Do you know the popular story of “Gulliver’s Travels”? As the story goes, Lemuel Gulliver, a sea captain and surgeon who explores remote regions of the world, falls asleep after a shipwreck only to be awakened to realize he had been captured and tied up by the “little people,” or the Lilliputians, who are shorter than 6 inches tall. My story here is much the same.
Much like Gulliver, the legendary traveler, we full-timers travel to see America, especially the West. Even though we’re retired, it now appears inflation may be the impetus to bring us out of retirement. Thank goodness we no longer desire to be homeowners!
Trekking through the sweltering desert
We had departed St. George, Utah, where we topped off our diesel pusher with 60 gallons of outrageously priced fuel, a mere $3.55 per gallon, or $213 greenbacks. Just think, only a couple of months ago, we filled up with 60 gallons for only $2.15 per gallon – about $129. If this isn’t inflation, could it be a wanton tariff? Nevertheless, I booked us a pull-through, full-hookup site in Orange County, California. It’s a beautiful setting nestled among trees, squirrels and thousands of noisy cars and long-haulers adjacent to a multi-lane freeway. Oh, gee. I almost forgot… millions of ants!
Settling into being unsettled
We parked and settled in after a day-long trek across the southern California desert. The next morning, I awoke to my cat staring at hundreds of puny ghost, thief or sugar ants crawling all over our bed and both of us. That startling feeling shakes you from deep slumber when you feel something crawling across your face and neck. They marched in on my spouse’s side, so he had them all over his head and awoke to himself sneezing, as some had gotten near his nose.
I can only imagine how Gulliver felt when he awakened to being carried by the little people! We both quickly showered to rid ourselves of any leftover critters and I proceeded to the front office.
Dismissing an ongoing problem
I mentioned the problem we were having with ants and asked if others at the campground were having the same problem. Rather, I was apprised that this was not a new problem as ours was not a sole complaint. Since we weren’t advised in advance, I asked if they would please spray to eliminate the problem. The worker responded with, “This is a wilderness park, and we sell ant spray.” I’m thinking, “Wilderness, you say? Next to 16 lanes of freeway that one could throw a rock and hit a car from the park?” Puzzling.
Well, if some call Los Angeles a “jungle,” then I guess this park could be a wilderness. And to top it off, we can fall asleep to the rhythmic purring of Cats, Detroits and Cumminses nearby. All this with ants as a bonus!
Self-fulfilling problem solver
After the dismissal, we located and drove to Ace Hardware for advice and ant termination outcome. Ace’s personnel recommended two products that we purchased for $34. We left, feeling confident that we made the right decision to take the invasion head-on.
My spouse was fastidious in applying the powder around the perimeter and spraying the areas that had ground contact, openings in the wet bay, hoses and wires, etc. Anything those critters could reach. My task was to kill and clean inside. Surprisingly, Sprayway window cleaner does both quickly. At the onset of evening, we inspected the possible breached areas and called it a night, thinking we just may wake up without the ants.
No such luck!
Groundhog Day revisited
Déjà vu all over again! After washing the bedding and temporarily ridding the critters once again, we headed out to Lowe’s. Why Lowe’s? Because Lowe’s offers a 10 percent discount on everything they sell to veterans – a discount we graciously accept. Now on to Home-less Depot to purchase Zevo for inside, which is advertised as safe for pets. Now, my cat can truly see in the dark. Between the two box stores, we spent an additional $42. We finally deduced that the nightly sprinklers likely washed much of the insecticide off the utility side of our coach, requiring respraying at least twice daily. And the ant traps. Nada! The ants didn’t visit Hotel California, where they’d check in, but not check out! After all our efforts, the ants still win.
To add insult to injury, we needed to purchase diesel fuel on our way out. Because fuel in California is so highly taxed, we purchased 20 gallons for the low price of $4.95 per gallon or $99. Just enough to get us to Arizona and significantly lower fuel prices, saving almost $2 a gallon! And, several fuel discount cards were not accepted in the area we traveled. As they say in New York and southern Florida, “Such A Deal!”
Ending the ant saga
To end our tale of woe, the park was unwilling to address the problem. One neighbor in a short Airstream moved after three days to another location. Due to our size, that wasn’t an option.
The first use of powder and bug spray didn’t keep the ants at bay. What finally worked was daily spraying (morning and night) of Home Defense (the least expensive solution). We sprayed every surface you could imagine: inside and outside bays, the frame, hoses, openings, wet bay, jacks, slides, around the tires and tire covers. You name it, it was sprayed! And we still would deal with the little buggers now and then inside. It seems the only thing we didn’t spray was the TV antenna!
While other neighbors mentioned trying talcum powder and borax or vinegar as a homeopathic measure, time was not our friend. We needed to quell the invasion. Like the neighbors on each side, who also experienced the nightmare, it would have been nice if the park took interest in our plight. They did not. If we had been boondocking, we would have picked up and moved to another location, void of ants! Since we were locked in, we stuck it out. Obviously, we won’t be returning anytime soon! And, we will always be wary of those little critters in every park that isn’t mostly concrete and blacktop. At least they weren’t fire ants!