Sunday, July 16, 2006

Camping with Jen Rock at Dingman's Ferry

DESTINY: Dingman's Ferry in PA, just west of NJ along route 206, past Stokes National Forest where we had stayed on our last trip (a surprise for Jen Rock and I both that we didn't plan) over a creaky bridge that looked remodeled but was still rickety enough that made you want to abide by the 15 MPH speed limit. The campground was a fairly large range of forest of dedicated campsites, and along the Delaware River there were about 20 or so sites. Ours was pretty tight with our neighbors on each side, but we'll get to that in a second. To get down to the river, you had to climb down the enbankment which was about 15 feet up. The DE river is WIDE and extremely SHALLOW, but if you want to wade in it (something clearly encouraged as there were usually about a dozen people milling about in the river from the other sites) you needed something like a FLIP-FLOP to get around with comfortably due to the large number of HARD ROCKS on the river floor. Were I to have brought my own, I would have enjoyed the experience of wading through the river; however, I did not and so my experience was extremely PAINFUL.

a nice place

HIGHLIGHTS include but not limited to, the day hike Jen Rock and I embarked upon through thick and mosquito/newt-infested forest along and over and through a creek which was wet and cold and slippery but refreshing. Most refreshing of all, however, was reaching our destination: a small waterfall flowing into the river at a deep pool where one could swim. It was like that movie "The Blue Lagoon" but with tourists. Actually, the tourist count wasn't too bad and the peoples left shortly after we arrived, leaving Jen Rock and I are to our own devices.

DISAPPOINTMENTS - the fire ring at the campsite was not equipped with a grill so we had to buy a stand alone grill top for $13. Most campsites have fire rings that have a flip grill attached to the ring sparing the camper of this expense not to mention the hassle: a bare grill top doesn't do me much good as a barbeque chef in Brooklyn. So it was one unexpected cost that I felt should have been communicated; it was a first for me having to pay for a grill top while camping. Also, the sites were a little crowded together where we were positioned. Some of the sites had better layouts as far as the foliage coverage was concerned but camping along the river was nice.

GENERALLY, it was a little strange having a general store located at the entrance to the grounds but it certainly made sense - the nearest grocery store was about 15 minutes away. The campgrounds store supplied basic groceries and camping supplies which is very convenient but adds a whole layer to the notion of "luxury camping." We had one set of neighbors which contained two women from Long Island that possessed very shrill and loud voices in addition to a host of air mattresses. At one point, one of the women said to her son, "Stevie, this is real camping!" accompanied by the loud sound of the battery powered air-pump ringing out to give her air mattress some extra support.

THE PRESENCE of park rangers was felt a little too much. There were frequent patrols in the day (at my count about one every 20 minutes) and at night our other neighbors, three guys and two girls from Long Island, got busted for drinking and smoking reefer. Initially, the camp ranger that busted our neighbors called for back-up BUT TO OUR CAMPSITE. It was a little unnerving turning to suddenly see the presence of LAW shining lights in areas where you'd hope they never would. But it all turned out ok, at least for us. Our neighbor (whom we briefly befriended) was going to have to return in September for a court date on the marijuana possession. An unfortunate situation to be sure, especially considering they weren't being unruly or otherwise loud, drunk or obnoxious. The rangers were looking for trouble. Anyway, I hope that dude gets off on his possession charge, 'cause that's, like, bogus.

the suspense is killing me...

ALL IN ALL a good time was had by all. While there were reminders of modern society, it was still radical enough to feel a profound shift in ones polarity. In other words, it was cool. Quite regrettable that our friends Ben & Gina were unable to join us as originally planned, but we're going to make up for that over Labor day weekend up in the Catskills.

I hope you've enjoyed my report.

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