Now that may seem like a funny thing to say but back during the War for Southern Independence (1861-1865), the phrase was referred to as having gone to battle. For example, one soldier would ask another "have ya seen the elephant?" meaning had they been in the fight yet.
Well today, I saw it up close and even watched an educational film about it. Yes folks, I, and a group of friends, became the first graduating class of the new NPS "rule" that went into effect at 12:01 am this morning.
When I arrived I was surprised that so few where there but I was to glad to find that I knew just about everybody present. One by one we filed into the front office and were greeted by NPS staff who handed us a clipboard with a form to fill out with all of our pertinent information which then had to be checked against our license and vehicle registration.
Mind you, this is all being done in a relatively small trailer so there were only but so many clipboards and not much room to sit or maneuver even though there were perhaps ten of us in the room.
From there, we were shuttled, after our papers were inspected, into the "theatre" which I believe has 15 seats, to learn how to drive on the beach. With all due respect, cough, cough, even the NPS employees that I have helped dig out over the years would have learned nothing from this film except to pick up trash which they simply wont do. I don't know how much we, the taxpayer, paid for this film, but can we have our money back please? Though I must admit, NPS finally came out and said 2WD vehicles are NOT recommended, albeit still allowed.
From there, we came to a small door where two NPS staff took our funds and issued the permit. A lengthy process at best as everyone gets packed up into the hallway. As we were standing there, I could hear the movie begin yet again so at least NPS has a system in place. But come the holiday weekends, there is no way they will be able to process the numbers of visitors that wish to access the Seashore.
I might add that at no point during this film did NPS mention the carrying capacities that are part of the new "rule" which I find exceptionally deceptive. They will move you through this entire process, let you pay for your permit, but never inform you that you may not be allowed on the beach to get where you want to go via your vehicle because of this arbitrary and capricious "carrying capacity".
Mark my words folks, it was simple with just ten folks, but things aren't going to be so much fun for NPS when a family from far away comes down and goes through this process only to find they cant access the beach.
Well that was my experience. I can only imagine the nightmare that will follow.
If you have questions, I suggest you e-mail Cyndy Holda at Cyndy_Holda@nps.gov
I would also ask that you join either OBPA, www.obpa.org or
NCBBA, www.ncbba.org and help us fight the fight for free and open beach access.