Will’s review of Desert Solitaire > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

My husband calls these people like Edward Abbey "elitist" and says they are very common in their thinking that these things are only for a few. He discourages me from donating to many environmental groups for this reason. I did enjoy reading about his journey down the canyon and wish that I could go but I never could do that. Have you been to the super deep canyon here in Colorado? (its terrifying) When my husband took me down to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison a couple of years ago I was horrified and wanted to leave right away. There is an even scarier one in Idaho I hear and I don't want to go there.

message 2: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes I agree that Abbey is "elitist," but in a very specific way. He would merrily keep all non-athletes or non-purists out of the parks. I think there is room for both mountain-man types and folks like myself who have a visceral appreciation for natural beauty but not the physical capacity to do serious trekking or climbing.

I think there are many environmental organizations that are much more benign in their notions of how we can go about hanging on to our national natural heritage for future generations. The Nature Conservancy, for example, saves nature the old-fashioned way. They buy it. I have been a member for many years. AS a child I used to walk halfway across the borough to go to the Bronx zoo. Now renamed the Wildlife Conservation Society, they not only run several zoos within the city, but sponsor significant research on wildlife, with an eye to saving from extinction what can be saved. The Bronx Zoo, in the early 20th century played a major role in preserving the American bison.

No I have not really been in a deep canyon that I can recall, other than driving through considerable swaths of the southwest and northwest, between mountains. I have walked in some slot canyons which is a much different experience, and have only observed the Grand Canyon from the rims.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Will wrote: "I agree that Abbey is "elitist," but in a very specific way.

I don't think you can go down into The Black Canyon of the Gunnison as the Effel Tower would fit in there with the Empire State Building stacked on top and something else. They have a map to give a person an idea how deep it is. Its narrow and black not pink, purple and gold like the Grand Canyon. Some men did go down in there long ago by floating down the stream like Abbey did in his book but they barely got out alive. Big boulders stopped their progress. Its very scary to me and reminded me of reading Follow the River for some reason.

I get flyers etc from The Nature Conservancy and some others possibly because I buy cards and clothes from National Wildlife Federation but I am not allowed to donate to others as there is a conflict of interest with groups my husband belongs to. He used to be a park ranger and does love the National Parks like I do. I always like to know about things like The Bronx Zoo which I didn't know about. Victor is fascinated by bison partly as he is from the east (he says Midwest) and gets so excited when we see any here. I can easily buy organic buffalo here from herds that are kept nearby but the meat has too much iron.

message 4: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes The Black Canyon otG sounds impressive. And it certainly sounds like scared is the proper response, or at least one of them.

It was pretty exciting seeing Bison bison in such numbers in Yellowstone.

My wife and I truly appreciate the National Park Rangers. We typically vacation in national parks and wish the good people working there were paid a decent wage. We have almost universally been impressed with their knowledge, dedication and people skills. My wife thinks most of the rangers, particularly the younger ones are hotties. I roll my eyes, but secretly wish I looked that good.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Will wrote: "The Black Canyon otG sounds impressive. And it certainly sounds like scared is the proper response, or at least one of them.

It was pretty exciting seeing Bison bison in such numbers in Yellowsto..."

LOL! Its because we like men in uniform probably. I nearly swoon when I see a flight suit. (years of conditioning?) Yes, I do wish that Park Rangers were paid a decent wage also. I believe their numbers are actually being cut at this point.

There is a herd of bison just up the road from us at Hartsell. We also see them sometimes when we into Denver from up at Evergreen.

message 6: by Caroline (new)

Caroline A wonderful, wonderful review as always. Really helped me make up my mind to try and read this book :)

message 7: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes Thanks Caroline. Despite my personal disaffection for the author and his leanings, I do admire his talent and love of the land.

message 8: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Hi Will - yes, that came across very clearly in your review. I suspect I will encounter the same hiccups as you, but still enjoy it for the good stuff (if I can get hold of it.) *rolls eyes*.

message 9: by Mikey B. (new)

Mikey B. Excellent review. I have been to the southwest and have become enamored of the overwhelming scenery. It is really out of this world.
I strongly agree with you and appreciate the efforts made by the National Park Service to make these vistas open to all (or as much possible). For instance I really appreciated the free transit service provided in both Grand Canyon and Zion parks that would bring one to various points of interest throughout. And there was still the opportunity for those willing to do the 10-20 mile hikes that would take a few days. I am a day-hiker at best!
I don't really know if the book is my type as the author sounds a little too much of "snooty outdoorsy guy"!!

message 10: by Lynne (new)

Lynne King Lovely review Will and I especially liked the photos.

message 11: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes Arches is spectacular!

message 12: by HBalikov (new)

HBalikov Have Arches on my list for 2015, so I am grateful for this cue, Will

message 13: by Jay (new)

Jay Glad you sent this along. I loved this book, as annoying as Abbey's attitude is every so often. Great review and your pics are first rate.

message 14: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes Thanks, guys

message 15: by Terry (new)

Terry Everett I love Sonora....

message 16: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes I had the pleasure, but many years ago, so no digital shots. It is stunning.

message 17: by Terry (new)

Terry Everett It is stunning, indeed, especially after a rain in July.

message 18: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes July in the Sonora sounds harsh, temperature-wise. But the visual splendor of rain there, and the after-effects, sounds lovely.

message 19: by Terry (new)

Terry Everett YES! right on all counts, but add that when the desert blooms it is overpowering also for the sense of smell.

message 20: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes Must be amazing

message 21: by Terry (new)

Terry Everett It truly is. Creosote is the most overpowering.

message 22: by Campbell Latimer (new)

Campbell Latimer turn down for wat

message 23: by Sue (new)

Sue I visited the Southwest about 20 years ago...Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, and more. Spectacular country that I enjoyed simply experiencing. I don't know if I will ever get back but I always hoped to just sit on the edge of the Grand Canyon and muse on life for a spell. I haven't read this book yet; may have it on my kindle. Thanks for the warning about attitude...that helps when reading.

message 24: by HBalikov (new)

HBalikov "...but Abbey seems determined that only certain sorts should be allowed to share that joy. And while he may wish for us as readers to appreciate what he appreciates, he seems uninterested in allowing for other joys by other people. While he offers detail and poetry about the desert and about untouched places, he sneers at the urban, at those he sees as lesser than himself. As such he taps into some tried and true American themes such as the romantic myth of self-sufficiency and our persistent national history of anti-city bias." Too true, Will. You might like to look through Leo Marx's analysis of how our literature reflects this, title: The Machine in the Garden.

message 25: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes Thanks for the rec. It has been TBR'd. I am certainly aware that we have a long history of disdain for the urban, which I expect is an inheritance from Europe, a reaction both to the horrors of early industrialization and the concentration of economic power in the banisters of the day. Seems likely that Marx can add, as well, some commentary on the other Marx's opposite view, on "the idiocy of rural life."

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