As I mentioned earlier, I did the Cartecay down to the DNR take-out today. You can learn to deal with the natural hazards you encounter on river trips by taking river safety and rescue clinics, but I don't think anything can prepare you for the human hazards you may encounter.
If you've been to the DNR take-out lately or paid attention on the email list, you are probably aware that the GA DNR now requires most of us to purchase a GORP (Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass) to visit certain DNR controlled areas, including the Cartecay take-out. After our trip today GA DNR Enforcement was patrolling the DNR parking area. Three of my paddling buddies had already loaded up and left, and two others were just about to leave when the DNR truck rolled in. I was in the back of my van changing out of my paddling clothes when they arrived.
They checked out my buddies, who had their passes with them. Then my buddies left. As soon as I finished changing, the DNR Enforcement fellow came over to check me out. The first thing he said was that I probably had a hard time seeing out of the windows of my van with all those stickers. At that point I knew that this was not going to be a lot of fun. He asked if I was aware that I needed a GORP to use the area. I politely informed him that I was way too old to need the GORP, and I had a Georgia drivers' license that showed my age. He told me he would look at my drivers' license, but that I still needed a GORP. I would not have to pay for it, but I still had to go get one.
I assured him that according to the DNR web site, the URL for which was listed on their sign, I did not need a GORP. I had visited the site, read the material there, and since I was over 65 years old I didn't need the GORP. He had me take out my license and looked it over. Then he reassured me that I did have to get a GORP and for me to wait right here while he checked on it.
He strolled back to his shiny new $40,000 DNR 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else, and got inside. (Remember that truck.) He was in there for quite a while, and meanwhile I was standing in the parking lot dancing around and crossing my legs, having to pee really badly, and getting later and later for a 6 o'clock appointment I was trying to keep. When he finally emerged, he walked back over to my van carrying a piece of paper with the page of the DNR web site printed on it (I guess he even had a printer in that shiny new $40,000 DNR 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else) that told all about the GORP, the very same page I had read a few weeks earlier when the signs first appeared at the Cartecay take-out.
He very pointedly did NOT say "Hey, you were right!". He just pointed out the place on the page that told who had to have a GORP and who did not, and told me "These are the people who don't need a GORP" And of course it included people under 16 and 65 and over. He told me I could keep the paper to show any other dummies (his word, not mine) who might be checking me out in the future who didn't know that I didn't need a GORP since I was over 65. I said "Thanks!" and shook his hand and
told him I didn't envy his job of enforcing this rule. He quickly retorted that he wasn't enforcing yet, he was educating people and spreading the word about the GORP.
Now wait a second, who was educating whom?
Being a kind of outspoken person anyway, I asked if I could give him some feedback about how I and many of my friends felt about this new program, and that he could pass it on up the line at the DNR. He said OK. What I wanted to tell him was that it really irked me that people were having to pay money just to visit an area that actually belonged to the people anyway and that
had always been free, that I could understand it if there were extensive improvements made that benefited the users, that even the Federal Government has rules about what improvements have to be made and what services provided before government agencies such as the US Forest Service could charge people money just for being there.
Before I got the words halfway out of my mouth, this guy was interrupting me and talking over me, telling me I didn't understand the DNR's point of view about the issue (But, hey, their point of view was outlined on the web page I had to educate this guy about) and that I should listen to him explain it. He said there WERE improvements made to the area -- what about that nice boat dock we built for you, and the restroom. (Hey Haynes, did you hear that? The DNR built the boat ramp and the restroom! So what were you and the rest of those volunteers actually doing when you were telling people you were building that stuff?) All this stuff,
and the maintenance of the area, all cost money, and the state budgets are really tight.
Well, remember the shiny new $40,000 DNR 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else? So why do you suppose the state budgets are so tight? My budget is tight and I don't even have a shiny new $40,000 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else. Right away I figured out that there was no use trying to explain any of this to Mr. GA DNR Enforcement, and right away he realized I wasn't going to pay a lot of attention to his GA DNR line of bullshit. He told me as much, bid me a quick farewell, did an about face and
got back in his shiny new $40,000 DNR 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else.
At that point I REALLY had to pee badly, but Mr. GA DNR Enforcement was sitting there in his shiny new $40,000 DNR 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else, staring and waiting for me to leave before he was going anywhere, and I certainly wasn't about to go find a bush in the woods while he was sitting there watching, so I got back in my van and in spite of my urgent urge, took my time cranking up, backing out of my parking spot, and driving back to the entrance to the area.
Mr. GA DNR Enforcement in his shiny new $40,000 DNR 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else stayed glued to my bumper all the way out, watching me like a hawk, so I took my time, slowly dodging around all the potholes in this so-well-maintained road, creeping up the hills, and braking properly on all the downhills, turning the two minute drive out into a ten minute production. I probably could have walked out faster.
I didn't make my six o'clock appointment. Nor did I make any points with the GA DNR. But I did make the
restroom before I peed in my pants. All's well that ends well I guess.
So how do we learn to deal with the human hazards we encounter on river trips? Can the club come up with a training course on Coping with Government Agencies and Other Dummies?
Be careful out there! I hope your experience with
Since the posting of "Cartecay caution - part two" to the email list, several people have asked me for the URL for the DNR site that gives the information on the GORP so they can be prepared when they are checked out by the GA DNR Enforcement in their shiny new $40,000 DNR 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else. (By the way, I was reminded by one of my paddling buds on the trip that the truck also had a huge winch on the front, which when it is ordered as an option, not only adds a lot of bucks to the price of the truck for the winch, but necessitates ordering a heavy duty front end for an extra $5,000 in order to be able to order the winch. The same paddling bud also put his estimate of the price of the shiny new $40,000 DNR 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else at more like $50,000 plus the additional equipment.)
So y'all do your homework on the web before going out to face the GA DNR Enforcement guys in their shiny new $40,000 DNR 4X4 truck with $10,000 worth of added lights, siren, radios, computers, and who knows what all else.
March 10, 2012