A twisted tale of nature lovers and society haters
Not long ago we met some friends at a remote campground in Big Dominguez Canyon. We arrive at the secluded site around noon. It’s one of our favorite spots because it is so clean and well cared for. We unload our gear, erect our tents and gather firewood. By early evening, we are set up and primed to enjoy the weekend.I just pop open my first icy cold beer and settle down next to the crackling fire when a small parade of four-wheel vehicles with gigantic tires comes lurching up the road, their huge V-8s thumping in time to the Lynyrd Skynyrd tune blaring from the colossal speakers mounted on the lead truck. My friend Mark looks at me and we chuckle. We know that there are two types of people who camp; those who love nature and those who hate society.”Hey!” One of the passengers yells above the din. He gives me a thumbs up as his caravan crosses the creek and backs into the camping spot directly across from us. Panic seizes me as I realize that only the flimsy branches of a few currant bushes, a small stand of aspen, and the diminutive trickle of water flowing through the canyon separate us from hell.The drivers turn off their engines and this somehow makes the music louder. It might not be entirely bad except that our new camp neighbors insist on singing along with every tune that is playing. Even this might be tolerable if they knew but half the words. I screw up a disbelieving scowl on my face and turn to my wife to assuage her concerns. She is busy preparing hamburger patties and chatting with Mary, her foot keeping time to the music.”Can you believe this?” I shout indignantly.”What’s that, honey?” she replies, not looking up.”This!” I say emphatically, waving my outstretched hands around me. “You mean the music? Oh, relax and enjoy it. It’s fun.” Mark laughs, but all of the ruckus has me stirred up. I put down my beer, march over to the creek, and peek between the branches to have a look at these cretins. Good lord! I haven’t seen so much greasy hair, black cotton, soiled leather and tattoos since the Vogue V.I.P. dinner at The Little Nell last winter. These characters haven’t so much as unloaded one stick of firewood, but the lazy louts are already hoisting cans of Busch, raucously toasting the president of beers.I stomp back to camp, furious.I try to be good company the rest of the evening, but my mind is preoccupied with the music and spontaneous outbursts from across the stream. Those freaks are going to keep at it all night, I am certain. How are we going to get the kids settled down with all that racket? Those idiots probably have guns and firecrackers, too. Jesus, they’ll get drunk and I’ll end up driving the morons to the emergency room. Try as I might, all I can think about is our beautiful spot, ruined by this group of Grand Junction misanthropes. The dreaded time to get the kids settled into their bags finally comes. This is going to be a struggle. “OK kids, good night,” I whisper. “Don’t pay any attention to that …””Zzzzzzzzzzz.” OK, so that wasn’t too bad. They must have been exhausted from playing all day. But, they’re not going to be asleep long with all this commotion.At each successive hoot and holler and replay of “Free Bird” I pounce up to check on the kids. They don’t stir even once. At 10 o’clock we crawl into our sleeping bags. I’m really steamed now. Then suddenly, it’s quiet. The damn fools probably passed out and let the cassette play through. I smile, but only for a moment until I realize that at any instant one of them is likely to regain consciousness just long enough to slip in a Judas Priest tape. I spend the next hours waiting anxiously before finally nodding off.Next morning we are up with the sun. “Oh, I love waking up in the woods,” my wife says and gives me a kiss. “How did you sleep, honey?” We eat a peaceful breakfast although I have to suppress the urge to crank up the Toyota’s stock stereo with my Dave Matthews CD. Suddenly, our dog gets the scent of bacon frying across the creek and takes off. I jump up and chase her, hoping desperately to catch her before she gets to the other campsite. I don’t make it and have to walk right into the den of sin.To my surprise, there is only one guy there cooking breakfast over a gas grill, flattening beer cans while the eggs sizzle. “Hey”, he says to me in a friendly kind of way, scratching my dog’s head. “Nice pooch.””Thanks,” I reply suspiciously. “Are you alone here?””Naw, the others are out picking up trash before breakfast. This place is kind of special to us, been coming here for years. We like to take care of it, keep it nice for the next guy, leave it better than we find it, you know.”He catches me glancing down at the pile of beer cans at his feet. His cheeks turn a little red. “Oh, we gotta flatten these out for the recycler. I guess it’s the least we can do considering how much we drank. I hope we weren’t too noisy last night.””Naw,” I say. “Where are your tents?””We don’t like to use ’em here, just as easy to sleep in the trucks and save the landscape.””No fire either?””Nope, we get by without it. The light ruins the view of the stars, too.”We talk a while longer before I head back to my own camp. My wife looks at me quizzically when I get back. “Well …?””Well, what?” I reply.”I suppose you want to leave a little early now and get ahead of those clowns on the road.””No,” I reply. “I’m not in any rush.”Roger Marolt loves the surprises in nature. This week he’s camping out at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aspen City Council’s recent actions are proof that you get what you pay for, argues Elizabeth Milias in her Red Ant column this week.