There is a place that feels more like home to me, than my actual home. Every time we go there, I literally cry when it’s time to return to my actual, geographical home. It’s not because our vacation is over, and it’s time to go back to all the realities that we left 7.5 hours away (6.5 if we speed) that we had the opportunity of forgetting about for a week or more. There’s more to it than that. It could be the fact that it’s where my husband said he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, where we got engaged, and got married. Maybe it’s all the trips we took when we were dating and broke, when life was much more simple. Or it could be that Breezy loves it just as much as we do, and says she wants to move her bedroom and all her toys there more times than I can count. It’s a place where the saltwater seeps into your soul. My body may be here, but my heart is always there. Home is where the heart is.
Ok, Rebecca, snap out of it! This is a FOOD ALLERGY blog after all………
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is our little piece of heaven on earth. In the past 9 years, I have never seen my husband happier than he is when is at the beach. He has said several times that he would use any excuse to move there forever, and I’m right there with him. I’ll always be a little happier when I’m right by the ocean. Many moons ago, during our first several trips south, we stopped where ever we wanted to, ate where ever we could find food, and “rested” wherever there was a restroom. Then we had Breezy, and Breezy has food allergies. Those days are long gone. Now, trips require a lot more thought and preparation. Luckily, we can almost make it there without the help of a GPS and, we know where the safe restaurants and clean restrooms are. They’re at Sheetz! Seriously. There’s a sign in every bathroom about the owner of the company promising clean restrooms and some other junk. They haven’t disappointed yet! Anyways……
We always take safe snacks for Breezy, and ourselves as well. Safe, but not always healthy. We tend to get a little reckless in the nutrition department on trips. Back in the broke days, I always wanted to stop at one of the many produce stands along the route to the beach. You know, the ones with the misspelled signs that go all the way down the highway, and poorly drawn pictures of things like dogs and a mariachi man (10 points if you know who he is!)? When hubby’s in a hurry to get to the beach, he’s not stopping for fruit. Despite their poor advertising techniques (or brilliant, I can’t be sure), you just can’t beat locally grown produce. It sells itself. But, there is one thing that all those produce stands have in common that is reason why I just can’t make the hubs stop the car now. BOILED PEANUTS.
It is like an un-official “Welcome to the South” when you start seeing those signs. To me, it’s an un-official way of saying “Don’t stop here unless you’re looking for a cross contamination nightmare!” I just picture a farmer making and touching boiled peanuts, even if they are in the shells, and stocking all his fresh-picked yumminess. I know you take a risk of cross contamination with produce in nearly every supermarket, especially in the larger ones where nuts are right sometimes intermingled with fruits and veggies, but I just can’t stomach it. Not on the way to my home. There shall be no anaphylaxis on the road. There shall be no anaphylaxis ever (Lord, hear my prayer)!
When we get to our hotel, the same one we’ve stayed at for 8 years now, I always start wiping everything down, especially in the kitchen. I run the dishwasher empty, then run it with the pots and pans in it. We take disposable plates, cups, bowls, and cutlery. We stay at Holiday Sands at South Beach Condos, and they’re very clean. I feel like I’m letting you in on a deep, dark secret, as I feel this place is our own little hidden gem. We love the staff, and the Ocean View Cafe’ in the hotel next door to the condos. Breezy has ate their several times now without an issue. Their food is delish!
The last time that we went to beach, we had our first encounter with PEANUT SHELLS on the beach. It was during peak season, which we try to avoid, and it was crowded. We didn’t exactly have our pick of spots on the beach at all, so when we saw them, we’d try to move away, but it was like we just couldn’t get away from them. Breezy knows what they look like, not to touch them (she’s contact allergic), and to tell us as soon as she spots one so we can get rid of it. I’m not certain that there could be any peanut protein left in shells that have been laying out on the hot sand for who knows how long, but I am certain of the anxiety it caused my little girl and us. This girl won’t even stand beside the peanut butter at the grocery store. How do you think she felt trying to play when every time she put her shovel in the sand, she’d find a peanut shell? This disturbance meant a lot of time with our beach chairs down in the ocean (am I supposed to be complaining?), and Breezy insisting she sit on a towel and not touch the sand.
Then, there was the issue of eczema. Horrible, itchy, red, rash-like eczema all over her. Nothing I bathed her in or put on it would clear it up. Several things came to mind when trying to find the cause: all the junk she’d ate on vacation, the sand, something in the sand, the heat, ocean water……. and then it hit me. It was the hotel pool water. Last year, she was splashing around in the baby pool of the hotel when suddenly she started crying and screaming “My belly’s hurting!” We hurried her up to our condo, thinking she had to vomit or something. When I pulled her one piece bathing suit off of her, her stomach was covered in hives. We put her in the bath, gave her a benadryl, and she spent most of the afternoon sleeping it off. At the time I thought maybe it was her sunscreen (we had really bad luck with sunscreens last summer), or maybe something in the baby pool water. This year I had solved the mystery. It had to have been the pool chemicals. I explained to Breezy that I thought that’s what was causing her to be so itchy, and that maybe we should avoid the pool for a couple days. Though she was disappointed, she agreed to give it a try. Sure enough, in 24 hours, her skin was a lot better.
Our schedule on vacation is as follows: sleep in, go to the beach all day, go to dinner at night. Even with Breezy’s allergies we didn’t want the latter to change. There are a ton of restaurants in Myrtle Beach, since it is a major tourist area, so we figured we had options. We tend to stick to chain restaurants. They seem better versed in food allergies than local places, but we will try a local place after thorough investigation. Allergyeats.com is a great source for finding restaurants that cater to allergies. Through much research and drilling many hosts, servers, and managers, we have discovered several places Breezy can eat safely. A couple of them have become our favorites.
One of them is Angelo’s Steak and Pasta. They claim to have “the greatest steaks in the universe”, and they ain’t kiddin’! They are out of this world (see what I did there)! My hubby always gets one, and I can’t help but steal bites off of him. I order the Italian buffet. Hi! My name’s Becky, and I like to stuff my face. It has spaghetti and meatballs, tortellini alfredo, chicken cacciatore, pizzas, stuffed shells, etc. But, my favorite is the Italian style green beans. I could eat them until I’m sick. They are delicious! As for Breezy, she gets the kid’s chicken strips that’s served with potato chips. It is a “must do” every time we go to Myrtle Beach.
Another must on our list is Capriz Italian Feast. Oh Em Gee, is the food good! Just Look:
This place is a little different then your typical buffet restaurant. They BRING the food to you. Yep, you can stuff your face unlimitedly, and not get up from your chair. And, you’re going to want to try everything they bring to your table. Why? Because there’s not a single thing there that’s not worth trying! It is a 2 course buffet. The first course is a cold bar with different types of salads, meats, cheeses, and breads. You do have to get up for that part. When you’re done with that, you flip you’re little two-sided drink coaster to the green side, and watch it come. Shrimp scampi, sausage and peppers, pesto ravioli, chicken marsala, parmesan encrusted beef tenderloin…..I could go on and on all day. My two favorite things are the blackened chicken alfredo and margherita pizza. If there’s something you like and want more of, just ask your server and they send it right over. If not, they make it! Last time we were there they didn’t have margherita pizza, but since I asked for it they made one just for me. Best freaking pizza I have ever put in my mouth. Hands Down.
Capriz Italian Feast is located within Broadway at the Beach, also Breezy’s favorite place. She can feed the fish, watch the boats fly back in forth in the small lake, and ride kid’s amusement rides until she’s sick. I love to shop while I’m there. However, there was this one time……..
I LOVE t-shirts. I wear them all the time around the house. It’s kind of my thing. I’m wearing one right now! So, when we go on vacation, I’m always looking for t-shirts. I spotted one in a gift shop that shall remain nameless, and I went in to purchase it. Breezy stayed outside of the store with her daddy to wait on me. I got halfway to the check out counter with merchandise in hand when I spotted an open container of some sort of southern flavor-ed peanuts on the small checkout counter for sampling. They must’ve been sitting there all day, because they were spilled all over the counter and onto the floor . Suddenly, I questioned my decision of purchasing anything. Luckily, at that moment, another cashier opened a register on the other side sans peanuts. When I got to her, I politely used the open container of peanuts as an opportunity to educate her on the seriousness of peanut allergies, and explained to her that had my daughter been with me, she could quit breathing if she had even touched that counter. She looked at me like I had a third eye in the middle of my forehead, and said she would tell her manager. I probably wiped my hands 4 times when I walked out of there until I could wash them, and made my husband hold my daughter’s hand because I was afraid to.
Did I mention we have a horrible diet on vacation? Yea, this may have something to do with it….
Breezy’s favorite store is the candy store, like most kids. But, unlike most kids, she can’t just go in there and pick out what she wants. They have a lot of bulk candy, which she can’t have any of due to the risk of cross contamination and lack of labeling. She has to have something packaged. A tiny piece of my heart broke every time she would point to something, and ask if she could have something that she couldn’t. She takes it like a champ, and moves on, but I know that this small childhood experience could have been so different for her. So, what does she get? Mostly plain Hershey bars, Twizzlers, Fun Dip, Starburst, and cotton candy. And, don’t worry. Thirty-five dollars worth was for all of us, not just her.
We have been extremely blessed the past few months. We got to take our daughter to Disney World, and we’ve been to Myrtle Beach twice already this summer. There was a time, not too long ago, when even putting food on the table was difficult. There was no way a vacation would even be possible. Because of that, I’ll never take any trip (or anything for that matter) for granted. We probably won’t go anymore this year, but one thing’s certain. I’ll always wish I was there near the salty breeze.