By Chuck Woodbury
It’s 2 p.m. A motorhome just pulled in my RV park and stopped literally inches away from our car. Gail was afraid they would hit it, so she ran outside to steer them clear.
We were lucky to get a space here. It’s almost impossible to find a decent place to stay in the Seattle metro area.
Our particular park, which I won’t name because the owners are very nice people and chances are excellent you’ll never get a space here anyway, is uncomfortably crowded. I’m a sardine in a very large, well-equipped can. At least it’s quiet. It’s an okay place if you want or need to be in or near the city, or you work in the area and can’t afford a house or even an apartment.
Gail and I have been here a month. The way our site is situated, it’s hard to see the residents of the RV next door. They can see us easily from several windows. The windows are shaded so we can’t see in. I think there are two people. Gail said she saw a woman once.
They have never bothered to walk around their RV to introduce themselves. We’d introduce ourselves, but they literally spend all day, every day, inside their trailer, mostly watching TV. I won’t knock on their door: I don’t think they want to be bothered.
You read all the time about how friendly RVers are, and how great it is to meet your neighbors where you travel. And, yes, that’s true a lot of time, but not as often as the RV industry cheerleaders want you to believe. In a recent poll, we asked RVtravel.com readers: How important to you is socializing with other RVers at campgrounds or RV parks? Check out the chart to see the results from the more than 2,300 readers who responded. More than half said it was not important.
At some parks, the residents are very social. A couple of years ago Gail and I lucked into a place for a month in a 55-plus park in nearly booked-up Tucson. It was the kind of park where residents stand in swimming pools instead of swimming in them, in other words my peers. The people were very nice. Our site was apparently in a highly coveted area.
“Welcome to Row E,” our neighbor said, his hand extended, only minutes after we arrived. “This is the party street,” he explained, a wide smile across his face. I think he was proud to bear the news that we had landed in the RV park’s version of Shangri La. He and most others in Row E return year after year and have developed friendships. We were the newbies, a curiosity. We attended one party. We formed a circle in lawn chairs and discussed RVs, ailments, recent surgeries, and who was bringing what to the upcoming potluck.
You know, some people are extroverts and some are introverts. At my current Seattle park, people pretty much keep to themselves. They live here. No way are they “camping.” Half of them have dogs, and walk by every few hours on their way to and from the doggie pooping area. They say hi, sometimes clutching a disposable bag of dog poop swinging at their side. Those with big dogs have the most swag to the bag.
Sometimes I wonder (I am not kidding) how much dog poop is produced every day in all the RV parks in America. I know that’s a totally stupid thought, but I think it anyway. My mind never stops in part because it is generally heavily fueled by strong coffee. Now bear with me, and if you think I am losing my mind due to such a display of silliness, that’s okay: I understand. But I’m fine except for chronic short-term memory loss, which in my case gives me about 48 seconds to get a thought out before I forget it.
So here is what I have been thinking: Suppose there are 6,000 RV parks in America where people stay (in other words we’re not counting RV ghettos) and in each one there are 50 dogs that on average produce a pound of waste a day. That’s 300,000 pounds each 24 hours or a whopping 109 million pounds a year. That’s equivalent to the weight of about 36,000 Honda Civics or 9,100 Asian Elephants. Imagine that! As Cousin Eddy might say, “Dat der’s a lot of dog poop!”
But getting back to discussing my RV park: From what I can tell, most people live here. They go to work early each morning and return at dinnertime. I don’t see many retired full timers, but there are some.
To me, this is not an RV park, even though it will be listed in every RV directory as such. It’s a mobile home park. I think if you called it a trailer park that would work, too, and people would get the idea.
Every year, the number of spaces in American RV parks occupied by full-time or seasonal residents increases. Available sites for transient RVers decreases. The RV industry expects to sell more than 500,000 RVs again this year, maybe as many as 550,000. A man named Richard Curtain who conducts surveys for the RV industry said recently that the sale of 700,000 RVs a year could happen in the very near future, which begs the question: Where will they stay?
I don’t know, but I’m trying to figure it out. Your advice requested.