Well, it’s happened!
Our U.S. Government has shut down, as of midnight last night. So, today, on a weekend, I was curious to see what it meant for our local national parks. I drove down to Carl Sandburg National Historic Site, ready to walk all five miles of trail. I chose this site because it’s the easiest to close of the park units close to me.
Carl Sandburg home site is only open from 9 am to 5 pm normally. Unlike larger parks, there’s a gate which can be closed, but it wasn’t. I can only assume that the rangers didn’t close it last night, in preparation for today. Most visitors use it as their local park to walk, talk and exercise their dogs.
When I got to the Flat Rock, NC site, I was amazed to see that almost all the parking spaces were taken. As soon as I left the parking site and got on the paved trail to the house, I saw this yellow sign:
The sign tells visitors that there are no NPS staff members and they’re on their own. In my wanderings, I saw four of these signs.
The bathrooms were closed, as advertised. So was the bookstore. The house is being renovated, so was going to be closed anyway.
I walked to the top of Big Glassy Mountain on an icy trail. I guess if someone slipped and couldn’t walk out, they would have to alert the county EMTs. At the top, I only saw one group of walkers. The trail is short but steep. See the picture on top.
What about the goats?
I knew that they were being taken care of and fed. A car was parked at the goat barn, which I assumed belonged to a volunteer.
The sign on the gate said “Come on in” but the gate was locked tightly. Too bad since several children congregated at the fence.
You can’t see the goats but they’re in front of the barn, hugging the wall. Usually you can go in and pet them.
My last trail took me around the lake.
It’s the easiest trail and therefore had the most people. Eavesdropping on conversations from groups walking the trail, I couldn’t discern any bitterness about the shut-down.
Other than the closed restrooms, the shutdown probably didn’t affect most visitors to the Carl Sandburg house. But the National Park Service doesn’t just protect and preserve; it interprets as well, so that you know why this site is important. And that’s what was missing today.
As I headed for my car, Rob Moore, a reporter at the Hendersonville Times-News, came to see the situation. I told him about the four yellow signs, thereby saving him a walk through the park.
Elections have consequences. The government shutdown is one of them.
What’s happening at your park?