Old Diary

Peter and Peggy in the Land Beyond Walmart

I’m chuckling!

no walmartSo many RV bloggers spend so much time talking about their stops at Walmart, and their overnights at ‘Wallyworld’,  and going to visit Uncle Wally that it’s nice to know we’ll be 40+ miles from the NEAREST Walmart!

I don’t mind — we never visited Walmart very much before going mobile.  We HAVE done so since — big parking lots are a definite attraction when you’re 50+ feet long and looking to pull off the highway.  But I have always preferred dealing with smaller businesses, mom & pop shops when possible. I’m eager to find out what the small businesses here are like, getting to know some shop owners, and trying to fit in a little.

Florence really is ‘big, small town America.’   I say big because we do have a Fred Meyer and a Safeway.  We have a True Value too.  There’s a natural food co-op of some sort — we haven’t been there yet.  And at least 6 gas stations and 2 car washes.  But there are no Kohls, or Walmarts, Targets, or JCPenneys.  Moving from Milwaukee (population 594,000) to Florence (population 8484) is going to be interesting.  Three years after getting married we lived in Swanton OH, population at the time about 3200 and we hated it.  We spent all our time driving the 20+ miles to Toledo because Swanton never had what we wanted/needed.  I don’t expect that will happen nearly as often here.

To be truthful, we are actually going to be closer to Dunes City, OR than to Florence.  Our Volunteer Coordinator lied to us.  He always said that there were two positions, one located out of Lakeside and domiciled in Eel Creek Campground, and ours — located out of “Florence”  — an no mention of what campground — in fact he said several times that the difference between the two was that while the other position was domiciled in a campground that our site here would be next to the Forest Service Warehouse and we would be on a site all by ourselves — and that was part of what attracted us to this location.  We enjoyed our time Camp Hosting — but we wanted to be away from campers if we could.

I’m sure the slight misrepresentations will be worked out.  I’m a little concerned that the Verizon signal is as weak as it seems to be up there in our new more-permanent home but we’ll be here long enough that we could easily afford to buy cable and/or internet service via the universal interface on our site.  We’ll sort all of that out as soon as we get the job sorted.

We didn’t get much done yesterday.  After looking forward for months to the Trip, to our daughter’s visit, to seeing Peg’s brother – the silence after dropping Kathryn at the airport was deafening.   And we were both emotionally exhausted.  To say we did little yesterday would be exaggerating.  About all we did was to stop off at the grocery for some Sour Cream, and stop on the way back into the park at the ‘warehouse’ to take another look at our future home.

Our Site in Siuslaw National Forest
The Highway, US 101, runs about 300 feet beyond the hill in the background.  And this little warehouse serves as a tool and vehicle storage for the park service, and for law enforcement (they keep their quads there).  The clearing is about 5 acres of land and we’ll be the only people living there.  Our Site in Siuslaw National Forest The Clearing gets some reasonable amount of sunlight during the day.  These were taking early in the morning, on our way from the airport and I don’t think the sun had gotten very far above the mountains to the East.

As you can see we have a large propane tank, there are water, electric, telephone, and dump hookups.  We also have a shed to store things in, and …. I don’t know what to call it… a sort of porch?  or something.  Not sure what that ‘deck’s’ purpose is but it will give us a place to sit up off the wood chips.  And a picnic table.  to enjoy the warm summer evenings. 🙂Our Site in Siuslaw National Forest

Seriously though,  I think it will be quite comfortable at least for 6 months — after that we’ll figure out if we’re staying here or what we’re doing.  We have no plans beyond our six months because we may just hang around here longer.

I think I mentioned that the Volunteer Coordinator who hired us had done this job for a year and a half.  The Camp Host (Cammie) who helped us get settled in has been here for 3 years (in Driftwood II campground). The Forest Service is very different than, say, the Oregon Park System which changes personnel typically at 3 months, and some of the Corps of Engineers locations that want a straight 6 month commitment.

Our site is actually closest to Dunes City.  That’s a tiny burg (population of 1200 people) and it’s about 10 miles South of Florence.  Which means that trips to the grocery, or hardware, will be much more thought out than they were in Cudahy.  Dunes City also has a median home population 50% higher than Oregon in general so they aren’t peons living here.  It might be ‘rural’ by nature, but it may not be ‘rural’ by culture.

Peg and Kathryn were both struck by the easy-going judgment free attitude they saw in the area.  No one was looked strangely at, no matter what they were wearing, no matter what their hair looked like, etc.  We have not seen much racial diversity — I have to say that.  Some First Nation peoples, and obvious Asian tourist, but a lot of the population looks to be caucasian. There IS ethnic diversity.  Scandanavians, Brits, Irish, Southern Mediterranean, Slavic, Poles, Aussies and Hispanics.  The median age here is 57, ten years older than Oregon in general.

Florence will be the LEAST diverse area we have ever lived in.


City-Data.com details on Florence OR

That’s ok, but it will seem strange after living in Milwaukee with a huge Black and Hispanic population.  My roots are Polish, Peg’s are Irish/German and Milwaukee has a strong population of all three — in fact in 1900 some 75% of all business done in Milwaukee was done in GERMAN.    I guess I’m kind of surprised that there is as LITTLE racial diversity as there turns out to be.

Well, that’s it for me for this morning. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


3 thoughts on “Peter and Peggy in the Land Beyond Walmart

  1. Mrs. P says:

    Your comments on diversity are quite interesting. I grew up in the SF Bay area and as a child it was white majority, very few other minorities. By high school there was a strong black and Mexican mix but still white majority. Fifteen years later with the Silicon Valley boom in full swing, I was teaching and white was now the minority, Asian and Indian being the majority. About ten years ago I moved up to Chico about an hour north of Sacramento and again was in a white majority with very few other nationalities…it was strange and I had to get used to it all over again. Then moving to Florida, I was surprised at how many blacks there were, way more than I had ever experienced before. I’m used to it now but it was definitely noticeable…I think we have a white majority overall.


    • Mrs P,

      I’m the first to admit that I have very mixed feelings about racial diversity! It seems that for centuries humans have been leaving wherever they have lived and moved to different places so that they could be left alone and live their lives they way they wanted. Now global society seems hell bent to make everyone tolerate each other and do some kind of homogenization job on us all. Wars have been fought for less than that. And I have no idea how well global homogenization is going to work.

      I know for a fact that having lived most of my life in an area that was cited by court case after court case for having been discriminatory in education and other ways that racial tensions are NO better now than they were in the 1950’s: blacks still mistrust whites, whites still mistrust blacks, name calling and lawsuits are rife and for all the efforts to ‘fix’ the problem I’m not sure that anything has been fixed — just bandaged over in many cases.

      When the thought of retiring to some place warmer arose we did a reasonable amount of looking around at population statistics — originally because we were concerned about AGE mixes in areas we were considering. This Florence area has grown greatly over the last 12 years because of an influx of SENIORS; there are good things and bad things about that. But as we started looking at age data I was surprised, almost shocked to find how many areas I would have expected to have very racially mixed populations were in fact quite UN-integrated!!! And even more racially skewed than I ever thought Milwaukee was.

      I have long said that ‘normal’ is what we get used to. And perhaps future generations will ‘get used to’ different paradigms for handling racial differences but I’m not very optimistic about that. Hatred and bigotry run deep — because people trust what they know — not what they DON’T KNOW.

      It will be interesting to see what it’s like living in a less diverse area. Though the only thing ‘less diverse’ in Oregon may be RACE — goodness knows there are enough OTHER diversities at play here. It will be fun.



      • Mrs. P says:

        Great reply and I agree with you on so many points. I’ll be looking forward to getting to know Oregon in the future. 🙂


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