RHETA GRIMSLEY JOHNSON: The stars at night shine bright deep in the heart of RV country

TAOS, N.M. – The tourist center near here provided a list of RV parks to choose from, and I settled on the one farthest from town and with the best name: Enchanted Moon.
“Look for a big covered wagon,” the manager said when I phoned ahead. She was being modest to describe the wagon as “big,” and neglected to mention that she lived in a house tucked beneath it. The whole shebang was contrived sometime in the 1980s by an absentee landlord.
The moon, the covered-wagon house and a deficit of guests make Enchanted Moon my favorite RV roost thus far, if you don’t count the one in Clarendon, Texas, called Yankie’s Place, a combination fireworks stand and park. My one-night stand there had an inauspicious start when I asked about restrooms and showers.
“We have one shower, one bathroom,” the owner answered, with both accuracy and candor. Modest accommodations, but reasonably clean, a nice quality in an RV park.
I tried to buy a bag of ice at Yankie’s, but the ice machine wasn’t working. So the mother of the mother-son management team hustled to the kitchen behind the fireworks stand and came back with a baggie of free ice.
“I hope it won’t disturb you, but we will be setting off some fireworks tonight,” the woman said. “I promised my niece.”
If anyone understands promises to nieces, I do, so, despite a few discouraging words, I paid the $18 overnight charge and parked the trailer in a rare Texas shady spot all by itself. The solitude didn’t last long.
About 8 p.m., a huge RV rolled into the very next spot, spilling out a big bruiser of a kid, his dog and an assortment of other family members who reminded me of Cousin Eddie in the Chevy Chase “Vacation” movies. I didn’t want to appear rude, but I quietly moved my folding chair to the opposite side of my own travel trailer. I supposed it was RV park etiquette.
The fireworks started as promised, soon as dark cloaked the Texas sky, but not before the coal trains began rumbling by on the track right across the busy highway.
None of it – trains, explosions, barking dogs, honking 18-wheelers – bothered me in the least. As it turns out, traveling this way is so tiring that you sleep like a log no matter the circumstances. And I quite enjoyed the fireworks, though I worried the niece might be lighting up all the holiday inventory.
The parks I’ve chosen have been non-chain, funky, cheap and fun. The most spectacular scenery was near the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado. Someone at the other end of a single line of traveling homes that night was playing John Denver, a nice touch, I thought.
The only time my aqua Christmas lights worked was in a state park in Oklahoma, a moment that thrilled me to no end. I took any number of pictures.
The RV park environment is dog-friendly, inexpensive, as American as greed and a nice departure from overpriced and impersonal motels. So far I’m giving the scene, something I never thought I would like, a big thumbs-up.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson is a syndicated columnist. She lives in the Iuka vicinity. Contact her at Iuka, MS 38852.

Rheta Grimsley Johnson

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