Thanksgiving is a great time of year. It's Thanksgiving which means a short break from school and good turkey cooked by my mom, but it also means a trip to the beach and the start of the Christmas season.
As usual, I got up early on Thanksgiving day and headed to USC Upstate for the Gobble Your Gibblets 5K. It's a race around their campus sponsored by their cross country team and for a person who runs on relatively flat surfaces everyday, it's an excruciating race of hills, somehow managing to feel uphill every step of the way. This year I talked the family into coming to watch so brother Daniel would have some company since he decided not to run.
G put together this collage of photos that she took. The first image is just a mile into the race. There was a very small kid running in front of me at that point. I'm thankful he's not in the photo making me look bad. Eventually I passed him and some other high school cross country kids from the area. There was this one guy ahead of me the whole time and about halfway through I started to think I may have a chance at winning my age group. I'm not a good judge of age but he looked like he could be close so I made him my target. There's a really nasty mountain to run up in the last mile and I got just ahead of him there. I could hear his footsteps right behind me the rest of the race. When we approached the finish line I knew he was going to make a go at passing me. I pretty much put everything I had left into sprinting the last tenth of a mile. As I sped up, his footsteps got more and more faint. So I beat him and I beat my time from last year by about 30 seconds. Then I ended up winning my the male 40-49 age group. I think Violet was more excited than I was. She and Blue were thrilled with the trophy. Thanksgiving was off to a great start.
If I haven't made this abundantly clear in the past, my mom is an excellent cook. Think of all the famous chefs you know - all crap compared to her. I arrived at her house early enough to start sampling the various turkeys. All I had for breakfast was a banana so cut me some slack. She deep fries her turkeys and she always spices one up with cajun spice and they are amazing. Oh and she made a bacon peanut butter pie this year with a whole pound of bacon in it. It was good, but we all agreed it may have been better without the bacon. And that's the family up there. Mom, my brothers, sisters in law and all the nieces and nephews. And LJ took the photo for us. She's our immediate family too. Go ahead and count the kids. One of my brothers was prolific.
After lunch we grabbed our chocolate chip cookies for the road and headed toward the coast. There are so many landmarks along the way that I use to mark the time and distance. The interstates are so long but once you get off I-95 time speeds up a little.
The kids get more and more excited as they see "beach trees" more often. The sun was setting on the Intracoastal Waterway as we arrived.
And it made for a nice balcony view after we threw our bags down.
Thanksgiving dinner. People always think it's weird that we have Thanksgiving dinner at TGI Fridays. I'm not sure why. There are always plenty of other people eating dinner there with us. We do the family thing at lunch and have our own goofy thing for dinner. G and I started making this trip years ago when no one went to Myrtle Beach at Thanksgiving. The first year Domino's was the only restaurant we could find open. Every year since then, more restaurants have been open and more people have been cluttering up our weekend. We found TGI Fridays one year and it was warm enough to eat outside. Since then it's been our go-to place for Thanksgiving dinner.
The next morning we woke up to this. Not bad, huh?
After a chilly run we had Omega Pancake house for breakfast. French toaaaaaaast!
Blue was apparently inspired by the Thanksgiving race and asked to run on the beach each afternoon. He ran a mile with me each day and did really well.
We often skip shopping in favor of playing on the beach on Beach Friday. This one was pretty chilly so we carefully drove by a parking lot and when we saw that people were not parked all up in the grass like usual, we decided to give it a try. The kids hate shopping but they were so excited about seeing their favorite man with facial hair that night...Russell. Russell's is our favorite seafood place and Russell makes his rounds while we eat and has a good time going on with the kids. Either he was running late or we were too early but we missed him this time. Blue left him a drawing and a note and he headed out to see the other facial hair guy.
Santa arrived at Market Common and lit the Christmas tree. Blue was excited and Violet burst into tears. She likes the idea of Santa, but the real guy, not so much.
Blue knows you have to get your specific requests in as early as possible. He had a little chat, smiled for a photo and then headed for the ice cream place.
Another great sunrise and another beautiful day.
We needed to wait a few hours after breakfast for the beach to warm up so G made a lap around the mall while I watched the kids play on the bouncy things.
They ran wild for almost an hour and wore themselves out.
The Carolina Clemson game was on so we watched a bit of it at Hamburger Joe's.
And then we hit the beach. The kids played in the sand for a while and then Blue and I ran a little.
Then we played a little more in the sand.
And then we got in the ocean. G opted to stay dry and warm, but the rest of us got in. It was cold. Very cold.
We had some hot showers to warm up and cruised around Broadway for a while doing some Christmas shopping.
The kids got in a little trouble and had to be put in the stocks.
The seagulls posed for us before we left.
The answer to the question "how close can you get before he flies away"? That close.
I love the beach at night. You cant see the stars or hear the waves but trust me, it was beautiful. Magnificent. It was church.
We headed back home early to beat the traffic and caught the sun rising somewhere near Florence.
Back home that afternoon my Nike+ running app finally synced properly and gave me credit for all my miles. Now a couple of busy weeks before Christmas break.