What do the following items have in common? A) Sudden virus breakouts like Swine flu / H1N1 virus. B) Enjoying our National Parks.

Answer(s):  Both require higher levels of awareness to avoid illness; both may invite injuries related to fatigue.

One of the basic principals that runs throughout humankind’s existence is the desire for basic freedoms to pursue ones dreams and desires either for the individual, family or a group. Our Natural Parks clearly offer spaces to reignite dreams or refresh desires on any level.

These principals can certainly differ in definition as to their meanings. In the United States of America it falls under the word Democracy.

It was suggested to me that I start to compose a series about the wonders and beauty of our National Parks. The suggestion certainly seemed to be an interesting and fun topic to work on, then upon the initial research and along with my own personal experiences it was decided it might be best to do a series based about regions within the Nation..

It is not my intention to begin this series in a negative manor, for the National Parks within the United States and its territories are truly magnificent.

Yet considering the present state of the economy and now the health headlines regarding the outbreaks of the Swine Flu and or H1N1 virus, we as a people must, in my opinion, return to the basic of learning to respect one another, educated ourselves and once again allow ourselves to enjoy and laugh within our surroundings. One catchy news article mentioned that we as a nation are suffering from Disaster Fatigue. When I read those words I was amused, but how true those two very simple words are.

We, as Americans, as well as the World are fully aware of the events of September 11th, 2001. We are also fully aware of all the additional security that has been placed and continually being reinforced at out airports. We have learned to “Deal with it” and conform as best we can. Then the Global Economy begins to take hold, and again we “Deal with it”, and make whatever adjustments and conform as best we can .

Out of the Darkness, comes another gray cloud, and the new issue is this Swine Flu/ H1N1 virus. The Travel Industry along with TSA and CDC do their utmost to track and protect the traveling public yet in this process, I certainly see major gaps. Within the initial reports a couple that was on their Honeymoon in Cancun from Scotland test positive for this flu. Then within their immediate circle of friends and family, those people are under the “watching eyes and care” of the local Health Authority. Nowhere did I find any articles and or follow up in regards to tracking down the health status of the passengers that were on their flights from Cancun Mexico back to Scotland. That basic logic eluded me.

Recently a friend of mine, flew in from Kansas City, and on that flight was another passenger, freely sneezing and coughing without covering her mouth, nor washing her hands. I have to ask myself, what was this “adult woman” thinking: If she has little respect for her own health, why would anyone expect her to care for her fellow passengers. Is anyone responsible for this kind of person’s actions? I just found this clip: Coughs and Sneezes (1945), This vintage health propaganda film aimed to stop the spread of germs by getting more people to use handkerchiefs.

Also schools are being shut down and the children are being sent home. Some of these children have tested positive, yet their family members in addition to other children are free to move around outside in public. I mentioned education earlier, and it appears to me the educating ourselves of  “just the basics of self hygiene” is not being addressed. Should you feel the need to cough and or sneeze “cover your mouth” and then wash your hands with soap and water.

I know many words have been written about this particular outbreak of Flu, along with many hours of on-air commentators. I just felt that in order to compose and post articles regarding our National Parks, I should lead off with this issue, since as much as our Parks are certainly glorious, there are also some basic hazards that an individual and or individuals may come across.

One of several examples of my personal travels that I can now reflects and laugh about is my experience in the Shenandoah Valley National Park.

For those “Young at heart, but feeling their age in body”, if you recall the Television Show called “Truth and Consequences”, my brother and I were preparing at drive cross- country early the following day this particular episode was aired. We were in the middle of packing the car when I heard this question being asked: “What do you do if a bear comes into your campsite?”. I stopped to hear the answer that was to gather your pots and pans and begin to bang them together. Apparently the bears do not like the sound and will leave the immediate area. It is not my intention to begin this series in a negative manor, for our National Parks are our Treasures and shows the wonders of our Global World. The true wonders of Nature and all of its life forms living together, in some cases in small areas and in others vast expanses.

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The following morning we said good by to our parents and in the car we go along with my dog. Our first major over night stop is at a campground in Shenandoah Valley. We arrive rather early in the morning, at around 1:30, we unload our sleeping bags, it is “rather dark” and we prepare to go to sleep. Within about 20 or so minutes, we hear the pots and pans going nearby, then my dog jumps from my sleeping bag onto my brothers and a fight begins, and the SMELL become rather obvious. My dog, “Buck” attacked a skunk that was near my bothers sleeping bag. It is now about 2 AM, the smell is over-whelming, I look for our car and I cannot find it, because there was a bear standing in front of the car, hiding it from my view. Certainly I was grateful for “Buck” protecting my brother, but a skunk at 2 AM, with no tomato juice around to wash away the smell made for a long wait for the sun to rise.

This was the domino affect, of which I am thankful the skunk happened to be at the right place at the right time, as much as the Bear did not approve of the smell, we were not all that thrilled either.

The following morning, once we were able and could properly clean ourselves then we had the freedom to explore this wonderful area and have delightful conversations with the many warm and friendly people.

The bottom line in regard to any kind of travel, there will always be some kind of risk involved. some of the risks that may possibly arise, therefore you should be more informed and aware. I certainly was not happy nor thrilled my first evening in the Valley, but I now at least I can laugh at it, and I will never forget seeing “How large that bear was, when it was in front of our car”.

I look forward to presenting you to the next post regarding Shenandoah Valley and the area.

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