Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crooked River State Park (Our first camper trip)

This past weekend we took our new (to us) mini camper out for a trial run. We (I) wanted to go someplace fairly close to get the hang of hauling a trailer, little as it is, for the first time. Kara thought it would be cool to go to Georgia since she’d never been there except to drive through and since it’s less than 40 miles from our house to the GA border, I thought that would be a good distance – a few miles, but not too many.

First a little about our camper… ever since July when I saw this great tiny teardrop trailer while visiting my friend, Jenn, I’ve been looking at small trailers that might fit my car and my wallet.

Handmade tiny teardrop trailer I saw in Roanoke, VA this past summer.
One day while browsing Craigslist, I found our little guy (not a “Little Guy”) at a nearby pawnshop for a very reasonable price! It was about half what I expected to pay and is just last year’s model.  It’s a Signatour Venice model, which is about the middle of the line.  There’s no kitchen or bath facilities, but it’s got electricity, a folding queen-sized foam mattress, and a cabinet along the back wall which has proved very handy for storing our sleeping bags and pillows.  There’s also a small storage space in the front where we’ve been putting the camp chairs and stove.

Our Signatour Venice towed by the Matrix.

Of course, before we camped in it for the first time, we had to  buy a few necessary things for car camping and pimp it up a bit! I think the coolest thing I found was this stringof Coleman lantern lights. I only got one string, but we def need more! While I was at it, I bought us a “real” Coleman lantern, too so we could play cards or games at night.

Another cool thing we got, although it’s not nearly as cool as the lanterns, is a roll up table. There are a bunch of tables out there, but I picked this one because it got really great reviews and seems to be really stable. 

Pre-camping also included going through all my old camping stuff and sorting out the things we could take car camping and what stuff is strictly for backpacking, think tent, sleeping pads, water filter, etc. I bought 4 large, clear (so we could see the contents) Rubbermaid containers to put the “kitchen”, food, bathroom/first aid, and recreation stuff (games, cards, field guides, Frisbee, etc.). Kara and I had a lot of fun finding foodstuffs that would keep forever so we would have “emergency food.” So now we have food in case of a hurricane or Zombie attack as well! David installed some “D” rings on the sides of the camper so we can secure the containers with bungy cords while we’re traveling.

OK, OK, on with the trip! We arrived at Crooked River State Park off Exit 3 (!) in St Marys, Georgia on Friday afternoon right around 1 only to be informed that the campground would be full up that weekend. Luckily we had made a reservation and had gotten there early! We got a decent campsite, but it ended up being not as quiet as we would have liked. Much to Kara’s chagrin, the campsite next to us had 2 pretty hyper kids who were LOUD at 6am.  (As we got everything together, Kara decided that sleeping in the camper would be too confining for her, so she slept in the 2-person tent.) Luckily for the entire campground, they were fisher..people?, so they were gone most of the day Saturday! 

We pretty much just hung out Friday and Saturday, taking short walks to explore.  Here are some of the pictures we took around the campground:

Honest they were happier than they looked for the camera!

I should say here, that anyone who knows me knows this isn’t necessarily my kind of camping (showers and flush toilets, really?), but I did want our first experience in the trailer to be pleasant enough that David and Kara would want to do it again sometime. If they had to dig cat holes, I don’t think that would happen again in this century! As it was we played Scrabble and Uno, read and had awesome campfires complete with vegan s’mores. Our dinners included the infamous Velveeta and shells, veggie dogs, stir-fry noodles with veggies, and roasted asparagus. We certainly ate well! Here's one of our awesome campfires:

On Sunday, we traveled about an hour west to the OkefenokeeNational Wildlife Reserve near Folkston, GA. We took a 90-minute boat tour that should have been awesome, but with the weather only so-so, we had only a few birds and gators. The highlight for me was 2 red-shouldered hawk juveniles chasing and screaming at a red-tailed hawk. Those were quite some aerials that the pictures don’t do justice. We also got a very close look at 2 gators – the biggest I’ve seen in the wild yet! 

Spanish Moss

Red-shouldered Hawk

Great Egret
Gator! Yes, goodbye, head on out!
A beautiful Anhinga specimen
Yellow-bellied- Slider (I think - don't blame me, it doesn't have feathers!)
After a picnic lunch of vegan potato salad and cold veggie chick’n, we headed to down the road to check out the drainage ditches (more gators) and a green heron (apparently quite rare here at this time of year).  At the end of the road is the Chesser Island homestead. It was fun teasing Kara that we were going to buy this place and make her do all the cooking, cleaning, water pumping, canning, smoking (of tofu), feeding of animals, and making of syrup!

We then made our way back toward the campground. I won’t expound on the migraine I had, but let’s just say that my night was ruined. Monday morning saw a light drizzle – enough to make everything wet enough so that we packed up a few hours early and headed out. The consolation prize was breakfast at Waffle House with hashbrowns smothered, capped, and peppered! 

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