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Yosemite in the War Against Freedom

Upon my arrival in Yosemite this weekend, I was nearly crippled by the prospect of inevitably breaking the law. 

I hadn’t intended to steal, to drive recklessly or in excess speed, nor had I any intentions to commit assault, battery or any other variety of heinous acts. 

No, I had only envisioned an impromptu adventure into the wilderness of Yosemite, hopeful that I might find a tiny plot of land where I could park my car and pitch a tent. 

If only such a simple concept were met with a reality as accommodating. 



Instead, this trip took me on a wild goose chase in search of a parking lot where I might freely leave my vehicle without being cited for a manufactured violation, whose consequences measure in the hundreds of dollars and untold quantities of stress, whose enforcement takes the form of men with guns who stand prepared to place me in handcuffs should I ultimately fail to satisfy the fabricated debt ostensibly owed to a body of people who have yet to really justify their claimed ownership over the land. 

To avoid this dreadful inconvenience, the unfree man is compelled to inquire into the limits of permissibility on so-called public lands. 

As such, I made sure to approach the workers at the park, who seemed just as uncertain as I. 

I asked, “Where can I park overnight in Yosemite?” 

The worker, who paused for a moment, then inquired: “Are you going to sleep in your car or something?” 

Not sure of the importance of the answer to this question, I said that I might. 

After explaining, thereafter, that I intended to embark on an overnight trek across the natural beauty of our planet, the worker suddenly became willing to offer some assistance. 

In response to my question on authorized overnight parking, the worker informed me that we were authorized to park “technically nowhere.” 

However, she then gestured toward the distant parking lot across the street, “... but you can probably park over there.” 

Delighted to have just witnessed a glimpse of hope in parking the car, I journeyed toward the lot of probable hope, all the while remaining alert to signage about parking rules and restrictions. 

After navigating the labyrinth of uncertainty, I finally joined the dubious ranks of other vehicles, some of which displayed parking permits while others did not. 

I opted to seek out greater certainty and, hopefully, assistance from a fellow man with maybe a badge, maybe closer insight into the rules, or maybe just more directions. 

Well, I would ultimately get one better: the holy grail of all parking permits. 

I did it! 

I became an authorized resident of the earth, if only for a night. 

It’s just astounding how this nation celebrates this park as the American quintessence, yet we cannot even park our car in an empty parking lot, or on the side of the road, to pitch a tent without worrying that it might be ticketed or towed. 

America the beautiful! 

Fortunately I had the social wherewithal and the adequate foresight to negotiate with another employee to acquire a parking permit; our vehicle suddenly became compliant with what appears to be a radically arbitrary and ambiguous set or rules, one which remains even unclear to those who work there, which requires a wholly unnecessary conversation with an employee who does nothing in particular to render the park any safer or cleaner, who serves merely as yet another node in a circuitous process which (we’re told) yields freedom? 

This is bureaucracy at its best, for the sake of bureaucracy. 

Oddly, we eventually roamed off the beaten path to pitch a tent in the hills surrounding Half Dome, where we were probably in violation of some obscure park code. 

The irony is most thick here: where American pioneers once did the very same thing just a century and a half ago, where they travelled freely, built homes, towns and communities, we are no longer permitted to do so, unless we pay or otherwise negotiate to reacquire those liberties which were once naturally afforded to us. 

We’re left celebrating a vestige of American exceptionalism, clenching the memories and traditions of a time gone by, and with them the remnants of what used to be a freer country. 

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