Life in an RV park with working RVers from all walks of life -- what is that like, anyway? I asked to post this article because of the job mix. But, what impresses me is the sense of community and cooperation the residents share.
by full-time RVer William Briggs
Long-term living in an RV park differs in several important ways from life in a sticks-and-bricks neighborhood. My friend, Karen, who is a member of this group, made an interesting observation. She noticed that people in RV parks do not stratify into neighborhoods comprised of folks sharing a similar socio-economic background. I had never noticed that fact, but she is right. In an RV park, all classes live together.
In this park, there are several managers of local businesses, a couple of truck drivers, some engineers, a nurse, a cop, several welders, two folks who own their own contracting companies, several oilfield roughnecks, and one family who are, frankly, hippie pot-heads. I find most of those folks are friendly and helpful, and enjoy them very much.
Each has his or her own reason for choosing a full-time RV lifestyle. Many (the engineers, welders, and the oilfield roughnecks, for example) have jobs requiring them to move periodically around the country. Others (the cop, one of the business managers, the nurse, and the two truck drivers) have families and homes in another part of the state, and are living at the park to be close to their jobs. There are several divorced men, such as myself, who don't want the responsibility of living in a traditional home. Some of the young folks are just starting in the workforce, and choose the RV lifestyle to build equity in a home and avoid wasting money on rent.
There are a couple "trailer park-attitude" residents I don't enjoy talking to very much, but the rest are fine folks. Short of us all arriving at the Great Beyond, I suspect there'll always be some folks we enjoy more than others.
The Boogie-Dog insists we take a walk every afternoon about six o'clock. We walk through the front side of the park and admire the quarter-million-dollar motorhomes that have come in off the interstate highway and rented one of the overnight sites. Most of the time those folks aren't too friendly, but I met a few I enjoyed.
One overnighter, a man who had recently lost his wife of 50 years, had packed his belongings into a pickup-bed camper, and was traveling the country trying to come to terms with his loss. We walked our dogs together for an hour and I listened to his stories. Somehow, I got this feeling that the old man had made exactly the right decision, given his circumstances. I think he's going to be okay.
Another was a guy from Australia who was touring this continent over the summer. I enjoyed hearing his stories. Several have been driving what's left of Route 66, before that road is forever gone. (The original Route 66 runs directly in front of this RV park.)
I met a boy just out of high school who lives a couple of lots down from me. He's from East Texas and is working his first full time job. He works at a pig farm taking care of almost 2,900 sows. Some days he tells me he delivers 700 baby pigs! His mom and dad sent him up here in their fiver, but the parents forgot to tell him how to cook. So I helped him learn how to make a hamburger. He's a funny kid; I enjoy talking to him very much.
The young man living next to me is an electrician who speaks only Spanish. We share food off the BBQ grills and generally help each other. When we meet, the language barrier keeps us from talking very much, but he always smiles, waves, and calls me "amigo." He watches after my motorcycle and SUV when I'm away for a few days in the motorhome.
There are some frustrations, but they're relatively minor. Seventy rigs sharing one laundry facility could become frustrating, but you have to learn not to sweat the petty stuff. If I carry my laundry bag down the hill and find a line waiting to use the machines, I simply smile, visit a while, and carry the dirty laundry back up the hill, and make plans to try it again another day.
I have never known my neighbors as well as I have in this RV park. Maybe it's because we live closer together than in a traditional neighborhood. Maybe it's because the small square footage of our rigs forces us to get outside and socialize. Or maybe it's because we share a common interest. I do know that whenever someone is working on his rig, we all gather around to help. It may not be the ideal community, but it's a lot closer to ideal than I've ever seen.
Most of the folks living here never lock their doors when they leave -- except for the hippie pot-heads who live in the ancient Airstream. They secure their rig with a hasp and lock when they leave! But don't get me wrong. Those hippies are good folks as well; they watch after my dog when I'm at work and when the weather gets too warm, they'll walk over to my rig, open the door, and put the Boogie-Dog into the air conditioning.
I don't know if every RV park is as decent a community as this one. I know I've heard many more stories about "good" parks like this one, than I have about "bad" parks. I know I've been pleased with the experience.
The author of this article, William Briggs, has been around RVs most of his life. As a child, his family often camped in a 60's-era Nomad travel trailer. As an adult, he has owned a fifth-wheel trailer and a motorhome. His career as a CPA provides opportunities for occasional time away from the office. He is an avid backpacker and has explored several mountain ranges across the southern United States. He has played keyboard and guitar in Christian bands since the age of 16, and occasionally substitutes on the pipe organ at his local church. Briggs' family includes two biological children and several former foster children, all adults. He and his dog Boogie live full-time in a classic motorhome, which he is restoring. We are reprinting this article with Mr. Briggs' permission.
Update: Life, family, and work change. Since writing this article, Billy added a wife and son to his family. He has retired from his job as an accountant. He now specializes in making sure his teenage son has freshly baked goodies upon his arrival home from school. He is also still very involved with volunteer work. The Briggs family now enjoys RVing on a part-time basis.