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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Winding Roads: Preserve our resources

Thursday, September 20, 2007

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Having been gone a short month, we were able to see and do quite a bit on a vacation. It was a learning experience in more ways than one and it got me thinking what is good and not so good for our country.

It was a trip I was looking forward to as I simply wanted to see all the scenery I had heard about and then some. I had never been in Oregon, Washington or Idaho. I was a young girl when I was last in Montana.

I have been to California a few times but I didn't remember how large and bright the flowers were--especially roses. More than once, I said to my better half, "Man, would I like to take some of those home." We visited the first site Luther Burbank set up and I did purchase one small plant that will be planted outside next spring. Something different to give it a try. We also transported three mum plants and a miniature rose bush that wasn't so miniature as back here. Whether all will survive is anyone's guess. The mums were raised in Canada so they should be hardy.

All through the northwest, we saw numerous bicyclers. If we think RAGBRAI is a challenge (I'm not saying it isn't), well you should see these bikes loaded with everything they had with them. They live the simple life riding alone, in pairs or small groups. Some had small trailers they pulled behind. But I can't imagine riding through the mountains on a bike.

In visiting with one biker, Clarence learned he was from the Okoboji lakes area and had his bike transported to Sioux Falls where he started out from on April 13th. We think he was in his early thirties.

He related that he simply hadn't found what he wanted to do with his life nor did he know where he wanted to live. So what could be better than taking his sweet time covering the country to make up his mind. They ride in rain and make do with whatever they come upon.

I can't imagine the strength it must take to do all that but I bet they could write a story and a half about their travels. If it wasn't bicycles, it was motorcycles. They were plentiful as well. We tended to think the majority of them were over 40. Many couples and various groups were out on the road together. The ones we spoke to were usually staying in motel rooms. for the most part, they drove defensively.

The third type of transportation that we chuckled about was the Volkswagen van that was so popular in the sixties. The vehicles were in good shape and rolled right along. It was strange seeing them after all this time.

What I was also looking forward to was seeing signs of the old west. Well, that is just about nonexistent. Jackson Hole had one bar with a western environment. We did find two very old towns In Montana, Virginia and Nevada City that were some fun. We rode in a replica of a stagecoach there. The steam engine train was shut down due to fire hazards. Other than that, those western cities could have just as well been anywhere in this country. You find the same national chains of motels and restaurants. You have to get off the interstates to find interesting things to see and do.

Our roads are busy. The number of lanes and bridges are astronomical. Those western cities are crowded and people are fleeing to the mountains which lends itself to having more fires. When you see mountains scorched by fire, it is indeed a sad sight for it takes years and years for that growth to come back. This country needs to do a better job at land management. Many inner cities would provide space for new buildings and homes. It's costly to do so but in the long term, it will be costly to keep on the path we are on.

Everyone needs to ask politicians what they are doing about the energy crisis. We use much, much energy and we do need to watch out for our environment. Maybe the Chinese are wise in limiting children to one per family. Perhaps we ought to encourage that thinking as well as securing our borders. In Montana, the haze just hung over the mountains from the fires in central Idaho--several hundred miles away. You have to see it to believe how far that smoke reigns.

The other main concern is water. There are immense areas where they are irrigating the land to raise food. I can't help but wonder where the water comes from and how long will those sources last. We just can't keep taking our natural resources for granted. Just give it some thought. We all are guilty of wasting so much.