(Author’s note: Continuing my attempts to archive my past Portage County Gazette columns. This one is from May 24, 2017.)
Bridge on Plover River IAT segment, Marathon County
When it comes to protecting our public lands, it’s easy to see recent developments as one step forward and three or four steps back.
Efforts to strip protected status from national monuments and sell off or otherwise allow desecration of Wisconsin public lands by greedy businesses seem to fill the news recently. These aren’t the best ways to start the summer outdoor season, but it doesn’t hurt to keep them in the back of our minds while we’re out having fun.
After a long year of working for an employer that’s frequently in the news for all the wrong reasons (see, for instance, exhibits A and B), I am reminded of the toll it takes on a body when we don’t get outdoors enough. Fortunately, the kids agreed to a quick spring-break trip to Big Bend National Park, which we visited to wrap up an all-too-quick trip to Texas in March.
I can’t remember if this was my fifth or sixth trip there, but the important thing was that it was the kids’ first. Our 10 days on the road were a little grueling, taking us about 3,600 miles in all (including family & friend visits), and despite getting really worn out by the constant moving from one place to another, the kids loved our trip and say they’re ready to go back.
The photos aren’t of the best quality — my old Galaxy was on its deathbed, so we used Sam’s lower-quality phone for the photos — but the weather was great and the flowers glorious.
It’s impossible to be outdoors without experiencing the changing of the seasons and the passage of time, and we are now officially past the Time of Mud and transitioning into that fabulous season we all know as summer in Wisconsin.
Something in the summertime light and air makes it particularly compelling, and despite our awareness of the season, time occasionally seems to stop, or maybe even go backwards.
There are always two or three or even more days when everything is perfect and it feels like you’re much younger, almost as if you’ll live forever. If you’re lucky, the realization that you won’t do so stays dormant for a couple of hours or so.
Change is in the air, and not just because lots of people spent the weekend marching for science.
Science. Think about that for a minute. It’s like a march for keeping everyone’s desk organized, or maybe for castor oil.
Since when do we have to march for something so obviously good and essential?
Never mind. Everybody knows since when, so there’s not much point going there. It’s the world we live in.
That world has been wearing on me, so rather than supporting the Earth on Earth Day or marching for science, I decided to do something I could actually control, like get my kids to behave all weekend and go hiking with me.
Yeah, I know. It’s easier to get a rich man to pass you his money through the eye of a needle, an eye welded shut with a tiny blowtorch the size of a career politician’s scruples.
When it comes to ways to mess up vacations, thinking too much is high on the list.
During visits to Costa Rica, my wife’s homeland, that‘s especially true for me. Now that we’ve returned from what we hope becomes an annual trip, there has been time to reflect on thoughts that threaten my enjoyment of paradise.
Most vacation spots are more enjoyable with a bit of knowledge about their history and culture, but that’s a mixed bag for me in Central America.