Many have been the times Ranger and I, or the wife and I, are driving around exploring, when we come across a sign stating this:
Welcome to the G*n*r*sk*Forest,
Buy a membership or get the Hell out.
And if you don’t, we’ll shoot you.
Alright, maybe it doesn’t say exactly that (not in so many words), but you get the gist.
Charming, no? Charming … no.
This week they had a free daily pass offer to the Forest which the wife and I hadn’t traversed in over 2 decades. The Ranger and I actually contributed to the development of trails through said forest long ago. Today, there’s a fancy new building (actually I counted 4 new buildings and saw signs telling of more), that wasn’t there years ago when we saw it last. There’s a “tree trekking” business in operation, and a zip-line thing now as well. We just walked the one trail. OK I suppose it should be described as, we danced around piles of ankle-deep horsesh!t for an hour. Why do they do that ? Horses I mean. Does any other animal crap constantly ? I know rodents pee constantly, but how can one flippin’ horse crap so much ? I don’t care for ATVs either, but at least they don’t crap every 2 minutes, everywhere they go.
Well, back to the beginning. When we pulled up to the Center there was no one manning (personning ?) the entry kiosk, so, we drove on in and found a spot to leave the car since there were no signs telling you where to do so. We walked up to the doors of what we assumed was the main entrance, and that’s where it started getting weird. Some guy with OPP glasses (you know the kind I mean eh ? Those pathetic idiot tough guy sunglasses that they think intimidates their victims), opened the door and stood there blocking the entrance. We stopped and kinda stood there looking at him, looking at us. I can’t remember his exact words, but it sounded a lot like “What do you want?”. Seein’s how I was with the wife, not the Ranger, I resisted the urge to say “How’s about a week-end of carefree sexual abandon with Katy Perry?”. But it was just as well, as I’m sure he doesn’t know Katy Perry any more than I do. Anyway, I’d have thought it was pretty obvious what we wanted. Considering that it was a hiking Forest Center, and we both showed up … with legs. I realized later, why his question wasn’t so dumb after all.
We politely explained we hadn’t been there in years and were looking to walk a trail or two. He said “Well, you’ve chosen a good time, as this week there’s no charge for walking the trails”. He almost seemed rather pissed off about it. After walking one of the trails, I was rather pissed off too. Mostly ‘cause we were over-charged. So, he finally stepped out of our way and let us into the building, while pointing out that we’d parked in the wrong lot. Then he leads us to a desk where he went through a procedure nearly as complex as buying explosives. We had to place the top perforated tag from our form on the dashboard of the car “So it can be seen” he explained. He (of course) kept the bottom perforated tag for his files I assume. I don’t recall what happened to the rest of it, though I suspect it was fed into the homeland security database. There were a few other personnel wandering about, none of whom appeared prepared to acknowledge our existence. As an old friend of mine once stated, “Heay, even a pig can grunt”. Anyway, we moved the car to the correct parking area and headed out into the forest. I’m afraid the trail did nothing to compensate for the weirdness of the administrative encounter. A more boring walk I’ve rarely taken. It struck me ironic that I’d seen more wildlife mounted on the walls of the administrative building, than I saw or heard on the trail. The wife and I talked long and in depth about what the problem was with this trail system. We thought perhaps we were just spoiled by the better trails we’d taken. We considered the lack of a water system, the lack of diversity, numerous other excuses, until we hit upon it … the place is grossly over-managed. It’s trying to be everything to everyone. I looked over their website later, and found they do dinner receptions (poorly according to reviews), zip lines, tree trekking, horse-back riding (on hikers trails as mentioned earlier), ATVs, dirt bikes, mountain-type peddle bikes, you name it. They’re trying to make Disney Land out of a forest, and it ain’t gonna work. There are 2 kinds of “outside” people. One wants to see, hear, smell, taste, and experience the wild. The other wants to tear through it, killing or at least dominating, everything in his/her (equal billing here eh ladies?) line of vision.
The Northumberland County Forest has the same problem. They’re trying to satisfy everyone’s needs/wants. Well I’ll tell you right now, there will never come a day when hikers and ATVers will meet and come to an agreement in peace and harmony. ‘Cause there’s no peace when those A-holes’ on their machines are roaring about, destroying everything hikers hold sacred.
OK, OK ! Sorry, that was a bit overboard I suppose. Or perhaps not, either which way, I maintain that’s why I like No Exit roads. Neither the wife, nor the Ranger, and I have ever been challenged on any back-road, or any No Exit road … ever. The few people we meet out there are friendly and helpful, and generally as surprised to meet someone out there as we are. No Exit roads aren’t long enough, and don’t go anywhere important enough, to attract idiot ATVers either. In fact, the only ATV Ranger and I have ever seen on a No Exit was being handled by a (about) 12 year old girl, and her friend who politely waited until we passed them by. We thanked them, and they smiled and waved as we passed. Nice kids. So I guess not everyone on an ATV is an A-hole, just the ones over 12 years of age (that’s referring to corporal age, not cerebral).