The Fourth of July (Part 1)


The Fourth of July turned out to be pretty low key after all. It was actually the third of July that stressed me out.

I arrived at the parking lot at nine in the morning, as instructed. The parking lot was mostly empty, and I got a spot for the van right in front. The lot was normal weekend busy, not absolute chaos busy.

I was expecting nine groups of campers, and when I returned to the campground, five groups had arrived. I started going from site to site, filling out permits and handing out car passes and the glossy pages on which the rules were printed.

The people at the first site were friendly and gave me no problems.

The group at the second site was a bunch of dudes, and their leader immediately began questioning me when I said they needed to pay $7 per night for the extra vehicle on their site. Here’s how it works: One car is included in the basic campsite fee, but each additional vehicle on the site costs an extra $7 for every day it’s there. The extra vehicle fee is explained on the reservations website, but I think most people don’t bother to read the details. They’re not pleased when I drop what they see as a surprise charge on them.

In any case, I collected the $14 for the extra vehicle on site #7, and I moved on, feeling a little flustered.

About that time, the people staying next to me on site #9 arrived. The universe has yet to send anyone I really want to hang out with to be my next door camping neighbor. These neighbors were a mother, a father, and two young sons. The father, a man in his mid-30s with an accent (German? Russian? Eastern European?) and a stern demeanor was their spokesman. I greeted him, and he immediately wanted to know if he could put his tent here, if he could park his car there. He tried to park his car right up on my van, but I told him it had to be on the other side of the wooden block separating site #9 from site #10. He said their friends would be arriving soon to share the campsite and where would they be able to park?

When I untangled myself from Mr. Authoritarian Father Figure, I went to check in the campers on site #6. They were a group of young, attractive gay men. (Especially attractive was one of the Australians who was J. Crew model gorgeous. Every time I looked at him, I thought, Put your eyes back in your head, bi girl!) As I filled out their permit, I realized they’d been given a 50% discount on their camping fee using a pas the company I work for doesn’t honor. When I went back to the van, I double checked my information, and sure enough, we don’t give discounts on that card. I had to go back over there and tell them I’d present their case to my supervisor, but they might end up owning an additional $22. Awkward! They were cool about it, which made me like them, AND they knew they owed for the extra vehicle, earning them bonus good camper points.

While I was checking in the guys on site #6, I saw the folks arrive on site #4 and set up their tent. I checked in the family on site #5 (mom, dad, and vocally bored preteen boy) with no problems, then went back to the van to drop off paperwork and pick up blank permits.

Before I could gather the blank permits and get out of the van, the woman from site #4 (young, pretty, wearing glasses and a light blue dress which would have made me think she was Amish if it hadn’t ended above her knees) was standing right outside my door. She said she’d seen the sign on the information board near the restrooms that says campsites cost $20 a night…I told her campsites are $2 a night more on holidays.

She said, Oh. Is this a holiday?

I blinked my eyes rapidly, trying to figure out if she was from a country other than the United States of America. She had no discernable accent.

I said, Yes. It’s the 4th of July weekend.

She said, Oh. That’s a holiday?

I told her it is. I did not tell her it’s the biggest holiday of the summer season, the biggest holiday (ok, maybe second to Christmas) in the country in which we were standing. How could she not know that the 4th of July is a holiday? (Maybe she was Amish. Or a space alien.)

She said she’d been charged $57 for two nights on her campsite. I grabbed my reservation list and showed her that she (or more accurately the fellow she was with, in whose name the reservation had been made) had been charged $44 for two nights of camping. I suggested the additional charges might have been reservation fees. She asked if she’d been charged $13 in reservations fees. I explained I had no idea, since I don’t work for the company that makes reservations, and I don’t know their fee schedule. I suggested she look at her confirmation letter (which she had not printed) or call the reservation company when she had cell phone service.

The she told me something had come up, and she and the guy wouldn’t stay the second night of their reservation. She asked if they could get a refund on the night they wouldn’t be staying and if there was a cancellation fee involved. I told her I didn’t know, since I don’t work for the reservation company. I told her again she should look to her confirmation letter for that information.

I told her I’d be at her campsite soon to check her in, and I’d bring with me the form she needed to fill out to request a refund on a reservation. Of course, when I looked through my paperwork, I saw that I didn’t actually have that form. I wanted to get the form from the camp host in the campground next to the parking lot when I went to work down there the next morning, but the woman said they’d be leaving early the next day. I mulled over the situation while I checked in in the folks on sites #2 and #3.

Those two sites were taken by one party of three older Asian couples. One of the sites had only paid 50% of the normal camping fee because the reservation had been made using a Golden Age card. When a Golden Age or Golden Access (GA) card is used on a reservation to get a discount, the camper has to show the card to me. Since the card only provides a discount to a person actually camping on the site, I have to be sure the cardholder (and the card s/he is holding) are indeed on the site. I had a moment of worry when the man half of the couple couldn’t find his GA card in his wallet. I knew if he couldn’t produce the card, I was going to have to ask him to pay the other half of the camping fee, and I knew that was going to be a pain in the ass. His wife saved the day by producing her GA card, so all was well, especially since the man half of one of the other couples paid their extra vehicle fee with no complaint.

(To be continued…here:

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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  1. Pingback: The Fourth of July (Part 2) | Rubber Tramp Artist

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