John Colson: Hit and Run
August 13, 2010
Soon now, they say, you’ll be able to make a cell phone call from the Maroon Bells, one of the most photographed places in the U.S. and a haven for people hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and – well, people using their cell phones.
The Bells was a place where you could be guaranteed not to run into, say, a typical suburbanite family on vacation, all of them using cell phones for something, either at different times or all at once.
Dad could not call his office to see if his latest marketing proposal had been accepted.
Mom could not make the emergency call to arrange a clown for little Chloe’s upcoming birthday party, a call she had somehow forgotten to make before the vacation.
Little Chloe could not update her Facebook page with cell-camera shots of the Bells in all their glory, while making party plans for the weekend of their return home.
And Brad the teenager would be in a funk without access to his favorite Slayers video game platform, fearing he might be displaced by one of his buddies as the leading scorer in the fight against the Lord of Nightmares.
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Instead, they all would be forced to simply walk around, soaking in the sounds, smells and sights offered by one of the most stunning mountain locales available to the motoring public.
Let us imagine, however, that our forlorn family was up at the Bells one recent day, when the powers that be tested a temporary system that brought cell service to the Maroon Lake parking lot for a brief time.
Picture the joy on little Chloe’s face when her phone chimed and she learned she had just been “poked” by the cutest guy in school.
At the same time, Dad’s office managed to get through to him after hours of trying, to tell him that the proposal not only was rejected, but he had been downsized by his boss, who had warned him not to screw up this presentation.
And mom got a call alerting her that her best friend had just confessed to her second-best friend about an affair between the best friend and Dad, who failed to recognize the look of rage that Mom fired at him over the roof of the car.
Brad, the only one who failed to snatch up his phone instantly upon exiting the car, was dashing down the path toward the lake to check out a couple of cute young girls walking at a deliberate distance from their own family unit.
Anyway, you get the idea.
“Only a matter of time,” the headline shouted, before the cellephonic wishes of our imaginary family will be fulfilled, thanks to the wonders of modern technology. The techies are talking to the Aspen Ski Company about putting a tower atop Loge Peak at Aspen Highlands that will reach down into the Maroon Creek Valley and connect your iPhone or your Blackberry to the world at large.
Emergency communications will be improved, and search and rescue operations will meet with more success once cell service reaches into the Maroon Bells Wilderness, the experts say. And that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.
But isn’t there a way to do this so that the general public can’t get access? So that the poor sods who feel the need to be “connected” during every waking moment, and are visibly unhappy when they are not, will be forced to choose between beauty and the technological beast?
Or am I being too harsh? I don’t go to the Bells much in the summer anymore; it’s a bit too crowded for my tastes, with buses disgorging packs of camera-wielding tourists eager for their brief exposure to splendor before returning to their hotels, hot tubs and expensive dinners.
So, maybe I should just recognize that Maroon Lake is now an extension of their natural habitat, and that the cell phone is a critical part of that habitat, whether I like it or not.