Thursday, January 24, 2013

Smoke This

But don't inhale.

Hi, there!

This is Bob ("Smokey the Bandit") Ferguson for your National Park Service.

Well, folks, late last year the Great Smoky Mountains National Park approved some new backcountry use fees.

Today, in anticipation of the upcoming hiking season, park officials announced details about those fees to the public for the first time.

The fees are due to go into effect on February 13, in time for Valentine's Day. But, if you sign up now you qualify for a Lover's Discount of 1.7%, and you get a free box of Snickers Midgies (in the convenient three-pak) for your sweetie. (Retail value, $0.98.)

Well, back to the news.

Now, all Great Smoky Mountains National Park backcountry campsites and shelters will soon be coin-operated. The fee for either the campsite or shelter will be $4 per night, per person, payable in quarters.

Can't carry a week's worth of quarters due to that bum knee? Well, don't worry.

At this very moment we are installing battery-operated change machines at selected spots along the Park's trails. All you need to carry is a few $5, $10, or $20 bills, and we'll serve up all the quarters you need, barring further budget cuts to the National Park Service, trail washouts, balky supply mules, or dead batteries.

Campside maid service will be $16 extra (per person).

And if you want breakfast in bed, the fee is $1275.50, for the meal, helicopter rental (with certified pilot), insurance, and radio communications. (Per person, payable in recently-minted quarters.) In case of a crash and/or loss of life, you and your party will be held both civilly and criminally liable, of course.

Now, what about scenery? Hey, I'm way ahead of you on that one.

You can eyeball as much scenery as you want from the road. Just head out in your Buick and open your eyes.

For backpackers, it's even simpler.

Your registration for backcountry travel, which must be done no more than six months in advance, and no less than six months in advance (though they can be overlapping six-month periods) automatically includes your Scene-O-Matic Goggle® fee.

While wearing your Scene-O-Matic Goggles®, which remain locked in place on your head for the duration of your trip, you are welcome to look up, down, or to either side, while enjoying commercial signage messages from your Great Smoky Mountains National Park Approved Sponsors.

Whenever you, the hiker and/or backpacker, approach and/or approaches any approved scenic overlook, the lenses of the goggles automatically darken, and you simply drop $9.75 (in any combination of quarters, dimes, nickels, or pennies) into them to regain your vision and enjoy the view.

Once away from any officially approved scenic viewpoint, which is all of them, the Scene-O-Matic Goggles® automatically brighten to once again give you a clear view of our sponsors' helpful messages.

So, to sum up, make this year the year you finally come to appreciate what the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has become, through the dedicated efforts of the National Park Service and our many Approved Sponsors.

So, this is Bob ("Smokey the Bandit") Ferguson signing off for all of us here at GSMNP, Inc., reminding you not to forget those quarters!


Get ready to pay up for backcountry Smokies camping