If you ever find yourself in the (beautiful) state of South Carolina, make sure you hit up the state parks. Specifically, we have a love for Huntington Beach. There’s a “castle” to tour, but even more fun than that is the array of wildlife you are sure to see.
During our last visit, curiosity got us a visit full of memories–alligators, birds, and a live starfish. Take a walk off the beaten path of touristy attractions and explore. You never know what you might find.
Vacationing for our family might not be exactly what Greg expects. You see, I thrive on being busy, busy, busy.
When we went on vacation, we “slept in” until 9:30 or so. Swimming, resort activities, or visiting the park followed. Some days, there was shopping or seeing friends. We kept a fairly busy schedule, but nothing crazy. I think all days but one the kids got good naps, so we stayed on a good schedule.
But, Greg has a point, too. Vacations shouldn’t be exhausting or tiring. You shouldn’t come home from vacation tired (by the way, I didn’t), you should come back rested. It’s good advice.
And sometimes, the kids make their own schedule and remind you, it’s time to stop and smell the flowers.
One of the things I really loved about our recent vacation is that the resort had tons of activities scheduled throughout the week. There wasn’t time to do everything (like making candles or salt scrubs, taking a cooking class, or playing Wii), but we sure loved the things that we got to do.
Our ‘lil artist had a great time dying his tie dye shirt, the giggles!
We didn’t realize that we’d have to wait 24 hours for the dye to soak into the shirts and then rinse, wash, and dry them, but they were ready to go just before we headed out. This was perfect timing for us to snap a photo in front of the resort at what Arianna called “The Lightning House”.
As we walked to the Harvest Home Festival at Brookgreen Gardens, the kids were distracted by acorns strewn across the ground beneath a huge live oak tree. Arianna decided she was going to start an acorn collection right then and there. She had to pick particular acorns in a pattern I couldn’t figure out.
Some went in her pocket, others in Greg’s, still more she kept grasped in her small palms. This proved to be an issue when we stopped at the restroom (“I have peanuts in my pants!” she proclaimed, which of course made others giggle) and when she leaned to look at a fountain at the park later in the day.
We’re still finding random acorns from her collection, a sweet reminder of the day.
You might have been able to tell from a few random posts of late (like crabbin‘) that we took a vacation a few weeks ago. Friends in real life can tell that it wasn’t the vacation I really needed, but it was still a getaway and a chance to be with Greg’s side of the family, including Aunt Rin who was home from Morocco.
Don’t get me wrong–I love going back to Myrtle Beach and visiting with the family, and we had a great time of that! I just really needed a weeklong, stress-free getaway with BEAUTIFUL weather. I haven’t had a whole week off since October. (Gosh, that sounds cruel–I’ve been to Myrtle, Kansas, and Niagara a few times since then, but all were way too brief.) It’s been a busy year at work, transitioning to a new position to help transition an outsourced team to an inside team. I just craved just being.
Sure, I got to do some of that, but the weather seriously put a damper on my ability to enjoy. In my mind, I’d come home very brown from lounging at the pool or beach for days on end. We got one nice pool hour then a cloudy day followed by rain, rain, rain, a cloudy beach day (during which I got stung by a small jellyfish), a nice beach day, and then a windy beach evening. That doesn’t make someone who spends 98% of their time inside very tan.
I got to do some reading, playing Words With Friends, and blogging over at Life With Levi and Alpha Wife Adventures with Jen. Greg and I took the stage at Daisy Dukes singing making fools of ourselves at karaoke. We got to visit with friends, and made new ones. We got to spend lots of time with Rin and the rest of the family. We watched the Olympics. We ate torta with Ody–and I even maintained weight. In the end, it was a good vacation, right?!
Sadly, I was sick some of the time and was not running due to sciatic nerve issues. We stayed in a bad hotel on our trip down–a hooker was in line behind me at the walk-up window since it was after 11 PM. I had an allergic reaction and just wasn’t feeling myself. I couldn’t let go and let myself enjoy, hence my ‘tude to the trip.
But someone enjoyed himself. Someone who really deserved this trip. Someone who puts up with the kids 24/7 and (although he loves them very much) hangs with my family way more than his own. Someone who deserved just kicking back and zoning out to the Olympics. Someone who looked super relaxed just laying there on the beach. Someone who I love oh so very much, can you see why?
One of the things about living in Myrtle Beach, I stayed away from tourist attractions. The one thing I really wanted to do in the three years I lived there was go crabbing at Myrtle Beach State Park, but as it was a tourist attraction, I stayed away from the opportunity. During our vacation, we took the opportunity on a semi-rainy morning and hit the beach.
Greg had tried crabbing on his own once, but wasn’t quite successful. If you are goin’ crabbin’, I highly suggest checking out the event at a state park (like Myrtle Beach). There’s some things you should know about how to do it, and the Crabby Experience will teach you those things.
Sure, it costs a little bit to participate. Admission for adults into the State Park is $5 per adult; however, you can get a passport if you are able to get the money’s worth. Nets cost $5 each to rent (again, there is a passport that makes it included/free). You can buy your own at a hardware store, too, but with the rent option, you don’t have to worry about storing them if you’re just vacationing.
Bait–you can bring your own if you’d like–raw chicken necks apparently work best. I thought that any ‘ol chicken would do–if we did this ourselves, it would’ve been fried chicken wings so listen, get the raw! We didn’t buy ahead, and that’s ok. You can buy a four-pack of necks (one neck per net!) for under $3 at the pier.
When you head to the pier, you’ll have about 15 minutes to get your bait and rental net–look for the State Park folks near the beginning of the pier and stick close. They have great tips and will show you how to make sure your net is ready to go.
After the presentation, you spread out down the pier (being mindful of the hardcore fishers!) and find a spot to drop your net. If you aren’t sure how to bait your net, have ‘lil ones with you, or have a raw chicken aversion and prefer to stand back and take pictures, the State Park folks can help you out. Basically, the neck goes through a carabiner-ish hook at the bottom of the net and your bait sits inside the net so you can catch the ‘lil biters when they eat the bait. Oh, and bring paper towels or wipes–we didn’t. There’s a sink so you can rinse your hands but raw chicken, you know.
You lower your net into the water, avoiding the pier posts then secure it to the railing. Here’s the part the probably drove ‘lil Miss A and I most crazy–you walk away. You wait. You pull your net up every five minutes or so and just sit back and relax, enjoying the pier and the beautiful weather. Try explaining that to a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old and a mom who always has to be going and doing.
The good thing is that there actually is plenty to do on the pier. The fishermen (and women–we saw a set of older sisters among several other ladies) provide great entertainment. Note that if you see a guy with a bunch of fish that would be a haul at the lake (think bass and perch between 8-12 inches long), they are not a catch. They are bait. (Oops.) Some do pull in cool catches, though. Take this sting ray for instance!
And sometimes, as like we see at the lake, the Circle of Life is seen. The rangers put the sting ray back in the ocean and seconds later, a shark jumped up and, well, Circle of Life. We didn’t actually see this because we headed back to check our nets, but pretty cool, huh?
We didn’t catch sun on our crabbing day, but you really could work on a nice tan out on the pier on a good day. Sadly, we also did not catch a crab, but got to see several others catch baby crabs and even a hermit crab. The best thing we caught was some seaweed, but the kids thought it was pretty cool nonetheless.
The entire time we were on the pier, the lifeguards were tracking weather that was just off the coast. Unfortunately, our time had to be cut short due to lightning (but I’d rather be safe, right?). Fortunately, the rangers had a back up crab ready to show us just in case no one got lucky with a catch. The kids thought it was pretty cool (it made me want crab cakes, but we didn’t go do that this trip).
After we helped pull in our nets and said goodbye to the chicken necks, we risked a few seconds extra on the pier to take a family photo. It’s seriously one of my favorites of us, even if the weather background isn’t all that pretty for a beach trip. Bonus, we were all looking.
We really loved our Crabby Experience with Myrtle Beach State Park, even the beach walk we took in the rain without camera after the storm passed. This is a definite will do again activity, and we highly suggest you take part if you ever vacation (or live) in Myrtle Beach.