Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, August 18, 2004  

The Road taken

One of the astonishing thing about my motor trip in the West was the quality of the roads. They were often poor in high traffic conditions.

The flagship national park, of international renown, Yellowstone, has some terrible roads that haven’t been replaced or resurfaced since the 1930’s. One section of road was closed for the year. Toilets (outhouses) were often ancient. They could have been replaced with the more modern ones which vent the smells and gases better. So much seemed worn, old, inconvenient, and cheap.

When reading about the closure in a Wyoming newspaper, the park official taked about keeping a "white knuckle experience". That is, the road rests on cliffs and mountain sides without guard rails in order to terrify the passengers who might look to their right at the sudden death they would experience if forced off the road.

I am very familiar with this experience in California, but I note that the road from upper Yosemite to the Valley has stone walls of guard rail height which are attractive and reassuring to those gazing out across the deep, plunging terrain.

I-80 over the Sierra is a horrible ruin, and a shame to California which once boasted of having the finest road network in the world.

What people want government to do - roads, police, fire, prisons, water, power - are the very things our politicians refuse to spend our money on.
One road from Teton Village that takes you through the Grand Teton National Park is dirt for two or more miles, and in very rough condition. Why? There is no reason for it except to prevent people from using it.

In Yellowstone, there are features and attractions which require long walks, and provide little parking. I saw older folks turn around from sights because they were too far (and myself because of the altitude and my own health problems). People who had spent a lifetime paying taxes who could have easily been accomodated without harm to the park, were forced to forego the use of it.

Both the IMAX in W. Yellowstone, and the Visitor Center movie at Mammoth Springs make it clear that the White Man is an enemy to wilderness, wildlife, harmony, and brotherhood. The Park acts like a single blade of grass bent or a small tree cut down, or a road made to a site is a desecration of all that is holy. The Indian, of course, was good, nurturing, and careful of nature.

The message is that Man (White man, really) is evil and Nature is good. That nature is better off without Man, and don’t you dare touch it!

Yellowstone is huge, of course, and could accomodate its visitors easily without harm to itself if managed well. Not all can see everything. There are restrictions, safeguards, and distances which might be maintained, but the fact is that the people are considered the enemy now, and the Park managers and enviros want to do everything to make it a private playground. They complain about features wearing down with normal wear and tear. Well, tough! That’s life. Things change, are altered, grow or diminish -- but they don’t stay the same.

We can try to be good stewards, but we can’t be God, and we shouldn’t expect some geological feature to last forever. The Park belongs to the people and they were meant to enjoy it even at the expense of its wildlife and some blades of grass.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:15 PM |