Yesterday afternoon, in order to acquire the view over my head in the post card below, I parked the car in a small lot on the crest of a hill and hiked down the hill into a dell full of shade cast by ashes, sycamores, and elms, all blooming bright green. Just on the other side of the parking lot’s wooden guard rail a couple had spread out blanket for a picnic on the top of the hill. I didn’t see them when I pulled in because of the Park Ranger’s patrol car blocking the view.
The rangers must have driven up just ahead of me because the two of them, out of the car and standing there talking to the couple, had just begun a conversation with the picnickers. I heard them finishing up with their good afternoons and beautiful day isn’t its as I swung around the far side of the patrol car heading for the path down the hill.
Now when I say “rangers,” you should think “cops,” because that’s what these two were, park police. Young guys with pleasant enough demeanors but they wore guns and they stood in that legs apart, feet planted, hands on their belts way cops stand when they’re on a call and I don’t know why the couple weren’t immediately on their guard because if two cops approached me in that way my first thought would be “Oh oh,” and my first words would be “What did I do, officer?”
The couple asked the guys they saw as rangers if they’d like to join them.
“People are being awfully generous to us today,” one of the rangers said.
“What’s that your drinking?” the other ranger said. “Champagne?”
At that point the couple’s inner alarm must have gone off because I didn’t hear them offer the rangers a glass. I was drifting out of earshot by that point though and the last thing I heard was one of the rangers saying, “All over the park.”
I glanced back over my shoulder and another patrol car had pulled up and a third ranger was approaching, hands on his belt.
I looked up the rules when I got home.
“The possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.”
So are roller blades, snowmobiles, and metal detectors.
You can’t launch any model rockets either.
You can, however, carry firearms, provided, of course, you comply with local, state, and federal laws.
“The role of the responsible gun owner is to know and obey the federal, state, and local laws appropriate to the park they are visiting.”
I proceeded down the hill, found an inviting-looking tree, made myself comfortable beneath it, and sat there for a couple of hours, complying with all local, state, and federal laws and obeying all the park rules.