The lake at Miami Whitewater Forest
With all the rain we’ve been having, it’s been a long time since I’ve gone camping with the sheepdogs. We finally got a good forecast last week, so I took Mike and Duffy to Miami Whitewater Forest for an overnight outing. I was worried about crowding because of the upcoming Fourth of July Weekend, but it was only about 15% full on Thursday, and I got one of my top picks in campsites. I always look for a secluded spot where there will be maximal peace and quiet. In this instance there were only two other occupied sites as far as I could see. There was a thirtysomething couple next door to me, about 75 feet away, with a fancy blue and white umbrella tent. The guy waved and yelled “Hi” as I was setting up my tent, and I yelled “Hey” in return. There was also an RV across the road from me with a dad and two boys, around 3 and 5. The kids came over to say hello to the sheepdogs. They seemed like typical kids. There was nobody else in the vicinity. It was sort of like being alone in the forest.
I put up the dogs’ playpen enclosure first, then pitched my tent and got the rest of my gear organized. By the time I was finishing up, the children across the street had begun running through the trees like wild Indians, screaming at the top of their voices. It’s amazing how piercing and intense a sound can come out of small children. It probably has evolutionary significance by virtue of generating intense emotional responses from adults. Not being their parent, I found it created painful vibrations in my central nervous system, and I hoped their vocal cords would get exhausted soon.
Our campsite (#113)
I made some lunch, then sat down next to the dogs’ enclosure and started reading some New Yorker essays by James Thurber. They were very amusing, but after two or three I started nodding off in my chair. I’d read a four-page story, then take a brief nap, read another story, nap some more, etc. Suddenly I woke up to a loud noise that sounded something like “Per-choog-a, Per-choog-a, Perchoog-a, etc.” I looked up, and it was the friendly guy next door pumping up his air mattress with a manual pump. He was doing it very vigorously, and the sound of the pump resonated throughout the campground. It seemed like an odd time to do your air mattress, but I just went back to reading Thurber, then fell asleep again. The next time I woke up, it was to human moans and groans, punctuated by oohs and aahs and occasional shrieks, coming from the blue and white tent next door. I won’t go into the lurid details, but it took about one second to figure out what that was about. While the children’s screams had been annoying, the adults’ moans were embarrassing and uncomfortable. I stuck my fingers in my ears to drown out the sound. When I finally took them out, the campground was entirely quiet, except for one chirping bird.
About twenty minutes later, the Park Ranger pulled up in his pickup truck and stopped in front of my neighbors’ campsite. The friendly camping guy, now bare-chested, walked over to meet him. They had a discussion that seemed civil enough from a distance, and the ranger nodded, got back in his truck, and drove off. I started reading my book again. Before I knew what was happening, the man and woman had taken down their blue and white tent, loaded all their gear in their SUV, and driven away. That was unusual. I speculated that the man with the kids had called in a complaint. I wondered exactly what the park ranger had said to them. The sheepdogs and I walked past their empty campsite, and it looked like they’d left in a hurry. Several bags of garbage were still sitting there, a bath towel and a pair of socks lay on the ground, and they’d even left their manual air pump leaning against a tree.
Our neighbors’ garbage
After supper I checked the posted rules on the bulletin board at the campground entrance. It said that the park ranger could terminate campers’ occupancy at any time if they don’t abide by the rules. There were quite a few rules – no firearms, no alcohol, keep your dogs on a leash, don’t gather wood from the forest, don’t pick flowers, etc. However, I didn’t see a single rule about erotic noises in the afternoon. It did say that quiet hours begin at 10 p.m., and people shouldn’t make noises that can be heard on adjoining campsites. I decided that must mean that whatever it is that people do in their tents after 10 p.m. they should do it very quietly. Apparently this rule extends to mid-afternoon as well. So the people got kicked out for breaking rules that aren’t spelled very clearly. I guess you’re just supposed to know these things.
There were a couple other noisy episodes during our stay, though these all came from Mother Nature. At dusk we heard the bullfrogs doing their chorus of mating calls at the pond. And some unknown water insects were going “Clackety-clack, clackety-clack,” almost like castinets. After dark at our campfire some creature in the forest started saying “Shu-ba-la, Shu-ba-la” in a high-pitched voice. I didn’t think it was a bird because the noise was so loud, but it was unlike any animal I’ve ever heard. Maybe a bearcat or a laughing hyena. The sound seemed to be getting closer to us, so the dogs and I got into our tent and zipped up the door. Actually Mike and Duffy turned out to be the best campers in the whole place since they didn’t make a single noise the entire time we were there. Here are a few more photos of our stay.
The forest from our campsite.
The dogs like to be in their playpen.
Hiking on the Oak Leaf Trail.
The ceiling above our tent.
I actually cooked this supper myself.
We got scared by strange noises at the campfire.
The dogs’ favorite time was getting in the car to go home.
As usual, we wound up with a treat at the Dairy Corner.
-Phyllis SS (7-15): Dave, Do the dogs eat ice-cream too? Or do you order it for them and eat theirs? Maybe the couple couldn't afford a hot sheets motel. Phyllis
-DCL to Phyllis (7-16): I thought of that too. The campground is cheaper than a motel, but not as private.
-JML (7-5): Typical conservative Ohio Republican run campground. Down here in New Orleans, you get expelled from the campground if you don't make orgasmic sounds.