Camping at Stony Brook State Park

After the parade, Ali and I got lunch at Mac's Philly Steaks (76 South Main St., Canandaigua). It's a decent place and — with my only slightly trained taste — felt that their cheese-steak sandwiches were quite authentic. It was definitely a good start before we headed out to Stony Brook State Park (10820 State Route 36, Dansville) to go camping.

The first thing we noted was there were several signs declaring that no alcohol was permitted in the park. This was not mentioned earlier and we intended on having a *ahem* good time, so our cooler was filled with quite a bit of beer and wine coolers. As such, we said nothing and quietly circumvented the rule by using cups and keeping it inside the tent. It was only because the park was minimally staffed that we — and some significant percentage of other campers (10% to 75% would be my guess) — were able to imbibe.

I imagine the rule was created to allow rangers to eject "rowdy" campers. However, it's really just a way to circumvent the inherent unfairness of a subjectively applied rule like "no alcohol abuse". The personal prejudices of a park ranger would directly come into play — perhaps as innocent as permitting attractive young women to "keep it quiet" or as sinister as searching the camps of black people for illegal contraband.

I end up stuck at a crossroads about it all. On the one hand, I think it's important to allow a certain subjective leeway in interpreting the law — after all, it's part of the checks and balances devised in the Constitution. But on the other hand, I want law itself to be, well, law — such that it defines the boundaries of permissible behavior.

As it stands now, it appears that determining which laws are "Law" and which are "suggestions" is a collectively agreed-upon and largely arbitrary process — molesting children?: no way; talking on your cell phone while driving?: only if you won't get caught. It goes back to what I said before: laws are entirely voluntary. Personal behavior is not defined by law, but it often correlates because laws — in my opinion — should codify only universally unacceptable behaviors. A tall order indeed — and in all likelihood, too tall to actually accomplish.

All I'm saying is that laws should either be all absolute or all suggestions but not an arbitrary mix.

Anyway … where was I. Oh yeah, camping.

So Ali and I got set up pretty well and spent the first day kind of lounging around. Well, that's what we did most of the rest of the time too. We did go on a hike around the rim of the gorge … a long, tiring hike indeed.

We also swam in the man-made, stream-fed pool. It was a clever dam structure in the gorge to offer a swimming area that included a kiddie section and another section that went as deep as 8 feet. It was very cold — around 60°F. I had been in the water already so I was prepared but Ali was quite shocked by it. I found that I could get used to it, though. It was also quite nice that, despite the silt in the water, there was no chlorine so it left you feeling nice and fresh.

We also spent a lot of time exploring the gorge — another illegal activity that a large contingent of park visitors freely violated [thank goodness for funding cuts so there were no rangers to kick us out!]. I particularly liked the larger waterfalls, one of which included a deep section you could jump into from a short rock ledge, and another had a blast of cool water that you could let pound on your back like a friggin' 200 gallon-per-minute massage. The stream varied in width and flow-rate, depending on whether it had cut through depths of the slate bed. Some of the deeper troughs had enough flow and were smooth enough that you could use them like a water slide. The rough patches in the slate bottoms were enough to rub holes in my 20-year-old swimsuit, though.

We left the campground once to get ice cream at The Stony Brook Farm Market (10895 State Route 36, Dansville) — a nice excursion in the middle of the weekend. Ali had accidentally booked through Monday so we got to stay late on Sunday. The place cleared out right at 11 a.m. — check-out time — leaving us with just a half-dozen other camps in sight; much different from the fully-booked state over the weekend. We got back in the afternoon on Sunday and tried getting back into the swing of things with limited success.

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