As I drove through and camped in Idaho and Utah, I was rather appalled at the ATV culture. Thousands of them everywhere in various sizes and styles for folks to tear through the wilderness on. My mind was fixed in its reaction of horror. Why speed through nature? Why damage fragile environments? Why use fossil fuels for this activity, and why not hike gently instead, like civilized people do? And aren’t they terribly dangerous?
Ah, the assumptions I made! And how little I attended to my own relationship to nature, to fossil fuels, and to speed!
This was a good opportunity to explore my judgmental and narrow mind. I tried to enquire further in hopes of a more balanced view, and this is what I found.
Nice people ride ATVs. Meet Teri and Bob and their poodle, whom I met in Richfield, Utah. They were kind and sweet and regular folks who have been riding ATVs for a long time and enjoy it with their poodle. ATV’s provide access to the wilderness for folks of all ages and disabilities. Hunters and sheepherders and cowboys use ATVs now for their sport and for their work. Here’s what they shared with me:
ATV use is regulated by the government to protect the environment and people who leave designated trails are held in fairly strict check.
Their ATV gets about 25 mpg. (My camper van gets 11 mpg. Hello!)
ATVs are no longer dangerous due to new designs.
I would not choose to own or ride an ATV, but who am I to judge? Rushing through nature isn’t my style. I would also be too scared and I wouldn’t want to spend the money or haul it around.
But I don’t enjoy my many forms of self-righteousness. I’ve left the bubble of liberal, do-gooder Portland and the Ecovillage to explore other aspects of America. And to train my mind and heart to let go of judgment and embrace connection and compassion. More shall be revealed on this spiritual journey!