Winter is a beach – Myrtle Beach

Our winter trip was a change of plans trip.  We originally were planning to do a SW loop taking in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico etc returning around the end of April.  Then our daughter announced in October that a baby was on the way for March 1st!!!  Happy news indeed but definitely put the ca-bosh on going on an extended SW trip.  We also ended up being at the mercy of some medical procedures that Hubby needed.  We ended up squeezing in six weeks in between treatments and chose to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We left our home in East Tawas on December 19.  We spent the first night at our friends Karen and Chuck’s driveway in Lapeer (132 miles) then on to Alton RV Park near Columbus, Ohio (252 miles $38.70.)  Fort Chiswel RV in Virginia (300 miles $37.50) Lumberton KOA in Virginia a whopping $57.55!, 235 miles and then on to Myrtle Beach State Park ( 82 miles and $234.08 for 9 nights.) 

All of our one night stops were plain but clean, fairly unmemorable, mostly gravel pull through’s designed for easy in, easy out.  I don’t think we unhooked.  We pulled in and settled quickly, eating a nice dinner from our stash of frozen made ahead meals.  Still fairly cold so we didn’t venture outside much.  As you saw we didn’t drive real far each day, left about 9 or even 10 each morning and comfortably parked by three-ish. We passed through a of lot rolling mountains with pretty farms scattered between.  We pulled off the road each day and enjoyed a roadside picnic lunch.  Sometimes it was warm enough to sit outside at a rest stop picnic table.

Myrtle Beach State Park has the prettiest entrance.  A long winding drive overhung with flowering shrubs and trees surrounded by woods.  The drive leads you to the day use area and then the campground that is heavily treed and nestled next to the dunes along the Atlantic Shoreline.  The beach is undeveloped, wide and inviting.  There is an airport nearby so planes come in low and slow over your head.  A beach trail ride on rental horses was very popular, but we did not partake.  We enjoyed many long beach walks along the undeveloped shoreline.  Enough shells to keep you looking.  There is a landmark pier but it was closed due to Hurricane Michael damage.

On Christmas Day we met some fun people that celebrate each year by dressing up as Mr and Mrs Claus and they throw a beach party with family and friends attending – some of them were wearing reindeer costumes.  We also enjoyed following the easy hiking trails that wander through the woods and end at one of the many beach access points.

The city of Myrtle Beach was only a short 5-10 miles up the coastal road.  We explored the boardwalk and treated ourselves to a ride on the Sky Wheel.  We enjoyed browsing the  shops, savored a fancy coffee and had a nice restaurant meal.  The daytime temps were mostly in the low to mid 60’s.  Not swimsuit weather but very pleasant for being outside.

We enjoyed our stay so much that we reserved five more nights at Huntington Beach State Park at Murrels Inlet, which was only about 20 miles down the coast.  Here we enjoyed more of the beautiful undeveloped ocean front beach.  We had trails to follow in the woods and boardwalks that reached in the tide water marshes.  Our campsite was large with lots of shade.  There were many lovely sites, some more open but it would be hard to get a bad site here.

Huntington Beach Park also has Atalaya Castle to explore.  Atayala Castle was the winter home of Archer and Anna Huntington.  Mrs Huntington created large sculptors of animals i.e. stallions, bears ect.  Their Moorish style home, built in the early 1930’s is called a castle although to me it resembled a fort.  The outer walls form a square with one side facing the ocean.  The 30 some rooms that consisted of studios, servants quarters and the family rooms form the perimeter walls. A square watch tower/water tower and walkway bisects the center into two large inner court yards.  Live animals were housed at the home and let loose in the courtyard so that Anna could study and sculpt them in motion.  The home was heated by a massive amount of fireplaces (17?) and at least half of the space was servants quarters. I read somewhere that they kept 30 or more servants on staff to fill the fireplaces, care for the animals and of course tend to Anna and Arthur.  Interesting too, the home had no accommodations for guests, no ballrooms or entertainment areas. The owners apparently enjoyed taking in the healthy sea air in solitude ( sans servants) as they enjoyed the mild winters along the Atlantic Coast.  I must say I was quite intrigued and could have happily lived there myself.

I rate the beaches at both State Parks a 10 plus.  I hope we can return again some time, especially during actual swim season. 

On January 6 we packed up, it was time to meander west and north.  I mapped out stops in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama before we were to head a hard north.  We stayed at Sesquicentennial State Park, SC ($47.04- 2 nights) R. Shaefer Heard ACOE in West Point GA ( $28- 2 nights) and Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham Alabama ( 3 nights = $58.93) They were all beautiful and chosen for the highly rated walking trails and scenic features but unfortunately our weather turned to mostly wet and cold.  Originally I thought we would spend three or more nights at each but we ended moving along after two nights each as we didn’t wish to linger just to enjoy the cold, rain and limited cell/internet connections.  We did enjoy some great meals, a few antique malls and some scenic vistas despite the rain. I collected a big bag full of giant pine cones at Sesquicentennial that I am enjoying seeing in our home.   I would return or recommend all three, especially Oak Mountain. 

At Oak Mountain we ticked off our “every trip has one” mechanical glitch.  We were hooked up and ready to pull out and the trailer brakes locked up and would not release.  A failure of the emergency brake cable caused it to activate and do exactly what its supposed to and our wheels were locked.  Our friendly camp host recommended a mobile repair tech but the tech had no interest in coming out in the pouring rain.  He was very kind though and told John that he could readily buy a replacement cable and gave how-to instructions on the installation.  So off to the RV parts store we went – 30 minutes away in pouring rain, part was purchased and we returned to camp.  John installed while I held an umbrella over our heads.  Once again I felt so blessed that John is “Mr Fix It” The new cable had us rolling safely again and off we went.  The rain let up a bit too! 

We pretty much headed straight north stopping in Tennessee and Kentucky for one night each.  It steady got colder and we landed at Lake Haven Retreat near Indianapolis.  We have stopped here before because our son and his family live nearby.  Its another mostly gravel commuter style park, but its clean, gated and convenient to our son’s home.  I had mapped a stay at Brown County Park in Southern Indiana that is supposed to be very Appalachian style scenic, but the weather had changed from cold to bitter cold with a pending snow storm so Lake Haven it was.  Hopefully we can experience Brown County another time.  We spent a few days enjoying our grand children , Patrick and George along with their parents, Jim and Jessica.

We scooted on home just ahead of a snow storm on Jan 22. We settled into our Michigan Winter Wonderland, spent over two weeks dealing with a miserable respiratory virus and awaited the arrival of our newest grandchild.  We recovered in time to welcome Teagan Taylor Metzmaker on February 27

.  We were thankful we were able to spend some time with her and family in Lansing before we needed to return home to begin our Stay Home – Stay Safe Covid-19 lock-in.   We had planned and reserved a trip to Virginia Beach, leaving here in mid April then up to New York to follow the Adirondack Mountains down to Ohio to a family camp over Memorial Day weekend.  Of course Covid -19 has cancelled all of that.  At this time we are still following the stay home preventive life.  When and where we can hit the road again is unclear. We have reservations for a week in September enjoying lake side parks in Northern Michigan with our friends, Karen and Chuck.  Hopefully the virus will allow us to go.   In the meantime we wish you all good health and safe living.  Take care.   Kathleen


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