Labor Day Weekend at Gooseberry
Thursday, September 3
Gooseberry Campground (elev. 7,840 ft.) is a small campground with only thirteen single sites ($10 regular/$5 with senior discount) and one group site ($20). It provides water spigots (shared), vault toilets, picnic tables and fire rings.
Beyond the self-pay station, the Perfect Tow Vehicles carries the crew and me through a lovely stand of aspens.
The next sites on the loop are bordered by shrubs and trees, and some of them are along the creek!
There are three. The first one is unoccupied. It’s small but nice. A woman stands in it, looking at me nervously. I can see from my perch inside the PTV that the next site beyond this one is too short. The third site up ahead looks like the best one. It is empty except for an OHV parked where one would park a rig.
I stop and the woman rushes to the passenger side window and hesitates, as if not knowing what to say.
“Hello! Is this site taken?” I ask.
“We’re going to move into it.” the woman responds nervously. “A guy just moved out of it. We’re over there.” She points to a pretty campsite in aspens on the other side of the road. The campsite contains a soft-sided trailer, a screen house, a truck, chairs, and various camping paraphernalia.
“Okay,” I reply. “What about that site down there?” I point to the site with the OHV and nothing else in it. “Is anyone camping there?”
“Not yet. That’s for our friends. They’re on their way. They should be here any minute.” Then she adds with even more nervousness, “Is that all right?”
No, it’s not all right. You aren’t supposed to hold campsites.
Rather than provoke a confrontation — I just want to set up camp, the crew is antsy, and it’s been a busy morning — I simply smile and say, “First come, first served” and continue driving around the loop.
Darn. This means we have to take one of those sites in full sun, up in Generator Land.
Gee, I don’t feel like hunting for a boondock right now. We’re gonna’ hafta’ make this work. Maybe there’s a way to squeeze into that short site between the two good sites. Won’t hurt to take another look . . . .
As I approach the area of creekside campsites, the same woman rushes toward the PTV.
“You can have this site!” she exclaims. “We aren’t going to take it after all. My husband looked at it and decided he didn’t want to move all our stuff. So you can have it. It’s a very nice site.”
What? She ran me off and her husband hadn’t even looked at it yet?
Since their camp is directly across from the site and since I’m not in my most gracious mood, I ask, “Do you run a generator?”
“No, do you?” she replies.
“No, I don’t.”
Then she asks, “Are your dogs yappy?”
I’m taken aback. I reply, “Only when they have good reason.”
Gee, lady, you have some nerve. Does that OHV of yours make noise?
I get out to see how level the parking area is and to determine how to back in.
“If you need help backing in, I’ll go get my husband,” she offers. How weird, you have to get your husband? You’re standing right here and YOU can’t help? Gotta’ follow those strict gender roles . . . .
“No, no. That won’t be necessary. Thank you.”
I back into the site.
About an hour later their friends show up, towing a fun-hauler travel trailer. (Everyone in Gooseberry Campground has at least one OHV.) As I continue setting up our camp, the two couples chat at the primo site.
Soon the husband drives the OHV out of the primo site and past ours. I’m unhitching the Best Little Trailer. He pauses and hollers over the engine’s roar, “That’s what I get for being nice! They don’t want that site!” Then he laughs and drives into his campsite, parking the OHV on the grass.
Great. I would’ve taken that site. Well, too late now.
Wait a minute. Something’s not right here. I drive in looking for a site and they have three out of the four good possibilities tied up — the one they are occupying, the one she wants to occupy and he doesn’t, and the one they’re holding for their friends who don’t want it.
What if I didn’t go around the loop a second time? Because of their hogging, the crew and I would be camped with no trees and no creek, listening to generators, and I’d be miserable and probably hopping mad. Anyway . . .
I put them out of my mind.
Our site is nice, right next to the noisy little creek. I’m happy. The crew is happy.
It illustrates why “holding” a campsite against campground rules (and etiquette) is never a good practice. “First come – first served” doesn’t mean “First come – first hog.”
Friday, September 4
In our typical fashion, the crew and I hang around camp relaxing for the first full day at this camp.
My plan is to camp at Gooseberry until Labor Day when we will move to a boondock.
The working folks will vacate the good boondocks on Monday.
Saturday, September 5
The couple across from our site fire up the OHV at 8 a.m. and take off. By 10 a.m. the generators in the two sites next to us are still going strong. I am determined to make it through this weekend with my sanity intact.
“C’mon, punkins. Let’s take a drive into town!”
Gooseberry Road is a pleasant drive.
From there we go to NAPA Auto Parts.
Bridget, Reggie, and I board the PTV and head out to explore the forest, searching for our next camp. It’s fun!
In the next post I’ll show you what we find!
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