Living in NYC, while good for the environment (I’m crammed into a tiny apartment and subjected to mass transit at least twice a day) and good for getting acquainted with culture, is not so good for the soul (read: can give you a-n-x-i-e-t-y) or the lungs (read: can give you a-s-t-h-m-a) over long periods of time. I go too long without a breather and I turn into a cranky, nervous, black-snot-blowing, itchy-red-eyed-rubbing mutant ninja human. (Update: Need more timely proof that NYC can wreck your nerves? Two words: Subway floods!).
So, it is not surprising that when I am traveling to new places, or going on a new kayaking adventure, I do not like to encounter too many humans, or their detritus. If I visit a large city, I also visit the nearby nature. “Hello nature!” “Hello, Joy!”
Perhaps the most recent painful example of this was when we went up to the Delaware River, about two hours of New York City, and stayed at a private campsite (Landers). We were surrounded by idiots constantly. I felt like a New York City block had simply been moved to the countryside, and everyone was living in tents, using even fewer manners than usual. I got no sleep (too busy trying to keep my brain from absorbing shockwaves from nearby stereos set to sonic-boom levels), no privacy and I was worried that the clogged Port-a-potties (our campsite was very far from the real restrooms) would test positive for flesh-eating bacteria.
(Before you criticize camping — which yeah, I totally agree can really suck if ill-prepared — there are quiet, peaceful campsite near NYC that were designed to still be tolerable even when the campsite is full. Case in point: High Point State Park, not far from Landers. The man who designed High Point is none other than Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who designed Central Park, a park that rarely feels crowded, despite being enveloped by a bajillion people.)
Anyway, this blog post is becoming one long stream of consciousness. My inspiration was this photo I took of Turtles in Austin’s Town Lake. I love the colors in this photo, and the neat colors the exposed turtle heads create, but the point I wanted to make was that, from time to time, I do encounter situations where nature is totally out of balance, and I’m unsure whether the environment is healthy or not. These turtles in the photo are just one of hundreds we saw floating about in one teensy area of Lake Austin that day, and it seemed kinda creepy. I love turtles, and generally, having turtles around you means you live near a healthy habitat. But they seemed too crowded, like Penn Station at 5:30 p.m. These turtles were either meeting from far-and-wide for courtshipping, or they have no natural predators, just lots of dumbfounded turistas like me.