Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Continuing in an Ironic Vein

Everyone knows about the stunning view from the famous “Wawona Tunnel View” in Yosemite Valley – from the iconic winter photograph by Ansel Adams or from their own visit to the park. I’ve made my own share of photographs from this location. I prefer to go there on a freezing winter evening when all of the intelligent people are back at the lodge around the fire – a bit of light rain or snow makes it even better – so that I can enjoy a bit of solitude while taking in this view. (A steep hike up to the old Inspiration Point overlook is a good alternative when the crowds are otherwise unavoidable.)

A couple years ago I started a sort of stealth project to photograph visitors to the parks and other places. (At first I did this while waiting for the light to come to the landscape, but later the visitors themselves became an interesting subject.) Some of these photographs are meant to explore the responses of people to these powerful places – but the intent of some of the others is admittedly ironic.

Here are a couple recent examples from a certain well known place:

Yosemite Valley Tunnel View. Yosemite National Park, California. May 9, 2008. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Yosemite Valley Tunnel View #2. Yosemite National Park, California. May 9, 2008. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

(A hint: There may be more to these photographs than is immediately apparent… :-)

May 26, 2008 Posted by | Commentary | Comments Off on Continuing in an Ironic Vein

Another One From Tom

From another weekend post at Tom Mangan’s Two-Heel Drive:

Turning kids loose in nature.

Dana Hull of the Mercury News talks to people who are trying to bring back the era of unstructured play and get kids interested in outdoor adventures.

As summer approaches and Wii sales climb toward 10 million, a growing number of parents and children’s advocates worry that child-driven, unstructured play – time spent exploring creeks and climbing trees without computer screens or adults hovering like helicopters nearby – is vanishing from the lives of many children.

The shift is so worrisome that many Bay Area parents and advocates like Bird are pushing back. They’re forming a loosely organized “movement” to bring play back from the brink that some call “Leave No Child Inside.”

[Two-Heel Drive]

Follow the link to read the rest of Tom’s post.

I certainly see the effects of this trend among my students. (I teach at a Bay Area community college.) I’m continually astonished at the number of students who seem to live “virtual lives” as much or more than real ones, and I feel sorry for them. I’d guess that the majority of my students have never been to the other side of the mountain range that rises west of my campus, where they could visit the shoreline of the world’s largest ocean. I know that a shocking number of them have never been 40 miles north to San Francisco. And only a small percentage have been to the Sierra Nevada and almost none are aware of the astonishing landscape on the eastern side of that range.

But almost every one could tell you who “won” on American Idol this week.

May 26, 2008 Posted by | Commentary | Comments Off on Another One From Tom

Report on California's 'Crumbling State Parks'

From Tom Mangan’s Two-Heel Drive:

Report on California’s crumbling state parks – Paul Rogers of the Mercury News documents the decay of the California state parks system, and just how bad it’s gotten. From part one:

This Memorial Day weekend, campsites are booked from Mount Shasta to San Diego. But California’s state park system – once considered the best in the nation – is falling apart.

Its 278 parks include priceless locales that define the state’s history and natural splendor: Sutter’s Mill, Lake Tahoe, towering redwoods and “Baywatch” beaches.

Yet throughout the system, sewage pipes are crumbling. Roofs leak and thousands of scenic acres are padlocked for lack of rangers.

If you believe we need state parks, and that we need them not to be tattered embarrassments that horrify the tourists, pick up a copy of today’s paper and read this report — the graphics illustrate the forces that got us into this mess, and the photography shows in stark detail how bad things have gotten.

Part 2 on Monday deals with what can be done about it. [Two-Heel Drive]

May 26, 2008 Posted by | Commentary | Comments Off on Report on California's 'Crumbling State Parks'


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