By the Big Thompson River

By the Big Thompson River in Estes Park, Colorado, we spent last night in the Spruce Lake RV Park with Tom and Tish, our friends from Casper, Wyoming. Today is their sixth anniversary, and, as is their tradition, they held a brief meeting and decided to go for another year. We are staying in their brand-new fifth-wheel 34-foot Titanium RV. Compared with the little Rialta we had several years ago, the Titanium is Versailles on wheels. You don’t have to duck your head anywhere, and the main room’s ceiling is too tall for me to reach without jumping. It has two TVs and hookups for a washer and dryer.

Darlene and I remembered the sweet freedom of spending time in RV parks, where the views, like this one, do not fit my usual sense of aesthetics. But all these big white boxes jammed in next to each other contain people who seem to be moving through life with simple calm and good spirits. “I’d forgotten how nice it is to be in such clean bathrooms and to be among such friendly people,” Darlene said on returning from the bath house. I woke up early after a good sleep in the roll-out sofa bed and did some writing at the dining room table. In an RV park it seemed perfectly appropriate to begin the day playing a video game, so I fired up a new one my mother found out about, Nintendogs, where you talk into the Nintendo DS to train a puppy. I kept stating “Pokey” in a firm voice, which drove Darlene crazy as she was reading her novel, so I had to go out to the truck to continue the training. That there was a real puppy in the house might have made it seem ridiculous to be training a digital one. But in an RV Park, anything goes. One rig’s sign read, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”

As I worked on my writing, I watched a woman in a neighboring RV fire up her grill next to the picnic table. She cooked bacon while her husband stood nearby, smoking a pipe. They looked to be in their 70s. I couldn’t hear their conversation. They were dressed warmly for the chill of the morning air. It was an incredibly cozy little scene, well-suited to an anniversary day for our good friends from Wyoming.

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