On Saturday, Ryan and I woke up early, packed up the car and drove out to Shenandoah National Park. At the gate, the easel listed the three nearest campgrounds as FULL, meaning we would be driving another 80 miles to get to the open campground. Ugh!
As we neared the first campground, Matthew’s Arm, Ryan thought that we should just stop in to check. “Well, I don’t understand why they would list the campground as full if there were sites available, but yeah, we could check,” I said. Of course, there were plenty of sites open – WTF?! Do they not want people to camp here?
We went into the Ranger stand and got the bear speech – lots of bears sighted, keep food and remnants in the vehicle, keep chapstick and toiletries in the vehicle not in your tent, etc. Of course, Ryan was excited and hoped that we would see a bear. I consider myself to be an adventurous sort, but I am not exactly itching to see a wild black bear.
After circling around, Ryan and I chose a site – if you are looking for solitude, this is definitely NOT the place for it. Very few sites (I’m talking maybe three) have much of their own space. Most are crammed into a few loops so that you have neighbors on both sides and front and back. We just wanted to get away for the weekend, so no big deal for us this time around. After a quick camp set-up (we brought the EZ-Up tent), we went on a little hike along the Appalachian Trail.
Nothing too strenuous and definitely something that even the novice hiker can accomplish. We started out on the Traces Trail…
Unfortunately, it is a little too early for fall colors. Although we did see some colorful, creepy bugs…
When we returned to camp, it was time for buffalo burgers! And of course, some wine. You may be starting to see a trend in our camp food…but, can you blame us?! When it is so delicious, especially after a hike, it is hard to deviate from a good burger!
After dinner, as is also becoming part of our little apres hike camp ritual, Ryan decided to whip out his bagpipes and play a few tunes. Usually this is met with some curiosity (especially amongst children), applause, cheers, song requests, and visits from other campers who want to find out more about the mystery piper. This particular concert was cut short as Ryan wasn’t feeling it. Still, he was sure to give the campers a little Top Gun and Amazing Grace.
I was sitting around the fire sipping a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (fantastic and always a fav!) and Ryan was putting the pipes back in the car, when I noticed out of my peripheral a flashlight strobing around our site. I turned around and was confronted by a ranger. I gave a friendly hello which was returned by a hasty and anxious, “Do you happen to know which way those bagpipes were coming from?” I played dumb and asked, “Why, is there some sort of problem?”
Before Blondie the Wonder Ranger could respond, Ryan chimed in that it was him. It only gets better from here… The ranger starts with, “Well, I love the bagpipes, but they are resounding throughout the entire campsite and it isn’t really about quiet hours or anything, but I mean, you wouldn’t just bring a drum set in here and start practicing, would you?” Ryan plays the peace maker and says he understands and she insists on continuing her snarky rant, “So, the bagpipes are going to stay in the vehicle then right?”
This is annoying to me for multiple reasons. First, the time of this incident (we checked after she left) was 7:30PM! Certainly this is an appropriate time to be making noise. Second, children were playing and yelling, the campsites surrounding us had music on, generators are running and as I said, these sites are cramped. Again, nobody in their right mind who enters this campground would be expecting peace and solitude. Additionally, Ryan only played 3 songs and she was already at our site…meaning, she must have jumped out of her seat the moment she heard them and came over to “investigate.”
Next, the notion that nobody plays music in the campground is absolutely ridiculous. As I said, many radios were on. Furthermore, people bring guitars to play around the fire (koombaya, anybody?) and music sung ’round the fire has been going on for centuries. It was a method of entertainment back in the day of cowboys and pioneers and a way of spreading history and folklore. And her analogy of bringing in a drum set is just stupid – in that instance it would be about MOBILITY, not appropriateness. You also would not bring your pipe organ would you? Finally, the last bout of snippiness was uncalled for, the pipes are already put away lady!
To top all of this off, our friendly ranger friend asked us to see our IDs because we were both drinking beers.
Unreal. So, we dig into the car and hand her our IDs. She stares at mine and starts mouthing to herself, “85..” She continues to mouth words to herself that I could not discern. Finally I say, “I’m 25!” This genius could not easily figure out my age despite the fact that I was born in 1985 and it is 2010….multiples of 5 here people! Not difficult!
Let’s see if she can make us more angry….”So, how many nights are you all staying?” Is she insinuating that she would not allow us to stay longer than tonight? We don’t know and didn’t have the opportunity to find out, because we were just staying the one night. Satisfied that she had been annoying enough, Ranger Bitchy Pants decided to leave us with her departing words of wisdom about bear safety (enough with the bears already – we get it!!) and then she moved along to terrorize some other campers.
The rest of the night was spent happily enjoying each others company, some yummy beers and a rip-roarin’ fire.