5K in Every State: South Carolina!

The year nearly got away from me without tending to my 5k in every state quest. Yikes! Most of 2016 was consumed with a crazy load at work, my move into an older home (read: I now exist solely to do home repair and yard work), and helping my Mom transition from independent living to assisted living. It’s been a blur…and I’m not talking about my running, because truth be told, I usually walk anyway.

Now that the chaos has quieted, and realizing I hadn’t had a vacation yet this year, I took off to Myrtle Beach, SC for a long weekend with a couple of good friends and, of course, my sweet Grace. I’ve been living in North Carolina for 16 years and had never been to Myrtle. Crazy. From what I’ve heard, Myrtle Beach is a love-it or hate-it kind of place depending on your level of intro- or extraverted-ness. I wander from one camp to the other, so I went with no expectations.

Seven states done!

Since Miss Grace was traveling with us, I booked early to secure a dog-friendly room. Sidebar: there is a huge opportunity out there for nice, dog-friendly hotels. Seriously, the first entrepreneur who realizes that people traveling with their dogs (over 20 pounds) deserve a clean, well-maintained hotel room just the same as people sans pets is going to become a billionaire. But for now, it appears that the equivalent of a dilapidated EconoLodge is what we have to work with. Sigh.

Even though I booked our room well in advance, Hurricane Matthew said “No, no, no!” Yep. The storm hit a week prior to our arrival, but I received an email from the hotel stating  “the coast is clear!” So to the beach we went. Much to our dismay, the coast was not clear. The hotel was damaged. I stood in line for an hour to check in to a room I did not reserve. A room without an ocean view and without two beds. One of our group was sent to a property six blocks away. The three of us, four counting Grace, spent much of our long weekend playing musical rooms and a new game I call “stump the shuttle driver” before it was all sorted out. But we had lots of laughs–I mean my cheeks and belly hurt kind of laughing–and enjoyed the weekend anyway. Put three ladies at the beach next to a great burger joint with a few beers and voila! You can’t stop the laughter!

Speaking of burgers, if you want a seriously good one, I highly recommend River City Cafe. A hefty menu–more burgers than I knew existed, incredibly reasonable prices, and delish. Don’t get all gussied up because you’ll be walking on peanut shells and craning your neck to read the license plate covered walls. Your server will get your beer and your burger with a smile, but she’s not going to take your jacket. Anything more than a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops is unnecessary.

Burger at River City Cafe
And the weekend begins!

Saturday morning was the run, which was a one-miler that I did with Grace. That’s right, not a 5k at all. This is my bucket list, so I call Lady’s Choice! We were up early and off to The Market Common where we ran the Doggie Dash to benefit the Grand Strand Humane Society. This was Grace’s first run that involved other dogs, many other dogs, and she did great! She trotted her little behind off, sometimes gently pulling me along. We had to stop a few times for me to catch my breath because it’s been a while since I’ve done anything more strenuous than get the mail. The important thing here is that we finished; not record time, but somebody’s got to be at the back of the pack, right?

We finished!

My second recommendation if you’re in Myrtle, especially if you’re traveling with your pooch, is the The Market Common, which is a mixed-use development with shops, movie theater, restaurants and pubs, residential living space, and a beautiful park complete with a pond. No big, you say? These things are everywhere? Well, yes. However, at this particular shopping center, the stores allow dogs! It was travel-with-your-dog-heaven! Charming Charlie, Chico’s, Handpicked, everywhere we went, Little Miss was allowed in the store and browsed right along with us. Awesome. Sauce. Here’s a shot of HRH refusing to play giant chess at The Market Common. Perhaps she thinks she is, quite literally, the Queen.

The Queen

Sunday we headed to Murrells Inlet and checked out the Marsh Walk. Another thing on the “highly recommend” list. The Marsh Walk is a 1/2 mile wooden boardwalk along the waterfront and natural saltwater estuary.

An egret on the Marsh Walk

There are plenty of restaurants along the way. We took a seat at Wicked Tuna, which is at the southern end of the boardwalk. Spectacular view, cold beer, and damn good food. Grace was a trooper and found some shade at our feet beneath the table while we relaxed and enjoyed the afternoon.

Shrimp Tacos at Wicked Tuna
My favorite little gingerbread pup

No beach post is complete without gorgeous sunrise and sunset photos. That is, after all, the reason one goes to the beach. Seeing that giant ball of hydrogen peak over the horizon and come to life, bringing the world with it, exhilarates me.

Sunrise on the beach. I love it!

Then, when it settles in for the evening, seeming to dip into the water and wrap the world in shades of crimson and magenta, it comforts me.

Sunset on the beach is soothing.

Back to my earlier statement that people either love or hate Myrtle, I say no matter what your taste, where there’s a beach, there’s food for the soul. Add a couple of dear friends, and you have the perfect place no matter where you are.


Like a Monkey Flinging Sweet Potato Poo (and how to clean it up)

I was in the market for another Kong-like thing to keep Grace busy while crated.  She recently has been showing beginning signs of Separation Anxiety, and SA can be extremely stressful for a dog, so I want to nip it in bud.

The nice man at the pet store suggested this “bionic” chew toy that is hollow and can be stuffed with treats and frozen.  I told him Grace is maybe the only dog on earth that doesn’t like peanut butter, possibly has allergies to cheese or anything that is not grain-free, and asked what else I could stuff it with.  He said sweet potatoes, and they sell cans of it right there at the pet store.  Score!

Each end is open to stuff with something yummy

Off I went with the bionic chew and can of sweet potatoes.  I stuffed the toy with the potatoes, put it in the freezer and proudly presented it to Grace the next morning in her crate just before heading off to work.  She was interested in it right away.  Yay!

What I didn’t anticipate, and certainly there was no way the nice pet store man could have anticipated,  is while I was at work toiling away to buy toys and treats such as these, Grace was flinging sweet potato all over the place like a monkey flinging poo!  She had a bionic sweet potato party.

I didn’t think to take pictures until after I let her out of the crate – after she lapped up all the lumps of sweet potato that were strewn about.  I did, however, get this shot of some of the lovely orange stains left behind.

I’ve never had much luck with the carpet cleaning products out there.  Resolve and the like have let me down when I had Sweet Baby Chubs the very hair-bally cat.  Those were some stains.  What worked best was peroxide, so I pulled out the little brown bottle, cotton balls, and paper towels and spent some time with my carpet.

Saturate the stain with peroxide on a cotton ball. Really work it into the fibers.
Then blot with a paper towel. You may need to repeat the process a few times.
End result. Still a faint stain, but much better result than I’ve had with other products.
The pinkish circle you see is from the camera.
It’ll do until I get the carpet professionally cleaned. Again.

As with anything you put on your carpet, you’ll want to do a small test spot first to be sure the peroxide is safe to use with your particular fibers.

Lastly, we cannot go without a picture of the girl, now can we?  About 18 hours before the potato flinging, I foolishly left a bag of trash hanging on a kitchen cabinet.  And then left the room.  The girl and the trash were unattended.  But you know what?  I love this dog to the moon and back – look at that face!

Guilty face if I ever saw one!

And finally, here’s a look at the bionic chew toy on day three:

I’m skeptical of it’s bionic-ness.

Do you have a magic carpet cleaner?
Do you do the frozen stuffed toy thing – what do you put in yours?


UPDATES: Pink Fuzzy and the Westpaw Hurley

We have established that Grace is pretty tough on chew toys. She is the very definition of power chewer. See here the various and sundry items she has destroyed in a matter of seconds, including the indestructible Westpaw Bumi. Westpaw honored their guaranty and replaced it with their Hurley (tougher than the Bumi). That was around January 1.

UPDATE: it took over 4 months, but she finally broke the Hurley.

Time was not on Hurley’s side.

I’m impressed that it lasted 4 months and still give Westpaw a high rating on their toys – I’ll buy more for sure since nothing else has lasted nearly that long. It was a challenge for Grace for sure!

Then there was the flimsy little $5 stuffed toy from the grocery last week that she gently mouthed until the poor thing was entirely covered in dog saliva.

UPDATE: I didn’t expect Pink Fuzzy to last more than 5 or 10 minutes, but he has undergone only one minor procedure – a few stitches on his side. Other than that he is intact and living the dream!

She carries him around with her (even onto the bed at night) and takes him to the kitchen or living room in the morning. Pink Fuzzy has really stolen her heart 🙂

Ready for night-night.

Does your dog (or cat) have a favorite toy? Post a pic if you have one!


Pink Fuzzy

Today I bought Grace a guilt toy. You know, the toy you buy your pet when you leave them (maybe those of you with children do this too). Grace has been with me for 5 months, and today was the first time I left her in the care of someone else. You will all be so proud of me for not crying. I just went grocery shopping, but still. She, and I, did great for the couple of hours I was away.

But let’s get to Pink Fuzzy. With as tough as Grace is on her so-called indestructible, rubber toys, I never even considered buying her a stuffed toy. Figured it would be toast in a matter of minutes. But today, with all the grocery shopping guilt, I bought her Pink Fuzzy. I thought what the heck, let her have three minutes of fun tearing apart a stuffed toy! Here’s how it went down.

Pink Fuzzy looked nervous, while Grace looked a lot like Cheshire Cat.

She ever so gently took Fuzzy from me. She is, shall we say, more emphatic with her rubber toys.

And she was even gentle when chewing Fuzzy. Every time I looked at her or turned the camera to her, she would stop and give me this look.

Turned out she wanted some privacy with Pink Fuzzy.

Which I did not grant her. More stink eye.

So she ended up falling asleep with Pink Fuzzy next to her (although every time I turned on the camera her eyes would pop open).

It’s been a few hours and the worst thing Pink Fuzzy has suffered is to be covered in dog saliva and to be excessively snuggled.

Welcome to my world Pink Fuzzy.