Life in a California trailer park is quiet and strange.

I won’t say exactly where it is, but know the park where I’ve been living is near LA and in the desert. There are about 50 to 75 trailers here, most of them full-timers, like me. Like the park in Amarillo, you can tell those that don’t move because they’ve got moats of stuff surrounding their rigs. There’s a playground, and an okay-looking pool, hot showers, and internet that works…sometimes. So it suits my needs, and the price is right. The funniest part about this park was that I had to “apply” to be allowed to stay here by sending a picture of Lola, because she’s vintage. If you came here and saw some of the rigs, you would laugh, too. Some rigs are big and luxurious, but most aren’t. I do have a little vintage neighbor whose trailer is even tinier and older than mine (though his dog is much tinier and older as well).

Everyone here has a dog, or a feral cat, or both. There’s a large bus staying here now that houses two people and about 6 corgis. An adorable red pit bull walks by our trailer every morning tied to the electric wheelchair of his owner, as the back casters on his owner’s ride go clunk-clunk-clunk over the dirt. Other sounds of life include croaking ravens (which live in the tree above us), hooting owls, and yipping coyotes.

It’s…mostly quiet…but there are definitely recurring noises. For instance, a train goes by pretty much every hour, blasting its horn as the brakes make screeching noises around the canyon bends. Also, there’s a road just above me, which wouldn’t be a problem, if not for the local cult of motorcycle enthusiasts that enjoy blasting down the twisty canyon roads as their engine noise echoes along forever. In their defense, it does sound FUN.

There are some interesting characters with interesting habits. For instance, the dude who was staying in the rusted out camper with the astroturf rug next door (5 feet from me) had a habit of screaming at his girlfriend and stealing things from people. He got arrested in my second week here, and since we live so close, I got to see (and hear) the whole thing go down. Upon returning from the hoosegow, the fights (and loud make up sex) got even louder and he was asked to please leave the park. Hooray, justice!

At the end of my second week, local crone (I’ll call her Betty) Betty, whose main hobbies includes hanging out in the sunny dirt lot, chilling in her power wheelchair, and gossiping, warned me to “Look out for the bear!” when I passed her on my daily hike. Later, the sign I posted earlier, appeared on the bathroom doors. I suspected that perhaps someone was getting carried away, but then that night, when I was taking the dogs out for a walk, I heard something ROARING. Several somethings. Several LARGE, CLOSE somethings. (Think: the sound the MGM logo makes.) I scrambled back into the trailer, locked the door, and didn’t go out again. When I told Betty that I’d heard the bears making noise last night, she said,

“Oh no, those are just cats.”

As you can imagine, there was a significant pause before I asked her to explain, because though there ARE a great many cats living at the park, they are most certainly NOT what I heard.

Apparently, there is a wild, big-cat rescue just up the road. African lions, tigers, etc that were rescued from homes and businesses because people weren’t equipped to care for them. Because we live in a canyon, when they make noise, it echoes all the way down to the park. It is a strange feeling indeed when I go out at night and hear them. Add those to the list of other strange noises, and well, you can imagine what a day in my life sounds like.

Some residents have tried to be helpful (okay, nosey, but helpful) to me while I’m here. They found out I was job hunting. I was offered a job in the park, which I politely declined, since from what I’ve observed it involves mostly pushing dirt around and mending things, neither of which I’m good at. The bearded old man, whom I’ve come to think of as “The Wizard,” staying in the 1980’s Winnebago just across from me called me over one afternoon, in his usual way. He enjoys speaking with people from his driver’s seat, though the Winnie almost never moves. It’s like Lucy’s psychiatry booth, only the advice is free. The window gets rolled down while you stand there awkwardly like he’s going to give you a ride, and he chats at you like this is totally normal. This particular day he called me over to tell me he knew I was looking for a job, and since he assumed I had no income, he told me where all the food pantries were in town. It was sweet, really, even if it made me think “Oh God, what am I doing?” for the hundredth time.

Without traveling, living in such a small space can get a bit tiresome. Though Lola is easy to clean, and has everything I need, I often find myself wishing I had a bigger sink, or to be able to stretch without hitting the ceiling, or to not have to choose between a dining room table and my favorite spot to sit. Those are little things, however. Most of my time I spend either working on the computer, or hiking in the hills. It’s kind of nice that everything is always within arms’ reach. The dogs don’t seem to mind. It’s like a den.  I hardly notice anymore that I have to warm up all my water in a kettle, or that a stiff breeze makes everything shake around a bit.

Speaking of shaking! We’ve had two decent earthquakes since I’ve lived here! My first earthquake ever, at 6:30 in the morning, woke me from a dead sleep.

My first thought was “Who in the hell is shaking my trailer at 6:30 in the damn morning?”

My second thought was “Is it the bear?”

My third thought was, “Oh. It’s an earthquake. I wonder what Twitter thinks of this?”

Every day’s a new adventure, even when your wheels aren’t turning!