On Wednesday I saw a familiar-looking car drive up and stop across the road at the self-pay kiosk. I wasn’t sure why the car looked familiar, just that it did. The driver got out and walked across to talk with me. It was a face I recognized, but not someone I really knew. It turns out that he and his wife/girlfriend where here last weekend as campers and they were back again — except this time they didn’t have their tent, they had a brand new (to them) pop-up camper!
He had to come over to tell me all about how good a time they had last weekend and how that inspired him to go out and buy this small pop-up camper. We stood around talking for a while and finally they went into the campground, found themselves a site for a couple nights and settled in.
The reason I tell this story is that 10 days ago they were complete strangers. Now he feels like we’re long lost bosom buddies. And the only thing we did was to be friendly, to listen, and to share with them. The same thing happens all the time. Different faces, different weekends, same result.
It’s always amazing to me how much good you can do with a smile and an open heart. It’ doesn’t take much to impress people in a world where computers make too many of our choices for us, and everyone seems to be in a hurry. If you’re willing to accept a person for who they are instead of who you want them to be.
None of what I’m thinking today has much to do with RV’ing per se — except for the fact that RV’ers come across a lot of new people. And as distinct from living in a sticks & bricks home — if you’re RV’ing you have very little control over who your neighbor might be! Unless you are staying at a very expensive RV park your neighbor could be rich or poor, young or old, and almost any ethnicity. And… it’s pretty typical that campers & RV’ers are usually in a pretty good mood. There’s an absence of bosses, of schedules, of annoying co-workers. Campers — and RV’ers tend to be a pretty happy lot.
While we were at the Oregon Dunes we saw people from at least 20 or 30 countries. The little campground here is much smaller though we still get a nice variety of visitors. Most are from Wisconsin and Minnesota — as one would expect from a campground this far out of the way; but not all.
We don’t see a lot of really LONG RV’s here. Granted, we do have one site that’s 120 feet long, a few others are right up there too, but there aren’t a lot of RV’s longer than our 40 footer that show up here. Consequently there aren’t many really expensive RV’s here. The median income is probably quite modest.
We also don’t get anywhere near the ethnic / racial mix here in Northern Wisconsin that you would find in FL/MS/AL/LA/TX/NM/AZ/CA/OR/WA. That said, a lot of ethnic groups seem not to have discovered camping — or they know all about it and choose other recreational opportunities — and it’s a big world and large enough for each to do their own thing.
Mingling with different folks is part of the RV life. If you don’t like people — don’t take up RV’ing. For us, the people, are one of our favorite parts of this lifestyle (as long as we can control to some degree how many and how often). Here at Highland Ridge the CORPS provides us a golf cart to make our rounds. We’re trying to be disciplined enough not to use the cart except when we are doing chores that require us to bring tools/equipment along with us. Walking is better for us. I still have that stress test looking me in the face at the end of the summer. Getting into better shape is a good thing. Then again, we pass by each campsite more slowly so we’re more accessible to the campers if they have questions. We see more about what’s going on in the campground. A perfect mix for meeting people. Even a guy like me who needs to take people in limited quantities can find happiness here.
We’ve been on the job long enough now that we are coming in contact with the little idiosyncrasies about the job, and about recreation.gov that are unwritten. Every day continues to be a learning situation — which is good. As we make our rounds around the campground we notice little things that could be improved upon, or chores that need doing — and we bring them to our boss’ attention — and he often adds them to our projects list so we have added opportunity to have an impact on the experience our guests enjoy — or don’t. It’s a good partnership. The boss sees that we care, and in turn we get little projects to keep the days interesting.
I continue to be impressed with the attitude at the Corps of Engineers. It’s a very different organization than the U.S. Forest Service. I see and hear a lot more “… let’s” and a lot fewer “…let’s not” here. They have their rules — just like the USFS — but the rules seem to be of a different nature. (Seeing as I don’t get to read the rulebook that’s just an impression from our side of the road)
Thanks for stopping. I’ll be here to chat tomorrow.