We were the campground hosts for November at Monte Sano, just five miles from downtown Huntsville, AL, -- only a few miles from the city but up on the mountain, surrounded by trees, fresh air, beautiful views of the surrounding area and lots of forest friends.
duties were simple – after the campground store closed at 5 pm, we
checked in campers, sold firewood and fielded questions.
Life was rough – we sat by the campfire Larry built, sipped a
glass of wine and greeted the occasional guest. But we were up to
this daunting task – someone had to do it.
were provided with a golf cart to drive through the campground, checking
which sites were still available and making sure the rest rooms had
adequate supplies. We learned early on to make our ‘rounds’ before 5
pm so that as soon as the office closed, we were ready. Many nights Larry
would build a fire – we had some great campfire visits with friends and
hosting responsibilities were easy but did take our time every evening. We
originally were told that we’d be working only Tuesdays through
Saturdays, but we found out that the host is typically on duty seven days
a week. Arrangements with the park staff would have to be made in advance
if we wanted to have a free evening, which we did once to join friends Deb
and Neil and son Chris for dinner. We did have several cookouts, though,
and enjoyed visiting with those that joined us – longtime friends Gail,
Teri, Sheila, Val, Ron, Linda, Deb and Neil.
shared a campfire also with Bob and Robin, who surprised us by staying at
the campground our first weekend. Lucille met Robin through work several
years ago and we’ve been friends since once we learned we shared a love
for RVing and traveling.
Ron and Linda invited us for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and scheduled
it early so that we could get back on the mountain by the time our shift
started. Surprisingly, we had lots of check-ins over Thanksgiving.
friends Art and Roxanne, whom we met this past spring at Lake Lanier,
arranged their itinerary to include stopping for several days in the
Huntsville area to coincide with our hosting on the mountain. They became
our campfire and park sitters if we had to make a quick run in the golf
cart. We also enjoyed visits with Tom and Jane, Helene (giving us the
details of her recent RVing adventure to Australia and New Zealand), and
Debbie and Randy.
our friends that we missed seeing – if it’s any consolation, we just
plumb ran out of time – we didn’t even have time for a bike ride in
the area and only managed to get in one hike. As we mentioned earlier,
time just went by much too quickly.
have asked to campground host again next November but another couple has
already signed up. However, the ranger took our names as backups should
their plans change. We enjoyed our first time as hosts and found it
interesting to be on the other side of the desk, so to speak. And the
hours we put in were worth it to get not just our site free for the month,
but to meet so many nice people and to be entertained by the birds,
squirrels, chipmunks, flying squirrels (but not the skunk!) and the beauty
of the park itself.
was when most of our furry and feathered friends come to visit. Two
birdfeeders in our front yard kept us entertained with a couple of
woodpecker species, tufted titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals and
others we weren’t able to identify. The titmice, especially, loved
to feed from your hand and fussed at you if you were outside without a
treat for them. Larry patiently tried to get the nuthatches to feed
from his hand also.
morning Fat Benny, the plumpest of our resident squirrels, had the
audacity to sit in the empty feeder closest to our window, with his paws
folded over his chest like a little Buddha, staring straight into the RV,
wondering when we’d bring his morning meal. Fat Benny and his kin
were frequent visitors to our feeders.
yes, the Odor Eater, also known as Shelley. We’d been diligent in
keeping her away from the many skunks that came out after the sun goes
down but she was quicker than Lucille one night and managed to catch one
of the critters. The little stinker managed to get in his two ‘scents’
and boy, was he ever potent! Shelley sure was clean after her
impromptu bath that night. Did she learn her lesson?
Probably not! Pepe LePew wandered off after his encounter with the
Odor Eater and word has it that he has a contract out on her head, or any
days flew by. Larry did maintenance and cleaning on both the truck and RV,
taking advantage of being parked in one place for a month. We both had
annual medical and dental appointments and subsequent follow-ups that kept
was also the start of our new paying job – as roving ambassadors for
Odorlos holding tank chemical. All that is involved is giving away samples
and coupons of the product to fellow RVers, RV dealers and campground
stores. Everyone likes something for free, so it is an easy job.
stops: Palm Bay FL for about two weeks; a few days near Mobile, AL; a few
days each at Livingston, San Antonio and El Paso, TX before starting our
volunteer work at Desert Haven Animal Refuge in Williamsburg, NM.