Over the weekend, we trespassed in Acadia National Park. Like many stupid criminals that inadvertently boast about their actions on social media, I feel no remorse for what I did. Call it what you will (I prefer civil disobedience), but I think I did the right thing. Regardless of your political beliefs as far as who has caused what in terms of the shutdown of the federal government, I think most people will agree that it’s pretty sad that the National Parks, among other things, have become a victim of political grandstanding.
I’m not laying blame at the feet of on either party for this (I can’t really say I care for the group as a whole, anyway), just expressing my general frustration. Unlike other elements of the federal government, the National Parks do not need to stop functioning during a shutdown of the federal government. To put it succinctly, “you can’t close nature.” Or perhaps, rather, you shouldn’t close nature.
Also unlike other elements of the federal government, the National Parks are outward-facing, and something the general public (and media) will quickly notice if not operational. This makes them a prime subject for political exploitation. Unfortunately, politicians don’t seem to understand or care that there are serious repercussions to the communities surrounding these National Parks and the guests from around the world (literally, I met someone from Russia also trespassing in Acadia) who plan trips months or years in advance to visit.
The rental car agent at the airport we flew into in Maine indicated that they had been receiving tons of cancellations due to Acadia being closed. That airport was in Portland–three hours from Acadia. The point is, the ramifications are pretty significant and far reaching.
Ramifications like these likely extend to things affected by the shutdown beyond the National Parks, but in the case of the National Parks, what is happening seems especially egregious to me. The National Parks are our birthright as Americans. That may reek of entitlement, but it’s true.
In establishing the National Parks, the United States did something unprecedented in setting aside lands for its people deemed so important to us, as a people, that the places should be available to be enjoyed by all. Those who have watched the Ken Burns’ series on the National Parks might agree with him that this was “America’s Best Idea.” Unfortunately, I don’t think the forefathers of the National Parks Service contemplated these natural treasures to be subjects of political chess matches.
Getting off of my soapbox, I captured this photo of the Bass Harbor Head Light in Acadia National Park at sunrise over the weekend. I have read that this is normally pretty popular photo spot for the sunrise, but thanks to a long walk past the gated off road that led to the lighthouse, it was a peaceful morning.
It initially seemed like the walk would be for naught, as the colors were most impressive directly behind me (I don’t normally shoot sunrise and sunset in the same place on quick trips, but that beautiful sky behind me affirmed my decision to return that night), but just before the sun peeked above the horizon, a beautiful rainbow appeared. I think that rainbow turned a pretty ordinary pre-sunrise photo into a much nicer one.
I’ll have plenty more on Acadia National Park in the coming weeks, but suffice to say, we had a great time despite the park being closed. Many other guests took the same approach as we did, parking in front of locked off gates and venturing inside to enjoy the parks that we all own. The skeleton staff of National Park Service rangers on site did not seem to mind at all–I suspect that they were just as aggravated as us that their Parks were being turned into political pawns.
Photographed with a Nikon D600 and the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. I did the bulk of my editing of this shot in Adobe Camera Raw; there I brought out the shadows, adjusted the white balance and tone, and increased the contrast. I opened the photo as a Smart Object in Photoshop CS6, and then opened the photo again (as a new layer) in Adobe Camera Raw and increased the clarity and applied that increased clarity only to the rocks, to accentuate their texture.
I also had to remove a bunch of spots using the healing brush because I wasn’t careful changing lenses earlier in the morning, and then used f/22 for this photo (a dangerous combination). Let that be a lesson, I guess…
What do you think about trespassing in the National Parks? Victimless crime (or less), or are you so offended by my actions that you’ll be calling the FBI? What would you do if you had a vacation to a National Park planned for this weekend?