Wandering Through Nature
Apologies for the week off from the blog. My family went on vacation again for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. I have actually travelled for research, to visit family, or to get away from the stressful culture of Southern California since the pandemic started. But this was the first time that my personal vacation involved my partner and our two children. We decided to take 10 days to see six of the West’s most beautiful National Parks. In order, they were ARCHES, CANYONLANDS, YELLOWSTONE, GRAND TETON, CAPITOL REEF and ZION. Other than the latter which could not be fully enjoyed due to the tremendous amount of people visiting, my family engaged in a deep dive with some of nature’s most beautiful locations. Some of the eventful aspects of the trip: Hiked over 30 miles at six parks including the famous Delicate Arch hike at Arches and many of the short treks to see some of Yellowstone’s most prestigious geysers. Our family swam in multiple rivers in Yellowstone and the Tetons. But the best part of the trip was the disconnecting from the internet and technology over a five-day period. Even though boredom set in for my children at night when there was nothing to do other than (God forbid) talk to their parents), it was a good experience for everyone to separate from the cultural insanity that has enveloped our nation over the past several years. A couple of minor highlights from the trip as well as one observation. I will close this short blog with two articles that were published during my vacation that are fantastic observations on our present-day culture.
My experiences in Utah can be broken down into only two other vacation inside the state. The first one was when I was 9 years old and my family ended up in Boulder (Suburb of Denver), Colorado to see a few members of my father’s family. My dad was born in Boulder in 1946 so it was a trip down memory lane for him. On the way to Colorado, we stopped at Zion National Park and did some sightseeing as well as drive through the famous Zion tunnel that takes motorists to the east entrance of the park. We went to Bryce Canyon National Park, did some hiking, got a little lost, and then spent the night in Panguitch, Utah. The following night was spent in Green River, Utah (More on this place later). The next day, we left Utah and spent the night in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The other trip was a drive through Navajo country and Monument Valley in northeastern Arizona, the Valley of the Gods in Mexican Hat, Utah while stopping over to eat steak in Bluff, Utah on the way to the Four Corners Monument before our final destination in Cortez, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park. So I have only seen various specific sections of Utah.
This trip changed that. Salt Lake City is a monstrous town upon seeing it for the first time. My issue with Salt Lake City is that the vibe of the town does not mash with my cultural sensibilities. I just did not really like the place. But what Utah has in abundance besides hundreds of miles of open space and beautiful environments wrapped around a feeling of isolation is small towns. I was completely charmed by our home base of Moab (Headquarters to Arches and Canyonland NPs), Torrey (Headquarters to Capitol Reef NP), and Park City. Moab is a small little artsy town with wonderful food, a popular downtown, and a beautiful location inside a valley between sandstone cliffs that rise to the west and east. Torrey was the biggest surprise of all. Even though you can see the more rustic aspects of Torrey upon reaching the small town, the area is being renovated by creative individuals who are using the amazing backdrop scenery of Capitol Reef as a selling point. The Red Sands Inn was my favorite hotel on the entire trip. The dinner we had at the Red Rock Inn (Many of the dishes like my choice, The Wild Bunch Mole Turkey, are named after famous spaghetti westerns) was the best dish I had on the entire trip. Park City, the home of the Sundance Film Festival and the 2002 Winter Olympic Alpine Events, is a beautiful and charming mountain resort town. The downtown area feels like a remnant of Generation X 90s culture updated to a more modern aesthetic. Park City is a town of retired wealthy people. But all three of these small towns should be on your lists of places to visit.
I can not say the same positive thing about Jackson, Wyoming. Including the nearby Jackson Hole Ski Resort which is popular with wealthy clients as well as being the location where the Federal Reserve sets policy that destroys our country a little bit more every day, Jackson does not have the same feeling as Park City does. Since it rests just south of the Teton Mountains, the views are stunning. The plains below the mountains are green and lush with livestock and Jackson itself has a booming downtown that has been modernized and is hugely popular with tourists. My problem with Jackson is not the beauty. My problem with Jackson is that it feels like a place to exploit the common man out of their cash and pass it along to the billionaires who have multi-million-dollar mansions that litter the plains around the area. It feels fake and exploitative. It does not feel “Western” at all compared to a charming little town like Torrey.
Yellowstone was an amazing experience. During our journey, we saw almost every animal you can see in the wild except for bears and wolves. Foxes were prancing around the Tetons. Bison were everywhere in Yellowstone. We saw one lone bald eagle in a tree along the Yellowstone River. We saw a female bighorn sheep climbing the Sliderock in East Zion. We saw Deer climbing down the slopes to drink from the river in North Yellowstone inside Montana. We saw two elk relaxing in a field. We saw a prairie dog paying attention to those elk nearby in a bed of flowers. We saw a baby moose stuck on the side of the road near the Western Yellowstone entrance also in Montana. For a bird enthusiast like myself, I saw Tanagers at Mammoth Hot Springs and a Clark’s Nutcracker eating pine nuts out of a pine cone on a branch just above the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River. The animal experience was unbelievable. I also almost killed a Marmot late at night trying to get back to our cabin at the Lake Lodge. Thank God for the “Bright” Setting on my car. For my kids, this was definitely the highlight of the entire trip.
If you get the opportunity and even if it is for a couple days on the weekend, nothing refreshes your mind like a quick vacation into nature. Nothing makes you feel more relaxed and ready for the corporate grind which will eventually wear you down and force you to take another similar vacation again next year. While I was disconnected from society, I got two emails from a few of my favorite authors on Substack, Edward Snowden and Michael Tracey. Both of these need to be read for their insight into some of our present-day cultural problems. I will have more comments on these two articles later as they tie into a larger idea being researched.
This is Edward Snowden’s Second Part to his posts on Propaganda called Apophenia. This is a fantastic read and dives deep into human psychology and how this idea relates to many of the problems we are experiencing today. The other is from an “Anonymous” Corporate Analyst at a Fortune 500 Company who left an incredibly insightful comment to Michael Tracey about vaccine hesitancy, the individuals who succeed in our society, and why individuals at the top feel intellectually and morally superior to the people that they lead (Hint: Intelligence is not the reason these people got ahead). Tracey republished it because of the insight that it provides.
Until next week!
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