Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Wish us luck
Having spent one night in Branson and having read the various come-ons aimed at tourists, we figured out back in 2012 we really had no desire to go there again. The entertainment might be okay, and technically we fit into their target demographic -- when dinner shows start at 5:30 you know they're aiming for the early bird special crowd -- but overall we just weren't that interested in seeing much more than we did on that one brief stop 4 years ago.
Then the Younger Daughter mentioned checking it out. So on our next days off we're going to Branson, we're seeing a dinner show that somehow manages to combine people chowing down on chicken with a lot of horses kicking up dust in an arena. I always wondered how those Medieval Times shows managed to keep the food from tasting like horseshit; the Dixie Stampede features a lot more horseflesh in action simultaneously than any of the medieval shows do so I guess I'll find out later this week. The Dixie Stampede was one of the few things I saw advertised in Branson on our first trip there that I thought I wouldn't mind seeing; it has the major positive draw of not featuring any geriatric musicians or being a tribute to some performer that you never pictured having a tribute to begin with. I can understand Elvis impersonators -- Elvis is dead and gone -- but George Strait? Why would anyone want to see a George Strait tribute done by some performer you've never heard of before when the original George Strait is still alive and performing? The Dixie Stampede, on the other hand, has horses.
Our days off this week fall on Thursday and Friday. They rotate. We're on for four, off for two, because there are 3 sets of campground hosts. When there were only two sets back in March, the schedule was a little different. One nice thing about Montauk is they do try to do the schedule so the hosts get at least one weekend a month off. That's apparently unusual. We stayed in the park for our last two days off. Not a smart move, of course, because if you're physically present at the host's site campers assume you're on duty. In fact, some will refuse to believe you when you make the mistake of saying you're off. I had a woman yell at me this past Saturday morning (we had Friday and Saturday off). I tried telling her that I didn't know something because it was our day off so I hadn't gotten a copy of the morning report, and she went into a rant about having been a host herself and she knew for a fact that the hosts never get a weekend off. Holy wah, I'm glad we never volunteered wherever it was that she did.
Then again, the folks on the site adjacent to the host's site at the moment are a couple slightly older than us who have been campground hosts at parks in Missouri off and on for quite a few years. They've volunteered at Montauk in the past, and they can recall previous park management that didn't treat the hosts nearly as nice as the current superintendent does. We do know that just how much hosts have to do and how their hours are scheduled does vary from park to park, both from state to state and from park to park within a state, so I guess we got lucky with Montauk. One of the S.O.'s classmates is spending the winter volunteering in Florida state parks. He's being the "host" at a park that has day use only; in exchange for a warm place to spend the winter he and his wife will have the fun of cleaning comfort stations used by picnickers. I imagine they're also expected to deal with the trash and litter in the day use area. That's like accepting a full-time job just for the privilege of parking your camper in a location where it's not likely to snow. Thanks, but no thanks. If I wanted to scrub toilets and pick up trash several hours a day, I'd stay home and just apply for a job at one of the local motels.
Both the couple next door to us here and one of the other host couples have mentioned two parks in Missouri that are nice to host at because although they're extremely nice parks they're too close to Corps of Engineers campgrounds. The state parks are never super busy because the COE campgrounds are so cheap. We like coming to Montauk -- we've gotten to know people here, it's always nice to come back to a place where you like the folks you're going to be working with or for -- but this is an extremely busy park. Maybe it would be nice to host someplace quieter. Besides, one of the reasons for getting an RV in the first place was to be able to see new stuff. So maybe we'll do a quick trip on our days off later this month to see what those parks look like and think about putting them down as possible choices when we do our online applications for 2016.
Ol' Buzzard suggested we apply to host at parks in Maine. Unfortunately, we're kind of out of luck when it comes to the northern states. We want to stay home in the summer, enjoy the brief U.P. warm weather season, and that means any volunteering in parks we do has to be down South where the season is longer and it's possible to be comfortable in an RV even in mid-winter.
I did do some applications for this winter for VIP slots at a couple national parks where we'd be "visitor use assistants" (i.e., the persons at the information desk who tell you how to find the rest room) but no luck so far. I have moments when I still fantasize about hearing from LBJ NHP, but don't think it's going to happen. We'd have heard from them by now if they wanted us for January.