This Place Takes the Cake (I Mean, the Sombrero)

This has to be the strangest campground we’ve ever stayed in. I was about to list previous strange ones to prove it, but, come on. Look where we are.

You’ve seen the signs on I95 going to and from Florida. And, believe it or not, Tracy and I have both stayed here before (contrary to horror movie canon, we didn’t pull in last night unsuspecting). In fact, just a few years ago we stopped here together just for a kick, and we got hooked in when we bought this piece of fine Americana art (aka the greatest margarita salt-bowl ever).

Over the years it’s been disintegrating (you know, how fine art will do), so of course we had to stop here again.

South of the Border. The trashiest, arguably most racist, old-fashioned, tourist trap this side of Wall Drug.

And yes, they still sell those sombrero ashtrays, everywhere. I bought my replacement at the campground check-in office.

Half of America must own one. What does this one item say about us? Are we smokers? Are we tchotchke-lovers? Is this an act of nostalgia for years when our fathers and mothers smoked wantonly and hung piñatas at parties? I dunno. All I can say is, we’re here at the South of the Border campground (it’s called Pedro’s). And it’s strange.

Yes, by day some of it looks quaintly like this.

That’s a carefully curated and edited photo, though. The true spirit of South of the Border is in its unabashed sprawl.

On the map below, we’re camped at the lower right, and the one activity we wanted to do here (after buying the sombrero ashtray) was play putt-putt golf, which you’ll notice is ….

past the Myrtle Beach shop (classy place, that is), above the old-school motel, turn before Porky’s truck stop to cross the highway, miss the ageist ice cream shop (that claims treats are for kids whereas health-conscious alternatives are for Mom and Dad), bypass the hat shop (wait!), the dog toilet (?), and the three restaurants (two of which I’ve eaten at and had the worst Mexican food, and I’ve lived in West Virginia).

We made it to putt putt, and we putt putted for the fun of it. The course was marshy, one of us had to guard the “water elements” so the ball wouldn’t get lost amid the algae, and the fiberglass flag poles were a hazard to grasp, but we played the hell out of 18 holes until …

we realized we were playing the old course—there’s a new set of 18 holes right beside the dilapidated course that perhaps we should have realized was closed due to most of the flags being strewn about. Oh well, play the new course later? Except we never got to later.

In the campground, I’ve spoken to a woman with the most unusually colored Newfoundland (of course I thought of you, Ian) and then I noticed that she was lacking all her teeth. Not a horrific observation, just startling.

Also, there’s a motocross section at the back of the campground with a shop and a set of semi-permanent residents with toy hauler trailers. Well, that’s not strange, right?

What’s strange is that, according to this logo, South of the Border (SOB) has its own team?

Oh, and one guy parked next to us played a beautiful fiddle outside last night.

Look how seemingly innocent the campground is by day. That’s us at the right.

At night it transforms into Las Vegas, with less class.

Inside the Airstream, we’ve closed all the skylight blinds against the glowing, pulsing, faux-Mexican neon outside. Nevertheless, when I wake up I’m going to check for a fake mustache and see if I know how to play Mariachi music. I feel like I should be prepared.

2 thoughts to “This Place Takes the Cake (I Mean, the Sombrero)”

  1. Route 95 hadn’t been built/named when we (I was crammed with three siblings in the back seat of a 1956 turq/white Chevy Bel Air) rolled on by on our way down route 301. The biggest deal in those days was fireworks! – get ’em while they’re hot! Your mustache-checking instinct ought to serve you well 🙂