This past Monday was my birthday. To celebrate, I took the day off of work. I know it was a day off anyway for most folks, but my workplace does not recognize Columbus day as a holiday. However, we get the day after Thanksgiving instead, so it all works out. My husband and I drove out to a roadside hot spring with the intention of camping next to it and enjoying some drinks in the steaming hot water.

The first bump in our road came about when we saw the sign warning of a road closure at milepost 34. Neither of us could remember exactly where the hot spring was on the road, as far as mile markers go, but Ambrose thought that the Troutdale campground was at mile post 28, and I didn’t think that the spring was more than 6 miles past it. So we drove on with some confidence.

And, although Troutdale was closer to mile marker 31 than 28, the hot spring I wanted to visit was just after mile post 34 – and just before the gated road closure.

Unfortunately, the campsite right next to the hot spring, though reachable by car, was fully occupied by a hunting camp. There was not room for us to camp there, so we turned the car around and drove a short distance to another roadside hot spring. This one was not as well developed, and not really usable, so we drove back and claimed a spot just past the one way bridge. It would be a short walk to the hot spring.

As soon as I got out of the car, I was reminded why I prefer backpacking to car camping. There was a well developed fire pit, surrounded by rocks, and piled high with trash. Not just trash that would reasonably burn, no, it seemed there was everything but the kitchen sink – aluminum cans, tin cans, a plastic two liter soda bottle, muffin wrappers, wet wipes, a styrofoam bowl, more aluminum cans.

And that was just the trash in the fire pit.

Scattered in the brush were unidentifiable papers, perhaps wads of toilet paper, perhaps paper towels. When I reached for a rock to hold our plastic vestibule down in the wind, I found not one, but two tampons under it.

What the hell is wrong with these people????

I cannot comprehend the state of mind that makes it okay to leave trash like that outdoors. What – you think the paper will biodegrade overnight? You think the tampons are cotton, which is a plant, so it belongs under a rock? You think that you can just burn anything and it will be hunky-dory?

I went on quite a tirade, and Ambrose patiently bore it until I calmed down. He was amused, because to him, I was behaving like an environmentalist.

And if being outraged at litterers and picking up trash makes an environmentalist, then I guess I am one.

But it made me think about the argument that being a feminist is just about believing that women and men should have equal rights (as stated by, for example, Aziz Ansari recently). That more people are feminists than claim to be, because it isn’t about the word as much as the beliefs of individuals.

But believing that littering is bad is not the same as picking up trash. And believing that women and men should have equal opportunities is not the same as recognizing where they don’t and working towards change.

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