“Hello Muddah. Hello Faddah. Just arrived in Camp Granada,” one of the more memorable songs from my youth where Allan Sherman sings about the summer camp from hell. Whenever I hear it, just the tone of his voice conjures up thoughts of misery, stuck in a place designed around enforced fun, with no hope for escape until the week is done. Such was the nature of Vasa Park “Resort.”
I feel like I am hopping around Washington like a flea these days, but I left my brief time up in the Olympic Peninsula to drop down to Seattle to meet up with some long time friends who were only going to be in town for two weeks. So I left the calming lavender fields of Sequim and headed back to the land of ferry wait times, six lane freeways and construction-clogged bridges that link together the many bodies of water that surround Seattle.
Finding a tolerable campground in an urban setting can sometimes prove to be a bit dicey. These locations are known to be more crowded with less personal space, and the only green landscaping is the moss and vines covering the sun-faded, metal-sided “lean tos” that are to RVs what cinder blocks are to leveling jacks.
But this time, I had a recommendation. I have several colleagues who live and work in the Seattle area. When I first bought my RV, Diane insisted that I should drive it up to Seattle. She had just the place for me — Vasa Park Resort, their nearby community park on Lake Sammamish. “It’s such a sweet little campground! Very quaint. Right on the lake! It would be perfect for you!” This would be one urban location where I finally wouldn’t have to jockey for position while keeping one eye on the sketchy neighbors. After all, it had been recommended! Unlike my usual analysis paralysis, I hadn’t even done any research prior to arrival.
As is my typical MO, I came rolling into Seattle late on a Sunday evening, with just enough time to get situated before dark. My first sign of trouble was when I checked in at the office, and the woman behind the desk said, “Now be sure and snug up nice and close to your neighbor, because sites here at Vasa Park are a little narrow. And you have neighbors arriving tomorrow! You don’t have a slide out now, do you?” A pall came over me.
The next surprise came when I unfurled my power cord and went to plug in my surge protector. I raised the flap on the pole, to discover it is 20 amp only! I went back to the office and said, “Sorry, there must be some misunderstanding…I think I am supposed to be over in the area with the 30amps.” “Oh, no, you asked for ‘partial hook-ups.’ Our partial hook-up sites only come with 20 amp.” So I ask, “I have a lot of sensitive work equipment. Can I move to a full-hookup site?” “Oh, no, hon. Those have been booked since January.” Strike Two.
The third strike came the next morning, when a family with two small children and two puppies pulled in next to me in a pop-up tent. They were so close, my awning would have shaded their bedroom….if only there had been room to roll out the awning.
Our bedroom windows were side by side. I could hear every word of their conversations. By the end of the week, I knew all their names and what they did to annoy each other. But there was one thing they all unilaterally agreed upon…”COOPER!!!!” their whimpering, yipping puppy was “A VERY BAD BOY!!!” Every time I sneezed or coughed, the dog would go ballistic. There wasn’t a waking moment that one of the four of them wasn’t yelling at him. By the end of the week, they were yelling at each other.
Since I have to work inside the rig, normally what I would do in a situation like this is close the windows and doors and board myself inside so I could work. But the sun was shining in Seattle, so the temperature inside the rig got up to 87 degrees before I cried uncle. And of course, no AC on 20amps. Try having a conference call with a testy client when it is 87 degrees inside…
Toward the weekend, the inflatable fun-houses and portable climbing wall rolled in. I tried moving, but every campground within a 50 mile radius was full for the weekend. I was left with a case of PTSD that it would take weeks of boondocking to undo.
There was one redeeming factor, and that was “location, location, location.” And in this case, my location was less than five miles from the stealthy Kimbopolo, who made her home in the Garden Center of the Home Depot for the early part of the week. After work, I would make my way over to the Home Depot/Best Buy complex, and slowly cruise the parking lot looking for a white van with tinted windows. Once I spotted her, I would ease into the parking space next to her, as if we were on surveillance duty. It felt very covert. Especially when we laughed at all the poor bastards coming out of the store hauling bags of peat moss and pea gravel.
Kim had made a fascinating discovery…just a nice evening’s stroll across Hwy 405 was downtown Bellevue, a spotless suburb of Seattle, which she so succinctly described it as looking like an artist rendering of a planned city. Everything was perfect, right down to the ivy growing up the pub walls, a shopping mall filled with outdoor outfitters, and a park where people played soccer in colorful uniforms while a black and white dog raced across the green, manicured park to catch the perfect Frisbee toss. From the Home Depot parking lot, the gleaming, glinting spotless city rose up across the freeway like the Emerald City of Oz, where we would venture in the evenings for all sorts of laughable adventures…
But then Kim moved on, and I found myself wishing time at Camp Granada would speed up rather than slow down for the first time in the 17 months I have been on the road…