...and sometimes it is best not to go to the beach.
We recently concluded our longest trip in our coach with our vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. While it was our fifth visit in total, it was our first in the motorhome. And to say I some apprehension about such a lengthy journey would be an understatement. It is our third summer with our coach and only the second time we ventured outside Michigan.
Some of my concerns were the 12 hour first day, travelling with a 1-year old, and what if we experience one of those unfortunate incidents you read so much about here in the forums or on blogs. We were on a pretty tight schedule because my son-in-law couldn't get more than a week off. So in an eight day trip we would be spending four days on the road. Not exactly my idea of relaxing. And what if Landon doesn't nap well with all the noises and bouncing around that result from driving on America's highways.
I am happy to say we had no mechanical problems, Landon was a great traveler (the bangings just replaced the noise machine his parents play while he is sleeping), and the long days in the saddle weren't all that bad. We were initially disappointed that our stay was going to be short (Monday afternoon through Friday) but as I will explain shortly, even that was not a problem.
We were on the road at 5am on Sunday morning. I have always liked getting an early start and being on the road when the sun comes up, especially when the first day is going to be a 12 hour drive. I want to be in camp at a reasonable time so I get a little relaxation in the evening. It was a beautiful start to the day in Michigan and Ohio, but by the time we reached West Virginia we started getting intermittent rain from about Charleston through to our first stop in Wytheville, Virginia.
By the time we reached Myrtle Beach (Lakewood Camping Resort) we were engulfed in a weather system that just would not evacuate the Grand Strand area. It rained every single day we were there. Some days more than others, but it rained every day. And sometimes it rained for a long time or very hard. We did get a great "beach" day on Wednesday so after breakfast we all headed out for sun and fun in the ocean.
Later, after spending the morning on the beach, my wife and I took the rental car out for a few hours alone. We are always looking for a place on the ocean where we can get lunch and a drink or two and enjoy the ocean breeze. For the third time we found ourselves at Riverside Cafe-Lattitude 22 in Surfside Beach and I have to say it has become a little gross since the first time we found it. Later, as we were making our way through downtown Myrtle Beach we stumbled across the 2nd Ave. Pier Restaurant and open air bar. This has become our new spot for future visits to the Grand Strand. It overlooks the 2nd Ave. pier and to the north the Myrtle Beach skyline and is a perfect spot to sit on the balcony on a beautiful day and bask in the salt air breeze with a cold drink. As we headed back to Lakewood the western sky was looking pretty ominous...and shortly after getting there the rain came again.
By Friday the beach opportunities were disappearing as we woke up to a steady, persistent rain that looked like it would be with us for the whole day. By now, because of the ever present rain and clouds, the mood of our party had changed from hopeful to one of gloom. I suggested, "If you want to leave, we can probably find sunshine by Florence!" Besides, we had twenty hours to travel Saturday and Sunday to get home, why not get an early start?
After about three proddings they finally agreed and we pulled out of Myrtle Beach at 2:30pm and made our way to Lexington, SC and found our sunshine in Florence as predicted. The sun and warm temps we were with us the rest of the trip.
Not only was this our longest trip to date but it was the first with Landon that wasn't just a weekend and there was some real traveling to be done. It was great watching him experience new things like the beach and cruising around the campground on the golf cart. The highlight of each day was his coming into our bed in the morning to greet us with his smile and happy disposition. Each day our activities had to be planned around his meals and naps which meant outings were generally pretty short. And as most of you will know, those are key components to keeping a 1-year old in that happy disposition. His schedule is pretty regimented so we become critically aware of any attempts to cheat it.
All in all, the trip was great fun and even though our primary destination was a washout we have already begun brainstorming ideas for next summer's get away. Landon will be two and may start to form some memories of these trips by then. His mother was brought up camping and she retains many fond memories of past vacations we took with her grandparents and she wants the same for her son. We are indeed blessed to be able to share our travels with our family and be a part of creating memories that will be with our grandson for his lifetime.