Ellen Meloy had a glorious childhood. She ran amuck golden foothills of the Sierras in California, where grandparents carved a living from a sprawling family homestead. Roots ran as deep as the snow on Mount Whitney. A great aunt of hers spent summer's working fire-watch in a remote, ridge-top tower during the war, withstanding loneliness and lightening strikes and boredom. Ellen had access to a family hunting cabin in the high-up forests above the ranch. She'd sprawl out under gargantuan ponderosas on soft beds of pine needles, centuries in the making, surrounded by pinecones the size of beavers. She remembers staring at lazy clouds through pine-bows, torqued by a Pacific breeze. It was hypnotizing, the faint mixed scent of ocean and pine imbedded aromatic memories that would never be forgotten.
But things change. Today the family homestead lies deep beneath one of a series of lakes, a wild and scenic river dammed to extinction in a misguided attempt to sate coastal California's growing thirst. She eyed the changes taking place, the congestion and sprawl of concrete jungles, megapolis's teeming with sparkling clean Beamers, Lexi, and Mercedes, all getting more attention and baths than a newborn baby.
Exhaust and unbridled development finally forced Meloy to trade SoCal for southern Utah. Air pollution was horrific in the 60's and 70's, an eye-stinging permanent haze hung over L A like a dreary fog... trapped by a Pacific breeze against Coastal Range Mountains. Pollution grew, eventually breaching coastal mountains and flooding valleys to the base of the Sierras. Today, it spills into the Grand Canyon, where, on a bad day, you can hardly make out the bottom.
The tipping point for Meloy was when she could no longer find the solitude of her childhood. Her most secret places had been found out by throngs of city-dwellers, hellbent to escape pollution, crime, and stalled traffic.
The old family cabin became a roadside venue, "where unemployed men drink beer until they pass out beneath the redbud trees." Native Americans and working neighbors were displaced by escalating costs of living... land-grabbing rich folk looking for a slice of Heaven above the insufferable valley heat and haze. As the century rolled over, Meloy could no longer compete with the 30 million people that lived within a days drive of Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite. It was "Utah or Bust."
I was chewing on Meloy's dilemma while hiking Gray Copper Gulch, a misnomer if there ever was one because all I see up there is "Competition Orange," the color of my old '69 Camero. A cobalt blue sky complemented Red Mountain's "rust." Puffs of white clouds grew as the day wore on, adding interest and photo ops.
Wonderlands get discovered. People go there. Things change.
As long as there is a dollar to be made and people have "something" to run away from, the trend will continue... until every last wild place has been tamed by motor-heads and McDonalds. We are drawn to the "pretties" like mosquitoes to blood, and in time end up sucking the place dry of the very reasons we moved there.
If totally honest, I'm part of the problem. It happened when I joined the Lovely Ouray fan club, and started blogging postcards and singing the praises of mountain living in a place that had yet to be destroyed by the masses. The BCB is not exactly the New York Times, but still, what if it contributes to the Californication of Colorado? What then? You wake up from a bed of roses one day, and suddenly find yourself pricked by the thorns of a moral dilemma.
It's not so much a matter of "if" as a matter of "when." So the real question is, "how long?" How long till southwest Colorado is singled out on the sidebar of Walmart Rand McNallys and, like Moab, finds itself gridlocked by recreational and motor-head masses? I ask this full well suspecting the "Gold Rush" is already underway.
I'm not blind. I see the absence of parking that now stretches the entire length of Main Street and a block either side, the "nuts-to-butts" line of Jeeps and 4 X 4's that string through town, the chain-gangs of pedestrians... always stopping mid-street to point and snap photos while cars stack up, patiently waiting for heads to come out of asses. Trust me, in summertime a right and around the block is easier and quicker than turning left in Lovely Ouray.
Yes, "they" are coming. You can't stop desperate people with "disposable incomes."
At the "pass" I gaze at "Gray Copper's" blinding Red Mountain landscape, and wonder. Where could I possibly go from here? What place like this exists that has not yet been discovered? And, more importantly, as with Ellen Meloy, when will the "tipping point" come? As sure as the Pope is Catholic, and for as long as he continues to refuse capitulation on issues of birth control, the earth will continue to shrink under the weight of reproductive robots.
Maybe I am part of the problem, just like those travel/RV bloggers who cheerlead a Life on the Road where every damn day is peachy keen and smells like roses. I'd like to believe that my humble postcard offerings go unnoticed in a blogosphere cluttered with everything from Porn to Politics, that the BCB doesn't significantly add to Lovely Ouray's demise and "pollution." If I ever do stop blogging—and hardly a week goes by where I don't think about hanging up the old "pen," for a myriad of reasons other than turning "Lovely Ouray" into "L A"—this will be the torpedo that sinks the BCB ship. After all, who wants to be known and remembered as a "Pimp."