I'm reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey for two reasons: it was recommended to me by one of my favorite reading buddies, and it's set in Utah.
Edward Abbey was a pretty crazy guy, judging by his picture alone. (Yes, he is leaning on a rifle, next to a television with a bullet hole in the screen.) He is perhaps most well known for Monkey Wrench Gang, a novel about "environmental terrorists" that allegedly inspired the early actions of a real-life radical group.
Radical environmentalism aside, Abbey was pretty sharp. In Desert Solitaire, Abbey dedicates one chapter to a detailed proposal for a car-free national parks system. His proposal includes everything from bicycle paths to backcountry leadership, from shuttle buses to infrastructure maintenance. It's quite brilliant.
One particular passage on car-free tourists had me giggling on the subway to work:
But the rest, the majority, most of them new to the out-of-doors, will need and welcome assistance, instruction and guidance. Many will not know how to saddle a horse, read a topographical map, follow a trail over slick rock, memorize landmarks, build a fire in rain, treat snakebite, rappel down a cliff, glissade down a glacier, read a compass, find water under sand, load a burro, splint a broken bone, bury a body, patch a rubber boat, portage a waterfall, survive a blizzard, avoid lightning, cook a porcupine, comfort a girl during a thunderstorm, predict the weather, dodge falling rock, climb out of a box canyon, or pour piss out of a boot.
Abbey's point was that, even without the responsibilities of collecting car fees and handing out road maps, park rangers would be wonderfully and absolutely needed in a car-free national parks system. Get people out of their hot cars and into the (newly) quiet wilderness of our beautiful country.
Just please don't tell me that I'll have to learn how to bury a body.