COAST TO COAST IN MYRTLE BEACH

Alone on the porch sipping my morning coffee watching for the sunrise that never came, my overly active paranoid imagination kicked into high gear.  Out of the gray mistiness of that sad horizon a small boat came speeding toward shore.  Slowing to a mere crawl just past the breakers in front of our house, it circled a few times, threw out its anchor and remained long after I got tired of watching it. 

Looking towards the pier, I spied a white pickup truck blinking it’s headlights as it drove quietly down the beach and halted just to the right of our house.  The driver turned off the ignition and sat nearly motionless until a very tall woman carrying a large sack who was most inappropriately dressed for a beach stroll on a September morning passed by his truck.  Simultaneously, the truck driver quickly slipped from the driver’s side door and moved behind the truck. 

Suddenly, from the opposite direction, another woman appeared.  The two women spoke and with a glance toward the ocean disappeared from view.  Creeping to the edge of the porch, I caught sight of them again as they hurried across the public access walkway. 

The driver climbed back into his truck heading off down the beach, the boat pulled up its anchor disappearing quickly back into the horizon and I was left concocting the first chapter of the inaugural book for my coast to coast spy novel series.  My lead character, a recently retired military intelligence officer would find that his long overdue retirement was short-lived.  After a week vacationing on the Atlantic coast, he finds himself lured back into the world of espionage supposedly for just one final mission and eventually finds himself floating in a raft in shark-infested waters off the Pacific coast.  Now isn’t that a quintessential example of coast to coast?

Well, in the Myrtle Beach area, Bryan Wester has brought a whole new meaning to the term.  He owns and operates Coast To Coast Antiques Gallery in Myrtle Beach and in my opinion, we definitely saved the best ‘til last.  According to Bryan, he started out as the kid, then the young guy, transitioned to the tall guy and these days is considered the old guy.  In other words, he’s been in the business most of his life.  His antique gallery is light and bright and filled with furniture and display cases housing anything you could possibly be searching for as well as a lot of things you never even thought about.  His shelves are full, but arranged so that we had no problem seeing each piece individually from multiple angles. 

You can pretty much find anything your little heart desires at Coast To Coast, but your best find will be Bryan.  He welcomes the opportunity to share his boundless knowledge and educate his customers, who can’t help but become his friends.  He’ll talk about your favorite subject or point out something that will get you hooked on a new subject or two, as well.  He knows the history and the stories behind every item in his store and relishes the chance to share them. 

Back in the days before American Pickers fame, Mike and Frank stopped in at Coast To Coast.  Mike was in awe of the quality and abundance of Bryan’s treasures while Frank, as always, was searching for bundling opportunities.  

These days, Bryan uses his Facebook page on a regular basis not only to promote his gallery, but to educate the curious as well.  Want to know more about Civil War weapons and relics?  How about art glass, figurines, furniture, MIOJ, or dolls?  Check out his Facebook page and you’ll find yourself wanting to delve deeper into these subjects. 

Next time we’re in the Myrtle Beach area, we just might spend a day out of the sun, basking in the lights reflected in Coast To Coast display cases instead.  I’ll have plenty of time to watch the early morning beach antics to feed my “paranoidly-vivid” imagination.  My spy guy is going to need some sidekicks maybe in the form of old friends who just happen to be staying in the house next door disguised as Tim Conway and Harvey Korman wannabes brushing up their comedy routine in the off season beach town.  As luck would have it, they are masters of deception, creative geniuses and graduates of the Jethro Bodine Double Naught Spy School, which they attended on the Buddy System.