Tag Archives: unhappy campers

Turf War (Part 2)


Lighted Bonfire PhotographyBonus blog day! Yesterday’s post ended up being quite long, so I decided to break it into two parts. Today you can read about what happened when three sets of people wanted to use one group campground and I was unsure as to who actually had the reservation.

I walked over to the other group trying to use the campground. A mildly distressed looking woman sat in a camp chair holding an infant.   A couple of little kids were milling about. A man approached me, and I suspected he was the man I’d been warned about. He was in his late 30s and had a big red beard and wore a ball cap.

I introduced myself, and he told me his name was Samson. I explained there was some confusion about who had reserved the campground. I indicated the people who were packing up and said we’d determined they didn’t have a reservation, and they were leaving. I explained another woman said her group had reserved the campground, and I was trying to help determine who was supposed to be there.

Now who are you? Samson asked me. I could tell he was trying very hard to stay polite but was beyond frustrated.

It was a fair question. I’d taken off my uniform and was wearing a tattered tie-dyed t-shirt and a colorful batik skirt. I looked like any other middle age hippie in the woods.

I explained to Samson that I worked for the company that managed the campground, and while I wasn’t the camp host, I lived in the campground and was trying to help figure out who actually had a reservation. Samson relaxed a little when he realized I was trying to help, probably because he was confident in his claim on the campground and assumed I’d be kicking out everyone else and allowing him to stay.

He said his brother made the reservation. I called over the young woman with the long dark hair, but she and Samson didn’t know each other. The young woman said her group’s reservation was under the name Gloria Lang. That was not a name Samson recognized. I went over to see what name was on the reservation card clipped to the pole, but the camp host had forgotten to hang a card. It didn’t look like I’d be able to solve this mystery unless I left the campground. I explained to both parties that I’d drive down to the other campground and speak to the camp hosts. Both Samson and the young woman seemed to appreciate my offer to help.

Javier and Sandra, the camp hosts, were surprised to see me when I arrived at their campground. I explained what was going on, and Sandra pulled out an arrival report and determined the reservation had been made by Gloria Lang. Mystery solved!

We decided we should tell Samson where he needed to go to meet his brother, so Javier made a list of all the folks scheduled to arrive in his campground that day. Then he called The Big Boss Man and let him know the situation and also got a list of reservations for all the other group sites on our side of the mountain.

Javier hopped into my van, and I drove us down to the group campground. When we arrived, I saw the big group who wanted to camp for free had left. More people in the Lang party had arrived, and Samson’s family was holding steady on the end of the campground they’d staked out. Javier hopped out of my van to talk to Samson, and I walked over to talk to the Lang party. I told those folks the reservation was indeed in their friend’s name and that Javier was explaining things to the other group.

I thought it would take about two minutes for Javier to explain what was going on and for Samson and his family to start packing up, but two minutes stretched into five and then ten. Finally Javier walked over to me and said Samson didn’t want to move and was insisting that he and Javier go to the Mercantile and call The Big Boss Man together.

Good luck! I told Javier, and I drove my van over to my camp. The Lang party turned on their electronic dance Tents Surrounded by Treesmusic and began unpacking.

The next morning I asked Javier what had happened when he left with Samson, and I got the full scoop.

It turned out that it wasn’t Samson’s brother who’d make the reservation but Samson’s brother’s girlfriend. Samson didn’t know his brother’s girlfriend’s last name, so even if there had been a reservation card clipped to the pole he wouldn’t have necessarily known he was in the wrong place. Samson also repeatedly played the we have a six-month-old baby card as a reason they shouldn’t have to move.

Samson talked to The Big Boss Man, but they couldn’t figure out if his brother was waiting for him in a pay campground or in some boondocking area. Samson continued to insist that he wanted to stay right where he was. The Big Boss Man told him the same thing Javier had been saying: since Gloria Lang was paying $136 a night for the campground, it was up to her who stayed there. Neither Javier nor our boss could force the Lang party to let Samson and his family stay. Also, there was no way for The Big Boss Man to help Samson find his brother if Samson didn’t know what name the reservation was under.

When the conversation with The Big Boss man was over, Javier suggested Samson talk to the Lang party and ask to stay in the campground with them for one night. He suggested Samson mention that it was getting dark and mention the baby in hopes that the Lang party would have pity and let the family stay. Then in the morning he could search for his brother. Samson insisted Javier go back to the group campground with him and use his position as camp host to influence the Lang party.

They got to the campground and the situation was explained to Samson’s wife. When she found out Gloria Lang had the legitimate reservation, she said no way were they staying where they weren’t wanted. It probably didn’t help that while Samson was away the mosquitoes had come out and were eating her and the kids alive.

Samson asked Javier where they should go. Javier told him about three boondocking areas he knew of.

Samson wanted to know what they would do if there were already people on a boondocking spot when they arrived. Javier told him that’s why he’d told Samson about three different places.

Samson asked Javier to ride with them and help them find a boondocking spot. Javier said no.

Then Samson asked Javier to help him take down the tent and pack their gear.

Look man, Javier told me he said, I’ve been working all day. I just want to go home and eat dinner. No, I’m not helping you take down your tent and pack your gear.

I believe it was then that Samson refused to give Javier a ride back to his campground as he’d previously promised to do. Javier didn’t want to bother me (although I would have happily given him a ride), so he hoofed it home.

I didn’t know any of these details when near dark I saw Samson’s jeep pulling his cargo trailer head up the road and out of the campground. All I knew was that the interlopers were gone, and the Lang party and I had the campground to ourselves.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/lighted-bonfire-photography-1434598/ and https://www.pexels.com/photo/tents-surrounded-by-trees-1309584/.

Turf War (Part 1)


Independence Day had been on Wednesday and was pretty low-key. I’d gone into work for a couple of hours at midday to help out, even though it was officially my day off. The Mercantile had been pretty much dead while I was there, but over the course of the day managed to do respectable sales.

I had the whole day off on the 5th of July, then was back to work on Friday the 6th. It was a hot day with only a little breeze, and problems with the Mercantile’s power supply kept the swamp cooler off. My thick shirt and the apron on top did nothing to help the situation, and a couple of times during the day I stood next to my van and poured water over my head and neck in hopes of cooling myself off.

Ushering out the last customers and locking the Mercantile’s door at five o’clock was a joy. I couldn’t wait to change my clothes and have some quiet time.

Black Bird on Brown GrassI was staying at the group campground now, and there had been no campers for a week. I’d only seen birds out there—an enormous robin, a pair of quail, two talkative brown birds I couldn’t identify, a brilliant red-throated humming bird that hovered next to the van’s side mirror before flitting away—and I’d been enjoying the solitude. The camp host who lived half a mile down the road but cared for the group campground reminded me that my home turf was reserved for the weekend; the campers would arrive sometime on Friday and depart by Sunday afternoon.

If anyone bothers you, Sandra the camp host told me, tell them I’ll be around tomorrow to check them in.

The group campground was full of activity when I arrived. At least five vehicles and a cargo trailer were parked at the far end, and probably a dozen people were bustling around, unpacking cars and setting up tents.

I parked my van at my camp and decided I would read for a while before I cooked dinner. I changed out of my uniform and into cooler clothes, then sat outside in the shade with my back to the camper commotion.

I hadn’t even read a page when a pickup truck stopped on the road next to my campsite. The driver was a young woman with long dark hair and glasses. Excuse me, she said.

Here we go, I thought.

It boiled down to this: The young woman was the first of her group to arrive. Her group had reserved the campground. The reservation was in her brother’s girlfriend’s name, but she didn’t know any of the people who were already in the campground setting up.

Oh, that *was* a problem.

I explained to the young woman that I wasn’t the camp host but did work for the company that managed the campground. I offered to talk to the other campers and try to sort out who they were and where they belonged. She seemed grateful for my offer, and we walked over to where people where setting up camp.

The oldest person in the group was the closest as I approached. He was probably in his late 50s and had completely grey hair cut short. He was thickly built and wore long shorts and a tank top.

Excuse me, I said to this man who appeared to be the patriarch. Do you have a reservation?

No, he didn’t have a reservation. This was a free area, open to everyone, he told me with complete conviction. He Six Camping Tents in Forestdidn’t have a reservation, and he didn’t need one is basically what he said. I don’t know where this man had come from, but he seemed very East Coast to me. He was quite sure of himself, but he was oh so wrong.

It was one of my finest moments. I very calmly and patiently explained to him that we were in a group campground that cost $136 per night to rent and had been reserved by another group.

The fellow dropped his bravado. I think he knew he had no claim to the campground, or maybe it was the mention of the $136 per night fee that did him in.

He did try to tell me that a camp host had told them they could camp in the group campground for free. I think we both knew that was a lie we could generously call a misunderstanding. I knew no camp host would tell people they could stay in a fee area for free.

Are y’all looking for free camping? I asked the man with the grey hair.

We want any camping, a younger guy who’d been listening to our conversation piped in.

I gave them a general idea of where they could find primitive camping (there will be no restroom and no picnic tables, I explained to them, and you’ll need a fire permit to have a campfire), and I could tell the men had accepted the fact that they’d have to leave.

Watch out for that guy over there, the many with grey hair warned me. One of our kids ran through his camp and he yelled at her, he said.

Wait. What? I asked. Those people over there aren’t a part of your group?

Nope. Those people weren’t part of the grey-haired man’s group. That’s when I realized not two but three groups were trying to lay claim to the group campground. What a headache!

As I walked away from the man with grey hair, I heard him and the younger guy telling the rest of their party that they had to pack everything and move. I also heard someone say, He told us to go three mile, but we only went half a mile. I didn’t realize what that meant until later when Javier the camp host down the road told me he’d told the grey-haired man to go three miles and turn down the road on the left to find free camping. Obviously the group had only gone half a mile down the road, turned left into the clearly marked group campground, and convinced themselves they could camp there for free.

This story turned out to be a long one, so I decided to make a two-parter. Don’t worry, I’ll only make you wait until tomorrow to find out what happened when three sets of people all wanted to stay in one group campground.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-bird-on-brown-grass-1309237/ and https://www.pexels.com/photo/six-camping-tents-in-forest-699558/.

I Think I Made ‘Em Happy


The couple walked up to the front door of the Mercantile just as I was about to close it. It was five o’clock–closing time–and I was ready to do my end-of-the-day paperwork and go back to my camp for dinner and relaxation.

Are you the camp host? the woman asked me when we met on either side of the screen door.

Oh no! I said, but the woman launched right into their campground woes anyway.

Gray Dome Tent Surrounded by Tall TreesThey had reserved site #4, but the walk from where they had to park their car to down to the camping area was too long.

We’re both 65, the woman told me, and apparently she believed their age determined that they couldn’t walk very far.

I explained that since I wasn’t the camp host, I couldn’t authorize a change in campsites. I told them the campground’s regular hosts were having a day off, but the relief host would come around some time that evening to fill out their permit.

The woman wanted to know what time the camp host would be there. I told her the host didn’t have a set schedule, but he usually patrolled the campground between 4:30 and 6:30 in the evening. She was anxious to gett their tent up before dark, which is a valid concern. I told her again she’d have to talk to the camp host about changing sites, since there was nothing I could do to help. I even told the couple how to find the campground (only two miles away) where the relief host was stationed and said they could go there and find the host if they wanted to talk to him right away.

I thought I’d handled their concerns to the best of my ability, but then they started asking about the Mercantile. Was it closed? (Yes.) Could they just take a peek inside. (Sure.)

They’d come back to the Mercantile in the morning, they said; I told them it opened at 9am.

I thought they’d be on their way then, either to find the relief camp host or to pitch their tent, but then the fellow asked me if we were having problems with our plumbing.

What? I asked. I was very confused, as the campground had no plumbing.

He’d seen all the gallon jugs on the ground near the 300 gallon water tank on the host site. Javier and Sandra the camp hosts kept gallon jugs of water there for campers to use to put out their campfires.

There’s no running water in this campground, I said cautiously. This lack of water was the kind of thing some campers got very angry about.

No running water? he echoed in surprise.

No, I confirmed. There’s no running water in this campground.

They didn’t know. The reservation website didn’t say. I was pretty sure the reservation website did say. The fellow was holding a handful of printouts from the reservation website, so I asked to see them. After shuffling through them and skimming the information contained therein, I’ll be damned if I could find anything about the campground’s lack of water. It didn’t really matter anyway. Even if I could prove to the couple that they should have brought water, knowing they’d messed up wasn’t going to magically provide the water they needed.

We have water in the store, I said as I ushered them in.

I could tell the fellow was angry, so I suggested he complain to the reservation service for not specifying on their website that the campground was dry. Then I dug out a comment card to go to the president of the company I worked for so the camper could lodge a complaint from that end too. The fellow seemed to calm down once I offered him a clear route of complaint.

The woman, on the other hand, had worked herself into a state of consternation over how many gallons of water Person Holding Green Hosethey should buy.

Should we get one or two? she kept asking her husband. She calculated several times how much water they would need before they’d go somewhere to get wash water out of a hose.

We have to cook dinner tonight. Pasta. And breakfast tomorrow. And we have to wash the dishes, she stated several times. Do we need both of these? she asked her husband more than once, gesturing to the two one-gallon  jugs she’d placed on the counter.

The fellow obviously didn’t care if they bought one gallon of water or two. I just wanted the woman to make a decision so I could collect payment, and they could leave me to close up shop for the day. Finally they decided to take both gallons, and I sent them on their way.

The next day I found out from the relief camp host that the couple had decided to stay on the campsite they’d reserved after all. The camp host had given them a gallon of water from beside the 300 gallon water tank so they could wash their dishes. He was absolutely not supposed to give that water to campers, but I didn’t say anything about it. The deed had been done; I’m sure the water had already been used to wash supper and breakfast dishes. Besides, I wasn’t the boss. It wasn’t my job to tell someone the rules about water from the tank.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/forest-trees-adventure-tent-6714/ and https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-hand-garden-growth-2259/.