High Desert Hoofbeats
Grumpy about the weather?
by Sena Taylor Hauer
Sep 12, 2013 | 1206 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I must’ve spat on the stink bug too many times.

When our dry spring season bolstered water shortages in Ken’s Lake and to points beyond, a Navajo friend of mine said to try his custom, which was to spit on those black beetles that patiently crawl across the desert floor. “OK,” I said. “Won’t hurt to give it a try.”

Warm days in late April did give way to a few storms in May, and the river came up just enough for a week or so to cover the rocky skeletal bottom that we have become accustomed to seeing. But sparse showers and accompanying lightning in early summer only served to cause a fire on the mountain that scared the heck out of everyone in La Sal.

So every time I saw a stink bug out on the desert, I would make sure he got a little bath. It seems to have worked by the looks of our extended monsoonal flow. And it makes me wonder if the clouds are making a few people around here cranky.

A couple of weeks ago one letter to the editor suspended a sense of manners and called another letter writer an idiot. I’m ashamed to say that I give into name calling when pushed to the point of sarcasm and stress. But that noun leapt from the page when I read it, as if it weren’t really meant to be there.

Moron, imbecile, simpleton. No, that doesn’t factually apply to the opinionated lawyer who complained about local road work. The intended insult, (Webster’s does confirm that the term “idiot” is meant to be offensive) had no intention of finding a common ground or solution. But it seems to me that both letter writers were firing off without a real clear target.

One guy wrote about the inconvenience of paving projects, coupled with accompanying suspicions about how tax money is spent. But his words got thrown back a week later by another chap who said the solution would have been to build a road around Moab that funneled traffic away from Main Street. Huh?

The bypass idea is a tricky thing, as evidenced by how they have changed neighboring cities. Before I-70 sped around Green River, there was a busy little downtown there with a number of restaurants and motels. But now, save for Ray’s Tavern and the missile that points to the sky in the city’s park, there’s not much I want to see there now. High-priced gasoline, some economy hotels and a few melon stands bookend the extreme sides of town.

Same for Price. Before U.S. 6 cut through the Russian olive trees on the southwest side of the city, there was a bustling crossroads with a lovely bakery, banks, hardware stores, Greek food, Chinese food, a movie theater, burger joints and a J.C. Penney store with plate glass windows displaying the latest fashions. Some of those businesses are still in operation, but there is little vibrancy there. The brick two-story buildings, instead of aging gracefully, look blighted and disheveled. The sidewalks are pretty empty. But not the Walmart parking lot on the edge of town! It’s sad really that the downtowns of America have grown empty and stale because of these transportation modifications and shopping preferences.

In any case, I am sure the pavement on the old roads and the new bypasses need maintaining.

I notice the noise on Moab’s Main Street when I dine out. Truck traffic is bad, as it was decades ago when semis were hauling uranium ore from all the mines to the mill. Back then we didn’t have tourist bistro sidewalk eateries, and a lot of the truck traffic was a sign of our robust mining economy.

I don’t know what would happen to our tourist shops if a bypass was built here. I’d bet that it wouldn’t help the tax base. There currently are measures in place to regulate speed and sound, and hopefully there are other means to mitigate the impacts.

As for the rain, I know better than to complain about it; I’d be an idiot to do so. But I am looking forward to a Moab-style sunny fall, even if there is road construction.

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