We drove up to the gate of Zion's National Park; the entry fee was $20. I've been thinking about a Parks Pass for a long time, dreaming of wandering the nation, entering and leaving its scenic wonders freely and free of charge, and enjoying the spirituality of natural, open spaces as I have in the past.
The pass is $50 for a year. To a young man with no steady job and only a small web development contract to claim for income, this seems like a big amount. But Alisa, Jason, Veronica and I are going to put up $20 collectively anyway. I waffle a bit more -- my total cost may be whittled down to $35, but still, my only clue about where the next few months will take me are a few poorly shaped plans in my head, very tenuously anchored to reality. How can I decide to spend money on a park pass if I don't know when I'll be near the national parks, or have the time to find my way to them?
I think just a moment more over it. The car in front of us moves into the park, having paid their fee. We move up to the tollbooth. The decision is at hand. There isn't a magic moment where I hear birdsong more clearly, or sense a reflection of sensing in the red monoliths gathered around the canyon, and if the breeze speaks, it does so so softly that it makes no deep impressions. But the sun is shining, the people in the car are good company, and I remember moments when those other things have happened before. The hope that all these things will happen again in the next year is enough to push me to spend $30 more on a piece of plastic that may encourage it.
I give $50 to the ranger, and then give my signature to the pass. He hopes that it will keep other people from using it. I hope it will keep me using it myself.