On the evening of July 4, I parked at the visitor center of Gorges State Park to refill water bottles. A park ranger pulled up behind me, and asked if I had any alcohol. At first I said “no,” but when he persisted, I fessed up to a six-pack of canned Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale in my cooler along with burgers and corn on the cob. He then treated me like a common criminal, calling for backup from another ranger, demanding that I place the beer on his truck, berating me for lying and searching my daypack for “drugs and guns.” When I lost my temper and shook the contents of my pack out on the back seat of my car, he barked to put my left hand on the top of the car while he grabbed my right arm and pushed it against my back. He then got my ID and called it in while I was made to stand with both hands on the hood of my car. The rangers then poured out the beer, and mercifully let me go with a warning instead of a $200 citation.
As I told the ranger, in my many years of camping in North Carolina state parks, it’s never been a problem to discreetly enjoy a couple of beers with my burgers or hot dogs. I have never been so humiliated by any state or national park ranger, who are usually wonderful public servants.