Travelblogue: The American West: Bryce Canyon National Park

The first time I visited this spectacular park in southern Utah, I had some wonkiness going on with my knees, and no matter how they tempted and beckoned, I could only stand and take photos from the rim. The second time, a few years later, I was finally able to follow the call of the trails and go down among the the hoodoos.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjv5SDsF

To the east of Bryce is the much less-known, less-visited Kodachrome Basin State Park. Between my knees and time constraints, I only hiked one of its trails, the Shakespeare Arch trail, and mostly took pictures of the vegetation there. I still promise myself I’ll go back one day and actually get more of the geologic features of more of the Park.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1mgJeN

The name of the park, by the way, is in recognition of the advent of kodachrome film which was introduced in 1948.

The Shakespeare Arch, also, is not named for the playwrite, but for its original Euro American discoverer. I have no information about earlier native discoverers and names they gave this area.

Travelblogue: American West: Yellowstone National Park

American’s, and in fact, the world’s first National Park is in the northwestern corner of the state of Wyoming, with some overlap into Montana and Idaho. It is one of the most popular and dramatic of the National Parks, featuring abundant western wildlife, geologic and thermal regions, and some spectacular scenery.

You won’t see Old Faithful among these images, or Morning Glory Pool, or Yellowstone Lake. It’s a big park, and my travels through it didn’t cover all the roads. Also, those very popular locales are often very crowded.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjUrtqGD
I was first here when I was 10, with my parents, and those were the days of bear-jams on the roads, and bears in the campgrounds. My more recent travels, I’ve seen no bears: It is the bison that dominate the landscape, and create the traffic jams.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjUwmpd8
Every time I’ve visited this park, I’ve spent some time walking among the thermal areas, especially fascinated by the bubbling mudpits.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjoyoUqw
The Yellowstone River is very shallow in some areas, and lovely shades of blue and green. These images were taken above the renowned Lower Falls.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjoxPco7
On one visit I made sure to vist the view points above the Lower Falls at sunrise, to catch the golden light on the canyon walls. A little later, I walked down the trail into the canyon near where the falls descend.

Travelblogue: American West Colorado: Garden of the Gods

Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Garden of the Gods is a spectactular geologic park, a portion of the red and white rock formations that run north and south along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. I live about 3 miles away, so have collected many views in different lights and seasons.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjpeCjcb

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjNhR3Kw

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Travelblogue: Red Rock Country, the American West

I have always loved the western United States, for the scent of wild sage and especially for the dramatic geology.

Interstate 70, begins in Utah at a point south of Salt Lake City and continues eastward to Baltimore, Maryland. I’ve driven the particular section between its junction with I 15 in Utah to Denver, Colorado several times, in different seasons. It is some of the most beautiful scenery outside National and State Parks anywhere!

Here are the photos from one of those drives:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjuoKkkk

Un-Natural

Trans-ness, gay-ness, bi-ness–none of these things are new to the human experience. They have been recognized in many non-Western cultures as normal and authentic for literal ages. They have always been here, though in the shadows at the edges of this dominant Western culture and disparaged as ‘un-natural’ by this and other patriarchal societies.

Not new, not a change in human experience, not un-natural.

The societies cringing away from any sort of gender ambiguity are also those that denigrate women. Male-dominant societies believe that male is the only way to be fully human: Females only exist to make more males; females have nothing else of value to offer; females are not persons, but property. Anyone not fully, demonstratively, aggressively male in such societies is of no worth, is the source of evil and if they are not even practically and productively female, they are un-natural.

Nature itself proves that gender is a fluid thing in many species, that sexual pleasure exists beyond humans, that variety in gender or sexual expression is not ‘un-natural.’

And for those who wave the banners of religious intolerance… Well, they are the ones still referring to God as He, as if that does not in itself cut their all-powerful diety right in half!

Patriarchy. It’s a cultural habit, not an absolute truth. It’s what’s un-natural.

CL Redding 11/2022

AFTERMATH

The impassioned moment’s passed,
The fight’s gone out of me;
tolerance and hope set in
with a sigh
and by-and-by
this latest violence,
outrage, assault
against the heart and soul
will pass–
and leave me living
still
and still possessed
of most of what I had;

Life goes on
sublime,
absurd,
expects the future still
makes plans
invests
and wanders
down the middle course
again somewhere between
the hopeless and the glad.

Disappointment
gnaws away at faith.

Perhaps,
because our planet turns
and we are used to nights and days,
Hope returns
relentlessly
and carelessly extreme,
and sets us up
for disappointment
once again.
So–faith in disappointment
becomes the order of the day.

When we are gone,
our hopes and fears
dispelled into the sky
that wavers still between
the darkness and the light,
all argument and action,
come to naught
but fleeting windblown moan
and faded thought.
Our remains–
our captive images,
our poetry engraved
beside the columns of the Greeks,
the remnant walls of Babylon,
mysterious great figures in the plains–
will testify
to inspiration,
passion,
and the folly of our age.

Thus our entire legacy
not Wisdom is,
but Art.

CL Redding March 2003

Breaking Hearts, Broken Children

The shootings here in the Springs, and then yesterday again, in a Virginia Walmart…So many families and communities torn open, devastated because of insanity with a gun in hand.

The guns are a problem, but insanity is the bigger one. Sane people can manage their guns with safety and good sense. The biggest problem here is how easily the insane can acquire guns, can walk around with them unchallenged in many states. Could it be we need to address the insanity that is a product of a terribly dysfunctional society, even more than the prevalence of guns?

How would we even begin?

Honestly, I think we have begun already. Parenting is changing to more wholesome models in many places, and that’s the first step. So many of the people I know who are having kids in these past several years are bringing new awareness to the emotional needs of children, the developmental stages, the ways kids perceive and collect knowledge, learn empathy and understanding. It’s nothing like 100%, and never will be. Maybe it’s more like 20%. But in the ways of societal change, that’s a great start!

Traditions of punishment and belittlement will hang on a long time, because so many generations have deep roots in that model of childhood–that children are essentially bad; that children are blank slates to be written over by authority’s plans and desires; that children are worth nothing in themselves and are no more autonomous than barnyard animals or other chattels.

The other end of that spectrum, of course, is that children are special to the point of being royalty, and accorded the privileges of princes and tyrants. 

As I see it, children are born savage in terms of society’s needs and expectations. Raising them is all about teaching them the benefits of civility.

Children come as whole people into the world, nothing like a blank slate, and they need to be understood as such, respected for their own personalities that they exhibit from as early as the hour of their birth. They are for a time their parents’ responsibilities, but not their possessions. 

They need to learn that their choices lead to consequences, very often unforeseen and startling and even sometimes very unpleasant. Kids need to learn how to foresee, how to manage consequences through their choosing strategies: to control impulse and emotional reacting. 

Of that supposed 20%, well-parented children will become better parents to their own children, and the of unbroken children will rise. That’s how societies evolve, by generations rather than by terms of office, or by laws coming and going. It’s how society grows from its own infancy through the tumult of adolescence to finally achieving maturity. 

Purdah

I am not a tootsie roll
wrapped up to keep off lint and dirt.
I am a human being.
I have personhood and dreams
ambitions, likes, desires,
yearnings and creative fires…

I have a life to live
that is my own.

I have just angers,

I have boundaries,
mine,
not yours.

How ignorant
how arrogant
how mean of you
to think me nothing
but your lollipop.

CL Redding 2014

Pioneer Cafe, Montana Morning

Ladies of a Certain Age
girls no more
except in the heart:
What Life has given
you have taken
despite the dreams you had,
despite intentions and resistance;
Age acquiring resilience
for survival’s sake
when life is hard
or dull beyond endurance.

Power in the circle
around the cafe table
every morning, every day
except Sundays, maybe:
Ladies, old and aging
socializing despite,
because of Life;
finding, making, 
sharing power
’round this table…
and resilience,
endurance,
and amusement–
even some days, joy!

The Pert Young Thing
with young good-looking Fella
full of certainty, resolve
and years-to-come
prances past in her low-cut denims
perky T and perm of wild curls…
She spares not a glance
towards Ladies
of a Certain Age.
Her dreams, her angers
her determination 
not yet tested, not yet tried
nor slapped around by Life–
as long as Fella’s true
and things continue looking up.

The Ladies come and go;
pull in the extra chair 
as needed.
The conversation 
does not lag–
not often, anyway,
does the stream
of interaction fail,
fall into gaps
of silence–
pensive individuality
for just an instant,
before the shield
of gossip, cheery news
and practicalities
asserts itself again.

There is no evil spoken
at this early hour
over coffee, cream,
the solace of bacon
and well-buttered toast,
oatmeal with raisins…
No, in the morningĀ 
hope and cheer
and charity prevail…

The Ladies of a Certain Age
observe the Pert Young Thing
and know–
her chair is waiting.

CL Redding 2007