Not All Memories Are Memorable!

It’s hard to believe we’ve only been camping for a little over nine weeks, taking a total of seven trips, including a one night trip in the huge park and campground in our neighborhood and two three night stays over holiday weekends. We feel like pros already and are in this camping venture as true partners. We share equally in camper setup and breakdown, campfire maintenance and kitchen cleanup, though Tim is definitely our primary chef and driver. We’ve yet to have any mechanical problems and have learned much more about our travel trailer than I thought we possibly could in such a short period of time.

We’ve named our travel trailer correctly (Memory Maker) because the memories we’ve made thus far have been amazing!! We met up with some new friends at Natural Bridge and reconnected with one of my oldest friends and her family last weekend at a beautiful marina. In the two nights Kendal has spent with us, particularly when she, Kim and Herb came with us to PA for a Thomas the Train event, the memories we made were too numerous to count. Some of these fun times rank up there with the best times of our lives thus far.

Of course we knew that not all memories we’d make would be great, and an experience we had this weekend confirmed that. When we purchased our camper we vowed to get out and explore every town we stayed in, and particularly that we would eat out and contribute to the local economy. You never know what you’re going to experience when you do venture out, so I knew we needed to be ready for anything. After a very rainy Saturday that we spent building Lego projects, we were looking forward to seeing the town on Sunday. We loved our campground, as it was beautiful, and nicely decorated for Halloween too! But we had also seen signs for another campground in the area that we wanted to check out for a potential future visit because we liked the town so much. So after a beautiful morning in the beach town, we headed to check out the other local camping option.

Driving onto the property the first thing we noticed was how crowded it was. I mean we’ve been to crowded campgrounds, but each site is usually at least a picnic table apart. In some of the spots in this place, it appeared that the “neighbor” wasn’t even able to open the door of their camper without hitting the camper next to them. We parked anyway and went to what we thought was the “office” and met a very friendly young woman who shared that her location was only the “camp store” and that even though the office shack we passed looked empty, the worker was indeed in there probably “laying back in his chair”…. “Hmmm”, Tim and I both thought, but were determined to check it out. If you know Tim at all, you know he is the same with everyone he meets. We opened the door and saw a gentlemen sitting at a small desk who clearly was NOT excited to see us. Tim said “Hi!! we’d like to get some pricing info on your campground”. From where he was seated the man practically “tossed” a map and brochure at us and invited us to “look around” if we wanted to. I immediately felt like tossing the brochure back at him, but refrained. Poor Tim kept trying to be pleasant and engaging but to no avail.

We got back in our SUV to drive around and take a look in spite of what we were both feeling. I was grateful right away that we were driving around the campground as opposed to walking. It turns out that the “campground” was actually a trailer park for 150 or so residents, with maybe 30 spots for “campers”. It looked more like a permanent little city (I’ll refrain from calling it what I believe it looked like) in the middle of the woods. There were huge refrigerators and sofas outside the trailers, clothes hanging on clothes lines going in all directions and broken down cars (ok, you get the picture)… Lots of folks were out enjoying the day, but unlike most “campers” not one person waved at us as we drove by. The looks we got were more like “you MUST be lost”!! Then we saw the scariest sight of all and they weren’t Halloween decorations, they were Confederate flags! The flags were hanging from almost on every other trailer. Some of the folks who were out on their DIY ” decks were even wearing confederate flag bandanas. “Uh oh, definitely time to go!”…..

I’m thinking maybe we could turn around and quickly leave. But unfortunately it was a huge one way circle requiring that we continue the journey, though it was the last thing we wanted to do. I felt Really uncomfortable…..and would have been flat out scared if I had been by myself. I prayed that our vehicle not break down before we could get out of there because who knows what would have happened.

I had read about places that advertise themselves as campgrounds but are actually trailer parks with a few spaces for actual overnight campers, but hadn’t seen one until yesterday. Tim and I talked right away about what we would do if we arrived at a campground where we felt too uncomfortable or unsafe to stay. Without hesitation we decided we would simply drive away and give up our full deposit, as most campgrounds charge your credit card in full when you make reservations and typically don’t give refunds. But peace of mind was why we wanted to resume camping in the first place, so we’d never compromise that over a few dollars.

It was Amazing to me how vastly different the two campgrounds were, though just a few miles from each other. In the campground Tim reserved for us, the people were friendly, inviting, and waved and had a kind word every single time we walked by…. On all the trips we’ve taken thus far, except for one Scoutmaster we saw at a Hagerstown, MD campground we’ve been the only African-Americans in residence. Yet, if people cared about our ethnicity, no one showed it. At the campground we visited yesterday, the residents clearly “cared” about our ethnicity and let the looks they gave us convey their feelings. If we had made reservations there, we would gladly have given up our reservation for a place we would had felt welcome, even if it was just a Walmart parking lot (many Walmarts allow and even encourage campers to use their parking lots overnight for free). Because we’ve chosen a “travel hobby” where we are typically going to be in the minority, some of the memories that may be thrust upon us may be those we’d like to forget.

One of Tim’s favorite sayings when something isn’t up to our liking is “moving on”…. And that’s what we did from the other campground we visited as quickly as we could. Thankfully our fabulous camping memories far outweigh the experience we had on our “other campground tour”, but I have to admit that the experience gave me a chill down my spine that I hadn’t felt in years. As I write this post on our short trip home, I’m beyond grateful for the all of wonderful folks we’ve met along the way who’ve given us camping and RV tips, traded barbs about sports teams, or shared their favorite travel locations with us. Our camping neighbors last weekend even gave us homemade zucchini bread and egg rolls to share with our friends who came to visit us. Those are the camping memories we want to remember, the ones I’ll be writing about in my journal, and the rest I’d just as soon toss in the campfire.


4 thoughts on “Not All Memories Are Memorable!

  1. Loretta, thank you for sharing this experience of you and Tim in the trailer park/campsite. As I reflect, I’ll amend your title to this post and say that all memories are memorable, but not all memories are wonderful. Sorry about what happened, and as my brother Tim says, “moving on”. I’m happy you did. Love and peace to you both in your continued journeying and memory-making.

  2. GREAT idea about the title change Paul. hadn’t thought of it quite that wayt!!! I even had a dream about our short experience and that wasn’t memorable either. So I think that’s how the title emerged. We will definitely keep journeying and memory-making and are excited about what lies ahead too! Yeah, we’re moving on!! We as always appreciate your love and support!!

  3. Loretta you put it so wonderful. Our times together in the wilderness is so perfect. Thanks for all your support and we are a team unlike no other.

    • YES we are a team like no other, and can conquer anything!!!!!! On to more wilderness fun this weekend!!! Shenandoah here we come!!! Is it Friday yet?? I’m ready for my driving lesson!

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