From GENE LOGSDON
I am tempted to write a book titled “Stay Home and Save The World” or something to that effect, but I don’t know of any publisher crazy enough to take it on. Our whole culture is completely locked into travel mode and any idea of changing that would have no more success than trying to stop people from drinking beer. We think, live and breathe traveling. So much so, that some 40% of the CO2 we are churning into the environment comes from travel (so I read but I am wary of all numbers). Maybe we could reduce our CO2 emissions to safe levels just by staying home much of the time. But only we ramparts people are going to say that. Cutting travel to a significant degree might bring on another great depression. It’s as if we would give up our utilities before we’d give up extraneous travel.
I really don’t think it would be that difficult. I’d much rather stay home than go traveling and when I read the travel ads in newspapers and magazines, I am all the more convinced. Much of the jolly things the ads promise I have at home. The current Hilton Hotel ad says it all: “Feel At Home In Our Home.” Really? Why not just stay home and save the money.
My favorite travel come-on, from a recent Sunday New York Times, is in an article titled “A Shangri-La Deep In The Cascades,” about a place called Stehehin Valley. It has “great hiking, great lodging, and best of all, no roads in and no roads out.” No roads at all? Why does that sound a bit contradictory to me? Sounds like my acres back along the creek, especially if you include outdoor camping as a form of great lodging, which indeed Stehehin does.
Many of the descriptive words used in travel ads to lure people onto the highway I can find right here at home. “Scenic path.” “Quiet nooks.” “Romantic gardens.” “Unspoiled view.” “Comfortable and casual.” “Off the beaten path.” Lately, the travel industry is trying to work the popularity of the local food movement into its propaganda, glamorizing local food and art shops as if the spot being advertised is the only place in the world that is local.
And, of course, if there is no other reason to travel to the destination being advertised, there is always history. Every place in the whole wide world, including the nondescript, humdrum rural township that surrounds me, is “rich in history,” but travelogues pretend that history only happens in very special places that require you to travel hundreds of miles to experience.
Anyone with a decent job can turn a home into a most desirable tourist destination. It takes maybe an acre or two, or more if so inclined, but nothing that a middle class wage earner can’t afford. Indeed, the built-in “profit” of a little cottage farm comes from all the life you can enjoy on it without spending much money gushing out carbon on highways or airways. You can have your own farm pond for all kinds of water sports and pastimes, your own hunting, your own nature-watching, your own skiing and sledding if you have a hill on your property, your own setting for great art and photography, your own Eden-like gardens, your own wood for home heating and woodworking, your own exercise center splitting that wood into usable stove-lengths, your own scenic paths for hiking, your own delicious, fresh, artisanal, local food and drink if not at home then in a restaurant nearby, your own history to fascinate you. You will have so much fun-work to do that eventually you will not have time to travel. You can reach the point, as I did, where you can use your homework as a legitimate excuse, like at lambing time, for not to go to public functions you don’t want to attend or not to give speeches you don’t want to give.
Here’s the strange contradiction about all this. Many of the people who build a really fantastic house on a really fantastic piece of ground and make of it a natural paradise complete with tennis court, swimming pool, library, huge flat screen television, immediate electronic contact with the entire earth, elaborate equipment for listening to music, — these are the people who travel the most.
Yes, seeing something in person is surely better than looking at pictures of it and, yes, travel can broaden the mind and all that. I have arguments to counter those truisms but never mind, I know when I am the minority. But I bet anything that those of us who like to stay home are more content and maybe even healthier. And now they’ve got these gadgets you can put over your head and electronically view faraway places almost as if you were there. Without getting caught in a traffic jam or on a runway.