Do Not Disturb

Your campsite is your campsite, right?

I headed to the Grand Canyon after I finished working on Friday, so it was after midnight when I arrived and set about looking for a campsite. There was no moon to speak of, so as I drove out one of the Forest Service access roads south of the park, the only light was from my headlights—and the campfires of those who’d arrived at a more reasonable hour. Looking for a dispersed campsite is hard at night when you don’t know the area.

A few miles off the highway I found what I was looking for, and as I turned into the site, I spooked two elk and a big ol’ coyote, who ran off in different directions. Unsure what sort of drama I’d interrupted, I stepped out of the car, Maglite in one hand, gun in the other, and scanned three-hundred-sixty degrees for wildlife I might not want to encounter. No more drama, no other people as far as the eye could see, so that, I decided, was my campsite.

Right? I mean, that’s my campsite, right?

At 8:30am I woke up because, apparently, it wasn’t. Not fifteen feet from me was a full-size pickup truck with a travel trailer and a Polaris bringing up the rear, all of which had just pulled in.

When I emerged, bewildered, the fellow got out of the truck and waved. “Sorry,” he said, “I didn’t think anyone was in there.” He explained how he and his buddy were “scouting” for a good site for a later visit, and he hadn’t seen any activity so he didn’t think anyone was here. Right, because at 8:30 in the goddamn morning you don’t think people might be asleep and thus not very active?

Since when is this okay?

Then he asked me, “do you live around here?” Right, I live here, that’s why I’m sleeping in the woods. The Nevada license plate on the car you parked ten feet away from is just there to throw you off the scent.

I didn’t even get into it. I was just there to sleep, so I was leaving anyway. Just one of those things that’ll only ever happen once. Right?

I found a different site for Saturday night, on a different Forest Service access road, and since I snagged it earlier in the day I got one of my favorite sites: close enough to Tusayan and the park entrance that it has cellular service. Camping is better with 4G LTE.

So there I was sitting, with my laptop, when a car pulled right into my campsite and stopped next to me. The window opened to reveal a couple. The man, driving, asked me, “Is it okay if we park here? We just want to go for a walk.”

I was dumbstruck. Especially since none of the other nearby campsites were occupied. “Yeah, I guess,” I managed to say, “but there are at least eight vacant sites right around here.” Long pause. “Oh. Okay. Thanks.” Mercifully, he pulled back out of my campsite and went down the road to one of the vacant sites.

Some people should just go to Disney.

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