Monthly Archives: February 2020

Voyages of the Dawn Treader: Reed Bingham State Park

This past weekend, we took our pop-up camper on its first solo voyage. In December, on the Dawn Treader’s maiden voyage, we camped with a large and experienced group. This time, we were on our own.

I chose Reed Bingham State Park, which is 60 miles away in southeast Georgia. That way, if things went horribly awry, we were not far from home. The park was surprisingly lovely, with a big lake, miles of trails, several playgrounds, and a miniature golf course.

We arrived in a chilly drizzle Friday and set up camp. Here’s a brief rundown of our exterior configuration. We have a pop-up camper with an awning, and a pop-up tent that is the same height. We put them right next to each other and pulled the picnic table under the tent. Then we strung Christmas lights on the awning poles and in the tent braces, creating a dry, lighted space for cooking.

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If you know one thing about me, it’s that I’m a giant nerd. If you know two things about me, it’s that I’m a giant nerd who loves food. I was determined to eat well with a very limited kitchen. I did most of our cooking on this griddle, which I purchased years ago for pancakes. The camper also has a two-burner stove, which I also put to use.

The first order of business on Saturday morning was coffee. Some campers use a French press, some bring a regular plug-in coffeemaker, some use a Keurig. Before our first trip, I bought an inexpensive pour-over coffeemaker. We have a French press, but buying coarse ground coffee is – let’s be honest – kind of a pain. The pour-over has a permanent filter and uses drip grind coffee. It worked beautifully in December, so I was happy to use it again on this trip. That speckled enamel coffee pot is a relic from our days of primitive camping with the Cub Scouts. I use it to heat water.

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After breakfast we explored the lake. The day was cloudy and chilly, but it wasn’t raining any more, plus we could take extended reading breaks in the heated camper. Hooray.

After lunch, we walked some of the park’s Coastal Plain trails. Despite hiking for over an hour, our hands never warmed up!

Back in December, I organized our pop-up based on this article from Rain & Pine. I can’t get over how easy it is to set up camp with the stacking drawer units. I can pack them in the house, put them in the camper, and set them on the counters when we get to our destination. Genius!

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The white drawers hold all our clothes and toiletries (each person gets one drawer) and the blue bin on top holds the fruit bowl and the flashlight. Hazel and BB’s bed is behind them, so I didn’t store any food that the dog would be interested in (I’m looking at you, loaf of bread).

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On the other side of the camper, two smaller stacking drawer units hold all the kitchen/food prep gear, as well as the dog’s stuff and dry goods. The blue bin on top holds more fresh food, and the rest of the counter is taken up by a small trash can and a bin for dishes/silverware.

I am not the kind of person who is going to invest a ton of money in our camper, but I am interested in slowly acquiring things that make camping more enjoyable. After our trip in December, I ordered a memory foam mattress topper for our bed, and it made a HUGE difference in our comfort level. I also bought an inexpensive lamp with an LED bulb, because the camper’s overhead lights are harsh at night. It’s my favorite purchase so far.

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I have started a wish list of items we want to add to our camper (slowly!), but those are definitely “wants,” and not “needs.” I’d like to add curtains to the bunk ends, for example, and some floor mats. But for now, we have plenty of gear for a comfortable, enjoyable weekend away.

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