Near Ogunquit Maine I saw a car with a bumper sticker that said: we don’t care how you do it in California.

Well I don’t care that you don’t care I’m telling you anyway: when it comes to bike camping California does it better.

In Maine, for the first time in all the years of bike touring I got turned away from a campsite. And it happened three nights in a row. When I finally did get to camp in Maine I paid $37.50 for a site. Which made me glad actually that they turned me away three nights in a row because I can’t afford two weeks of $40/night camping.

Look, I get that there are particular rules about sites and capacity and reservations and first come/first served but I rode my bike here–doesn’t that count for something? I do not need to park a car. I don’t have a loud, honkin’ RV with a generator that’s gonna wake people up at 5am. I’m not trying to roast marshmallows. I’m just trying to sleep and I see you’ve got an empty field right here.

But no. No special treatment for the white girl who rode her bike here. Ok I get it.

But here let me tell you how they do it in California. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but campsites usually have large swathes of empty land–it helps add to that ambience of feeling like you’re somewhere wild. In California they take a little bit of that extra land–a field, a beach, a little plot under a tree–and they call it a hiker/biker campsite. Anyone who arrives without a car can sleep there for $5/person.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Not just because it provides cyclists and hikers a place to stay without having to worry about making reservations in advance when they have no idea how far they’ll make it that day–or that week. It also makes economic sense–you can fit a lot of people in a campsite if there are no cars involved.

So yeah I think it’s dumb how campsites in Maine make their land scarce. And I think it’s dumb that they refuse to make exceptions to the rules. I don’t think the world is so rigid that the rules should be followed always. (California bent the rules for me, just saying.) So it’s thanks to Maine’s hardass park rangers that I ended up getting some really bad nights of sleep,

But it’s also thanks to Maine’s hardass park rangers that I ended up sleeping in some magical places and at the grace of some magical people.

So, Maine, you’re okay.

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