First Two Weeks at Stephen Foster

Sunny Day on the Suwannee River
Sunny Day on the Suwannee River
Our first two weeks at Stephen Foster Cultural Center State Park in White Springs, Florida has been eventful, wet and a little tiring. We haven’t seen the sun very much since we got here and at least one morning we had icicles dripping from the RV (condensation from the fridge). Since there are no sewers on site here, even for the campground hosts, we have had to crank up the old RV and drive over to the dump station every three or four days. Our co-campground host couple have a “blue boy” and he drives it down to the dump station a couple of times in one day just to empty out his gray water tanks. We have decided on a schedule among ourselves by working three days one week and four days the next. We are taking the end of the weekdays and they the beginning this month with Sunday being the alternating fourth day. That way all of us gets three days off in a row. Of course, if campers come by your RV to ask questions and we are home we will still answer them the best we can.

There are 45 large campsites here and two large bathhouses that we take care of including the paved roadways in and around the campground area. We call the ranger station each morning to get a list of the campsites being vacated for that day. Generally, most will be up and gone by 10:00 am but, of course, there are always one or two that will wait until the last minute to leave at 1:00 pm. It takes just about all day to get all the campsites cleaned up and by that, I mean, visit the site; make sure nothing was left; pick up any trash; clean out the fire pit; clean out the barbecue grill; sweep off the picnic table; and finally, rake the site. All the sites are gravel and dirt with quite a few “pull-through” sites. Some of the campsites have vegetation around them for privacy and some are more open. The previous volunteers created a two head rake with one pole using PVC pipes so that you can drag the rakes behind us. They also took some old metal signs and bent them into flat shovels to clean out the fire pits. Now all we need is a stiff plastic hand sweeper to clean the grills and picnic tables.

The two bathhouses contain a women’s area with two shower stalls, three toilet stalls and a three mirrors and sinks. The men’s side only has two shower stalls, two toilet stalls, two urinals and three sinks with one large mirror. Of course, the sink counters are at waist level and I can only reach the bottom 25% of each mirror to clean. I am still looking for some way to extend my reach to clean these from top to bottom. There are also two “Family” bathroom/showers, one on each side of the building with a single toilet, sink, mirror and shower stall. My mom and I like these as they are more private and have a seat in the shower along with the hand rails and they are larger. The buildings are both concrete block with large rounded vents to help dry out the moisture. The hot water is propane heated and lasts a good long while but there is no heater to keep the inside of the building warm just a large and loud exhaust fan. When the humidity is high the bathhouse across from us stays damp all day. Since, we have been here the park has run out of hand soap for the dispensers and didn’t get the right ones in until this past Wednesday. Now we have been out of bleach for a few days as well. You really need bleach to keep the mold down.

This state park has problems with old equipment not running, supplies not being available when needed, etc. just like all the other ones. For example, we have access to a state park golf cart to run around the campground area while we are on duty. Of course, on Thursday when we were just about finished cleaning and on our way to return it to the shop building it quit working. We have been using our minivan on these cold mornings to clean the campsites but now she has decided she doesn’t want to work all the time either. Today, we are going to use the park’s gator. It has a rattle somewhere, the brakes squeal, it seems to be burning a little oil and it doesn’t want to go very fast. But it beats walking I guess. You just have to roll with the punches and do the best that you can with what you have. Our co-campground hosts may not see it that way tomorrow when they are on by themselves. Being as this is a holiday weekend we have quite a few more “local” campers here who will all be checking out tomorrow.

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