Last week we took a look at how officials cheat, by looking at the Superintendent’s Compendiums at some National Parks. Here is Part 1 (dealing with caves) and here is Part 2 (where some parks have required shoes in buildings).
But sometimes they do it right.
For Jewel Cave, I’ll have to rate them ¾-right.
First, there are no footwear restrictions in their Superintendent’s Compendium. That’s what’s controlling.
But they do say something about footwear on their webpage:
Low-heeled, closed-toe, rubber soled shoes are highly recommended as cave routes cover uneven, slippery ground and stairs.
“Highly recommended.” Okay, they don’t know much about the utility of bare feet, but they’re not getting all high and mighty and claiming that they know what is better for each of us than we do.
But I will take off a ¼ of a point for their Historic Lantern Tour. Here’s what the webpage says:
Come prepared for this adventure, wear low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes or hiking boots, long pants, and a light jacket or sweatshirt. Open-toed shoes or sandals are prohibited.
First, if it’s not in the Compendium, it’s not really prohibited.
Second, anybody want to guess why they’d think they needed to prohibit open-toed shoes on this particular tour? I suspect it is because of the lanterns (which provide the only light). I bet they’re afraid somebody will drip hot wax on their foot.
Actually, I bet it would be pretty rare, and the wax would have cooled considerably on its drop. I myself would rather risk that than be shod. Unfortunately, they don’t want to give us that choice. You know, the choice to be responsible for ourselves.
Let me move now to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Actually, it is now officially the “World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument”, since the monument also includes the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah Memorials.
Ten years ago (2003), the official website included the following:
Appropriate dress is required, no swimwear or bare feet.
Here’s a screenshot, in which I’ve highlighted that language.
The webpage is from the Arizona Memorial Museum Association, which was “a non-profit organization authorized by Congress, [which] support[ed] the intepretation and related visitor service activities of the National Park Service at four sites across the Pacific region.” They are now Pacific Historic Parks, with the same mission and responsibilities.
There is no footwear requirement in the Superintendent’s Compendium. And this is what the Monument website says:
Visitors are reminded that they are visiting a site of tremendous loss of life in service to our country. Sandals are permissible, but bathing suits or profane T-shirts are discouraged.
Given that bare feet are no longer mentioned, and particularly given the religious association of bare feet with respect, I’d be really surprise if there would be any problems visiting while barefooted.
Finally, let me end with the Dry Tortugas National Park, located west of Key West.
This is what their Superintendent’s Compendium says:
Food and drink in glass containers are not permitted on any of the islands. The purpose of this regulation is to prevent visitor injuries by keeping glass off the beaches and other areas where people walk barefooted. An exception to this restriction is made to allow employees, their guests, and VIP’s to possess glass containers in the designated residence area of the park and campers using the Garden Key Campground.
Isn’t that refreshing? Instead of allowing unsafe conditions for bare feet and then banning bare feet, they ban the unsafe conditions. What a concept!
It’s just too bad that so many other park officials (and officials everywhere) cannot see it that way.