Play Makers: Wal-Mart Barbecuers … I Miss You

I’ve seen lots of strange things in my seven years of living up here in the Yukon, but one of my fondest is still the time I saw that jolly group of Americans having a barbecue outside their RV.

I know what you’re thinking … “Well, that doesn’t seem too strange, you silly Greek!”

The thing is, they were doing so at the Wal-Mart parking lot.

I remember standing there, dumbfounded, my bag of toothpaste and deodorant in hand, just staring in awe.

“Say there, Bill, that has to be one of the most beautiful lakes I’s ever did see … hick hick!” chimed one to another as they sat in their fold-out lawn chairs and roasted smokies on their tiny grill.

As a fresh-faced Cheechako, I was already mesmerized by the sea of fifth wheels that littered the parking lot.

Kansas, California, Iowa, Alaska … the list was endless, but seeing Bill and Dwight and Rhonda and Rhonda 2 set up shop right there in the Wal-Mart parking lot, grilling away without a care in the world, took my shock and awe factor to a whole new level.

That was 2002 and, in the years since, I have become accustomed to the sea of RVers who choose “Wally-World” RV Park as their camping spot of choice.

It begins in mid-May and continues until the very last handful of stragglers in late September.

Dozens of RVers setting up camp throughout the summer, saving money and causing havoc to the traffic flow of would-be shoppers.

A recent survey of some locals showed me that the verdict is mixed on the general feeling Yukoners have about the Wal-Mart camp site.

Some don’t mind, but then there are those adamant about their strong hate of Wal-Mart camping, so much so that camp-out protests are held each summer where would-be anarchists set up tents amidst the RVers.

Then there is the late-night drive-by honkings.

Yes, not every Yukoner is a fan.

And I have to admit, I was one of those people.

Ludicrous, ridiculous, however you describe it I just didn’t get how one could come all the way to the Yukon and set up shop in a parking lot.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to save money; heck, most of my friends dub me the “Cheap Greek”, but even for a financially educated feta lover, like myself, I found it all so bizarre.

And then this year, something different happened … I began to miss the RVs.

Blame it on the economy or the stiff border regulations but, thus far, the sea of fifth wheels has been more pond-like.

No more zigging and zagging in and out of the long, white luxury-living fifth wheels, dodging fellow shoppers, while trying not to hit the brand new SUVs most have tied behind them.

No more slow drive-bys to see how the barbecuing is going.

No more license-plate gazing.

It is amazing how you get used to something even if you don’t enjoy it.

My first root canal was a disaster, but these days I don’t bat an eye.

Minus 50 temps in March; that’s OK, too, and now the Wal-Mart RVers … even them I’m OK with.

Perhaps it is because they have become staples in my mind, of a Yukon summer: mosquitoes, farmer tans and southern twang RVers roasting hot dogs in the parking lot.

I’m not saying I agree with it … just that I miss them.

Maybe it’s the heat.

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