Monday, April 8, 2013

Hunting Island State Park, Day #1

You know me, I don't care where I am. As long as I'm camping with my buddy Gary, then life is good. On the other hand, if Gary isn't happy with whatever place we are at, then I know it will be our first and final visit. This is one of those places where Gary is not happy at all. When we arrived, we were told that someone was still occupying our campsite, and that we would have to come back later to register. We were given a pass to get us into the beach and lighthouse area which was a couple of miles down the road. So, we went there to kill some time. From what I could see of the lighthouse from the parking lot, and from the pictures that Gary took while around it and in it, I would say that part of the park is very nice. Then we returned to the campground. This is where the troubles began. First, there was a reservation problem. Gary had booked two nights for us, and had talked with the park personnel about extending our stay for a third night. We couldn't book the third night when we first arrived, because we couldn't officially check in with someone still occupying our campsite. Gary was told that booking the third night would not be a problem when we came back to get checked in. But, as he was walking into the office, the third night at our campsite was being reserved by someone else. Gary was REALLY ticked off about that. He had tried to reserve online before we left our last stop in Georgia, but South Carolina (unlike anywhere else we have camped) has a two night minimum stay. Even though Gary had already booked two nights online previously, he wasn't allowed to add the third night. That would have to be done in person at the park, but even then, it still didn't work out. When Gary came out of the park office, I could tell how mad he was. We headed to our campsite with Gary's blood pressure pushing extreme levels. I am usually carefree when it comes to campgrounds, but even I have to admit that Hunting Island is not very nice. The campsites are close together with no privacy buffers, and the roads in the campgrounds are full of potholes. Our particular campsite is just a few feet away from beach access, but other than that, it is tiny and cramped. I can't imagine an RV bigger than me fitting into this campsite at all, and you know how small I am. Upon further inspection, Gary found the ancient bathrooms to be disgustingly dirty, and there are no paper towels or hand dryers. Parts of the beach are lined with fallen trees, and there are pieces of tree limbs sticking up out of the sand to trip over. It is VERY busy here, and they obviously make a LOT of money. But, it is perfectly clear that none of that money goes into park maintenance. Gary said that the lighthouse area is fairly well kept, but I can personally say that the campground is not that great. If we hadn't come all this way to be here, we would have left during the fiasco at check-in. But, we will muddle through our two nights, and will leave at daybreak on our final morning. Hunting Island is supposedly one of South Carolina's best parks, but if this is their best, we don't care to see their worst. Because of the minimum stay requirements, check in malfunctions, and overall poor quality of the park facilities, Gary has vowed to NEVER stay at another South Carolina State Park. I was looking forward to going to Myrtle Beach in the fall, but I know that's not going to happen now. I hope we will have better luck with North Carolina or Virginia State Parks. Some of the State Parks in Florida and Georgia are better than others, but none of them are as bad as Hunting Island. Come and see the lighthouse if you'd like, but definitely don't camp here. I know we never will again.