Don’t Let the Chickens Out

It was a fun, relaxing day, except that I did a thing I probably shouldn’t have. The chickens were trying so hard to get grasshoppers from within their pen. I was throwing them in, but felt sorry for them, so I let them out.

Whoa! We’re free!

I watched them for at least ten minutes as they flapped and ran around after grasshoppers and crickets. They’d fight each other for them and squawk away.

Bugs everywhere!

I went off to take care of the horses, and when I came back they were scattered all over. So, I went in for a while. I went back out with half a watermelon shell. The minute I walked by, four of them came running, led by Bertie Lee, of course.

But the other two? Nope. I couldn’t find them. So I came back a few minutes later, and Star and Henley, the skittish one, were behind the coop. I couldn’t get them in. Well, I got Star in, but Buttercup went out. So, I had to get Lee to help. There are no photos, because we were too busy!

That dang Henley ran out in the field, ran around us, and got stuck trying to get in the wrong way. But, we did it! More teamwork! However, they stay in for a while longer, I think!

What’s this?

Earlier today, we rewarded ourselves for hauling all the hay by taking a spontaneous trip to Temple for lunch. We ended up downtown and Kathleen looked for a restaurant. We headed to a place with pizza, and ended up in a really pretty area that appears recently renovated.

Area near the restaurant

We had a great time at Treno’s, even with the weird trendy ordering system. The outdoor eating area was so pretty, and the oven-fired pizza was fantastic.

Pretty eating area. There were also really cute play areas.

We were delighted with our meals, and we want to go back and try their beer bar. I’m impressed with the work they’ve done there, and it was good to see families having fun.

More downtown Temple.

One funny thing is that I wore an old t-shirt today that says, “I apologize to anyone I’ve not offended yet. I will get to you eventually.” I had three different people come up and say how much they liked it. One guy took my picture. That was weird!

In all, it was a good Sunday. I worked, had fun, and ate good food. We’re going to try another Temple restaurant soon!

Knitting My Way to Calabash

In addition to all that reading, I’ve been knitting the last few days. Today, after playing on the beach and hot tubbing (it was finally empty), Lee and I decided to explore the area north of us. I brought my new Lines and Lines project along with me.

Proof I actually sat on the sand.

We didn’t have any destination in mind, but when I saw Calabash, NC on the map, I suggested we go there. You see, the number of restaurants here in Myrtle that advertise Calabash seafood rivals the number of pancake restaurants (well, there are LOTS more pancake places truth be told). We figured we should see what all the fuss was about at the source.

Bargains galore

We went the scenic route, which means we were accompanied by our Bike Week friends. There were so many cool bikes, trikes, and Can-Ams. As long as we weren’t trying to converse, it was fine. And we enjoyed seeing some residential areas, golf courses, and boats. North Myrtle Beach is pretty. We bypassed the Little River blue crab fest, which was crowded, but it looked like a nice town. (Milam County humor: we couldn’t find an Academy store, which would have been a good photo op. You see, we have a place called Little River-Academy in our county.)

Calabash

And Calabash was everything I’d hoped it would be. It’s cute, quaint, small, and friendly, with much shopping if I can go there with Kathleen or Anita. There are fishing boats everywhere, which explains the concentration of large seafood restaurants. We lucked out, though, and I found the oldest of the restaurants, the Dockside Seafood House.

The dock, as viewed from the restaurant patio.

This place has been open since 1955, in contrast to the big new ones nearby. And in line with us waiting for it to open were mostly locals, not tourists. Suna for the win!

I enjoyed watching birds while we ate our seafood. A bald eagle flew by. Red-wing blackbirds were feeding babies. Gulls were fighting, while pelicans majestically flew back and forth.

Oh yes, Calabash is a way to lightly fry seafood. My oysters were quite good, but the scallops (not fried) were better. I’m glad a local guy recommended it. Lee liked his clam chowder so much he ordered a pint to take back. And the oyster stew I had reminded me of my mom’s.

We left with huge smiles on our faces, and took the quieter route back so I could enjoy my knitting. I’m through two pattern repeats, and am impressed how the same stitches make horizontal stockinet stripes on one side, and vertical on the other.

Interesting pattern.

It will be more obvious once blocked. Here are close-ups of each side.

Yeah, maybe the wrong yarn, but I like it.

Now that I have the hang of the pattern, it should go pretty quickly. I guess this shawl is for Kathleen, since it’s her yarn from Blue Mule Fiber. This will be way nicer than what I originally started.

Evening beach.

I’m so glad that I am easily amused. I always have a book, a craft project, or some nature I want to look at!

What’s keeping you going?

Pancakes: The Odd Thing about South Carolina Dining Out

Yeah, many towns look exactly alike, with the same stores, same shopping areas, and same restaurants. But, still, you can find interesting local differences if you pay attention. Here are some random things we’ve been noticing in South Carolina.

A Pancake and Waffle Obsession

Apparently, these are most beloved. Photo by @lorenklein via Twenty20

There are many restaurants around the US that specialize in pancakes and waffles. However, I’m pretty sure this part of South Carolina has the most pancake/waffle eating options of any place, or at least of any place I’ve been. The Waffle House chain has been around a long time (why, since 1955, according to the website), and you see them at many highway exits and such. But, here, in a 30-something mile stretch of one highway, I saw five of them. Then I looked on the Google Maps. Whoa.

That’s a lot of waffle houses.

You don’t have to go far for a waffle anywhere in this region. And by the way, this is making a person who hasn’t had breakfast really hungry. Too bad I’m tied to my headphones (I started this post while waiting for no one to show up to my early book club AGAIN).

So, waffles are made in a waffle-maker appliance, while pancakes (or flap-jacks or many other names) are cooked on a griddle or large pan. Thus, “pan” cakes. I get it now. The people of northern South Carolina, or perhaps it’s the tourists coming TO northern South Carolina) apparently consume a lot of these.

MMM, absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever, the perfect American food. Photo by @shanti via Twenty20

Usually in the US, you see IHOP, which used to be the International House of Pancakes, but modernized its name, just like KFC is no longer Kentucky Fried Chicken. Fine, try to hide your roots! I can recall my brother really liking chocolate chip pancakes from there, while I always wanted some exotic “international” crepe or something. I actually still like to eat there once in a while, because I like their coffee and breakfasts, which come with a small number of pancakes that won’t kill me.

Heavens, that’s a lot of pancakes.

Here, though, there are so many pancake options you could eat at a different one for a couple of weeks without repeating. People here must really love pancakes, or maybe they just eat breakfast a lot, since they’re all on vacation.

I also notice that other restaurants, like Cracker Barrel, focus on pancakes in their local signs, though I keep missing my photo ops.

Closest pancake to where we are staying.

I’ll probably never figure this one out. But it’s got me looking for pancake and waffle restaurants everywhere! Austin has taco places on every corner. Cameron has Mexican restaurants. What’s overly abundant where you live?

Ups and Downs of Small-Town Businesses

Now that I think Pickle and Vlassic are over their foam-eating issues, I can return to other topics. One that has especially interested me is how people in and around Cameron feel about the customer service mentality in the area. I may have mentioned that a couple days ago, Lee wrote a blog post about why Cameron has such a hard time keeping restaurants open.

Lee’s photo of the former Sonic, now up for sale.

Usually, our blog posts and Facebook business page posts get between 100-200 views/hits each. Not this one. The Facebook one has 2500 views and 14 shares. Mandi said the one on her page also got lots of shares. The website stats look hilarious. There were 1500 hits that day, which made the previous week look totally flat.

So, yeah, Lee’s thoughts on this topic struck a nerve. I’ve been hanging around Cameron for just nine years now, but I’ve seen so many places open and close right up. One has done it at least four times (I’m not naming names, just noting facts). When I talked to a former cafe owner, she said people would just walk off their jobs or not show up because they didn’t feel like it. Turnover was huge. Just a week or two ago we went to a local place where only the cashier had showed up, so she was trying to wait tables. It didn’t go well.

Continue reading “Ups and Downs of Small-Town Businesses”