October 21, 2013 10:37:00 AM
Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]
Campers are an interesting lot. They've always been the nicest folks -- they share, they help, they send Christmas cards.
The first time Sam and I took our camper out we traveled up the Blue Ridge Parkway. That night we had trouble with the gas tanks. Wasn't long four older men gathered around the front of the camper, not helping much, but giving Sam advice and moral support.
The second night we rolled into a private campground nestled at the base of a mountain. Stan, the manager, came over and helped get the electric and water hooked up. Then he said, "Wife has some beef stew made up. Want some?"
Sam declined, saying, "We'll be eating here, but thank you."
Stan said, "I wasn't asking you over I was just offering you some beef stew."
While camping at Bear Creek awhile back, I entertained myself watching campers. Next door was a couple in one of those pop up tents that you throw in the air and poof, the tent sets up. They flashed up the grill and proceeded to cook supper. They scooted lawn chairs together and sat, knee to knee. I reported to Sam, play by play, what they were doing. Sam said, "I think you'd like reality TV."
"I would not," I said. "This is real people-watching."
The man was big like a wrestler and had a bald head and one silver loop earring. His arm was tattooed like a sleeve. He wore no shirt and red and brown flannel shorts with cowboy boots. He drank Mountain Dew. Now don't think that's not something to look at.
The next day he came over and offered us his firewood 'cause he and the Mrs. were heading to South Carolina to get his motorcycle. He inquired as to how we liked our little camper. Said he had an '88 motor home, but it was hard on gas. He was friendly, though flannel shorts with cowboy boots, I don't know.
The campground manager, Rhonda, tooled by on her golf cart. "I've worked really hard to build up the business here," she said. "Last Fourth of July I got a band and rented a port-a-john."
Rhonda had a camp store set up in a metal shed. She sold camping goods, some groceries, fishing tackle, flowery flip-flops and crafts she made.
"As long as I can keep campers I can live here for free." She said, "This is the best job in the world."
Selfishly, I was a little hard-pressed to wish her well in building up the camper population so I asked about the boy and school.
"School bus picks him up right here at the door," she nodded toward her motor home. Then, "See you later," she said. "Going fishing like I do most every afternoon."
Rhonda worked as a waitress and her husband farmed. One day they sold the farm and bought a motor home. She said it was a good life.
Shannon Rule Bardwell's column appears in Monday's Dispatch. Her email address is [email protected]
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.