The American Chronicles: Of gators, navigators and railroads

One of the beautiful things about camping across America is the adventure. There is one thing for certain: change. There also is diversity. From the mountains to prairies to the woods to the coastlands, it’s all different and beautiful in its own way. That’s the overview. There are even more differences between places and people when getting into the specifics. It’s kind of like those old boxes of chocolates my dad would get from the hunting club during the holidays. They were all wrapped in their little individual spaces and they were all some kind of chocolate, but inside, they were different. I used to poke them all to see if I would like them. It’s not like that camping. You get what you signed up for, and sometimes, more.

In South Carolina, we stayed at a campground that was very interesting. There were a lot of what seemed to be full-time residents. Across from us was a person living in a camper. He had four vehicles. A couple of sports cars, an SUV and a really tricked out red F-350. I guess he put his money into vehicles rather than a house. The man next to us was a retired Methodist Minister from New Mexico, who gave up his congregation to go on the road and write about his thoughts on the Bible. He said there were things he didn’t understand even though he has a doctorate in religion. You can imagine our shock when we found out there was an active railroad track running through the campground. That whistle at 10 after midnight sounded like the train was coming through our camper, another at 2:10 am just after we got back to sleep!

Florida is also a special place when it comes to campgrounds. This is where you have to pay attention to where you walk and, if you have children and/or pets, keep a watchful eye out on your surroundings. There are plenty of stories where dogs and even young children have fallen prey to the alligators or snakes lurking about. Pay attention when they have signs posted near the restrooms that say “Danger: Alligators and Snakes in the Area. Stay away from water and tall grass.” This campground was in a beautiful setting on the winding Myakka River. Campers were parked right up close to the riverbank and they had to be constantly aware that a gator could leap out of the water and snatch their dog in the blink of an eye. Service Dog Charlie wasn’t bothered by the danger, but Chris and I saw the size of one of those gators and he is no joke.

Another part of the adventure of camping are nav systems. Back in the day, we all used maps and we could visualize where we were going. Nowadays, we trust in nav systems and have no idea where we are going. After a long day of driving and wanting to settle into a campsite, there is always some doubt about the nav system. In Virginia, our nav system declared “your destination is on the right. You have arrived.” To the right was nothing less than a junkyard. We looked at each other and had a collective gasp. In reality, the campground was just ahead on the left, and it was a very nice “country’ adventure with sheep on one hill and cattle on another. 1 Timothy 4:4 says, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” Even for the gators, navigators, junkyards and railroads.

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Bill Wilson