Saturday, May 22, 2010

Why the Atlantic is not the Pacific

I can't help comparing the southeastern Atlantic seashore to the Pacific. It's the same blue water, but the Atlantic beauty is hidden behind man's clutter, 1000 sf of beach house per capita. I'll have to check the latest census, because it might have climbed to 1500 sf.  Put the Atlantic up against the Pacific and I'll take the Pacific, where nothing comes between the highway and the stunning views.

Myrtle Beach is the quintessential example of visual clutter. Retail overdose stretches about 10 miles and I'm guessing per capita feet of neon is over 100 feet. It's probably in the deed restrictions that there must be the following on each block:
  • Retail beachware shop, 10,000 sf or more, preferably a chain, like Waves, with a wave scalloped roof outlined in Neon.
  • One or more Pancake breakfast buffets
  • A pizza place
  • A fish place
  • A miniature golf course

It's quiet here in May, but even in high season I cannot visualize that many mini golfers.  The golf places compete for the GaGa award with pirate ships, dinosaurs, thatched huts, waterfalls and fountains, all spouting an unreal bluegreen dyed water. But if all the courses are GaGa, what makes a mini-golfer choose one over the other?

And where do all those mini-golfers stay?  I found my answer in our RV Camp.  893 temporary camping slots, and 2500 by the day/month/season/year house rentals.  I could choose between the park we stayed in or a dozen others, side by side, right on the beach (technically, right behind the dunes).  I thought about going to the pool, the recreation center, the cafe, the wifi hotspot and the laundry, but measured by how far I was willing to walk down the beach, I was never going to reach them without a golf cart.  And yes, everyone there rents or owns a golf cart.  They  even walk their dogs in a golf cart.

To be perfectly fair to the Atlantic, once you find an opening onto the beach, it's very human friendly. You can walk for miles, even swim.  The Gulfsteam currents keep the temperatures balmy.  You can walk your dog on the beach, something California would never permit.  You can camp an RV width away from the dunes. Never ever ever could you do this in California. You can cross the narrow islands to the intercoastal waterway and wind surf, put your boat in, fish.  And there are lovely bridge top views of rivers and inlets and lighthouses, and ferries that lull you to sleep on two hour rides to the Outer Banks, dolphins that swim beside you and brown pelicans that control crash into the water.

The attraction of the Southeast Atlantic coast is summed up in the name of a wifi network I found while trying to log on the other night:  no shoes no shirt.  If you are in a five o'clock somewhere frame of mind, this is the place for you.

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