Trip Report; May 2024 Miami to Myrtle Beach to Charleston

Started by N9JIG, May 21, 2024, 11:18:47 PM

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Earlier this month we flew to Miami, rented a car and spent a week there. We then drove up to Myrtle Beach SC, spent a couple days there and then drove down to Charleston from where we flew home. Here are a few notes from that trip:


It has been years since I have been there so I considered it a new area for me. My first thought was that it was "Chicago with sand". Hot, humid, crowded, old-looking and crumbling infrastructure. The drive out of the airport up to the Fort Lauderdale suburbs where we were staying was confusing. Trying to follow the GPS directions was a little tough as there were too many lane drops and confusingly similar numbers. The GPS took us on FL-836 out of the airport, then FL-826 north to the FTP to Hollywood Blvd. Of course our flight landed at 4:15 and by the time we got our luggage and rental it was about 5:30 on a Friday afternoon. Where I have lived the last decade a traffic jam is 3 cars at the same stoplight, I am not used to heavy city traffic anymore. It took almost 2 hours to get to Hollywood from the airport and we dealt with the crazy city drivers, especially the future road-stains driving sport bikes between lanes at high speeds.

Once we got to Hollywood we drove to various places in the next week, restaurants, the beach, Sawgrass Mall, etc. The roads were sufficient for the most part, but more narrow and beat up than I am used to.
The one thing that really struck me was how many state-numbered routes there are in Florida. They are much more prevalent than in Arizona or Illinois, the states I am most used to driving in. It seems there are tons of 3-digit roads all over the greater Miami area.

We stopped at a Buc-ees near Daytona, this was my first such experience. I was pretty impressed, it met the expectations I had. The food we bought was good, the wife bought some souvenirs and we had a good time there.

Miami to Myrtle Beach to Charleston:

At the end of the week we drive north to Myrtle Beach. We took the FTP to Fort Pierce then I-95 north from there. The FTP was pretty decent, we lucked out that traffic SB was horrid but NB was fine. Between a car fire, construction and an accident the SB lanes were slow or stopped a good part of the way while we cruised right along NB. At Jacksonville we took the east bypass around then continued to and thru Georgia. I really liked the view going across the bridge at the St. Johns River!

Georgia was noteworthy in the lack of anything particularly noteworthy thru here. Several of the counties and cities were running speed traps on the Interstate, I only saw one GA State Trooper but dozens of locals.

In South Carolina we hopped off at US-378 and took that into Conway, then US-501 and SC-544 into Myrtle Beach. For the rest of that weekend we bounced around town doing the tourist stuff, going to the beach and other stuff.

The roads in and around Myrtle Beach are sufficient for the traffic I saw. It was Bike Week so there was a lot of motorcycle traffic but it seemed pretty tame compared to other biker events I have seen.  US-378 was a 4-lane highway most of the way as was US-17.

I did see a couple old-style SC state route markers on some of the intersecting roads, I wish I had the time to get some pictures. I posted in the SE Regional Board a question about ROW markers in SC having "MV" and "AV" on them, I will watch for answers there.

I noticed that both SC and GA seem to prefer to have the state name on the Interstate markers but still use the larger numbers. This tends to make the state name seem smaller but that appears to be just an optical illusion. SC also seems to eschew directional tabs on reassurance markers on US and state routes.

On the last day we drove down to Charleston along US-17 for our flight home. Like US-378, US-17 is mostly a 4-lane facility between Myrtle Beach and Charleston. Charleston, as an old city, was mostly narrow and crooked streets. Charming for sure but a challenge for big SUV's to get around in. This would be an ideal city for a SmartCar.

General Notes:

Gas was about a dollar cheaper throughout the area than here in the Phoenix area (where most of our fuel comes from California). That was handy as my rental was a huge SUV.

Speaking of that, my rental was a Nissan Armada, the first time I have driven one of these (or any Nissan for that matter). I was pretty impressed, it was on par with the Tahoe's and Expeditions I am used to. I really liked the cameras, they really helped me get the beast parked properly between the lines.

I-95 was not nearly as intimidating as I expected. It was 3 or more lanes in each of direction thru all of Florida and Georgia while dropping to 2 in South Carolina, at least for the portion I was on. I think SC would do well to expand I-95 but that could be said for most roads these days.

In all 3 states the road condition of I-95 was pretty decent as far as I could tell. Outside the Miami area the same goes for most of the other highways I used.

As a former Chicago area resident and current Phoenix area one I am used to straight streets and highways with plenty of capacity and decent pavement. (Yes, despite its reputation, Chicago area expressways and especially the tollways are better than most eastern cities.) Driving out east has always been a weird experience for me.

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