I’ve heard about the Cadillac Ranch, ok when I say, “heard” I mean I knew there was a song about the Cadillac Ranch. Just like I knew there was a song about Amarillo hence why we started driving to Texas in the first place.
Amarillo by morning 🎶.... I did some super quick research and we changed the maps, destination Amarillo TX. A pretty independent traveler this was the first time on the road I really wished my husband was with me. Nope, take that back. I really wanted him with me when I got my car stuck in the clay in New Mexico or when I got pulled over for a tail light out and had to figure the fix myself. This time I missed him because for as long as the eye could see was flat hayfields and cows, cows, cows. He would have loved gawking at the cattle. Out of nowhere pops up the Cadillac’s buried in the middle of a field. Striking, maybe not Stonehenge but I was in awe all the same. I had no idea this existed, even upon parking the car I still had no clue what I was walking into. I saw a huge dumpster by the entrance and a no littering sign. Less than a football field away from the entrance the Caddy’s are buried nose deep. We arrived at dusk but it was still humming with activity. I didn’t know this at the time but had we arrived a few hours earlier the scene would have looked much different. People who obviously know what this is about come armed with spray paint cans to leave their mark on the cars. I couldn’t help but notice groups of people forming around big garbage sacks. I watched them for a while way more interested in what they were up to then the massive cars with their trunks pointed skyward.
I saw a young girl wearing a cattle tag on her shirt, aww yes... my people. They looked approachable and happy with big smiles. I ask the mom if they are part of a volunteer group or what was going on? I can see they’ve been collecting large bags of trash. Vast amounts of empty cans and lids. She said her and her kids were by earlier and there was garbage all over and the kids came up with the idea to go get trash bags and come collect all the empty cans people had left behind. It was just the 3 of them, separately another lady had the same idea and they all started picking up. No volunteer group or at least not an organized effort but what their impromptu act did was inspire others to help. By the time I arrived the place was pretty much picked up and others had gathered to haul the heavy bags to the dumpster.
It was just a tiny spark. That’s what it felt like. The kids looked so proud (as they should be) their mom gave them all the credit and I was inspired. We didn’t bring any cans with us, as we didn’t know that was the point. By the time my new friends had left there were already 2 cans sitting by the cars. They still had paint in them so I let my 3 year old make his mark and we took the now empty cans back with us to throw them away. It makes me wonder if I would have arrived and there was still trash everywhere if I would have left them behind? I’d like to think not, I’m a bit of a rule follower especially when it comes to litter bugs. I don’t know when and I don’t know where but I do KNOW that I will keep that spark lit and pay it forward elsewhere.
Days later Cass and I were swimming in the Missouri river. The beach was littered with trash. I took the one empty grocery sack we had brought snacks in and my 3 year old and me filled it up with empty cans and bottles. Even Cass seemed in disbelief that there was so much garbage nestled in the beach. We didn’t make much of a dent but I’m not sure I would have done this had I not met these kids and learned what they chose to do on their “vacation”. It’s frustrating to see a problem that is bigger than one person, daunting to feel the need to help but not sure where to start; especially a problem you had no part in creating. But... if not you then who? If not now, when? The rest of our road trip wherever we roamed we picked up forgotten water bottles and discarded wrappers. I have no doubt I have turned a blind eye to messes like this before but now there is a little spark to be better. A little spark started by two young people and a mother who fanned that spark. Thank you Preslie and Bowyn , you are doing great things and I am so glad to have met your family!