Captains Blog: Mile 33,970. March 19, 2015
Spirit of Suwannee Music Park and Campground, site SPA
Nights in camp: 4
We took our campervan on a “dry” run preparatory to the Big Trip. We drove to Live Oak, Florida, for the Suwannee Springfest music festival.
I’ll digress a moment. The festival is surely the definitive collection of tie-dyed apparel. The park is a giant campground, with loop after loop of spaces for both RVs and tents. I use the term spaces in conjunction with tents quite loosely. Groups of friends pitched tents and/or RVs in close proximity, then surrounded their enclave with tie-died blankets to create private compounds.
At the Porch stage (one of three main outdoor venues), on one occasion a demonstrator walked through the crowd waving a flag with an image of an assault weapon and the words “Try to take it from me.” And nobody paid him any heed. Well, almost nobody. I was tempted to confront him, but Rebecca pointed out the skateboard he was toting was probably loaded. Hooray for peace-loving hippies.
But enough politics.
I had an appointment for a few tweaks to the van for the morning of the trip. I was to drop Rebecca at her office, take the van to the nearest RV service center for the tweaks, then pick her up and start driving south.
We got into the van, turned the key, and click click click. Dead battery. Fortunately, the configuration of our parking permitted Rebecca to run jumper cables from her car in the garage through the side door to the van battery, and we got it started. Add a new battery to the tweak list.
The journey was otherwise inauspicious, other than being a lot of driving. We spent the first night in a motel outside Savannah. Why, you might ask, did we not stay in a campground? We had a coupon that knocked the price of the motel room down to $5. We made a rule for the Big Trip: If a motel is cheaper than the campground, we stay in the motel. Oh, there was some confusion at the motel, however: The credit card number Travelocity/Expedia issued to the motel to pay our rent (we’d already paid) was denied.
I’m sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the campground with all the tie-dye. I called this a “dry run” above, but it really wasn’t dry. We peed in the van bathroom. That was our big accomplishment for the trip. It beats trekking to the shower house three or four times in the middle of the night. Or morning. (Did I mention there were reasonably-priced beer vendors inside the festival?) I know, you’re gonna say you’re camping, pee on the ground; and you’d be right, but the population density was not conducive. For that matter, peeing in the van is even easier than peeing on the ground.
I should mention, in keeping with the theme, the low point of the adventure. Cutting across the Meadow Stage grounds after the first night of music, we reached an impasse. Rather than retrace our steps, we looked to negotiate our way to an alternate exit. Not noticing a set of stairs, I chose to attempt to walk up a pile of concrete slabs. The first step was about three feet high, and I miscalculated. I found myself airborne, and landed square on my behind. Sitting here at the computer is still somewhat, shall we say, uncomfortable.
The campground was bordered by the Suwannee (or Suwanee) River. The Suwanee rises in the Okefenokee Swamp, then meanders to the Gulf of Mexico.
Stephen Foster chose the “Swanee” for his song by looking at a map, and smartly realizing Swanee rang better than Pee Dee (the original “way down upon the” river).
Even though Foster never actually saw the river (nor lived as a slave on a plantation there … there really weren’t plantations in that part of the South), the State of Florida adopted the song as it’s state song. As sensibilities have changed over the years, so have the words to the song. There may no longer be reference to the good life of the plantation, and there definitely have been bowdlerizations of some racially insensitive nomenclatures.
On the return trip we drove through Bunnlevel, North Carolina (see how I brought the theme of this article full-circle?), where I saw a sign of an aptly-named enterprise:
Wood’s Saw Mill.