Monday, March 30, 2009

Dixie Stampede Photo Mondays #4

Location: Pigeon Forge, TN
Date: March 28, 2008
Family: BFF (plus voyeur horse)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Myrtle Beach is just like Spain

Tucker: Costa Del Sol is Spain's Myrtle Beach

MARBELLA, SPAIN – About four days into my visit in Spain’s Costa Del Sol, I find myself noticing endless similarities between it and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as a golf mecca.

Don’t get me wrong, there are stark differences too (in Costa Del Sol you curse motorists zipping by you 40 km over the limit, while in Myrtle Beach you curse tourists going 40 km under). But as golf destinations, Costa Del Sol is the Grand Strand’s European equivalent.

Geographically, the Costa Del Sol stretches about 140 kilometers along the Mediterranean Sea and contains most of Andalucia’s 130 golf clubs. That’s mightily close to the Grand Strand’s over 60-mile stretch of 100-plus courses just off the coastline. On Costa Del Sol’s main A7 road, you pass golf holes on either side in almost comical fashion. If you don’t see a course within sight between Malaga and San Roque, just wait a few blinks.

And in both spots, practically all courses offer at least some amount of public play, with styles running the gamut. In Costa Del Sol, you can tee it up on some of the world’s best courses, including Ryder Cup host Valderrama Golf Club, while at the opposite end, there are other courses that were built simply for the sake of adjoining real estate and are nothing more than a basic golf offering.

This saturation of golf courses also means you’ll find pretty competitive green fees. Value can be had here with the right combination of courses, even on the U.S. Dollar. Top courses in Costa Del Sol (excluding Valderrama’s €300 fee) range about €80-140 (Myrtle Beach peaks out at about $200). The climates line up pretty close too, with the peak seasons for golf coming in the spring and fall, while the summertime is for the beaches. In the winter, the weather can be spotty but golf is certainly on the menu.

The food? Well, Spain’s gastronomy comes second to none, but both destinations obviously specialize in their seafood. And Malaga’s signature dishes are fried seafood (a bit like Calabash north of Myrtle Beach). Last night at La Campana, a tapas bar in Malaga’s Old Town, we enjoyed some fried octopus, baby calamari and fish eggs. Now, you won’t find all-you-can-eat crab legs anywhere in Costa Del Sol (or maybe I’m just not looking hard enough), but you’re never going to bed hungry (or in most cases sober).

And both destinations are huge expat/transient spots, and golf has been a big slice of that. In Myrtle Beach, the area’s massive growth over the last 15 or so years is thanks to snowbirds from Canada and the northeast and Midwest. Costa Del Sol has experienced an even more rapid boom and is very densely populated along the coastline. Here in Marbella, it’s full of U.K. and northern Europe expats, where Spanish is practically a secondary language. Head just a few minutes down the road from here to Sotogrande and you’ll encounter a charming, more laid-back marina town that’s home to many Americans. But if you’re looking for more of a authentic Spanish coastal town, head to San Pedro (in between Marbella and Sotogrande), as it’s kept its Spanish vibe better along this stretch of coastline.

The most notable difference between Costa Del Sol & Myrtle Beach’s golf, however, is the coastal topography. The Grand Strand is mostly flat, where 40-foot elevation changes are cause for marketing points. Contrarily, I didn’t know just how severe Spain’s coastline, highlighted by the La Concha mountain looming over Marbella was, and the golf courses reflect that. Even courses a few miles off the coastline are going to have sea views, just because you’re so high up. In Costa Del Sol, you’ll encounter both steeply-elevated tee shots with panoramic mountain and sea views, as well as greens perched so high you must club down three irons just to get your shot to the front edge.

So if you’re a regular visitor to Myrtle Beach and are considering a foreign exchange, Costa Del Sol is what the doctor ordered (and to our European readers, flip that). Stay tuned for plenty more on Costa Del Sol at

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dixie Stampede Photo Mondays #2

Location: [unknown]
Date: July 20, 2008
Family: Miserable but patriotic.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Dixie Stampede Photo Mondays #1

Location: Pigeon Forge, TN
Date: April 23, 2008
Family: Weasley

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Profile: Mark Kruea

Mark Kruea
MB Public Information Officer
(843) 918-1014

Mark Kruea

What's that? You want to watch a relatively boring interview Mark did for "Carolina People?" Here you go (sorry, you have to search for his name). If you don't feel like watching, here are some highlights:

He's an "evening person."
Winter in MB is construction season.
Mark grew up in North Carolina!

Mark Kruea Quotes:
“We're making sure that everyone is aware and that the beach patrols and lifeguards are keeping an eye on the swimmers and that everybody knows about the riptide possibility.”

“There just aren't that many places that we can stop providing service.”

“We are very conscious of the need to serve those residents and visitors who have physical disabilities.”

Friday, March 06, 2009

Dixie Stampede Vegetarian Update Friday

It appears that the "vegetarian option" at Dixie Stampede is no longer simply the meat meal without the meat parts:

• Country Garden Vegetable Pasta (**NEW!!**)
• Dixie Stampede's Original Creamy Vegetable Soup
• Scrumptious Homemade Cheese Biscuit
• Hot Buttered Corn on the Cob
• Tasty Herb-basted Potato
• Dixie's very own Specialty Dessert
• Unlimited Pepsi, tea or coffee

Thursday, March 05, 2009

BREAKING: McCain labels Myrtle Beach project, "porky"


By Victoria Spechko
Thursday, March 05, 2009 at 10:29 a.m.
Senator John McCain has taken to sending out a daily list of the top 10 "porkiest" projects contained in the president's budget.

The items are often amusing, ranging from $1.7 million dollars for pig odor management to $1.7 million for a honey bee factory.

But Wednesday, McCain took aim at funding allocated for a Myrtle Beach project.

The list, sent out as a Twitter feed from McCain, reads "$950,000 for a Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, SC."

Mark Kruea, Myrtle Beach's spokesman, says that's not entirely accurate. The money would be used to help purchase the remaining 12 acres of land still needed for expansion at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

The city has purchased 28 of the 40 acres needed for the expansion. The money would aid in the purchase of the remaining 12 acres located between Oak Street and Grissom Parkway.

We asked Mark Kruea how the project ended up as part of the federal budget. He said the city has had a standing request with representatives in Washington for federal money for the project.

The city put $6 million in the capitol budget for this year to begin the expansion efforts, but getting that might be tricky in today's economic climate.

Kruea said the city had planned to sell bonds to raise the money, but the bond market is not favorable right now. They may try to sell the bonds late this year or early next year.

The city is relying on the Rivoli Theatre Group to raise one million dollars for the expansion.

Kruea said a ballpark "total cost" for the expansion is around $75 million dollars.

Dixie Stampede Defense Thursday

There seems to be some confusion over the potential kick-assedness of a night of dinner-theater at Dixie Stampede (A Pageant of History and Patriotism). As someone who has been there I can honestly say that I don't remember a thing. But, that is moot anyway because every year they add new stuff! That's like 17 new stuffs! During MB '07 the new stuff was an aerial act. MB '08's new stuff was miniature horses that will purportedly "thrill you beyond [fucking] belief!"

Srsly, I'm with the Branson Courier:
What more can one entertainment venue provide than a great four-course meal eaten while watching one of the most exciting interactive shows in existence featuring 32 horses, exciting equestrian stunts, Longhorns, ostrich and pig races, the “Spirit of the Bird” aerial acrobatics spectacle and a little friendly “North” and “South” audience participation competition?

Well, how about by adding some flying machetes, a military reunion tribute for veterans, a world class juggler, a new song contributed by Dolly Parton, new choreography for the “Spirit of the Bird” aerial act and “Skeeter’s BIG Event" (not sure who Skeeter is? See here), beotches??

Monday, March 02, 2009

Dixie Stampede Photo Mondays

I remember when I was a kid being constantly forced to pose for these annoying theme-activity photos - you know the ones, where you get a shitty picture of your awkwardly-posed family in front of a Sears portrait-esque conceptually-lacking backdrop, a shitty theme-activity overlay, and decorative cardboard frame for like $30? Those were the worst*.

In honor of MB '09, I am announcing the creation of "Dixie Stampede Mondays," on which I will feature *official* theme-activity photos of families taken at various Dixie Stampede locations around the country (well, around the southern part of the country). You're welcome.

*Not included in this category are the photos you can get on roller coasters right as you're starting to go down the big drop. Those rule.

Semi-finalized MB '09 Date.

This is it, kids (unless something changes): July 23-30 (Psyche!) August 19-25.

Which is kind of sad because we'll be missing this:
Summer Parrot Head Festival
July 19, 2009
La Belle Amie Vineyard, North Myrtle Beach
Contact: Chuck
La Belle Amie Vineyard
North Myrtle Beach, SC
Noon - 5pm

Its a trip to the islands, mon. Enjoy music Jimmy Buffett style, comfortable & friendly atmosphere, fun folks, tasty food and soothing libation..... Try some exotic wine coolers, delicious outdoor cooking, and, of course, the wines of La Belle Amie Vineyard.

ADMISSION: $8/person (under 18 & over 80 free). Includes parking, music, access to gift shop, and limited wine sampling.

Music By: Big Bam Boom & The Little Big Band, Laidback Larry, and Latitude
I know, I know, you're all like, "Amy, WHAT??" And I'm all like, "Cool your jets, mon, because Laidback Larry plays every Tuesday through Saturday at the Sea Captain's House, mon."