Dirtbag Day 83

Austin Haedicke bio photo By Austin Haedicke

Wednesday night I was on a routine crash at one of Georgia’s Wildlife Management Areas – for which I have a paid for outdoor recreation pass. It is the time of year when the temps are dropping but the air is still damp, so there was a heavy morning dew. I was planning on being in town most of the day so I figured I’d leave my tent up to dry and come back around lunch to pick it up.

Feeling in a cautious mood i decided that that particular WMA was close enough to the highway that I cleared the gear out from inside my tent so that in the event it was stolen, they criminals only got away with $200 or so worth of gear, not $400 or $500. When I rolled back to my campsite in the early afternoon some six hours later I was shell shocked. Sure enough, my tent was *GONE!*

After much cussing I circled the camping area hoping that someone was just playing a prank and moved my tent from the front lot to the back. No such luck. Much more cussing now with foot stomping and door slamming. I called the Department of Natural Resources to speak with a local ranger and see if, hopefully, they had picked it up for some bogus reason. I had to leave a message. Surely my spiffy backpacking tent had been stolen and I was left only with the stuff sacks.

Who does that ****?!? Sure, it was a fairly expensive lesson, but I can always make more cash. What really pisses me off is that your gear isn’t safe ANYWHERE. I didn’t leave my stuff at a rest stop alongside the interstate for days on end and expect it to be there when I came back. I left it at a designated camping area in a state managed, wildlife reserve for less than six hours! Apparently outdoor ethics are irrelevant and you need to risk the mildew, must, and mold and tear down camp every morning. Really though, who does that? No one, everyone knows how easy it would be to lift a tent or clean out a campsite sand sprint to the pawn shop but karma keeps most of us in check. Apparently some decided to capitalize.

But lo’ there is more! The ranger station did indeed call me back and I told them that I had left camp at about 9:00 a.m. and returned around 2:30 p.m. to find my tent missing. How long have you been camping there? That’s what I was met with and replied, “Last night was the first night in at least a few days, maybe a week or so.” Come to find out, the ranger had indeed confiscated my tent because he say it there two Wednesday's in a row. Seriously? I had never been so happy to have to explain myself to a public service member who takes themselves too seriously. Firstly, the stay limit is two weeks — Wednesday to Wednesday (two in a row) is one week — apparently I’m in the part of the south that is lacking both buildings and learning.

All in all Barney Fife didn’t give me too much grief and his counterpart met me at the park an hour or two later to return my gear. I didn’t feel like telling them off or trying to beat them over the head with the concept that I travel a lot for work and stay there every Tuesday and Wednesday night — not weeks on end — and if they did their job more than once per week (e.g. patrol the area on more than just Wednesday) they would know that.

Fly Free,

southeeastdirtbag