It was our first time camping since becoming residents of South Carolina.  There was much “Spring Cleaning” to be performed on the trailer, but it was done with excitement.  Now that we store our trailer in the neighborhood, accessibility just got super easy.  I have ensured all the common things we need are already there waiting for us and now we simply have to add our clothes, fresh towels and food items.  Now I feel we can just pick up any weekend and head out!

Charleston, SC location of Camp Bow Wow

We had hoped to take our new family member, Lily Rose on this camping trip but she was just not ready.  We are still working on training in a multitude of areas and thought it was best to have her enjoy her own vacation at Camp Bow Wow, a dog retreat.  There she would enjoy all-day play and spend the night in her individual cozy cabin, sleeping on a fleece-padded cot.  She also would get a delicious Campfire TreatTM. Camp Bow Wow also offers live Web Cams so we could keep an eye on her. Since Lily Rose LOVES playing, this was the perfect choice.  She didn’t even look back before heading in to play with new friends.

Note: Camp Bow Wow was open on Easter for drop-off! Besides overnight boarding, they offer full and half-day daycare; perfect for those long days exploring while traveling with your dog. Visit their website at www.campbowwow.com to locate one of their 130 locations nationwide.

Site #94 at Huntington Beach State Park, SC

Since we were leaving on Easter Sunday, we first enjoyed our annual Easter egg hunt and a review of all the items found in our Easter baskets.  After a quick breakfast and a stop at the market, we were on our way!

There was a steady rain all the way to Huntington Beach State Park located in Murrell’s Inlet about an hour drive North from Mount Pleasant. Right as we entered the park, we knew it was going to be special. Azaleas line the entrance and were in full bloom. Wild Wisteria vines wound their way to the tops of the pines exploding in their grape-like purple and white blooms. We made quick stop to get checked in, then headed to our designated site, #94, located on an inner circle.

Frisbee time at campsite – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

Gratefully, our set-up was easy and the rain was light. Drake and Mia didn’t mind the drizzle and got out their Frisbee to play in the grass area behind our campsite. Soon, the rain became heavier and they reluctantly came inside the trailer.

My only job was to get our Easter dinner started in the oven.  With the rest of the family busy with their electronics, I decided to slip away with my umbrella.  A quick 5-minute walk along a wooded path gave way to sand dunes and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.  Aside from myself and some seagulls, there was no one around.  It was a special moment of peace and contemplation.

Easter Dinner

Chocolate chip cookie skillet!

Soon enough I had to turn around and head back to camp for the final preparations for Easter dinner.  We enjoyed ham, pre-prepared au gratin potatoes, roasted asparagus, and rolls.  The highlight for the kids was our cast-iron chocolate chip cookie!  I added a bit of butter to the pan before putting in the dough giving the bottom a buttery crust.  Delicious!  It was a quiet affair but overall kid-approved and a nice ending to our day.

Boardwalk to the beach – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

We fell asleep to raindrops on the trailer roof, then in the morning, we awoke to the sound of crashing surf and birdsong.  The sun was shining and there was no time like the present to get that early morning beach walk in.  Mia was excited to join me that morning and we set off to see what we could see.

Passing the sand dunes – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

Jellyfish – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

As we broke through the trees, a gorgeous stretch of sand awaited us with a marvelous sun-rise over the Atlantic. The beach was pretty much ours at this early hour. We hunted for shells while wading in the surf. We did find quite a few jellyfish washed up on shore (poor things) and chased some rather large crabs.  It was delightful to have some mom and daughter time – that truly was the best part.

CrockPot Chili ingredients

After a simple breakfast, I shooed the kids outdoors for some fresh air and I gathered the simple ingredients needed for CrockPot Chili. Besides browning the meat with fresh diced onion, the rest of the preparation is opening cans. (Recipe available at the end of the article).

Posing Pelican – Murrell’s Inlet, SC

Murrell’s Inlet Marsh Walk

Since it was such a glorious day, I decided to pack a picnic lunch and we all went for a drive.  Our first stop was the historic fishing village of Murrells Inlet located just 3 miles North of Huntington Beach State Park and 10 miles south of Myrtle Beach.  I had wanted to check out the Marsh Walk; a boardwalk that runs along the back of a string of waterfront restaurants along the salt marsh.  Parking was easy and we set off for our urban walk.  The first thing we saw was this lovely pelican who seemed to be posing for all.  Many of the restaurants were bustling with customers who were enjoying the outdoor seating as the weather was perfect.

Myrtle Beach State Park

Our next stop was Myrtle Beach State Park, another gem of a park located right on the Atlantic Ocean.  As we wound through the Maritime Forest and Heritage Site, we arrived at the parking lot for the beach.  Plentiful parking close to the shore makes it a favorite for tourists and locals alike.  There is a strand of beach pavilions large enough to fit a big party or for us, the perfect spot for our picnic.

Myrtle Beach State Park also has a campground and camping cabins (which we didn’t get a chance to see).  There are over 300 camping sites but you wouldn’t know it. Tucked between pine trees, sites have green grass and plenty of space.  Almost all sites have electric and water with 66 sites with full hook-ups.  Perfect for the hot days of summer and you can’t beat the short walk to the ocean!

Tip: RV sites that we liked were 16, 198, 239, and 332

The family decision was to get back to camp so the kids could play with their new friends and Troy and I could put our feet up and relax under the trees with books.  Our only regret was not bringing our bikes! This park is well suited for bike-riding with paved roads and bike trails.

Our CrockPot Chili dinner was a cinch to finish.  I made some cornbread in my trusty cast-iron skillet and we had the perfect no-fuss and delicious dinner.  The end to a perfect day camping!

Sign on beach trail – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

Drake with his crab – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

The second morning was just as picture-perfect. This time I was accompanied by my son for a morning walk on the beach.  This time we took a different path to the beach that actually was closer to our camp site.  This path was also wooded and also  took your breath away when the trees opened to the panoramic sparkle of the Atlantic.  Drake was more laid-back on how far we walked so we enjoyed an extra long walk.  On our journey, he spotted a few crabs and was brave enough to pick one up!  We also saw a guy riding his bike on the beach!  With a wide swath of hard-packed sand, it looked like a lot of fun.

The family decided they wanted to just hang out in camp but I didn’t let that stop me from exploring. I first made a stop at the informative Nature Center that housed a saltwater touch tank, a live baby alligator and a telescope focused on an eagle’s nest.

Marsh Boardwalk – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

Next, I took a walk on the marsh boardwalk located right outside of the Nature Center.  The boardwalk provides beautiful vistas of the marsh.  The sun was was warm and the breeze cool so I took my time savoring the fresh air.  The incoming tide lapped at the  spartina grass and there was an occasional splash as fish jumped from the water. Birders were out with their binoculars and cameras searching for spring migratory song, shore and wading birds.  There is a nice pavilion half-way down which would be a nice place for a picnic.

Tip: Nature Center open Tuesday through Sunday year round from 10am-5pm.

Sandpiper Pond – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

From the Nature Center parking lot, I journeyed across the street to the Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail, an easy 2-mile out and back trail that travels through “one of the best-preserved beaches in South Carolina’s upper coastal plain.” The coastal forest was beautiful with oaks, red cedars, and creeping vines. Sandpiper Pond is large and the hike took me along its edge with peek-a-boo views. Dragonflies were thick which was a delight for me, a dragonfly lover! The trail was mine alone and I enjoyed bird song and the wind in the trees.

Back at camp, I made a quick lunch for the family before I headed out once more time to take a guided tour of Atalaya, the winter home of philanthropist Archer M. Huntington and his sculptress wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington. The knowledgeable guide told the group how the Huntington’s needed a warmer winter climate for Mrs. Huntington as she suffered from tuberculosis. They purchased four failed rice plantations and built not only Atalaya, but also Brookgreen Gardens with local labor which was a Godsend as construction took place during the Great Depression. The Huntington’s are still regarded as local heroes for their contributions to this community.

Tip: Brookgreen Gardens is located just a couple miles from Huntington Beach State Park.  Known for it’s beautiful gardens and zoo, it is also the country’s first public sculpture garden . Brookgreen Gardens is open daily from 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. In April, the gardens are open late until 8 p.m.

 

Atalaya Tower – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

Atalaya – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

Staff room at Atalaya – Huntington Beach State Park, SC

The home was constructed to be fireproof so it is quite stark.  There is an outdoor and indoor studio where Mrs. Huntington spent much of her time creating her sculptures.  There are even bear pens and a holding area where they would have animals brought from their garden zoo (Brookgreen Garden today) for her to sculpt.  Crafted in a Moorish style, each window is covered with iron bars designed by Mrs. Huntington.  Since this was their private escape, the home offered no guest rooms, only that for themselves and their staff.

Back to camp, it was time to take a nice family walk on the beach before pulling out some board games and enjoying our last night at Huntington Beach State Park. This is definitely a place we will return to!

Campground Notes:  Huntington Beach State Park has 133 campsites plus six tent sites.  There are 22 full service sites with the balance offering water and electric.  There is a RV dump station.  Pets are allowed and there is also free Wi-Fi!  Note that alcoholic beverages are prohibited.  Per night rates start at $46.

CROCKPOT CHILI

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 can white beans
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 package dry chili mix
1 can diced tomatoes w/jalapenos
1 can chili tomato sauce (I couldn’t find so I used Sofrito)

The recipe says to drain the beans but I have done it both ways and the main difference seems to be how much sauce there is. I prefer to drain the beans but I usually add a fourth can of beans (chili beans) that are a little spicy and I don’t drain those all the way.

Brown the meat with the onion and mix everything together. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.