As you recall from the end of “Maiden Voyage…Part One”, I was standing in the RV Resort registration building waiting to register. I had completed most of the process online when I had made the reservation but still had to check in and get our camp site assignment much like getting a hotel room. I have never been known for my patience so I fidgeted restlessly as two older couples stood with the two available attendants chatting endlessly about something. I could see one attendant wasn’t the least bit interested but was being polite feigning paying attention to them. Finally the other couple left the counter and I approached. Within minutes, after signing a 5-page waiver and disclaimer statement, I was given my camp site assignment, entry code, and a campground map. The attendant highlighted the path I should follow through the maze of campground roads with a yellow highlighter, handed it to me, bid me a good day and left. I stared at the map as I mentally plotted my path through the campground to the section near the river. Meanwhile, another couple waited impatiently behind me for their turn at the counter. I understood their impatience and quickly left the registration building. Back at the coach the girls saw me come out of the building and barked a few times as they saw their master coming towards them.
I slipped into my captain’s chair in the coach and then studied the campground map once again. I knew I had to get to the site the first time as I would not be able to do much backing. Although I did noticed all of the roads in the campground circled the property so sooner or later I would end up back at my starting point. I started the engine and inched the coach closer to the campground entry gate. The attendant had scribbled a numeric code on my paperwork that I would have to punch into the gate number pad to gain entry. I inched closer to the gate with the intention of leaning out my side window to punch in the code. But the coach sat to high and I could not reach the pad. I put the shift lever in PARK and exited the coach to tap in the code. The gate opened and I quickly got back inside before it closed again and inched the coach through the entry gate. Voila! We had gained entry into the campground.
I stopped the coach for a moment to once again get my bearings before negotiating the maze of “streets” within the campground. There were a multitude of intersections and “zones” to maneuver through. I slowly inched the coach down the map’s highlighted path being sure to not make a wrong turn while being extra careful to not run over kids riding bikes, allowing room for people walking dogs and avoiding vehicles not fully parked in their campsites. Additionally I watched the sides of the coach in my side mirrors to allow ample turning radius to avoid brushing up against “street” signs and site markers. My wife acted as my co-pilot and navigator reading the confusing sign posts as we inched closer to our destination…campsite P55. Meanwhile the girls perched on the couch behind me gazed out the large side window quietly taking in the new world around us.
Our destination, Site P55, finally appeared to my right, a level back-in campsite with trees on both sides, a nice shady private lot I thought. However I would have to back the coach in without rubbing up against the trees and possibly scratching the sidewalls. After several attempts at backing in, stopping and getting out to check clearances, moving forward and backing again, I felt comfortable with my final location. I have to say that I am obsessed with everything being perfect to include parking the coach in the absolute perfect spot. My obsession drives my wife crazy as she questioned what was wrong with the last spot. Truth is I ended up parked inches from my previous attempt. No matter, all was well now. I turned off the engine and breathed a sigh of relief that we had finally landed.
The girls bounced around the coach anxious and excited to explore their new surroundings. I knew they probably had to pee as we had been on the road for nearly three hours. So first order of business was to install the dog halters we had brought with us. Additionally we had purchased bark collars for the two smaller girls as well in the event they opted to disappoint me in how good they had been to this point. My wife assisted me as we strapped on the halters, or walking harnesses as some people call them, installed the small bark collars on Peanut and Pipper, and attached their leashes. By this time I knew by the way they were prancing around that they needed to pee badly. I opened the coach door, the steps extended, and the girls bounded outside nearly knocking me off balance and dragging me down the steps. As is standard procedure, they all walked in circles sniffing the ground for the perfect spot and squatted.
Once this duty was completed I shepherded them back inside, against their wills, while I commenced to hook the coach up to a 30 AMP receptacle and a potable water spigot. There I thought…here we are. It’s a beautiful sunny day, a pleasant 75 degrees and we’re in a nice treed space on the back side of the campground away from the hubbub, yet within walking distance of; the 2 swimming pools, large store, bar and cafe, playgrounds, ball field, trolley stop, golf cart rental, and activities center. However as I further explored our space I observed we were parked a short distance from what was called the “Frog Pond” on the map, what appeared to be a large stagnant water pond covered with lilly pads, hidden croaking frogs, ripples on the pond surface from fish snatching bugs, and a small flock of geese floating lazily not too far away…no doubt a nice setting but perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Across the road from our space, within a 50 feet walk, was a small river…also a beautiful setting in itself but a possible bug breeding ground. I feared we were ill prepared for what was sure to be an onslaught of the mosquito feeding frenzy at dusk. I would have to make my way to the campground store and pick up mosquito defense gear if were to enjoy the outdoor setting later in the day. Fortunately we had brought Deep Woods Off spray we could use in the interim.
OK I thought, it was time to take the girls for their first walk through the campground to experience the sights and sounds of children, adults, dogs and wildlife. I dreaded the first walk knowing Pipper, the Morky, would bark at everything in sight. Peanut, the Terrier, generally was quiet until she decided to join Pipper in her barking. Jazzy usually would not bark with them unless she saw what she thought was a big bad boogey man or something, a person or object that was a threat to her masters.
Wearing baggy shorts, I opted to spray myself liberally with the bug spray before heading out with the girls. My wife detested the smell of the spray so she did not indulge. I warned she would be sorry but to no avail. We attached the leashes to the girls halters and walked out of the coach. They pulled relentlessly on the leashes as we stepped down, whining to get moving…but no barking as of yet. Fortunately the road adjacent to our campsite was sparsely traveled so we walked down the middle of the graveled path. The girls constantly moved back and forth in front and behind us, entangling the leashes, to the point where my wife and I had to walk some distance apart. To my utter surprise the girls, without a bark, eventually settled into a steady gait in front of us taking in the sounds and scenery.
As I walked my mind traveled back to the days when we had taken our boys on frequent camping trips…first utilizing a large tent, then moving up to a tent trailer, next a bumper hitch 20 foot self contained trailer, then a small 21 foot motorhome for the trip to Oregon, then a small fifth wheel and then another “pre-owned” motorhome. I smiled as I remembered the times we had allowed each of our boys to bring one friend along with us to a campground on the Sacramento River. More so I remember cooking a pound of bacon, one dozen eggs, and consuming a loaf of bread for toast for breakfast each day, feeding them and ourselves. I fondly recall one night when my wife and I were sleeping in a small fifth wheel camper and I awoke to an acrid disgusting odor wafting in through the open windows. The boys had stayed up chatting around the campfire and I had told them to put the fire out before they retired to their tents. As I rolled over to look outside, while the acrid smoke continued, I noticed them standing around the fire ring peeing in the fire…their answer to putting out the fire. Now that…I will never forget.
A loud bark from a large leashed Labrador Retriever at a campsite on the road we were walking snapped me out of my reverie. I fully expected our girls to counter with a barking tirade of their own but they did not. We kept on walking as I reached down to pet each one affirming their not barking as we kept on walking settling into a comfortable pace. Suddenly a trio of youngsters on their bikes zoomed up behind us and passed startling us all…the girls remained quiet staring forward as the bikes faded from sight. Once again I reached down and patted each on the back affirming their positive response to the event.
As our walk continued my mind drifted back once again to a camping trip to the same campground mentioned previously except this time it was just our family. I had hauled the boy’s mountain bikes on this trip as there were a variety of trails they could ride on. As a precaution, I had cautioned each about riding the unfamiliar trails and to be on the lookout for bears as they had been seen in the campground a few nights before. Of course the boys took the advice…yeah right! They soon disappeared giving my wife and I some peace and quiet, a chance to relax a little. The boys were gone for several hours and I was beginning to worry about them. Soon after we heard noise coming up a trail behind our camp site. Our second oldest was pushing his bike with a wobbly front wheel and was bleeding profusely from his arms and face. My first question as a Dad was…”What the hell happen to you?” His younger brother quickly responded. Seems my son had sped down a hill not anticipating a sharp turn and proceeded head first into thick underbrush loaded with thorny, barbed plants. We spent the next hour pulling thorns from his skin, cleaning him up and patching his wounds. Fortunately I had had the forethought to bring along a large, well stocked first aid kit. Ah…the good old days!
My wife mentioned we were approaching the coach bringing me back to reality once again. The walk had been very refreshing and invigorating especially with the girls behaving as well as they did. I felt much better. I had anticipated having to deal with barking sprees, risking expulsion from the campground, as they experienced their first exposure to a new world.
I will end this part here once again to avoid a too long post. More to follow for sure. Please stay tuned for Part Three. Thanks again for reading.