Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reflections On Being a Tourist

Being a tourist is hard work. I may have to look for a new job if things don't get easier.

I'm amazed at how many tourists there are out there at this time of year. I thought that with schools in session, this would be a good time to travel, and it probably is. But there are lots of folks out there visiting the same places we are.

Coming from areas of Texas where tourism is not strong, we are impressed by the number of foreign visitors we encounter. Some of them are with tour groups that travel by bus from hotel to tourist site and back. Some foreign visitors are more adventurous and rent class C motor homes. We have seen a ton of these on this trip; they are easily identifiable because of the signs on them, such as "CruiseAmerica". Since they only rent the RV and have no smaller vehicle, they drive these motor homes everywhere -- to restaurants, to the parks, and anywhere else they go.

There is an older couple camping a few sites from us -- we think they are French -- who are traveling by motorcycles. They have a tent and whatever else they can carry on their bikes. Each morning, they take off for a day of exploring, then return about 4 or 5 and go for a swim to cool off before returning to their camp site.

At popular places like national parks, parking lots are full and there are lines for the pit toilets. Everywhere we stop in the parks, there are crowds. These places are busy. Traffic on the roads is constant.

I'm constantly amazed at how fast people drive in the parks. We take our time, stopping whenever there is a pull-out to study the view or take pictures. We see others just speed by. I kind of think that they probably have a "bucket list" of places they want to see. They really don't want to take the time to actually see a place; they just want to be able to say that they were there.

And all the cities near these parks are busy. From Santa Fe to Taos to Cortez to Moab, the streets are humming with traffic day and night. Restaurants do a brisk business in these towns, as do the shops that sell souvenirs and other tourist items.

It's almost like people are in a race. They have an agenda with places they want to see. Each day, they get up and race around, checking off all the places they visit. At night, they plan the next day. When morning comes, they repeat the process. When they have visited everything in an area, they pick up and move off down the road to their next destination and start the process all over again.

At first, we were doing this, but now we've slowed down. We are now spending a week in each place and taking some days "off" to just relax. And to be honest, even though every area we visit offers something different or unique, after a while all of these places begin to look the same.

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