It was a longish drive to get up here, due mostly to some small backroads that I have to really be careful on due to the massive size of Marty and the CR-V we are towing behind us. But we knew it was worth it, because we have been to this park before. Huntington Beach State Park is a little oasis surrounded by tons of beach development. With Myrtle Beach not too far to the north, there are gobs of touristy attractions and restaurants, but when you are in the park it feels like you are a world away from all of it. Several miles of unspoiled splendor with a great beach to enjoy, trails to hike, and an old castle to explore. We spent two days here and were able to relax and unwind for a bit.
We got in around 2:00 and I took the kids down to the beach while Val ran some errands to stock the fridge full of meals. She got back in time to enjoy a little beach time before we cooked hot dogs over a campfire, then walked down to the park store for ice cream. There was a really nice breeze coming off of the ocean, and everything just felt amazing. The kids went to bed late and Val and I stayed up for a while, sitting outside and drinking some wine while planning our next locations.
The next morning we got online and I started booking up places for us to stay over the coming 5-7 days. We travel very flexible, which is nice because we can go where we want, when we want, without having anyplace we need to be. But it can also be a challenge because places get full, especially on weekends. So there is some finagling involved sometimes to allow for steady progress while still avoiding long days on the road. We are all set for the coming week though, so we can enjoy the trip and continue to camp in every state along the East coast. We spent a lot of the day on the beach, although I had to do some grading while Brooks was napping. The good news is that my summer classes are done until July so I can travel for the next several weeks without any school-related responsibilities.
One of the best parts about this trip, and perhaps the primary reason we bought Marty, is to spend a lot of very high quality time with our boys. Each day we are doing something new with them, and we are experiencing their joy, their delights, their curiosities, as we visit these new places. I try to be “in the moment” a lot and realize that these times are fleeting and they will soon be much older and have many other activities in their lives, so we are trying to milk these days for all they are worth. They have certainly enjoyed their time here, and I hope it continues at all of the other places we still have left to visit.
Today we spent some time on the beach and walked down to explore Atalaya Castle, which is part of the state park and a really cool way to step back in time. It was the winter home of Archer Huntington and is impressive in its scale as well as the amenities that they had when it was built in 1931. After touring the castle and grabbing some ice cream, we walked back on the beach where the boys proceeded to jump into every tide pool and get totally covered with sand. After getting back to Marty and getting them cleaned up, I put some fresh shrimp on the grill and we had an excellent dinner while watching the distant lightning. Eventually the storm rolled in, but fortunately it was later in the evening when it was time to head to bed. Tomorrow, we continue our trek north and will camp for the first time in North Carolina. Can’t wait!