|My girlfriend snapped this pic of me this morning, dead to the world in our tent, due to lack of sleep caused by a campsite ruckus. Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario|
I heard the first honk around 4am. At first I thought it was just a dream, but there was another honk... and then another and another. There were honks in rapid succession and other times just an individual honk. In the still of a beautiful starry night in the George Lake campground of Killarney Provincial Park, someone on a neighboring campsite was disturbing my peaceful sleep by continuously honking their car horn. They'd woke me up from a deep sleep and since I was supposed to be getting up in a couple hours for a sunrise shoot, I was pretty cranky. Sleeping in a tent is uncomfortable in the best of situations, so there's nothing worse then some unscrupulous neighboring camper making it even worse.
I put on some clothes, grabbed my flashlight and told my girlfriend I was going to get to the bottom of this. With Chuck Norris courage, I stumbled down the lane towards the lake. Sure enough, the problem was at campsite 105, just as I'd expected. I'd known these guys were trouble since first laying eyes on them when we arrived.
The next horn blast confirmed my suspicions - the guy was in his tent, operating the car horn with his key remote. I shone my light at the tent and said "What the hell are you doing? You've woke up every camper around."
He whimpered, "There's an animal here, I think it's a black bear. I'm scared."
If I wasn't so tired, I'm sure I would have laughed out loud. Although there are bears that wander through the campground, I'd seen the condition of their campsite earlier and figured they were probably being raided by a raccoon. In the still of the night, any small animal sounds like a bear. Even Chipmunks sound like axe-wielding psychos crashing through the forest at night.
I said that it was probably a raccoon and that he should check to make sure the site was clean. He was very apologetic about the horn (which he'd honked about 50 times) and asked if it was safe to come out of his tent. He crawled out of his tent, rather glad to see me there with a flashlight and exclaimed that he was sure it must be a bear - 'snorting and rooting around their gear' and I once again suggested it was probably a raccoon. Ironically, he was a big guy, an adult in his late 40s or early 50s and he definitely didn't agree with me, based on his 'considerable' experience back-country camping. [For the record, I've never met a back-country camper who would leave a messy campsite like that and be so irrational about wildlife].
At that point, I suggested he clean his campsite and stop honking his horn, then returned to my campsite. I finally fell asleep after my girlfriend and I laughed about the story. Unfortunately, I was so tired in the morning I could not wake up for a sunrise shoot. My girlfriend took the above picture of me, in my cranky morning state - completely unwilling to get out of bed. I may have missed getting the morning shot, but it worth the funny story!