Memorable Guests

image Oh, the folks we have met and will not soon forget!

It’s amazing how many different types of people pull in to an RV park. Some just drive through while others stop and ask for information. Still others are overnight guests.

And then there are the “I gotta go” seekers. There are no public restrooms at Remote Outpost since tent camping sites are not available. The 2 restrooms with showers are reserved for overnight guests. After 3 months here, I can spot potty-seekers.

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Type 1 pulls up, rolls down their window, stops me before I can meet them inside the Loafing Shed office, and just asks. Type 2 pulls up, gets out of their car, comments on how beautiful it is here, suggests that they will return with their RV, requests information, and then wham, asks to use a restroom. Type 3 pulls up, asks if they can buy coffee, and then wham, asks to use a restroom. Type 4 just parks and heads for the unmarked and number-coded bathrooms.

Lest you think we are cruel to not provide pit stops, there are 3 public restrooms a mile west of here at Sandy Creek Wayside. And I have personally checked them out and even used them! Also the Bridge General Store, 9 miles west, has a restroom for customers.


But I digress, which I do so well. Below is a list of my favorite and diverse moments:

A helicopter on a trailer pulled in…

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A couple from Germany stayed overnight. They flew into Vancouver and rented a Class C RV. But guess where they were going! … Mansfield, Ohio to visit friends… That’s like an hour away from where I grew up… Small, but global world!

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Of course, the bear hunters visited twice and caught a bear each time!

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There was the couple from Florence, Oregon who rented a cabin several times. He worked in Sacramento, California and was also a life coach. They returned with his daughter who was featured in an article by Jennifer Miller on Slate.com  called The Mercy Girls.

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His wife then returned once more with a granddaughter.

A young Mennonite couple, in traditional dress, stayed in a cabin on their honeymoon before going to the coast.

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A teardrop camper couple pulled in on their way to meet a friend on the coast, wishing they were staying here for a night or two. I didn’t get a picture of their trailer but it resembled this:

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That’s right! The trunk was a kitchen, the backseat was a bed, and somewhere there was a portable commode!

One overnight guest came in an old trailer that he converted into what we nicknamed, the pop-up coffin.

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Edan, Idan, Edon, or Idon???… a bicyclist from Israel, spent one rainy afternoon with us drying out in the Pavillion.

And then there were the many friends of Charlotte and Gary who spent Memorial Day, the 4th of July and several other weekends here. We shared potluck suppers and leftovers the next day.

Once I offered overnight guests from Roseburg some of my leftover Greek Orzo Salad that Jeff prepared. The next day they gave us a homegrown pumpkin-shaped zucchini squash from their garden! It was delicious too!

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Of course, the 3 RV Clubs who stayed here brought their own dynamic energy.

First to arrive were the Oregon River Ramblers, a close-knit group who enjoyed sitting around the chiminea fabricated from an old washing machine drum. They even scrambled eggs and cooked sausage on it one morning!

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The outdoor chiminea above is made out of a washing machine drum propped on a stand. A fabricated flat top, with a hinge lid, provides an opening to add wood to burn and a surface to cook upon. Stove pipes vent the fire. 

The second group were a combination of 3 groups: the Eugene Sojourners, the Ready Roamers, and the Santiam Sam. We were invited to participate in the craft activity which consisted of wrapping decoratively- shaped bottles with twine or yarn. I opted out to watch and take pictures.

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Then a t-shirt caught my eye! Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur… Sheldon’s lullaby from The Big Bang. I thought of you, Missy, and all my other cat-lover friends. I just had to get a picture! And so I met Marian. I asked her if she was a librarian. No! She was a barbarian and my instant new friend!

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Finally, nature came to visit too:

An owlet…

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Just one of many, many spider webs…

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A hornet’s nest…

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More roses that just bloomed…

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And finally… A great big shoutout to Charlotte’s son and daughter-in-law from Camus Valley who welcomed us and embraced us!!

Staying Strong… Authenticity, Support, and Dark Places

image I used to get my fingernails painted in multi-colors before it became a fad. I used to get my hair dyed red with a blonde streak. I used to wear big bold earings. I used to shave my legs and arm pits more often. I used to take a shower everyday and wear a little make-up… foundation, mascara, and lipstick.

Now, I’ve let my hair color grow out to its natural gray, my fingernails are colorless, my pierced ears have closed, I only wear lipgloss on my face, I take more “sponge baths”, and I do laundry every 8-10 days depending upon when my underwear runs out. I’ve even changed my avatar.

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TMI? Who cares? What does this have to do with staying strong?


I’m still me but my priorities are transforming. The most obvious ways are physical, but the exciting changes are more psychological and spiritual. The more somber adjustments are due to growing older.

Transforming Logs Into Surreal Statues by YOSHITOSHI KANEMAKI courtesy of art-sheep.com

Transforming Logs Into Surreal Statues by YOSHITOSHI KANEMAKI courtesy of art-sheep.com

I’m strong in my commitment to living an RV life-style where less becomes more and where we park becomes home. My initiative to simplify my beauty requirements makes me stronger, more confident, more authentic as a person.

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I feel more real. What you see is what you get. And my hope is that you see the goodness of my soul and the strength of my love.

Staying strong also requires relationships that are strong. And I am so blessed with a circle of family and friends that support, inspire, challenge, and advise me.

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More importantly they accept the real me and help me deal with my ever changing reality. I hope you can say that I do this for you too. Yes, being authentic requires strength. It’s so much easier for me to deny my negative feelings and insecurities and just put on a happy face for the world to see.

But sometimes, when I’m all alone with myself, I sit in a dark place. Yes, this takes strength too because I have to face my shortcomings and find a way out.

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And this is where I need my family and friends to support me, accept me, and lend me their strength to see that light out of the darkness.

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By now you are probably wondering what happened to inspire me to write this post… Here’s the story:

Jeff and I have been work camping hosts in southwest Oregon for almost 3 months now. Just as we are beginning to feel more confident and comfortable in our duties, Jeff falls on June 19th sprinting after our dog, Casey, who pushes open the RV’s screen door to chase a guest’s cat. His right leg goes numb and gives out, causing him to do the splits, fall on his back, and end up with his right leg up in the air like a contortionist. After Jeff drops the F-bomb loudly several times, Casey returns and I am prepared to take Jeff to the nearest hospital Emergency Room in Coquille, some 25 miles away.

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I go into my dark place of thoughts. Jeff needs surgery, his Obama Care high deductible insurance will deplete our cash flow, we will have to relinquish our camp host job, and even end our RV lifestyle.

Eventually, Jeff scoots on his butt back to the RV. Charlotte lends him crutches and an ice pack. I buy ace bandages. Jeff doctors himself via WebMD.

While Jeff ices, wraps, rests, and turns black and blue, I feel obliged to work extra hours here to make up for Jeff’s absence. I find myself back in my dark place once again as I wallow in my fear of financial security and my resentment of carrying the responsibility of our workload commitment. I am so ashamed to admit this, but it’s true. How quickly I forget about what attracted me to Jeff to begin with and that was his ability to not only survive without a financial cushion, but to enjoy the smell of the roses in his life everyday!

Things change again on July 1st as I enter my dark place twice on the same day!

I go to Coos Bay to get my teeth cleaned at South Coast Dentistry.

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I do my homework (since I do not carry dental insurance) and ask Charlotte and Gary if they can recommend a dentist. Bob and Deb, friends of C&G who live in Coquille, tell me about the Coos Bay dentists. So I make an appointment and pay only $45 to have my teeth cleaned. Jeff, on the other hand had already gone to a dentist in Roseburg and spent over $2000 and that did not even include all the work they recommended. I enter the dark place of no dental care coverage.

When Jeff, the dogs, and I return (we don’t dare leave our dogs behind because they bark a little bit… well, that’s a whole other story…) Chris and Mary, who take our place in the winter, well for the last 3 years, anyway, have arrived. I mean, brilliant architectural engineer who can run circles around Jeff’s skill level and who refers to Charlotte and Gary as his parents, has arrived to stay while we are also here work camping. Jeff is barely gimping along and I am just starting to feel comfortable and confident in my responsibilities.

Apparently Chris and Mary are between gigs and on their way to Alaska. Indeed, Chris runs circles around us! He’s cleaning the Pavillion chimney and A-frame roof, sawing off tree limbs, cutting the grass, filling propane tanks, sharpening Gary’s tools…  Once again the dark place beckons.

On July 2nd I confront Charlotte with my uncomfortable feelings and wonder if Jeff and I should leave. She reassures me but I keep a low profile. I am hit with my feelings of inferiority. I go into yet another dark place.

And then, just as I am getting into a walking routine by doing laps around the property, I trip and fall on my knee on my second lap on July 7th. I am bleeding and shaken and I stop walking. I shower and go out to water when I discover that my knee is swelling, It looks like a misshapen water balloon and feels like one too! First Jeff, then me… Now I am going to deplete our cash flow. My health insurance is from Ohio! WebMD becomes my doctor too. I am prepared to find an Urgent Care Clinic in another week. I am in a major dark place now.

Jeff and I are potential Workers’ Compensation liabilities for Charlotte and Gary and they severely limit our chores and duties. And then I find out that we are being replaced by new camp hosts in early August, a month earlier than our plans!


Coming Up…

How I stay strong and work my way out of the dark with a lot of help from my family and friends…

Work-Glamping… Part Four

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The Loafing Shed, originally a 3-sided shelter for livestock to escape the rain or hot sun, is now a building that serves as Office, Rec Room, and Kitchen.

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Shortly after arriving here, Jeff and I thoroughly cleaned the inside, whether it needed it or not (actually it needed a good sprucing up). We even “webstered” and washed windows inside and out.

Jeff unlocks the Loafing Shed each morning between 7:30 and 8:00 and locks up every evening between 8:30 and 9:00.


I enjoy checking guests in and answering drive-by questions, now that I can confidently fill out the sales receipts thoroughly, apply the proper discounts, run the credit card machine, and anticipate the FAQs.


Jeff and I are now “certified” to fill propane tanks.

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The process consists of hooking up the nozzle, opening the cylinder valve, loosening the air pressure release valve below, turning on the propane tank, and then opening the nozzle. If the meter doesn’t move, you need to use the inserted screw driver to adjust the air pressure release. If white gas starts spewing, turn off the propane tank! In my case, this usually means that I forgot to close the bleeder line.

When the meter stops moving, the cylinder is filled and the propane tank is turned off. The nozzle is closed, the air pressure release valve is tightened, and the cylinder valve is closed. Finally, the excess gas is bled from the line.


One evening, a few weeks ago, 2 camper trailers and a propane customer pulled up within minutes of each other. I muddled through,  successfully filling out the check-in registration form and filling a propane cylinder all on my own.


If Charlotte doesn’t have a project for us, Jeff and I will find one, like washing windows, cleaning the gutters (of the cabins, laundry room, bathrooms, and loafing shed), clearing the beach, and re-distributing the sand.


Below are pictures of the Oregon Ramblers, the first RV Club we hosted.

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The outdoor chiminea above is made out of a washing machine drum propped on a stand. A fabricated flat top, with a hinge lid, provides an opening to add wood to burn and a surface to cook upon. Stove pipes vent the fire. Awesome!

Work-Glamping… Part Three

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The Laundry Room is located in the building behind the garden.

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It is my pet project,  as we wash and dry our clothes on average of every 9 days. Oh, did I forget to mention that Charlotte gives us all the quarters we need? This is an unexpected perk indeed!

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Everytime I do laundry I wipe down the 4 machines with lavender scented

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which smells so good and reminds me of Ollie Land as Jen and Brian use this product in their home. The fragrance is so calming and it is my crazy way of thanking the gods of the washers and dryers. It just makes me happy, that’s all!

Then I sweep the floor and shake out the rugs. Periodically I de-cobweb with the “webster”,

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clean the windows, and “windex” the collection of bathroom ladies’ pictures.

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Finally, I sweep the sidewalk area around the rest of the building that includes the water treatment room and storage room for cabin supplies and other miscellaneous items.

Charlotte’s personal touches encourage the pleasure of taking extra good care of things, as if I owned them myself.


The 2 bathrooms rest on an old trailer chassis that was gutted and remodeled.

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Each one has a toilet, sink and counter, and a fiberglass shower. The showers run on $2 tokens for 10 minutes. These facilities are for the exclusive use of guests. However, many, many cars pull up asking about using a bathroom! I know first hand, that Sandy Creek Wayside, about 2 miles west, has 3 public restrooms.

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Other folks slyly pull in looking for coffee to buy (aka, a bathroom too!) I just send them 8 miles west on 42 to the town of Bridge. Coffee is available in the General Store and outside there is a public restroom. I personally checked out this option too!

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Jeff is the bathroom guy, always has been since we were married. He cleans, spruces, and stocks them. I like to sweep outside and “webster” away the cobwebs.


The 3 cabins are Charlotte’s responsibility, although once Jeff and I helped her daughter-in-law to clean them.

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They are so adorable inside, reflecting the rustic flavor of the northwest. Two cabins have a large soaking tub and all three offer the ammenities of a first-class hotel room, complete with a fully stocked kitchen, an electric barbecue grill and mugs in the freezer for your favorite beer!

Each cabin has a back porch view of the Coquille River that babbles along and sings guests to sleep.

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One of my chores was to rake up all the dead leaves, weeds, and other debris between cabins 2 and 3. I think Jeff hauled about 5 loads in Miss Daisy to the burn pile!

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Jeff and I washed all the windows inside and out. I raked up the old dead leaves and the rhododendrons’ fallen blooms in the beds in front of the cabins and helped Charlotte spread new redwood bark.


When I help to enhance a slice of paradise, I feel a sense of ownership and pride. Maintaining paradise then becomes a joy and not a chore.

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Work-Glamping… Part Two

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As for the RV sites… There are a total of 26 gravel sites with a grass strip separating one from the other. Eighteen sites are on one side of the entry drive

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and the other 8 are on the far side.

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To get ready for the busy season we scour the picnic tables,

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brush out the cobwebs inside the electrical pedestals, wipe down the outsides, and check for leaking water faucets.

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We also pick up fallen pine cones from the gravel and place them inside the fire grate in the Pavillion as kindling.

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The Pavillion needs an initial spring cleaning to get ready for guests and RV Clubs.

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Tables need to be set up for potlucks and meetings. Chairs need to be stacked for guests to use. The outdoor kitchen and refrigerator need to be cleaned and stocked with the appropriate supplies.

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Wood for burning and wood for kindling needs to be stacked. Jeff and I loaded and unloaded cut wood into the Kabota

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while Charlotte drove the tractor from the wood pile to the Pavillion.

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Finally, the settling pine needles, cobwebs, and other debris from the winter needs to be blown away. Now it is just a matter of maintenance.


Trash… There is no dumpster or garbage pickup service here. Instead, we have a trailer for storing the bags of trash.

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When it’s full, Gary has to haul it to the nearest Coos County dump site which is a 2 hour round trip drive.

Anything that can burn goes into the burn bin behind the Nichols’ garage

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or, in our case, we use it as kindling in the Pavillion fireplace when guests are not here. Large boxes, fallen limbs, and gardening debris get stacked in the burn pile.

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On windless days Charlotte sets the mound on fire and let’s it smolder. Burn season, however, ends with an official notice, sometime in June, to prevent forest fires.

Lots of plastic and glass bottles are charged a deposit fee in Oregon and can easily be redeemed in Myrtle Point, 18 miles away. Other glass, plastic, and recyclable containers are separated out of the trailer trash and hauled to the dump in the back of the truck.

Food scraps get dumped in “buzzard alley” across the bridge on the far west side of the RV park, across the bridge, and into a thicket of bushes.

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Charlotte has trash bins outside of the Pavillion appropriately labeled for separating garbage.

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Very few guests, however, take the time to separate their trash. Jeff hauls bags of garbage to the trailer and then climbs in to stomp them down. He reminds me of Lucille Ball in the I Love Lucy episode in which she steps inside the vat of grapes and crushes the fruit with her feet!

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Work-Glamping… Part One

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Jeff and I are staying the summer, well the end of April through mid September, at Remote Outpost for no charge in exchange for helping maintain the grounds and buildings. This averages out to 2-3 hours of work per day.

Charlotte and Gary Nichols began creating this slice of paradise some 25 years ago. What was once a dairy farm and eventually an overgrown run-down RV park has evolved into a picturesque place to relax and bask in nature along the Middle Fork Coquille River.

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This is a one-of-a-kind RV resort and “working” here is an honor and joy, not to mention a delightful educational experience!

So, what do we do, you ask?

There are 5 acres of land that need mowing,

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weed-whacking, vegetable and flower planting, and watering. Jeff and Charlotte share the Hustler Zero Turn riding mower.

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I like my self-propelled walking mower for cutting the grass between sites, in front of the Pavillion, and beside Cabin One. After mowing, I flush the mower out to keep it in good condition.

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While Jeff weed-whacks, I water the hanging pots and garden beds, including the “splashes of color” flowers and vegetables which include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and crookneck squash. We will plant carrots soon.

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Earlier in May I helped Charlotte rake the flower beds to prepare them for planting and then we mulched with redwood bark. This process entailed a trip to Coos Bay for Charlotte in the truck. Returning with a full truck bed of bark, Jeff shoveled loads into Miss Daisy

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so Charlotte and I could spread it in the gardens. A back wrenching day, needless to say!

Watering and mowing are zen-like activities for me. I get lost in the moment as I enjoy the vibrant reds, purples, pinks, yellows, and whites. The wild daisies poke through and the fragrant Sweet Williams add their soft, sweet scents. I pinch off the spent blooms to encourage new growth and the marigolds respond with a spicy aroma that stays on my hands until I wash it off.

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I never enjoyed gardening as much as I do now. Charlotte has inspired me! Also, the cool mornings and evenings here take the sting out of the hot afternoons.