After Christmas we spent the majority of January- March in Springfield Ohio. We were only two hours from ‘home’ in Cincinnati, but between our annual never-ending line of winter illness and the kids’ intolerance for car trips (how they still aren’t used to these is beyond me) we didn’t get to visit as much as we’d hoped. Springfield is a small town and Tom was working a lot of hours, so there wasn’t a ton of adventure, but we still enjoyed ourselves- especially when the days were nice enough to get outside. We split time between two parks- Tomorrow’s Stars and Buck Creek State Park.
Tomorrow’s Stars was a private RV park. Surrounded by the highway and jam-packed with trailers, though we hardly ever saw another soul outside. Not our favorite park we’ve stayed at, but a big bonus was HOT SHOWERS! Our hot water heater was on the fritz most of the winter so we had been taking ‘baths’ with a bowl of boiled water and a rag pioneer style. Having hot showers at the park was a luxury I very much enjoyed, even if the water smelled like sulfur. There was also laundry on site- double bonus!
Not pictured- Tom took the kids to breakfast at the Historic Clifton Mill. The cornmeal he brought home was very yummy! We also remembered that we had visited there once, when I was pregnant with Turtle. I distinctly remember it as the time when I spent hours convincing Tom of my newfound desire to homeschool, though he claims to only remember the hike.
After a couple weeks at Tomorrow’s Stars we desperately needed a new view. We decided to try out the only other park in the area. It was a little further from Tom’s work, didn’t have full hook up (meaning we would have to empty our black tank into our portable tank and tow it to the dump station, which was ridiculously far from the camping area. We’d also have to drive to the same area to get water, a daily chore) and no showers or laundry so it hadn’t been our first choice. I’m so glad we took a chance on it though! What a beautiful park. Camping wise we had the place to ourselves and we chose a spot directly across from the playground. There was a huge gorgeous lake and miles and miles of woods. There were also very aggressive raccoons, and that onetime we accidentally left the windows open, left to visit family, and spent half the trip home vividly imagining the raccoons we fully expected to find ransacking the fridge when we returned. Thankfully a rainstorm kept them at bay.
Being surrounded by all the wildlife and woods was like being home. We hiked, we biked, we skipped rocks into the lake….and then we got kicked out of our new home. In our lives ‘before’ conventional adulting was something we both struggled a bit with. We were responsible with money to be sure, but remembering to pay and send out bills wasn’t our strong suit. We always paid on time, and we never had our electric shut off, but there were close calls. Every month. Traveling and being free of any debt or bills has only exacerbated our inability to stay in touch with reality. Thus we found ourselves a week late in depositing the camping fee into the self pay box across from our site. And I found myself on a snowy Saturday morning, home alone with the kids, in my robe and coffee in hand, outside apologizing profusely to two park rangers. In my defense Tom and I had talked about the bill earlier in the week. He asked if I had cash, I told him it was in my wallet, I assumed he retrieved said cash and paid the bill he had in his hands. Never assume. (And don’t worry, I’m not placing all the blame at his feet, I’m about to make a mistake of my own). After the rangers left and I calmed down from my overwhelming embarrassment, I immediately gathered the money and stuffed it in the envelope. It was then that 6 year old princess assured me that she knew where the box to deposit the envelope was. I mulled it over, and in the end her eagerness to be helpful and my eagerness to stay in my pjs won out. I watched out the window as she crossed over to the building and briefly ducked behind it where the box was located. She skipped back and I was finally at ease- problem solved.
Only two days later the rangers were back. They informed us that as we still hadn’t paid our bill, and that they would now be enforcing their winter two week limit. Meaning we’d have to leave immediately. But we had paid! Panic, again! Eventually it was sorted out that Princess put the envelope full of cash in with the other empty envelopes, and not in the box for paid bills. Though it had been an honest mistake the rangers weren’t going to go back on their word.
I’m a rule follower you guys. My nickname in high school was ‘goody goody Thompson.’ This was one of the most mortifying experiences of my life. On one hand I knew that our mistakes were trivial in the grand scheme of things. On the other I was acutely aware of how we appeared to the rangers. Living in a beat up old trailer with three young kids in the middle of winter. Making excuses for our lack of payment. I could read on the rangers face what he thought of us, and I couldn’t necessarily blame him. I don’t often feel the weight of the stereotype that falls on our way of living, but it was crushing that day.
But then showers. HOT showers. And laundry. Tea time and nature study. Silver linings I have cherished, and a lesson learned. From now on I will always get dressed before I have my coffee.