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Paradise Lost (Part 2)

It can be very satisfying to visit an area, neglected in the past, and make it work, this time. Green River was on my list this time. (I purposely avoided the shit-show over at Moab.) And indeed, it was working for me.

Then I was alarmed by gunfire, too close for comfort. It became frightening. In all my years of camping I've never felt physical danger, until today.

After a few seconds of panic, I realized that a nearby cliff was echoing the sound and making it appear worse than it was -- perhaps. The shooters seemed to be on the other side of a small knoll, perhaps a quarter mile away. But which way were the maniacs shooting?

I got in the van to check them out. Indeed, they were on the south side of a knoll shooting parallel to the road -- north -- and over my trailer! The bullets were probably 30 feet or more over my trailer, so I wasn't that close to being declared collateral damage.

A half dozen weapons were being used. One of them sounded like a shoulder-mounted cannon. How could a weapon like that be considered a "sporting" weapon, unless he was hunting mastodons?

After panic, came anger. What was one step lower than being a "Deplorable?" A Contemptible? But I got sensible and quickly hitched up, and left the area.

You can see the basis of the anger. With zillions of acres to choose from, why did the gun-nuts set up a quarter mile from a camper? Was it just bad luck? I wouldn't be surprised if they chose that particular site because the echo off the cliff made them feel excited and powerful -- I can't think of any other appeal of their sport.

But as I drove away, a closer look at the gun-nuts changed my attitude towards them. They seemed to be organized and thoughtful. A younger person in the group was wearing a bright orange T-shirt. Most impressive was a woman with a 5-gallon bucket, who was picking up the cartridges.

They probably weren't Contemptibles. It's just that they forgot to check for somebody on 'the other side' of the knoll before blasting away.

Maybe they didn't "forget" so much as the thought just not occurring to them in the first place. Many people go out onto public lands in the West as if it were still the 1870s, and they were the only ones out there. They bring powerful and new technology along, with no consideration of its consequences for the land or other people. Examples are off-pavement motor vehicles, generators, and loud music.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the most invasive technology of all were the internet? 

But one should expect something unpleasant or crazy to happen on the third weekend of October, in Utah, because of the state school holiday and the beginning of deer-rifle season.