It’s always fun discovering new places to stay and explore but sometimes it is the familiar places that are the best fit for your plans. So it is thus far with this journey. Despite spending hours discussing our options after studying maps, investigating different routes, reading campground reviews trying to find a different and perhaps better stopover place, it has been the old standbys that have worked the best for us.
Not sure why we do this – we have done this each year and have always ended up with the same results. Perhaps we think that a new campground will magically appear along our route? Or that one of the lower rated campgrounds went through a transformation and is now rated higher or has become big rig friendly?
Nope, none of that happened so once again we were forced to be creatures of habit, revisiting several of the places that we have visited before. Not a bad thing, at least we know what to expect when we arrive at our destination but from a blog posting (and maybe from a reading) perspective it sometimes feels a little monotonous writing about a place over and over again.
So on Tuesday, the 28th, it was time to head to another familiar favorite, Myrtle Beach State Park in South Carolina. It would be another 4+ hour drive, covering 250 miles. After leaving Crossroads, within minutes we were on I-95 heading south.
I-95 is always our least favorite highway especially in the Northeast as there are tolls, it’s congested, the road quality is often crummy and there’s perpetual construction. But once you get south of DC, I-95 becomes almost pleasant. This is why we now favor the I-84/I-81 route around the nasty parts even though it is a bit further.
Myrtle Beach is well off the I-95 corridor and last year our GPS sent us some ridiculous and convoluted way, so Rob spent some time before we left figuring out the exact route he wanted to follow. We took I-95 exit 181A to SC-38E towards Latta, then US-501S to US-544E to US-17 Business N. This is an easy drive on mostly four lane divided roads with minimal traffic lights and we recommend it.
Once again, for some reason our Rand McNally GPS insisted that we drive 30 miles out of our way on some ridiculously convoluted route, which of course we didn’t do but humored her nagging for over 15 minutes before she finally agreed with our much more sensible route – geesh! Google Maps on the other hand played along with our route plan and behaved properly. We highly recommend the above described route – and ignore your GPS if it tries to tell you otherwise. We arrived at the State Park around 3:30 p.m.
Myrtle Beach, located in the middle of a large and continuous stretch of beach known as the Grand Strand in northeastern South Carolina, is a very touristy area that has something for everyone – amusement and water parks, the 187 foot tall Skywheel, boardwalks, live entertainment theaters, outlet malls, boutiques and a beachwear shop on every corner (how many bathing suits does a person really need I wonder?). Although we’re not particularly crazy about the area in general (I can’t imagine what it is like here in the summer), we like Myrtle Beach State Park because it is a quiet (at least this time of year), wooded oasis in the middle of all the glitz and bling.
Located on one mile of undeveloped beach and on 312 acres, the State Park has 204 campsites (66 of which have full hookups of water, sewer and electricity), 6 cabins located 200 yards from the beach, 30 designated seasonal tent sites, a fishing pier, 3 playgrounds and 7 picnic shelters. Reservations for a specific site at Myrtle Beach State Park (and other state parks) can be made through Reserve America. When we made our reservations, we selected site #209 (we stayed on this site last year) because it was a full hookup site and was relatively easy to back into it. All sites are heavily wooded, packed sand and have a picnic table and fire ring. Due to all the trees, no satellite reception via the roof mount dish on site #209 but we could get a most of the OTA (over-the air) channels using the antenna.
After checking into the ranger station, we made our way to our site and settled in. When we made our reservation, it was only available for three nights and we had to be out by Friday morning, the 31st. Knowing it might be difficult finding another campground with availability over Halloween weekend, we decided to find another available site here so we could stay through the weekend and check out on November 3rd. So the first thing we did was take a walk around checking out the sites. There were no full hookup sites available but there was a fairly spacious and private site (water, electric only) right across from us, site #208. We immediately walked back to the office to reserve it.
When we first arrived, we had neighbors who weren’t very friendly but they left on Thursday morning. Shortly thereafter new neighbors moved in. Very friendly, fun couple, Nick and Joanie from Myrtle Beach. We watched them from our kitchen table as they set up their screened in gazebo, set up several tables covering them with tablecloths (in addition to the picnic table) complete with grill, a coffee pot and a toaster (guess they left the microwave inside) and their hammocks. Jeesh, I was exhausted just watching them. After about 2 hours they broke out the bag of chips and beverages – they were finally done! Gee, they must be staying for a few weeks! Turned out they both work and were only there for the weekend. Had a great time with them!
On Friday, the 31st, we disconnected our hookups, put stuff away, pulled in the slides and moved across the street to site #208. Moving within a campground is always a pain going through all the work just to move a few yards.
Since we didn’t have a sewer hookup on site #208, we had to implement our water conservation measures (navy showers and paper plates). But the good news was that there was enough of an opening in the tree canopy so we did get a satellite fix on DISH eastern arc 61.5. Yippee, we can watch the Pats on Sunday!
A bit later, a pop up trailer pulled into site #209. Our neighbor, Nick, came over chuckling as he told us that the people who had pulled into our previous site #209 didn’t want/need a full hookup – all they wanted was an electric hookup. If there are plenty of other sites available without full hookups, why select one with utilities that you don’t need??? Leave those sites for the campers who want full hookups! We didn’t really care as 3 days is no problem without the sewer and #208 was a much nicer and private site.
While we were here, other than our daily walk on the beach and some biking we didn’t do anything special (we seem to be in that mode this trip) but more about that later. We met some other super nice people – Gary and Nancy traveling in their 5th wheel from Oregon. On Friday afternoon (Halloween), everyone congregated at our site – what a hoot!
When we first arrived here the weather was great with temps in the 70’s but on Saturday, November 1st, it rained all day as a cold front arrived. Temps dropped to the 40’s during the day and into the high 30’s at night. So much for escaping the cold weather! Parts of South Carolina got dumped with snow but thankfully not here. The good news is that it’s wasn’t going to last.
More about our stay here in Myrtle later….