Friday, May 18, 2012

First trip of 2012: Shaking off the cobwebs

This past weekend we took a collective deep breath and set off for our first camping adventure of the 2012 season, at Hickory Run State Park. Since we hadn't been camping in five months, and the last time was somewhat of a comedy of errors, we were a little apprehensive about it. Aside from installing our new batteries, we hadn't moved the trailer from its storage facility home in months, and we had a lovely dump station situation to look forward to.

Posing with the new batteries. YAY!
The drive up the Northeast Extension was pretty harrowing. Because of the construction going on, there are only two VERY narrow lanes, and trucks and buses are alerted to stay in the left lane. Nothing about trailers, but we figured we fell into that category. Hauling a trailer in the left lane of a two-lane highway probably doesn't make a lot of sense - at least it didn't to the two million cars that passed us on the right. Eventually we settled in behind a truck that was driving at a comfortable speed, one where my heart didn't drop to my knees every time an SUV passed us.

Steve admitted he was a little rusty on the driving front, but by the time we arrived he was getting the hang of things again. Which was a good thing, considering the road that leads to Hickory Run is one of those winding, steep labyrinthine delights where any wrong move could send you right off the edge. Needless to say, we were both relieved and exhausted by the time we found our campsite and settled in. We'd brought along fishing rods and even purchased fishing licenses, but laziness and our appetites took over and we decided to eat first instead.

After checking in, I insisted that we pay a visit to the dump station, even though Steve wanted to put it off until we left. First of all, our entire reason for taking the trailer out was to dump the tanks (this was also our reason for taking it out in December, but we learned that in the winter, tanks freeze). Even before we took off, Steve had me dump a bag of ice down the toilet, hoping that would break things up. (Sorry for the imagery. Even though we may make it seem that way, trailer life isn't all glamour all the time.) So luckily we had the whole dump station to ourselves. Steve pulled up his sleeves and did his thing, while I sat back and enjoyed the fact that I don't have to deal with that stuff.

Gettin' busy
The campsite itself was fairly quiet. We'd expected to get a wooded site similar to the one we'd had last year, but this time we occupied a space that was more open and grassy. The sites were situated around a field with a small playground. Behind us, there was a smattering of trees and brush, and just beyond that the road.

Road leading to our site
So we really didn't have the feel of a state park as much as we wanted to. It felt more like a campground this time around. But as far as what we needed, it was great. The temperatures varied between 60s and low 70s, which was perfect for our campfire.

The one thing we did have to do before fully relaxing was go to the camp store for some necessities (logs, s'more supplies, bug spray). We left Lola behind and set off for the trek on foot, not wanting to disconnect the Mountaineer if we didn't have to. However, we totally underestimated how far away we were from the store. This wouldn't have been a problem, except that Steve had to carry a bundle of logs on our way back, while I schlepped the four or five grocery bags up and down my arms. Lesson learned: Unhooking the car is worth it.

That night was the first time we let Lola out of her crate to sleep. In the past, we had to struggle to set up the crate in between the dinette and the kitchen counter, so if you ever wanted to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you'd either have to hope you remembered it was there or suffer a painful toe-stubbing injury. Now, we're just using the crate as a gate to section off the bedroom from the rest of the trailer. At our house, we've gradually phased her out of crating and she's been amazing (nothing chewed or destroyed yet, knock on wood!) but we worried that she might whine and cry in a smaller space.

Surprise! She was a real gem and didn't whimper once. I think she's so happy to be able to spend the night on a comfy couch that she doesn't even think about venturing into the bedroom.

Other highlights:
1) Kerplunk. To fill in the "down time" when it's too late to do anything, and there's nothing interesting on the non-cable TV, we splurged on a board game, which happened to be a childhood favorite, Kerplunk. Turns out it's just as entertaining as I remembered (or maybe we're easily entertained) to try to find the perfect spot to pull out one of those sticks so as not to disturb the marbles resting on top.
See all the marbles in my tray? Think this is when I lost

2) Remembering the joys of camping. Even though we didn't go on any extended hikes, it was nice to be able to take a walk around the campground with Lola and check out the other campers. Most of the people there were in tents, but we also spied an Airstream that looked pretty cozy.

I missed posing with Lola!
The area in the middle of the campsites
Steve's mostly successful campfire - the damn thing didn't want to stay lit!
So overall, the trip turned out way better than we predicted. The tanks are finally empty, so we don't have that to worry about. However, we do have to get our trailer in for inspection sometime this month or next (who knew? trailers need to be inspected too) before our trip to Savannah. It looks like all systems are a-go for now! Can't wait to get back on the road.