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Through Eastern Eyes
A Hoodrat’s Eye View of the American West: Utah, 8/31/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
APR/4/23
“James. Do you get views like this back East?”
-Bob, while driving out of Smith-Moorehouse Canyon, 8/31/2022
A Vista, a long broad sweeping view, is the greatest difference between being in the east and the west. I was able, two days ago, to catch a view in outline of a majestic mountain from Bald Pass, in the Uintas. I assumed this was Hoyt’s Peak or something else in the Uintas, as we were 25 miles deep into those mountains that run curiously, from east to west, as did this saw-tooth mountain. Bob and Shayne, informed me that that was Tipanogas, a mountain some 60 miles away, a peak of the Wasatch range [I think] beyond the Uintas by three valleys and two ranges of hills that would be called mountains back east.
In the east, one drives by summer through tunnels of vine-walled green near major cities and in most places, through lanes of maple trees just beyond the vinery and weeds by the road. It is difficult to catch a long view. Pennsylvania may grant one a view of a valley, made by river, even of ten miles by five, half the span of this wider valley made by a lake. The view is provided by variations in elevation. In Illinois one could theoretically see forever, but the horizon ends the unvarying view.
In the west it is possible to distinguish bands of vegetation changing from sage brush, to scrub oak, to scrub maple, to aspen, to evergreen, to bare rock painted with lichen. This gives the passing person a thumbnail for the climate at the various elevations. Back east we get a monotone green that is like the foliage of the aspen, but without visible white trunks, simply a sea of green leaves broken by the occasional evergreens and the ever repeating concrete, brick, glass and asphalt.
Bob, those subdivisions you hate so much, being planted by Easterners and West Coasters in these mountains, that becomes the landscape when the curse of Western Civilization finally settles full-blown in any habitat. New housing and commercial building looks identical in all of the fifteen states I have visited. We are a monocrop for which our planters and harvesters employ the same industrial fertilizer.
The second big difference between east and west has been changing somewhat. It amazed me how fast the skies changed in the west when I first came in 2016. Weather systems that would take days to develop in the east would blow in in minutes, with temperature drops as much as 50 degrees in ten minutes. That is still the same, the close temperature variation. In Maryland, for instance, the day and night time temperature is typically 10 degrees apart. In Baltimore City the heat held by concrete, asphalt, tar roofs and brick walls has often closed that gap to 5 degrees. Throughout much of my life in Baltimore, a hot day, meant a hot night, no relief in sight.
Over the past three years, almost all nights in Baltimore are cool, a good 10 degrees less than day time. But in the Rockies, if it’s 100 by day it is 70 by night. Not only have I never experienced a hot night in the Rockies, I have never experienced a warm night. I have often sat among suffering westerners, roasting in a heat that seems like air conditioning to me.
Interestingly, people in the East and people in the Rockies, both have very low heat tolerance. Back east, air conditioning typically runs all the time, and is often on inside while it is ten degrees cooler outside as the air conditioned temperature on the inside. People that live in such horrible places, with no grand vista [1] and surrounded by crime, spend very little time outside and have a low tolerance for any temperature variation.
In the West, I have simply noticed that the lack of humidity, has gotten people to the same place as sloth has back east. I have not met anyone with heat tolerance in the Rockies. I have never experienced heat in the Rockies other than while working under the summer sun. In a total of a year of summers and falls living in the Rockies, I have never experienced heat at rest, have never been rendered uncomfortable or made to sweat while resting. That is even in the sun. What is better, shade provides real relief out west, since the humidity is so low, and elevation changes drop by 10 degrees in 3,000 feet. I can see why men have done so much more physical work in the American West, per man, per an hour, per life, than in the lazy east, because overheating is not the issue it is back east when the humidity offers no escape.
Lastly, in the West, largely corresponding to the absence of the two socially dominant minority ethnic groups of the east, people all over the west are so much more civil, kind, patient, polite, friendly and helpful, than east of the Mississippi. That great river is a palpable line between the incivility and rudeness to the east and good manners of the west.
I have noticed that people in the Rockies, despite their low heat tolerance, love the summer and mourn its passing like a funeral as September draws to a close and a mere month remains before sub-zero temperatures and snow. In the East, the August that westerners like so much for recreation is called, “The dog days of summer.” Back east, summer is not mourned, being Negro Season, when chimpouts dominate the urban crimescape, and folks look forward to reduced violence and the winter holidays, hoping for the peace-bringing snow—when Bantu War parties are snowed in and a cracker can actually walk across the city of his birth without being molested by some Gawdly Kangs.
Walking any day in the Rockies is like walking during a blizzard in Baltimore City, the few people you meet are polite and helpful.
I love the west and hate the east. In the east, if I chose to, I could at least rent a room on my low income. In the west, this is not possible. So, I forever miss the American West even when I am here, because I lack the earning ability to make a home anywhere west of Missouri.
Notes
-1. My Grandmother LaFond’s middle name, who was born Alberta Vista Roy.
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