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Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q 2742 South 8th Street, Fernandina Beach FL: December 2014   28 comments

Posted at 1:58 am in out-of-area,restaurants

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I have only eaten at any Sonny's once, and this was the one. For some reason, several years ago when we were staying in Fernandina, nothing would do for my niece but that she have some corn on the cob. My memory is a bit hazy, but I think she had been quite kid-finicky in restaurants on the trip and it was a chance to get her to actually eat something if we could find a place. In the event, it seemed that Sonny's was the only game in town for supper corn that evening, and we hied thither. I'm finicky myself so I had the salad bar, which was pretty good, and my niece did get, and eat, her corn, so all was well.

I know I would have noticed if the place, past Sadler Road on the way to the bridge, had been closed during my last trip in October 2014, and Tipadvisor page and pictures suggests the place probably closed in December of that year.

I passed many other Sonny's locations in my most recent Florida trip, so apparently the chain as a whole is doing OK.

Written by ted on July 7th, 2015

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Charlotte Heroes Convention 2015, Charlotte Convention Center: 20 June 2015   2 comments

Posted at 12:57 am in events,out-of-area

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Coming off of I-77 and heading downtown on Saturday gave a really stunning view of Charlotte's downtown. The sky was dotted with puffy clouds and the skyscrapers were laid out almost artistically. I really wish I could have pulled over and gotten a shot.

I was headed to the Convention Center for this years iteration of Charlotte's Heroes Convention which I have been checking out out over the years as often as I could since the days when it was a few meeting rooms at the old Holiday Inn on Woodlawn.

This year, I didn't attend any of the panels as it took all of my time just to completely canvas the main show floor. My impression is that Guardians Of The Galaxy is a new hit with costumers, though there was no single theme for the majority of costumes. I think I did notice a bit of fall-off in the Frozen costumes since Amelia Con. Stan Lee was there for photo-shoots, but the line was so long that I didn't attempt to see him. There were plenty of other creators there as well, and I bought a number of indie books for myself and my nieces, more than I've scanned below.

Anyway, it's not a bad drive (I-77 seemed a little less pot-holed this time) and there's a reasonable nearby lot, so if you get the chance next year, I recommend you check it out.

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Written by ted on June 22nd, 2015

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Sam's Corner, 12036 Ocean Highway Pawleys Island: Late April 2015   28 comments

Posted at 12:31 am in grand-strand,out-of-area

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The only time I ever ate at a Sam's Corner was Monday 30 June 1997.

I was living in Aiken at the time (and working in Augusta), but found out less than a week in advance that The Beach Boys were playing the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach that day. It was a rare small venue appearance, and I think many fans realized it was probably one of the last chances to see Carl Wilson on stage. In the event it was a bittersweet performance. Carl played most of the set seated and I think everyone in the audience could tell he was not long for the world, though he still sounded like an angel.

At any rate, when the show was over, with it not being a weekend, I was on the hook to be at work the following morning, so I fortified myself at the NMB Sam's with a hot-dog and coffee and made it back to Aiken (after further fortification with Waffle House coffee in Manning) in time to slip into bed half an hour before I had to get up. It was not something I could do now, and could barely do then.

Truthfully I was so focused on what I had to do that Sam's made little impression on me other than it was well lit, had an acceptable chili-dog and drinkable coffee.

I think the NMB location was the second for the chain, with one by the pier in Garden City being the first.

This location on US-17 in Pawleys Island came much later, and was, I think, something of a miss-step as the South Strand is a much different place from Myrtle Beach or even Garden City. I had noticed over the few years it was open that despite the proudly proclaimed 24 Hours in fact during the off season, it was rarely open past 10, and lately wasn't open at all except during the summer. I even did a post on the dark building called 25th Hour a few months ago.

On my last trip down over the Memorial Day week I saw that the place is now officially closed, even though they apparently had a plan to upfit the office space.

Written by ted on June 11th, 2015

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J. C. Penny, Inlet Square: March 2015   2 comments

Posted at 1:31 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,stores

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When It Fits, You Feel It!

For about the last 20 years, it has been almost mandatory to attach the word troubled to the front of Murrells Inlet's Inlet Square as in

In yet another blow to troubled Inlet Square Mall..

I never got around to posting the few pictures I have of the K-Mart which closed in 2013 although I did do a post on the Hooters outparcel, and I touched on the Spinnaker's there.

Anway, the recent closing of this Penny's which was my goto place for towels at the beach, is yet another blow, and seemed to come very quickly after the announcement rather than dragging on like the closing of the Dutch Square Belk's.

The J C Penny at Coastal Grand looks to stay open, at least for now, so they still have a Grand Strand presence, but if this keeps up, the only reason to visit Inlet Square will be to see a movie or look at books you're going to buy online later at Books A Million.

Written by ted on April 7th, 2015

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South Carolina Railroad Museum Easter Bunny Eggspress, Winnsboro: 28 March 2015   1 comment

Posted at 1:08 am in events,out-of-area

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I last visited the South Carolina Railroad Museum about seven years ago for one of their steam train excursions and it was definitely a fun trip. When I saw the ad in The Free Times for this year's Easter Bunny Eggspress, I thought it looked like time to go again (although the Express is not a steam train).

The museum is easily accessible from I-77 and has a variety of interesting rolling stock on exhibit, most of which I did not get a chance to take pictures of. Obviously the highlight of the current event is a ride down several miles of the museum's own track (technically part of their railroad, Rockton, Rion and Western Railroad which extends several miles from the museum. The trip includes a gate crossing across a fairly major road, some nice rural scenes, a view of the abandoned Mack plant (which used to be served by the line) and a terminus at a small grassy recreation area near the old school.

On hand to great the train were the Easter Bunny, face painters, fair food and some Easter themed arts and crafts.

The terminus includes a switch and spur so two trains can pull in at once. There is no turnaround, so the return trip is in reverse. The rolling stock was rather interesting. As you can see, there was an open air car, which was supposed to be the attraction, but as the weather turned so cold was actually not as practical as it might otherwise have been. The enclosed cars had done service in Canada, and though I barely had time to read the plaque, I believe they were Budd Rail Deisel Cars. I had wondered about the high voltage warnings under the cars, which didn't seem to make sense for a non-third-rail train, but it turns out that Budd cars were intended for low volume routes where the car would be its own engine. I doubt that hardware still works on these cars, but its an interesting bit of history, which is why, I suppose, one has a railroad museum..

Anyway, the Eggspress will be running next Saturday, 4 April 2015, and its a nice little trip. Also, the steam train will be back in April.

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Written by ted on March 30th, 2015

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Fleetwood Mac, Time Warner Cable Arena Charlotte NC: 7 March 2015   25 comments

Posted at 1:18 am in entertainment,events,out-of-area

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Falling, falling, falling..

It may seem strange to the under 50 crowd at this remove, but it's pretty much impossible to overstate what an incredible influence Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album had when I was in the last years of high school. Almost every track was on the radio at one time or another, and everybody had a copy. I would have had one, but I was dead broke at the time, so I somehow convinced my sister to spring for it. I taped her copy to cassette and it was in constant rotation with my Beach Boys albums in my jury rigged car player (which would reverse the tape and start playing the other "side" every time we hit a bump).

Rumours was the followup to the also very successful eponymous album Fleetwood Mac which established the band's "classic lineup". It was also the lead-in to the rather experimental Tusk which no doubt confused their legions of fans.

Over the years the band went through a lot of acrimony and romantic imbroglioes, with the fact that it was coed giving even more scope for feuding than even the Beach Boys "enjoyed".

Still, after all the dust settled, and after a sixteen year absence for Christine McVie, the classic lineup is back together and making music again.

I took the opportunity to see them in Charlotte, and everybody was in fine form, and looking and sounding pretty good for a bunch of 60 and 70 year olds. They played everything you would expect, and added a few new songs that, if not instant classics, were pretty good. As you can tell from the video and pix, I was *way* up in the nosebleed section, something I did not appreciate in the least while inching towards my seat like an action movie hero sidling along a window ledge over a twenty story drop. It was somewhat better once I actually had a seat, though as you can hear in the video, I fell in with a bunch of Chatty Cathys..

Anyway, it was a great show, and you should definitely catch them if you can.

As just a few random observations: It's amazing how bad a shape I-77 is in. It seemed like I was dodging huge ruts all the way to Charlotte. I don't remember that from my last trip in June, but it can't have gotten that bad that quick. Also, the parking garage at EpiCenter is the worst I've ever been in, like the old text based computer game "You are in a maze of twisty little passage all alike": It was amazingly hard to find the level changes rather than just driving by the same packed spaces again and again. Maybe I was "Over My Head"...

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Written by ted on March 9th, 2015

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Island Cafe & Deli, 10683 Ocean Highway Pawleys Island: November 2014   no comments

Posted at 1:11 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

The Island Cafe & Deli was for many years a dependable choice for lunch and dinner at Pawleys Island. Landolfi's is my favorite restaurant in the area, but the Deli had a nice front porch for outdoor dining, and sometimes you just want a grilled cheese or burger with black bean soup instead of pizza. Apart from those options, the menu had a number of quirkily named signature items like the Aristotle Salad or the Strom Thurmond, which the description assured us was "an illustrious member of our menu" and featured "young turkey breast".

Some years ago the place had a bad fire and was closed for an extended period, and I believe that after that, someone once drove a car through the front window. Given that history, I was very surprised when I went down in December for the candles to find the place closed.

It appears that the next tenant will be Rustic Table.

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Written by ted on February 11th, 2015

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Brookgreen Gardens Nights Of A Thousand Candles 2014, Brookgreen Gardens: 13 December 2014   no comments

Posted at 2:19 am in events,grand-strand,out-of-area

I got to Brookgreen a bit later than I had planned this year, and so did not hit all the spots I usually hit, but it was still a very nice evening out in the cold and lights. Actually, the weather was relatively moderate compared to some prior years -- I was able to hold my camera and adjust the controls without my fingers going numb. There is still an official ban on tripods, and I decided this year I wouldn't go for much in the way of "set the camera on something and do a time exposure" shots, so I cranked the ISO way up and took what I got, so I have to admit I've gotten better shots in previous years. I did play around with the in-camera HDR setting, and that's where some of the freaky green-lit exposures come from. Sometimes it did quite a good job of capturing both the lights and normal objects, and sometimes it didn't (I haven't used those spoiled shots here, obviously).

Getting in was a little quicker this year as they did not bring back the suboptimal secondary dirt road route they tried last year, although there was still quite a jam on US-17 (where I witnessed a fender-bender just as I finally got waved through). You still have three more chances to catch the lights this year on 18 December, 19 December and 20 December, and you really should if you are anywhere near the area.

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Sub Station II / Laundromat, US-601 St. Matthews: 2000s   7 comments

Posted at 1:50 am in business,out-of-area

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I noticed this pair of co-located derelict businesses driving US-601 through St. Matthews towards I-26 this Spring.

I wasn't sure at first what the restaurant was, but a close look at the menu board pretty well pins it down to a Sub Station II.

I can't think of any obvious reason why both businesses in this building would have failed at what seems to be more or less the same time. While the restaurant market is fickle, laundromats are places where you must go. I'm guessing early 2000s for the timeframe here, but the building does seem rather enthusiastically vine encrusted, and if the realtor posting the sign does succeed in selling the place, I doubt there's much that can be done beyond knocking the place down and starting over.

Written by ted on November 8th, 2014

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Carolina Renaissance Festival 2014, Huntersville NC   no comments

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Celtic band Cu Dubh.

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So, I thought at first I had made a big mistake heading up to the Carolina Renaissance Festival last weekend. It was a cold and rainy Halloween when I hit the road, and I awoke Saturday to find out that Snowpocalypse had hit the Midlands while I was gone and that it was cold, rainy, wet and miserable in Huntersville.

Fortunately, although I had to use the wipers driving out to the festival grounds, but the time I got there, it had stopped raining and was just cold and miserable. Obviously the crowds were thin, but the performers gave it a good go and the sun finally did peek out during the late afternoon giving them (and me) some relief. Sunday, however was gorgeous, and all these pictures date from then.

It seemed to me that a good portion of the performers were back from last year, but there were some new faces as well. As before, everybody had a very polished and entertaining line of patter and were quick to improv as circumstances demanded. There are plenty of kid centric and family friendly shows as well as more ribald "loose cannon" performances for those of us a bit longer in the tooth.

The festival continues on weekends through 23 November and it's a great way to spend a (hopefully sunny!) Fall afternoon.

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Written by ted on November 5th, 2014

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