The gift shops at our latest National Park sell a variety of shirts, caps, and jackets bearing the SNP logo. It stands for Shenandoah National Park, the first park easily accessible from the larger cities in the eastern third of our country. We’re hanging out at a lovely campground called Big Meadows in SNP. There are over 200 sites here and although none have juice, all have easy access to water and dump stations; generators are allowed five hours a day. This is beautiful country, charming in a way the West is not: old orchards and cemeteries tell you that people of European descent have been here for well over 300 years. Mostly they improved the landscape.
Spring comes late to higher altitudes, and at 3,500’, Big Meadows is high for the East. The dogwoods are just beginning to bloom here; the bears are still sleeping a lot. The days are comfortable with cool, not cold, nights. Our campground opened in late March but has refused to book reservations for dates before May 6. I am writing this on May 6 but today Big Meadows is only 10% occupied. But last Saturday, May 2, was wall to wall people. Every site in this campground was taken by 4:00 p.m. By noon Sunday, May 3, most were gone and it looked like 15% occupancy. Lots of young adults from D.C. and Baltimore drive to Shenandoah with their tents and camp stoves for one night of good sleep and clean air. For now this is Saturday National Park. Later in the season people will reserve sites for several days, but for a while you can drive in Sunday through Thursday without reservations and find a good site that’s available until noon Saturday.
Whether you camp in an Airstream, RV, or tent you know things will break. Parts of your rig malfunction forcing you to find a work-around. So you do. Our ‘Stream’s smoke detector is ultra sensitive, often scaring me senseless when I’m making a roux, sometimes even boiling rice. The gray and black tank and battery monitoring lights are ridiculously dysfunctional. And now comes something new. To use an old Mooringsport term, last night Pink “cut a bad fart”. It was so powerful it set off our carbon monoxide alarm. Were there a logarithmic measure of odorific flatulence, this would have been the equivalent of an 8.0 on the Richter Scale. I can laugh about it now, but then? It warn’t so jokified.
A wind so foul deserves a name. A friend’s grandpa had 27 grades for honks, each with a different colorful handle. My favorite on his list was Silent Smoker (you have to leave the room but don’t know who to blame.) The best adjective I can come up with is Godzillian after that nuclear-mutated, megawatt-gobbling reptile who destroys Tokyo in even numbered years. But that’s not good enough; we can do better.
Reader entries are hereby solicited.