My new accounting gig is in downtown Santa Cruz. In order to avoid paying for parking, I prefer finding street parking up the hill, in the Mission district, an area with a beautiful Catholic Church and an old mission building. It’s a nice little walk, from the Mission district, but not too far, and I get a pretty view of downtown Santa Cruz, when it isn’t pouring rain. We’ve had a lot of rain — it’s the rainy season — but this morning it was clear and I caught the last little bit of the morning sunrise.
When we arrive in McCarthy at the beginning of the summer, we all ask each other about our winter. At the end of the summer, the topic of conversation is what we are doing for the winter. I always seem to talk to one or two people who are considering working on the North Slope, at the top of the world. A friend of mine working the Slopes recently sent me these two pics:
I spent a pleasant New Year’s Day in my pajamas, binge-watching the first season of Westworld with one of my friends. Westworld is a beautiful show; it’s visually elegant, the pacing is deliberate but builds on itself, and the writing is fantastic, there’s nothing wasted. I’ve heard, in fact, that they interrupted the whole production process, putting the show on hold, all so that the writers could fine tune the show. It certainly paid off. It hooked me in, and I stopped only to satisfy the most basic of biological needs. It all made for a hellagood New Year’s Day.
In the States we are used to thinking of environmentalism as bring a “liberal” or “left-wing” issue. This isn’t true in other developed nations. Elsewhere, especially in Europe, the right-wing parties have ecological platforms, or at least have a sizable number of constituents who give a shit about environmental programs and ecological initiatives. It makes sense. If you really care about your country, you will want to make it a paradise, and the last thing you would want to do would be to pave paradise just to put up some parking lots. The right-wing in the U.S. has never really been very consistent or intellectually competent. They have been driven, in recent decades, primarily by rage against any and all things liberal or Clinton, but one of my biggest fears since Trump resurrected nationalism under the #MAGA tag has always been that the manic MAGA movement would take a page from other right-wing movements around the world and actually become somewhat intellectually consistent, paying attention to winning political issues, like giving a damn about the …
After a morning meadering through Arches, I drove an hour or so, to Canyonlands National Park. Whereas Zion had been overrun with buses and cameras and all their many peoples, and while Bryce and Arches were pleasant but still felt a bit crowded from time to time, Canyonlands was like hitting the paydirt of personal solitude. Of the four Parks I had inadvertently save the best for last. Canyonlands was my fave.
After viewing the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, I drove for a while and spent that night at a rest stop on the Interstate, which probably doesn’t sound particularly appealing, especially since I was sleeping in my tiny Fiat 500 (converted into a little camper-car), but the views from the rest stop were quite phenomenol. At this point, I was in the heart of some of the grand scenery of southern Utah — and most significantly, I was well off the beaten path, so I could take in the views the way the writer Edward Abbey and other writers and desert monastics have always talked about: as a reflective, solitary endeavor.
After my day at Zion National Park, I was a bit uneasy. Zion was completely overrun with tourists. I couldn’t even find an open parking place at the Visitor’s Center, even though the parking lot capacity was like a shopping mall. I had three more Parks to visit, and I wondered: would they all be crowded out with homo spaiens? I spend my summers in McCarthy, in the middle of what is the largest National Park in North America. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is also fairly empty, and I often have the sense that I’ve got the whole damn Park to myself. Was I just spoiled by the unspoiled Alaskan wilderness?