Is it the end of the world as we know it? Myrtle Beach-area man not taking any chances

This could be one of the last newspaper articles you ever read.

Or not.

Either way, Horry County resident Robert Leopard isn’t taking any chances.

Leopard packed up his fiancé, four children and one of the kid’s boyfriends and headed to a cabin deep in Gatlinburg, Tenn. to wait it out. The plan was to arrive in the mountains on Tuesday.

Does Leopard believe the end of Mayan calendar on Dec. 21 will signal the apocalypse? Not exactly.

“The world is not going to end. I do believe that this world as we know it will be changed,” he said. “I believe with this (planetary) shift that massive earthquakes and tidal waves will destroy a majority of this earth, especially the coastal areas.”

And yes, Leopard believes Myrtle Beach is one of those doomed coastal areas.

However, just in case the SkyWheel is still standing after Dec. 21, Leopard has planned for that as well; he and his family are treating this like a vacation and he put in a time-off request at the Myrtle Beach resort he works at through Dec. 26.

“If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t,” he said.

Leopard said he’s based his theory on science surrounding planetary alignment, not the Mayan calendar. He started talking and preparing for it over a year ago.

That preparation meant stocking up on food with a 20-year shelf life. Leopard estimates he’s spent around $8,000 over the past year getting ready for this week’s journey.

Leopard said they’ll treat the trip like a vacation, including a trip to Dollywood.

“I hope nothing does happen,” he said. “I might be a little crazy, but I want to make sure my family’s OK.”

James Henderson, on the other hand, isn’t superstitious and hasn’t been paying any attention to the so-called end of days.

The Latin American history professor at Coastal Carolina University said people throughout the ages have predicted the end of the world, “with the regularity of a metronome.”

Henderson said the Mayans were fascinated by astronomy and built observatories in their ceremonial centers.

He said different people in different parts of the world have different views on humanity’s fate.

Buddhists and Hindus focus on rebirth. For Mayans, Christians and monotheists, the belief is on an end time.

“It all has religious significance,” Henderson said.