I read Tim Henny’s article “Sandpoint’s Secret Sister: Moab, Utah” with some interest. My wife and I have been frequent travelers throughout the Colorado plateau stretching back over the past 25 years, and individually and together have visited Moab on several occasions. I think he is on target with respect to the cultural similarities between Moab and Sandpoint. Both towns have a history of resource extraction industries now in decline: mining in the case of Moab, and timber in the case of Bonner County. Both towns have sought to capitalize on their unique natural beauty to replace those industries with outdoor recreation and tourism.
On the subject of the natural environment of Sandpoint vs. Moab, the author glosses over significant differences by suggesting they are largely the same except Moab has red rocks and Sandpoint has more trees. A more apt observation would be that Sandpoint’s natural environment is characterized by an abundance of water, while Moab’s is characterized by a lack of water.
Unfortunately, what ruined the article for me was the author’s need to belittle those who happen to have different perspectives and recreational interests. Here I speak of the author’s comments about guns and off-roading enthusiasts. First, the simple reason he sees more people openly carrying guns in Idaho is because it is legal to openly carry a loaded firearm in Idaho, whereas this is not legal in Utah (in Utah openly carried weapons must be unloaded). Regardless, people openly carrying a gun don’t harm him at all, and his condescending comments about his perceptions of the personality characteristics of those who do are unfounded, unwarranted and unwelcome.
Regarding the off-road enthusiasts who flock to Moab he would be wise to consider that this was a popular activity in Moab for many decades before the mountain bike was even conceived. Today, these activities are highly regulated and restricted to designated trails that have been in use for many years. As someone who loves to hike deep into the backcountry as much as I enjoy using my 4×4 to get even further from the blacktop than my feet can ever take me I’d suggest that these two groups have more in common than is often recognized, and rather than driving wedges between these groups the author’s energies would be better put to use building bridges between them so they might work together towards goals they share.