Thursday, October 28, 2010

Let it Snow

It's that time of year again.  You would think I would be used to going from the 60s and sunny to the 30s and snowy in an instant after living here for 30 years.  But, like driving in the snow, I have to learn it all over each year.

Yesterday we had our first snow storm in the valley.  I had about 3 inches at my house, the airport got about 1 inch.  Earlier this week it was in the 60s for a high and this weekend it will again be in the 60s.  Many trees still have their leaves and suffered under the weight of the snow. 

Although we will suffer through the back and forth of Autumn for a month or so before actual winter sets in, I love this time of year.  It is great to see the trees turning.  You can finally turn off the air conditioner and winter brings snow which brings ski season.  I like bundling up and putting up wood for a fire, I like the holidays, I like putting away the lawn mower and getting the snow blower out and ready for action. 

I heard this year, due to the La Nina pattern of weather we can expect a very snowy winter.  This pattern brings 600-700 inches of snow in the mountains in a season as opposed to the usual 500 inches in an off year.  I can't wait to get my snowmobile fired up and run it up to our cabin.  Have I told you I love this time of year?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mineral Bottom Road Update I

Last weekend my brothers and I went down to Moab and we visited the Mineral Bottom Road.  This road is the westerly access to the White Rim Trail, a very popular mountain biking and 4x4 trail in Canyonlands National Park.  This road was washed out on August 19 by heavy rains and has been inaccessable ever since.

I blogged about it and was contacted by the Grand County Council to, in part, represent the casual tourist usage of this road in their assessment of the impact on the economy and tourist trade in Grand County. 

They must have been persuasive in their appeal for repair funds because last week Rep. Jim Matheson announced this road (or what is left of it) will qualify for emergency disaster relief and Grand County will recieve funds to repair the damage (see the article in the Moab Times October 21, 2010).  They were also able to get the attention of someone here in SLC.  There was an article about the road washout and the economic impact in the Salt Lake Tribune on October 20, 2010. 

Rep. Matheson said the repairs would be completed sometime during the summer 2011.  The exact date would depend on an engineering assesment that was scheduled to be completed this week.

My personal assessment of the damage is that it is a lot worse when you see it in person.  A lot of material was washed down the canyon.  We walked a way down the switchbacks and continually marveled at the power of the water to completely obliterate whole sections of the road.  In some places the bedrock was exposed.  I have attached some pictures.

Good luck to the Grand County Council and the engineers.  I hope they get it done sooner rather than later.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Annex Mexico

I thought of the solution to the drug trade and the attendant violence along our border with Mexico.  We should annex Mexico (and all of Central America down to Colombia) as the 51st state of the United States.

Before you start trying me for treason listen to my reasoning:

1.  This would cut out the violence along the US-Mexico border because now there would be no border.  All those people trying to get into the US would already be here. 

2.  As a US State we would have the ability to send in the national guard to take out the drug cartels and we would settle this area in 6 months. 

3.  The US border would now be with Colombia.  Five Marines with machine guns could guard this border. 

4.  All the money we save guarding the border could go to upgrading the infrastructure in this new state.  The Mexicans could have luxuries like running water and a sewer system. Under my plan they would be seperate functions, not the same thing as they are now.

5.  You wouldn't need a passport to visit Mexico or anywhere in Central America. 

6.  With increased tourism the drug cartels could turn their hideouts and battle grounds into tourist attractions.  Like Disney World only with machine guns.

7.  Tequila wouldn't have to be imported.
8.  We would get the Panama Canal back.

9.  Mexicans could get free health care and education for their children.  Oh yea, they already have that in California. 

I think we should start a petition to annex Mexico.  It's just what we need to kick start the economy.  It would allow families torn apart by a border to be reunited and it would give us another war to take our minds off the problems we are facing at home.  I think this idea has real merit. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Worst Camp Host Ever

Last weekend we went to Arches National Park.  We had reservations for three camp sites since March.  The problem is that this was a long weekend for public schools and typically the last camping weekend for families. 

We got to the campsites and set up two trailers in one site (we had three sites and three trailers, just two in one site).  We abided by the rules by having only 9 people at the site and both trailers fit in the site without going outside the lines. 

The host came along and asked us to move the trailer to the other site.  There is a rule we were told that only one trailer per site.  The trouble was that the trailer in front was incapacitated and would be a lot of trouble to move. 

We asked the hosts to reconsider because of the trouble and the potential of danger for little kids if we moved the trailer to another site.  The other site was at the top of the hill and the site dropped off precipitously.  Kids could get hurt if they ran around too much.  The husband host told us this wasn't his problem, we made the reservations.  I should have seen our eventual run-in coming from this comment.

The hosts said it was a rule and if they let us stay then they would be overrun by rule breakers the next year.  We told them we wouldn't do it again and besides we have been coming to this campground for many years, often putting two trailers in one site and had not heard of this rule.

We looked on our reservation, the posted rules at the campsite and online.  We found rules about quiet time, number of people in the site and parking cars but nothing about the number of trailers in the site.

The next day we (my youngest of the oldest daughters - a real spitfire and a great kid - I am really proud of her for sticking to her guns) went to the camp hosts to ask to see the rule about one trailer per site.  This is when it got fun.

They said the rule about one trailer per camp site wasn't written but they make the rules and they said so.  While the wife camp host was calling the ranger for verification her husband gets up from his seat and starts telling us that if we don't like it "there are lots of great hotels in Moab". 

After some discussion with the Ranger we were allowed to keep both trailers where they were.  All it would have taken was a little diplomacy on the part of the camp hosts to get us to see the dangers (I can't for the life of me see the security or hazard concern) of two trailers in one site and we would have been more willing to move.  Instead they chose the "my way or the highway" attitude and we had a battle of wills on our hands.

Camp hosts are supposed to help make your visit to our national parks more enjoyable.  They are usually laid back retired couples that are just happy to be there.  Maybe because it was the weekend I described above, they were on edge.  I can only say that our experience was less than pleasent.

I will still go back to Arches and I will probably try to put two trailers in one site and see if they make a fuss (sorry Mom, I just can't help it).  I just won't go back during this particular weekend, not just because of this experience with the camp hosts, but also because of the traffic, the inconsiderate slob who washed her hair in the sink clearly marked "Dish Washing Only" (I actually saw a woman do this) and because of the guy who continued to run his Blazer up and down the road all day at 30 mph (the speed limit is 15) after being told to slow down and watch out for kids. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh the Humanity

The coverage of the sucide of a college student humiliated by classmates brought up a base theme I have been concerned with for awhile.  When and why did we loose our humanity toward others?

There used to be a moral code.  People used to treat each other with some basic respect.  There were fights and disagreements but people seemed to respect a certain line.  Over that line and you were not part of regular society.

That moral code protected most people from public humuliation.  Most people would not do things that would bring shame on themselves or others in public.   

Of course I am not so naive to think that this isn't a huge generalization.  There were exceptions, but they were few and far between.  You didn't regularly see a person strike another in public.  You didn't regularly see someone's intimate details broadcast for all to view and judge.

But it isn't the exposure that concerns me, it is the willingness to commit the act without thought to how what is done will hurt the person who is the recipient of the act.

When did we give ourselves permission to treat others like they didn't matter.  Like we were the only thing that mattered and it was OK to blow up at someone because we were mad or humuliate someone for our entertainment.  People are our brothers and sisters, no matter where they come from or what they believe, and they deserve our respect.

It starts with intentionally interrupting someone speaking, or cutting across traffic or in line.  After all I have been waiting and I deserve to go next.  The one thing that really gets to me is when I'm at a counter in a store and the clerk, who is supposed to help me, is talking to a friend.  The conversation continues even though I am standing there with the item I want to purchase dangling from my hand, addressing the counter.  Why do you continue to talk to your friend about your day off and let me stand there?

The internet has hastened this age of vanquished morality.  What used to be an act by a crazy guy in your home town that only you and your friends witnessed, is now available for all to see.  But is isn't just the internet.

We have been given permission to do these things to each other.  We think it is funny to see someone punk someone else.  We think it is entertainment when a husband sends in his video of his wife with her hair stuck in the dishwasher. 

Our acts in public are now potentially videotaped and available for playback by any authority to review in the event a crime was committed.  Even this blog entry would have been relegated to my deepest thoughts or revealed to a close friend rather than laid out for the whole world, a potential employer, or my friends, to see. 

I don't know where I'm going with this.  I don't think I can reverse the tide that is moving in that direction.  I guess I am just asking each of us to consider what we do before we do it.  Consider how it will feel to the person on the receiving end.  We owe it to each other to treat our fellow humans with respect and to expect the same from others.  We should follow a moral code of kindness and respect even when the majority won't.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Being Heard - Mineral Bottom Road

My blog report on the Mineral Bottom Road caught the attention of someone in Grand County.  They are working hard to put together the funding to get the road repaired but they need our help.  They have made an assessment of the commercial use in the area but not of the casual visitor, the weekend traveler who goes into this country without a guide or organized commercial group. 

They need us to let our local representatives know that this is important to us.  They need to know how we use the Mineral Bottom Road, what our financial impact on the Moab area is when we go down there and how this road being unusable will impact our future plans.  You can put together a short, personal email with details about your experiences.

Please write to your state representative and the Governor and tell them you want the road fixed so you can visit Moab and Grand County.  Contact Governor Gary R. Herbert (Utah) at, Senator Orrin Hatch at and Senator Robert Bennett at  I believe there is an underscore between the first and last names of each contact for the senators.    Please pass this plea onto anyone you know who visits Moab and Grand County.