It turns out every state has a different definition of Spring Break. This became blindingly clear on my trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the end of March. Walking out of the small airport, I was greeted with cool weather reminding me more of my home state of New Jersey than the South.
Riding shotgun, I was able to take in all the sights; which mostly underwhelmed and felt eerily ghostly, despite being 2PM on a Saturday. At least our rental house had some bright siding to break up the otherwise pale landscape.
Sunday morning had me heading back towards the beach to pick up my rental for the day, painted in a color seemingly appropriate for the area: Admiral Blue Metallic. I was expecting to meet my host and do a quick walk around before setting off. Instead, I got a text four minutes before my reservation asking me to “send a selfie next to the car” and he would unlock it remotely.
One awkward, face mostly cut off self portrait later, I could hear the locks working and got another text saying “keys are in the center console. Enjoy.” For my own sanity, I did a quick walk around and slid into the driver’s seat.
Pushing the silver rectangular start button with my New Balance wrapped foot on the brake brought the 6.2L V8 roaring to life. It’s Corvette Time. Although it was a 2017 model year, connecting my Pixel 6 Pro via Android Auto was painless. With 49,200 miles on the odometer, I clearly wasn’t driving a showroom fresh example, but I didn’t care. This was a 455-horsepower, RWD sports car. And it was mine for the next 24 hours and 200 miles.
The plan was to take a little road trip about 35 miles away to Georgetown, South Carolina. Pulling out of the parking space, it quickly sunk in just how low and wide the Stingray truly was. I kept it nice and slow through the surprisingly rough, uneven streets, but somehow still managed to slightly scrape on a manhole cover. At least turning onto the main road gave me a chance to let that motor make some noise.
The weird thing about many of the intersections in downtown Myrtle Beach is that there’s no stoplights and no way to easily and safely sit in the middle. You really need to wait for all traffic in both directions to be clear before you can shoot across. Or you need power. I turned the knob into Sport Mode, pressed my foot down, and was immediately greeted with that iconic V8 rumble as I darted across all four lanes with ease.
The rest of the drive to historic Georgetown was pretty uneventful. The mixture of highways and intersections did allow me to be aggressive on the throttle, while still averaging over 26 MPG. Although the occasional manhole cover did send chills down my spine and cause some rather loud creaks of the interior plastics, overall the ride was far smoother and more comfortable than expected, especially given the age and mileage of my example.
Street parking also proved to be incredibly easy. Plus, they don’t even charge on Sunday! That should’ve been my first warning but hey, ignorance is bliss right? My fears of scraping the nose on the curb were quickly eradicated thanks to the 2LTs standard front view camera system. Which, although low grain compared to 2022 standards, was clear enough to prevent using my trip insurance to buy a new front bumper.
We started our tour at a beautiful consignment furniture store overflowing with grandfather clocks, beautiful headboards, light fixtures, artwork, and living room sets. After an hour or so of browsing, we took a stroll down Harborwalk- a wooden boardwalk that runs alongside the Sampit River. This was when the free parking on Sunday started to click.
Business after business, restaurant after restaurant, all with a “Sorry We’re Closed” sign adorning the front door. Save for a few power walkers and pups, the boardwalk was deserted. We finished the walk and headed back to the car, surprisingly earlier than anticipated.
As we made the drive back towards our temporary home, a billboard for Brookgreen Gardens showed Sunday hours! After plugging it into Google Maps, we had a new destination. This 9,100 acre property had multiple gardens, sculptures, and even a zoo. And now that Spring had sprung, it was the perfect time to stop and smell the flowers.
You don’t realize how low the Corvette is until you try and do a seemingly simple task like purchasing tickets at a toll plaza. It felt like they were built for lifted trucks, which may be the case. But after unbuckling the seatbelt and basically hanging out the window like I had just won a NASCAR race, we were granted access.
The grounds were absolutely beautifully kept and unbelievably green, a sight that my Jersey winter eyes hadn’t seen in what felt like eons. And the roads were so smooth, it felt like they were made for this Corvette. That was, until we had to park for the zoo.
The main parking lot was full, but luckily signs led to some overflow parking just down the road. Unfortunately, this “lot” was a dirt patch which involved some careful maneuvering to prevent scraping. Who would’ve thought I’d do more offroading in one day with the Corvette than I’ve done in a year with my crossover at home. Carefully applying throttle to prevent spinning the tires, I was parked.
After enjoying the variety of birds and animals on display, we decided to remove the targa top and enjoy the sunshine. Chevrolet is absolutely brilliant for making this carbon fiber panel so easy to remove. Three latches and it lifts right up. The cargo area has unique indents to allow the top to be stored without rattling around. And once off, it’s really hard to justify choosing the convertible option and paying the premium.
The V8 soundtrack truly becomes intoxicating, as does the sensation of wind blowing through your hair with every depression of the throttle pedal. In this moment, in this particular climate, the Corvette was the only car I could imagine driving. I didn’t care about the creaky plastics. I didn’t care about the impossible to aim, hilariously small, side view mirrors. I didn’t care that it shook at idle. For the first time in months, driving put a smile on my face. It was actually a good thing that so much was closed on Sunday. Otherwise I would’ve found myself spending more time doing retail therapy instead of good ol’ octane therapy.