Monday, May 31, 2010

We survived our first holiday weekend...but "Chippy" almost didn't

Current location: Chester, CA

Our first holiday experience in our new lifestyle. Boy, do holidays have a different meaning now! We always looked forward to the start of a long 3-day weekend in our past lives. Now we look forward to them ending!

We knew we were in for a busy weekend, but didn't truly know what to expect. Although we feel like we're getting the hang of things, it still takes time to think everything through. And we knew that the pressure would be on with a line of customers waiting. The time was upon us to see how well we were trained.

The campground was not completely booked for the weekend, although close to it. We knew that this weekend would give us a taste of what was to come for the busy summer season, and hopefully prepare us for the Fourth of July. All in all, I think we did ok. I felt like I learned a lot and noted some room for improvement. I'm glad to have a couple of fairly quiet weeks ahead to work on some of those weaknesses.

I started my shift at noon on Friday and the campers started rolling in shortly thereafter. We had a steady stream throughout the afternoon and evening, but never more than 3 or 4 in line at a time. This was much better than last year, when they apparently all came in around 7:00. In between the rushes, we had several lulls which allowed for a bit of a breather and time to catch up. I didn't do as much of the gate duty as was planned. I was needed more inside the store. Unbelievably, we had a bunch of calls from people wanting to make reservations for later in the summer. During one of the busiest camping weekends? C'mon people! I'm sure the holiday got them thinking about camping, but could they not have waited until the weekend was over? These kind of experiences remind me to think twice before calling a business during a busy time or right before closing.

Anyway, I couldn't get away from the counter long enough to go out and greet the arrivals. Tracy came on duty at 6 and took over the gate duties. I was supposed to end my shift at 6, but was asked if I would stay to help through the evening. It was much easier with 3 of us. We closed the store at 9, had a brief rest at home - just long enough to take Hunter out for his evening duties, and then had to go back out for the 10:00 security rounds. Luckily, everyone seemed to be behaving themselves and quieting down, so we had a pretty easy time for our first time out. Admittedly, I think security rounds are going to be a bit of a challenge for me. I'm a bit on the shy side and not very confrontational, so having to ask a group of people (and probably inebriated people at that) to quiet down does not come naturally for me. But it is just something I will have to learn how to do. Every job usually requires some task outside your comfort zone and I guess this is it this time. I try to look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

We completed our rounds and were back home by 10:30. Friday was a long day, but it went by quickly. Although hectic at times, it was nice to be busy. Saturday morning came much too early, though. I wasn't on until 10, but since my shift ended less than 12 hours earlier, it seemed like a short night!

We had several arrivals on Saturday, but not near as many as Friday. Saturday was much busier with traffic...people going in and out of the campground all day long. The campground has a chain across the entrance which has to be lowered each time someone goes in or out. There is a self service button, but the driver has to get out of the car to push it. We have remote controls in the office, so we try to let it down for those exiting. For those coming in, they must have a car pass on their rearview mirror for us to allow them to enter and we try to keep a close eye on the traffic. This campground has strict rules about visitors. All visitors must be registered ahead of time by the on-site camper. Visitors are also charged an entrance fee, which must be paid at the time of registration. This doesn't always go over so well, with either the campers or the visitors. There are many reasons for restricting guests. First, on a holiday weekend, it is already very crowded so to have a bunch of additional traffic and parked cars around the campground creates hazards and difficulties. Second, we only have one bathroom building (there are a couple of porta-potties too). Having additional guests use the bathroom, not only costs the campground money but also makes it that much more crowded and uncomfortable for the paying campers. Thirdly, there are a lot of forest campgrounds nearby, so we need to try and prevent those folks from coming into our campground to use the showers. And fourth, it is basic security. It's not only important that we know who is in the campground, but it's also important for the safety of our guests. But I digress.

Saturday and Sunday were both pretty busy with traffic and kids coming in to buy ice cream and candy. But it was certainly calmer than Friday. People seemed to move a little bit slower on Sunday...maybe too much partying on Friday and Saturday?

We finally had some nice weather too. It was sunny most of the weekend and I think we may have even gotten close to 70! Could winter finally be behind us??

Today, Monday, we were off so what did we wake up to? Clouds! What's up with that?? What happened to the sun? At times, it looked like it might rain, but it never did. It was temperate, around 60, so I guess we can't complain too much. We expected the campground to be hectic with everyone packing up and pulling out, so we just decided to lay low. This is one of those times that we're really glad that our site is off by itself. Occassionally, we feel a bit isolated and a little out of touch with what's happening, but overall we really like the peace and quiet where we are. This campground only has water and electric at the sites, so we expected a long line for the dump station. We can see the dump station from our back window and there was a steady stream of rigs, but never more than 2 or 3 lined up at a time. We walked Hunter around the campground shortly before 11 and it seemed like the majority of the people were gone. The few that were left were packing up. From our vantage point, it seemed like a pretty smooth day.

But today brought a different kind of excitement for us. Last night we heard what sounded like scratching on one of our living room windows. We've had several birds bump into the window and that's what we thought it was. Jasper (our cat) seemed especially interested in the window, but again, we didn't think much of it. As we were getting ready to head into bed, he jumped up on the couch. He's not allowed on the furniture, so we thought his behavior was kind of strange, but we shooed him off and he seemed to accept it. This morning, we heard the same thump on the window and once again, Jasper was alert. This time, I saw something out of the corner of my eye, but again thought it was a bird outside. Tracy got up to look and said it was a chipmunk. I thought, "really, that's odd, are they climbing up the side of the rig?" Then she said, he's inside! And I thought, "inside? inside what? between the window and the screen?" Again, she said he's inside with a little more punctuation. And then I understood. Oh, he's inside the rig! Apparently, he was behind the couch trying to get out the window. Then he was on the couch and then disappeared again. We were fearful that he burrowed inside to where the hide-a-bed is, but we found him wedged under the cushion. As soon as we lifted the cushion, he took off and Jasper took off after him. And we took off after Jasper! He ran up the stairs and into the bedroom. My immediate thought was "great, he's going to hide under the top of the bed where we can't reach him". But miraculously, Jasper followed him all the way through and chased him into the bathroom. Now, I say miraculously because Jasper is not a small cat; he's about 20 pounds. We've rarely ever seen him move so fast and certainly didn't think he could fit into the small space behind the bed. Once in the bathroom, Jasper had "Chippy" pinned for a second, but I think he even surprised himself and didn't know what to do so he let him go. Chippy ran for cover behind the toilet and I quickly shut the bathroom door to trap him. I then got Jasper out of the room. Now what do we do? How are we going to catch this speedy little bugger? I didn't want to get bit, nor did I want to hurt the poor thing. After a couple of minutes of thought, Tracy set up a barricade by the outside door so that when I shooed him out of the bathroom, he would have nowhere to go but oustide. Success! Phew, that was an ordeal! As soon as we shut the door, our next thought was "was that the only one?" We looked around but couldn't find anymore so hopefully that's it.

We have no idea how he got inside. We have A LOT (and I mean herds or swarms or whatever you want to call them!) of chipmunks around here. They're cute but quite pesky. And they're really not too bothered by us or by our animals. Hunter is often laying out on the deck but that doesn't stop them from running all around. We generally don't leave the door open, unless we're carrying things in or out, but that's the only way we figure he got in. At least we hope that's the only way. I sure hope there's not another way for them to get in or else we'll be in for a looong summer of battles. We'll certainly be extra careful with the door from now on.

Here's a picture of our "other hunter":

And this is what he usually looks like:

Tomorrow we're expecting our first visitors of the season. I'll write more about that in my next post. Good night!


  1. Another one for the memory books!

    Jasper is beautiful and looks like he knows he's a "looker"

  2. Congrats on your first full weekend. Sounds like you earned your keep for sure. Great post and enjoyed the Chipmunk entry...FatmanAr.

  3. That is hilarious, a chipmunk of all things.

  4. What a story...too funny!!! Adding "check rig for chipmunks" to my camping checklist!

  5. What a funny story! We'll have to be on the lookout for "wildlife" ourselves now that we are in the woods. Jasper is beautiful and looks so proud of himself!
    Seems like things are up and running for you guys now that the season has officially started. Working in a campground during a major holiday does give you added insight as what to do and NOT to do yourself doesn't it?? New appreciation!
    Continue to enjoy this new experience and stay safe!

    Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

  6. Jasper is a real beauty.
    I think your post is great from the perspective of a campground employee and not as a camper. Puts a whole new slant on things. I enjoyed your post very much today!

  7. Wish I could have been a "fly on the wall" to see that show. Let me guess, Hunter just lay there watching the whole thing.