A friend who owns a timeshare property in Jackson Hole invited us to join his family there.
Jilda and I have been to Colorado, but we’ve never been to Wyoming, so we jumped at the chance.
We changed planes in Salt Lake City and boarded a smaller jet for the final leg into Jackson. As the plane began its final decent, after flying over the Great Tetons, it danced in the turbulence from wind off the mountains that didn’t know which way to blow.
The sun was high in the sky when we stepped off the plane to the ground and followed a path of bears stenciled on the walkway.
Our host met us at baggage claims and soon we were headed to the condo.
We unloaded our bags and guitars in our room before hitting the road for some sightseeing.
Normally, we like to unwind after a flight that long, but there were still about six hours of daylight, and the weatherman predicted snow for that evening.
We drove through Teton Pass, which had a turnout every few miles. That gave us a chance to take a camera full of postcard-worthy pictures.
We crossed the Snake River, and I could imagine the trout swerving in the current behind big rocks and coming to the top of the water as we passed to mock me - “You call yourself a fisherman? Go get your pole and your sad lures and I’ll teach you a thing or two about fishing.”
That night, snow moved in and we awoke to a pristine blanket that covered the mountains and trees like a thick fleece blanket.
A few days later we had a chance to inch through the snowy roads of Yellowstone National Park where we saw wildlife, rivers, birds and geysers, including Old Faithful.
It was a remarkable few days. What’s even more remarkable to me is what we didn’t see — litter.
I did not see one piece of trash on the roadside, in the parks or anywhere else.
There were no posted signs saying “No Littering.” Of course there may be an unwritten law that says anyone caught littering will have a kidney removed with an elk knife, but apparently it isn’t necessary there to tell people NOT to litter.
I did see a construction worker eating lunch on the tailgate of his truck in a work area.
A food wrapper blew out of his lunchbox, and he chased it thirty feet before stepping on it with his boot long enough to pick it up and put it in his coat pocket.
I found that telling.
Here at home last summer, I was behind a woman at a red light.
While we waited for the light to change, she opened the door a fraction and dumped an ashtray full of cigarette butts and gum wrappers right there on the road for the rest of us to enjoy.
I’ve traveled quite a bit, and I will say without hesitation that Alabama is as beautiful as any place on the planet.
We have lakes, rivers, mountains, the ocean, and a diversified ecosystem that is unmatched anywhere else on the planet.
But I fear that visitors to our fine state won’t see the beauty, but all the litter and trash that we thoughtlessly toss because it’s convenient. I’m guessing they’ll go home wondering why we use our beautiful state as a garbage dump.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book “Life Happens” is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email: email@example.com.