Yesterday we took a trip up to my inlaws camper to spend some quality time with them. Jonna and I haven’t been up there for over a year, but every time we head up there I am amazed at what I see.
The camper is located in a little campground in Wisconsin. I named it the “Ewok Village” a few years ago because it really is like a miniature town. People buy campers, rent land, and landscape the hell out of it, creating their little “home away from home” where there is constant work to do (deck building, lawn mowing, etc), where golf carts substitute as cars (and everyone has one) and everyone tries to create their unique little space on their little spot of land.
The interesting thing about it to me is how committed people get to it. The inlaws have a new neighbor, which we met yesterday. He had been there since Thursday, getting ready to build a new deck. Interestingly, he said he didn’t even want one when he got the site, but here he was, buying lumber, measuring it out and building one. I guess it just catches on like that. Who wants to be the only guy on the “block” without a deck?
The place is called a campground, but what you do there is the furthest thing one would call camping. The campers have electricity, satellite TV, bathrooms and some even phones (don’t quite get this one – everyone has a cell phone these days). One trailer on the corner actually has an outdoor bar, while another one has a gazebo with a ceiling fan, for those unbearably hot days. Everyone has their little golf cart that they tool around in in lieu of cars, some electric, some gas powered. People build driveways, decks, and complete house fronts to make their camper look unique.
Each time we go up there, I realize that there is some “guy gene” that I am missing. Mine would be the camper with no driveway, no deck, nothing. Just a plain camper with a car parked in the grass – if there was grass – I don’t see myself taking the time to plant and nurture it into a lawn. Sure, I would get me one of those sweet mini-rides and tool around the park, but mine would be the plain golf cart – no ATV wheels, nothing jacked up – just something to get around. After all, who wants to WALK when you’re out camping? We are civilized after all aren’t we?
Here’s the most fascinating thing to me, that I think about every time we go up there. Its almost like the people there are building their own little Utopia. They put everything they really want in real life into these campers. The difference between this place and “real life” is that everyone has a sense of “camaraderie” here. The guy who didn’t want a deck? He had my father in law and his neighbor over there helping him build it. Everyone invites everyone else over to their fire to hang out and talk in the evenings. Everyone waves to one another and everyone knows everyones business. It really is like a little town – a small little miniature village that has all of the things that “real life” doesn’t really have. Its a community – but one in which people actually (shudder) meet face to face and hang out in, as our son calls it, “RL” (real life). For my in-laws, I would call this their version of “Second Life”.
I have to admit, every time we go up there I think about how wonderful it would be to be a part of it. I think the only thing that stops me is when I think about the amount of work it takes. The last thing I want to do on a weekend off is to go up for a “deck raising”. For me, a place like this would be someplace to go to relax, not to work.
And that would be my demise. I can just imagine all of the “neighbors” getting together at their evening fires irritated at the guy without a deck or a lawn. “When is he going to fix that place up? He’s bringing the property value down!”. Pretty soon, people are showing up at the camper late at night trying to scare me away. Or worse, they actually build a deck and plant a lawn FOR me – and now I have to keep them up. Pretty soon, I’m making trips up just to mow the lawn or plant flowers.
In the end, thats probably why I just visit. I don’t think I’d be able to handle the ‘hardcore-ness’ of Ewok Village residency, but it really is a great place to visit.