One of the best things about being retired is that any week can be a spring break and when the travel bug bites, it’s easy to hit the road. Last Friday, I packed up our vintage motorhome with the intention of going to Highlands Hammock State Park in Florida. This was a random choice, picked because it was the only state park in Florida with a campground vacancy for the dates we needed. It met one other criteria: I’d never been there before and I wanted to add a new place to my list of “sixty new places while in my sixties”.
We made it as far as the Saltwell exit. Maybe 20 miles. It’s an easy off-and-back-on-the-interstate exit so we thought we’d grab breakfast and do the first painful gas fill up. As my husband was filling the tank, he noticed a puddle forming by his feet. The gas was coming out of the tank as fast as he was pumping it in! We’d sprung a leak somewhere over the half-a-tank mark and it just didn’t seem to be a good idea to keep heading south. With this “Florida, or bust” trip, the bust won!
AirBnB to the rescue! We decided to load up the car and go to Myrtle Beach instead. I found a pet-friendly, oceanfront condo that actually cost less than our estimated gas budget for the Florida trip. I was happy to go to a beach, but I needed someplace new to add to my list. That someplace, was Huntington Beach State Park.
After picnicking under a huge, shady tree, we walked the boardwalks that extend into the salt marshes. I was able to identify many birds…..as birds, but not as any particular kind. In addition to three miles of undeveloped beach, this state park is home to Brookgreen Gardens and Atalaya Castle, which was built by local workers during the depression as the summer home for a New York City family, the Huntingtons. In 1960, the land was provided to the state as a free lease and it became a park at that time. We were unable to visit the botanical garden and zoo with Pepper wagging along. Strangely enough, and despite perfect manners, the park ranger didn’t seem to care that Pepper was identifying as a human boy that day. No dogs were allowed.
When I asked my smart phone for directions to the state park, I found out that it isn’t quite as smart as it could be. Apparently, there is a state park in California with the same name and, while we were staying 20 miles north of the South Carolina version, my phone proceeded to tell me that I had 2578 miles to go. It’s good to be flexible when going on a road trip, but California was just a few too many miles beyond normal, even for me. There’s always another time!