If You Go Down in the Woods Today…


The Grapevine, Part II – Bob the Builder

The title of this post is from the first line of The Teddy Bears’ Picnic – a song I loved when I was a child. It came to mind while I was at the campground – the next line is “You’re sure of a big surprise.” And I was surprised, at least on some level.

The second week of my campout started out ‘normal’ – but that Monday afternoon I heard what I thought was a tractor trailer coming down the dirt road from the highway. And it was. And it stopped right in front of my camp site. Shortly afterward, Bob the Builder (not his real name!) and some of his friends arrived, with their trucks and trailers to transport the 19-pallet load of adobe bricks that were being delivered from a place seven hours away, north of Espanola, NM. Offloading and loading continued for the next several hours.

One of Bob’s neighbors who came to help saw that I was photographing and came over to chat. It was a conversation “meant” to happen…I stated my dismay at my experience over the weekend, and he was in agreement with me about the need for some kind of monitoring at the campgrounds. Now, these are FREE campgrounds, so of course they will attract some unsavory characters for sure. He said that his property is on the other side of the river from another campground, and he experiences human and animal waste scattered not only on the campground side of the river, but also on his property.

The campgrounds are also remote, so in case of any emergency there is no phone contact, except at the pay phone at the store a few miles away. Mr. Neighbor (not his real name!) said he felt it would take some crisis, a death or serious injury before the Forest Service would take any measure to put monitors (like camp hosts) in the campgrounds. He said he had a name for me, and a phone number, if I wanted to make my concerns known, and I took down the information. I told him I was planning to write about my experience and I would definitely contact the name he gave me.

The bricks were hand loaded because the smaller trailers couldn’t handle the full-size pallets. It took three trailers, three loads each, to get all the bricks to the other side of the river. The next day a truck loaded with lumber cruised by toward the dead end of the campground. I headed him off before he got off track, and he said he had to make not one, but three crossings of the river to get the lumber to its destination at the building site.

Again, while I was speaking with Mr. Neighbor, I registered my dismay also with the fact that these ‘wilderness’ places are somewhat invaded by landowners asserting their rights, and creating damage from construction vehicles. In my study of land use and planning issues, it became very clear that the public was not as important as the property owner and his/her rights to development and ‘improve’ their property.

These last photos are a ‘photo essay’ of the process involved during this activity. After the semi driver delivered and offloaded pallets onto the smaller trailers, he then offloaded them across the street from my camp site. Then Bob brought his own back hoe/fork lift to do the rest of the heavy lifting. While the men were working, another neighbor ‘happened’ by to chat, apparently oblivious that there was someone camping there. All the trucks, trailers, and heavy equipment went back across the river, and I wondered about those polliwogs…

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