Community on the Edge

By Maggie Boissonnault
Flapjack Chronicle

Tim Prince, 58, has been managing and living in RV parks for the last 14 years, with the last three spent working at Mad River.  He can’t see why there would be any reason to live anywhere else.

“There’s so many advantages,” Prince said. “Hell, I don’t know if I’d live in a home again.”

People come to stay at Mad River RV Park for the versatility and freedom that the lifestyle has to offer, Prince said.  If a person doesn’t like the neighbors, they can pick up and move. If they don’t like the weather, they can drive until they do.  They come from all over the United States, Europe and Canada and stay at Prince’s RV park, and they bring with them a diversity that is more commonly found in the big cities.

“You get a wide variety of people coming through,” Prince said. “Without all the citiots.”

People are also drawn into the lifestyle for its affordability.  With rent costing less than $500 a month including water, trash, Wi-Fi, showers and laundry all on site, RV parks attract more than just travelers.

“It’s kind of the economy now,” Romeo Venza, 45, said.  Venza is one of the parks more recent long-term inhabitants.

People aren’t taking vacations so much anymore, he said.  They can’t afford it.  For some, what was in the yard (an RV) has now become home.  Venza lives in his RV with his wife and daughter, and is taking courses online at Colorado University Denver for his degree in criminal justice and homeland security.

Another student in Mad River RV Park, Brian Gregg, 31, is an environmental science and ecological restoration major at HSU.  He also moved to the RV park for reasons of affordability.

“When I got accepted, I had to find somewhere to live,” Gregg said.  “That was the only way that we’d be able to [get by].”

The lifestyle, however, did take some getting used to.

“It’s kind of like camping,” Gregg said. “Everything I did, I did  outside.”

But everything he did outside would gain him an audience.  Everyone knows your business in the park he said, and it’s not uncommon to hear about what you’ve been up to from the people just a few doors down.

Even though this kind of life without privacy can get to be a bit of a drain sometimes, Gregg said, at the same time it produces such a close-knit community that you really come to appreciate it.

A woman who passed away suddenly while living at Mad River, leaving her 5-year-old daughter in the care of her elderly mother.  After the shock and grief, the grandmother couldn’t work, so the community stepped up.

A donation jar was created for the girl to have a college fund when she turned 18.  A few months later, she had over $1,000 saved. Park dwellers became sort of her community parents, babysitting whenever needed and generally helping to raise her.

“Everybody knows you here,” Prince said. “They look out.”



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