Ranger Danger and the Case of the Abandoned RV
March 20, 2019 – Dash Point State Park, Federal Way, WA
Last night, the RV on the lot next to us was unceremoniously removed by Pete’s towing. The 20-foot trailer home pulled in a few days ago, popping and sputtering, one foot in the grave, as though Dash Point would be its final resting place. Trailing the RV was a faded and dented car. The two men who emerged from the vehicles could have been twins—slender, gray-haired men who greeted me with a smile and a warm hello. They proudly set up their new home, pulling out the awning and decorating it with twinkling red Christmas lights.
The following day, under blue skies and unseasonably warm weather, a bright red sports car drove up to visit our neighbors. The young woman who stepped out was the daughter of one of the gray-haired men. In her hands she held a house-warming gift, a small green plastic flower pot with miniature daffodils which she placed on the picnic table. By the third day, a shiny new U-Haul truck had taken the place of the rickety old car, and I wondered. Why would they need a U-Haul? Surely they could fit everything they had into the RV.
That morning, “Ranger Danger” showed up at their doorstep. He pounded loudly several times on the metal door until one of the men cracked it open. The ranger proceeded to itemize a list of unpaid fees, $30 a night for three nights, plus $10 a night for the U-Haul truck. “You were supposed to register at the front entrance when you arrived”, he admonished. I found it hard to believe that the two men could be naïve enough to believe they didn’t have to pay just because there were no rangers sitting at the front entrance.
And that brings up another issue. Who’s the boss here? There are no rangers manning the entrance station, only a nearby trailer that houses an invisible “campground host.” We’ve driven by the host RV many times, morning, afternoon, evening, but the small, black-lettered sign inevitably states that the host is “OFF DUTY.” I want this job—free housing and no responsibilities. As for the rangers, they make their rounds in the morning to ensure everyone is legit, clean the restrooms, then leave.
Another day passed and, by the look on Ranger Danger’s face yesterday morning, I could tell the two gray-haired men had yet to pay their bills. He marched over to the door of the RV, pounding on it several times until his knuckles must have hurt. The U-Haul truck had vanished, and I was quite sure that any more knocking would prove useless. We could hear as he radioed his supervisor with details of the RV. It hadn’t been registered since 2006—not a good sign, and the ranger couldn’t locate the VIN. I was sure he’d be over to ask if we’d seen the men, but he wasn’t interested in talking to us. The door to the RV was unlocked and he walked in to case the place.
As he emerged, he noticed the bright yellow daffodils sitting on the picnic table. Fearing their demise, I’d watered them hours earlier. He asked if they belonged to me and I shook my head, immediately regretting my actions. He didn’t look like the nurturing kind and, sure enough, he set them inside the RV and closed the door, sealing their fate.
When the ranger car drove off, I wanted so badly to open that door and step inside. I needed some closure. Who were these men and why did they abandon their RV? Was it all planned out ahead of time or was it a spur of the moment decision? Was the daughter in on the plan? Given the fact that she brought flowers, it didn’t seem likely. I conjured up scenarios in my head. The two men were gay lovers. They’d been hiding it from the daughter, but she’d discovered the truth. The men, knowing their secret was out, decided to flee the state. They couldn’t take the RV or the ancient car, which they no doubt left at the U-Haul place, so they stashed all their stuff in the U-Haul and left in the only vehicle that was fit to drive.
As Pete’s Towing worked to resolve the seemingly impossible task of RV removal that evening, I couldn’t help but feel sad—not for the men’s abrupt departure, but for what I hadn’t done. I should have talked to the gray-haired men, gotten to know them. Maybe I could have understood why they abandoned their vehicle. Then again, sometimes imagination can be more interesting than the truth.
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