The Right To Be Disappointed

by Calendar Hacksaw

"Ahh, heck; there ain't nothin' to see over there." "Don't waste yer time." "Nab, no one goes over there no more.

Yes, it's happened to all of us. Some friend or relative moves to Podunk, and we drive a thousand miles to see his new digs. Not just to see him, but also the surrounding countryside, the area he's chosen for his new home.

And in planning our trip, we consult the map and make plans for a few side trips as well. Down the so-called "blue roads," the small highways and byways that lead to nowhere and a few deadends.

We see the place names and are intrigued. What might we find in a place called "Thermometer," "Liar's Town," or "Cricket Junction." Our curiosity is what brought us here in the first place.

But our host does his level best to dissuade us from our mission. His warnings and admonishments almost sound like orders to "cease and desist." Under no circumstances will he "allow" us to "waste our time" driving 15 or 20 miles down the road "just to see what's down there."

Have you been guilty of this host's tunnel vision? I know I have. We all become so "familiar" with our surroundings, through trial and error, that we prevent others the thrill of discovery. And discovery is what Walker Basin is all about.

Sometimes our vision is clouded by the passage of time. Maybe we drove up Back Canyon ten years ago and weren't impressed. But is it possible that Back Canyon has changed since then, and would perhaps be of interest to the first-time visitor? Let the visitor decide. Don't let personal memories and prejudices adversely impact your guests enjoyment of the area.

Instead, learn as much history as possible of Walker Basin, the Piute Mountains, Caliente Canyon, and the surrounding area. Be ready to supply your visitors with accurate historical facts that will enhance their visit here, rather than detract from it.

I remember the first time I was headed south from Bodfish, bound for Highway 58. A realtor "advised" me to swing east through Twin Oaks rather than cut through the Rankin Ranch, in order to "save time." I ignored the advise, and have never regreted it. Anyone who has ever traveled this narrow, two-lane road through the rolling, oak-studded hills will never forget it. Granted: it takes forever, and I may never travel it again, but it is indelibly imprinted in my mind as one of California's most scenic drives.

Grouse Meadow would be another example. To borrow an old expression, I was told there was no "there" there. I had to see for myself.

I chose the day before the opening of deer season, and arrived in the late afternoon. Already, five camps had been established, housing groups of five to ten hunters each. After parking my truck, I approached the closest camp and was immediately invited to join them for "happy hour." For the next several hours, I enjoyed some of the greatest comradeship I've ever experienced, included a very detailed history of the area and recommended hikes and day trips.

The moral in all of this is quite simple. Guests and newcomers have the same "rights" as you and I. The right to discover, as well as the right to be disappointed. But the worst disappointment one can suffer is to return home without having achieved the objective of seeing something one wanted to see. It is indeed an empty feeling.

So let your guests wander at will. Let them meet Al at the General Store. Let them encounter locked gates. Let them gaze at rattlesnakes sunning themselves on Caliente Canyon Road. Let them "tour" Sageland. Let them learn the definition of "washboard" on Jawbone Canyon Road. Let them enjoy themselves to the fullest.

But whatever you do, don't let them quote you as saying any of the following:

"Claraville? Ahh, heck, there ain't nothing up there." "Onyx? Ahh, there ain't nothing there but an old store." "Havilah? Ahh, there ain't nothing there but a museum...

Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are <> and <> and he'd love to hear from you.

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