The last couple of days have been much busier here at the campground. For the first time in years on Thanksgiving weekend they are nearly booked and we have been at around 80% capacity every night leading up to the holiday. They must have known we would be here! It doesn’t really matter how many people are here though, so much as how they sign in, from a workload perspective. Every morning, rain or shine, I go into the ranger building and check the overnight envelopes. If people fill them out correctly the morning rounds are easy and our first few nights here that was the case. The last couple of days though it took a little longer. Sometimes folks put the wrong site number down and then when I see an “open” slot with people in it I have to look at the license plates on the sheet and try to find them. If there are no matching license plates, which is now happening 2-3 times per walk, I have to knock on the car window and wake people up. I carry envelopes and change with me and basically stand there until they pay. Most people are pretty gracious about it, but twice we have had people say they didn’t have the money and once two young girls swore they paid and I sent Lee back out once I double checked the drop box. He said he would have to call the ranger and suddenly the money appeared. The mom approach didn’t work so I sent the Dad in and he has tons of experience with raising girls!! Those situations are the exception though. Mostly these people are getting in late and don’t want to mess with the envelope. I get it, but what they don’t know is this buys them a cheery wake-up call at 7am from yours truly.
I have been really surprised by how many people are staying here with just a car. It’s not really creepy, they are mostly 20 somethings and the hotels around here are few and far between and expensive, but there are a ton of them. Maybe this happens everywhere and I never noticed it before or maybe it’s a California thing but it seems like a pretty unpleasant way to spend the night. These folks are almost always the ones who don’t use the pay envelope, but thankfully not one person has been hostile during the morning wake up visit. They generally look sheepish because they know they shouldn’t have blown it off. In my mind we provide the most value in the morning because I am sure some of those folks would skip out without paying. We have also been trying to be here by 4pm on the days when only one person is working because 4-5pm can be a little busy. We have gone over a couple of times and sold some wood or answered questions when they really got backed up. Once the regular staff leaves we flip over our sign and we are “on duty” until 8 or 9pm. Most nights we don’t see anyone, but one particularly nice night we sold 5 bundles of wood. That’s been the easiest part of the job since it is dark and we would be here anyway. People seem surprisingly hesitant to bother us and I have gone so far as to put a lit tiki pot over by the sign to make sure people know we are available.
So the work itself is fine, but the general ambiguity around the position is still tough for us. When working for Stan we only had to keep Stan happy and he was great about communicating. Here, we are dealing with multiple people and it’s not really clear who is in charge. The normal volunteer coordinator is taking some time off, so she handed us to the ranger John who is new at running this area so he is deferring to the support staff. They unfortunately all have a slightly different take on things so we can sometimes get different answers to the same question. It’s also hard to get real feedback on how good a job we are doing, because none of them feel it’s their responsibility to tell us what to do. I am trying not to let all this make me crazy, but I have never been great at dealing with no one being in charge. I talked to my friend Kelly about this though and she is working the split shift at Amazon and she has to change the way she does things when the night manager comes on in the middle of her shift because he and the day manager can’t agree. So it could be worse. My favorite person here is Helen, who reminds me of my grandmother. She is no nonsense but kind and has been here for 5 years so I try to keep her happy. And no kidding, as I was writing this paragraph Lee came in the RV and said Helen was impressed by us this morning because we had finished our rounds so early in this heavy rain. So we must be doing something right.
The weather here has been surprisingly good. Usually they get 50-80 inches of rain in the winter, but we have had several sunny days. Not that you can really see it in the grove. We have a small patch of sun in the back of the rig, but it’s pretty dark here most of the day. The lack of sun was getting to both of us so we decided to take our first day off and go to Eureka, but it rained pretty heavily on Tuesday so I stayed and worked. Although these volunteer jobs usually expect 20 hours a week we tend to work whatever makes sense. You can ask for and receive specific days off, but the staff are not really fans of that in both places we have been and prefer you just let them know when you won’t be available and ask that you try to schedule the time when they aren’t busy. The way we think about it, it’s a good gig and we are not going to get super picky about the hours but many people feel differently and like a set schedule. I don’t recommend that, however, as several people have shared their feelings with us about volunteers who are “rigid” and it is generally not well received. That doesn’t mean you need to feel taken advantage of, though. If we give more hours or days than expected, I take the time when the weather is right or we have something planned. We just try to schedule those activities when special events are not happening. For example we volunteered to work thanksgiving since almost everyone else is off. I have had jobs where I worked holidays before and since we don’t have anything special planned with friends or family, why not? Provide a little extra value here and there and it is much appreciated.
Even on duty days there is still time to pop out and see things. I really like the visitors center next door (one of the nicest ones I have seen) and we went to Big Tree Grove and saw the Tall Tree. We also drove down to the horse campground, which is closed now, and picked some apples. Lee’s philosophy, which I am adopting, comes straight from All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. You work a little and play a little every day. It’s a pretty good philosophy. So really overall it’s a pretty good gig. There is absolutely no antenna TV so missing my football some and the ATT signal is on the low side, but we definitely would have never been able to stay here without this gig. We found out that they only like to have 30 foot or less RV’s. Some of the sites are plenty big enough, but they worry about the road getting to them. Experienced drivers would have no issue, but they strongly discourage the larger rigs. Even the horse camp, which has tons of space, is on a road that is very narrow and not recommended for large RV’s,so you can’t get to it. There are some private RV parks in the area though that a big rig will fit, but it’s a shame when most full timers can’t fit in a place. In this case, though, the only way to make the road bigger would be to cut down trees and I can totally see why they would not want to do that.
Tons of Deer because of the apple trees’
They let Lee get pretty close
Crazy Marinated Pork Chops
This recipe has an unusual combination of ingredients, but totally yummy flavor. I am not a huge fan of pork chops, but loved this and Lee who really likes pork chops loved it as well. You do have to marinade overnight though to get the full effect which requires some pre-planning.
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 TBL Worcestershire sauce
- 1 TBL lemon juice
- 1 TBL prepared yellow mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 6 bone-in pork loin chops
- Combine all ingredients except pork and blend well
- Place pork in large Ziploc bag, add marinade, shake to mix well in place in refrigerator overnight
- Drain and discard marinade
- Grill covered over medium heat 4 minutes per side
- Let meat stand for 5 minutes before serving——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Search Amazon.com here