My Summer Vacation
Aaah, summer vacation. The time of the year we look forward to rest and relaxation. For me, this year it was a trip down to Washington, DC and Myrtle Beach, SC. As I pondered my trip with my wife, Celeste, I thought of all that is awaiting for me including the sights of our nation’s capital, the beach, sand, ocean, and of course, visiting every pipe shop within a 200 mile radius of my destination.
The first stop on our long journey was Washington, DC. We stayed in a very lovely hotel in the center of the city and had a fabulous dinner at a DC steakhouse (I had duck). We then went into Georgetown, a wonderful little college section of DC, equipped with a long street which has many interesting shops and restaurants. Of course one of these shops was Georgetown Tobacco, (owned by David Berkebile), a quaint old store. It has much to offer the pipe and cigar smoker: many tobaccos, a good selection of pipes, and a comfortable sitting section for customers. I did not get to spend as much time as I would like in the store; however, I did meet a very pleasant salesperson, Clay Bryan, who talked with me about pipes and tobaccos and recommended a very fine blend, which I really liked. We left the store, and continued our stroll along the streets of Georgetown with me smoking my new blend. The evening ended back at the hotel with a drink in the bar and me sitting outside of the hotel finishing off the evening with a final smoke. The next day started our very long drive down to Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach is a very nice destination with all the beach items that you could imagine: sand, sun, endless pancake houses, miniature golf, and quite luckily, Low Country Pipe and Cigar (the brick and mortar store associated with SmokingPipes.com) about 15 minutes away from where we were staying. I am a regular visitor to the SmokingPipes.com website and I couldn’t believe I was actually going to get to see it in person. I could hardly wait to get there.
Finally, I arrived. Low Country Pipe and Cigar is large and spacious, has a wall of bulk tobaccos, a great pipe and cigar selection, and a comfortable sitting area with leather chairs and a TV. I met two very gracious employees, Bill Lloyd and Dave Cunningham. My interactions with these two gentlemen gave me a good idea of what Southern hospitality was all about. Bill gave me a very nice tour of Smokingpipes.com, the warehouse located a 30-second golf cart drive from the store. I entered into pipe smoker’s nirvana. The place is absolutely packed with about 4,000 pipes and probably as much tobacco. The pipes are arranged in the “pipe library” (if I knew that libraries would be this awesome, I would have taken the time to learn to read as a child) and the tobaccos seemed to reach to the ceiling.
From what I can see, Smokingpipes.com is a very well organized operation. Workers were packaging up pipes and tobaccos to be sent to some very lucky recipients. It seemed like this would be a really great job. You get to package up pipes to be sent off to some very happy people, although I think it would be a little sad to have to say goodbye to those wonderful pieces. Most of all, you get to smoke your pipe while you work (very likely one of the few places on the planet where this can happen). I returned to the brick-and-mortar store and spent the rest of my time sitting in the plush seats, smoking my pipe, and sharing pipe related conversation with Dave and Bill. Since it would be impossible to place all of the pipes in the store, they have a unique system for helping customers check out the inventory. You sit in your leather chair, pick up the iPad, choose what pipe you would like to see, and Dave will have it shipped up from the pipe library for your perusal (kind of like ordering food in a restaurant, except you don’t have to leave a tip). Dave was very involved in trying to find a specific Peterson pipe for me (a black sandblast with a yellow stem). Unfortunately, these seem to be rare, but after looking at a number of pipes, I finally decided to pick up a sandblasted Savinelli with a silver band and a few tins of the store signature Low Country tobacco.
All in all, I had a tremendous time at both Georgetown Tobacco and Low Country Pipe and Cigar. Although I am really not a beach person, I think I would be willing to take another trip down to Washington, DC and Myrtle Beach, SC just to do this all over again. Until next year’s vacation, happy smoking to all.
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