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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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The journey is fun but the people make it special

Good neighbors are an incredibly rewarding part of the RV lifestyle, but the criteria for what makes a good neighbor means different things to different people.

We’re happiest being cordial while maintaining our social distance. (Yes, even before the COVID-19 crisis.) We don’t expect to be BFFs with the campers next door because the reality is most full-timers keep to themselves.

Still, there have been times along this epic journey where we’ve had some truly heart-warming encounters. Here are a few of our sweetest memories:

Spokane connection

We recently met a couple on a trail near Rancho Sedona RV Park and when they told us they were from Spokane, we were beyond excited. Heather Black-DuPree and Kevin Jones were traveling to meet up with Kevin’s son at Arizona State University and caravan back to the 509.

After visiting with the couple the next morning, we learned we had mutual friends. Hello, chef David Blaine of Central Food! Heather is the former chef-owner of Latah Bistro, not to mention a member of the band, Manito. That quick small-world shot of chatting with nice people from the place we called home for 19 years was like a tonic. We hope our paths cross again soon.

Hats off

While camping in Borrego Springs, Calif., in February, we were absolutely delighted when our neighbor showed up while we were sitting around the campfire. She came bearing gifts.

“I just love to make beanies,” she explained, handing us each a warm hat that matched our outfits. How cool was that? We’re forever grateful, especially when sitting outside on chilly evenings.

License plate checklist

We’ve been in Arizona since March 1, and during that time we’ve seen a whole lot of RVs. Big fifth wheels, teeny pop-ups, all sorts of Class A diesel pushers have crossed our paths, yet very few from Washington state.

Then, we landed at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Ariz., and our neighbor had the distinctive Mount Rainier license plate that set off a serious bout of homesickness. We got to talking and learned he and his wife were from Winthrop.

The couple hit a bump in the road when she became sick and needed to be hospitalized for pneumonia and tested for COVID-19. We wished him well, and moved down the road to Sedona for a week. When we returned, we were thrilled to find her back at his side, recovering nicely.

Like many of these fleeting encounters, we exchanged first names, but quickly forgot them. We won’t soon forget that they looked so happy to be reunited.

Hot tub encounters

During the month we parked in Palm Springs, we had lots of interesting conversations with neighbors at the Happy Traveler, many of them while soaking in the hot tub. Ha!

That community-minded RV park attracts people who live there over the winter and it was fun to observe the rituals of the residents: the guys who gathered at 3 p.m. for a gab session -- yes, in the hot tub -- and the hardcore happy-hour group who poured martinis at 4 on the dot. It felt like the best kind of neighborhood.

Close culinary encounters

Going all the way back to last summer at The Gorge, there was the magical meal we shared with a family we met while camping out at the Brandi Carlile concert. Josh Bachtell and his wife, Candi, work at a restaurant in Montesano and we’re still thinking about that awesome pecan-crusted halibut they graciously shared. Bravo!

That’s not the only time we’ve shared food with neighbors. While staying in Half Moon Bay’s Pillar Point RV Park, we met a family who shared their catch of fresh-caught Dungeness crab, and the next thing you know, we had dinner. We gifted them with a bottle of Washington state wine, so let’s hear it for the old-fashioned bartering system and good neighbors!

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.