Tuesday, June 13, 2006

West of the Ranch

Ok, so I took a 16 day sabbatical from my blog. It isn't like a major terrorist was killed. Or the first named storm of the hurricane season arrived.

I went for a swim at sunset tonight and then watched the rich colors grow in the west. Vapor trails followed jets heading east out of Phoenix which is a world away from the Double Barrel Ranch and I like it that way. On my way home from my vacation, while doing 80 MPH on the freeway in Phoenix - it is called keeping up with traffic- a mattress flew out of the bed of a pick-up truck two lanes over and naturally came to rest right in front of me. I managed to hit it only with two wheels at a somewhat lower speed, but praised God it wasn't worse. I've never seen a mattress look so graceful as it arched through the air in my direction. My trip totalled 2068 miles and about 150 miles from home I have to confront bedroom furniture in my path.

The weather was outstanding in the Sierra Nevadas. The Giant Sequoias were stately and beautiful. Snowmelt-fed rivers were in full-throat roaring down from their lofty 10,000 to 14,000 foot origins. Campgrounds weren't overly crowded. Firewood plentiful. (But still we saw neophytes buying wood for their campfires.) The horse rental folks weren't yet open for the season, so at home here I'll ride my own horses exclusively this summer. All-in-all it was a pretty good time to visit Sequoia and King's Canyon National Park.

What I could have done without was the air pollution. It was shocking. From a haze over any distant scenic view to a full blown brown cloud hanging over the central valley of California, it was an unwelcome constant companion. I now understand the strict emission standards for California cars. The bad air is slowly poisoning the forests. Although I did not learn any time-table, I can see a sense of urgency. Plus its' current effects are not healthy. A Park Ranger told us that the day before a woman had to be evacuated from the park because of respiratory problems due to the ozone or some other air pollutant. From the park!

I went to California to enjoy the outdoors. And I did admire the wonders of the National Park, but I came away with sadness. What is more basic than the air we breathe?

1 comment:

Cameraman said...

Phoenix and Mesa are getting pretty bad too. When I lived down in Mesa I could drive to the top of Papago Parkway before I saw the nasty, dirty haze that loomed over the city. As the years passed it became evident that if I stayed in Mesa that I would have to eat the air with a stick and a spoon! The crime rate tripled and our neighborhood was changed into a war front for quiet people. I am much happier in Safford now and can only pray that its growth will be arrested by some great mode of fortune.