Recent comments

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    To me, this isn't about whether Frank can get to his solitude now, but whether his children or grandchildren will have that option. It's a fact that a majority (vast majority, in many cases) of the land in each park is wild, kidless, and free of anthropocentric sound. Take Ted's beloved Olympic. There are about 5 or 6 places, each the size of a soccer field or two, that everyone gathers. And Olympic is gigantic. It takes 7 or 8 hours to drive around the thing at 50 mph. Even tight little parks like Acadia provide shelter from the masses with a quick trip off-trail. Finding solitude now isn't the issue. The problem is the fact that wilderness is not entertaining, kid-safe, or user-friendly. Thus, the screaming masses that speak with their wallets in the cafeterias detest wilderness. The more wilderness that is converted to tourist-friendly land, the better off the parks will be - financially, if not morally. If I was in need of a thousand-dollar medicine to save my life and had not a penny to my name, you might find me holding up a convenience store. Likewise, I believe it's prudent to be wary of the behavior of the NPS should its financial woes worsen.

    Ted, I went hiking up the Queets valley a couple weeks ago. Neither words nor pictures can do justice to that place. But I'm also picturing the slope at the trailhead being a waterslide that shoots out the river. They'll be lifeguards there of course. ( I almost drowned fording it on the way out.) The gravel bar between the Sam's and Queets will have a little Tiki Bar. I can see the dollar signs now. We'll need to pave the road in, of course. The winter floods might be a problem. Perhaps a dam up near Service Falls. That canyon could hold a lot of water...

    That's the nightmare I have every time I hear the parks aren't entertaining enough.

  • First Piping Plovers, Now Sea Turtles Descend on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Nice to see that Cape Hatteras is finally doing what it needs to to protect wildlife at the seashore. It's been overrun by 4x4s for far too long.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I think some comments are missing the point. This is not prosecution for correcting a typo, it is prosecution for damaging a historic resource. (Yes, "a" historic). The plaque is part of the original building design. more than 60 years old, and is hand lettered. We would expect the NPS to prosecute anyone who damages a historic sign, typo or not. There are many grammatical errors on the civil war monuments at Gettysburg fro example. Would we allow people to "correct" those? The Declaration of Independence contains grammatical errors and I can guarantee you that one would be prosecuted for making pen and ink changes to that document. The NPS is doing its job.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Ted,

    All that remains of Jeff Deck's website can be found here. However, if you read the attachment I provided, it contains some screen shots of the site as well as verbiage from it.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this, Doug.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 34 weeks ago

    As I used your post as a reference in mine, I figured I should alert you about my take on the situation, which can be read here: http://uselessdoug.blogspot.com/2008/08/doing-it-for-kids.html

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Kurt, was there an editorial or typographic oversight in this post? ;-)

    I read, 'Yada, yada yada' ...

    "... explains one section of the web site."
    ... but I don't see a link to it. What website?

    Is this website the home of the "Typo Eradication Advancement League", referred to earlier in the post? I had thought the name was in mockery of the vandals. But maybe not?

    Here's my take on the story: Anybody cognizant of the treatment of errors in historical documents knows that errors are preserved and notation made (if appropriate) to warn the unwary ([sic], etc). And, anyone with a valid concern for grammar knows we can only make improvements going forward: the past is both out of reach, and irrelevant (for these purposes).

    Did you see the recent news that researchers reported that eating watermelon has a physiological effect similar to viagra? In the days immediately preceding the 4th of July? That's what I think these two were up to: Searching for a gimmick to attract attention to themselves (and maybe a website).

    ... Or, did you see my photographs of the 500 pound Bigfoot that I & a buddy backpacked a day and a half out of the hills in one piece? Go to my website: www.ptbarnumlives.com

  • Glacier National Park Officials Plan to Scale Down Search for Missing Hiker   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Best wishes to Yi-Jien Hwa and his family. I had the opportunity to hang with a group of Malaysian climbers in Nepal- they were most accomodating and it has remained a fond memory ever since. As a Montanan, I hope for the best in this difficult situation.

    T

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 34 weeks ago

    There is only one thing that bugs me more than typos and that is someone with built-in spellcheck that highlights the typos by making corrections on the printed material with bold markers or white out. You can't find the original authors most of the time and you loose the original flavor. [Ed. Here at Traveler we do make typo corrections to make sure that the intended meaning is conveyed. We don't otherwise mess with typos. For example, I have not corrected the typo in Ron's comment (loose instead of lose) because it doesn't confuse anybody.]

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 34 weeks ago

    This is INSANE. This kind of thing is why I hate the Parks system. I love the parks, but the system and the self righteous, jerks that work there can go to Hades.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I understand the punishment. Regardless of the grammatical improvement, it is most probably vandalism. I am concerned, however, that park officials reinserted what was deleted. I wonder what their thinking was: Let's correct the vandalism by restoring the grammatical errors?

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Frank;

    I believe the real idea behind making Parks, that made making Parks (etc) a Great Idea, was the notion to preserve the physical resource itself. Why is the physical preservation of an area a Great Idea? Because it is a concept that many people can relate & resonate to ... and can agree upon.

    In this view, anything that physically alters the preserved resource is to be avoided, while conditions that do not change the resource, but may irritate some visitors, are of lesser or no importance.

    Have there indeed been those figures (as you quote) who championed the subjective experience of a person who is not being 'bothered' by other persons? Yes, of course. But these notions are not what made the Parks-idea a Great Idea.

    I do not confuse or confabulate road-building etc (a physical change) with non-physical, transient conditions such the presence of a crowd, or shouting, dashing, excited children. And neither should anyone else. Physical alterations of the preserved area are one thing, and subjective but non-physical conditions are another.

    I wish nobody had to endure the urban onslaught that you describe in your life, Frank (I shudder) ... though I also know there are those who find it stimulating & satisfying. My empathy is with your plight ... but I cannot concur that because the urban living situation is stressful for some of us, the Parks ought to therefore be defined as "quiet space". Not as a priority.

    Parks are properly - in my view - "natural space". If people whooping it up don't alter the "nature" that inhabits the space, then my irritation at their revelry is really just a 'personal problem'.

    Almost unavoidably, attempting to define Parks in terms of "silence and solitude", etc, is to exclude people from the public resource, for no other reason than to create ... an absence of people. Well, strictly speaking, who is to enjoy this solitude: how are we to say, "All you people, stay out, so this one person can have solitude"? Everyone: silence please.

    No. That is not the route to the solution desired by those who feel stressed and want an 'escape'.

    But the solitude they seek does exist. Both SaltSage236 and myself have described it forthrightly. Get off the roads. Get away from the campgrounds. Walk. Away from the trailhead: then, away from the trail.

    There is silence that ROARS right through you ... with the seething horde pulsating through their migration-routes & water-holes elsewhere. There is solitude that will CRUSH you, while the crowd-addicts get their fix at the usual opium dens ... elsewhere.

    Please, re-read SaltSage236' comment that begins, "Thank God national parks often have...", and my reply to him/her, which begins, "SaltSage236; You are really so right! I felt silly...". You will see in these two comments, that we both consider the values you seek to be a central part of our own value-system. The only difference is, we go out and get them ... right through & past the madding crowd.

    What you want, Frank, is out there ... but you must go where it is, not where it isn't.

  • Grammar Vigilantes Busted in Grand Canyon National Park, Barred from Park System   5 years 34 weeks ago

    $3,035.00 for a hand-rendered sign? Who is the criminal?

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I disagree with Ted absolutely. Search for "national park" + "national park" "quiet contemplation" on Yahoo!, and you'll get 15,200 results. Search for "national park" + solitude and you'll get over 1.5 million results.

    Solitude and silence are a necessary component of national park preservation.

    The Badlands mission statement mentions providing the opportunity for quiet contemplation.

    Mather stated, "We must guard against the intrusion of roads into sections that should forever be kept for quiet contemplation and accessible only by horseback or hiking."

    Donald J. Berry, Assistant Secretary for FWS testified that, "Snowmobiling generates significant levels of air and noise pollution, often results in the harassment of wildlife, and conflicts with other visitors' quest for solitude and introspection in our park system."

    Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote, "Quiet contemplation of pristine environments is, for many people, an integral part of the experience of visiting National Parks, and the National Park Service’s policies should be geared toward minimizing noise."

    The National Parks and Conservation Association, in written testimony for Congress, stated "It seems logical to conclude . . . the need to preserve places relatively unimpaired by certain human activities that might detract from the experience of those visitors who wish to experience the park as the Voyageurs did, in a wilderness-like setting free from the roar of snowmobiles and motorboats. Some areas of silence and solitude are crucial for providing this type of opportunity for visitors."

    Then there is John Miller's plea to preserve Crater Lake's silence: "The plan is now to build, have the government build, a drive around the lake, so that all these points may be considered in a single day from a carriage. And a great hotel is planned! And a railroad must be made to whisk you through the life-and-vigor giving evergreen forest of Arden. Well, so be it, if you must so mock nature and break the hush and silence of a thousand centuries. . ."

    Noise of crying babies, jet aircraft, motorized boats, cars, Harleys, snowmobiles, car alarms, crowds, do more than "offend the dignity of some" and are more than "irritants ... of personal perception". They ruin the ability of people to enjoy solitude and silence in national parks (even in some of the remotest areas), and I believe that is a main reason why national parks were created in the first place and are needed now more than ever.

    I live in the city and someone is building a monstrous building across from my house. During the day, I must endure shouting construction workers, hammering, and the incessant beeping of heavy equipment. When I visit national parks, I do so to escape this urban hell and to get away from anything I can experience in the city.

    I contend that noise and noisy entertainment and noisy visitors in national parks are in fact harmful, contrary to Ted's assertion. They threaten fundamental principals national parks were based upon: quiet contemplation and solitude. They make it so that no one can escape the drudgery of modern, "civilized", urban life, and this noise pollution tarnishes the purpose of national parks. We wouldn't defend most forms of pollution in our national parks, so why is noise pollution dismissed as simply a matter of personal perception?

    Back to the thread: more entertainment in national parks will lead to increased noise pollution.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    this is a great post, and a very interesting discussion.

    @ saltsage236:

    "Sure, "park" is an entirely anthropocentric moniker for a tract of land protected for its natural values moreso than its direct recreational benefit to humans. But here's the rub: Call our parks what you want, but if they exist primarily for the facilitation of fun, our society will lose more than it could ever gain from the Disneyfication of national parks. We benefit in countless ways by preserving our most spectacular and special lands in national parks. Each has educational value; scientific value; the value of national parks, like wilderness areas, being sources of both clean water and, ideally, clean air; and, yes, even recreational value."

    i don't disagree! all i'm saying is that if people aren't connected with this resource, or at least educated to see their value and tangible efforts aren't made to enhance people's understanding of the parks (by someone, i'm not calling in the gov here) then we're going to lose the baseline funding needed to simpling maintain (let alone improve) our beautiful parks. getting people into the parks is essential to their protection, but is (agreed) a double edge sword as well.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    SaltSage236;

    You are really so right! I felt silly bringing it up myself, since it so obvious an experience for those who head into "the backcountry".

    I am really familiar only with Olympic National Park, but I am really familiar with it!

    Doesn't everyone know that each hour one puts between himself and the trailhead dramatically alters the nature of the people he encounters? That each day one moves off the trail into the backcountry transforms the denizens of such realms as though they are a different species!?

    Well, it's true. Olympic officials proudly announce that 2 to 3 million visitors come to the Park each year. You certainly couldn't proven it by me. Never seen 'em, don't have anything to do with them - and I live next to the Park year round (indeed, the most heavily visited part). They don't bother me, and I don't bother them. There could be a hundred million of them come through, and it would be just a shrug, for those of us who haunt the backcountry.

    Thirty years ago (at a peak of backcountry enjoyment) there were trod footpaths visible along the key off-trail routes in remote regions of Olympic. A general description and a good topo, and any novice could easily find & follow those routes. Today, the paths are often grown-in and invisible. Without knowing just where they are, it is easy to wander off and greatly complicate the prospect of moving efficiently through trailless areas. In fact, backcountry usage is way down, and has been for many years.

    In a few days, I will take a week hike into the Bailey Range of Olympic National Park. This is the biggest, most popular, most spectacular of the standard off-trail traverses. Statistically, I will see less than 10 people total, in 3 or 4 groups - at the very height of tourist season. I may spend 2 or 3 days of that week in total solitude, while moving 10 miles or more each day through ... a sample of planet Earth from 100,000 BC.

    10,000,000 people live within an easy drive of Olympic, and there will be roughly 50-100,000 visitors to the Park, while I am rejuvenating my endorphine-balance in seeming the wildest realms in creation.

    And all those seething thousands who want & need something more civilized? I am happy to accommodate them.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    "In the morning, you'll still be ugly"

    The story goes, Winston Churchill had spent the evening at one of those necessary 'social functions', and had indulged one or several more alcoholic beverages than protocol required.

    Evidently, his demeanor became sufficiently undignified that it attracted the notice of a certain Important Madame. (Or perhaps it was just his exceptionally good spirits & joviality that the perhaps humorless I.M. found grating.) Whatever the provocation, she was impelled to confront Sir Churchill, and imperiously & dramatically proclaim, "Winston, you're drunk!".

    All eyes turned toward the welcome spot of interest & intrigue, in an evening otherwise lacking anything worth being up late for. The berated Churchill lifted his refreshment of choice to lips and took a slow, luxurious draught, and then lowering the glass, whipped his mouth with his shirt-sleeve.

    "Madame", he then enunciated precisely, "I may be drunk, but you are ugly, and though I'll be sober in the morning, you'll still be ugly."



    Likewise with our Parks. We can compile an inventory of objections to ... the antics of other people, or to conditions & activities far beyond the Park borders, or far up in the sky ... which offend the dignity of some. But in fact, these irritants are matters of personal perception and without meaningful impact upon the fundamental resource ... the wilderness, the ecology or the biome. They don't harm anything ... except maybe the sensibilities of certain humans.

    As for those who feel they ought not to have their 'experience' disturbed by a few more additional visitors than they prefer, or to listen to others' revelry that is discordant to their sombre composure ... well, Winston Churchill pegged it.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Thank God national parks often have a reputation for being wilderness-challenged tourist traps full of the screaming, littering masses. That's why Colorado's Front Range residents often seem to avoid Rocky Mountain National Park, poo-hooing it as inferior to the Front Range's other wilderness areas and instead flock to the nearby solitude-challenged Indian Peaks Wilderness or other areas of Denver's nearby high country. What this means is that our national forests in the Front Range and their mountains are teeming with people, and the true backcountry of "Rocky" is often empty and waiting to be explored in solitude by people like me.

    Park visitors often cling to the beaten path. Stray from there and you often find a plethora of wild places, to wit: From my window in downtown DNC-crazed Denver, I can see Rocky Mountain NP's Longs Peak, beneath which exists the great green mass of appropriately-named Wild Basin, where the park's great nature-challenged masses are generally absent. I can name you a dozen other places in Rocky that are remote, relatively untrodden and totally off the tourist's radar.

    Arches National Park has a giant blank spot on the map in the southeast quadrant of the park near the Colorado River -- no trails, no visitor centers and few people. Walk a mile off the main highway away from Devil's Garden and the same is true.

    When I think of remote, wild land in the lower 48, the area around Toroweap in busy Grand Canyon comes to mind. Or Canyonlands' Maze District. Or anywhere off the highway at Capitol Reef. The North Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Anywhere a mile from the visitor center at Great Sand Dunes. Along Lake Fontana in Great Smoky Mountains. The surface of Carlsbad Caverns NP. Darn near all of Congaree and Great Basin. You get the picture.

    Name a national park and you can find remote, empty, wild wilderness worth protecting. Guaranteed.

  • Lodging Deals Can Be Found In Olympic, Yosemite, and Mesa Verde National Parks   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Great article! I thought I'd mention, another great Mesa Verde lodging special that is going on right now is called the "Family Value Package" it is good for 2 adults and 2 kids (11 & under) with standard or Kiva room accommodations for 2 nights and it includes: a breakfast buffet both mornings for the entire family, a half day ranger guided tour of Mesa Verde's ancient sites, and a complimentary dinner for 2 children for 2 nights for less than $340 -- what a steal!

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Speaking of Gettysburg, it is the prime example of why the firearm prohibitions in national parks rule needs to be revised, First of all it isn't easy to determine within the town of Gettysburg where the town ends and the national park begins, it is an insane burden upon someone who is otherwise legally carrying a firearm for self protection. Second, Criminals don't care about the NPS regulations, As a matter of fact the last time I was in Gettysburg, there was a store on Steinwehr Ave, that was robbed at gunpoint, thankfully no one was hurt but it could've ended much differently.

    In the end there is no reason why a person who has a license to carry should be forced to disarm while visiting a national park. These people have submitted to background checks and are certified good guys. They aren't going to instantly change into homicidal maniacs when crossing the border into a national park. It's ludicrous.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    A couple more comments, if you'll allow me:
    1. It’s interesting to me how some of the most ardent proponents of preservation declare that their main reason for their belief is their will to be left alone / far from the madding crowds of occasional visitors / tourists. I can certainly understand this at a personal level but I find it extremely insufficient, if not damaging, as a political argument.
    2. Nevertheless, the Economist article fails to make any mention (actually it does indirectly and in a negative way, without using the term) of the concept of carrying capacity, which, like it or not, must be at the heart of any management plan.
    3. One last point, to turn everything upside down: I have noticed that the NPS manages thousands of places/ sites, many of which are not “natural parks”. The “data” provided by the Economist do not make a clear distinction between these different types of sites. Could it be that people are not actually turning away from natural areas? (Data, please! Data!)
    Either way, I personally intend / hope to spend more of my euros in your national parks in the years to come. :)

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I think the article raises some interesting issues and makes some interesting points but fails to provide any hard facts on the main issue, that is the reasons for people’s reluctance to visit US national parks.

    Others have pointed out – and I agree – that we should distinguish between the National Park System (NPS) and the lands covered by the NPS. The lands might just as well be conserved while the NP System might at the same time fall into oblivion as some have pointed out.

    However, the Economist article has a very valid point (based on environmental psychology): People tend to attach more value to those things / places / habits they are associated with and afraid of losing. They do not attach as much value to something that they are not associated with, irrespective of its “objective” value. So, in the long run, the lack of visitors could have a very negative effect not simply budget-wise but mainly attitude-wise.

    Of course, this is not an iron-clad law and it could be that other forces -political / psychological, call them what you want – may be arising these days, that will make this physical connection with the environment less important. That is, people could be becoming so deeply interested about the natural environment and ecology that their personal lack of connection with nature is no longer important.
    If natural parks’ lands do not face development pressures or other “dangers” then their future may not be at peril.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Allow me to lighten the mood with a "dumb foreigner" story....

    My wife and I passed through Yellowstone while driving from Washington back to Michigan this month. It was a Saturday in August and I knew it would be hell on the loop roads, but my wife had never seen Yellowstone, so I wanted to show her a couple sites, perhaps to whet the appetite for a return when time for off-road exploration was available. (And by the way, Bob, my unscientific survey at Artists Point is that 60% to 70% of the visitors were German or French-speaking! Of the remaining 30-40, probably half were east Asian language speakers. I don't think I heard more than a person or two speaking Spanish.)

    Anyway, we go to Norris Basin. There were some obnoxious drunken rednecks in the parking lot, so we were musing about "stupid, ugly Americans" as we walked the boardwalk through the basin. Then a German-speaking lady in front of us bent down and scooped up some of the water in her hand and tasted it!!! In the tirade of German that followed, I picked up the word "sulfur." Given that the whole place reeks like rotten eggs, you would think......well, maybe you wouldn't think. Most people don't.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Anon said:

    in my experience, anything labeled a national park on a map is something that receives heavy visitation anyway, so you wilderness folks can get over yourselves when dismissing the crowds who really need to visit them.

    You might notice that large portions of many of the national parks are designated as wilderness. What I fear is that in a effort to placate bored people overcrowding the developed areas of the parks, the protection of true wilderness within the boundaries might be rethought. I will never "get over myself" when it comes to protecting what little wilderness is left. I don't care about the loop roads in Yellowstone or the Hoh nature trail in Olympic - the crowds can have those (and they do!). I fully expect to be miserable in the developed areas of parks, and I generally don't complain about it. It's just a necessary evil you pass through to get to the wilderness.

    the commenter above had it right, the screaming kids in the cafeteria is the next round of environmentalists (hopefully ones that are less smug) and they need to see these parks, crowds or no crowds.

    I'm going to disagree with the poster you cite here. I do not believe the children rampaging through the visitor centers and screaming about how bored they are on the short trails are future environmentalists. The parents are not instilling a respect and love of the environment in these kids, and just physically being in the park isn't going to ignite it. At Yellowstone Lake, I saw a group of quiet, attentive kids with a few parents listening to a biology lecture. I saw a young girl at Artists Point pulling her dad away from the bustle at the overlook to tell him how a squirrel was sorting through lodgepole pine cones. I saw some Korean parents buying their young children field guides at Olympic so they could identify the flowers outside. Those are the future environmentalists. Those parents and those children are not longing for more entertaining or more kid-safe parks. Call me cynical, but I just can't believe any future defenders of the wilderness will come from the screaming masses. Perhaps a cure for cancer, the next .400 hitter, or the first female president - but I just don't see an interest in nature having any hope of gaining a foothold among these kids.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Well said, Lone Hiker.

    I was born in 1977, and my Boy Scout upbringing has definitely rubbed off on my adult life (and those of my friends). I'd much rather go 'splore the wilderness than sit before a video game. Those "gamers" are totally foreign to me, much moreso than any non-English speaking visitor enjoying the view at the Grand Canyon.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Entertainment is obviously unique to the individual. I don't consider horse or dog tracks entertaining, but they rake in millions annually. The thought of parking my butt on a beach and reading a book is tantamount to a living hell, but again, it's the preferred method of thousands of weekenders and vacationers. Maybe the real problem, especially with the kids born post-1970 who were teenagers in the beginning of the home computer and video game rage, is that people tend to want to BE entertained, as opposed to finding entertainment in various pursuits. Maybe it's a character flaw, but I'd rather be DOING things than WATCHING things. Hell, I'd rather play backgammon than watch the Super Bowl, March Madness, or any of the other "must see" televised broadcasts that people plan their lives, indeed even their weddings and vacations around. The fact is, to the open mind, the NPS is a series of Disneylands, each unique in character and opportunities. To me the saddest thing is that most people just can't comprehend the overwhelming diversity of experiences awaiting each visit to any of our parks. Even repeated trips to the same unit yield a plethora of new views, thoughts, and more sensations in terms of visual, auditory and intellectual stimuli than can ever be anticipated by "seeing it all on TV". We have indeed become a desensitized people, in terms of violence and language, and at the same time, the pleasures of the world around us.

    As far as "those damn foreigners" coming to enjoy our unique topographies, why would that both anyone? The Europeans in general have a much greater appreciation of traditions and history plus an overall larger "world view" than do the people of this continent. Maybe due to our isolationist position in the world we tend to think that our country is all things important in the scope of the planet. Nothing worth traveling to, seeing, doing, or experiencing anywhere else in the whole of Planet Blue. This attitude is partially to blame for the moniker "ugly American". Our generally holier-than-thou mind-set is far from deserved, at least in terms of first-hand world experiences. We just seem to believe that ours is the best, without serious thought one for other options. Don't blame the rest of the world for appreciating our lands. Just because we tend to take our surroundings for granted doesn't mean the other 5.7 billion inhabitants of the planet share our sentiments. And while Frank's experience playing eco-engineer is quite sad, we should realize that it isn't unique to a nationality or geography. I've seen plenty of "white kids from the 'burbs" trash a state or national park campgrounds, picnic area, or trail as well. Funny how, at least in my experiences, the Euros don't treat our parks that badly. Maybe the lesson is this.......RESPECT YOUR PARKS WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THEM!!