This post is dedicated to the camp hosts who left the mountain the day before these events occurred. You are missed.
The other camp hosts were gone, and now I was covering three campgrounds and my shifts at the parking lot. The campgrounds were substantially less busy now that the season was drawing to a close, but I still had eight pit toilets to scrub on Sunday afternoon.
I finished my shift at the parking lot and headed next door to clean restrooms.
As I approached the campground, I saw a big pickup truck towing a long 5th wheel. The truck/trailer combo was stopped and entirely blocking the road’s left lane. A car had passed the truck/trailer combo and was now in the right lane, going the wrong way. The wrong-way car was nose to nose with a car traveling in the proper direction in the right lane. Luckily, I was able to turn into the entrance of the campground without getting involved in the vehicular mess.
The campground next to the trail is laid out on a one-way loop. The host’s campsite is at the immediate front of the campground, but to back into it (and to see who’s in the campground), I drive the whole loop whenever I arrive.
I made the circle and found the campground empty. As I approached the front of the loop, I saw the big pickup truck towing the 5th wheel had entered the campground and was trying to navigate the loop’s first turn.
The campground was really not designed for big RVs. I think it was designed for tent camping, but some of the sites can accommodate small-to-medium motor homes or small camper trailers. But I couldn’t think of a single spot where such a long combo would fit.
I backed into the camp host’s spot. As I did so, I heard the driver of the truck telling the passenger(s), There’s a place! I realized he was pointing to the host’s spot. Ummmm, no.
I got out of my van and strode over to where the truck and the 5th wheel were totally blocking the roadway.
Are y’all looking for a place to camp? I asked the driver, a white man probably in his 50s. He said he was.
I explained the campground is small, with small sites. I told him I didn’t think any of the sites would work for his big rig.
That one would have worked, he pointed to the host’s site, but he already took it.
I explained I was the camp host and that was the camp host’s site.
No wonder you backed in so damn fast! the man said with disgust.
Yep, that’s my spot, I reaffirmed.
I suppose I could have let them park in the host’s space. In retrospect, I can’t think of a rule against doing so. But the location of the host’s site lets me easily see who’s entering the campground. Also, the water tank–which I’m supposed to ensure is not tampered with–is on the host’s site. I think I was justified in keeping the spot to myself.
I told the man he was welcome to drive around the loop and decide if any of the sites worked for him
What if I walk around? he asked.
I told him that would be fine, but you are blocking my roadway.
I think the man was (justifiably) afraid he was going to get his big rig stuck in the little campground.
About that time, the passenger appeared. She was a small Latina woman with a pronounced accent, about the same age as the man.
They were trying to get to the National Park, she said. I told her they still a had a long way to go.
She wanted to know where they could camp.
They could camp here, I told her, if their rig fit on any of the sites, which I didn’t think it would. I also told her about the free camping area up the road, which I though might work for them since it’s basically dispersed camping with no real sites. I also mentioned a fee campground past the free campground. I said several times that I didn’t know if either campground could accommodate them or how it would be to pull that rig on the winding mountain roads.
How would they get to the National Park? the woman wanted to know.
I started giving her directions, and she said, Wait! Wait! Let me get the maps!
She ran to the truck and came back with two dreadful maps. General maps of California seldom show the small roads people must use to get around in the area where I work. One map was barely adequate, and I pointed out the tiny lines representing the roads they needed to follow.
I give the couple props for actually having maps and a general idea of how to use them. However, I don’t understand people who tow such big rigs on unfamiliar mountain roads with no plans for where to park for the night and only a vague idea of how to get where the want to go.
Once I’d give them ideas of where to camp and directions to where they wanted to go, the man asked if they could park and walk the trail. The overflow lot was mostly empty, so I said yes, but told him he’d have to back the trailer in between a sign and a log. He said I could help him back up so he wouldn’t hit the sign. Ummmm, no.
I said, She (indicating the Latino woman traveling with him) can help you back up.
He muttered something about her being too nervous, but after I collected the $5 parking fee, I busied myself with preparations for scrubbing pit toilets. I did not want the responsibility of telling the man how he should back up his shiny, new, unscratched, undented, mulit-thousand-dollar-probably-owed-to-the-bank recreational vehicle. Besides, he and his passenger lady needed to learn to work as a team.
I cleaned the back toilets first. When I returned to the front of the campground, the truck and 5th wheel were parked in the overflow area and the couple was gone, off to the trail, I suppose.
I scrubbed the front toilets, then positioned folding road work barricades in front of both doors, in hopes of keeping visitors out. I didn’t want anyone slipping on the wet floors, and I didn’t want anyone tracking dirt onto my clean floors.
I finished up my chores and climbed into the van to drive to my campground where I still had four pit toilets to scrub. As I approached the campground gate, I saw the couple of the 5th wheel approaching the obviously closed restrooms.
The man gestured to the barricade in front of the men’s restroom with a look on his face that clearly said, WTF?
I’m sorry, I called from my small side window, those restrooms are closed! The restrooms in the parking lot next door are open.
Or go use the one in your big shiny 5th wheel, I muttered under my breath.