Regular readers of this blog may have noticed the slow down in posts the last month. My break was due to a vacation out West to visit a few national parks. Visiting other states always gives me opportunities to compare life outside of our "Columbia bubble." Here are a few observations and some photos of the scenery of the parks.
The first thing I notice being away from Howard County is how the diversity we live with here is the exception in much of our nation. In much of our country we are segregated by race, income and political beliefs. It was telling that you saw so few minorities in our national parks. What minorities you did see were foreign visitors. Interestingly in Yellowstone the visitors were Asian, mostly Chinese. In Zion and the Grand Canyon they seemed to be German from the language I heard spoken.
I have never noticed the frequency of trains like in the Mid West. Before my trip to the West I spent a week in Indiana and Illinois. Everywhere I stayed you could hear trains at night. I know we have trains here but I was amazed at the number of trains that travel in the Mid West. The image below shows how Chicago is a hub of railroads in this area.
Where these rail lines were developed as a way for farmers to get their crops and livestock to market they now seem to be used to transport oil from the Upper Plains. I watched a number of trains at railroad crossings and they had hundreds of cars transporting crude oil. I didn't realize this transition until I saw it in person.
After being in the desert terrain of the Southwest for 3 weeks the greenery of Maryland is startling on my return. Trees, grass and vegetation so plentiful in our neighborhoods starts to take on a new beauty after being surrounded with rocks and sand for 3 weeks. We don't realize the value of this vegetation until you see how their lack can impact communities. We visited Colorado City and saw the bridge, shown below, where one week before people were swept away to their deaths in a flash flood.
Finally you can't help but notice the reality of guns in the West. It wasn't unusual in some of the small towns to see people carrying guns around their waist. I saw one guy with a t-shirt that showed a picture of the Statue of Liberty holding an rifle and the words underneath "From my cold dead hands." The clincher was the sign on the Dick's Sporting Goods store in Salt Lake City that is shown in the picture below.
I doubt that Dick's in Columbia would have to put up this sign!
Now for some of the scenery of the Southwest from some pictures I took.
What took us to Colorado City was to see what the town of FLDS members was like. If you are unfamiliar with this radical breakaway sect of the Mormon Church here is some info
. The pictures below show how they are a walled town to keep the gawkers like us away.
Happy Columbus Day