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    camper van at campground
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    Musings: Authors do it Write!

    Published 9-20-2021

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    Marker in Stephen Foster SP
    UPDATE: It turned out Maybelline had serious motor damage that had been temporarly covered up by the seller, Apex Auto.That was why it was so noisy. I discoverd the damage on my next trip and took it to my mechanic who said it wasn't worth fixing as it needed a new motor. It had just been patched to hold up a short time. I now have a 2005 Forrest River Popup and will be trying it out soon.

    2005 forrest River popup 

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    Maybellene's first camping trip went well as far as her performance. The rain both days dampened the trip some but it was a good test. She sprung no leaks. The drive there and back went smoothly. Just wish vans were quieter.

    a camper in Stephen Foster SP

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    Stephen Foster State Park is gorgeous. The kind ranger in the Trading Post where I checked in let me unload and lock my kayak at the kayak launch. Because it was a weekday, Wednesday, the park was almost empty. I counted just three others in the campground.
    deer at Stephen Foster SP

    I set up in site 41 right next to the restroom and shower. I managed to set up my awning before the rain fell. A wide grassy hiking trail that ran behind the campsites and up to the Trading Post and boat dock provided a pleasant hike from my site. Driving into the park, I entered the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge about 17 miles before the park entrance and had already seen numerous deer and wild turkey.
    cooking hash in camper van at Stephen Foster SP

    Due to the rain, I had to cook inside Maybellene. It went well. I used my large cast iron frying pan to make corned beef hash. The tiled counter I made from the former electrician's storage unit worked well as did my electric hookup. I tried both on the top self and lower one. Top seemed easier to handle. The hot plate, electric ice chest, and a light all worked perfectly on the one set of plugs. I ran a second extension cord through the front window for my fan.
    shower at Stephen Foster SP

    They have several restroom and shower rooms. All are set for one individual. Just go in and the light comes on automatically. You have a bathroom with a very modern shower with lots of hot water all to yourself. 
    Billy's Lake at Stephen Foster SP

    Thursday morning the rain had stopped. I had a breakfast of some leftover hash and headed to the Trading Post for my 9AM boat tour of the Okefenokee Swamp. I took the road this time and met up with several grazing deer. I was pleasantly surprised that I was the only one on the tour. Ranger Alex, who gave the tour, was fun and knowledgeable. One piece of valuable knowledge he shared was that the current is flowing towards the park so if I got lost on the water, all I needed to do was toss in a handful of leaves and watch which way they floated. We traveled almost to Billy's Island. I'll tell a lot more about my boat trip in a later post but today, I'm focusing on Maybellene's performance for her maiden trip.
    pork and veggies cooking

    quesadilla cooking

    Back at the campsite, I had enough sunshine to cook out on the picnic table. I plugged my mini-chef into the spare extension cord and made pork sausage quesadillas. I cooked the sausage and veggies in the mini-chef and prepared the tortilla with some cheese. When the filling was cooked, I just put it on the trotillia wnd whipped out the mini-chef then cooked the quesadilla in it. It came out nicely toasted and the cheese was melted just right. I may have overdone the fillings.
    kayaks at at Stephen Foster SP

    After lunch, I checked out more of the park. The park is a small finger of solid land in the midst of the swamp. Highway 177 ends here. The trading post and boat launch are at the northeast end. A canal from there leads out into Billy's Lake. Ranger homes and cottages are nearest that end. Several picnic shelters and a fish cleaning shelter are arranged around the parking lot for the boat launch and Trading Post. The campsites are in two loops; one to 26 in the back loop, 29 to 68 in the front. (I'm not sure if they eliminated sites 27 and 28 at some point.) A pioneer camping area is near the park entrance. The park gate closes automatically at 10pm. There is no entry or exit after that time.
    pork fried rice cooking

    pork fried rice cooking

    By 4:30 PM, it was looking like rain again so I prepared dinner early to be able to cook outside. I was fixing pork-fried rice so this time I needed two separate devices, my mini-chef for cooking the diced pork chop and veggies, and a hot plate to boil a small pot of rice. I made just a small portion so I could get the pork, veggies, and cooked rice into the mini-chef and add the egg. I just got it finished and ate a few bites when the rain started again. This time it came down in torrents all night long. I was surprised Maybellene didn't leak at all. I spent a pleasant night reading and listening to the rain. I had been hoping to check out the night sky. Stephen Foster State Park is one of the best Dark Sky Parks in the southeast but the rain made that impossible.
    kayak at at Stephen Foster SP

    Next morning the sky was iffy. I took a chance, took my kayak out into Billy's Lake, and saw a few alligators and some birds but didn't go all the way to Billy's Island. After a quick lunch, I headed back home with a short detour to Suwannee River Sill Recreation Area, a 1960s era dam and canal where there are more alligators and wading birds than people. There will be more about that in a later post about the history of the park and Okefenokee Swamp.
    There are a few bugs I need to iron out. My attached awning doesn't work. It filled up with water and sagged and I would have to take it down and replace it each time I drove out from my campsite. I have a screened picnic table shelter I will be using next time. My sewing machine cabinet turned table/desk needs to be lowered an inch. I could not open it as it hit the ceiling. I must have measured it before I put up the ceiling panel.  
    alligator at Stephen Foster SP

    On the plus side, a board I had painted to use as an outside table reaches from my bunk to a storage bin where I put oil, tools, a jack, and other vehicle necessities. It made a perfect place to sit my electric ice chest. It was convenient to my cooking area and close to the electric plugs. The ice chest, which runs on either 12 volt or 120 AC electric, travels sitting near the front so I can plug it into the cigarette lighter. It's secured on top of the bin holding my camper potty, so naturally it had to move somewhere.
    interior of camper van

    The bunk is comfortable. The fan cooled the van even when I had to raise the windows almost all the way up because of the rain. From the mechanical end, fluids are still at a good level. Overall, I am happy with Maybellene.




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