BY VANESSA CHILDS ROLLS
I hate automation. I especially hate automation that takes jobs away from people, particularly in the context of our high unemployment. You will never find me in the self-checkout. So imagine my shock as I rolled into the pristine natural park that is the Whycocomagh Provincial Park to discover that there is not a human on site to “man” or “woman” the campground. Where have all the humans gone?
When we first decided to camp in Whycocomagh it was for its gorgeous and huge campsites on the side of the mountain overlooking the Bras D’Or. My family drove through the park on the way home from Orangedale and we instantly fell in love. I must say I was thrilled to find that we could reserve our site on-line.
I have to say this reservation process was easy and well done. You too can reserve your campsite at many of the Provincial Parks in Nova Scotia at secure.camis.com/NSDNR/. You pick your reservation type from a drop down menu. There is a wide variety of options from Yurts to backcountry camping or kayaking. Then you pick your dates and number of nights. Then you can pick the park from a drop down of 19 campgrounds. Finally you pick the equipment size, as in the number of tents or size of RV and the party size. It will then ask you to pick a site on a map, in a list or on a calendar. I used the list feature because it included photos of each site that you may consider. (This is very important when you need to hang a hammock at the campsite!) You then reserve your site and pay with a credit card.
This was great and I assumed when we arrived our card would be swiped by an attendant who would see to our every camping need. This was not the case. When we arrived a sign greeted us that read: if you have reserved your site on line, go in. There is no need for further registration. If you have not reserved on line, please use the yellow phone provided to make a reservation.
This was the part that I did not like. When camping, I enjoy the advice and knowledge of the locals when it comes to things to see and do. Places to swim and where to go when you break your second lighter of the weekend and must light a BBQ. Not an option here. Even when you purchase wood for your campfire, it is an unmanned system where you put your money for the wood in an envelope and place in the slot and then you should only take the amount you purchased.
Further, concerns of an “unhumanned” site was the state of the bathroom. What if they ran out of toilet paper or some other bathroom related disaster. I think you all know what I mean. What if you are stuck next to an unruly party whose party keeps your kids up until all hours of the night? What if you are next to a dog who barks all night? (Please note that none of these things happened during our stay, but I am a worrier). For me the experience was like staying at a hotel with no front desk clerk. It could be fine or you could be next to an atom hockey team. In some situations you just need the extra support of a person.
And yet, there must be people here. Someone cuts the grass, chops the wood and cleans the bathroom? If they are here, then why can’t they talk to me? Say what you will for convenience but I longed for some good old fashioned human contact to welcome me in, if nothing else!