Made It Through Another Memorial Day


Memorial Day Weekend was a circus, but I managed to survive.

The main problem was a shortage of staff because a camp host couple made a deal with the new supervisor to arrive after Memorial Day. I don’t know how one accepts a summer job, then works it to arrive after summer’s opening weekend. The supervisor says he’ll never let it happen again.

Because of the staff shortage, over the weekend I covered three campgrounds and the parking lot. I was run ragged.

On Friday, I cleaned restrooms in the campground where I was stationed. Then I cleaned restrooms at the group campground down the road. After that, I cleaned the restrooms at my own campground. In all, I scrubbed seven pit toilets on Friday. For five of them, it was the first cleaning of the season.

When I finished cleaning restrooms, I worked at the parking lot for a few hours. I worked alone because my supervisor hadn’t called my co-worker on Thursday night to tell him to show up on Friday. The parking lot wasn’t too busy, thankfully, and when I left there, I had to check-in campers at all three campgrounds.

I didn’t take time to cook and eat a proper meal on Friday. I don’t even know where I would have found the time to cook a proper meal. It was a day of energy bars, cheese and crackers, blue corn chips, and the last of the hummus.

On Saturday morning as I was about to eat breakfast, a small silver pickup truck pulled into the campground. As I walked over (holding my bowl of food), the driver hollered out my name. Do I know this guy? I wondered. He was good looking and in my age group. We talked about campground where he could potentially stay for the weekend. Turns out he’d talked to my co-worker in the parking lot, who’d told him my name. I was enjoying the interaction with a nice and handsome man (even if my breakfast was getting cold), when two of the campers from my campground approached us.

The couple was upset about a group that had reserved the four campsites at the front of my campground. Apparently, most of those campers had arrived late, and had been loud until 4am. The guy complaining and another camper man had asked the group to be quiet, but that side of the campground stayed noisy throughout the night. I assured the irate campers I would notify my supervisor of the situation and let the loud folks know their behavior was unacceptable.

(While I spoke with the campers, the handsome man waved good-bye, jumped into his truck, and drove away, never to be seen again.)

By the time I made it to my campground to check-in the noisy folks, my supervisor had already spoken to them, so I thought everything would be ok.

After doing the check-ins at my campground, I was back to the parking lot to assist my co-worker. (The lack of staff meant there was no one to collect day-use fees at the overflow parking area at the campground where I was stationed.)

When I gave up on the parking lot (after several hours collecting fees there), I had to swing through my campground and the group campground to check-in more campers who were just arriving and make sure all the restrooms had toilet paper. I did cook myself a proper dinner that night, and I was asleep around 8:30.

It’s a good thing I went to bed early, because the man who’d complained earlier knocked on my van at 10:15. The previously noisy campers had been loud all evening, and now  that quiet hours (10pm to 6am) had kicked in, they were still loud. I apologized to the camper (although I had nothing to do with his distress), and drove 15 miles (on a dark and curvy mountain road) to wake up my supervisor.

Of course, by the time my boss and I arrived 45 minutes later, the noisy folks had calmed down a bit and the upset camper had packed up his tent and his wife and left. My supervisor and I talked with the young man who’d made the reservations for the group. He basically Eddie Haskelled ( us by saying his group of young professionals would never disrespect anyone, and they’d only been loud briefly the night before because they’d been trying to set up their tents in the dark. Then, (I found out from other campers on Sunday evening), he lied right to our faces when he said a certain group of tents (pitched on one of the sites he’d reserved) with citronella candles burning on the ground in front of them did not belong to his group.

I finally got back to my campsite around midnight, but I was so jacked up, I didn’t get to sleep for almost two hours.

The big frustration on Sunday was the situation with parking for the trail.

#1 There was no one collecting fees for overflow parking in the campground.

#2 The new supervisor didn’t know he was supposed to have self-pay envelopes available in the campground so people could pay for parking that way.

#3 The iron ranger in that campground was broken, so if people deposited envelopes of money in it, the envelopes fell out at the bottom.

#4 The new supervisor didn’t give me and my co-worker enough day use passes to get us through the weekend.

I passed through the parking lot on the way to my campground to drop off my co-worker’s paycheck, and he told me he was almost out of day passes. I gave him all I had left, and went on my way.

When I got back to the campground with the day use area, I grabbed all the self-pay envelopes I had so I could use those to collect parking payments. As I walked through the overflow parking area, I shook down everyone I saw for their $5 parking fee.

In the main parking lot, my co-worker ran out of day passes around noon. He took over talking to incoming drivers, letting them know the lot was probably full, but to take a spot if they found one, then pay us the fee up front. Since I had the numbered envelopes with tear-off receipt tags, I was responsible for collecting payments.

Around three o’clock I ran out of envelopes, so I walked back to the campground where I was stationed and hid in my van to count parking lot money. When that was finished, I walked around the campground checking-in more campers. I was so exhausted on Sunday night that my dinner was a small bag of baked pita chips. I didn’t have the energy to prepare anything else.

Thankfully, no one knocked on my van on Sunday night, and Monday was mellow. The supervisor showed up with more day passes, and fewer people visited the trail.

Now I’m in the lovely time of fewer campers and more quiet, as we move toward the 4th of July.


I took this photo of a giant sequoia.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

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