Originally Posted by Riparian
Personally, I would have taken the stove and chair as someone "reserving" the spot. Sadly for you, the person "reserving" the spot was crazed. Glad it didn't end up any crazier than it did.
When I worked to defuse the situation, I specifically apologized and said that if
I had misread her "symbol" (as she called it), then I had made a mistake, but her reaction was "over the top" in relation to the perceived affrontal, and "we can work this out reasonably."
That being said, I'd like to clarify that her chair was NOT in one of the camping spots. It was set directly in an unloading path, about 10 feet from the nearest spot, of which there was at least two in the area, and it was also equidistant to a fire pit. There was a group of Oklahomans down the way (they were not there to ask when I arrived but a truck was there) so I thought maybe they had left their chair there the night before.
To be clear: Her explanation was that the CHAIR and STOVE alone reserved THE ENTIRE CAMPGROUND. I definitely thought that was "unorthodox" to say the least. I've camped in many, many "first-come, first-serve" locations and the rule of thumb is: if you want a spot, you have to at least put gear in that one spot. You can't put something in spot A and say that spot B through Z are also "covered". That's what she claimed.
As for my wife being a "pussy", that was a funny remark, I wasn't offended, but in spite of her normally demure demeanor and small size, she has the heart of a lion... she was in no rush to pull her gun, but I could tell that if that woman's physical assault were redirected from our gear toward one of us, she definitely would have pulled the gun.
And to the person who said she could get in trouble for pulling the weapon: if she felt physically endangered, or that her family was, then she would have been justified and would NOT have been prosecuted.
As for the comment about "concealed carry": it was an OPEN carry situation; her gun was in a holster on a belt, visible to anyone who took the time to look. Open carry is perfectly legal in Colorado, especially in wilderness and semi-wilderness public areas such as this particular campground.
1) I'll definitely make sure my wife continues to open carry when I'm out on the river. If I'm not there to protect her, I want her to be safe, and a gun is the best equalizer. It's sad we have to think that way, but that's reality.
2) Although I may have invaded her space, the woman's reaction WAS exaggerated.
3) Next time we'll give some more space away from any equipment that is left, however, a chair next to a fire pit or in a path should not be considered "sufficient claim" for a camping spot not clearly marked as "taken".
4) I think I was right to not react physically, even though I was greatly tempted to throw her in the river (that thought--and others--did occur to me). It had even occured to me to throw her stove into the river in retaliation.
5) I think I prevailed because I relied upon the general good nature of the boating community. My assumption was that her boating friends would be appalled by her aggression and violence, not to mention verbal abuse, and I was right. It was they, not I, who eventually convinced her that she was out of line. Boaters are generally a peaceful and friendly community, and I'd like to thank the ones who quietly rebuked her behavior and saved the day.
Thanks, everyone, for your input. I feel better knowing that most of you agree that, even if I had made a mistake, the reaction was unwarranted.