Recent comments

  • Trails I've Hiked: Half Dome, Yosemite National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Tom,
    Yes, I am that same person. My Dad's nickname was Red all his life until he turned white headed and then he always said they called him Frosty. How are you and Sherry doing? Have you done the Half Dome hike before? My email address is so please send an email and I will respond. I look forward to hearing from you. Art

  • Trails I've Hiked: Half Dome, Yosemite National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Half Dome has many faces. I really like the Glacier Point view. From Cloud's Rest you look down at the big rock and get a full-on view of the ants going up the cables. I am never disaapointed with the view from the top of Half Dome itself. The valley below, El Capitan, The Ahwahnee, Tenaya Canyon and the distant mountians are a rush. Don't forget to get your photo taken standing out on the Visor. I also love to crawl out to the edge and look down the face - 2,000 feet straight down.

    Capre Diem - Seize the day!

    Rick Deutsch
    Mr. Half Dome
    www.HikeHalfDome.com

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Frnk--

    You missed my pointa--"The River Wild" has as little to do with this debate than does "Deliverance".

    Rick Smith

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Ah, "The River Wild". I haven't seen it since 1994, but isn't it about a pair of armed robbers who have a gun (probably WITHOUT a concealed weapons permit) and hijack a rafting boat? The boat guides are unarmed (by choice or by law, we don't know), and one tries to steal the gun from the criminals while they're asleep, but the criminals wake up and shoot at him. Seems like there's just one cop for miles and miles, and he ends up getting killed by the criminals. The situation is resolved when the protagonist struggles for and gains control of the gun and shoots the bad guy.

    If the good guys had concealed weapons (and corresponding permits), they could have forced the bad guys to give up their weapon rather than trying to sneak away from the armed bad guys.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Nate--

    You ever seen "The River Wild"?

    Rick Smith

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 43 weeks ago

    have any of you people seen the movie Deliverance? nuff said if you have

  • Upon Further Review – The Whirlwind Tourist   5 years 43 weeks ago

    They should have just purchased the DVD........oops, sorry, forgot the timeline. They should have just purchased a packet of postcards........they would have "seen it all". What a tremendous waste of time and effort. I feel mostly for the kids. With parents like that, I'll bet their family reunions are held in a fast-food franchise's parking lot.

  • Park History: Biscayne National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Biscayne Bay has snorkeling, but I'm assuming you want to see reefs, and the reefs are not in Biscayne Bay. Perhaps your real question is "Which has better snorkeling, Key Largo or Biscayne National Park?"

    The reefs off Key Largo are about 3-5 miles off the Florida Keys. So are the ones in Biscayne National Park, but the park also protects the Keys and the Bay, so the distance from Parking lot to reef is more like 12-15 miles. The reefs at Biscayne get far less visitation, and are regularly included in lists of the best "unknown" dive and snorkel spots.

    While the prices in Key Largo may be less expensive, consider entrance fees (Biscayne doesn't have one) and equipment rental costs (all additional at Pennekamp, but all included at Biscayne). The Biscayne trip is longer, but the reef is farther away...both trips offer the same amount of water time.

    All that said, if it is windy, snorkeling on a reef is going to suck. Biscayne has bay snorkeling alternatives that the lower keys (Key Largo to Key West) don't have. You won't see reefs, but there are cool things living in the seagrasses and mangroves.

    By the way, to correct some errors in the story above: the park has not had 2 glass-bottom boats since Hurricane Andrew 16 years ago, and the island's correct name is Boca Chita, not Boca Chica (that one is down near Key West).

  • Trails I've Hiked: Half Dome, Yosemite National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Art,
    Was your Dad called Red? And, retired from the Navy?
    If so, you recognize my name. Repy and I'll pass on what your sister is up too.
    Tom Huxtable

  • Skyline Drive Designated as a National Historic Landmark   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Jim Burnett,
    Thank you very much for the press release. I have printed the release so that as my wife and I travel we can visit some of the new locations that may take a while to find their way into travel guides.

    Jim

  • Skyline Drive Designated as a National Historic Landmark   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Thanks for the comments.

    Jim - here's a link to the press release from Interior about the recent designation - it gives a short summary for each of the 16 sites.

    http://www.doi.gov/news/08_News_Releases/101408b.html

  • Skyline Drive Designated as a National Historic Landmark   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Great article, Jim! A well deserved honor for a truly wonderful highway.

    My family and I drove along 40 miles of the parkway on Sunday, 10/26, enjoying both beautiful high-pressure dominated weather and nearly peak fall foliage. (We traveled South from State Rt. 33 to State Rt. 250, or from Harrisonburg to Charlottesville VA.)

    A very unique and enchanting aspect of this highway is the way it meanders along the ridges, giving visitors fantastic panoramic views of both the Shenandoah Valley to the West and the Piedmont to the East.

    Come along as we explore some highlights of my family’s recent journey:

    The Parkway. It’s hard to actually find a stretch to photograph, as it is secreted amongst the ridges and trees almost seamlessly.

    Scenic Overlook on the Shenandoah Side. One can see why it is called “The Blue Ridge” in this photo. Massanutten Mountain in the background. Massanutten boasts a four-season resort, with a top-notch ski area that has runs that ascend to the top of the wave-shaped ridge pictured. You can hike from the top of a lift to the peak for great views of the resort itself.

    My two year-old son on his first rock climbing route. Just look at that technique! (Disclaimer: No toddlers were harmed in the making of this picture).

    Vistas like this await you at every turn. Scenic overlooks abound on either side of the ridge, as well as parking areas that access trailheads.

    Speaking of around the next turn….

    Colors were very near peak and quite stunning. The next week should produce some of the best colors of the season.

    If you're ever in the area, no matter what time of year, I would recommend taking this drive or any portion of it. You will not be disappointed!

    dap

  • Skyline Drive Designated as a National Historic Landmark   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I am thrilled to read this.Skyline Drive was a major part of my childhood.The fall colors and the ride to see them was always a special time for me.When I went home (to Richmond) to visit, I took my husband and children to Skyline Drive.They were as entranced as I have always been and we have wonderful photos of our trip. This is a must do trip for anyone who appreciates fall color and natural wildlife.

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    To clarify a few points:
    1) do we really want it to be too easy or too fast to change something like a longstanding policy of the US Government?
    Yes, absolutely. The inference is that a long standing policy of our government equates to it being a good policy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    EX: we have a "long standing" national policy of backing the Saudi regime, who are as notoriously corrupt as our own ruling body, and whose people are (the majority anyway, as shown in a multitude of internal Saudi polls) as blatantly anti-American as any people on the planet, but our "look the other way and take the oil" policy is pathetic. We agreed to fund and our contractors were the majority interest in assembling the infrastructure by which the Saudi oil reserved could be harnessed and in return we were promised that our nation would reap the "benefit" of the largest oil producing nation in the world acting with our "national interests" in mind as OPEC was conceived and became the controlling body of the world oil network. In the days since, instead of working towards energy independence and cutting the Middle Eastern monetary giant off at the knees, we continue to pursue "national interests" throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Great policy, especially in light of the events of the past decade or so, don't you think?

    2) Depending on how thoughtful and skillful the public support or opposition for a certain issue is, it IS possible to influence both the White House and the Congress. They are instruments, and can be played.
    I guess that American public support and indignation on issues such as affordable health care, equalization of the tax structure, corporate welfare, a legal system that administers "liberty and justice for ALL", not just the lower and middle classes, education, social and national security, etc. etc. etc. is just not "thoughtful and skillful" enough to overcome the blockades that are the special interest lobbyists in Washington. A majority of the root of the evil that is capitalism is that only those who can AFFORD to support change can actually enact change. That simple rule effectively eliminates the majority of the population in this country ever experiencing the manner of "change" we seek. Using your criterion, I guess that makes most of us, by definition, unskilled, impatient and stupid. I profess to being unskilled in politics, and I hold career politicians in the highest levels of contempt for their inability to be accountable for the current status of our nation. I would, effective today, remove ALL career politicians from office to be replaced with skilled negotiators, people who can effectively research the needs of their constituents and work towards the most effective compromise on those issues, WITHOUT succumbing to the pork and influence that special interests demand.

    3) Civilizations fall because the governed no longer care about supporting that civilization.
    The fall of many empires over the history of mankind is largely attributable to two major factors: a) and inability to recognize the point whereby the empire could no longer effectively be "managed and controlled", and b) taking those from the lowest fiscal strata for granted and viewing their wants, needs and desires as socially inferior, or unworthy of serious consideration. Of the "great empires" of the past 4000 years, only the British of the 17th / 18th centuries began the process of pulling back the "reigns" before the entire system collapsed into chaos and ruin, and was the only great world power to not have the ruling family ousted from power by the people. Babylonia, Syria, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mongolia, China, France, Spain, the Aztecs, Russia (shall I continue?) all met their end shortly after ascending to the pinnacle of international power. Our internal mechanisms more closely parallel those exhibited by Rome, France, Spain and the Aztec models. All were mighty military powers, far beyond the walls of the homeland. All exhibited great wealth that was, by and large, the profits of raping conquered nations. All were lead by wealthy ruling elite who did their level best to distance themselves from the "commoners" who supported and actually built the empires through their own physical toils, spilling their own blood when necessary. ALL eventually rose up in revolt against the ruling powers and deposed them, mainly through execution of the heads of state and their families. Taking those ruled for granted and neglecting their wants, needs and desires, or even more tragically, imposing YOUR wants, needs and desires on them, is the fatal mistake that sets the dominos in motion. The outcome is inevitable, chronology and geography be damned. This has nothing to do with lacking in desire to support the civilization, but rather, lacking the desire to support the governmental body, which is a separate issue completely. Pardon my metaphor...... but we, as a people, don't want the business closed. We just demand management that has the interests of the workers at hearts, not solely or exclusively the interests of accountants and majority shareholders. If, we're suffering, they should be as well.

    4) Obama the Inexperienced, United States Senator for barely 1 1/2 terms, and currently only the Democratic Flavor of the Month because nationally, people hate the "Hillary and BillyBob the Cigar Manipulator Show" even more than they hate his lack of references and credibility, which places him on almost dead equal footing with Sarah the Governor of a State Most Schoolkids Can't Find on a Map of the United States, is too closely joined at the hip with both convicted corrupt politicians and convicted felons for me to be too comfortable with his ability to effectively govern without maintaining a "business as usual" methodology. His rhetoric rings hollow to these ears, as does that of his contemporaries and predecessors. It makes one wonder if killing for our national system of government was ever the right thing to do. I strongly encourage your ballot goes to Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, or Larry the Cucumber as opposed to supporting another administrative nightmare that will be the 2008 President of the United States. Will any of my alternative candidates win, or even stand a chance? Please......but at least you can look everyone in the face and claim that you, thankfully, did NOT support another 4+ years of ineffective American governmental lackluster leadership, from EITHER party.

    Which really puts the immediate needs and overall future of our National Park Service in quite the conundrum, no?

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Why did the SF Chronicle not report on Obama's voting record? Could it be that he doesn't have one? If so, I guess you can only HOPE for the best - like on so many other issues.

  • Skyline Drive Designated as a National Historic Landmark   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Will you please provide the names of the other 15 sites and the states that received the National Historic Landmark designation? Perhaps an article that summarizes each one would be helpful.

    Thank you

  • Shuttles Make Visiting Cades Cove In Great Smoky Mountains National Park A Bit Easier   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I would hope that there would be sufficient trolleys so as to allow riders to depart, look and catch the next one back.

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Anyone who is mentioned in the same breath as Mr. Pombo should scare the bejeebies out of people who have even a cursory interest in the parks.

    Info on Mr. Allard:
    Latest LCV Score: 18%
    In 1996, he ran against Gale Norton (yes, THAT Gale Norton) in the senatorial primary. He won the nomination.
    Wikipedia says: "In April 2006, Allard was named by Time as one of "America's 5 Worst Senators." The magazine called him "The Invisible Man" and said he was one of the "least influential Senators" because he "almost never plays a role in major legislation" and "rarely speaks on the floor or holds press conferences to push his ideas" despite his ten years in the Senate and his presence as a majority party member on two key committees.[2] The Rocky Mountain News retorted that Time made the "wrong call" and that Allard was a "hard-working advocate for Colorado interests."[3] The Colorado Springs Gazette claimed the article was "soft, subjective, snide, impressionistic slop — further proof of the low to which this once-serious publication has sunk....Allard was a co-sponsor of the James Peak Wilderness Bill, which created a 14,000-acre (57 km2) preserve around James Peak, and added 3,000 acres (12 km2) to the Indian Peak Protection Area. Allard also sponsored legislation which created Colorado's 85,000-acre (340 km2) Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Allard is also chairman and founder of the Senate Renewable Energy and Efficiency Caucus[8] In 2006, the environmental group Republicans for Environmental Protection[9] praised Allard for his support of legislation to make the Army Corps of Engineers more accountable for its projects' environmental and economic impact, but censured him for supporting oil drilling both offshore and in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.[10]"

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Getting back to the topic of how the next administration will treat national parks, I suspect that either candidate will do better than the hopeless Bush administration has done. That said, I am more inclined to think that parks would fare better under an Obama admiinistration than one headed by McCain. For instance, I read an article several days ago that suggested that Steve Pearce, a NM congressman running against Tom Udall for Pete Domenici's seat, would be a possible choice for the Secretary of the Interior under Senator McCain. That thought strikes fear into the hearts of most park supporters as Pearce was Richard Pombo's choice to head the parks subcommittee when the Republicans controlled the Congress. He served without distinction and some would say that "serving without distinction" is not harsh enough. Other names mentioned in the article are Wayne Allard of Colorado and retaining Kempthorne. None of these names arouses a great deal of enthusiasm in me.

    Rick Smith

  • Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial - War and Peace and Two Memorable Phrases   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I've been to South Bass Island twice and up the monument once and looked at it across the bay throughout most of the summers of my childhood. A couple years ago, I was on South Bass Island with a different purpose in mind - to visit Gibraltar Island and see Jay Cooke's old stomping grounds (Gibraltar Island is right off of South Bass Island). Cooke had a lot to do with the founding of Yellowstone, and I wrote about it in: Lake Erie, mayflies, and Jay Cooke: A Yellowstone connection in Ohio (a small picture from my cell phone of the monument also in the article).

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    My "simplistic take" was intentionally short and addressed what I see as the economic fundamentals behind the collapse of the (of course Western) Roman Empire and are based on the plethora of academic explanations available, including a particularly apt economic explanation by Ludwig von Mises.

    As for my predictions for the collapse of our overseas empire and the fiat money system, I don't know when it will happen, but the answer lies in Beamis' question: "How much longer can the government spend (borrow) $10 billion a month to wage needless war and still survive as a going concern?" And I'll add: "How much longer can the government spend (borrow) trillions a year to maintain 700 bases in 120 countries?"

    I'm not prophesying the doom of civilization or of America; I'm saying our empire and fiat money system are both unsustainable and will collapse, just like all other empires that debased their currencies to support their world empire.

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    You can cast me as a doomsayer all you want but I'll stick to this one pertinent question: How much longer can the government spend (borrow) $10 billion a month to wage needless war and still survive as a going concern?

    We won't even go into the trillions for corporate welfare........

    Not much left for the parks, is there?

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Dear Frank C:

    1. Of your predictions of collapse, can you name some specific statistic or specific indicator or measurement now, which you will stand by, that will come to pass, say, in 2 years or 5 years to demonstrate that you are right about your prediction? Something that will then shape your opinion and future actions? I am remembering friends in the '80's who saw the collapse then of the American government and currency, and predicted that paper money would collapse and gold or diamonds would be the only substance of value. Some headed back to the earth, feeling that land and living off the land is the only safe and real alternative left. You (and they) could then see specifically whether they would deal with the facts of their predictions, or were just predisposed to cry "doom" as a way of avoiding responsibility and action in the world we actually live in.

    2. It seems like every kind of doomsayer has their own simplistic take on the collapse of Rome, as reinforcing their conviction of the inevitability of their doom-saying and a priori beliefs. I know something about Roman history, and think things were a bit more complicated than you say.

    But, for the purposes of clarification, I suppose you are talking about the "western" Roman empire, inasmuch as the richer portion of the roman empire in fact continued another 1,000 years. It is probably NOT true that the roman tax system was any more "arbitrary" than any other: in the west it did not tax the great estates and fortunes, and that is where the money was. that was policy, not arbitrariness. It did not effectively utilize the potential revenue from ongoing trade, which in fact trade continued for about another 400 years throughout the med. sea after the "fall" of Rome.

    If I were to respond to your simplistic take on the fall of roman, my simple but more correct take is that the people of the roman empire stopped caring if it fell or not. There is plenty of evidence that the people of the empire in the West still had the capacity to defend the empire. For example, there is the famous case in what is now southern France where the barbarians just walked right in and took over. Nobody resisted, in the same way you and Beamis do not help keep the American civilization coherant. But then when the barbarians violated the religious feeling of the local population they did rise up, and pretty easily tossed the barbarians out. Civilizations fall because the governed no longer care about supporting that civilization. We have always had that choice in America like elsewhere, and our society has been distinguished by those who have helped her in need, as FDR did. There were always people who just predicted doom and stayed out of it. Even in the American Revolution, it is estimated that fully 1/3 of the population stayed out of it, many with glib quips or tales of doom as their rationalization.

    3. Don't expect parks to thrive of there is no civilization left. Parks came into existence at the height of America's progressive ideology, based on the idea of planning and public good. You will need some element of capacity or interest in planning to help, and a belief in organized public good to sustain a civilization.

    When people gave up in the Roman west, nothing much survived for hundreds of years. Most small landowners who still owned their lands became serfs, in effect slaves. They stayed that way until the 1700's.

    There wasn't much left in their life for parks or gardens, and don't expect much to be left in yours.

    4. Working for the public good is the one way forward.

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I'd also like to point out that the disintegration is already beginning to happen with severe cuts of all types occurring within the agency as funds for infrastructure, personnel and visitor services are being drastically reduced. The last few smaller parks that I've traveled to all had visitor centers staffed by volunteers and most of the people that I know that still work for the NPS tell me that morale is grim as the budgetary axe is falling all around them.

    In some ways this is good news because it'll force institutional changes and a re-prioritizing of increasingly scarce resources but the longer term reality is that a government that spends $10 billion a month on blood soaked warfare with a Chinese credit card is neither morally fit nor fiscally sound enough to own and maintain national parks.

    Parks are supposedly a sure sign that a society possesses a certain degree of civilized enlightenment, yet the imperial regime on the Potomac not only lacks this quality but is on pace to become the most reckless and dangerous the world has ever known. Continued faith in their governance is certainly a lost cause and probably more than a little immoral.

  • How Will the Next Administration Deal With the Environment?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Frank C. and Beamis: How can you honestly assess the holistic damage to this country and make prudent rational decisions until you have reach the presidential seat. We have no idea how extensive the damage is until Bush officially leaves office. I do admit we have a barrel of rotting apples running this country and must dump the ugly stench. But, to advocate and watch Rome burn on the sidelines and do nothing is extremely disturbing to me. I would certainly love to see more hope and faith injected into your comments and give the younger generation something to aspire too...instead of eking on (or even applauding chaos) for civil disobedience. In a way your comments suggest this...anarchy if you will! Now, that we have a black candidate running for the highest office (and most likely win) in the land, and all suddenly the doom sayers come out of the wood pile...along with the termites...and along with there speal of hopelessness and despair for this country. Youth is inspired by this election and rightly so. Let Obama be there beacon light of hope and dreams. I'm sure the National Parks will be in excellent hands under Obama's tutelage.