I found Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey’s memoir about living in the Canyonlands. Once again this book talked of a different kind of wilderness than like what we had discussed on our first class meeting. Yet at the same time it is a wilderness Abbey talked about this fact that it is often overlooked by people as a wilderness but for him it is still very much a wilderness just like the mountains or the sea are to other people.
I found the part with his interaction with the tourist from Cleveland also to be very entertaining. When the tourist says that: “This would be good country if only you had some water.” (102) I thought Abey’s response was perfect how that if they had more water there then it wouldn’t be that place, it’d be like Cleveland. It because that it has so little water that it is so unique. I have been to the Canyonlands once and thought that it was one of the craziest places that I have been because it is so different from any of the, mostly eastern, woods and mountains where I had spent more time. That is what I loved about being there. It had a desolation and beauty that I think Abbey captured perfectly.
I liked the part where he talked about the strain in which national parks are developing and how he didn’t like the way in which they were taking them and making is so accessible and easy to get to for people with the paving of the roads so that they can drive right up to a site and see it without having to walk for more than 10 minutes. One example that he used was the natural bridge that was located at Glen Canyon and how they paddled down the whole stream and then he had to hike 6 miles up the canyon but now with the damning of the river so much of this is lost and it is not very accessible and that even though now it is easier for people to see something of the beauty and wonder of the place is lost. I know that from my own experience that I feel he has a point here, there is something so much sweeter about the view at the top of a mountain if you had to work to get there where as if you simply drove to the top and got out of your car. There is not only more of a sense of accomplishment and appreciation; the journey to get there is also a part of your experience of the site. I found his suggestions about banning cars and forcing people to really experience these places interesting even though I cannot conceive of them actually being put into practice.
I do sort of know how he feels in relation to Industrial Tourism in the parks. I got a sense of this negative side he talks about on when I visited Mesa Verde. You cannot walk around there by yourself, everything is guided tour and you feel more like you are at an theme park than at a national park. There is nothing of the wild there, everything of the adventure, even of hiking out to these places is taken away which in a way I feel greatly detracts from the places themselves. I felt the same about the Grand Canyon, just driving up sure it was grand but I wasn’t blown away and really super exciting to me in anyway.
“Suppose we say that wilderness invokes nostalgia, a justified not merely sentimental nostalgia for the lost America our forefathers knew…something remote and at the same time intimate, something buried in our blood and nerves, something beyond us and without limit” (146). This reminded me of what we talked a bout last week in class and the idea that we have lost the adventure of the pioneer that made Americans, Americans. For people going to the wilderness and the adventure that you have there is a very important part of what makes it the wilderness. When talking of Industrial. Tourism he brought up how he felt that many young Americans are searching for this today and that by industrializing the parks they can no longer get this there anymore. At the rate we are going there will soon be nowhere left for these wilderness adventures.