Chinook Bay Camp Hosting: What I learned

Wow. We’ve been busy.  If you’ve tried to reach us or come to visit us you know this isn’t a boring gig. At all.  

Friends and family have come and spent a few nights with us, with everyone commenting how busy we are. We are!  Campers on top of campers, people at the door all hours of the day and night. Snakes in tents, loud drunk campers in their 60s who must be reminded of quiet hours; trees falling almost on top of tents; trees falling on camper vans (no one was hurt, thank goodness) and oh, so much more.

d94de-img_01012b252812529As I sit on my patio overlooking the creek, a storm is rolling in, and trees across the way are rocking and rolling.  One keeps threatening to fall…swaying, crackling and teasing.  My camera/video is on standby.

We have met some extraordinary campers with awesome stories. They travelled from Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, the Ukraine, Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and even some Idaho locals, and by far our favorite guests are from California (Smile…as long as they promptly leave and never return. We still love ya).

Many campers are just passing through on their way from the Tetons, to the Tetons, and of course to/from Yellowstone.  Often we are the destination, and if I had a dollar for every time we’ve heard, “we’ve been coming here for 47 (or 35, or 100, or 38, or 20) years”! Beware, they own the place and don’t like change, so there!

We have learned many things this summer, and this blog could go on and on.  Instead I thought I’d encapsulate it with a slide show of our adventures (which have been many), and a list of what we’ve learned, or at least the highlights.

Camp Host Summer 2016, Chinook Bay Campground:

LISA: What I’ve learned.

  • Not all campers are cool.
  • Most people want to share their story, just ask!
  • Dogs bite camp hosts, even when you love all dogs, and bee stings STILL hurt as much.
  • Everything is alive. Open your eyes, it’s always changing.
  • I can hike 10 miles, gain 3,000 feet elevation and not die.
  • how to clean out fire pits
  • That I have cousins! We reunited and they are awesome!!! So glad this happened, and will happen again.
  • I can get really lonely without my family and friends. (Thank the God who   knows me for providing me with new friends and “family” this summer. You know who you are.)
  • Forest fire smoke in the air makes me sick; it’s been around off and on since July.
  • Cleaning public toilets in the forest, while camping, is STILL better than ANY desk!
  • It’s necessary to stay connected to family/friends, especially when living remotely. We appreciate all who called, sent mail and made the trip up to see us! You were our connection. I needed you, and Doug tolerated you. HAHA.
  • I can mountain bike, walking over the hard parts, and feel no shame. I need to ride more.
  • Waking up to the creek babbling beats an alarm clock.
  • Even the worst day in the forest beats the best day in the city.
  • I will always, always, always be an Idaho girl.

 DOUG: What I’ve learned.

  • Some people are jerks, some aren’t.
  • Most 5B-ers (referencing Idaho license plates – Blaine county) seem to have an attitude of arrogant entitlement and are a pain in the you-know-what.
  • how to rebuild a faucet
  • Even when you get some time to kayak, hike and dirt bike, it’s never ever enough.
  • how to clean a vault toilet (which wasn’t on my “need to know” list, btw)
  • Trees can and do fall down, wherever they want, whenever they want. You don’t want to be under one that’s falling.
  • I will not spin a rooster on the dirtbike in front of my wife ever again. Something about flinging dirt and rocks in her face is an issue apparently.
  • Some people will tell you their whole life story within the first 5 mins of introduction, unsolicited. It’s polite to listen, Lisa told me to.
  • Even the best campers usually leave some trash behind.  Some leave it a mess, which is nice.
  • It takes ALL kinds to be a camp host: ministers, truck drivers, hair dressers, attorneys, pilots, veterans, married/single, electricians, all ages 80’s and 20’s.  We met them all, what a group!
  • The general public does NOT read signs, or they read it and cannot comprehend basic English.

 We agree we’ve both learned:

  • Life is better without TV and Radio, especially during the worst election year ever.
  • Chipmunks multiply when fed. Wild birds can be tame, and eat out of your hand.
  • We need more time up here to explore the hundreds of trails.
  • We still like each other, living in these close quarters.
  • The air and skies are bluer, cleaner, clearer in the Sawtooths than perhaps any other place.
  • 50 degree temperature swings during the day is no big thing.
  • Expect snow in July. June and May, too. Just a little, but expect it.
  • We will be back next year, same spot, how could we not?!

Our last day here is September 30th. This is happy sad, we really don’t want to leave, but the snow is coming and grandbabies keep getting bigger without us!

NEXT STOP: Sedona, Arizona!

We are super excited to be working as on-site hosts at the Red Rock State Park. This is a day-use only facility, so closes at 5pm every day. We won’t be dealing with campers but instead work three days a week in the visitor’s center and/or the entry station. We will live at the park and have 4 days off per week to see family and enjoy glorious Sedona. We are going from one piece of paradise to another, equally magnificent. We start here October 6th and work until December 13th.

After that? We just don’t know yet.  Perhaps Christmas in Mexico?


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