Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Another break from the Wild?


My first attempt at fishing.

Before I vent, and I really need to, I wanted to share a wonderful photo  with you.  Some think it is amazing that I (68 years old) am kayaking America alone, but I think my former mother-in-law is the amazing one – she just kayaked the first time at age 90+.  Go Peg Bailey, Gross Isle, MI.  You have always been my hero, but this takes the cake.  I love you from the bottom of my heart.


Peg Bailey, kayaks in Michigan.

O.K. now on to venting: How do you define Wilderness?  I came to Colorado to be in the wilderness and enjoy wildness.  I thought along with that would come serenity.  Ha!  There is just nothing serene about managing a campground or two!  Remote, yes.  Wild, no!  If people were not hollering all over the place and breaking rules faster than I can make rounds, and cows and sheep were not pooping their way through the campgrounds and the bugs were not eating me alive, the remote wilderness might be enjoyable.


The cows have arrived.  Sheep arrived a couple weeks ago.

I find myself on high alert out there in the wild… not due to wild beasts but due to human beasts.  I can not work an 8 hr. day… job calls for a split-shift… which means I might work a couple hours take a little time off (not relaxing cause you are “on duty” anyway) then work a couple hrs etc.… and that continues for 12-14 hrs a day.  And I can’t sleep at night as once in awhile another mammal decides my home is their home.  A mouse was running amuck in the van the other night and I got no sleep.  Once I thought it ran up my leg.  I had to sleep with lights on and still only got a hour of rest (not hearing the herd of cattle that went through my campsite at 6:30 a.m.).

So if you think it is a dream job, don’t kid yourself.  I rushed into town yesterday morning after two sleepless nights, just to buy mouse traps (cause darn it, I’m the only mammal living in this house). 


This morning I went to Fairgrounds for my long free hot shower(truly the best part of my week), then collected a McBreakfast and sat along the Colorado River enjoying it.  I was more relaxed and free there beside the swollen reddish-colored river than out in the wild (it has rained hard everyday since July 4th).  I’m frustrated and I’m tired.  I am considering sleeping away from the campground so that I can be more rested for the work day.

If you are thinking of “camp hosting,” think twice.  There is no glamor here.  That’s not to say there aren’t some perks.  Wonderful people inviting me to join them for a fantastic picnic…


…. little boys who go out and catch a trout for me to eat…


(I promise to eat the fish, Colby – for supper tonight.)

I’ve met some really wonderful people out there, who have even invited me to their homes (I’ll be seeing some of you.. be sure to email me your address and phone numbers to charlene.swankie@gmail.com ) and have a hot shower, meal, etc.  They warm your heart… and make up for those who litter the wilderness with their trash and have little regard and respect for their fellow humans or for the wilderness they have come out to enjoy.  I love all the NICE and considerate people.  Thank you.  Thank you for all the trout, thank you for the sodas, thank you for your warmth and understanding.  Without you, this summer would be unbearable.

If only I could just enjoy the beauty without all the other issues.

More good memories:


Beautiful Dogs


Beautiful Ducks (what kind?)


A clutch of eight???


A day on the lake… small white dot on
left edge of photo is my van.


My kayak on the boat ramp.


Looking north from south end of lake.


Looking south from north end of lake.


Sheep herder Peppy’s cabin (on way to New Castle).

I must take more time for these types of pleasures and worry less about the inconsiderate wildHUMANlife that comes through my summer home.

(sorry if this has been a negative post,
but you just got to vent sometimes)


  1. Hang in there!! thinking your halfway through and I sympathize with ya completely..

    1. I knew you would understand. Got to keep the "end goal" in mind, everyday. Thanks.

    2. Maybe only a week to go... got evacuated due to fire headed my way. Working at Supervisor's camp now. Camps not closed down properly, a table left 1/2 painted, what a mess. Raining now. Hope to get back up there to close things down. But, maybe not! I have no say in the matter.

  2. Whew. Sorry it's not peaceful and pristine. I agree--hang in there! I bet you are making their stay much nicer for a lot of people. Sorry some are so inconsiderate. Hope you get those mice! And much respect for your mother in law! She is inspiring!

    1. Odd isn't it... I'm resting better when I come into town than when I am out in the wild where I wanted to be. I am trying hard to keep everyone happy and keep the area clean and picked up. Things I've found: dirty little kid panties and shorts (poop) laying right in the parking lot, pop and beer cans, broken glass, crushed cig. butts (during fire ban and more now), fish guts, fires left burning after people leave, etc.

  3. Try and get a camphost job at the North Fork campground just outside Ketchum ID next year. Small (27 sites) CG right alongside the river. Very quiet, peacefuland the campers (while we there) very respectful of where they were. The only wildlife seen was some deer and a wild black cat. Very clean and well kept by the camphost this year, who also happened to be from Arizona. Hope the bad days don't linger in your mind and the good memories last of this experience...Rick Samsal

    1. Hi Rick. Oh, I think the good memories will dominate this old brain for sure. So many wonderful photos to refresh them. Got evacuated from my work site on 9/22 and am still awaiting word that it is safe to return. Fast approaching wildfire about five miles away and heading my way fast. So am working at my supervisor's campground for now. Ketchum ID sounds very nice. Undecided about next year at this point. Can't plan that far ahead.


Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.