there … and when I say young, I mean YOUNG. My friend and I are more of your dive bar / biker bar / beach bar patrons but we did want to experience a night of Broadway at the Beach for tourist sake. We wanted to check out the “Glow Party at Señor Frogs” but when we arrived at the door to find it was an 18+ club, we turned the hell around! While this is great for the younger traveler to get a chance to experience nightlife underage, this was definitely not for me!
We stopped in for a few at Revolutions, a “disco club” with a hilarious pervert row seating around the dance floor. This bar was like a wedding reception that never ends with all of your drunk aunts, creepy uncles and blacked out grooms men line dancing to outdated early 2000’s hip hop … Pass.
Next stop was the rodeo bar, your typical “fake country bar” with a mechanical bull and a dance floor. We made some friends from New York City and had an ok time.
Overall, I do not recommend the night life at Broadway at the Beach … unless of course you are a “normal” socially adjusted 20 something who enjoys prowling for tail and meeting people your own age. Probably a great time … I’m the one with a problem.
A classic tourist bar we really enjoyed was the famous, Bowery!
The Bowery is an old time country bar best know for housing the country group, Alabama. It’s an affordable 4 am bar with great food, history and nightly live music. This is a great place to mingle with other out of town guests and give you that “honky tonk feel” with the ease of a Disney World ride if you are a city girl like me. Great service and great fun! We even got to experience a late night carny rush! The bartender explained that the multitude of carnies working at Myrtle Beach daily spend their days getting loaded on drugs and alcohol and then come to the late night bars to “wind down”. My friend was even motor boated by a pervy little person named Marty, a carny who claimed he was a WWE fighter. All in all, the Bowery was a fun way to experience the Myrtle Beach boardwalk and I would recommend that everybody visits this awesome bar!
We tried to do everything we could! We even moved into a motel for an additional 3 days and extended our stay in Myrtle Beach because we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave! A few other highlights and recommendations:
1. Rent a Moped, but know how to use it! This is a huge tourist thing to do in Myrtle Beach. Make sure you know the difference between a vespa and a moped before you rent one, there are NO REFUNDS if you can’t ride it … not that I know first hand ….
2. Myrtle Beach is not a place for camping, get a motel! We love to camp but we did not do the proper weather research. Our tent lasted one night due to the mini tropical storm, a common happening in Myrtle Beach. Plus, the night we DID get to sleep in the camp, the humidity and heat soaked us to the bone in sweat. Not a fun way to wake up. With all the beaching during the day and bar hopping at night, a motel is most ideal for showering, changing and sleeping. Luckily for us, the KOA camp ground was very understanding and accommodating to all of our changes, and the bathrooms and showers there were cleaner than any of the motels we stayed in.
4. Get a boogie board and teach yourself how to body surf! The most fun we have ever had for $10.00!
5. Don’t go into shock from the affordable prices of everything! During the mini tropical storm, we took cover in a neighborhood bar called The Back Deck Bar and Grill. For just $25, we got 2 burger baskets, 2 beers, 2 Redbulls AND a pack of Marlboros! I almost fell off my bar stool, and yes, you can smoke almost EVERYWHERE in Myrtle Beach, a novelty treat for us Chicagoans!
5. Walk everywhere! As a Chicagoan, I value my ability to rely on public transpiration and walking where I need to go. Myrtle beach is a VERY walkable city. Once my Equinox was parked, I used it only one time. Mostly everywhere you will want to go is within walking distance and the weather allows you to do so when it isn’t raining. We used a cab to get to Broadway at the Beach and everywhere else we went was by foot. This was extremely awesome for me because I hate driving, and this is great for those who plan to be sauced their entire trip, which is more than easy to do here.
Myrtle Beach is for sure a Tio Trash bonanza of fun. I am so happy I got to visit this place I have been dreaming about for so long. Maybe one day I will be able to relocate here, and I LOVE Chicago so I never say that, but I really felt a connection and a happiness within Myrtle Beach. It was dirty but magic, trashy but kind, and edgy yet warm like a hug from an alcoholic relative you haven’t seen in awhile and even though it smells a little funny, it feels warm and safe. The beaches here are clean and beautiful, the downtown residents are a little rough around the edges but very kind and it was a very fun and affordable place for 26 year old girls on a budget to travel and still afford to do lots of activities! I loved every second of it and I cannot wait to return!
Myrtle Beach = A+++ vacation spot! Thanks for all the love and fun, Myrtle Beach!