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Enlightenment: A City Girl’s Visit With Nature

It was a relatively short trip from my city in bustling, capitalistic Orange County.  It was only four to five hours going east on the 14 and north on the 395.  I was in the same state of California, but I felt as if I was in a foreign place.  Sure, we all spoke English, but the environment, people, way of life, was totally different.  This two day, one-night trip over Thanksgiving holiday was intended to be a much-needed and deserved break from my complicated, stressful, and fast-paced city life.  Going to the mountains was a complete transformation from complexity to simplicity, quietness, and nature.  I became aware of my relationship to the environment and saw the necessity of preserving it.  This trip made me come to the realization of my responsibility and the inhabitants’ of this Earth, to take care of the environment.

 I stopped at a gas station less than 100 miles outside of Los Angeles to use the restrooms and saw a man with riding boots up to his knees walk out of the service station.  Hitched to a wooden post was a black horse.  The owner let me pet his horse, which I was excited about since I like horses a lot, but when I touched it, all I felt was wetness.  My hand was soaked with the horses’ sweat.  And the sweat was evaporating into puffs of steam around the horse.  I was grossed out and walked away from the horse.  I couldn’t believe someone would use a horse as getting somewhere besides being recreational, and not using a car.  It seemed plausible wherever I was at the gas station because the land was undeveloped and there weren’t many concrete roads.

I was driving higher and higher above sea-level elevation and my lungs were working harder.  It was cold and snippy.  I had to wear my Columbia, water-proof and snow-proof jacket.  The landscape was sparse with a lot of Joshua trees.  They looked like tall cactuses.  There was a lot of desert on the way.  When I got closer to the mountains, there were what looked like volcanoes too.  It was strange to see a mixture of landscapes in one place.  I could see all at once, desert, volcanoes, forests, and snow. 

On my way to the Sierra Mountains, I could see magnificent canyons carved by glaciers, wind, snow, and rain.  It was aptly called Red Canyon.  And looked like a gigantic man-made sand castle or an Indian-Indian fortress because it was so intricately carved in detail.  The mountains were splotchy black from the low, misty clouds above. 

I went north on the 395 up to Mono Lake. This lake supplies water for Los Angeles County.  I went up along the east border of California north to almost Northern California.  I went higher and higher above sea-level farther away from the world’s troubles of work and relationships.  It was just me and nature and it felt grand.   

I stopped at a gas station, to use the restroom again, and when I walked inside the service station, I said, “Hi,” to the employee, he replied, “Howdy,” I felt as if I was in a Western movie.  I liked how there were many independent coffee shops up there.  They had country small-town names like, “The Crazy Bean”.  I didn’t see any Starbucks here which was so refreshing.  A common pastime for the local people and tourists is to sit in a coffee shop and see the mountain view.  It is simple, yet priceless. 

I like the novelty of snow.  I would never live for a long time in cold, snowy weather, but I would visit it.  I saw a patch of glittering, fresh, virgin snow and fell fully backwards into it.  It felt divine, like I was in heaven!  And when I opened my eyes I saw a pure expanse of light blue sky.  Beauty in its basic purity is rare in modern times.  Experiencing these moments are few and far between and fill me with overwhelming emotion.  The breezes blew tiny grains of snow off the pine trees and descended magically down like a fairy god-mother waving her magic wand and sparkles spiraling down from it. 

Being in the Sierra Mountains made me appreciate nature and realize the necessity of preserving and taking care of the environment.  If everyone could see and experience what I did in the Sierra Mountains, I think they would be converted to respect and love our environment. 

What I liked about the Sierra Mountains was the absence of concrete and commercial buildings.  There aren’t many people living in this area.  I drove through some towns with populations as small as 641.  I went to a high school with more than 2000 students.  I could not imagine what it would be like to live in such a small town.  

I know I wouldn’t be able to live in the Sierra Mountains because I frankly am a city-person.  However, I understand the sacredness of nature and believe nature should be preserved, not just because it provides a vacation-spot, but because it is where other people live, and people are all connected in this planet.  We all share the same air, water, and land, and how we treat it affects not only us, but others, present and future.  We are responsible for the condition of our environment and only have ourselves to blame if we complain of the environment’s wretched state.