This year I am visiting the United States for the 19th time. The first time I came here I was a teenager and it was a big exciting adventure for me. At that time almost 40 years ago I didn't know anybody who had been to the States before. Or had been on a jumbo jet. Or tasted a Hamburger...
We had been a group of adolescents and young
adults traveling with a rented Greyhound bus 16000 km through the
western states of America.
Over the years I have been revisiting many of the places I had been back then, some of them for several times.
on my recent journey I happened to come to a lot of places I hadn't
been to since those teenager days. How the world had changed!
Nature still is beautiful but formerly peaceful places are way too overcrowded now.
carry their cameras or GoPros on a telescoping pole now taking selfies
everywhere. So if you want to take a look into a canyon or at a
beautiful landmark you should make sure to stand in the first row. Or
otherwise your sight might be blocked by mobile phones, iPads or cameras
on a stick being held up as high as possible.
remember the Visitor Center of Death Valley being not much more than a
cabin with a little pond outside. (I spent the night in this pond
because it was so hot...). Next to it had been a little bar.
bar has turned into a village with stores, inns and restaurants. Buses
parking outside. The visitor center is a huge, air conditioned building
now providing information for busloads of people.
hadn't been bear proof dumpsters or food containers in the parks. In
the mornings, when we climbed out of our tents we always found traces of
bears having visited our camp. We didn't care. Blessed be the innocent!
I first climbed the Mesquite dunes there were hardly any other human
traces. Now you have to walk a long way to find any unspoiled dunes. On
the other hand there are people nowadays who don't even bother to leave
the parking lot..... They have a drone that takes pictures for them..You
know I really love technical devices to play with. But this definitely
is a step in the wrong direction.
The most peaceful place will lose its magic, if there are noisy drones flying over your head.
levels have dropped so much that lakes are only half of their former
size, and shorelines have moved far away from where they used to be. A
campground having been situated right at the shore of Lake Mead now is
quite far away from the lake. Marinas had to be moved hundreds of yards.
You don't hear Scott Mckenzie's anthem in the streets of San Francisco any more.
thing that really has changed for the worse is that people can make
reservations for campground sites via Internet or phone. It isn't
possible any more to decide spontaneously where to stay for the night.
Campground sites are being booked months in advance. That's a shame for
travelers who don't want to plan every single step of their trip ahead
but want to make camp where they feel like it. So you better have a
reservation or hurry to find a space at one of the rare walk-in
campgrounds on first-come first-served basis or you might end up
boonedocking at Walmart's.
Don't get me wrong. This
still IS a most beautiful country with awesome places to visit and I
will probably come back for my 20th visit. I just feel sad that it isn't
possible any more to enjoy all those gorgeous places peacefully and on
your own. And of course I am feeling a bit nostalgic.
glorious, innocent, carefree days of youth. That journey changed my life
and I became a longing soul always eager to travel to new places. And I
am glad and grateful that I had the opportunity to visit all those
outstanding places when they still were unspoiled.
Too many people want to see them now, too. And I can't blame them.