By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Many of us were taught the “proper” rules for the dinner table. Put your napkin on your lap. Don’t burp. Say “please,” when asking for the condiment dish. Etiquette, says the dictionary, “implies observance of the formal requirements governing behavior in polite society.” We’d like to think that RVers make up “polite society,” but unless we were raised by an RVing family, we may not know all the ins and outs. There are certain politenesses that apply in the campground.
Here’s an area that buffalos some RVers: Not claim jumping. From our own experience in boondocking, we were looking for our “perfect place,” on the desert in Arizona on public land. After finally figuring out a spot, we carefully laid out a couple of items–a folding chair, an ice box, to indicate we would return here to set up camp. When we came back we found our gear parked on the road just outside the site, and a utility trailer parked smack in the middle of the site. Some days later the utility trailer was moved, and an RV was parked in its place.
Not looking for a Hatfield-McCoys situation, we just let it go. Still, it rankled us heavily, because typically, when you leave gear in a site, it’s accepted the site is occupied. Yeah, it seems these ‘good folks’ knew that, but they wanted the site more for themselves (or a friend perhaps) enough to become rather boorish in their behavior.
So for the record: If you find gear left in a spot, or a sign that says, “Site Occupied,” it means just that. Find yourself another piece of paradise. In many public campgrounds, a tag hanging on the post that reads, “RESERVED” means the same thing. You’d think this would be simple, but there are those who apparently don’t get it.
On another occasion, we were camped in a “beach front” site next to the Pacific Ocean. Our awning was rolled out and a “grass carpet” set up so we could kick back in our folding chairs and watch the surf roll up on the rocks below. Ah, paradise! But paradise was repeatedly disturbed by troops of young people who would cut across our “turf” to make a shorter pass to the beach access trail. We did our best to politely admonish these ones, all to no avail. Before we left the site, who should likewise cut through our camp but the parents of these charming little brats. The apple fails not to fall far.
Yes, it may well technically be “public land,” but when someone has parked their RV there in accordance with the rules, the area around their rig and within their designated campsite really is “theirs.” That certain politeness says we don’t go tramping through that area, and helping our children (and grands) to understand these same principles is appreciated by all.
We might add, if your dog wanders, chain him up. And when you walk him, take along your poop scooping gear and clean up after him. There’s nothing quite so memorable as stepping out in the middle of a dark night for a deep meditation on the stars of the heavens and suddenly wandering into a pile. It will bring you back to earth in an instant.
Photo: Peter G Trimming on flickr.com