Tuesday, October 01, 2013

On The Government Shutdown: A Personalization

This past week my wife and I took a road trip to celebrate my wife's birthday, and our road trip included a trip to the Grand Canyon this past Saturday.

We had planned out our trip for awhile and had the plan down to a science maximizing every minute, especially since there was a fair amount of driving involved with our trip.

My wife and I have actually hit a variety of state and national parks this year, without intentionally trying. Regretting that we didn't buy an annual pass early in the year for all of our park trips. Incidentally, as we got close to the trip we discovered that our day at the Grand Canyon would actually be free...in celebration of Public Lands Day.

So this past Saturday, we explored the Grand Canyon all day, primarily along the South Rim trail. It was an amazing once in a lifetime experience.

The park was full with a variety of guest from all over the world. I joked with my wife, "The Grand Canyon is like the Disneyland of National Parks." The park was full of tourist from all over the world. There was a fantastic bus system to get you all along some different parts of the canyon.

Yet it's crazy to think that today...three days later, the park is closed. In fact, you can't even access the parks website.

Being there on Saturday and it closed on Tuesday is remarkable to me. I know the impact is far more than a tourist impact, but this is something that makes the shutdown very real to me. I think about other National Parks I've enjoyed even this year such as Muir Woods and Alcatraz Island. Go to their websites today and the Department of the Interior will inform you that the websites are not operational.

I think of people on vacation in Washington DC right now, how disappointing for their vacation when so many of the key sites to be shut down. I think about trips to Yellowstone, the Everglades, or the Statue of Liberty.

I know that for many people the real cost of the shutdown, depending on the length of time could be far more significant than a missed opportunity at a fantastic tourist destination. But the whole thing is might incredible to me to think about.

I typically have the perspective that the government is too big, but I also think that these dramatic start and stops don't really handle the problem. I think we know that someday soon the Grand Canyon, the Smithsonians, and yes...even the IRS will open their doors sooner than later. And I feel bad for people impacted by this. I think of Susan our super friendly bus driver at the Grand Canyon, or the nice lady at the Hermit's Rest gift show. I think of the park rangers at Alcatraz who unlocked a hallway for us to explore when the tour we were to attend got canceled.

And there's also that part of me who's not sure whether different friends/acquaintances of mine might be impacted. I am tempted to ask. Tempted to send a text or call. Yet, it seems inappropriate. It's just day one and I'm sure it's crazy for people who are furloughed, but asking around right now just seems like gossip.

Yet, I admit. I have a fascination with what is and is not impacted. There's certain government agencies I interact with at work who I was surprised (and not surprised) that were exempt for various reasons. Some of it seems almost random, and it's hard to tell who in the end will be hurt by the shutdown, especially since it's so hard to tell if this will be something resolved in days or weeks.

Picture above taken by my wife at the Grand Canyon South Rim on 9/28/2013, days before the shutdown