Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Dumbing Down of Moab

Unfortunately, Moab is the location of an Easter tradition that most Moab residents either tolerate, tolerate with distaste, or outright hate. I am in the latter camp.
The event is known as the Moab Jeep Safari. It starts the week before Easter with thousands of jeeps, trailers and trucks and their idiot drivers arriving in town, and concludes on Easter Sunday with the same idiots gassing up their gas-guzzlers and leaving town. In between is an earth bound hell. Long lines at all the restaurants. Large, intellectually-challenged men roaming the streets of Moab looking for some cheap souvenir to take back to the kids at home whose college education savings were just blown on repairing the jeep. Fights at the bars. Non-street-legal vehicles cruising up and down Main Street. Lines at the gas pumps, whose prices just jumped 50 cents a gallon. The Bureau of Land Management brings in additional BLM Rangers since the Jeep Safarians spend many days ignoring established jeep roads. Grand County brings in deputy sheriffs from all over Utah to help enforce the law. The Moab Police Department makes sure no one takes any time off and everyone works overtime to enforce traffic, noise and liquor laws. The Utah State Patrol has extra officers in the area enforcing the regulations regarding mufflers, seat belts, DUI and DWI regulations. Check points are set up here and there to catch drinking drivers. The Park Service details extra rangers to Arches and Canyonlands to keep the idiots from driving where there are no roads within the parks. And many Moab residents try to leave town during the week.
The jeep guys are real proud of their rigs and spend lots of time fixing, repairing and talking about them. They congregate in groups according to what they drive. The various Jeep varities, the Toyota owners, the Suzuki Samurai owner, the Hummer owners all travel in packs. And then there are the home-built practicioners of this special art who start with an axle from here, a frame from there and an engine from the back yard. They are a special breed and have nothing but scorn for the individuals who would drive a factory-built vehicle. And the lowest of the low are the poor suckers who drive around in one of the rental jeeps with phone numbers and addresses painted on them.
We got so disgusted with jeepers after renting the guest house to them for three seasons, we were prepared to not rent at all for Easter week, and told our management company to only rent to persons without jeeps. In the three seasons we did rent to jeepers we had them work on an axle on the living room rug, bring sixteen guys for a house that sleeps 6 to 8, park their rigs in our neighbor's spaces, borrow tools, work on the jeeps in the street, party all night, invite their friends over for showers, and on and on. They were not good guests. Good Riddance.
These pictures were taken by Nancy on "Big Saturday" which is the Saturday before Easter Sunday. At nine AM on Big Saturday is the "Big Blast Off". At the center of town, at the intersection of Main and Center Streets, jeeps line up for miles in each direction. There are other locations for those going on other trails, but let us just say there are 10 points in and around town, each place with a mile long line of Jeeps, and they blast off at 9:00, each unit off to it's own jeep trail. They stay out all day and come back in the evening with sun-burnt faces hauling their broken rock crawlers. Easter Sunday morning, they line up early at the gas pumps, fill the many tanks, and then head out to Salt Lake, Los Angleles, Denver, Cincinatti, Oakland, Boise.....or wherever people go with maxed-out credit cards.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Some Images from Leran and Mirepoix

Our thanks to Alan and Eileen Simmons who sent these photographs of Leran and the Mirepoix market. The tree lined lane is just around the corner from our house, and the chateau, I think, would be just to the right. It's a popular dog walking spot. We see many of the dog owners heading down the lane with their dogs. The road ends, as I recall, at a farm and several dirt tracks go off from there. We've not been too far down past that because we're not sure if we're trespassing or not. But I'm sure Nancy and Fergus and I will see much more of that lane this summer.

Wow. The second photo makes me wish we could go to the Mirepoix market tomorrow morning. I see pistachios, candied raisins, candied orange slices, candied orange peel(?), and some nuts of some kind. All of them look very enticing sitting there in the bright winter sunshine. I'm pretty sure that an overwhelming majority of vendors are either self-employed or work for a family business. When we go to the supermarket here in Moab, of course it's not outside, and everything is wrapped in plastic or in a cardboard box. It's all hermetically sealed and untouched by human hands. Giant corporations are on the receiving end of every transaction, ending up with our hard earned money. The difference between the Mirepoix market and American supermarkets saddens me.
I hope Alan and Eileen will send more pictures.

Friday, March 14, 2008

We Get Letters, Part II

The age-old controversy goes on. Is it the Hokey-Pokey, as we here in the down to earth, good old U.S.A. know it, or is it the "hokey cokey" as they say in Merry Old England? Who are we to believe?

There is evidence supporting both camps. Nancy Procter, former US National Park Service ranger and all-around, honest-as-the-day-is-long hokey-pokey dancer is in the first camp. She presents as evidence a t-shirt she found at her place of work. You can see a picture of this t-shirt a few posts back. The t-shirt plainly shows "Hokey-Pokey" with a P.

Now, two faithful readers of this blog, Alan and Eileen Simmons, of Wakefield, the U.K. and Leran, France part-timers have sent us this card. There in black and pink (PINK? What the....) are the words "hokey cokey". I closely examined this card and found it to be printed in England. An English card printed in England presumably by English people, in pink. Well....need I say more?

You can believe what you want, dear reader. You can believe Nancy whom you probably know personally and like just fine, and 300 million other good and upstanding Americans who know in their heart of hearts that the phase is "Hokey-Pokey. Or, if you so choose, you can believe this strange Alan Simmons character (who is an English composer, by the way) and his wife Eileen, (who is also English, hmmm) that the phrase is hokey cokey. Now, I certainly don't want to influence your thinking. I'm trying to lay the facts out as best I can in the most un-biased manner possible. We all must decide if we are going to use the terminology of our former colonial masters, the British, or that of 300 million forthright, honest, clear-thinking Americans (who went over to Europe twice and won the wars single handed, I might add).

Friday, March 7, 2008

In Which Fergus Goes to France

Fergus has grown a little as you can see. In the photo on the left, Nancy is trying to convince the eight-week-old Fergus that there is a stick in the water that needs to be fetched and he's not buying it. In the photo taken last week, eight-month-old Fergus is giving his mom some love. He's gained around 40 pounds and doubled in height. He's still got a little time for growth remaining.
In a few months Fergus will be making a trip to France, that is assuming Nancy can get the American, French and Canadian bureaucracies in line. The Canadians are involved because we fly out of and back to, Montreal, Canada. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is involved because we'd like to bring him back home to Utah at the end of the summer. The French are involved for obvious reasons.
We had to have a micro-chip inserted under Fergus' skin, which was 15 digits as required by the European Union, or France, I'm not sure. We couldn't get it done in Moab, or Grand Junction, Colorado, which could only do the nine digit chip. So we had it done while in Arizona. Lucky we were already headed that way or we would have been forced to make a trip to Salt Lake, Denver or Phoenix. He had to get another certified rabies shot after the micro-chip was implanted, a long, bilingual health certificate certified by the USDA, and another international health certificate, and his kennel must meet very specific size requirements relating to his size and weight to get aboard the plane. Whose brainchild was this, taking a dog to France?
I find myself wondering how the village cat, Old One Eye is doing these days. How will he and Fergus get along? You can rest assured you will get another report on the saga of "Fergus Goes to France".