As we motored down I-95 I thought about where we might be just before sunset. I don’t cotton much to setting up in the dark anymore. It was then that I phoned my old friend Tom Dreyer. We met Tom and his wife Nancy four years ago while we were at our first working stint and they were visitors to the campground. We made fast friends, kept in touch, and visited when they returned to their home just outside Raleigh. I hadn’t seen them in a year, visiting just before the brain surgery. Tom and Nancy are now the managers at the Fayetteville KOA. His voice was welcoming, they were looking forward to seeing us, and they had plenty of room for a short stay. I told Tom we’d be there in four hours.
We spent two glorious days in their company and they couldn’t have been more gracious hosts. Tom and I traded a site for a photo shoot opportunity, hoping that some of my work could help market the campground for them in the next brochure. We feasted with a small group in the social hall on Thanksgiving leftovers, met some new folks and chatted until the late hours. The next day Robin and I set out for some photo work, explored the campground, made a food run to Walmart. Tom and Nancy have completely turned this campground around for the better. Anyone traveling up and down I 95 needs to mark this as a waypoint. The campground is easy off and on, being a mere 1/2 mile from the interstate. All the sites are flat, graveled, well maintained with aesthetics that are pleasing to the eye. They make you feel as if your royalty when you enter the office and it is in evidence very much that the customers well being is the main tenet of operations here. Saturday night we were hosted at the site of John and Yuko for another round of “tales around the fire”. Hitting me like a Louisville Slugger, it was then I realized again what makes this life so special. We’ve done it in two dozen states, amid a vast amount of differing flora and foliage, under stars and moonlit skies.
The fire is always brilliant orange and hot, the names of the people are changed from one venue to another but the stories, the laughter, the camaraderie is always “the holy grail” that we seek. Cynthia and Jim joined in and as the stories unfolded I had to laugh at the common thread that ran thoughout every get together by the fire. They’re all the same and yet, each one different. We left amid morning hugs and kisses, Tom and Nancy proving hosts hard to leave. But we’ll return. On our journey north to Christmas with the children, we’ll stop again and spend some time. Thank you, my friends, for just being you.