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Jason Toews and fifi (the band)

Hospital 08, March 2014


Last Chance To See

Short-ish post for a small-ish gallery.

In 1991, my (then-)wife Jen and I took a road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park to Craters of the Moon National Monument to Glacier National Park and back to Seattle. We were menaced by angry buffalo and attacked by blood-crazed mosquitoes. Max electrocuted himself, got an ear infection, and learned to walk. We incurred credit card debt that took years to pay off, and I was fired upon our return, but that is probably a story best saved for another time.

We saw so many jaw-droppingly amazing things on that trip – bubbling paint pots, salt springs, geysers, waterfalls, viscous and multi-colored sinus discharge – but perhaps the most spectacular was the glacier at Logan Pass, at the very tip-top of Going-to-the-Sun Road at Glacier National Park. I hiked with Max on my back and mountain goats (oh, and Jen, of course) at my side. The glacier was brilliantly, eye-searingly white in the mid-day sun, stretching as far as I could see.

In 2012, I returned to Logan Pass with my (current) wife, Robin, and the glacier was almost gone. There was a lot of mud, and I saw a couple of woodchucks, and that was it. I hiked out along the visitor’s path for a mile or so, hoping to catch a glimpse of the glacier in the distance, but it was no use. U.S. Geological Survey studies predict that all glaciers in the park will be gone by 2030. I’ll refrain from making a climate change speech here, but I’m sure grateful that I saw the glacier when I had a chance.

We took several audio books on that trip, but – in a convenient bit of thematic synchronicity – the only one I remember is Douglas Adams’ Last Chance to See. In the book, Adams travels around the globe to see nearly-extinct animals. If you haven’t read it, please do, because it’s excellent.

I guess I don’t need to draw the parallels between that book and my experience with the glacier, right? It’s clear? Okay.

When I moved from Seattle, WA to Springfield, MA, I suddenly had access to a multitude of beautiful old buildings, now abandoned. And for the last five years or so, I’ve been eagerly crossing them off my list, trying to see the highlights before they are destroyed by wrecking balls, vandals, or simple neglect. There are a few legendary spots that I never got a chance to see, because they were gone before I arrived. This particular gallery features a place that was largely razed before I left Seattle, BUT… a single building remains. Soon, it, too, will be demolished, and the pictures we’ve taken will be the only evidence that it existed. Well, except for state files and architectural drawings and patient records, but I think you know what I’m trying to say. Thank goodness I got to see it.

Viewing the Gallery

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