This post has been percolating for a while. But every time we started writing we got that numb feeling in our arms, the one that our therapist calls “Count To 10 Time.” Since it only takes 7 seconds for a double shot of vodka to hit the brain, by “10″ we had always moved on to something more entertaining, cuter, or both (awww!). But this nonsense is getting out of hand, and frankly something has to be done. We don’t really mind Blue State yuppies when they stay in their own little fiefdoms and wage their own little anti-fun crusades. The entire point of traveling is we get to escape all that.
It’s when these tools start coming after us that the peace and harmony of the universe is disrupted. At some point, folks who normally spend their days browsing ergonomic Skymall products thought it would be a good idea to embrace camping. These are people who think that outdoor hikes start in the parking lot of REI. They’re the ones who have prescription-strength allergy meds in their windowless office because “the pollen count this season is really bad.” Urban decadence has irreversibly blunted their survival skills, in addition to making them weirdly smug.
Yuppies have come to expect things to be easy because they need them to be easy. That’s OK as long as they confine themselves to the city, but it turns out that trekking through nature is actually kind of hard. Luckily their cache of “camping equipment” allows them to instantly radio for emergency help, a service not dissimilar to hotel room service:
Last month two men and their teenage sons tackled one of the world’s most unforgiving summertime hikes: the Grand Canyon’s parched and searing Royal Arch Loop… the inexperienced backpackers carried a personal locator beacon ”” just in case. In the span of three days, the group pushed the panic button three times, mobilizing helicopters for dangerous, lifesaving rescues inside the steep canyon walls. What was that emergency? The water they had found to quench their thirst “tasted salty”.
If they had not been toting the device that works like Onstar for hikers, “we would have never attempted this hike,”… Technology has made calling for help instantaneous even in the most remote places… the incidents have become so frequent that the head of California’s Search and Rescue operation has a name for the devices: Yuppie 911.… very often the beacons go off unintentionally when the button is pushed in someone’s backpack, or they are activated unnecessarily, as in the case of a woman who was frightened by a thunderstorm… “There’s controversy over these devices in the first place because it removes the self sufficiency that’s required in the back country,” Scharper says. “But we are a society of services, and every service you need you can get by calling.”
Here’s a thought: if you don’t think you can live through a hike without getting help from a helicopter, don’t try the hike. The salty taste was from sweat, something you rarely experience in air conditioned offices. As for the woman who was scared by a thunderstorm, it really does beggar the imagination doesn’t it?
This “yuppies are ruining nature” thing isn’t confined to abuse of emergency services either. It’s not a coincidence that minivans – again, the kinds you see in REI parking lots – have become the prime targets for Yosemite bears. It turns out that anticipating the behavior of wild animals, to say nothing of adjusting accordingly, actually takes a little bit of training and forethought. The only question left in our minds is how many of the minivans were hybrids.
Anyway, don’t get too smug, Red Staters. We’ll be getting to you – as we always seem to – in this Friday’s Citizen of the Week. Suffice to say that the drivers passing out with entire meth labs in their cars aren’t rolling in from the Hamptons.