|Latest additions (cart, cooler, both with wheels) to help make camping easier|
I sort of miss the way things use to be at campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Way back when (30 or so years ago), while in either Smokemont or Elkmont campgrounds, one had to be on the constant lookout for bears — especially around meal time.
I like to eat. And the bears back then liked to eat what I was eating.
With a frying pan in one hand and one eye on the stove, the other eye was always on the lookout. I wouldn’t say that it was fun — but an adventure.
I can recall numerous times when momma bear led her three cubs through the campground teaching her young ones the easiest way to satisfy their appetite.
People left their coolers out while walking around the campground. Others left food on their tables.
And others were just cooking when the critters decided to make our supper, their supper.
But just like initiating a reservation system for campgrounds, which I do like, the Park Service decided to take steps in an attempt to cut back on the number of bears that had to be killed because people would feed them and they would become more of a threat.
Bears raided the campgrounds each night. It was just a given back then.
But times have changed, and its a good change, although it makes life more difficult for campers.
Now campers face a $75 fine if they leave food out. The rule stipulates that food and anything used to prepare food or keep food in must be stowed away.
That means putting it in a vehicle in which bears cannot get into.
This is great. But a lot of work for humans spending the night.
Food and equipment have to be stored away unless in use. This means, for breakfast, one has to take all such items out of their vehicle, cook the meal and then place it back in the vehicle.
That goes for lunch and supper. Take the foodstuffs out, use them, put them back. Three or four times a day, six or seven days a week.
If one decides on a snack in the middle of the day, its another take out and put back.
Thirty years ago, it would not have been that big of a deal. I was younger, stronger and had more stamina.
Nowadays its just tiring.
But the challenge has been met. I’ve moved into the new way of doing things and its great.
I was trying to figure out an easier way to move things back and forth. In my mind, I was trying to devise a utility vehicle to help with the process. It was to have to be big enough, compactable when not in use, and able to roll.
We always go to the Coleman store in Pigeon Forge when visiting the mountains. We did so this last time, and guess what? Somebody had already created such a cart. It was just what I needed.
I move things from our van into the cart, move them to the eating area, cook and take them back. That’s a whole lot easier than moving each container individually multiple times a day.
I also broke down, during the same shopping trip, and bought a cooler with wheels.
Time has taken a toll on me and my physicality (hate that word when its used on sports talk shows) and so the new additions are great.
Boy, am I now in high cotton.
Next post: October 21, 2014
PS: The Park Service's move to help protect bears (and humans) seems to be working. I haven't seen a bear in a campground in more than about 15 years.