Everywhere Carolann and I go in our motorhome or Lance truck camper I keep a travelogue. It's sort of a combination diary/travel guide. It reminds me of the places we've been, the experiences we've shared and the things I've learned but might forget if I don't write them down.
This entry, written eleven years ago, falls into that last category: lessons remembered.
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July 2, 1999: Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park RV Camp at Beaver Creek, Cobb Mountain, CA.
No kidding. That's what this place is called.
When I decided spontaneously to take this weekend trip alone to get some writing done it didn't occur to me that this is the July 4th weekend and that all the nice RV parks along the Mendocino Coast would be booked. So, I'm here instead.
This place is located ten miles west of Clear Lake as the crow flies, 21 miles from the town of Lakeport. I know a lot of people who love Clear Lake but it never did much for me. It's one of California's inland, low-altitude lakes that gets brutally hot in the summer and here I am in July. If it wasn't for the excellent air conditioner in my Lance camper I wouldn't be typing this, I'd be running like a crazed dog to the ocean where it is forty degrees cooler.
This doesn't look anything at all like the Jellystone Park I remember from the cartoons. No mountains, no pine trees; no green grass or cute bears wearing hats and ties. No pic-a-nic baskets.
Unlike the lovely pictures on the park's website it's mostly sparse, brown grass with a few scrub oaks; very dusty, dry and hot.
Did I mention this is July?
The park consists of five or six rows of graveled roads and hard pan RV pads. It does have a small, dark green man-made body of water they call a creek and people are paddling around in kayaks and peddle boats which are free to the paying public. I suppose that's nice but they're making a hell of a lot of noise and the water looks scummy to me.
As I drove into the park muttering to myself about all of this I thought Carolann would hate it here and then I immediately realized, no, she would not. This place would be a virtual theme park compared to the similar but humorless places she used to camp as a kid whereas I grew up in the campgrounds of the High Sierra, the Rockies and California's scenic North Coast.
Suddenly, I realized for the first time that I am a camping snob.
The many kids in this park are having a ball, splashing obliviously in the dark, creepy-green creek, laughing, riding bikes, running and kicking up a dust cloud folks can probably see in Glenhaven. The adults are clustered in small groups shaded by trailer awnings enjoying snacks and cold drinks, telling stories, sharing memories, laughing heartily and often.
I, on the other hand, was silently cursing the heat, the dust and the noise looking for a pristine spot to dock my Lance as far away from these lovely, happy people as possible.
I don't like admitting that but it's the truth. Suddenly, I am ashamed and a little bit lonely.
As a future grandpa (I hope,) I need to remember this day.
I want to never forget that when you're a kid heat is no big deal and a little water and a lot of dirt are pretty neat things to have together in one place.
These are the places and times that define families and construct future generations.
While writing this Travelogue entry I just saw a doe and two fawns grazing not a hundred yards from here... over there, by the three long-abandoned, rusted cars and the pickup truck with no wheels or doors.
I guess beauty is where you find it.
© 2010 by David L. Williams, all rights reserved