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On the nature of campgrounds

July 7th, 2008

We just finished up a week long stay at a commercial campground with Jenn’s family. The entire week was a blast. There was good food, good company and plenty of kids to keep things interesting. However, after spending the prior month in the middle of the national forests, we had a bit of culture shock coming back into ‘the city’.

It started as we came into Pigeon Forge, which is about as big a tourist trap as Myrtle Beach. Six lanes of traffic, giant signs on both sides of the street and lots of useless shops and attractions. Thankfully, we got out of the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas and back into the National Park lands for the last few miles.

However, as soon as we arrived at the campground, we ran into the owner who quizzed us about pets and whether or not we were planning to ride our moped in the campground. She then pointed us at the site we were to occupy; it was, in fact, next to the creek, but the creek was very low. It was also thirty feet from the entrance to the campground and as close as you can get to the road. At least, we had three sites together, so that we only backed the truck camper in halfway, turned around the pop-up camper on one side with the class A on the other and had the creek to form the fourth ‘wall’ of the compound.

In the middle, we threw a dozen chairs around the fire with picnic tables off to the sides. Being centrally located and having outside speakers, we were elected DJs for the week and were regularly criticized by music connoisseurs ranging in age from three on up. The physical arrangement made the campsite feel pretty private, but a quick stroll through the campground was enough to remind you just how many campers were crammed into such a small area.

As the week went on and the Fourth approached, campers kept rolling in. Eventually every full hookup spot was taken as well as the bulk of the tent sites. In addition, Camping World brought out a bunch of units and had a camper show right in the middle of the campground. By the afternoon of the Fourth, the swimming hole was so crowded you would be lucky to fully extend both arms and not hit someone else. Jenn pegged it when she said, “To these people this is camping and to us, its going to town.”

One of the odd things was just running across people in the campground. After so long in the woods, we were used to people stopping to talk even if they were just driving through or out for a ride. In the national forests, it seemed that people always had time to stop and chat for a bit, or at the very least wave if they were working like Wayne and Joe. Back in ‘civilization’, everyone seemed to be on their own agenda, without time to even nod on their way to the bathhouse.

Overall though, we had a great time. The kids ran wild in the campground, there was plenty of shopping nearby for the ladies and the fishermen barely caught enough fish to say they went fishing. I just sat around and enjoyed the food and company. Jenn and I are trying to talk everyone into going to one of the large primitive sites we’ve found for next year. Who needs air conditioning anyway?

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3 Responses to “On the nature of campgrounds”

  1. Rene says:

    What, Pigeon Forge and you didn’t go to DOLLYWOOD? For shame!

  2. I remember that shock of coming back to “civilization.” So loud. Colors too bright! Sensory overload.

    It has been too long since I got away long enough to experience that shock. I may just have to find some time to get away.

    Unfortunately, many of the good “away” places near enough to use on my long days off have been burned in these wildfires. (I have four days off every other week, and three on the short weeks, but have to work twelve hour days.) We breathe smoke most days this summer here in California.

    Thanks again for sharing your adventure.

    Dollywood. Heh, heh.


  3. Enslaved Automoton says:

    I grew up in rural SE Alaska.
    And when I say rural, I mean remote. I mean no electricity. No running water. I mean chopping wood and packing water at age 7.
    Hour long skiff rides to go to town and stock up on provisions. (Mmm mmm, powdered milk!)
    Everyone has different gauges for “roughing it”.
    Sad to say… I have really grown accustomed to all my amenities.
    Thankfully, we still have pirates roaming the plains and a means to live vicariously through them.

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