There is no free in liberty.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Common Bond

Saturday morning cartoons: I looked forward to those during my youth in the 70s. Between cartoons there was a Schoolhouse Rock tune I enjoyed--The Great American Melting Pot.

What happened to those ideas? They clearly worked. Why, then, are they passe now?

I believe it, in part, has to do with the generation that followed the Greatest Generation. The hippies that were spawned by that greatest generation, a generation that suffered a depression and world war, rebelled in mass against their elders. These people not only rejected their parents (normal in itself) but, as a group, as a movement, as Hippies, they rejected their inherited culture. They became counter revolutionaries and turned their backs on the culture of success that preceded them. In unity, a generation said no to what had worked before, no to American strength, no to moral certitude, no to religion, no to individual responsibility, and finally said no to American Exceptionalism.

I have grown to despise the Hippie movement and the reverence with which they are treated in general. Although individual Hippies are mostly well intentioned, their good intentions do not transmit through soulless government bureaucracies. Good can only be done through non governmental community. So unlike all previous generations before the Hippie generation has done more to harm to the American Experience than good. They have relentlessly attacked the common bonds that tie the US.

Where once churches and community helped the down trodden we now funnel that help through a soulless government.

Where once we had a melting pot we now have cultural Balkanization.

Where we once had the crisp suit of moral certitude we now have the tie-dye of moral relativism.

Thanks Hippies.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Vegas 6/25/2009

Kat's planning and our agreeing to drop Joshua Tree got us ahead of schedule, so had to tread water in Vegas for a couple of days as our reservations in Yosemite were a few days later.

Our campsite had to be changed. The first one was chosen in near total darkness and was at such a grade as to make sleep difficult. I got a picture of it, then quickly retracted the landing gear and prepared to move. With the morning light we were able to pick out a better site just across the road that hadn't already been reserved. It was already Thursday so we were headed into a weekend and the campground could quickly fill. After some discussion we claimed the new site for the next two nights. If we were to choose to leave early we could and if not we had a place to stay.

After the move I got a few more pics of Elise and some flowers while Kat settled in and prepped for the day. I pushed for returning to Vegas and walking along the strip. Katrina was a little uneasy about spending the day in a big city after having grown comfortable with rural America. OK, lets simplify; she didn't want to take her babies into Sin City. Vegas it was...

As it turned out the day was something of a mild bust. Some pre-flight instruction in the ways to best immerse one's self in the joys of Vegas (snark) would have been helpful. The traffic was worse than the night before and the parking seemed worse than that. Most of the casinos had valet parking: something I am utterly unfamiliar with and leery of attempting. Eventually we found an entrance to the Tropicana that was labeled "self park ". Once inside, though, we were threatened with the heavy club of towing. We took the chance.

So...we were walking the strip, riding up and down escalators outside in the full view of the sun, and at one point found ourselves on the Brooklyn Bridge. It was warm, but not hot even though noon was nearing. I had begun to sense lunch though my ears first....when my children see a McDonald's and today was no different. I was sure there were better vittles to be had in Vegas, but the kids love McDonald's and couldn't have been happier.

I enjoyed the people watching in the McDonald's. From a couple of women with freaky big casino champagne glasses, to a cross-dresser, possible transvestite, to Germans, there was a plethora of personality. One nice fellow cleared a table with a partially emptied coffee and headed for the trashcan with it. He opened the flap and made like he was tossing the coffee only to leave with it at his lips. I know it wasn't his. I saw the original purchaser leave without clearing her table: a Mickey D's sin. I saw no poverty in his demeanor .

We ate quickly and hurried back in the direction of the Tropicana. Unfortunately the whole walk had been tarnished by the fear of loosing our van to some unknown parking authority. We were happy, though, to find our van waiting for us and decided to catch our breath back at the campground.

It was around mid afternoon by the time we got back to the campground and it was already filling with the pressures of an approaching weekend. In the site we had given up earlier that morning was a huge camper with a few tents pitched nearby. The party took up two sites and they weren't the only ones who did so. Just below them there was a popup that had also taken two sites. We learned much of this after chatting off and on with our new neighbors in the hours before nightfall.

It turned out the folks in our old site were locals. Manuel (Mannie) who was a Las Vegas cop and his wife who raised their children. They both knew Vegas well and after today's misadventure their knowledge was welcome. Mannie's wife told us that the casinos provide parking in the rear and do not tow so as to draw in customers. She also informed us that there were a number of good free shows and Mannie knew which casino had an antique car museum we were interested in. The last bit of info she passed on was in reference to the Hoover Dam. Go early.

The people in the popup were interesting primarily because the boyfriend was the spitting image in appearance (and mannerism) of the sham-wow/"slap-chop" guy. "He's wired." Mannie commented later while throwing a skeptical eye toward the wired guy's site. I think wired was polite euphemism for high. Also there was his girlfriend's wonderfully sweet daughter Emily. She and Elise instantly befriended one another and played like old friends until bedtime.

Not quite a house...

But I am building...and I played with the camera and the fall colors. Gotta love fall.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bureaucracy's Folly

From Yahoo:

Obama declares swine flu a national emergency

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius now has authority to bypass federal rules when opening alternative care sites, such as offsite hospital centers at schools or community centers if hospitals seek permission.

Some hospitals have opened drive-thrus and drive-up tent clinics to screen and treat swine flu patients. The idea is to keep infectious people out of regular emergency rooms and away from other sick patients.

Hospitals could modify patient rules — for example, requiring them to give less information during a hectic time — to quicken access to treatment, with government approval, under the declaration.

If removing bureaucratic impediments are helpful in the delivery of care, I ask: Why are they there in the first place?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegas Baybeeee!!..... 6-24-2009

Cities, like people, have personalities. A few are interesting, some unappealing, but most seem intent on being lost in the crowd. That was fine with me as I generally avoid cities when traveling, but there were two that I wanted to introduce my kids to. One was the flawed San Francisco and the other was the equally, although differently, flawed Las Vegas.

The temperature dropped to around freezing the night we stayed in Cedar Breaks, but we would never have known it inside our little camper. Even without a heater (another build item put off until later) we were cozy. Multiple warm bodies have an effect.

On a final walk around the campground while waiting for the sun I noticed a patch dandelions that I could drop a kid or two in for a photo. For the most part, though, the scenery was poor here as many of the Engleman Spruce Trees were logs on the ground or dieing where they stood. The culprit, as it turned out, was the Spruce Bark Beetle. It's a disappointment to have missed the Spruce forest as it will eventually be replaced by forests of Quaking Aspens and pines.

The night before we worked on the Cedar Breaks Junior Ranger books as a family. We wanted the kids to earn their badges, but a visit to the visitors center was required first. The books had to be checked and our little Junior Rangers had to be quizzed. Badges aren't just given away.

Once we were packed and ready to go we visited the visitors center. Getting in wasn't easy, though. We had to pass through a gauntlet of Ford Model Ts. There were half a dozen already parked and another half dozen in the midst of doing the same. Trey, being a lover of all things antique, was in heaven. Admittedly I was as well. First things being first though, we quickly made our way to the visitors center. I browsed their wares looking for items with reduced prices but found none. I did, however, snap a final pic of the amphitheater of hoodoos from the viewing window. Then behind me Elise nearly broke a coffee mug. She gave it a nasty chip so it appeared that we had something to purchase after all. While at the counter after receiving the badges we set the chipped mug on the counter. The chip caught the attention of the clerk and he gave us a "Do you want this one?" look. We explained what had happened after which he slipped the mug under his counter. Nice!

Back at the parking lot the Model Ts had multiplied. There must have been thirty of them at that point. Apparently the genesis of all this commotion was a gathering that had let out the day before. Most were fully restored and looked beautiful. One in particular, though, was not and appeared to be kept in a perpetual used state. It was my favorite as it looked more authentic to me. Trey was unable to pick a favorite. We milled around a while longer listening to them run. They sounded a bit like a Ford 8N tractor I used on my grandfather's farm. Still more Ts were arriving, drivers and passengers bundled in blankets. We realized parking was getting scarce and took it as a sign to get moving. On the way down the mountain we passed a handful more T's chugging their way up. It was a good start to the day.

As we descended the mountain we stopped at a couple of pull outs, one to check out a creek we had been shadowing and another to let the brakes cool. We stopped while in Cedar City Utah for lunch at a Mikky D's. Food, a play place with playmates and air conditioning was hard to resist.

Our next stop was Zion National Park. We took I-15 S., the first interstate we had been on in eight days, from Cedar City. We immediately missed our preferred smaller, slower roads. It wasn't long, though, before we were near Zion. We parked a little outside the park as the roads within the park were closed to private traffic in the summer. They open the roads to private use again in the winter. The buses they provide are free and clean, although not air conditioned. A/C would have been nice in the 100 plus degrees, but we were comfortable once the bus was under way. Comfort never entered the kids' minds. They were in a BUS!

Once near the gate we left our bus behind and entered the park. Ian was beside himself, but to his relief we were soon climbing the steps of another bus. This was one of the many buses the park used within the park itself. At anytime we could hop off, check things out, then catch the next bus. They all run the same circle. Along the way the bus played a running commentary of the sights. It was nice, although I never discerned how they kept it in sync with the view outside the window. On another bus the commentary was done by the driver and was more entertaining.

Zion is a beautiful valley carved by a small river. It benefited from a land slide in it's past that created a lake. Sediment built up at the bottom of the stilled water, and once the lake had drained, the sediment had created large fertile flat areas on the valley floor.

We eventually made our way to the "end" of the road where the buses turned around and made their way back to the entry gate. One of the things I wanted to look for was a log. Yea, a log. On my only other visit to Zion around 12 years ago I took a picture of a tree that had been recently felled by a beaver. At the time the tell tale wood chips were were scattered around the stump. Would it still be there? It was. I saw no beaver sign beyond the one log so I guess the park deemed the critter unacceptable as it's activities don't conform to their goal of keeping the park in a form of unnatural stasis.

The path we were on took us to a wading area in the river. The kids did their thing. I wanted to join them but my foot was still healing from the nail I had stepped on the night we left home. Also, I had worn my sneakers to protect that foot from the walking and having to don them with wet feet didn't appeal to me. I settled for picture taking.

One spot of interest was a European couple who were sunning themselves on a large rock. I say European because American women aren't prone to sunning themselves topless...unfortunately. Sorry,no pics. My distraction irritated Kat. Go figure. ;)

The children continued wading in the river, Kat guiding them upstream , away from the sun bathers. We joined another family with their own young waders and caught a "rock bug" before catching a bus and riding back to the van.

On another, later, visit we hope to explore the canyon a little deeper. Kat and I wouldn't trade the company of our children, but they tend to diminish the spectrum of possibilities. We watched a lot of hikers as we strolled along the river bank and rode the buses. We watched them return from trails we would never enjoy ourselves. Of course, some of the hikers were posers, hikers in clothing only. Others, though, were sweaty, had mud around their soles, and appeared happily exhausted. We envied them, but we suspect when our turn comes to exercise that kind of freedom we will only want to retrace the trip we had with our children in what would, then, be our youth. It's hard to exceed the joy of just sitting and watching our children explore a river in Zion with Europeans frolicking in the back ground.

We hit the interstate and began the final leg of the day's drive. It took us past some interesting architecture that so blended with the scenery that, from a distance, the neighborhood was lost to the landscape. And we continued through some of the most rugged landscape I've seen an interstate pushed through. It was during this part of the drive we began to see Joshua Trees. One of my goals on the trip was to visit Joshua Tree National Park for the trees it was named after.OK , U2 had an influence on that desire too. But, Joshua Tree was a long way out of our way and after seeing the trees on our way into Las Vegas the visit to Joshua Tree National Park seemed unnecessary. Thus, the Joshua Tree was scrubbed from our itinerary.

That left us with more time in Las Vegas, and as far as the children were concerned our visit in Vegas began with a drive down the strip. The sun was setting and the traffic heavy.

I was nervous navigating the unfamiliar city roads with our home in tow. The spectacle of Vegas had its impact on the children. Unfortunately the few pics we took were poor. I was hoping to post a couple of pics of Vegas as the city is a little known jewel. ;) Oh well, we managed to get a snippet of video.

With the children introduced to Vegas we left for a campground north-west of the city in the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest. Once again we arrived in a mountainous campground in darkness. The site we chose was a pull through and convenient to drive into in the dark but it was not level and beyond our camper's ability to correct. We slept with our feet high that night.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wild Things

If soundtracks have any predictive value in cinematic releases, Where The Wild Things Are will be a wild ride.

I'm smitten with this trailer.... I'm convinced someone reached into my imagination and splattered it across the screen.


Friday, October 9, 2009

There's a Prize for Unicorn Diplomacy...Who Knew?

Obama receives the Noble Prize for......rhetoric.
Freeing a nation to exercise free choice yields derision.

If it weakens or leads to an impotent US, it is good. And Barack Obama is good.

On the other hand,
S-n-L now has something to add to his "accomplishments"


Riddle- Why didn't Barack Obama receive the Noble Prize for literature?
Answer- He wrote two books.

Random thought:
The more I watch our president the more I feel he is our Mikhail Gorbachev.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Mid Summer's Snow Ball 6/23/09

Waking to the sounds of a mountain stream instills, for me, a desire to own it..........That's not for us.

Oak Creek Campground was definitely a place we did not want to leave. It was a cool morning and it made my breakfast cereal all the better. Kat washed her hair while I took advantage of the morning sun for some more pics of the site, of yesterday's rock hunt catch and of the kids in some grassy areas. Somehow I had missed a pic of the bridge the day before but I fixed that.

Although leaving was hard, it suited us to do so. When driving the NC coast I often find myself longing for ownership. I'm unwittingly seduced into wanting a little piece of that coastal beauty. It seems to be an automatic desire that I subsequently recoil from; I have seen the result among friends. We know folks back home who have access to family beach houses and, although fortunate, they seem to be wedded to repeating the same vacation year upon year. There is no exploration and little that is new when following that path. But still, I seem to be easily seduced.

After leaving Oak Creek Campground we shared this overlook with a biker....

Then we unexpectedly entered the Escalante Canyons along the spine of this ridge with nearly vertical cliffs dropping hundreds of feet from the road's edges....

We pulled off at this Escalante Canyons' overlook and soaked in our path taken.

Then pulled over by this river bed to kick rocks just shy of Bryce Canyon....

We were teased by hints of Bryce Canyon but turned off by the crass commercialism outside it's entry gate and left; our greatest error in the trip...

We shopped in Panguitch Ut, a town overrun with quadrunners and other larger versions of the same. I fueled up while Kat bought food. A bag boy helped us load the food in the van. Service.

We, by God, did not leave Panguitch by way of HWY 89!

And we saw sights that were not on Hwy 89. Some were green and lush while others were black volcanic glacial deposits....

It seems that a mid summer's snow is also not found on Hwy 89. Apparently Ian is unaffacted by altitude as he ran the entire distance to the snow without stopping at 10,500 ft above the ocean's surface. Simply conversing while lounging sets me to deep sighs. Sigh.
And he's still going! A sprint back to the van.

Nearing sunset we hit our final overlook in Cedar Breaks National Monument.

We found a home for the night at Cedar Breaks Campground and attended a ranger talk on lightning by a rather youthful ranger. His presentation followed by a star party. The night was crisp, moonless and we were at around 10,500'. Star views don't get better.

A day of exploration! Oh, how seductive ownership is! Staking a claim on a piece of beauty. The problem: we want it all; we want to explore it all. It seems that the two are mutually exclusive. And we are glad we left the wonderful Oak Creek Campground.