Thursday, July 19, 2012


SC gaudy tourist trap

We are at Huntington Beach State Park, near Murells Inlet, South Carolina (map). This is now a very familiar stop for us, so much so that we had no concerns arriving after dark last night, a rarity for us. That had not been our plan, but it's the way things developed. This place is spendy, by our standards, at over $31 per night for just 30 amps of power. But it's still the best deal on the strand, so we were happy to snag a spot.

The late arrival was partly due to a late departure from Wilmington. That was intentional -- we had a good free WiFi connection there, and without being able to scope out our pre-assigned space here, there was a good chance we would not get on line. As it turned out, our space is in the open rather than under the trees, and we had no problem getting on line once we were parked.

Mostly, though, the lateness was due to the fuel stop. For starters, we had to fight our way through the high-season traffic into Myrtle Beach, rather than bypassing it on the highway. Next, the gas station that was reported to have $3.399 diesel in fact had $3.599 diesel, one of the problems with user-reported pricing sites. So after jockeying around to get into the tiny station in the first place, we had to head right back out for a backup choice a couple of miles away -- in the wrong direction -- with $3.459 diesel.

That station turned out to be much easier to access, and we had the place mostly to ourselves. Which was good, because we were there a looooong time. Even when things go perfectly, it often takes half an hour to 45 minutes to dispense 200 gallons from an automobile-sized dispenser. That's if you can pump it in one sitting, but almost no gas station will allow a single transaction of $750. So the first delay was the cashier calling her manager off site to ask how to run the card. She informed me that she'd have to split it into $350 transactions.

No problem, but by fiddling around with the register to figure this out, Discover shut my card off as a fraud prevention measure. So five minutes go by while I get the card turned back on. She runs the $350 and we're off to the races. This turns out to be among the slower automotive dispensers, and it takes over 20 minutes to put 80 gallons in. Right at 80.00 gallons, the dispenser shuts down, and will not restart. Now mind you, she's already charged my card $350, but the pump has shut off at $276.72. More phone calls to the manager, and eventually they figure out that their system has a built-in cut-off at 80 gallons, presumably for safety reasons, that they can not override.

Back to the register to refund $73.28, then charge another $276 for the next round. 20 minutes later and we can run the last $195, for a total of 216 gallons of fuel, enough to bring our tank up to 7/8 full. This is the cheapest fuel we will see for quite a while, and we wanted to take full advantage of it. But the end result was that we were at the gas station for well over an hour, and between that and the extra stop we were a full hour behind our original plan.

That put us through Myrtle Beach and the gauntlet of cheese-ball tourist attractions right at dinner hour; a couple of traffic lights changed three times before we made it through. It was nearly 7pm by the time we hit Murrells Inlet, and we ended up stopping for dinner before heading to the park. At that hour, we did not want to have to get set up and pull a scooter out to go back for dinner, nor did we feel like cooking after a long gnarly day. The dinner stop finally put us into the park just after dark.

It's a lovely park, as I have written in the past. But we haven't left the bus since we arrived, and in just four minutes it will be checkout time and we will need to continue south to Charleston.

Photo by catchesthelight, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. We only have a 80 gallon tank, but with the $75 limit that many stations have it will take almost 4 credit card transactions to get filled up. Some stations will only let you use the same card twice and then you need to change cards... I can't imagine dealing with your 200 gallon tank..... Rod

    1. Not 200, Rod -- 350. Of which about 300 gallons is "usable capacity." The bottom 25 gallons or so is inaccessible to the dip tubes, to keep them from sucking up crud or water, and the top 20 gallons or so is unusable because if we fill it that far, some fuel will spill out the vents when the coach rocks side-to-side, and we also get too many diesel fumes in the coach.

      I did once put a full 300 gallons into the tank. We had, uncharacteristically, let it run down to the very bottom while we were on disaster assignment in Texas, back when fuel was $5 per gallon. We drove across to Mexico to fill up at $2.85, with the $600 we saved making it worth the hassle:

      So the 215 gallons we put in on this stop represents about 2/3 of our capacity. We seldom fuel unless we can take 100 gallons or so, and typically we fuel when we are at about the 1/4 tank level, where the generator and Webasto dip tubes stop. So 200 gallons is a common amount for us, and we already know not to even bother with the readers on the dispensers -- I always go right into the c-store and speak with the cashier. Seldom do they know how to make the POS system dispense that much, and I just expect ahead of time that they will need to make a phone call. We try never to be in a hurry when we go to fuel.

  2. As much as you all boondock, I'm surprised you let your fuel get so low?

    1. Well, we had 50-60 gallons left in the tank, enough for 300-400 miles, so "low" is relative. Unfortunately when I asked the converter to trim the generator dip tube to ensure a sufficient fuel reserve, they went a little overboard, and the generator stops with about 70-75 usable gallons still in the tank. The next time I have to pull the fridge out for maintenance (the access is under it), I am probably going to extend that tube. We don't worry about it too much, because in a pinch we can always charge batteries from the main engine and its 7.5kW alternator, and if we get stuck someplace with the main engine dead, I can always pull some fuel out of the tank and jury-rig a jerry can (or is that jerry-rig a jury can?) to run the generator for a couple of hours at a pop.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!