The commercial strip v. the National Monuments – a request for stay of execution

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
On the executioner’s block: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

 

It is already true that one can be dropped on any commercial strip in the USA and have no idea where they are. Each is so much the same, so not unique, that Chattanooga and Bakersfield look much the same. We have eradicated the prairies, slaughtered the forests, and filled the wetlands, must we also quash the individuality of the national monuments and make them conform to the ideals of capitalism, consumerism, and corporate expansion? What of calm, contentment, and courage to step outside of the box, to appreciate the subtle realm of time, space, and light that is not under our control? Where will we go for peace when we have used up all that is wild?

You have seen my photos over the last year. Many of those photos were taken in national monuments (including the two on this page). If you enjoyed my meager attempts at conveying the intensity of these landscapes, you will enjoy this (free ebook) photographic journey through the national monuments by exquisite landscape photographers

http://landalmostlost.com/

And, I hope you will send comments in support of retaining the national monuments.

 https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001

Stay the executions.

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

 

The Painted Hills in winter, an unfinished canvas

At first glance, covering the brilliant colors of the Painted Hills with snow seems an affront. Slowly, though, you realize the colors are more vivid and the landscape patterns surreal; it is a study in negative space. The intensity of the snow and depth of the shadows create an otherworldly effect that makes this fabulous place more so.

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Gone Walkabout

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Talk is cheap and it’s time to walk the walk … Yesterday I did an epic 19-hour, 848.9 mile round trip to Canada to buy a pop-up, slide-in, truck camper.

My life just got a whole lot more interesting.

I signed a sale agreement on my house the other day. It should go through by the end of the year. Everything will be sorted, gifted, sold, or stored and the cat and I will be on the road.

Destination: anywhere, everywhere

Duration: unknown

The Road not Taken Enough is about to become my home.

 

Found in Lostine

Yesterday morning I took the road to Lostine, Oregon; I drove to the end, the Two Pan trailhead at the edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. It was 38º in the shadow, but, above the trees and the ridge to the west, the sky was blue and the fall sun strong.

The trail was flecked with slivers of gold, tamarack needles in spirals and geometric patterns. I passed through a troop of kinglets squeaking in the treetops, then across the single-log bridge over the East Lostine River and up through the switchbacks.

I came out into the meadow at the base of Eagle Cap; ponds, the river, and sun-dried grasses stretched a couple miles south before dissolving into the dark trees at the foot of the mountain. The air was absolutely still and the entire meadow was silent.

Days like this always draw me away from whatever else life insists I do. They are the perfect days to play hooky from work and from memories and old thoughts that linger in my head. To me, the last days of autumn are a reminder that life is short and I need to soak in every drop of sun and life and possibility.

I hiked to the river crossing, sat on the footbridge, ate lunch. Then, with a wild chipmunk circling the perimeter of my lunch space, I leaned back and closed my eyes. The water sang under the bridge. Two ravens had a discussion far up the eastern ridge. The chipmunk scolded me for leaving no trace. I absorbed all that I could.

The sun leaves early this time of year. Rather than continue up, I turned back.

The pikas, silent on my way in, now chattered and scorned me for giving up so easily. Alas, I don’t have a fur coat and haven’t collected grass through the long summer days.

Although the trail back is mostly downhill, I moved more slowly. Yes, I’m getting older, but more than that, I am less willing to leave this place.

Everything is changing so rapidly. How much longer will the pikas survive here? They can only move up the mountain as the lower elevations warm. Late-October and there is only a dusting of snow on Eagle Cap. Maybe I can squeeze in one more trip before winter arrives.