Vacation diary from cowboy and Indian country

Friends,

I am back on my three favorite lists after an extended trip across the country with my wife, Karen. We visited 16 states, 7 national parks, 4 national monuments, and numerous scenic byways, staying mainly in small towns with cheap motels. We paid from 97 cents to $1.66 a gallon for gas and from $26 to $49 for a motel room. In Pacific Grove, California, a pretty town right on the ocean and next to Monterrey, I had to be on a radio show in Cleveland. The motel room had no telephone so I had to use a pay phone at 4:30 A.M. to do the interview. I could hear the roar of the ocean while I was talking! I segued into the interview by mentioning the nearby Steinbeck museum and my stint as a staffperson for the UFW in 1977.

While traveling, a number of things crossed my mind which may be of interest to list members. I mention them in no particular order:

1. Despite the many years of environmental despoliation, there are many wonderful things to see in the U.S. I t struck me very clearly that what is left must be preserved and that those who are laying their lives on the line to do this deserve our strong support. Of course, it is necessary to combat some of the mainstream environmental groups who cannot see the connection between capital accumulation and environmental degradation and to make this obvious connection whenever we can. At the same time, it is necessary to combat the rather stupid notion that environmentalism is hostile to workers. It is the destruction of our streams and forests and mountains that is antagonistic to the well-being of workers, and, in fact, workers are exploited as the environment is destroyed. We could support every worker displaced by efforts to stop destroying the world with just a part of the money we are now using to destroy Yugoslavia (and degrading its environment for hundreds of years to come).

2. There are many engineering marvels to be seen, from the Hoover Dam to Route 70 in Colorado. We should not denigrate technology in some foolish effort to emulate the supposedly pristine cultures of the past. Instead we should strive to radically alter the social relationships which dictate that technology develop in anti-social ways. Even cars can be much less polluting, although there is no doubt that railroads and public transportation must be much improved and auto and truck traffic curtailed. It filled me with pleasure to see the trains crossing the great deserts of the west, traversing the horseshoe curve in Tahachapi, California, and chugging alongside the mountains next to the Colorado river.

3. Despite increasing commercialism, our national parks an monuments are quite remarkable. They show the necessity of an activist government committed to doing things beneficial to the people. I kept thinking that governments should concern themselves with these things and make sure that everyone gets to see the