You probably saw the picture above (not mine but lifted from the news as are all the others in this post.) A back-to-belly traffic jam of climbers waiting to summit Everest. If you read any othe the articles, you know that several climbers died, because the crowding made the ascent/descent take longer and oxygen was running low. People reported stepping over dead bodies on their way to the summit for a momentary selfie at the top of the world.
Where's the romance in this? Where's the glory? A helicopter takes a rope to the peak where it's fixed in place so the climbers can haul themselves up the last bit. A rope, for heaven's sake. Add to that the support of the Sherpas -- there was one account a few years ago of a woman who was bodily pushed and dragged to the top by her hired crew.
Not to mention -- well, I am going to mention -- the debris all these climbers leave behind -- including corpses.
Nope, summiting Everest ain't what it used to be.
It's the same almost everywhere -- popular destinations are crowded destinations. The scene above is Arches National Park -- which a few days ago first had two hour delays in allowing vehicles to enter and then closed entirely. (It's open now.) I'm sure the Arches are beautiful . . . but . . .
I think about Stonehenge. We visited it on our great motorcycle trip -- almost fifty years ago. We got there just as it opened and for about a half an hour, were almost the only visitors. Back then you could walk amid the stones -- even touch them. It was truly magical -- being there with the morning mist rising off the surrounding meadows . . . then two tour buses arrived.
When we visited Stonehenge again, maybe twenty years ago, tourists were confined to a path that circled the stones -- no walking amidst them any more. It wasn't especially crowded and it was still a nice experience.
The picture below suggests how things have changed.
Venice is another magical place that we visited or that motorcycle trip. Busy, yes, but one could find spots of solitude. It was our favorite city.
When we visited it again, thirty-so years ago, it was markedly worse. I remember shuffling through the Basilica San Marco, in a throng so tight packed I could only take pictures of the fancy inlaid paving at my feet.
Our best vacation in recent years was spent walking in the Cotswolds, where, except for sheep, it was just us, most of the time.
Maybe it's just me -- but I'm not tempted to go anywhere that I know is crowded. The last time I went to the Biltmore House, I skipped the house where there were long, slow-moving lines, and enjoyed wandering through the greenhouses which, for whatever reason, didn't attract that many visitors.
Old age? Or the result of living high up a mountain where we don't see our neighbors unless we want to.