BOBBY MAGILL

Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a journalist and photographer based in Port Jervis, NY and Alexandria, Va.

Filtering by Tag: WTF?

Heavy equipment to breach the wilds of Arches National Park

Back in the 1950s, a natural gas pipeline was built across about 2.5 miles of what was then Arches National Monument. In the intervening years, Arches was designated a national park and its boundaries were expanded. Today, nearly eight miles of the pipeline bisects Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, and the pipeline scar serves as the little-traveled trail to Lost Spring Canyon, which was added to the park in 1998.

That matters for two reasons: Williams Co. has to maintain the pipeline with heavy equipment when necessary, and doing so requires entering very wild areas of the park with trackhoes, bulldozers and other machinery. And that's the plan right now. The National Park Service has an environmental assessment (EA), the Williams Pipeline EA, open for public comment about a plan for Williams to come in and work on the pipeline.

The impact to the park, according to the EA, will not be insignificant.

Indeed, one of my favorite places at Arches is right along that pipeline. Clover Canyon, pictured below, features an expanse of cryptobiotic soil-encrusted quartz on its rim as if the area has never been touched by humans. Though the landscape isn't is as dramatic as other parts of the park, it's a stark and beautiful place. The pipeline runs just above the canyon rim by maybe 200 feet or so. Williams found an "anomaly" here in 2008, and brought in a trackhoe and other equipment to fix it.

Should Congress ever designate Arches as a wilderness area, the pipeline would be included in the wilderness, and heavy pipeline maintenance would continue.

Public comment is open through May 17 here.

What is "The Thing?" I'm still not sure...

If you've ever driven Interstate 10 between El Paso and Phoenix, you've seen the signs along the highway: "The Thing? What is it?" They usually say something about "The Thing?" being a great mystery of the desert in the same way those "South of the Border" signs entice travelers off I-95 in South Carolina.

I've dismissed "The Thing?" the thing on my many trips between New Mexico and Tucson or Phoenix over the years. But today, I had some extra time, so I thought it would be fun to experience "The Thing?"

In addition to the very well-stocked curio shop full of moccasins, trinkets, cowboy hats, T-shirts, a Dairy Queen and all the sugary beverages you can imagine, there was this, the purported "Thing":

Is it real? In good taste?

Of course, there's no explanation of what (or who) is in the coffin. It's up to the viewer to decide, I guess.

There were a few more things, too, more than a few related to matters of torture:

A closer look:

More torture:

A plug for Hitler:

I'm not sure what this one is about:

Highway kitsch is always a bit strange and, of course, cheap. "The Thing?" certainly exemplifies that standard. What kind of message am I supposed to come away from "The Thing?" contemplating?

Caveat emptor.

Where the Confederacy ain't hard to find

A recent commentary on Salon.com observes that the plethora of historic markers and monuments ubiquitous throughout the South make little mention of the atrocities of slavery. These markers, according to the Salon piece, romanticize the epic battles of the Civil War while doing little justice to the real victims of the war.

Born and raised within a few miles of the site where the first shot of the Civil War was fired on Fort Sumter, I revisited South Carolina last summer and dropped by the State Capitol first time since the Confederate Flag was moved from the Capitol Dome to the Statehouse grounds. Last I heard the NAACP is still boycotting the state because of the flag's prominence on state property.

While there is a beautiful monument to the victims of slavery on the Capitol grounds, few monuments around the building are as conspicuous as the one pictured above. Evidence, it seems, of the truth of the Salon columnist's argument.