Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What we Learned about Camp Hosting

We are often asked if we like camp hosting.  Like any job – and like any location – it has its good and bad.  The work itself was really not bad at all – even cleaning the toilets.  We had plenty of time to relax and enjoy our surroundings.  If you’re interested in camp hosting in the near or distant future, here’s a very brief recap of our experience.

What we loved:
·         Waking up every morning in the mountains.
·         Meeting the wonderful people who came to camp with us.  Most of the folks we met were respectful of us and of their surroundings. We had the added delight of meeting a man who had gone to high school with my father, and meeting the younger brother of a dear high school friend.
·         Having friends and family members come up – either for the day or to camp with us.  We had a blast showing off our home away from home.
·         Having our friends and family members bring us a newspaper when they come up.
·         Campers who brought us fresh fruits and vegetables, often home-grown.
·         Our area managers and the other camp hosts in our area. 
·         Riding the ATV on our “rounds.”
·         Running in the campground.
·         Getting videos from our local library. They allow you to keep DVDs for a week, and unless you return it late, it’s free!

What annoyed us just a little:
·         Having to nag campers to pay their fees.
·         Having to remind our younger ATV riders that our campground is not a racetrack.
·         Finding trash in the fire pits.
·         Finding mice in the trailer.
·         Shooing cows out of the campground.

Lessons Learned:
·         Paul and I had to learn to be alone in the same room. 
·         No matter how large a trailer is, they’re really set up for two people. 
·         Our campers did expect us to know about the surrounding area, the wildlife, and the national forest.  Glad we took the time to learn and explore.
·         Always back the trailer into the camp spot.  If you back the trailer in, you always know you can pull it back out.
·         Would we be camp hosts again?  Absolutely!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

It’s hard to believe we have only two more weeks left in our assignment at Hoop Lake.  Our area managers have already approached us with the “year-end” paperwork, including the forms to either work at Hoop again next year or transfer to another campground.

Apparently quite a few camp hosts choose to stay at the same campground for at least two years.  Our Area Managers have had the same campground for nine years now.  Of course, these camp hosts can “lock in” their choice for next season at the end of this season.
Paul and I have always planned to do a different campground – in a different area of the country – every year.  We’ve thought about Lake Powell for next year.  We’ve also considered Island Park, Idaho – just southwest of Yellowstone Park.  Grand Canyon is another option we’re looking into.  We’re researching other options as well. 

The further from home we venture next year, the more critical it will be to have cell phone and internet access within a 20 – 30 minute drive, so we can keep track of what’s going on in our rental business.   Here at Hoop we can’t get access until just a few miles outside of Mountain View, WY, about 45 minutes.  It hasn’t been a problem, though, because we are able to get home every week.  American Land and Leisure operates several campgrounds within two hours of home; several of these look promising as well.
Our area managers are encouraging us to make a decision by October 15.  We’ll be doing some traveling in September, which should give us the opportunity to investigate Island Park and see what else is available in Idaho and Wyoming. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Meeting the Locals

Hoop Lake is in Summit County, Utah.  But don’t tell that to the people of Bridger Valley in Uinta County, Wyoming.  They claim the lake as their own.  There’s good reason for this.  The most direct route to Hoop Lake takes you through Uinta County, Wyoming.  There is a way to get to Hoop Lake entirely within Utah, but it would involve driving an extra two hours. One of those hours is on a road that ATV riders find rough.

Our normal route takes us through the towns of Urie, Mountain View, and Lonetree.  We’ve also accessed the main road through Fort Bridger and Lyman.  The locals refer to this area as the Bridger Valley, named for the famous mountain man, Jim Bridger.  In 1842, Jim Bridger established a supply post on the Blacks Fork of the Green River to cater to emigrants moving west, as the westward migration started along the Oregon Trail and other trails.
All are small towns with friendly people.  Not much industry – primarily farming and ranching.  Small businesses tend to cater to campers, as these towns are the gateway to several Uinta mountain lakes as well as Flaming Gorge.
One of my early childhood memories of going to Hoop Lake was seeing the sign for the town of Lonetree, which stated “Elevation 6800, Population 5.”  They’ve since taken the sign down, but I always found it amusing that there would be a town with only five people in it.  I also knew once I saw the sign that it was only another hour to the lake.
We’ve had the opportunity to meet many folks from the Bridger Valley area.  A gentleman from Lyman told us that his grandfather worked on the crew that built the dam.  A gentleman from Mountain View told a story about his grandfather’s unwitting involvement in a bank robbery when he was a boy.  Apparently the gang asked the boy to hang on to their horses while they went to the bank.  They proceeded to rob the bank, grabbed the horses and tossed the boy a gold coin as they rode away. 
The locals have been very kind to us, recommending restaurants and services and sharing the local lore with us.  Residents of Bridger Valley – we appreciate you!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

This Means War

I neglected to mention one of Hoop Lake’s more prolific wild creatures – mice!  That’s because until a few weeks ago I really hadn’t seen them.  Unfortunately, evidence of the mouse population has been found recently – inside our trailer.  Ewwwwhhhh!  I have the same agreement with mice that I’ve always had with spiders:  if they’re outside I leave them alone.  If they’re in my house, they’re dead.

We mentioned our mouse problem to our Area Managers, who assured us we weren’t the only ones.  He suggested that we put steel wool around the pipes (where the mice get in) and that we put moth balls under the trailer.  Apparently the mice don’t like the smell of moth balls.  My great-great uncle was a tailor, and his house always smelled like moth balls.  They do smell terrible.  Problem #1 – I haven’t been able to find them.  Problem #2 – we would have to smell them right along with the mice, and we don’t have the option of finding other accommodations.  Scratch the moth balls.
To the internet!  I found an article saying that mice don’t like the smell of Irish Spring soap (once again I agree with them) or dryer sheets.  I placed dryer sheets in the areas where we’ve trapped them, but they don’t seem to make much of a difference.  Apparently our mice like “April fresh.”  So our only defense at this time is the steel wool.

On the offense – we trapped several with the good old-fashioned Victor wooden traps with the metal springs.  That is, until the mice figured out how to lick off the peanut butter without springing the traps.  Off to the hardware store, where we bought two different styles of traps.  One, also made by Victor, is more humane – the mice go in to get the bait and then can’t get out.  Then we can release them – far  away.  So far this trap has caught zero mice.
The other, made by Ortho, looks like a set of sharp teeth, but the plate holding the bait is a lot more sensitive.  We have yet to have a mouse steal the bait from these traps.  Perhaps Ortho has really built the proverbial better mousetrap.

When we left the lake on Monday there had been no mice in the traps for two days.  However, the battle continues until we have successfully convinced the mice of Hoop Lake to find food and shelter elsewhere.  Wish us luck.

P.S. – the fire restrictions in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest have been lifted. So while we’re not completely out of danger of wildfires, it looks like the hunters that will be coming to the forest in the very near future will be able to stay warm in their camps outside of the established campgrounds.