Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day 33: It just wouldn't work

"We can get you this spot here. It's only two minutes from the boat launch."

Two minutes is clearly a driving time and only proves to me that the registration girls here don't have a clue what I am asking for. I just want a site on Buffalo Pound Lake where I can set up a camp for just my canoe and my tent. Is that too much to ask?

I told them "I'll think about it," and walked out of the registration building. I came to a conclusion. It's nice stopping in these provincial parks to get showers and laundry, but it would be too much of a pain to haul my stuff up from the water to some a camp site. There's nothing across the lake, so I figure if they can't find a spot for me, I can just cross to the other shore and camp right with my canoe.

So I re-entered and tried to explain this to them. I said I understood that they had no designated spot on the water, but I don't need much room, just for my tent, really, and that I would like to use their facilities and that I would like to give them money. The three of them briefly consulted and then I got the conclusion, "I'm sorry, it just wouldn't work."

You're right, it wouldn't work, Saskatchewan Provincial Parks. The relationship that started out with memorable showers, had continued into winks and illicit activity on the grounds, had now come to this. There was no place, anywhere, for me in their lives. But that's okay, Saskatchewan, I've been looking forward to Manitoba for some time now. Of course, I'd still use the washroom and showers here. I still hd physical needs, even if I had been emotionally rejected.

I was frustrated, maybe largely because I knew what perfect campsites there were up the lake, that I had passed up to get there. I'll admit, perhaps if I had come some other day, or people with mor eknowledge and authority had been manning the desk that day, things might have come out differently. I just hadn't been ready for this response.

My bike and I coasted down the hill, back to where my canoe was parked. This was "seasonal camping", and it was inhabited primarily by these rather large camper units. For a long time I couldn't understand the appeal of these things. They all have names like, "Wilderness Tripper", but clearly they don't have anything to do with wilderness. But Steinbeck's book "Travels with Charley" has at times made me lust after one of these units and the luxuries it must contain. A real bed every night! A kitchenette, a bathroom and no doubt showers too!

They may be worthless for wilderness adventure, but they seem pretty good for travel, and the inhabitants I've met seem to agree. Drive about your little home on wheels and then you can pay to park it for a night on a green lawn with little planted trees, everything the suburbanites inside can't bring with them. Then they spread out their lawn ornaments, erect a little shed, and even build fences or hang big black tarps around their site so they can have a little bit of Privacy. Apparently Privacy is a big deal to your modern camper driver, because at the registration desk the girl trying to find me a spot ranked all the sites in terms of this Privacy, a term that has utterly no meaning to a person who has essentially been living on the river, alone for a month. I much prefer Neighborliness to Privacy.

So, I had gotten it into my head that campers are for travel. But this lot was for "seasonal camping", whatever that was, and there was a huge mowed field, room for two soccer games that I'm sure never took place, between this lot and the lake. I wandered around for a bit hoping to ask permission from someone lakeside to set up a tent in their lot for a couple nights, but the place seemed almost entirely abandoned. I supposed "seasonal camping" meant people lived in their nice suburban homes most of the week, with their big lawns and televisions, and then commuted out to the park weekends to stay in their metallic homes with big lawns and televisions. The whole park just seemed so fake to me at that point: the mowed lawns, the raked beaches, this parking lot that people thought of as wilderness adventure.

I decided I wouldn't take up residence on these absent folks' lawn away from lawn. But I wouldn't erase myself completely from view. I set my tent on a nice beach on the opposite shore, where absolutely anyone would see me, if they just turned their heads away from the television for a minute.

Day 33 ended: 50*36.515N, 105*25.142W

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