April 28, 2007


If you've ever had pets you may have noticed its the ones that are the most demanding that are the least rewarding. Blogs are like that. You don't get paid so much per word, and yet, every day, there it is, blinking at you wanting to be fed. And some days I just have to tell it "sorry, blog, today you live off of your own body fat". And then people think I've died.

A skipped blog means one of three things: I have a headache that feels like cavemen are carving heiroglyphics on my forehead, I'm busy actually doing something that pays actual money, or there are news stories that I desperately want to flog on, but know my rage will come out wrong to those who don't already know and love me. Both of them.

Lately, I've been working.

But I still read every day, and I've been saving this NYT story for today. I love it. It's another tunnel story (I really should get that fascination looked into, doncha think?). A tiny town in the Austrian Alps has had no road access, ever. That is about to change when a tunnel is put through next year, providing access to the rest of the world.

With a population of only 30, they've had to hike in and out on foot forever. Shopping, doctor visits, everything has been done on foot. Check out the picture - it looks pretty glorious to me.

As is the usual case, some of the locals are thrilled, others less so. They've survived farming and running small B&Bs for hikers, and the only cars in the village are old ones that were winched up the side of the mountain. There is great concern that the commerce that is inevitable will destroy this last outpost of untouched beauty.

They're probably right; man can't leave well enough alone. For every unadulterated tableau, there is a line up of exploiters eager to adulterate it. Most of these tiny villages and outposts (I read about one every 6 months or so) die off because the young people leave and the old people die. There isn't enough work, and the call of bigger and better things is strong. Not to mention the urge to stir up the dating pool a bit, I would imagine.

What if things started to change, though. What if younger people started coming back to these places, as technology let them create and work? Maybe it's my age showing, but running away to the big city has lost most of its appeal.

I'd far rather strap on my hiking boots and run away to Kaisertal. And maybe they'd even welcome those that want to come and be quiet, not open a WalMart.


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