Thursday, September 02, 2021

Volunteering to Pick-Up Trash!

(Above:  Selfie while picking up trash along highway 180/62.)

At least twice a year, volunteers are organized by the tireless staff at Guadalupe Mountains National Park to pick up trash along highway 62/180, especially the mile before and after any Park entrance. Of course I volunteered!

(Above:  Getting instructions, reflective vests, gloves, and trash grabbers.)

Yesterday, lots of people came to the Park's Maintenance facility at 8:00 AM. We received instructions, reflective vests, gloves, and trash grabbers.  Then, the group was split up and transported in the Park's shuttle vehicle to various locations.  I was in the first group.  We were placed near the entrance to McKittrick Canyon ... which is about seven miles from the Visitor Center.

I had to wonder where all these volunteers came from.  Let's face it.  This area of west Texas is very remote.  When heading down the highway from Carlsbad, New Mexico, there's a sign saying that the next gas station is 111 miles away.  Thankfully, Guadalupe Mountains National Park's Visitor Center is only half of that ... 55 miles down that road.  So ... where did these volunteers come from?  Well ... right here in the the government housing area for the park.  Some of the staff live here but other houses are occupied by Texas State Troopers and Transportation Department employees.  They are all neighbors and many volunteer for this extra effort, including the Park's superintendent.  This particular "clean up" day also included Mike Schulze's family members.  

Mike Schulze was a State Highway patrol officer who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer last March.  His wife works for the Park.  In addition to his State Trooper job, Mike served as the resource officer and provided additional safety measures to the Dell City School District.  Tonight, the football field at the high school will be dedicated with his name.  It's forty-five miles away.  Suffice it to say, the people living and working here are close knit.  State Troopers joined in picking up trash.  They parked their vehicles in strategic places to keep us safe as we worked.  Two miles of the highway have been adopted by Mike Schulze's friends and family.  Four miles are adopted by the Park.

(Above:  Carriage bolts found along the road.)

By noon, the groups were transported back to the housing area.  There was a great lunch in the community center.  Many conversations revolved around the fact that there's an awful lot of trash along the highway.  Driving down the road at seventy+ miles per hour, it looks surprisingly clean, almost a pristine desert landscape.  On foot, there are too many bottles, cans, food wrappers, tire tread, and carriage bolts.  Most of the cans and bottles were for alcoholic beverages. I'm guessing that those who drive with an open container are often litterbugs.  Personally, I filled four bags.  Well ... not entirely "filled" but to the point when carrying the bag becomes difficult ... which is likely when the plastic will start to tear too!  

As for the carriage bolts.  I knew the name!  Didn't even have to google for it!  Why?  Well, back in 2006, I found a box of them at a local hardware store.  I wrapped yarn around them and embellished them with decorative stitches and beads.  They became part of my Archeology Project and later ended up on my Cabinet of Curiosities (2016).  

I didn't have a way to save any while picking up trash.  So, this morning I went to another guard rail and picked up a bunch of them.  Nine are used to connect one length of a guard rail to another.  I'm hoping to find at least twelve or sixteen, large washers.  The washers are used with super long carriage bolts to fasten the rails to the wooden posts holding them in place.  So far ... I've got five.  They will be used on a future, found object mandala.  Who knew that picking up trash would be so inspirational!


Robbie said...


Ann Scott said...

Good on you and all those folks. And, why am I not surprised that you have a way of making carriage bolts tactile and colorful!

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

as soon as you mentioned "trash" I could see your creativity wheels turning or is that churning...but also what a wonderful experience and to learn more about the people.

Christine said...

What a great way to meet folks, do some payback and, of course, source some embellishments. We'll done you.