Recently, I discovered something about myself:
I’m a bit of a camping snob.
This epiphany hit me as soon as my hubby suggested we spend a couple of our precious vacation days at the KOA Kampgrounds in Gunnison, CO. Two of our very good friends whom are currently “RV-living” it would be there for about a month and this would be our perfect opportunity to hang out with them for a bit. I could feel my nose crinkling up in vainglorious superiority as the words “KOA campgrounds” fell from his mouth. The manicured camping conveniences of a KOA were not my idea of getting back to Nature. But that was ok. We were seeing our friends we hadn’t seen in a good while and that’s what mattered the most. So we packed up the Westfalia and headed towards Gunnison.
We arrived amidst the summer afternoon heat with our cranky toddler in tow. After discovering our space was right next to two deep ponds, we asked the attendant at the front desk if it would be possible to get a space farther away from the ponds. Water to our son is like what porch lights are to moths. And since, like moths to a flame, toddlers seem to have a natural propensity for self-destruction, we thought it best to put as much space between him and the ponds as possible. The attendant was in complete understanding and placed us in a space right next to our friend’s RV. Perfect! Only catch: we would have to move to another space tomorrow just across from where we would be staying the first night. No problem! We appreciated the friendly disposition and willingness to work with us. “I have a grandson about the same age as your son, so I completely understand”, she told us with a smile.
The majority of the people staying at the KOA were those in RV’s. And most of them were some of the nicest, friendliest people I’ve encountered. The place began to remind me a little of a micro-community or maybe a summer camp. My favorite RV was one that had set up bird feeders right outside their vehicle.
By far the nicest surprise was the Owner and Operating Manager, Dave Taylor. It soon became clear that Mr. Taylor loves what he does. Dave always had a sincere smile and an interesting story to tell. We thoroughly enjoyed his joyful demeanor and gift for gab.
He also happens to love animals. Roaming the grounds were Deiter and Guenther- two uninhibited goats with collars like the family dogs and each bearing a tag with his name inscripted upon it. Adjacent to the property was pastureland filled with an assortment of other animals belonging to Dave including llamas, alpacas, horses, a donkey and two cows, all of which live, as Dave puts it, “in a kill-free zone. ” On weekends, Dave gathers his menagerie together for all the kids to enjoy up close. Unfortunately, we were not there for that but we did get to spend some time with Fancy and Norman, the two resident cows. “He’s just like a big dog”, Dave said about his Holstein, Norman. He’s had him since Norman was a baby and you could see the mutual love between them. It made me happy to know that these were two cows that would never see a slaughterhouse. And I’m glad my son got to see these animals up close.
All in all, the visit to the KOA in Gunnison turned out to be a very pleasant and enlightening experience. I think I learned a valuable lesson-don’t judge an experience until you have it. I’m reminded of advice given by Bokonon in Kurt Vonnegut’s book, “Cat’s Cradle”: “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God”. Well, I’m an atheist but I get the meaning.
If you happen to make it out to the KOA in Gunnison, tell Deiter and Guenther “hi” for me.