Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 10, 2014

Respect: optional?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:40 am
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IMG_3116With a warm smile and friendly greeting, I welcomed the vehicle full of young people to Canyonlands. As I leaned out the kiosk window to collect their $10 entrance fee, the acrimonious diatribe began. Abbreviated version: “You mean I have to pay to get into public land? Doesn’t it belong to all of us? I already paid at Arches, you mean I have to pay AGAIN? Is there free camping? What service are you providing? You don’t NEED services in a national park; just let people in to enjoy the land.” I listened and acknowledged their concerns, then began to calmly explain, but they did not want to hear it; their minds were made up. “This is ridiculous — we’re turning around.”

The splenetic young man in the next truck, same party, fairly spat out his words at me: “Standing here collecting $10 is NOT  a service.” He squealed his tires as he drove off to follow his buddies.

The 20-somethings’ selfishness and rancor threw me. Something tells me they didn’t grow up seeing gratitude modeled, or respect, and it isn’t easy to learn these character qualities as adults.

Who provides clean toilets and toilet paper, prints maps, empties trash, plows roads, erases graffiti, installs water faucets for their safety? Who rescues them when they get lost or their car runs out of gas? Who maintains the trails they want to walk on, erects radio repeaters for communications, or takes their mounds of empty bottles to the recycling center 35 miles away? Who creates and installs signs so they can find their way in this wilderness? Who drives the 6,000-gallon water trucks up from Moab? Next time they need any of these things, perhaps the national park entrance fee would seem a reasonable exchange.

Yesterday a man let his two dogs out of his car just as I arrived at an overlook, and they took off running. “Sir? Your dogs are welcome here, but they must be on leashes.” “ANTI-ANIMAL,” he vented, as he whistled for his pets to return. When they got to his side, he loudly told the canines, “NOT YOUR FRIEND.” I took a deep breath to say something but chose to walk the other direction instead of getting tangled up in this miasma of emotion and strong opinion.

Most of my conversations with visitors are delightful, but ones like these drain my joy. I’m a Minnesotan, for crying out loud, and just want people to get along, be happy, and play by the rules. Four cars after the one that opened this post, an elderly Georgia gentleman with a long soft drawl showed me his senior pass, then said, “Do me a favor?” “Sure.” “You have a real wonderful day.” And off he drove.

And I did, by choice.

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Leave a comment about some brief interaction you’ve had that startled you.

 

 

February 4, 2012

Jay Canyon 2: Explore

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:01 am
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(Continued from Jay Canyon 1: Approach)

Black Widow webs are of strong silk, often funnel-shaped, and always debris-laden.

One cannot afford to overlook even the smallest detail when examining an archaeological site; they all combine to tell the story. I pause at a dinner-plate-sized hole in the hillside, peering in to see what animal (kit fox? badger?) may have lived there. Black widow nests are in their predictable places, crevices in the rocks and nooks in the structure. A slight breeze helps me find their messy webs.

Knowing this site has been dug and looted — it’s not far off a jeep trail — we look for evidence. A Prince Albert tobacco tin left behind by miners or cowboys sits on a rock. Brittle paper contents from a century ago are somewhat intact, but in 2010 some selfish soul wrote her own thoughts on the back of the artifact. I bristle at the lack of respect.

A tobacco tin from perhaps a century ago

Inside the cylindrical granary, bones are laid out, obviously for 21st-century display. I click a photo and moved on to the room block behind it. This is someone’s house; several families dwelt here eight centuries ago. We examine old corn husks, blackened charcoal, pieces of juniper that may have been part of a roof.

Piecing together why this site was such a lovely place to reside — water supply, south-facing exposure, protection from enemies — we both approved of the real estate chosen by someone’s ancestors.

~~ To Be Continued ~~

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