Why Do People Camp Like This?

Shana and I have a little thing going where we complain to each other about other people in our campgrounds. Because, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus says, it’s not whining—it’s telling the truth.

Yesterday, Shana sends me a text describing something especially odd in her campground in California. A large group of women dressed up in white gowns with flowers in their hair are posing for a professional photographer. Shana’s daughter ID’s them as, “tantric priestesses connecting deeply with their womb.”

That’s so camping near LA.

I text back right away saying, “I think we can top that.”

We pull in to this campground in Whitehorse, Yukon, to this scene directly beside us: an older woman sitting on the little seat part of her walker, between two trucks, doing electrical work on wires connected to them both. She has two beers on her tray crowded with wires. A guy with beer in his hand—and a cigarette—is pumping diesel, with a gas-station pump handle, from the bed of one truck into the tank of the other. The woman yells, “Tell ‘im, ‘enough!’”

That’s so camping in Yukon.

I should say, that’s so camping in RV parks in Yukon, which we’re just now learning. We had to pull into one here in Whitehorse so we’d have access to potable water; we’ve yet to test the adhesive Tracy patched the grey tank with.

We reluctantly chose this park because it brags in its ad that it has trees. Seriously, the others don’t—they’re gravel parking lots with cones to keep you from driving over the power wires.

It was shocking to me, after having been off the grid for so long, to inch our trailer along these narrow lanes with trucks and RVs parked right along them, everyone packed in like sardines. And to know that the place is full, sold out, you can’t get a site if you tried at this point.

We belong to a couple of facebook groups of people traveling to Alaska right now, and the ranges of experience and expectations here are vast. You’ve got total rookies to camping, like the guy who accosted us when we pulled in to a dry camping area a couple of weeks ago when the night was going to be super cold. He had a fancy new RV and asked if we thought he should be worried about his pipes freezing overnight.

Then he asked something totally bizarre about his running his furnace off his generator, or maybe he should turn on his inverter to run his heat pump? We couldn’t even begin to describe to him how he’s misunderstanding his power sources. ( I know that thanks to years of a sticky note I put up reminding me that the furnace runs on propane.)

Poor guy. We shrugged and said something polite and closed our door on him, because, really, he needed to talk with someone who knew his rig. Or, how about he read his manual? Parked up at the highest summit of the Alaska Highway on a cold night in British Columbia is not when you learn these things. He pulled away sometime in the night, presumably to find a proper campground.

You’ve got people who have a limited amount of time to make this trip, so they’re zooming from one town to another, which I understand but am sorry for. I read about one guy complaining that you can’t stay in Walmart parking lots here. Why would you want to?

Do people need the feeling of security an RV park gives them, so they’re not alone in the woods? Do they need to know they can turn their rig around in a driveway everyone else uses? Do they need a campground so they can have electricity at all times? I see that a lot: people asking for sites with full hookups. Like you can’t go one single night without all the comforts of a house. Why are you here?

We’re here at this unfortunate RV park to fill up our grey tank and look for the leak. In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying the town of Whitehorse and the company of Doug and Melanie, who stopped by for the afternoon before they head up to the Arctic Circle.

When Doug updates his blog, I’ll be sure to link it here. And you know they won’t be spending a single night in a campground like this!

6 thoughts to “Why Do People Camp Like This?”

  1. I regard campsites like that with horror, they are a means to an end only (like catching up with you!) I’d rather not camp at all if that’s the only option. But boy do some people love them! Here it’s a real thing to return to the same campground year after year and when one closes oh the angst! I guess I can *kind of* understand that sense of community but being cheek by jowl with a bunch of strangers and an unwilling participant in their lives? No way. It’s bad enough living in suburbia! 😁

    1. To defend this place, I think people who want a campground with services have no other choice. This is “the most popular campground in Yukon” as advertised. I see people everywhere using the showers and laundromat and working on their rigs. So, it does have its purpose.

  2. There is a wide spectrum of folks out there on the road, and always has been. Sometimes there is more to a situation than meets the eye. I was part of a caravan of two crumbling station wagons and a U-Haul truck transporting a very large, very poor family, from a declining Appalacian coal town to new opportunities on the west coast. I am sure folks thought we were pure trash, and we were often treated like it. However, our folks told us not to hold grudges against the well heeled, for some of them may have had humble begninnings as well.

    1. Well said, Gavin. I know people must think we’re “the assholes in an Airstream.” I wonder more why people stay in crowded campgrounds when they have a choice, but I know some stay anywhere they can.

    1. I know it’s a complicated topic that I probably whitewashed with my own complaining, but you’re right: you can’t argue about the views. 🙂

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