November 2004


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Our home on Monte Sano for the month of November.

November went by in a flash! We arrived at Monte Sano State Park on October 30th. One day later we were set up, ready to assume our campground hosting duties. The host site at Monte Sano is one of the prettiest and most spacious we’ve seen, close to the campground entrance but set back off a tree-lined path.

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.

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Monte Sano State Park was part of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project.  A campground was added in the 80s.

Our 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.

We 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 fellow campers.

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Sharing a Campfire with long-time friends.

Our 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.

We 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.

Friends 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.

Fulltimer 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.

For 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.

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The tufted titmouse would eat from your hand... Fat Benny preferred the entire feeder.  Occasionally, a flying squirrel would visit at night but it was difficult to photograph this shy critter. 

We 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.

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Okay, the squirrel is not a bird.  But he thinks he is.

Daytime 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.

One 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.

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Shelley's nemesis.

Ah 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 other parts.

Our 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 us busy.

November 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.

Next 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.


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