Road Food Gone Wrong: An Almost Perfect Day in Awendaw, South Carolina

Our last day in the Myrtle Beach area was perfectly planned. In fact, it was shaping up to be the quintessential RV Family Travel Atlas kind of day, including our favorite types of activities paired with the promise of amazing, local food.

We have a bit of a formula for travel. We start with the great outdoors because our family is always a heck of a lot happier when we have a little room to roam. Then we look for an activity that is truly engaging and interesting to both kids and adults. Finally, we shamelessly beg the locals to recommend the most amazing food joint they know of with outdoor seating. See? There’s the whole outside thing again.

So I had followed these steps precisely and ended up with a pretty exciting day trip itinerary. We were headed south of Myrtle Beach to the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw, South Carolina. This Avian Conservation Center does amazing work both in rehabilitating injured birds and in educating the public about native bird populations. They also use a vintage Airstream as an office.  Pretty cool, right?

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I was scheduled to get a private tour of the medical clinic (normally closed to the public) and then we were going to tour the grounds with the director of the facility. The icing on the cake? Our plans for an early dinner at SeeWee Restaurant. The staff at the Center for Birds of Prey told us this was their top pick for local eats. Then, to our delight, we also found it recommended in our travel bible, Jane and Michael Stern’s culinary classic Roadfood. Yup, pretty awesome itinerary.

But then, right after we parked the truck, we encountered the fire ants. More specifically, Max and Wes encountered the fire ants. We told the boys not to go near them then made the mistake of turning our backs for five seconds.  It was our first introduction to this southern phenomenon and there was a lot of screaming and wailing and water bottle dumping. There was outfit changing and a couple of more rounds of general freaking out. Suffice it to say that by the time it was over we had missed out on our window for off-book tour opportunities.

We joined in with the next available tour and it was still nothing short of amazing. Our tour guide, Stephen, had the ability to convince this girl that the vulture is the noblest animal on Earth. He also did a whole lot of owl hooting and gave us more information about Bald Eagles than I have ever heard before. The tour was long, at least an hour, and our six year olds were engaged the entire time.

Then came the real spectacle. The flight demonstration featured falcons, hawks, and vultures and demonstrated the birds’ unique hunting and flying techniques. The six year olds were still enraptured. It was stunning, educational, and inspiring. Wes, our two year old, was the only one not wildly excited.

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We left the Center for Birds of Prey impressed by their facility and praising our boys for their behavior during the two hour program. We had overcome the fire ant hiccup and still had an amazing experience.

Onward to food.

The SeeWee Restaurant should have been the perfect spot for our family to enjoy an early dinner before heading back to Myrtle Beach. The hush puppies arrived immediately, and shortly afterwards a parade of southern standards filled our table with smells and tastes almost too perfect to believe.

Jeremy and I started with oysters and fried green tomatoes, which were among the best we have ever tasted. Then we just had to sample the chicken fried steak for our main course. The macaroni and cheese, butter beans, sweet potatoes, and collard greens were everything you would want from the perfect southern roadside joint.

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Our children, however, were not so perfect. It was one of those meals. The toddler had to be taken outside. There were mid-meal bathroom breaks and under-the-table wrestling events. Food got cold and beer got warm. At a certain point, we cried uncle. Pack everything up, we said. Check please.

The Center for Birds of Prey was perfect. The SeeWee Restaurant was perfect. Our kids? Not so perfect. But that’s okay. They are just little kids, and we take them to a lot of new places to see a lot of new things. Sometimes you can follow all the rules and still lose the match.

Lucky for us, the food tasted just as good later on that night by the campfire. The collard greens were hot, the beer was cold, and the kids were in bed.

Campground heaven.

 

 

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