You're Not Alone in this World
How often do you look around at your fellow humans and just observe them? I try my best to put away my phone and, instead, look around. It helps that most of the time I am in a place where what is to be seen around me is way more interesting that whatever is on my phone. The beauty of Lake Tahoe is enough to draw almost everyone's attention.
What are you doing? What are the people around you doing? Why are you and they doing that? I find myself asking this question more often lately. It seems, to me, that more people are just doing whatever they want to do regardless of the effect it is having on those around them. Is this because humans are becoming less compassionate, empathetic and generally oblivious?
My husband and I enjoy traveling to places where we can connect with the local community as well as having space to explore on our own. One of our favorite locations is the Bahamas. During our first trip there we met the local fishermen who cooked us food and shared their homes with us. During our most recent trip we were famous before we arrived because our friends who were sailing around the island had let everyone know we were coming. I love traveling to the Bahaman islands because we are allowed to disconnect from technology and reconnect with our fellow humans.
No matter where you choose to travel, try doing so without the use of technology. Are you willing to take a walk or run around the area to get your bearings? Do you read the local newspaper and talk to the staff and owners of the local shops? If Lake Tahoe is a place you wish to visit or head to often, try this approach rather than using Google. You're likely to feel a stronger connection to the area.
Consider Your Impact
What you're doing impacts others. Your car, your body, your trash, your words all effect others. When you're driving in a new place and are trying to wayfind, get out of the way. Tahoe residents, in particular, will appreciate the consideration. Remember that every town has residents and workers that are trying to get to and from their homes, errands and work. They know the way and if you can get out of their's everyone will have a more pleasant experience.
It's fine to be a tourist. Stop, look, wonder, explore, enjoy and soak it all in. Before you do so, look around and consider if the place where your stopping will block or inhibit someone else from enjoying their experience. Be considerate of they way in which others are using the space you share. Consider not only the space you take up, but also the volume of your voice and the impact your presence is having on the space. Can you enter wihtout impact and leave no trace departing with only photos?
There's a Place and a Time
Spending time with friends and having fun is THE BEST! There is, however, a time and a place for everything. For example, we all know that the casino scene is almost always a party scene. Loud music, boisterous crowds, crazy behavior and wild parties are acceptable in that zone. The hike to the top of a high peak or well popular viewpoint is not the place for a speaker and shots. The majority of the people exploring the outdoors are seeking peace, tranquility and the opportunity to enjoy the sounds of nature.
Whether you're out on the resort skiing, wandering a well known trail, walking your dog or shopping for keepsakes consider the decorum expected in the area. These are the times to keep to yourself and be considerate of others. Look around you, listen to the sounds of the area and people, consider the impact you want to have on others. Quiet your music, silence your phone and be present.
P.S. Dog poop doesn't melt, so pick it up because the snow will.
To be "woke" is to be knowledgeable about whatever is going on. Before traveling to the Bahamas we researched the best way to get there, what we needed to pack, the value of renting a car, how to rent a car, proper driving etiquette, where the local market is located, which spots are the most recommended, expected behaviors and more. We do the same regardless of where we are traveling. We like to be woke before we arrive so we can be respectful while we're there.
There are times when you can't help not knowing. Those are the times when asking questions is invaluable. Do your best, before you travel, to lean as much as you can about the expectations and practices of the community. Just as travel to France is much easier if you speak French, so is visiting Lake Tahoe if you know that we have a turning lane so you can move out of the way rather than hold up traffic and that there is a certain etiquette for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and biking. If you don't know, ask someone, so that you can make better choices. A great example is understanding the impact of snow or rain upon travel conditions or how wind effects the lake will help you to be more aware and make better choices while visiting.
Don't just go on an oblivious fool. Be here, now. Be present. Have fun. Participate. If we're all in this together, we'll all get to enjoy it. Before and during your travels consider the impact you wish to have on the place you're visiting. Can you depart with memories and photos while leaving what's there just as it was before you arrived? Can you be the type of visitor that chooses to be forgotten?
Jenay Aiksnoras, Experience Curator