Dear Governor Ducey,
I hiked up the west fork of Oak Creek today. It was a Tuesday. I thought no one would be there. But it’s spring break at ASU, I realized. Also, it’s Oak Creek. It’s always crowded. I was a little irritated, because of the crowds and because of the budget cuts to my university that mean good people are going to lose their jobs and good students are going to be priced out of school but then I thought, I shouldn’t be irritated, I’m on a hike on a Tuesday. It’s 65 degrees out. It’s an excellent hike. 3.3 miles up, 3.3 miles back. You cross the stream 13 times. I tried to walk fast to get ahead of the crowds but every crowd I got ahead of, I ran into another crowd. But everyone smiled at me, said hello. I stopped feeling so grouchy. For every nice person I passed, a little bit of my irritation slipped away. Also, it’s the most beautiful hike in the world. Wind-shaped red rocks cracked by water shaped white rocks. Moss dripping from them. Springs seeping through the sandstone, staining it black. I saw a bird with some weird dots on its wings. A snake swimming up the creek. Another bird made a weird noise as if I were in a rainforest. Arizona is more than its politicians who want to undo every bit of progress made in the past 70 years, I remembered.
The oaks weren’t blooming yet so the view to the red cliffs was constant. So was the view of people hiking with walking sticks but not a single one of them passed without saying hello. Most of the people, although it was spring break, were retirees. They were so happy. But then I thought, maybe they’re so happy because of the tax cuts. Saving fourteen dollars a month so no one has to pay for any body else’s kids to go to school might be making their day. $14 pays for the parking fee in the West Fork parking lot with $4 leftover. A latte for them! And then I noticed the only people who weren’t smiling were people with kids. Some of them had five. I worried about how crowded West Fork would be when each of those kids had kids. But I bet the parents worried how they would afford college for each of their kids. Maybe prison will be cheaper. At least hiking is mostly free.