Old Diary

People Watching


“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.”
– Dagobert D. Runes

Today has been an interesting day. It wasn’t exactly about people watching, more like people observing.  We’re fully booked again this weekend.  And campers who typically arrive on Thursday night or Friday morning in hopes of snatching up one of our five non-reservable sites are finding the non-reservables already occupied and only one Friday departure on the books.

In the past, when people have spoken to me about vacation and travel I have often thought about the quotation above.  It seems that when people talk about going on ‘vacation’ it is commonly about visiting places and seeing things that are not all that different from what the travelers  left behind. Camp Hosting, for sure, is too.  Here I rub elbows with people I might never have met, and would never choose as friends.

Clearly, it’s a point of irritation, but by the same token reserving campsites has become a way of life.  You don’t need a computer — there are phone numbers to call where you can deal with a live human being.  The federal reservation system does not charge to make reservations and the process is quite simple.  What campers seem not to have caught on to is that the population is growing faster than the supply of campsites.  And of course there is the reality that campers and RV’s are getting larger and larger while campsites are staying the same size they have always been.  Not a good formula, is it?

So, today has largely been about  listening to stories,  interesting stories each and every one.  Two long coaches came in expecting not only to find sites for several nights — but to find LONG sites.  We got them settled for one night and what will happen tomorrow will largely be a matter of who’s quickest to the one vacating site.

It turns out these two couples know the fellow who was here a couple weeks ago trying for 4 days to get his satellite to see through the trees.  Small world.

Several of the campers — successful and unsuccessful both — are locals who camp here regularly.  There’s a sort of… get ready for it… entitlement involved.  It’s their campground, they figure, and not all are happy when their personal favorite site is occupied.  C’est la vie.

This weekend we have Canadians — disgustingly healthy Canadians.  They’re both in their late 60’s or early 70’s and she went out running up and down the hills and dales in and out of the park on a course that would have been about 4 miles.  I saw here arriving back at the campground and she hardly looked like she was perspiring ( runner’s, I’m told, don’t sweat, they perspire ).   Hubby was pedaling about 5 paces behind on his bike looking quite dapper. The days when my legs let me run like that are long gone and I admit to envying her the rush of running.  (sigh)

We have an interesting assortment of codgers driving old RV’s.  There’s a 1991 Winnebago that one guy bought for $2000.00 last year.  There’s another Winnebago that’s about 40 yrs. old.  Those two long RV’s that pulled in today are both less than 2 years old — and they are parked right next to the two oldsters.

You hear divorce stories, lost wallet stories, anniversary and birthday camping trip stories.  Much of the time we feel like Father Confessor listening to life histories with understanding and compassion. The story teller in my loves to listen — the stories I hear are not just stories, they are human beings all wrapped up in words.  There’s a dignity involved in sharing your story, your life, your spirit with another.  And listening is a form of respect — at least in my book it is.

And so it is that travel gets us to see things — the common everyday things that we have in all of our lives every day — that we tend to gloss over, ignore, overlook.  Some of the campers here  are poor and arrive in clap-trap homemade rigs that break down on the way here (I heard that story today); others arrive in a 1/4 or 1/2 million dollar RV.  Talk about the great equalizer…. They all pay the same fee to camp and they all seem to enjoy the same S’Mores.  Half of them grumble upon being awakened at 9:00 a.m. when the other half who have been trying to be quiet for the last three hours when they have already been awake and wanting to chop wood.

The real question in my mind is why we learn to ignore those same types of people in our own lives?

I don’t have an answer.  I love to photograph tourists when I’m traveling.  But I also love to shoot tourists when I’m at home (or when I was at home in Cudahy).  Since going full-time I haven’t been taking as many pictures.  I think I’m looking with my eyes more than I am with my lens.  This has happened to me before.  Some years ago I realized how many of my images had no people in them so I stopped doing landscapes and devoted the next decade shooting humans.  I suspect I may be ready for another change of direction — but I don’t yet know what that will be.

The most important moment in making a photograph is that time before any clicking begins when you are visualizing the completed image.  I think that’s what I’m doing now.  My style has changed a lot over the years and I suspect it’s changing again.  I’ll keep you posted.

‘Talk to you tomorrow….

Composite from a few years ago…

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5 thoughts on “People Watching

  1. I love talking to people anywhere I go. My kids call me the “MOST” – master of small talk, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.I envy the opportunity you have to interact with “travellers”, however annoying or entitled – embrace it, interaction is a valuable commodity. 🙂

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    • I agree about the importance of interaction, and even if I sometimes sound peeved in the moment that never keeps my from interacting with people or just ‘doing my job’ which IS interacting with people. 🙂

      The wonderful part is that I DO get to meet these people.
      And I CAN interact with them
      But I don’t have to be longtime friends with them if I choose,
      I don’t have to do business for longer than I’m parked in this one place.
      Anyone can put up with anything for SOME period of time.

      When my dad retired after 30 years of working in a cubicle without windows in the bowels of an electric plant with only one cubicle mate we joked because after retirement my dad, who hardly ever said anything to anyone, turned into the Man Who Talks to Everyone! I fear my wife has begun thinking of me the same way. I have always loved people — just in carefully controlled doses. This opportunity has been a blast even when individuals make me stop and scratch my head.

      But then that’s a good thing.

      It’s sort of my way of ‘pondering.’

      P

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  2. I have always loved meeting people and spending a minute to talk to them. It’s fun what you can learn. Nowadays, it seems no one wants to take that minute. They’re too busy running hither, thither, and yon; or talking or texting on their cell phone; or simply don’t want to be bothered.

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    • I may joke about being a hermit and ‘not liking people’ but I’ve always loved hyperbole so exaggeration is part of my word-world.

      I actually love people — just in controlled quantities. I talk to the checkout clerk, and the stock boy, the guy at the next gas pump and the person sitting on the next park bench. People are what make the human world go round and the absence of personal interchange would be one of the worst things in the world — to me.

      What has always annoyed me is when someone wants interchange to be one-sided — only to speak, never to listen. I love to hear people’s stories but I’m not their listening-slave.

      I wonder how this generation will cope with later life after living with smartphones stuck up their face. You see so many young people in groups sitting there texting INSTEAD of talking… go figure…

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