Tag Archives: tourist

Welcome Back! (An Update on My Current Situation)


I hadn’t beein in the forest three minutes, and already a tourist was asking me a question.

The Man and I had been boondocking on public land just outside a mountain town, waiting around until we were

This was the view the last time I dealt with snow in May.

closer to the day we had to report for training for our summer jobs. We could make the trip from where we were to where we needed to be in two days. We were more than a week away from when we planned to leave when I checked the weather forecast and saw we were facing a cold snap. The report said the high on Wednesday was predicted to be 44 degrees with a 70% chance or rain or snow. Snow! In May? Snow in May is not unheard of in the higher elevations.

I could wait out a day of cold at the library or a coffee shop, and The Man and the dog and I could cuddle down for a night in the mid 20s, but I was concerned about what rain and snow would do to the road that brought us into and out of our camping spot. It was a red dirt road, already rutted and rocky. I was afraid a day of rain or a melted blanket of snow would turn it into a mudyy, mushy, soupy mess. I didn’t want to get stuck in the mud, and I didn’t want to get stuck on our campsite because I was avoiding the road. The Man and I decided we’d leave on Tuesday, before the weather turned bad.

We were up Tuesday morning early. We cooked and ate breakfast, packed up our kitchen and the last few items we had lying around. Our last two errands in town were to dump our trash and hit up the food bank. We were on the road by 9:30.

We drove through rain, but made it to our stopping point just fine. We hadn’t been there long when my phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. When I answered, I found The Big Boss Man on the other end of the line.

He had a favor to ask, he said. Maybe we could help him. The crew was coming to the main campground on our side of the mountain in the next few days to put up the yurts. Once the yurts were up, he’d need someone to babysit them, especially at night. Did we think we could get up the mountain before the training?

That might work, I said and told him we were already more than halfway there. We could be there in the next couple of days, I let him know.

I asked him if he actually had work for us so we could start earning money and he said we could rake and paint and clean firepits, and do whatever needed to be done to get the campgrounds ready to open. He could certainly keep us busy and pay us for our work.

When I got off the phone, I talked to The Man about the situation. We agreed we were ready to get up the mountain and get to work so we could start making money.

We drove the next day and made it up the mountain. Before we’d left cell phone service behind, I’d called The Big Boss Man and left a message letting him know we were on our way. I knew once we got on the mountain, we’d have no cell service and wouldn’t be able to call anyone.

I decided to go to the main campground first to see if the boss was there supervising yurt construction. I found myself driving behind a medium-sized rented motorhome. It passed the trail’s parking lot and pulled into the lower part of the long, wide driveway of the campground next door. I pulled my van into the campground’s driveway too, and The Man followed me with his van. The gate was closed and appeared locked. I jumped out of my van to determine if the padlock was actually locked or only dummy locked. It was actually locked; no one was working in that campground.

I walked over to The Man’s minivan to let him know the gate was locked. We decided to go to the campground where we would be living for the summer and wait for the Big Boss Man to come to us. The Man zipped around the motorhome and was out of there fast. I was climbing back into my van when I saw a woman emerge from the passenger side of the motorhome. She walked over to my van, a yellow sheet of paper in her hand. Oh no! Here we go! I thought as she approached me. Then I realized if I let myself be annoyed in my first three minutes back, it was going to be a long season.

I opened my door (because my window doesn’t roll down) and said, Yes?

She pointed to the map on her yellow sheet of paper. We are here? Her accent was definitely not American. She was looking for the trail.

I pointed back the way we’d come. The parking lot for the trail is about 200 yards that way.

The tourist season had officially begun for me.

I took the photo in this post.

Tan Man


The parking lot was still pretty full, so I was telling folks to find a place to park before they paid the fee.

I was contemplating the trees when Tan Man walked up to pay me. He was at least 60 years old and was not wearing a shirt. His skin was darkly tanned and beginning to look leathery. I didn’t really want to look at his saggy nipples, so I tried to avert my eyes while taking his money and writing his day pass.

There was a guy with Tan Man. The second guy was tall, with a belly so large it held his orange t-shirt away from his body. I was sitting in my chair, and from my vantage point, I could see the expanse of his belly exposed between his t-shirt and his shorts. I didn’t really want to look at that either, so I was glad when they went off toward the trail.

Some time passed, but I’m not sure how much. I’d been reading my book, writing day passes, collecting parking fees, not really paying attention to the time. I looked up, and Tan Man was standing in front of me again.

He asked me if I’d seen the guy he’d been with earlier. He said they’d been separated.

I said I hadn’t seen him, not adding that I’d had my nose in my book and hadn’t really been watching the pedestrian activity.

Tan Man got very animated. He told me he’d lost the other guy. He told me that he’d left the trail and hadn’t been able to find the other guy when he returned to it. He told me the other guy was from New York City and really stupid. (Tan Man had some sort of East Coast accent himself, but I didn’t really want to talk with him, so I didn’t ask him where he was from.)

He said he’s been back to the car and the other guy wasn’t in the car. He asked me if he should drive off and leave the other guy. It seemed like a weird question, but I thought he was just joking or being melodramatic.

I said, NO! That would be really mean.

He said he thought maybe the other guy had hitched a ride out of there. He said he thought he (Tan Man) should maybe just leave without him.

I told him I doubted the other guy had hitched out. I told him if the other guy had come to the parking lot, gone to the car, and found no one there, he probably would have asked me if I had seen his friend. I also said that if he’d hitched out, he probably would have asked me to tell his friend that he was leaving.

Tan Man seemed reassured and calmed by my thoughts on the matter. He thanked me for the advice.

He told me that he’d made friends on the trail, that he makes friends wherever he goes. He told me that someone had filmed him on the trail.

About that time, a young man walked up to put trash in the garbage can. Tan Man told me this was the guy who’d filmed him. Tan Man greeted the young man, and when the young man responded, I heard that he had an accent. I couldn’t tell where he was from by his accent, but I guessed that he was from somewhere in Europe.

Tan Man asked the young European man where he was going next. The young man named some places, ending with Las Vegas. Tan Man told the young man how much he was going to like Vegas, then asked the young man how old he was. The young man said he was almost 16. Tan Man was concerned that the young man might not be allowed in casinos. Then Tan Man started telling the young man about some amusement park ride in Vegas that he would really like. The young man was grinning, but I couldn’t tell if his expression was one of amusement, discomfort, or confusion. Finally, Tan Man ended the conversation (which was more like a monologue) by telling the young man If you like women, you’ll like Vegas.

Tan Man told me he was going back out on the trail to look for his friend, to tell him to wait at the car if I saw him.

More time passed. I heard yelling but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. I identified the yelling voice as Tan Man’s. He was yelling the words, Stay right there! Stay right there!

Tan Man came running into the parking lot. He said he’d found the other guy on the road. He thanked me for my help. The last I saw of Tan Man, he was zooming out of the parking lot in his car, racing to pick up the other guy.

The next day I was telling my co-worker about Tan Man. I wasn’t far into the story when I realized Tan Man was chemically altered! I don’t know if he was jittery on coffee or tweakin’ on crank, but in retrospect, I don’t think he was in his natural state. The main indication that he was not in a rational state of mind was his quickness to decide to leave the person riding in his car 40 miles from the nearest town just because they’d been separated on the trail. That’s not a reasonable decision within the time frame involved.

I’m glad I was there to talk some sense into Tan Man. The guy with the big belly probably doesn’t even realize how lucky he is that I was there. It’s not like he could have hailed a cab to take him back to his hotel. If I hadn’t been there, Tan Man might have left him stranded in the forest.