Day 10 – Zoo Atlanta – Drive to Myrtle Beach

July 11th, 2022

Today was a mixed bag really, starting well, being dull and boring in the middle, and ending with some poor choices. For an East Coast Road trip, we had certainly seen very little of the Coast. Apart from Coney Island, we had barely seen the Sea! That would change today as we make a Run to the Coast.

Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta

After leaving our apartment and retrieving our car from its precarious parking situation, released we hadn’t got a ticket, we headed out into the suburbs for our visit to Zoo Atlanta, the lass attractions on our Atlanta CityPASS. We did a full breakdown of this yesterday.

The location of the zoo is pretty interesting, you feel like you are just passing through the residential suburbs of the city. Its white picket fences, leafy drives, and privet hedges, and then boom, you are at the Zoo. Parking was not included and felt a little jarring when we were all the way out here, it wasn’t expensive, we paid $6 for two hours, but still. Possibly people use this lot to visit grant park too so free parking is not an option?

We really like the Zoo. It was fairly small, but it packed a lot into its compact size. And the best thing about being small is you are not required to trek around for miles. At some larger zoos, you can rack up more miles than a themepark! The layout makes the best use of their limited space and the enclosures are all really natural and designed around the animals.

There are a host of BIG animals, straight out the gate we visited the Elephants, Rhinos, Zebras, and Giraffes. We then moved up to the Lion habitat, then headed off to the Scaly Slimy Spectacular, Zoo Atlanta’s Reptile House.

After checking out the ickier residents we got to the huge Gorilla Enclosure. Zoo Atlanta has one of the largest populations of Gorillas in the states and most of these are born at the Zoo itself, having raised over 24 Gorillas.

We then headed up through the Monkeys, Orangutans, Sun Bears, Red Pandas, and Otter habitats to my favorite, the Komodo Dragons. From here we visited the Panda Exhibit, which was great as we recently missed the Pandas at San Diego Zoo.

Next up was the Tiger Exhibit, we love big cats but this enclosure did feel pretty small for these incredible creatures. It was getting hot now and the Tigers had decided it was sleepy time, very much like our own little Tigers rituals.

We were now heading back towards the entrance through the various Aviaries. There were Bald Eagles, Vultures, and a host of exotic birds. When we got t the Hornbill Exhibit one of the birds had found a mouse and this caused a lot of excitement, both in and outside the cage.

And with this, we were pretty much done. We needed a flying visit and that is exactly what we got. We had a strict timeline for the day and while we would have loved to spend linger at the Zoo it was just not possible. It’s good you can visit in a shorter space of time as this just wouldn’t work at most Zoos.

Heading to the Coast

Back in the car and we were heading out of Atlanta and directly towards the coast. This looks pretty close on a map, but the navigation was suggesting 5 and half hours and 362 miles…ouch. Time for gas and to hit the road.

The start of this section was all interstate, so there is little to see or do, just tick off the miles and listen to some tunes, and maybe catch a few winks if you are not driving. Partway along we stopped for some lunch, near Augusta, but honestly, we only know this as we checked the Geo-Tag on the Photo, it was about as non-descript as you can imagine.

We stopped at a collection of out-of-town strip malls where there was just about every kind of Fast Food the USA has to offer, at least on this side of the country. In the end, we went for Craker-Barrel, we are not really sure why but felt dome southern-style comfort food just felt right. Fried Chicken, Corn Bread, and Chicken and Dumplings. At least we would not be hungry for a while!

Cracker Barrel

Back on the road and we ticked off nearly 300miles of Interstate as we neared Florence, Georgia. Here we peeled off the interstate and got into the backwaters of the Georgian coastal towns. We had an interesting 60-70 miles of state highways, with endless roads side shops selling just about everything, huge flea markets, just about every conceivable fast food restaurant, a lot of fireworks shops, and endless Mrtly Beach Information Centers. It’s incredible thee is enough passing trade to support these.

As far as the Myrtle Beach Visitor Information Centers, well these really baffled us. There was one every 5 miles or so and as soon as you passed it, there were count-down signs to the next. It was very odd, normally you only get a small visitor center near the actual location and it offers free advice and a few leaflets. These were massive and started 60 miles out.

We were curious, but they were obviously a scam of some sort so we avoided them. A little bit of digging later and it’s clear they are a Timeshare presentation Office, trying to lure you into a high-pressure sales pitch somewhere. Glad we avoided them, but from what we can tell they can be fairly useful to stop at for some help and advice if you can resist the sales pitch.

This stretch of road was certainly enlightening and interesting, but things got a little classier as we approached the coast.

Relocating like this is never fun, but it’s part of these long Road Trips, we always say the journey IS the destination, but on a leg like this, well we prefer the destination…although…

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

This was never our planned destination, we are heading to Wilmington tomorrow and this is one of the main reasons for the trip, we will get into that a little later, but we like breaking drives up so decided to stop off at Mrytle.

Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect, the only real reference we have to the place is from Magic Mike 2 where they host the stripper convention here. There really was not much else between Wilmington and Atlanta so we figured we would stop off at the beach…what could go wrong right?

Honestly, We wish we had done a little more research o the place as we were just not fans at all! We were mildly reassured by the quite expensive hotel prices. When booking most places were not cheap, so we thought it must have a bit of class.

We could not be more wrong, the best description we heard was the Redneck Riviera. It was really run-down and quiet. Yet it was quite built up so had a really eerie witness about it. We found our hotel and checked in, again this was a major disappointment. We had chosen this for its retro charm, but it didn’t come across as that and was just run down and dingy, there also appeared to only be two other guests at the hotel and these two guys just sat on the patio outside reception staring at you.

Myrtle Beach

We checked in and headed to our room. This not only had no view, but it also had no real windows and the door opened out into a parking lot and did not feel secure at all. On the first impression, the room looked ok, but on closer inspection, it was pretty grubby. Anyway, we decided to head t the beach, slightly unsure if our bags were safe in the car or the room!

The beach was ok, but the water was pretty murky and the beach was not the cleanest. We took a long stroll down the water line and enjoyed a spot of people watching while dodging the litter. At one point we noticed a couple pointing out into the water, stopping to have a look at what they had seen we noticed a small lemon shark in the breakers hunting bait fish. Tis was pretty cool to see, but what happened next was hilarious.

You know the scene from Jaws when the Shark is spotted and everyone starts screaming and running from the water, well once the news of a shark sighting got around this is exactly what happened. Grown men running to the water edge bellowing for their kids to come back to shore, women screaming and general panic ensued…all for a 2ft little shark that was all but harmless to anyone but the baitfish it was pursuing. I guess if you are from the City/Inland you just don’t know tiny sharks are not Jaws!

Myrtle Beach Shark

Anyway, we carried on up the beach until we got to a river cutting the bach in too. We headed back to the Hotel via Ocean Boulevard. Again everything is just creepy and deserted.

Back at the hotel, we could not really agree on anywhere for dinner, so decided to walk to the nearest Walmart and just grab something cool, and fresh, like a salad. However, there really was nothing like that available and in the end, we just grabbed a few drinks and head back Via an Arby’s that we saw on the way.

This was pretty disappointing and the sandwiches were a far cry from the plump giant meat-filled delights you see in the ads. Finally calling it a day we headed to bed, our feet black with the grime we picked up from the floor!

As we were getting ready to sleep we noticed the outside lights were attracting flying ants, in very large numbers. These were building up around the door and finding their way in. We must have caught around 50 in the room and made sleeping a very itchy experience.

We think it’s fair to say, Mrytle beach was not our favorite stop on this trip or any trip for that matter, and we were relieved we would be leaving in the morning.

Walking Total – 11,781 Steps – 5.9 Miles

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