Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thelma and Louise RV Adventure

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
They say, “change is good”, but I am not so sure. We have been enjoying the National Parks and Forests our whole life. We now see so much poor management, price gouging and over-use, and we feel the parks are being severely depreciated. Slowly the parks are being whittled away and divvied up to the highest bidder in the public sector.

We just tried to have breakfast at a concession-run cafe in Death Valley. The two women that ran the place were Thelma and Louise and seemed like they were ready to drive off a cliff at any moment. We wanted to order a basic breakfast but they were out of bacon. By the time we figured out what little they had left and decided to leave, we were already seven dollars into two cups of coffee. Then we could not get Thelma or Louise to bring us a bill, so we eventually went to the cash register to pay. At that point both women showed up to inform us we had to wait at our table for the bill. We dropped a five and two ones and walked out.

I am not writing this to complain about this breakfast experience. I am using it as a reference to the direction federal land management has taken. Thelma and Louise are just cogs in the concessioner wheel. We see a pattern of park campgrounds being taken over by private companies who then start doubling fees, charging for amenities that were once included, and delivering poor service.

Isn’t this just another tax on top of the taxes we already pay to have the government run our Park System? Am I the only curmudgeon traveling around grousing about this degradation?

Should I just jump in the backseat with Thelma and Louise and go joy riding?
--Fuming in Furnace Creek

Dear Fuming:
I wish I could help you by waving a magic wand and solving the world’s problems, but that is not going to happen. Your cure is to deal with today’s challenges.

Thelma and Louise are small potato problems. (Were they out of hash-browns too?)

I have always said, “It’s simple math - multiply numbers, divide resources.” We now have 7 billion people on the planet and will move quickly to 8-9 during this next generation. That’s a lot of people to manage.

That’s the big picture. Narrowing it down to your observations, I agree with everything you say. I have been camping in our parks and forests since the fifties. Management has evolved in lock-step with society. It has gone from Ozzie and Harriet to The Simpsons.

The reasons for doling out management to concessioners, good or bad, is one of economics. Using part-time seasonal, volunteers and concessioners, these agencies cut their legacy costs and benefits, and along with that some erosion of dedication in a flux of public and private employees flowing in and out of the management of our National Treasures.

This all puts our resources in jeopardy. I just spent a few days hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the Sierra Nevada through the Granite Chief Wilderness. I was almost run over twice by mountain bikers who are banned from riding in Wilderness Areas. This was during hunting season, which should indicate a need for more management in the area, but I never saw a ranger. Obviously, the mountain bikers are also aware of this lack of supervision.

Multiply this attitude exponentially and you begin to see the problems we face in protecting precious resources.

Many people today want less government. As it turns out we can’t afford government and government can’t afford us.

--Keep Smilin’. Dr. R.V. Shrink


Merikay said...

All so very true. Somehow raising the prices has not either improved the parks, nor decreased the number of visitors. I guess there are a lot of really rich families out there that can afford the high prices. Especially those from over seas. Glad we still have the senior pass.

MrTommy said...

We too are glad we have the "Senior Pass", but even then, some parks are SO jammed we don't even want to visit. I'm glad I had the opportunity to visit several national parks back in the 70's. They were jammed back then too, but not uber jammed like they are now. Now we just pretty much avoid national parks and look for nice, fairly nearby boondocking opportunities.

Cyaker said...

Unfortunately we are all being shortchanged primarily by ignorance with some amount of greed thrown in. NeoLiberal economics are wrong and we are not running out of money.

If your interested

Read the following
The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy

Anonymous said...

While bad service can be found everywhere, you might want to check the validity of this story. Furnace Creek is a private inholding within Death Valley National Park. It is not park service owned nor a concession run operation. The description of the cafe is also not accurate. Trust me, I live at Furnace Creek.

Unknown said...

The Senior Pass is rapidly becoming one more good thing about being a senior that is going away. There are a number of Federal areas announcing that by a certain date, they will no longer honor the Senior Pass. How did that get to be a choice for individual venues? Who makes that decision?

frank D said...

We weren't one of the "rich"families and the high prices drove us out of the EV lifestyle. When we got our first RV, gas was around $1.50 and campground fees about $15 ($10 in State and National Parks). When we finally decided to quit, gas was $4.50 in the small towns along the Oregon and Washington coast. Some private CGs were $60 or more and the SPs had gone to $28.

mloganusda said...

This past summer I wanted to stop over in a National Recreational Area, just above Page, AZ, on our way to Zion NP. In my camping books the price was only $18 per night. When I was online to reserve a site, I was forwarded to a private company that had taken over the NRA park. Their price was $42 per night. Seems like the government is selling off running of national parks to the highest bidder and dam the public.

Cyaker said...

annonomous has a point

md99337 said...

It all comes down to taxes. Nobody wants to pay them, but we all want the services. The park service IMO does the best they can with the funds congress gives it.

Cyaker said...

md99337 taxes don't pay for Gov't operations in a fiat economy that's why we are all being snookered

The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of all the snivvlers. So Thelma and Louise didn't have your bacon. That diner is 100 miles from anywhere. Hanks Xanterra Roadhouse probably served your Foie Gras on the wrong platter. People on the road are just trying to enjoy life, and with the right attitude you complainers can too. They should have a campground just for your kind and you all could sit around and complain all day. You are going to make Dr. RV Shrink seek his own shrink.
The Lone Outdoorsman