May 2017

4 June 2017

I dog sat this month. The beast was nice–friendly and well-behaved. I couldn’t tell you the breed, but he was some kind of mutt. He was a pleasure to babysit–I enjoyed walking and feeding him and generally having a dependent for the week. But the week was enough. Guilt weighed me down each time I left for work, keeping him caged for eight to ten hours. To compensate, I spent about an hour each evening taking him for walks and giving some TLC. As much as I enjoyed it, my free-time was spent and my couch covered in fur. I really enjoy free-time and a clean apartment, so this state was not sustainable for me. Thus, a realization: I love animals, but I don’t want pets.

 

Just as I live a transient life–moving from place to place–many people come in and out my life. This month, I had a handful of visitors, which gave me the excuse to explore several of the national and state parks. In San Ramon, the Las Trampas Open Space was an idyllic place of rolling green hills and views. Just ten minutes from town, you felt completely remote among the hills. Along the coast, I visited Point Reyes National Seashore and the Sonoma Coast. It was boggling to see rundown ranches along the cliffs of the Pacific, cows grazing before the crashing waves. It was beautiful to see such picturesque landscape left for agriculture instead of wealthy housing. On the east side of the state, I visited the chain of National Parks amidst the granite canyons and giant forests–Yosemite, King’s Canyon, and Sequoia. Yosemite was crowded and remote–requiring a two-hour drive along narrow mountain roads to get to the main tourist area. The granite cliffs were worth it, especially with the rain and fog to add a flavor of mystery. Sequoia and King’s Canyon left me feeling like an insect. The Sequoias were super trees–growing three times larger and older than any other tree. They survive forest fires and droughts and mankind.

 

California is truly America’s Greatest Hits. The source for technology and innovation, film and entertainment, agriculture and natural beauty. It’s a wonderful thing to look at maps of the state and see the eastern half colored green. National Parks and Forests abound, and it’s critical we keep it that way. Not everyone agrees, even in today’s age. National Parks are managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. National Forests are managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A seemingly trivial piece of information, but a differentiation with potentially dire consequences. National Parks, such as Yosemite, are very difficult to take away, whereas National Forests–such as Stanislaus–are, as so eerily labeled on a roadside sign: “A land of many uses.” There are fewer restrictions on National Forests, so the government has the power to develop, farm, mine, or sell the land as needed. Hetch Hetchy, for instance, was a valley that John Muir found even more beautiful than Yosemite. When the City of San Francisco decided it needed more water, it dammed up the valley to build a reservoir. This could have been built somewhere else–in a less picturesque setting–but they took it in an exhibition of power. The people would never see the valley, so they could care less. Few people even know of Hetch Hetchy, despite it being the source of their livelihoods. But it’s for this reason that we must pay attention to the classification of our parks. While seeing the green half of California may provide a sense of comfort, know that a good portion of that land could be repurposed when the government deems fit. It’s something I keep in mind, especially in the current political climate.