Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Black Hills Part II

I have returned from the Black Hills of South Dakota alive. My adventures were mostly postive and many of them had morals attached.

Mount Rushmore and Immigrants

Even though it was windy and allegedly cold Mount Rushmore continued to inspire. Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln all had monumental decisions to make and all of them shaped America for years to come. These men considered themselves Americans and sought to make America great.

While I was buying batteries and gifts I struck up a conversation with my cashier. Tereza M. told me her life story about coming from Eastern Europe (now it would be considered Central Europe but old habits die hard) and how she works two jobs. She then went on to explain her life plans to me (All in a very short time frame; she had a lot to get off her chest). I then realized that while many Americans take being American for granted; others do not. The spirit which built America and resided in the granite men still survives today.

Mount Catholicgauze and the Environment

At a cabin compound in the Black Hills I went mountain hiking. I managed make my own path to a summit of one of the "Black Hills" and saw Custer State Park, the Badlands, and the Great Plains in all their glory.

As I peered from Mount Catholicgauze I saw not only the beauty of nature but also the consequences of bad human management. Custer State Park suffered a horrible fire because decades of complete fire suppression left an abundance of undergrowth and debris which became fuel for a fire which rivaled Yellowstone's. Combine this with reading TDAXP's reports on Chinese environmental policies has made me a supporter of common sense environmental protection programs.

Badlands and Humanity

On the flip side was my experience in the Badlands. The Badlands are geologic masterpiece. In them are records of the once great Inland Sea, rainforests, savannahs, deserts, and now just plain blasted lands.

As I was enjoying these breathtaking facts with a breathtaking view I noticed a jerk who was skateboarding very, very near a fossil bed. His adult companion just watched on. Here we have history and beauty and one damages it for fun!

I wondered if we as a species deserve to know what beauty is if we destroy it for a mere five minutes of amassment. However, while this thought was going through my head I remembered the faces of Mount Rushmore, the hard working clerk who loved her new country and the Black Hills, the view from Mount Catholicgauze, and those who I meet on the trip whose whole lives were dedicated to protecting the hills. My realizations were spiritual. We can protect nature and the ability to enjoy it is a great gift from God. I left in somewhat of a down-mood but returned energized. The trip was a success.

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