A dramatic comparison of federal land ownership in the West versus other regions.
The Atlantic magazine recently published a piece about the West entitledThe Graying of Rural America, which argues that, “As cities attract young people, rural America has become older, whiter, and less populated.”
The authors focus on Fossil, Oregon, the county seat of Wheeler County, which they describe as slowly dying. According to The Atlantic, the town began “bleeding jobs” after a lumber mill closed in 1978. Young people leave for educations and jobs in larger cities, and old people become trapped. They exist mostly on investment earnings or government checks like Social Security.Continue reading →
The road was sharply crowned, narrow and steep, and suddenly the Gold Wing starting misfiring, the light panel on the dashboard flashed wildly and then the engine just quit. The motorcycle stopped in the middle of the lane, and I was stuck, really stuck. The bike weighs about 1,000 pounds, and at 70 years old, I could not push it around to get it headed downhill. Continue reading →
Last year, my brother Wayne and I motorcycled the full lengths of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, visited some museums and rode the Cherohala Skyway between North Carolina and Tennessee. We spent 7 nights together, 4 in tents, and the weather was good throughout. It’s been the longest time I’ve had alone with a brother in many years.
The best parts of retirement are often adventures we never had time for in middle life. Both Wayne and I motorcycled in our youth, then we gave it up because of the risks and costs. Retirement offered us each a few years when we could again experience the constant accompaniment of wind as we rode with somewhat modest abandon through mountain roads. Continue reading →
There’s still a little magic in every motorcycle ride to the country. When I was young, our family took automobile rides on many Sunday afternoons, and I always loved to watch the farms and forests roll by, imagining what it would be like to live where we passed. Sometimes my father stopped and talked with people we saw near the road.
On a recent motorcycle ride I stopped to watch a small herd of Holsteins in a roadside pasture. They were grazing slowly toward me, but once I dismounted and walked toward the fence, they turned and headed away. Their owner came out from the farmhouse across the street to say hello and ask about my interest in cows. He looked about my age, but he was smaller, more wiry.