The Mariner is both pet and pocketbook friendly, especially during off season. Built sometime in the 60's, it was laid out in weathered wood, brick, and stone with care and imagination in every step. Buildings, gardens, wading pools, and dog walks wind in maze-like fashion about the grounds presenting the visitor a unique view at every turn. Our suite even had a small patio in the back. The motel features several outdoor swimming pools, and even a tennis court. Various authentic nautical devices adorn the grounds and buildings along with wall paintings inside and out that echo both the gardens and the nautical theme. Staff served a complimentary outdoor continental breakfast each morning in the Carolina room. A grill by the pool offered guests opportunity to socialize and cook out on a whim; it was also used for a complimentary weekly Wednesday night dinner, with guests involved in preparations as much as the staff.
Benny, Hazel, and I met people (and dogs) from as far away as Canada and New England who wintered in the Mariner - all pet owners. Some had been making the annual trek since the 1970's. Many had become friends over the years. They reminisced about floating in the heated pool, a glass of wine in hand, watching the snowflakes drift down. While we were there, the temperature was 80 degrees and gorgeous however. We didn't complain. Nonetheless, when the owner left for the day, someone always managed to sneak into the room where the pool heater resided and crank up the temperature until the pool was almost a sauna, the mist rolling off into the cooler night air. While we enjoyed walks along the beach and wading in the ocean, the air was a bit cold for swimming that time of year. At least we thought so. We had just made our way down through an ice storm that came within 20 miles of Myrtle Beach, after all. But it was wonderful to practically step outside our door and into the heated pool midnight, dawn or anytime inbetween.
In September of 2007 when Benny and I returned to visit Bon, we chose to stay at the Mariner, even though Hazel didn't accompany us on this shorter stay. In contrast to January, September's ocean was warm and relaxing to our travel weary muscles. So was the pool. I found one late afternoon especially gratifying when the three of us swam together in the Atlantic. The swells, slightly over our heads, were gentle and buoyed us up before they broke closer to shore. Unlike my beloved blended family, I had grown up near the Ocean. It felt good watching these two people enjoy something I'd loved since childhood. By this time motel had changed hands. Breakfast was no longer being served, however the room service was excellent. We heard that the Mariner would probably not be maintained and that eventually it would be razed to make room for another high rise luxury condominium. Luxury high rises have their pleasures and conveniences (as we knew from previous visits and also from availing ourselves of the gift shop, delicious restaurants, money machine, and occasional complimentary cup of coffee at the Ocean Reef across the street). But they just don't offer the same experience, I reflected as I sat outside our door one morning, enjoying a cup of java brewed in our room, and feeding leftover crackers from our long drive down to the friendly squirrel and birds at my feet.
With that thought in mind, I decided to take pictures of everything I could - so that future generations would know that there are choices in how to live, and that things don't have to be just one way.
Remember the Mariner!