This sign didn't stand near the obviously dangerous
oil pump area. No, it was perched on an empty field in the park, inexplicable even to me.
My layover day—besides getting things done, a chance for "me" time. My time in Kansas filming the Worn Out Welcome Mat --KS project has taught me a valuable lesson: don't wait for outdoor activities, when the weather is right, do it! So I went for a walk around my surprise find—a $10 campground with water and electricity, peace and quiet.
Western KS is not for wimps. Two consecutive nights of tornado warnings made that clear. This mostly flat land has its own charm, unlike the picturesque Flint Hills and rocky bluffs of the eastern part of the state. Today the winds qualified as a gentle breeze, as opposed to the land-clearing blasts more common out here.
I'm staying in Beymer Water Recreation Park, directly south of Lakin, KS. The price is right and I get a wifi signal on my hotspot, enabling me to get work done.
My fresh air and exercise walk was intended to free my brain from cobwebs. Instead I'm stewing. This park, established in 1979, could be an ideal, affordable getaway for area residents in addition to a simple place to hook-up to water and electric for nomads like myself. Instead, it's an environmental nightmare.
Remnants of 4 ponds demonstrate not only the devastation of the drought, but also the ruthless power of aquifer-sucking irrigation systems watering cattle feeding crops.
Oil pumps, boasting of toxic properties, loom like scary monsters among the green alfalfa and hay fields behind the park, unfettered by fences or even "keep out" signs.
True, these are ubiquitous sites, not just in Kansas, but many states. What bothered me most, perhaps, was the destruction of this little park. Obvious from the placement of picnic tables and playground equipment, this was once a vibrant recreation spot.
Not so much now. At. All.
Based on the signage, and mind-numbing bureaucratic legalese regulations, this was once a popular fishing spot, too. The chemicals smell and the crusted fishing hole bottom confirmed the abject neglect of not only the park's well being but that of the surrounding area.
As I entered the last leg of my doom and gloom walk, I paused to get "beach" pictures, if you will humor this beach-loving gal.
The irony of the "No Dogs on Beach" sign hurt as I stared at the dried-up pond, now a puddle, likely chemical-laden with no wading, no swimming warnings. No kidding.
How do adults explain this all-too-common reality to kids? "Well, when I was a kid we used to come out here all the time. We swam, fished, and played for hours."
"But now, we've killed this park with our lack of personal and governmental responsibility. Sorry kids. Let's go home so you can play on your computers."
You might wonder what a post of this nature has to do with my HEAR US Inc. mission. A lot, really. Our collective apathy and our nation's systemic failures have contributed mightily to the economic and environmental demise of our country. I feel a sense of desperation to call attention to what I see--whether it is the desperate conditions facing millions of kids and families or the demise of our environment as I travel the backroads of America.
Wait, you say. Is not your use of fossil fuels contributing to this demise? True, but with my deliberate, purposeful, frugal use of the resources available to me, I try my hardest to balance the use with the mission--to leave the world a little better than I found it, for all kids. Thanks for asking, and for reading. Now, let's do something to make the world better.