Sunday, October 4, 2015

Back at Montauk

 Well, we are back at Montauk State Park. This is our third time here so we're starting to feel like we sort of know what we're doing, although I'm sure I'll screw up something on the computer the first time I touch it. I have a knack for making electronic devices decide that it's time to crash and burn. Our arrival followed the usual pattern: lovely weather when we got to the park, really nice and easy to get set up because the sun was shining, temperatures were (by our standards) balmy, and there wasn't much wind to speak of.

That changed the following day, of course. Temperatures dropped low enough during the night that I felt compelled to turn on the furnace first thing in the morning, and then, despite the Weatherbug claiming that the Montauk area was enjoying clear, sunny skies, it stayed gray and overcast most of the day. Not a particularly auspicious start to the annual Rose Holland Trout Fishing Derby, altough I've hear many anglers say they prefer gray days. I'm not sure why -- makes it harder for the fish to see them? Trout have really good vision -- maybe they are smart enough to make the connection between some oddly dressed human upstream from them and the possibly edible lure floating their way. In any case, the weather didn't matter. The park was full, 100% occupied, every reservable site reserved and all the first come, first served sites snapped up by early afternoon on Friday. I was happy we weren't in the fee booth. The folks working there was going to be forced to repeat over and over that the No Vacancy sign really did mean no vacancy, no empty spaces whatsoever, and that campers were going to have to go back up to the hill to Happy Pappy's, Tradewinds, or one of the other privately-operated campgrounds in the area.

In any case, the park is full, and we're not there. Through sheer dumb luck our first scheduled days off fall this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, so bright and early (for us) yesterday morning we tossed a suitcase in the car and headed east to Farmington. I'm still feeling sufficiently irritated by the hassles getting the new siding on the museum entailed that my supply of patience for clueless people (and that describes most campers) is rather low at the moment. Avoiding one of the busiest weekends of the camping season is probably a good thing. The S.O. got to spend the afternoon watching NASCAR (Xfinity Series) instead of having to field queries from clueless campers; the kid and I went grocery shopping.

Current River at Montauk State Park, October 2014
Today, instead of having to cruise around the campground pulling tags off posts, putting up Vacant signs, and fishing half-melted Busch Lite cans out of fire rings, we're going to check out another state park: Washington. It's between Potosi and St. Louis and, according to the web site, has extensive Civilian Conservation Corps features -- lots and lots of steps and walls and whatever. We'll hike at least one trail, have a picnic lunch, and maybe check out the campground to see how busy it gets in October. That's assuming it doesn't rain, of course, the weather is still looking a little iffy.

The S.O. did remind me that we'll have the fun of checking multiple camp sites tomorrow. Quite a few of the campers did reservations that include a Monday departure. Some really will stay until sometime Monday, but others will pull out late this afternoon or early evening. They just reserved a site through the weekend because they want to be around when the winners of the derby are announced and prizes are awarded. In addition to the usual prizes given for largest fish, heaviest stringer, etc., a certain number of fish are tagged and there are prizes associated with them. I'll just keep my fingers crossed that they're typical campers and leave their sites clean; the guys who try to burn beer cans are the exception, not the rule. Although it does seem rather petty to bitch about campers trying to burn cans when we discovered a partially burnt can in the fire ring at the host's camp site -- whoever Host 2 was for the month of September, they didn't set a particularly good example by burning garbage, especially when it's an easy walk from the Host's site to the dumpster. J was less than impressed by the evidence left by previous hosts at our site. In addition to the can in the fire ring, they had left a vinyl tablecloth thumb tacked to the wood top of the picnic table. Don't know how long it had been there, but the wood underneath was thoroughly saturated. The flip side of the tablecloth itself was so thick with mold I'm a little surprised it hadn't started growing legs and trying to crawl off the table on its own. 

Thinking about the fishing derby and its prizes reminded me a story I heard last year that just illustrates that some people will cheat at anything. The state hatchery has a lunker pool where they raise trout to Loch Ness monster size, truly humongous fish. Well, you guessed it -- someone tried cheating at the fishing derby by sneaking in and using a dip net in that lunker pool. He got caught with four huge fish in his waders. This brings up several intriguing questions and images. How do you manage to walk with any semblance of normalcy with 4 humongous trout stuffed into your pants? Who noticed that the legs on his waders were bulging in strange ways? And how many years will have to pass before people stop asking him "Is that a trout in your pants or are you just glad to see me?"

When I say humongous trout, I do mean humongous trout. There's a white board up at the lodge where people can record the size of their catches if they think they did especially well. Last year some woman caught a rainbow that weighed over 7 pounds. That is a large fish. . . How weird would it be to walk around with 4 fish each weighing about that much stuffed into your waders? And why bother cheating at all? This particular fishing derby doesn't have huge amounts of prize money involved. It's a fund-raiser for, if I recall correctly, the American Heart Association. You get bragging rights if you win but not much else.

Cruise-in October 2014
The fishing derby does have one event that interests the S.O.  On Friday evening a local car club does a cruise-in. There are usually some interesting vehicles. I didn't bother walking over to the lodge to see what was there this year, but the S.O. did. He said there were a couple rat rods; he always enjoys looking at them. There was also a rather nice looking late 60s Barracuda. The owner was camped in our loop; we could see it from the Guppy. The owner was definitely proud of the car. Seemed like every time I glanced over that way, he was dusting it. He had the hood open, too, a clear sign he wanted people to stop and admire his toy. Don't know if anyone did, but, if not, I'm sure there were plenty of people willing to schmooze about cars for a few hours at the car show in the park office parking lot.

And, speaking of special interest vehicles, I'm now wondering if the World War II group will come camping again this year. Last October members of a club that specializes in World War II equipment spent a weekend at Montauk. They had some interesting vehicles, including jeeps, trucks, and a general's limo. If they come back, I'm going to be a lot more aggressive this year about getting photos of the equipment. Or at least make sure the battery in my camera isn't dead. I haven't taken any photos at the park yet because when I did pull out the camera, I couldn't use it. The photos with this post are from last year.


My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.