From the South Lake Tahoe library there is a beautiful view through the pine trees of Lake Tahoe. US Highway 50 runs between the library and the lake some 40 yards out. By counting the standard cars versus the various specialty cars, it is possible to estimate the state of mind and wealth of the passers by. The count was 17 standard four-door sedans of all sizes out of 100 passing vehicles. There were mostly small trucks of various types and what we used to call station wagons, but with raised roofs they are usually called SUVs (sport utility vehicles). There are many pickups, but these may not be work vehicles because many of them have bicycles or some sort of sporting equipment in the bed. Perhaps four in a hundred are the old body style pre-1995, but most appear quite new. There might be more Winnebago-style campers than older cars.
These people are not manifesting signs of poverty. Of course this is a resort city, but all the same this place looks very prosperous. The highway itself is being upgraded with all sorts of undergrounding of strange things, and the highway itself is being deeply resurfaced. In a couple of days all the confusion will clear up and this place will look totally pristine in a modern style. It is all very prettified, but to my eye unnatural. It takes on the style of downtown Washington DC and the Mall, all tidiness and humanized and controlled. That seems proper for our capital city, but Lake Tahoe was recently wilderness, but it is wilderness no longer. Wilderness can be seen, over in the mountains a few miles away, but if you try and go there it is posted with controlling laws and threats for disobedience.
Wilderness can still be found in America, but not at this lake, where it is fenced in with private property and the public lands are controlled. The world’s population crush can only be felt by those of us who had some access to open spaces with true wildness in their early years. Walking down a prepared path through a forest isn’t a wilderness experience, for these people, but rather it is like going through a Disneyland simulation of the wild. Even the wild animals are now semi-tame from being exposed to humans who are prevented from relating to them as wild things. These new people expect these formerly wild animals to eat snacks out of their hands, and they do. Lake Tahoe might as well be Central Park in New York City, it has become so citified.
Too many rich citified people are destroying everyone’s wilderness experience. Que sera sera.