Watching the Campground Channel

My friend and fellow Airstreamer, Sherri, called me out of the blue tonight to tell me about the campers next to them at Gulf Shores. Although she and her husband are camped several states away from Tracy and me right now, we’re going through usually about the same kind of thing.  

Her gripe was a family with 45 kids (I’ll assume that’s the correct count, or it just seemed that way to her, same thing) camping in two sites around them, throwing a ball on the campground road all willy nilly. She said they had a yurt.  Enough said. 

Sherri stepped out to tell them what for, and it turns out they’re a couple of teachers camping across the country with foreign students. I think Sherri thought, okay, actually that’s fine, but please don’t hit our truck with your baseball.  

Judging #vanlife

She got me thinking about our neighbors recently.  I’ve been rolling my eyes at people living stealthily in their vans, which is very trendy right now.  #vanlife. 

Except I give it airquotes. 

A #vanlifer parked at South of the Border (the restaurant parking lot, not the campground) was standing at his open door there in the lot wearing a bath towel and pumping iron. 

At our last campground, a #vanlife dude beside us reclined in his van with the door open and his shirt off (hint: it was not hot outside), blaring that damned hippie music. 

Two nights after that guy pulled out, two old guys pulled in and commenced to playing the local NPR classical station on their radio all danged day, too loud, even when they weren’t at their campsite.  

I could identify the Mozart sonata and I don’t know nothing about Mozart.  

But then a #vanlife young woman walked by our campsite with her guitar on her back, and like mice we followed her to the ampitheater in the woods, where we were treated to a private concert as she practiced for her gig the next day. 

She talked about how her van became her haven when she had to move back home during the worst of Covid.  

I got to thinking about the #vanlife couple we met in the Everglades, an older couple who showed us how to use a firewood bag as a way to spin your clean, wet laundry until it’s dry. Who’d a thunk.  

My Instagram feed is filled with photos of beautiful, very expensive van conversions. Companies are popping up right and left that gut vans and add hidden wet baths and kitchen backsplashes with tile in mermaid mosaics and hand-hewn redwood swivel tables … whatever luxury you can imagine to make you feel a little less like you’re sleeping in your van. Every conversion photo features a beautiful young woman lying on top of the mattress drinking coffee looking out at nature.

The movie Nomadland looks to be about another way to go about #vanlife. I haven’t seen it, though I love Francis McDormand. I was sad enough when the guy in Sound of Metal sold his classic Airstream Excella that he and his girlfriend had made their home. I don’t take to sad movies.  

Here’s my point.

Back when I lived in a “sticks and bricks” house in Harpers Ferry, WV, my family and I joked that watching the neighborhood kids play in the field across from us was watching the Wheeley Channel (that’s close to their last name). The Wheeley Channel was pretty entertaining, but it’s got nothing on the Campground Channel. And now that Sherri is an official channel reporter, it’ll get even better.

I’m starting to think that we might be on that channel ourselves.