Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Weekend – my mantra: “Focus on the good campers”

Actually I had three mantras: "Focus on the good campers" and "This too shall pass" and "This is part of the adventure." It was a hectic weekend.

Friday, Sept. 2: When I turned in for the night there were few campers in my immediate area. I awoke to full campsites and boats and cars everywhere; children on bicycles and scooters.

There were wall-to-wall campers, tents, cars, boats and dogs all weekend. Even with the "campground full" sign up, RVers continued to come in, driving around the narrow campground roads hoping to find a campsite.

A large proportion of the campers brought boats so by mid morning they were all out on the lake and by late afternoon to early evening they were back. Campfires were burning and the aromas of cooking foods signaled dinner time.

My great next door neighbors on one side – 10 people, three dogs, five or six vehicles, three tents, a camping trailer and a large boat! On the other side of me was Gloria, a state parks employee from the headquarters in Santa Fe (she worked the entrance station).

Thankfully, the Pine Main campground (77-campsites; where I am) was pretty quiet Friday night. Not so, at the remote campgrounds according to reports on Saturday. There were partiers going full blast until the wee hours of the morning at one of the remote campgrounds. It was such a ruckus that four rangers with badges and guns evicted the noise/trouble makers.

As I made frequent rounds, at each campsite I introduced myself. I warned them about the raccoons, skunks and feral cats getting into trash bags left outside. Then I asked the campers to do me a big favor – “please no cigarette butts on the ground or in the fire rings and don’t burn trash, including glass, plastic or aluminum in the campfire.”

During the weekend, as Bucky and I were out and about in Zippy, I waved to campers, sometimes stopped to chat, and talked with the children. Bucky is a hit with kids and adults alike.

It didn’t take me long to identify the two campsites that I predicted would be problematic - # 63 and #69. They were across the road from each other and were somehow related. It didn’t take long before their campsites resembled a war zone – trash, soda cans, beer cans, towels, etc. During the three days they had numerous visitors, many that spent the night in tents or in their cars. They were quite a rowdy bunch of perhaps 40 people at one time. They promised me they would leave clean campsites.

Most of the campers were pleasant and courteous; a joy to be around. Then there were some that didn't respect others or willingly follow park regulations. For those few, it is nice not having to be the enforcer. I'm just the eyes and ears for park staff; informing campers of regulations and calling a ranger to handle difficult situations.

On Sunday evening I delivered large heavy-duty trash bags to several groups who have been extremely trashy. I smiled sweetly as I handed bags to the camper who arranged the campsite, saying "You said you would leave your campsite clean and here are trash bags to use."

This morning, Monday, I had 60 campsites being vacated. As I set out to check and clean them, I wondered how effective my ‘keep things clean’ campaign was. I’m pleased to report that only #63 and #69 needed extra cleaning (and they had filled the two trash bags and left them for me to take to the dumpster). The rest of the sites needed minimal, if any, cleanup. Yea! I’m celebrating with a glass of wine and some popcorn.

Backup to pre-Labor Day

I decided to put Mack (my motion-activated Pennsylvania rooster that crows when people walk by) outside near Jeremiah’s door. He startled quite a few people. Here’s a photo of him tied to the railing post.

Last blog entry I told you about a really nice full-time camper – Jean Holloway-Burkhart (an Escapee member). She invited me to go to lunch in Navajo Dam (delicious green chile cheeseburgers). Afterwards she wanted to see what the Sims Mesa campground was like. We set out to find it. Even though it is visible from our side of the lake, it was a long drive. After nearly 40 miles, we found it. As we neared the campground, we saw a sign that said “Navajo Dam shortcut.” After asking the park ranger who said it was a really rough road, but passable, we took it. It was only about 12 miles!

I’m looking forward to a few pretty quiet days before next weekend’s rush. It is definitely an adventure here! The park staff – rangers, office gals, maintenance, seasonals, etc. – are super. They are appreciative of my work.