A Break From The Backyard

Reader Contribution by Jane Gripper
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Even the most ardent of Earth lovin’,green livin’, urban or otherwise wielders of the big environmental stick have weaknesses which impact on the size of their carbon footprint. I have to admit that I have many environmental (and other) weaknesses which make my paltry attempts at “backyard environmentalism” seem ridiculous.

Being new to this huge and amazing country, my family and I have an insatiable desire to see as much of it as possible. What a dilemma! We want to travel to see all that isunique to the USA, but in doing so, our carbon footprint grows, just like Pinocchio’s nose, when ever we hop on a plane, drive the car on vacation, or hire an RV . I guess by way of justification, whenever my eyes are opened to just how beautiful and diverse our world (and this country) is,it makes me even more determined and enthused to protect it, and to educate others on how to care for it.

The Hoodoos – Bryce Canyon National Park

Our most recent (mammoth like) carbon footprint was created when we flew from Indiana to Las Vegas. There we met up with my husband’s parents (who had flown from Australia). We rented an RV (AKA: “The big rolling turd” – thanks to the movie ‘RV’ with Robin Williams) androlled out to do a National Parks tour across Arizona, up through New Mexico, over to Utah and back to Vegas. Did I say“mammoth like” footprints? Perhaps I should adjust that to gargantuan! Anyway, I have been filled with fervour like a newly ordained preacher to share the spine tingling beauties that weexperienced. Can I be so bold as to rename Utah? I think it should be called BeaUTAHful, or SpectacUTAH, irrefUTAHbly beaUTAHful, or even immUTAHble , or, as we say in Australia, ” You little BeaUTAH”. This little state packs a whole lot of inspirational punch. We were ‘blown away’….not only nearly literally, by the desert storm which greeted us, but also by the ancient landscapes.

A Desert storm – Monument Valley Arizona/Utah

When travelling in the big tin box on wheels, even though we were churning through the gas at a great rate, I still tried to maintain some environmental dignity – much to the consternation of my family.Glass, plastics and paper would rattle about in the sink for many a mile before a suitable receptacle could be located into which to recycle it, by which stage, everyone would be totally sick of moving it when the sink, bench or floor space was needed. I am embarrassed to say that some members of the family would even dispose of the items into a TRASH can, rather than have to put up with it!!! Don’t tell them, but on many an occasion, I would retrieve the recycling again – I would even gather other peoples recycling out of the trash can! I would still break out into a cold sweat however, when I had to throw food scraps into the trash. No compost bins  out there in RV land! Whenever we go away on holidays, I like to pack a piece of clothesline and some clothes pins. Not only did we, on occasion, have bags of recycling to contend with whilst travelling along, but undies, socks and t-shirts would also be flip flapping from my make shift line, as we drove along.

I can not applaud enough the National Parks system in the USA. They have been set up in such a way that make them accessible to all, while protecting the environment. Traveling with children, I especially love the Junior Rangers programs. My youngest cherub (7) learned so much from the activity books, and got a real kick out of being sworn in as a Junior Ranger at each Park.

The newest Junior Ranger

On our return to suburbia at 11:30 pm, naturally, the children wanted to see if the chickens all survived (which they did), and I wanted to see if the vegie garden survived. Unfortunately, the wild bunnies had had a field day – gorging themselves on my beans,  peas and carrots.  The garlic, tomatoes even the lettuce, all  survived.

What a treat to have seen Mother Earth at her best down in southwestern  USA. All I can say is, it  is so humbling to see that the land, so ancient, has survived for billions of years, and, I trust, will continue to do so, despite all us pesky humans in our gas guzzling RV’s rumbling all over it! 

Inspirational Canyonlands National Park