Sunday, June 17, 2007

RV park is paradise in eyes of residents

Modesto, California --
Raccoons and opossums drop by to visit on the porch. The Tuolumne River drifts past. Fish hang out in the pools, waiting for their next meal to float downstream. The leaves of the cottonwood trees rustle in the wind.

We all have our ideas of paradise, and this is Gary Bettencourt's: A place that soothes the soul of the 56-year-old program director of a drug and alcohol abuse recovery center in Modesto.

It's called the Shiloh River Resort, a little oasis of an RV-trailer park situated between Shiloh Road and the river, about eight miles west of Modesto. To get there, he takes Paradise Road. Really.

The tiny, gated park is home to two mobile homes and eight recreational vehicles, and Bettencourt considers it one of the west side's little-known gems. He manages the place for owner Andy Tallone of Pleasanton, demanding that tenants keep their lawns watered and the area around their places tidy. Mostly, he wants to maintain the serenity he and other park residents enjoy.

"I do a lot of meditating before I go to work," said Bettencourt, a recovering alcoholic who has lived at the park since 1992. "The birds go crazy out here in the mornings. I could have a nice apartment or house in town. But I came out here. This is completely different than city life."
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