topic_interest is exactly van life
Visitor guide at Canyonland National ParkThis object is an informational poster that provides information to visitors at canyonland, allowing them to choose hikes and plan their visit without having to interact with rangers. This information could be useful to future historians studying how outdoor recreation and the parks service were affected by Covid. Because so much was shut down, and because experts recommend being outdoors if you’re going to spend time with friends, outdoor recreation has been one of the sectors that have been positively affected by covid. Because of this, the way the national parks responded to covid is a significant part of 2020, even if it might not seem like it at first glance.
Voting by Mail in Moab UtahWhen I was planning my trip, one consideration I had to make was how I was going to vote. I requested my absentee ballot very early and decided I would have my mom mail it to me to pick up through general delivery wherever I ended up being at the time. Where I ended up being was Moab Utah, exploring Arches and Canyonland National Parks. This picture shows me dropping my ballot in the dropbox in Moab to send it back to Connecticut. I think this object is indicative of 2020, specifically the presidential election. Though elections are always important, this one was especially so and will have a significant impact on the future of this country. This object demonstrates the importance of voting by mail in this election, but also in general, as I would have needed to vote by mail if I were on this trip in a normal election cycle as well. I would say that my personal experience is also emblematic of my generation’s determination to exercise their right to vote.
Social Distancing reminders in Joshua Tree National ParkThis sign caught my eye because of the last item on the list “Still don’t use slower friends as bear bait” made me laugh. This could be of interest to future historians because it demonstrates how different places try to use humor to spread some positivity, while also reminding people how to hike while staying COVID safe. I was reminded of “the strange lives of objects in the coronavirus era” article, and the way simple objects can tell stories. The information outlined on this poster is not new, it outlines the same practices the CDC has advocated for nine months, but the way it is presented gives insight into how national parks are handling the pandemic.
A snarky mask reminderSlab City California is a very unique place. I would describe it loosely as being part squatter and snowbird encampment, part artists’ colony, part homesteading community. The one description that is agreed upon, at least by its residents, is that it is the “last free place on earth”. Given this fact, I was a bit nervous to visit, but I was also really excited to check it out and figured that if nobody was wearing masks or social distancing and I wasn’t comfortable, I could just leave. I was very pleasantly surprised therefore when I arrived and found that residents were all taking the pandemic seriously. I stayed away from people as much as possible, as I did everywhere I went and was able to safely enjoy the art. I snapped this picture in East Jesus, an outdoor art museum/sculpture garden, and felt it was a good representation of the general attitude in the area. I think this item illustrates an interesting part of people’s response to covid which is that while there are many people who refuse to take the pandemic seriously, there are also a lot of people who are doing the right thing because they genuinely care about others. Slab City is an unincorporated community with no government and nobody to enforce state mandates. People might get fined if they threw a big party and word got out to someone who could do something about it, but it’s unlikely that there would be consequences. And yet, people were being responsible, Which to me says something significant about the fact that I would say that most people who are wearing masks and social distancing it are doing it not because they are required to, but because it is the right thing to do.