Tag Archives: Memorial Day Weekend

No Money


A lot of people come to the mountain with no money.

I don’t mean traveling kids with literally no money. I mean city people who travel with only plastic, credit or debit cards, no cash. These people don’t realize that at the campground and the trail head, there’s no phone service, no internet access, no way to use a credit card save those old-school imprint devices that captured the card holder’s name and account number on flimsy slips of paper. (Do those devices still exist? Are they actually used anywhere, or do they fester in museums of late 20th century commerce?)


Early on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend, a vehicle pulled into my campground. I walked over to talk to them.

I asked if they had a reservation. They didn’t.

I told them I had a site available for that night only for $24. They asked if I took cards. I said no, cash only. They asked if there was an ATM nearby, a place where they could get cash. I said I didn’t think so.

They were really disappointed. They’d decided to go camping on a whim, drove out to the mountains figuring they’d find some place to stay, thinking their card would pay for whatever they needed.

I had to make a quick decision.

If a camper without a reservation says they don’t have the camping fee, I am allowed to take a lesser amount. If campers without reservations say they have no money, I am allowed to let them camp at no charge. I was not going to get in trouble for letting this family camp even though they couldn’t pay. But I could also turn this family away, save the site and hope someone with cash would come along.

But I decided to be a good person and let them stay.

They were so excited. They couldn’t believe I was letting them stay even thought they couldn’t pay.  They kept telling me how I’d made their weekend, and they wanted to know how they could make reservations in the future. I think they will be back, with money next time.

I’m glad to have a job that lets me help out people with no cash in their pockets.



In addition to my job as a camp host, I also work in the parking lot at a very popular trail head. It’s free to walk the trail, but there’s a $5 parking fee for folks who want to leave cars in our lot directly across from the entrance to the trail. Unfortunately, there’s not enough space for all the cars people want to park. A few more parking spaces have been added at the campground just down the road, but still, the parking area is inadequate.

I only got trained to do this job on the (cold, wet) Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. Fortunately, it’s not a difficult job.

A car pulls in. I signal the driver to come all the way down the driveway so other cars can pull in and get off the road. I tell the driver about the $5 parking fee. I collect $5 (making change if necessary) and hand the driver a trail guide and a day pass to hang from the rear view mirror. Then I send the car off to park.

The problem occurs when the lot is full, but the tourists keep coming.

On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, people started packing in around eleven in the morning. The lot was already nearly full when a group of people in 15 to 20 cars started pulling in. The road in the parking area is a loop, and this group created a logjam while they sat parked in the driving area, waiting (and hoping) for other cars to leave.

About then, my (older, more experienced) coworker said there was no point in even letting more cars into the parking area. I stationed myself at the entrance to the lot and told folks who wanted to park their cars that we could not accommodate them.

Most people wanted to know where they could park. I told them they could try the campground, but I expected its parking areas were full too.

People began parking on the side of the narrow highway, despite danger and “no parking” signs. I told people it was illegal to park there and if a ranger came along, they’d probably get a ticket. Many people decided to take their chances.

I saw an older (fit and seemingly wealthy) couple I’d turned away from the parking lot get out of their car, which they were leaving on the side of the highway. I walked over to the man and explained: illegal–ranger–ticket. He said there was a “no parking” sign over there (pointing), but not where he was parked. I told him I was simply giving him information, he could make his own decisions.

He pulled out his wallet and asked how much he owed me.

I said, Oh, no sir. There’s no charge to park illegally. If I took your money, I’d be sanctioning your decision to park there.

Then I walked off, imagining how–if I took his money and he got a ticket–he’d tell a ranger or a judge he thought it was ok to park there because he’d paid a fee to an employee.

No way. Not this employee.

To read more stories of the parking lot, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/13/wackadoodles-in-the-parking-lot/ and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/07/bill-clinton-rude-lesbians-and-a-hypocrite/.

Shack Up


On the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, one of the parties with reservations never showed up. When I went to bed on Friday night, no one had arrived to claim the site. When I woke up on Saturday morning, no one was camped on the site.

The reservation was only for one night, so I just thought Oh well. That was one less site I’d have to clean in preparation for new campers. I went about my business, not giving the people with the unclaimed reservations any more thought.

After a couple of hours working at the day use area, I went back to my campground. Campers were arriving, and I got busy checking them in. In addition to people with reservations, I was getting walk-up (actually drive-up) folks I had to turn away because I had no sites to rent. I was also seeing folks who just drove down the road to see what was at the end of it. Whenever anyone pulled up, my first question was “Do you have a reservation?” so I could either direct the driver to the proper campsite or break the news that there was no room at the inn campground.

A guy pulled up in a BMW and jumped out of his car. I smiled and asked him if he had a reservation.

He gave me a puppy dog eye look and said he had a reservations for the night before. I told him I was sorry, but I didn’t have any spaces available to rent on this night.

Then he said, Can I shack up with somebody?

He wanted to pitch his tent on somebody else’s campsite. (I hope he was planning to pitch in some dollars too!)

I told him I didn’t mind if that happened, but there would be a $7 fee if his car were the second on the site. He looked at me expectantly, and I told him I wasn’t playing matchmaker, he was on his own to find someone to let him share a site.

I went back to my work, as he drove to the back part of the campground. When I looked around for him, he was gone. I guess he didn’t find anyone who wanted to shack up.

Update: Made It Through Memorial Day


I’m settled in and feeling happier.

We had fog and cold on the Thursday afternoon/evening/night before Memorial Day, and Friday was miserable with fog and rain and cold and mud. The weather improved on Saturday (sunshine!) and Sunday and Monday were gorgeous. I even took off my long underwear and jacket by 10am on Monday and wasn’t cold again until after six that evening.

I started working at the parking lot at the trail head, which makes my work day fly by. I get to talk to people there, so I’m not as lonely, and I feel less isolated.

My co-worker at the trail head is a snarky older guy, but we get along fine. I laugh at his negativity, and I think he’s impressed that I’m not lazy. When the parking business is slow, I perch my butt on the old school metal garbage can, but when it’s busy, I hustle from car to car.

On days when we expect many tourists, the camp host down the road picks me up at my campground and drops me at the trail head (then transports me home later), so my giant van doesn’t take up precious parking space. She and I are getting along well. She likes to talk, and I try to be a good listener, which I think she appreciates. She actually has some good stories. She’s worked for the company at campgrounds on the river for nine previous summers. She’s mostly been on patrol, cleaning restrooms at, picking up money from, and checking on campgrounds with no host. She’s told me about the three dead bodies she’s encountered and the woman who almost died due to some combination of overheating and drug use. She’s also full of handy tips, such as: spraying cheap nonstick cooking spray on the insides of the toilets will keep the shit from sticking.

I consider her a work friend, and I’m glad to have one.

My campground was booked solid for Memorial Day Weekend, but some people never showed up. No-shows make my life easier. We hold those sites in the event the party arrives later, so I don’t have to try to rent them, and I don’t have to do paperwork for them. Once the reservation expires, I don’t have to clean the campsite, because no one’s been on it.

The campers who did make it to the campground all behaved themselves. There were no disgusting messes left in the restroom for me to clean. No one complained about noisy neighbors. No one tried to stay past checkout time or left trash on their site.

The natural beauty here is amazing. I’ve seen trees in many different places, but the trees here are the tallest, the biggest, the most majestic. So gorgeous! Even in the cold fog, it’s lovely here, but when the sun comes out, it’s a special kind of spectacular.

Of course, I don’t know what the summer holds, but right now, my life is good.