Dear RV Shrink:
We just spent a miserable night at Lost Dutchman State Park near Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a beautiful park, but obviously not well managed. It was a Saturday night. A party was raging in the site next to us. A family with young children and drunk adults, screaming profanities at the top of their voices. You could hear them all over the park, but we were unfortunately right next door. I think there are more volunteer host sites in the park than any park we have ever visited. We counted at least one volunteer per loop and some have two or more.
With all this presence, not one of them came over to quiet the insanity going on next door to us. We simply closed up our windows and turned up the volume on our TV. It went on well into the night and early the next morning they were at it again. We just started this RV lifestyle. I hope this isn’t the norm. We have checked this park off of our list to revisit.
There is absolutely no way management could not have heard this band of obnoxious neighbors. We should have demanded our camping fee back, but we just cancelled our stay online and left in disgust. We didn’t retire to spend another minute micro-managing people that have little in the way of supervisory skills. The only other explanation is that Lost Dutchman State Park only hires volunteers with severe hearing loss. I didn’t write this as a question – it’s a warning to anyone thinking about spending time there. —Despondent in the Desert
I assure you this is not the norm, but it does happen on occasion. That’s why you live on wheels. I can’t give the volunteers in your park immunity. Although it is not their job to act as law enforcement, it is their job to contact park management. It will do no good to take the law into your own hands and confront rude neighbors, especially those that are alcohol-fueled. I could understand this response if it were a remote Forest Service campground, but not a state park with resident rangers and a corps of volunteers.
I understand your frustration, but you should have taken the time to at least put in a formal complaint. That might benefit future guests. It is not too late. You should write a short description of your experience at Lost Dutchman State Park and send it to their central office in Phoenix or to individual board members.
We have been enjoying this lifestyle for many years and I can count on one hand the times we have experienced what you describe. I have seen individual campers vent their disgust with the troublemakers and it turned ugly quickly. That should not be your response. Always contact management. You are a paying customer.
Read park rules when you arrive and expect them to be applied to you and everyone around you. I just looked at Lost Dutchman State Park rules. I notice they are promising you, as a guest, quiet hours from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. It also says, “Prevent loud nuisance noises.” That sounds kind of lame. I would ask in your complaint letter what that means exactly.
In the future you should have a reactionary plan. Personally, I would contact a volunteer in my loop. That would put them on notice and they would most likely contact management. I cannot believe there would be no chain-of-command in the park system. Usually volunteers go through a thorough vetting and training. There has to be a session in their training program on this very situation you describe, and a response method.
I can’t stress enough not to get personally involved. Arizona is a permit-less carry state. No permit is required to carry a concealed firearm. Getting in a heated argument with a gun-toting drunk will only cause further problems. I even avoid people in the cereal aisle at the grocery store.
It is not about being brave enough to confront this situation, it is about being smart enough not to.
The people you describe in your email are often not the sharpest tools in the shed. Treat them with caution.
I once heard a guy, who was running his generator during quiet hours, arguing with the ranger. He said he had Second Amendment rights to run his generator anytime he wanted. I don’t think that’s correct. Benjamin Franklin died a year before the Second Amendment was ratified and he never did figure out how to hook a kite to a motorhome.
Have I ever mentioned before that there are 8 billion people on the planet? Sadly, there are just enough inconsiderate jerks in that number to ensure that all of us eventually get to deal with one of them.
It is not going to get any better. Most parks are over-used and under-budget. In cases like this it is “The Wild West.” Giving-in and moving-out might not sound like a fair solution, but your other choice is frustration and stress, both just the opposite of what you came out here to find.
—Write that complaint letter, and Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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