Friday, March 14, 2014

Our First Year with the Camper

So I thought I'd take a break from the maintenance and upgrade posts to talk about our adventures. So we got to take our camper out within 2 months after we bought her for the first time. I fixed the floor and got a new spare and spare mount before we headed out. Also, we opted to purchase a few things like water filter wheel chocks, etc. That we didn't have since we'd never owned a camper before.

Our Uhaul Fiberglass Camper at Hard Labor Creek State Park, Georgia
For our first trip out, we decided to go somewhere close. You know just in case something happened and we needed to go back home. We ended up going to Hard Labor Creek State Park here in Georgia. It's about 30-45 mins away so not bad at all. Where we live, we are actually are about 20-45 mins from 4 different state parks. Well we got there, got set up and had a blast. The park was doing special events that weekend and we got to do a hayride tour with a park ranger and learn about the history of the park. The weather was perfect. We ended up in site #41 (technically a tent site but with hookups). It was way at the end of the last loop but I liked how quiet it was out there. It backs up to the creek and you're on a wedge of land between the beaver pond and the creek.We had some lovely neighbors with an old Airstream next to us and ended up touring each others campers (though touring their's took a bit more time than touring ours). The other nice thing about being way in the back is there's a small loop and the kids had fun riding their bikes around it.

Our U-haul camper at the fiberglass Eggscursion in Townsend TN.
Unfortunately, that trip was getting later into the fall so we didn't have another chance to go camping till the spring. Our next trip ended up being to fiberglass egg camper rally in Townsend, Tennessee (called the Eggsscursion). We again had great weather and enjoyed touring all the other fiberglass campers and meeting new friends. We took away a lot of great ideas and learned some neat tricks for camping with an camper.

I had tons of gear for tent camping from over the years. But I wasn't ready for camping with electricity. One of the tips we picked up was how useful an electric kettle can be. When traveling with kids this is a real winner, you can quickly boil water for hot cocoa, oatmeal or tea.

Brown Pelican at Hungtington Beach State Park, SC
We packed up the camper yet again and headed to Myrtle Beach, SC about a month later. My mom's family is from there and it's like a second home to me. I feel like a practically grew up there. I've seen it change so much over the years. It had been a while since we'd been over there and seen the family. So I was excited at the opportunity to catch up with everyone and eat some good seafood. I'm not big on crowds and since I know the area well, I opted to stay south where it's not so busy. I got us reservations to camp at Huntington Beach State Park, one of my favorite places on the coast over there. It's the location of the winter home of the sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington (many locals refer to it as the castle). Huntington and her husband founded Brookgreen Gardens which is across the hwy from the park. A definite must see place if you're in the area. We ended up in site #45 and it was a close walk to the bathhouse which had been redone recently and was one of the nicer ones I've ever been in. This time we had a bit of a freak cold spell during the night and I found out the propane heater was a bit finicky to work with. (We have since packed a small ceramic heater that keeps the place really warm without glow or too much noise.)

Marker at F. D. Roosevelt State Park in Georgia
Our next adventure happened about a month later. My wife was doing the Callaway Gardens triathlon over Father's Day weekend. So we decided to take the camper down there and stayed at F.D.Roosevelt State Park. Again we had gorgeous weather and a great time. We ended up in loop 6, site #611. It was close to the bathhouse but required backing uphill at an angle to get into and a bit of work to level the trailer. It was my wife's first triathlon and she did great! We also met some great campground neighbors who were there for the triathlon also. While we were there, the rangers had a great program for the kids about reptiles. I love that the state parks in Georgia offer so many great programs and events. We will definitely go back to FDR in the future. Next time I hope to do some hiking.

After that work kept me pretty locked up for the rest of the summer so we ended out our first year with the camper with some good use and great success. Along the way we discovered what worked and didn't work. We continue to make adjustments to what we pack as I learn how to camp with electricity and how to pack for 4 in a tiny camper. More adventures await...