Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Campground characters: The inspiring story of ‘Five-mile Denise’

One of the best things about RVing is meeting people along the way. One of my favorite campground characters is a gal I dubbed “Five-mile Denise.”

Florida, of course!

During a months-long stay at a campground in mid-south Florida, I happened to glance outside our RV window. It was early morning, not quite six o’clock yet. The sun was slowly making its ascent over the horizon, and all seemed quite calm. And then? A blur! A bright pink blur flew past on the campground road next to our rig. I quickly ran to a window on the other side of the RV to try and get another look at whatever it was. That was my first “sighting” of the gal I’d later name “Five-mile Denise.”

Daily Denise

An hour later I sighted the pink blur again as I made my way to the campground’s laundromat. She was still speed walking! Now the bright pink jacket rode low on her hips. It was tied around her waist by jacket arms that seemed to be hanging on for dear life. This gal was fast!

When she looked up, our eyes met. I smiled and received a beaming grin in return. The pink blur stopped, and that’s when I officially met Campground Character Denise.

Five each day

She began by explaining the first task she always does when arriving at a new campground—find her “mile route.” Right after unhitching, Denise drives her truck on a circuit up and down the aisles of RVs, out to the nearby road, as many times as it takes to log a mile. Her goal? To find a daily walking route and then proceed to log five miles a day during her stay.

Quite a life

In the following weeks, I came to learn little bits and pieces about Denise’s life. Denise explained that she’d been an only child. Her parents died when Denise was only 6. Her grandmother took her in, but within a year, their roles reversed, and Denise was caring for her ailing grandmother.

Although she never went into much detail, I came to understand that Denise experienced a rather rocky adolescence. Her young marriage produced two little boys before Denise’s husband took off. That might have proved too much for the 20-something, but she began to walk. “I bundled my little boys in the stroller and walked and walked. Then I’d walk some more!” The walking, she said, helped tamp down her frustration, depression, and feelings of hopelessness.

Denise’s boys grew into fine, young men. She’s proud of them. I can tell from the way she smiles as she talks about them. And now? Well, Denise is retired from her work and happily drives her RV all over the country. She continues to walk. Five miles a day. What an inspiration and an interesting campground character!

Don’t miss your chance!

While we’re out on the road we have many, many opportunities to meet different people. I’d like to challenge you to greet a few of them and listen long enough to learn at least part of their story. We all have stories to tell and lessons to learn from the “campground characters” we meet.

Do you have a “campground character” you’d like to tell us about? We’d love to listen! Please share in the comments below.





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Richard Chabrajez
5 months ago

We’re cardio failures; we’ve never made more than a mile without meeting someone and stopping to talk!

Bruce Williams
5 months ago

Being a Boondockers Welcome host, I get to meet many people from all walks of life, but with a common interest in camping and traveling. We have made some lifelong friends and love learning about our guests and their travels!

T. Hudson
5 months ago

I love meeting folks as I walk through the campgrounds. Some just want to smile and nod as I pass by, but occasionally I’ll come upon some who want to share a bit more. Sometimes you’ll wish they hadn’t shared “quite That much”. But other times, you’ll get a fascinating story! I’m never disappointed when I take the time to listen.

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