I had been driving for about 7 hours. I was tired, the sun was just beginning to set and my old dog was getting restless. I heard Joshua Tree gets packed early, so I decided to scope out a good spot before paying for my site. It was still sweltering hot out with no shade, so I left my old dog in the car while I set up my tent. My dog was just about dead by the time I finished, so I cranked up the A/C and headed to the pay station in my car.
The ranger woman behind the desk scowled as I walked up. I smiled. She didn’t. She was tall with a serious no-bullshit disposition.
“Would you like to pay for your entrance fee here?”
“Yes please, and the campsite as well.”
She looked annoyed. “There are envelopes down by the campsites for you to pay for the site.”
No shit, I thought. “I saw the box but y’all are all out of envelopes.”
She hated every word coming out of my mouth. “Well, I can give you an envelope here.”
“Actually, can I just pay for both with you?”
She wanted to kick me in the face. She let out an over-exaggerated sigh, “I guess that’s just fine. It’ll be 40 dollars.”
My ears got hot and I began to roll my neck. An exercise I learned as an adult to try and calm my aggressive tendencies. It didn’t work.
“40 dollars! Wow that’s an expensive campsite!”
She slammed her finger down on the map. “That is because there are restrooms.”
“Am I paying for the monthly water bill? We both know that’s a racket!”
She rolled her eyes. “Debit or credit.”
I snapped sarcastically, “Let’s put that shit on credit. I don’t want my account to bounce over a campsite.”
“I don’t need your sass little lady.”
I laughed. “Seriously though, would you pay 40 dollars for a campsite with no water or shade in 100-degree weather?”
She leaned into my face. “Joshua Tree is well maintained and a world renowned National Park. U2 named an album after these trees for god’s sake!”
I slammed my hands on the desk. “Exactly! Just the fact that I have to try and not think about that shitty album while I’m here should make it cheaper! Fuck Bono!”
“Well fuck you too! Oh yea and you’ve just been banned from the park. Here’s your receipt for 40 dollars now get the fuck out!”
“Jesus lady you’re a savage.”
“Right back atcha’ sweetheart.” She threw the receipt in my face.