Category Archives: Work Camping

Running

Standard

One of the things I hated about working in the Mercantile was dealing with unsupervised children. Even parents who were physically in the store sometimes paid no attention to their kids and simply let them run amuck. In these cases, it became my job to make sure the kids didn’t hurt themselves or the store’s merchandise. I spent a lot of time saying things like Be careful, sweetheart! or Oh! That’s breakable! while parents were paying attention to something other than their children.

One afternoon a family came into the store. The mother and father seemed to be in their early 30s. The little girls was a toddler, probably under two years old, and the boy was a little older, maybe six or seven. The dad wanted to wander around unencumbered, but the mom wasn’t having it.

Look, she told the fellow, I can’t handle both of them. You’ve got to take one.

The dad said he’d take the boy, but the mom said the boy would be easier for her to deal with and she wanted to take him. The dad seemed exasperated but agreed. I felt sorry for the little girl. It seemed both parents were rejecting her because she was too difficult. I hoped she was too little to understand what was happening.

Instead of holding the kid’s hand and leading her around the store while explaining that there would be no touching, the dad picked her up. She didn’t want to be carried and began venting her frustration by screaming. The mom and the boy walked away to browse in the store. The dad carried the freaking toddler outside.

At some point I lost track of the family. I don’t think the mom bought anything, and I didn’t notice when she and the boy left the store.

A green yurt sits in the forest. A wooden ramp leads to a wooden deck in front of the yurt.
The kids were running up and down the ramp visible on the right side of this photo.

The next time the family came to my attention, it was because the kids were running up and down the wooden ramp that went from the parking area to the Mercantile’s porch. The kids were not trotting or jogging or sauntering. They were full-on running, as if they were competing in the Kiddie Olympics. The boy was faster because he was bigger, but the tiny girl was doing her best to keep up. She was also squealing with excitement.

The children didn’t run up the ramp just once. They ran up the ramp, down the ramp, up the ramp, down the ramp. They kept running, just like the Energizer Bunny.

At the bottom of the ramp was a concrete parking pad for a vehicle carrying a passenger with a disabled access pass. I immediately imagined one of those little kids tripping, falling, and cracking a head on the concrete. Why weren’t the parents of the children as concerned about the prospect of a cracked skull as I was?

When I looked out the door, I couldn’t see either parent, and I thought the adults had wandered off and left their young athletes on our doorstep.

I bustled outside saying, Please! No running! Oh, no running please! Someone could get hurt! I was hoping to sound like a concerned elderly aunt, but I think I probably came across more like a deranged Mary Poppins.

The children’s mother was nowhere in sight. I think she’d gone to the restroom. I didn’t think I’d see the dad either, but there he was standing at the corner where the long ramp turned onto the deck in front of the store. He was messing around on his phone, but surely he knew his kids–including his tiny daughter who’d obviously learned to walk only recently–were running like maniacs. As far as I could tell, he’d done absolutely nothing to stop them.

No running please! I said again to the children, and this time the dad echoed halfheartedly, Yeah, no running.

The mom walked up about then, and I went back into the Mercantile. When the family left our porch, I whispered fiercely to the other clerk, The dad was right there! He knew they were running! He probably would have sued us if one of the kids got hurt!

I don’t understand people. There was a whole forest those kids could have run in. Whey let kids run up and down a wooden ramp with concrete at the bottom when they could have been running in the dirt?

Baguettes

Standard

Six Baked BreadsThe couple was very young, maybe in their early 20s, but probably closer to 18.

The woman had dirty blond hair, the sides pulled away from her face. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, or if she was, it was so artfully done I couldn’t tell it was there. She looked like a cute, natural young woman out for a day in the forest.

The guy had blond hair too, but his was the result of an unfortunate dying incident. It was that unnatural orange color caused by trying to bleach dark hair too fast. But what do I know? Maybe he loved his hair color. Maybe he enjoyed the rebellion of an obviously unnatural hair color. Maybe his hair color was the envy of all his friends. In the grand scheme of things, his hair color meant very little to me.

The couple walked into the Mercantile, and I said hello. The young man returned my greeting, and I identified him by his accent immediately. With that one word, I knew his first language was French, although I couldn’t tell you if he had grown up in France or Belgium or Quebec.

If I had any doubt about his Frenchness, it was dispelled by his next words.

Ah, we were looking for some baguettes

I almost burst out laughing. The French guy wanted baguettes? Are you fucking with me, kid?

It was the second time that season that a French man had come into the Mercantile and behaved so Picture of Eiffel Towerstereotypically French that I wondered if someone was pulling a prank on me. The first guy has such a stereotypical French accent and such stereotypical French mannerisms that I honestly wondered if he was just pretending to be French. He seemed too over the top to be real. It was only when his parents joined him in the store and I saw they were French but not comically so that I decided the young guy was French…in fact, he was very, very French.

And now this young French man was asking for baguettes. Is there a more French thing a person could ask for?

Baguettes? No, I answered sadly, still trying not to laugh. We don’t have any baguettes. What I didn’t say is, We’re on top of a mountain, and there are no bakeries for 40 miles in any direction.

Is there any other store nearby? The young French man asked. He clearly was not easily discouraged.

I pointed right and said, There’s a general store ten miles that way, then I pointed left and said, and there’s a general store ten miles that way, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have baguettes either.

Ok, the young French man said. We look around for something else.

Apparently nothing in our selection of chips, candy, and granola bars could substitute for a baguette because the young people bought nothing. They walked quickly around the yurt, then left to continue their quest for the bread of their people.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/baguette-bakery-blur-bread-461060/ and https://www.pexels.com/photo/picture-of-eiffel-tower-338515/.

Excuse Me?

Standard

It was July 2nd and unusually busy for a Monday. I guess people had already started their Independence Day celebration by heading up the mountain. The other clerk left a little past her scheduled departure time of 1pm. She was gone by 1:15, and by 1:25 the Mercantile was packed. I wondered if a tour bus had dropped a group at our front door.

I tried to answer questions and help find sizes, but once the line formed at the cash register, all I could do was ring up sales.

Man Holding Green and Brown MapIn the midst of this chaos, a man walked up to the counter with a copy of our most popular map. The map cost $12.95; with tax it was $13.99 out the door. Although it was a good map made from tear and water-resistant paper with clearly marked trails and roads, customers were often surprised and displeased by the cost. When I tried to sell a customer on the map, I mentioned the price along with the features of the map so there was no sticker shock at the cash register.

This man with the map was already at the cash register, so there was no way to prepare him in advance for the price. I scanned the map’s barcode and let the cash register do its magic.

That will be $13.99, I told the man with the map.

Excuse me? he said loudly as he leaned in toward me. He said it real mean, like I had a lot of nerve, like he wanted to fight me. I’d seen people get offended by the price of the map, but this guy seemed really angry.

$13.99, I said again, expecting the fellow to refuse the map and storm out of the Mercantile, maybe shouting a few choice words on his way out.

Instead he reached for his wallet and pulled out his money. That’s when I realized he wasn’t angry at all, just hard of hearing. He paid for his map and took it with him out the door.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-holding-green-and-brown-map-1143514/.

 

 

Only Job?

Standard

Sometimes I don’t know what people are thinking when they speak. I suspect some people have no thoughts at all before they open their mouths and let words come out.

One Saturday we were busy at the Mercantile where I worked for two camping seasons. My sweet co-worker and I were standing behind the counter when another group of tourists streamed through the door. One of the new arrivals, a middle age woman with curly hair, looked right at the other clerk and asked, Is this your only job?

My co-worker and I were both like What? and the tourist woman specified, Do you work anywhere else?

I don’t remember what exactly my coworker said. She probably explained working in the store was a fulltime job. I can’t imagine what the tourist lady was thinking. I wonder if she interrogates cashiers at Wal-Mart and Target about their other employment. Maybe she wondered if my coworker had to hold a couple of jobs to make ends meet. Maybe she was just trying to make conversation and was awkward about it.

In honor of my sweet coworker, one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, I’ll list the jobs I know she had last summer.

  • Before the store opened, she helped get a 36 site campground ready for campers.
  • She worked 40+ hours each week at the Mercantile.
  • Every night she cooked dinner and served it to her husband.
  • She used one of her days off to clean the firth wherel where she and her husband (and their dog and cat) lived.
  • She also did all the laundry for her and her husband on one of her days off.
  • Whenever the Mercantile needed more merchandise, she pulled back stock from the box truck parked at the campground where she lived, then delivered the merchandise to the store.
  • She kept a list of items that needed to be reordered and communicated that information to the buyer for the company we worked for.
  • When the camp host left the campground where she lived and before a replacement was hired, my coworker checked in campers on busy weekends.
  • On more than one occasion, she hemmed the pants of camp hosts on her day off.
  • Every week she did all the paperwork pertaining to occupancy for the six campgrounds her husband managed.

Isn’t that enough? I would have asked the tourist lady if my coworker had detailed all the work she did in a regular weeks. Isn’t that enough?

The Girl with the Broken Arm

Standard

I never saw the girl with the broken arm, but I did speak to her father.

I knew something unusual was happening when one of the workers from the main parking lot approached the mercantile. It was the middle of a busy Friday, and I didn’t think she’d have walked over without a good reason.

I just happened to be outside talking to Javier the camp host when Cindy the parking lot attendant walked up. She told us a girl had broken her arm on the trail. Cindy had walked over to the store with the girl’s father.

Do you want me to call 911? I asked. Cindy said yes, and the man nodded. His eyes looked blank, and he seemed exceptionally calm.

I burst into the Mercantile and asked the other clerk for the phone. A girl broke her arm on the trail! I explained. The other clerk handed over the phone, and I punched in 9-1-1.

I saw the father had followed in into the Mercantile. I’m going to coach you so you can tell them how to get here, I told the dad. He continued to look blank, as if there were nothing going on behind his eyes.

Calling 911 (or AAA, for that matter) from the Mercantile was an ordeal. Since the campground didn’t have an actual street address, the dispatcher always had great difficulty finding our location. An address associated with our phone number did pop up on the dispatcher’s computer screen, but that address was fudged and existed in a tiny community fifteen miles from our phone’s actual location. Invariably, the dispatcher asked for the nearest cross street, which was a few miles away. After four years on the mountain, I knew what to say to get the help visitors needed, but most tourists barely knew where they were, much less how to convey that information to someone in an office in a city in the valley.

In the long seconds between the rings of the phone, I asked the dad where he was from.

France, he said with a thick accent.

My plan of coaching him went out the window. A language barrier on top of our remote location would have simply been too complicated. I decided to speak to the dispatcher myself.

The language barrier also explained the dad’s blank expression. He wasn’t necessarily drugged up or tuned out; maybe he only understood a small fraction of the words being spoken around him.

The 911 operator answered the phone and asked about my emergency. I explained a girl had broken her arm and the father was French, so I was helping by making the call. Then I said we were in a remote location, thus beginning the ordeal of explaining where to send the first responders.

Once the dispatcher finally pinpointed our location, she had some questions about the situation.

She asked how old the girl was. I relayed the question to the father.

Ten, he replied after a moment’s thought.

I gave the information to the dispatcher, then she asked how the injury occurred.

Again I conveyed the question to the father, and this time had had to think for a longer while.

She fell from a horizontal tree, he finally said.

It’s dangerous to climb on horizontal trees!

I repeated his words to the dispatcher, who seemed satisfied with the answer. She then said she was going to connect me with the ambulance company so I could explain our location to their dispatcher. Oh joy.

Moments after I’d walked into the Mercantile and asked for the phone, moments after the father of the girl with the broken arm had followed me in, a tall, imposing woman with a French accent had also come into the store. I found out later from Cindy that this woman had been translating for Cindy and the family of the girl with the broken arm. I didn’t get a good look at the woman, but I clearly heard her tell the father (in English!) that she was giving him a tablet to give to her daughter. It was a pain reliever, she said. You must trust me! she said. I didn’t mention the tablet to the 911 dispatcher because I didn’t know what the drug was or if the girl had actually ingested it. (Later, after he father had left and then returned, I asked him is the girl had taken the tablet. He said she had, then told me it was ibuprofen.)

Despite specific instructions not to move the girl that I had relayed from the ambulance dispatcher to the father, when the father returned to the Mercantile, he told the other clerk that now the entire family was waiting in the shade near the entrance to the campground.

An EMT from a nearby fire department (and by nearby, I mean 25 miles and 45 minutes away) arrived before the ambulance and accessed the situation. He cancelled the ambulance after telling the parents the girl would probably be more comfortable if they drove her to the nearest hospital instead of continuing to wait for the ambulance. (The parents were also likely saving themselves a pile of money by not giving their daughter a ride down the mountain in an ambulance.)

I never found out if the girl’s arm was actually broken or if she’d only sprained her wrist. In any case, the lesson to be taken from this tale by all adult caregivers, regardless of their nationality? Don’t let children for whom you are responsible play on horizontal trees.

I took the photo in this post.

You Are Here

Standard

We sold maps at the Mercantile where I worked, but most people wanted to look at them without actually purchasing them. One of the maps we sold was produced by the Forest Service and between Memorial Day weekend when the Mercantile opened and the middle of July, the price went up from $12.99 to $20. The other map we sold was better, easier to read, and only cost $12.95. When we ran out of those and the store’s buyer couldn’t contact the publishing company, The Big Boss man ordered some form Amazon, and the price jumped to $20. Just like the law of supply and demand I’d learned about in my high school free enterprise class predicted, we were suddenly selling significantly fewer maps.

One Friday morning, a large extended family came into the Mercantile. A boy of about 14 asked to see a map. The other clerk pulled one out of the display case where we’d started keeping them to prevent theft (our computerized inventory said we had two more maps than were actually in the store, so we knew some had been stolen) and manhandling by people who had no intention of buying. The boy said he was looking for waterfalls, but I don’t know if he was able to locate any on the map.

Model Figure Standing on MapDoes this map say “You are here”? he asked and he unfolded it.

Well, no, I said. If it did, the words would have to keep moving around as you moved through the forest.

The kid looked at me blankly.

I tried again. Only a stationary map will say “You are here,” I told him, but he continued to look at me blankly. I wondered if he knew what “stationary” meant.

Only a map that doesn’t move can say “You are here,” I said, and not a glimmer of understanding flickered across the kid’s face.

I gave up. I was too busy trying to watch out for shoplifters  and helping people find sizes to explain that a paper map moving through time and space with a person has no way to update “You are here” to reflect where a person is at any given moment. With paper maps, explorers must figure out “You are here” on their own.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/blur-cartography-close-up-concept-408503/.

This Campground?

Standard

It was Sunday, and I was on my mid-shift break from my duties at the Mercantile. I was hanging out in my van which was parked in the overflow parking lot at the front of the campground where the Mercantile was located. Javier the camp host was sitting in the shade right outside my van, jumping up to collect access fees whenever a new vehicle pulled into the lot. When people stood next to his chair to converse, I heard every word through my van’s open windows.

While Javier was sitting there, a young tourist couple approached him to ask how to get to a nearby waterfall.

This is the waterfall the young tourist couple wanted to see.

We got asked about this waterfall a lot, and I hated giving directions to it. No sign marks the spot, and the directions involve noticing an unmarked road that should not be turned down but simply used as a landmark. At some distance past the road is an unmarked dirt turnout where waterfall seekers must park before going off into the forest on their quest. Usually the eyes of the person who’d asked for directions to this place glazed over before I finished giving all the necessary information, and I had a strong suspicion the person would never even find the right place to park, much less the actual natural attraction.

When I heard the young man ask about the waterfall, I groaned inwardly. I was glad it was Javier giving the directions and not me.

Javier started in. Take a left out of the campground, Javier told tourists.

This campground? the young man interrupted.

Yes, this campground, Javier said like the professional he is, then continued with the directions. I sat in the van shaking my head, thinking of all the things I would have liked to have said to the tourist in response of his question of This campground?

Oh no! Not this campground? Why would I refer to the campground we’re currently in? Just go into any campground, then make a left out of it.

Or course this campground! Why would I be talking about any other campground? Yes! This campground!

My patience grew thinner every day.

I took the photo in this post.

 

Don’t Forget the Tent

Standard

Last summer while working at the Mercantile, I heard of not one, but two sets of campers who got all the way up the mountain only to realize they’d forgotten their tent. Groan.

Sandra the camp host told me the first story.

Photo of Blue and Yellow Lighted Dome Tent Surrounded by Plants during Night Time

Two couples showed up at her campground for the night. They arrived around 4 pm. Sandra checked them in and told then the Mercantile closed at five o’clock. Around six that evening, one of the couples was on Sandra’s campsite begging her to open the Mercantile so they could buy a tent.

What?

Apparently as they unpacked, they realized their tent hadn’t made it into their car. They didn’t have a tent. They needed a tent. Couldn’t Sandra please open the Mercantile so they could buy a tent?

Sandra explained she could not open the Mercantile so they could buy a tent. Not only did she not work at the Mercantile, meaning she had not been trained on the store’s procedures, but the cash register was closed and there was no money in the drawer. There was nothing she could do to remedy the couple’s lack of tent.

Sandra was perplexed. She’d told them the Mercantile closed at five o’clock. Why had the people waited two hours to try to buy a tent? Perhaps they didn’t started unpacking right away, I offered. Maybe the Mercantile was already closed when they realized they had no tent.

Sandra also wondered why the couple needed their own tent. Their friends

Man and Woman Sitting Beside campfire and in front of tent during Night Time

had a huge tent, Sandra said. It was an 8 or 10 person tent with plenty of room for four adults.


Maybe the tentless couple had been planning a romantic evening that didin’t include their friends, I guessed. Sandra just shrugged. I guess she figured people hoping for a romantic interlude would have planned better.

The second story of a tentless camper came from one of the other clerks in the Mercantile. This clerk’s husband was the camp host at the busy campground down he road. One weekday afternoon, a camper approached the camp host and said he’d forgotten to bring his tent. The camp host suggested the camper drive down to the Mercantile and buy a new tent. The camper said he would do just that.

Later that day, the camp host saw the camper again. The camp host asked the camper if he’d gotten a tent. The camper said he hadn’t. He said he’d been to the Mercantile but there were no tents for sale. The camp host said all the tents that had been in stock must have sold out.

When his wife came home, the camp host mentioned the camper who’d gone to the Mercantile to buy a tent only to find there were none left. His wife assured him there were at least a couple of tents available at the Mercantile. She also told him that no one had asked her anything about tents that day. She thought the camper had gone into the Mercantile and looked around but didn’t see the tents. Not seeing any tents (and perhaps not wanting to admit to another person that he’d gone on a camping trip without one), he simply left without asking for assistance.

I wonder if the camper even made it to the store where I worked. There was a general store very close to the campground where he was staying. I wonder if he thought that was the store the camp host suggested. The general store was going through a transition of ownership and had very limited stock. I would have been surprised to know that store had any tents for sale.

Person in Blue Denim Jeans Standing Outside the Rain

Of course, people forget things. When I was in my mid-30s I went on a fishing trip without shoes.I was barefoot when I got in the car. I thought I’d put my shoes in the trunk. Apparently not. When we arrived at the lake, I found I was without footwear. Luckily my friend had a spare pair of sneakers in the car. I wore them even though they were several sizes too big.

However, a tent seems like an integral component of a camping trip, especially if the camper is not driving a motor home or a camper van and isn’t towing a travel trailer or a fifth wheel. It seems as if one is going on a camping trip and is planning to sleep in a tent, the tent would be the most important item to pack.

On this day, the cultural beginning of summer, I offer you a bit of advice. If you’re going camping this summer or any time, be sure to pack the tent. Check to make sure you have it before you leave home. Ask yourself, Do I have the tent? Go ahead and double check, triple check, and check one more time. If you find the tent is not in your vehicle with the rest of your camping gear, you’ll be glad you looked for it yet again.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-blue-and-yellow-lighted-dome-tent-surrounded-by-plants-during-night-time-712067/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-and-woman-sitting-beside-bonfire-during-nigh-time-776117/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/feet-rain-wet-puddle-105776/.

Unprepared in a Giant Motorhome

Standard

The giant motor home pulled into the campground on a day I was working alone at the Mercantile. The camp hosts were on their day off, so if anyone was going to keep the driver of the RV from getting stuck in the campground, it was going to be me.

The motor home was the size of the ones I’d seen in RV lots with price tags of a quarter million dollars. I don’t know if it had marble countertops and a full size bathtub like some I’ve seen, but there was no denying it was big.

The campground, on the other hand was small. It only had 14 sites. The road through the campground was only one lane wide and looped through an inner and outer circle of campsites. I wasn’t sure a motor home that size was going to make it around the turns necessary to drive through the campground. I certainly didn’t want that behemoth getting stuck back there.

I went out on the Mercantile’s porch. The motor home was stopped and the driver was no longer behind the steering wheel. A woman in a romper was talking to the driver of a small car stopped behind the motorhome. Did the woman in the romper belong to the motor home?

Excuse me? I called out. Is this yours? I asked, gesturing to the massive RV. It was. The woman in the romper came over to talk to me.

She was probably in her 30s with long, messy hair. She was friendly and hyper. She’d hoped to camp in the campground where we stood but didn’t have a reservation. I told her the campground was very small, and I was afraid her motorhome wasn’t going to fit anywhere in it. There was one site that might have accommodated her rig, but getting to it and in and out of it would have definitely been problematic.

She wanted to walk the trail and buy a map. She wanted to know where she could park while she did those things. I directed her to the second overflow lot, little more than a long, narrow dirt driveway where we sent rigs too big to park in either of the two regular lots.

The woman got the giant motor home out of the campground, but she and her tween daughter were in the Mercantile a short time later. She’d parked in the second overflow lot, she told me. She repeated that she’d hoped to camp in this campground and I said again that I thought the campground was too small to accommodate her rig.

It’s really intended for tent camping, I told her, then suggested she try the larger campground 15 miles down the road or the privately owned RV park in the little community 25 miles away. Maybe one of those places would have a site large enough for her motor home.

The woman had a list in her hand and started asking me about places she wanted to visit. Neither of the places she mentioned were anywhere near us. She seemed really confused. She said when she’d found information about the campground online, the website suggested these other places as also fun to visit, so she’d assumed they were nearby. The problem, I explained to her, was that the National Forest is really big and just because two attractions are both in the National Forest doesn’t mean they’re necessarily close. The woman seemed disappointed but undaunted.

She then asked about water, as in swimming, as in where could she and her kid go to get in the water. I told her about the river, then asked if she’d be going in the car. Oh no, she said. Her friend had driven the car I’d seen her next to, but her friend was leaving. She’d be driving the motor home wherever she went. I told her I wasn’t sure where she’d be able to park it. I wasn’t really familiar with the area around the river, so I wasn’t sure if she’d be able to find a space for something so big.

I didn’t know where to recommend she go to have fun or see things. All of the places I normally recommended were at the end of winding, rutted dirt roads. No way was I going to suggest she take that massive RV off the paved road. I didn’t want to be responsible for her getting stuck in a place where roadside assistance would never go.

She said she still wanted a map, so I pulled one out, opened it, and showed here where we were. I scanned the map’s barcode and told her the total with tax, which was $21 and change. She pulled out a $100 bill. It had been a slow morning, and I didn’t know if I had enough money in the drawer to give her correct change.

Do you have anything smaller? I asked her.

She rummaged through her wallet, and I saw she had several $100 bills. The lady must have been walking around with at least $1,000 in her purse. She determined she didn’t have any smaller bills.

I went to the bank and cleared out my savings, she said apologetically, implying the bank had loaded her down with big bills.

Let me look in the drawer again, I offered, and when I did, I found there were four twenties instead of the three I thought I had. I told her I could break her hundred after all, and she seemed relieved. I think she knew she needed that map.

She ended up buying a necklace for her daughter, so I got one of my twenties back. They left after the necklace purchase, but I continued to think about the woman. She was obviously spending a lot of money to show her kid a good time on this road trip, but her half-ass research and big-ass motor home were leaving her in one lurch after another. She didn’t find out until she arrived that the campground she wanted to stay in couldn’t accommodate her giant RV. The places she wanted to visit were more than a hundred miles away (I learned later from Google Maps), and she couldn’t get to the places nearby because the roads weren’t big enough for the rig she was driving. She’d have been better off throwing a tent and a camp stove into the trunk of a car or spending her money on a Jucy van or an Escape Campervan.

 

Full Truck

Standard

I was about to close the Mercantile for the day when two men walked in.

They wanted to buy a map one said, but they balked when I told them the only one available cost $20. They just wanted to find a swimming hole or a creek. Their campground didn’t have water, and they just wanted to wash up. They gestured to their arms, as if they just wanted to splash some water on themselves.

I said they should go to the river, but they said 15 miles was too far away. They wanted me to tell them about a swimming hole or a creek nearby. I’m not much of a fan of putting my body in cold water, so I don’t seek out creeks or swimming holes. I knew about a waterfall about five miles away, but it wasn’t visible from the road, and it wasn’t signed, so I didn’t tell people about it unless they were enthusiastic, insistent seekers. I’d also heard of a swimming hole within a few miles of where we stood, but I hadn’t been there myself and wasn’t exactly sure where it was. The last thing I wanted to do was send these guys on a wild goose chase.

Because there were just the two of them and because they seemed to want to just splash some water on themselves, I told them about the creek on the far side of the campground where the Mercantile was located. The descent to the water was pretty steep and the water wasn’t  very deep, but I figured it would be better than nothing. I told the guys about the creek; they thanked me and walked out the front door.

I walked out the back door to give a heads up to Javier the camp host who was chopping firewood right across the street. I explained to Javier what the guys wanted and told him I’d sent them to the creek on the side of the campground. Javier was usually easy-going and receptive, but he had a whole list of objections to the guys going to the creek. He wouldn’t get in that water, he said, because of E. coli (from cows, I presume). He had people on site #4, he said, and the people who were looking for water shouldn’t be walking through anyone’s campsite. Well, I knew that. I’d told the guys not to walk through anyone’s campsite. Javier said Sandra, his partner in life and camp hosting, would talk to the guys and handle it.

I went back into the Mercantile wondering why Javier was being so weird and saw it was five o’clock. Time to close the doors! I walked out the front door to flip the sign around so it would read “closed” and hang the chain across the entrance to the long ramp leading to the store.

When I got outside, I saw the two men who’d been looking for the creek or swimming hole standing next to an extended cab pickup truck. There were more people in the pickup truck than I would have thought possible were I not seeing it with my own eyes. The two rows of seats inside the truck were full, and there were easily more than a dozen people sitting in the bed and along its sides. No wonder they didn’t want to go 15 miles to the river. Driving one mile with some many people in the back was probably unsafe.

I stretched the chain across the entrance and flipped the sign, then walked into the Mercantile and locked the door behind me. I walked through the store and out the back door to apologize to Javier.

I thought there were only two of them, I told him. I would have never knowingly sent that many people traipsing through his campground to splash in the creek.

Javier just shrugged. He wasn’t upset especially since Sandra had intercepted them and was giving them other ideas of where they could find some water to wash up.

I wonder where they ended up going.

I took the photo in this post.