Casita Chronicles  2022  Winters journey

Dec 5 2022

A peaceful nites rest in the American Legion Parking lot. Today was a banner day. I found a mechanic just down the street who was willing to look at my vehicle. He test drove it and diagnosed it immediately, a broken driveshaft to the from axle or 4WD. He did not discover any collateral damage and upon checking he could have another one shipped in, one on Wednesday evening for $250 and one on Teusday tomorrow for $600. I asked him what about just removing it and not having 4wd? He said he could do that for $75 so I did it.

He made quick work of it and i decided to wait till morning to leave. For the day I drove the 3 miles to Indiana Dune State Park on the south Michigan Lake Shore. What a treat, what Rajni and I call a hidden Gem. Kiowa and I pretty much had it all to ourselves and we walked for a couple miles on the beach covered with gem quality stones of which I collected a few. The water is clear and calm with no wind and at one point the sun peaked out and with my upturned face it actually felt warm. It reminds me of the ocean with water to the horizon. It must be very popular in the summer time. We came back and I decided to police the Legion grounds. They gave me a very large bag and I filled it! It felt good to give something in return for our stay. The plan is to head out in the morn and the weather should be good for a few days. I can get another driveshaft and install it in New York. Much cheaper I am sure.

                                             Casita Chronicles  2022  Winters journey

Dec 3 2022
Woke up to a bitter cold morning but amazingly the ole Jeep fired up but was struggling until it warmed up. I can now say I lived in Colfax Iowa – for one nite!

During the nite I had a dream and I rarely remember my dreams. In this dream Woody Wang asked me to help Sue aka THE RAVEN who used to be my girlfriend years ago to get to a place which required some steep rock climbing. I said yes and somewhere along the way I lost my shoes and was barefoot. We indeed made it to a room where she put before me 3 pieces of chocolate and told me to choose while she watched. I picked up one and ate it and went into a trance in which I vividly relived the 11 plus years of my first marriage. I awoke and all I could think was WHAT A HELL OF A LIFE I HAVE LIVED!.

Back on the road everyone happy and warm we headed east. Despite the crazy cold temp in the single digits the sky was blue and sunny with some wind. We made excellent time on the interstate and before long we were in Illinois. Rajni and I talked on the phone and I ate some chicken i bought at a supermarket in the town where Ronald Reagan grew up. I also bought some fuses and found the bad one and whale I have blinkers again! Close to afternoon near sundown on the toll road after crossing into Indiana it sounded like I hit something and was making a terrible sound from the front drivers side wheel. I slowed and pulled over and looked underneath and found nothing. A State Trooper stopped and he listened while i pulled forward. It was undetermined but sounded bad. He followed me the 2 miles very slowly on the side of the road to the next exit. Chesterton Indiana where he left. I parked the vehicle and moved the animals to the camper thinking it would be our home for the nite. Meanwhile I walked to a gas station and asked if I could park there and plug into the electrical on the building and offered to pay. The clerk called the owner and they said yes and would not take the payment i offered. It is Saturday evening and we may be here for ?? Fortunately there is a coffee shop with internet a block away and we are warm and safe till Monday when I hope to find a mechanic. My thinking is it is a Wheel bearing? or the 4WD u joint in the front. Life on the road.

Dec 4

It is Sunday the Lord’s day in Chesteton Indiana clear sky and very cold. The animals and I spent the nite comfortably on the side of Speedy Gas Station plugged in (A big Thank you to them). Sipping some good gas station coffee and day old donuts yum. I have a list of 6 possible mechanics in town some 2 miles down the road. If all works out I can get the Jeep in and have the issue fixed and be on down the road before the next storm. If not, this is my new home for awhile. With this seemingly inconvenience I can’t help but reflect on my ancestors making the move from the east to the west coast and all points in between. I did the last 1,000 miles in 3 days while for them the same distance would have taken minimally 66 days at 15 miles a day, probably more. And what about they’re breakdowns? How do you plan for such a journey, what do you take? There were no assistance stations, nothing to depend on except being resourceful and each other. When you think on it you realize how bold and courageous they were. The driving force to do such a thing must have been powerful. Many did not make it. It was the same for crossing the ocean. This then is the nature of Americans. Sometimes we lose sight of that.

The gas station has informed me I have a couple of hours and then I must leave, I looked and called just about everywhere I could find with no luck to find a near place to get too to stay. Then I realized this town must have a Legion! I called and they said come on over and park and hook up to electricity as well! Turns out today is also a chili cook off. They were very welcoming and I participated in the judgeing of the chili contest which was very good. All is well in Chesterton. Kiowa and I went for a very long walk around the town and then settled down to watch football in the bar. It is like family. And they have the internet!!!!

Winter Journey

                                             Casita Chronicles  2022  Winters journey

Dec 1 2022
Its been awhile since I have blogged and travelled using the old Casita camper. It all started some 10 years ago when Rajni and I bought this wonderful little house on wheels shortly after we were married. Many journeys with and without the camper. Now after settling down in Hot Springs South Dakota in the beautiful black hills we became more and more enmeshed in the community and the joy of living out the winter of our lives. But everything changes and as Rajni painted on the first vehicle when we set out on in 2012 you need to Occupy the Moment! Rajni’s mother Marilyn now 91 back in Fayetteville New York is experiencing the end of her life and with repeated hospitalizations she needed Rajni to help her as only the Mahatma can do. She has been gone now for 2 months starting in late September. Long story short the prospect of returning home to my loving arms is unlikely for the near future so she has asked me to come to New York for the winter. This means absolving myself of all my responsibilities and obligations, winterizing the house and packing up the Liberty and the Casita with the two cats Fluffy and Cleopatra and the dog Kiowa and other amenities and making the 1700 mile journey across the country in the midst of winter! This is not something I would ever get excited about. At 65 I have become much more sedate and comfortable in our little home and not inclined to travel as I have in the past. Couple that with never having done a winter trip (the casita is not set up for that). much less traveling with all these animals (we have never done that before as well). But do it I will. My brother Gary has recently retired from the Ministry and purchased a casita like ours and is heading south for Florida. We did that a couple of years ago. Times have changed as they do and the environment and atmosphere in regards to society and what i call the FEAR factor has increased significantly making boon docking more difficult. Still I believe my fellow human beings are basically kind, honest and curious. I am banking on that. What I cannot bank on is the weather!!

Day one I finally made it on the road on the best weather day expected in the next two weeks. Sunny dry and in the 50’s! A 9am departure on what was left of icy roads from the last snow storm but soon smooth sailing. The dog is cool as he travels in the car all the time. The Cats are in a kennel and amazingly are not meowing constantly. Eventually I let them out at a stop and they are calmly probing the vehicle for hidey holes remaining calm. Much to my suprise. Pulling the casita with my 4 cylinder diesel 2006 Jeep Liberty I try not to push it much over 60 particularly on the hills. Going on the interstate has no advantage then and a more direct route thru rural america is my choice saving miles as well as better scenery, small towns and more to discover. After all, why not enjoy this epic journey.

The first leg took me thru the Reservations of southern South Dakota, First the Ogalalla Lakota called Pine Ridge. Then the Sicangu Lakota called Rosebud. These are not good places to break down. Beautiful scenery particularly the Rosebud but they are a different nation (sovereign so they say) but for all the wrong reasons. I won’t go into that, it would take a book. Not too long after Winner and before the Missouri River we took a dip down into Nebraska. The Niobrara river which I have rafted on in Western Nebraska here is very wide and an amazing amount of water churning thru the ice! Just before O’Niel I almost ran out of diesel (something you never want to do). I barely made it to town but made it Wheww !!! It was also getting dark. O’Neil was an Irishman who was an adamant Finnean (working for the independence of Ireland from Britain). In the late 1870.s He brought a large amount of Irish people seeking relief from the war and established some colonies in the West, one which bears his name. They are very proud of their ancestry here in O’Niel but don’t let that get in the way of being American!. It is possible to do both. Down the road I stopped in a very small town of Ew? the home of the Savage brothers. These two brothers in the early 1900’s pioneered the aviation world by designing and making their own airplane and barnstorming and performing tricks all the way down into Texas. True Americana. It was almost dark and I pulled into the small city park and noticed my trailer lights were not working so that made the decision to make camp there. 300 plus miles today and after a bowl of ramen the animals and I settled down to a night’s rest. The heater is working perfectly. The question is with no plug in will the diesel start up in the morning? We shall see.

Dec 2

Woke to a very cold overcast sky and small cool breeze. Amazingly after cycling the glow plugs the Liberty Started!!!! We headed down the road for a necessary BM stop. This small town gas station had the cheapest diesel I have yet to see 4.35/gal. I filled up water jugs and she would not take any money. I asked how was it that they had the cheapest diesel since leaving HS South Dakota or perhaps anywhere in the country. She said they like to be competitive to serve their patrons better. What a novel thought!! I wish the petroleum corporations thought that way. In the midst of an “Oil shortage” they are making record profits fleecing the very people (the american taxpayer ) that hand them enormous subsidies and tax credits. Hmmmmm something wrong with this picture. I bought a cup of coffee and a danish to patronize these true humans. Out in the parking lot i start the Jeep and after initial take off suddenly on the hi way it slows to a crawl and I pull over. I put it in park and neutral and the engine runs and revs fine but back in Drive it barely moves. I coax it to the nearest road and turn off. I have always told people that if your ever broke down the best person to come by will be a christian Rancher or Farmer. They will be kind, helpful and probably can fix it. Well it was my day, a Farmer drove up and asked if everything was alright. I told him the symptoms and he told there were two great mechanic shops not far down the road back to town. He offered to tow me, camper and all or at least follow to make sure I made it. I limped it down the road and when I got there I tried everything from putting it in 4WD reverse but no change. Finally I shut it down and sat there for awhile. I started it up and Shazam it worked. I decided to go talk to a mechanic even tho. He was awesome and gave me the time. His belief was the electronic accelerator hit a bad spot and the computer went into limp mode. By shutting it down without knowing it I had rebooted it, but he suggested I have the computer flash reset. He could not do it but if I came across a dealership they could. I bought some antifreeze from him in appreciation. Down the road I went.

I noticed parallel to the hi way was a rails to trails bikeway, then i realized it was the Cowboy trail that runs thru this beautiful Elk River valley and then thru the Sand Hills some 600 miles, the longest in the country. Truly a gift to future generations. I headed south and east and found myself hitting Interstate 80 in Omaha. This major road is a direct path to Syracuse so I decided to take it despite it being an interstate. Crossing into Iowa the snow vanished and the temperature rose a little. Before De Moine I stopped to check my tire pressure and why my blinkers were no longer working? It was a small town and the air pump at the gas station deflated my tires instead of filling them. Fortunately there was a tire shop in the town. The guy let me use his pump and told me someone should cut the hose on the gas station one as it has caused this same problem for many. I stopped in the park which had a cool little campground with hookups for $15/night but all was closed down. I tried to fix my blinkers but no go. With the last hour and half of light I could make it thru the big city and hopefully find a place to land. i did, in the small burg of Colfax. We parked next to the Library and they have internet which i will try. Moved all the animals into the camper and went for a walk downtown. Not much is open but a Mexican restaurant so I treated myself to dinner. It was awesome a T-bone steak with baked potato and salad for $13.50:: let me put that in perspective, you could not get a big mac fries and shake for $13.50! And a bone for Kiowa. Did you know John Wayne was born in Madison County Iowa where the famous covered bridges are? I didn’t.

Last nite Dusty Johnson’s staff called and asked if i wanted to participate in the phone town hall forum. i have before but he has never called on me for my question (wonder why). I listened for awhile to his dribble about his legislation he is trying to get passed to make it illegal for China or any Chinese companies to buy American agricultural land. Its quite ridiculous really. Lets walk it thru. They may in fact not be our friends but them buying agricultural land is not bad. The sellers get a good price, and property tax is paid to fund the schools. Jobs are created for Americans – they’re not going to ship chinese over here to run them. If there is conflict we simply seize the assets with improvements. Actually by having being vested they are more apt to listen to us as opposed to losing it! And better yet, they will be more likely to obey the EPA and other regulations under scrutiny unlike our own Mayor Bob Nelson that violates them with the Fall River and nothing happens.

My question would be directed to Dusty on why has he not done something useful like end the longest war in U.S. history the War on Drugs. It is the War on the American family with a vast majority of those locked up having never committed an actual crime ie hurting someone else or stealing. When we incarcerate these (primarily men) bread winners who ends up taking care of the dependents? Thats right, the taxpayer. The inalienable right to pursuit of happiness includes what you do with your body if your not hurting someone else. Along with that is the legislation put forth by Joe Biden when he was in the Senate Civil Forfeiture. The whole idea that police can seize anything they want from you before you are even convicted and even after your exonerated keep it until you fight in a long costly court battle to get back what belongs to you is outrageous. Enough for tonite.

Search for warmer climes and better times. Jan-Mar 2021

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CONFLICTIONS, SEPARATIONS, REDEMPTION

Driving back from Salina to the old home place in Lincoln County Kansas we stopped at a roadside pullout near Lincoln that I noticed had a new roadside sign different than the one that used to be there for years. The former sign was about the great Cheyenne raids that took place in 1869 In Lincoln county where many settlers were raped and viciously killed in a rampage by a sect of the Cheyenne tribe called the Dog Soldiers. In the town square there is a monument to these people listing the actual names. That original road sign has since been removed and the STATE has put up another sign that only references these atrocities as reactions to the advent of the railroad and the forceful pushing of the White people (government) of the tribe onto reservations. It also references that these raids were led by Chief Roman Nose and the subsequent losses of the Cheyenne to the 7th U.S. Calvary. I was in amazement of the complete change of demeanor of the sign and the obvious errors to anyone who has studied this event. It was obvious that this was a political gesture by the now current mentality. There is tremendous truth to the saying HISTORY IS WRITTEN BY THE VICTORS. At least the history we are spoon fed by the education system. But to actual historians like myself the facts reveal a far more balanced view that is completely different. Creating a subjective viewpoint by misinformation only creates division, separation and bad feelings. No good can come from this extreme pendulum swing.

Lets look at the facts. The area in question including the building of the Railroad were all part of the treaty that the U.S. Government had made with the Cheyenne in good faith. The people killed were settlers who came in good faith in response to the advertisement by the U.S. Government that these lands were open for settlement under the Homestead act and were legally available. They came from all over the world and many of the people in question had not even learned english yet. Roman Nose could not have led this event since he was already dead in the battle of Beecher Island 1868 before the raid took place. The Raids took place in 1869 Led by Tall Bull of the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers. The chasing down the perpetrators and attempt to recover the women captives was done by they 5th Calvary under General Carr at the battle of Summit Springs. The atrocities were a flagrant violation of the treaty and yet the treaty was maintained? We learned that recently the historical society in Lincoln has been trying by various means to actually find the graves that were hurriedly dug in the aftermath and never marked to actually mark them. They also recently had a reunion of settler families. By great effort they tracked down the descendants of Maria Weichel one of the the two women hostages taken by the Cheyenne and the only one that lived (despite being shot by her captors) during the rescue by the 5th Calvary. She had been gang raped and was pregnant when she was rescued. Her descendants had no idea of their history and came and spent many days in Lincoln to learn it. Like so many we don’t know our own history either because it was considered shameful at one time or it was so distasteful it was not mentioned.

I bring all this up because my own life and our very country is filled with these type of conflicts and divisions. As a young child in the 60’s I played games that had to do with the Civil War. In school I was taught about the noble norths fight to end Slavery and the hero Abraham Lincoln. I always chose to be on the Union side in these games. It was not until later (no one told me as a youth) that I learned that my ancestor fought for the south in that great conflict. Should I be ashamed? Should I demonize him? I have taken the time to research and visit their home. They were not slave holders, and in fact the family was split and some of his brothers fought for the north. Trying to understand what really took place has been an interesting journey. Also in our journey thru the south primarily in the Carolina’s people have asked me if I have “native american” blood? Its not just because of the long hair. My roots in the Kansas soil have made me question this. My Mother would always deny such a thing. My uncle however confided to me that it is probably so and the pictures of his grandparents reveal it. The introduction of those genes was probably not consensual and it was certainly not in vogue politically to point such a thing out. I also found it interesting while traveling in the south not only the amount of Confederate flags flying but the amount of miscegenation. In my early life you would occasionally see a mixed marriage usually a black man and a white woman and they probably suffered for it. Now, I witnessed a lot more mixed marriages of many types including white men with black women. When I was in the service in Korea I fell for a beautiful Korean woman but did not pursue it because of the stigma. When I returned home I told my father about it and asked him what he would have done if I had brought home a Korean wife? His answer blew me away when he told me he would love her as his own daughter.

I am now married to a Jewish woman and the union would have been forbidden by both families in the distant past. My grand daughter who is to be married in a few days is with a black man who was adopted by a white jewish family that has adopted christianity. I find all this wondrous and hopeful for our future both as humans and as a country. Somehow in the passage of time we have begun redemption. History is so important to be factual and not to politicize it. It can be very ugly but it is indeed the past. The concept of learning from it and more importantly living in this moment the “NOW” talking and living lives of mutual love and concern instead of fear and misunderstanding is crucial as we evolve at an exponential rate in the age of technology. In my few remaining years I want to dedicate myself to this end. This is the Story of America E Pluribus Unum

Search for warmer climes and better times. Jan-Mar 2021

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Mar 15 2021

Day 54

We woke up and decided to walk downtown for coffee only to find no place would allow us to sit inside and have our coffee and get on the net. Along the walk in this very educated and afluent town we saw numerous homeless people. One guy was sleeping in an ATM booth. There were also many tents in the woods along the river. We finally found a single coffee shop where we could sit but you could not even pour your own half and half into your coffee? We have seen it all from both ends of the spectrum regarding dealing with the COVID 19 fiasco. In the end the results appear to be the same regardless of the response. The only thing we have not experienced is the TRUTH and we may never get that. Rajni shopped at one of her favorite health food stores which we do not have in South Dakota and we hit the road. The Speedometer and RPM gages have not worked since we started the vehicle up this AM??? As the land began to open up and the trees disappear I became more relaxed. We passed by my old duty station Ft Riley and by evening we were at the old home place. Jake my nephew who now owns it welcomed us and after getting settled in we had a meal and fellowshiped. Stepping outside in the darkness the stars were so very bright with no lights to block them.

This old stone house built in the 1890’s has always been a refuge for me. The sunrise and sunset are awesome and the abundance of wildlife is incredible despite the agricultural activity. I am hoping we will be here during the drumming and dancing of the prairie chickens so Rajni can witness it. There is a lek nearby. The famous story of the 50 fearless men from Lincoln county that withstood an onslaught of over 500 Cheyenne warriors at Beecher Island. Of course it did not hurt that they had all been issued Spencer repeating rifles! Having a technological advantage not always but usually takes the day. Hence the immense Military budget to keep ahead of our enemies real or imagined. In any case, they were pinned down for many days and sent out two sets of scouts by night to get help. I have followed the steps by foot of one set of scouts the 75 miles across the prairie to Ft Wallace to relive their amazing journey. The 9th Calvary Buffalo soldiers eventually came to their aid. It took me 3 days to make the journey. In any case I have and always will be a Lincoln County man.

Jake works for the Corp of Engineers at the nearby Wilson Lake. He currently does not have phone, satellite TV or Internet service so we will need to drive the 6 miles to Sylvan Grove Library to get on the NET. Happily that is okay with me. It has gone from novelty, useful, to indispensable replacing the need for maps, TV, Movies, Radio, Library—changing our lives forever all in the span of 20 years.

We have gone full circle on our journey and the last event before the 2 day trip home is my grand daughter Trinity’s wedding in Florence. We will hang here and re create ourselves in this amazing place until then. I will visit with old friends and my old partner in the limestone quarry among other things. I am thinking I will end this episode of Casita Chronicles here and concentrate on finishing my 2nd sequel to Maroons A Human Epic. No one reads this shit anyway LOL.

Search for warmer climes and better times. Jan-Mar 2021

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Mar 13,14, 2021

Day 52
We spent the morning touring the downtown of Paduka Ky Rajni seems to like it very much. Also ate at the restaurant of her choice. We had passed thru here several years ago on our tour of the NE US. Grant captured the town early in the War and gave a speech which is on a plaque. It is short but gives insight into the thinking of at himself if not the country about the war. He saw it not as a succeeding but a armed rebellion against the then legal government. Which begs the questions. If the south had succeeded by majority vote and legislation instead of firing on FT Sumnter a Federal fort would things have gone differently??? Heading West I wanted to go thru Cairo a town my two friends and I passed thru back in the 70’s I had erroneously thought It was were we had camped and took a picture of the infamous chain. Turns out it was down the river which we had missed. This Chain 4200 ft long was stretched across the Mississippi river to stop all traffic by the Rebs. It is quite massive and just the thought of how much steel and work to perform this in such a short time after the war commenced is profound. Temporal as it was. Cairo was a town that obviously had better days. They were trying to preserve some of the old masonry structures but the economical situation showed a town in steep decline.

We landed in Florissant Missouri the place of my birth and where we lived in my early years. We located the Church of Christ that my parents help start and there were people in the building for a baby shower. I told them who I was and they had recollection of my parents who were the original 5 families that started the congregation. It is Saturday so we asked to camp in the parking lot so I could attend serviced on the morrow to which they gladly gave permission. An electrical hook up and wi fi to boot.

Day 53

The service was wonderful after so many years, we were warmly welcomed despite the mask wearing. Singing the old hymns brought tears to my eyes. We were publicly mentioned along with the fact that my parents were one of the original 5 families that started the church in 1958. The Sermon LOVE was timeless. Being there, coming here was a good decision and made my heart glad. Then it was time to cross the state to the land of AHHHS coming into Kansas always is like coming home with so many cherished memories. We stopped at a gas station in the pouring rain to get some fuel. When I went into the station to use the toilet an alarm went off and a loudspeaker announced I had no mask! The attendant spoke to me and told me I had to have one before entering and called me mr south dakota. Its out of control now, the surveillance really? It was just a prep for Lawrence which is almost a police state in regards to wearing a mask and closing businesses. sigh

We landed in Lawrence. My Mother was born here in a box car provided by the railroad that my grandpa worked for filling the steam engines with water. He would be amazed at his grandson driving a LARGE automobile and talking on a cell phone! My Mother was delivered by the indian woman that lived next door and she told me whenever she would see my mother would say “I spanked you when you were born and I will spank you again” LOL. They were very poor and she told me how the boxcar was separated by curtains for the bedrooms and such. Bath was only on saturday nite and everyone used the same water. She told me many great stories. She fell in love with one of the Luallin boys—my father. She told me her knees would buckle when she saw him riding his bike. He must have had white wall tires no doubt. I pulled into the empty lot next to where my Grandpa Luallin’s house used to be before they tore it down to make a parking lot. Grandpa Luallin or AW as he was called was a lineman in the age of the miracle of electricity. I recall stories of accidents he would tell. He worked his way up to management in Kansas Power and Light. We will camp here unless we are rousted. I took the dog for a walk and reminisced. We used to run all over town. One of my favorite places was the university KU Jayhawks. Jayhawks were the anti slave contingent in Bloody Kansas and Bushwackers were the pro slavery contingent. At the KU museum I always marveled at the stuffed horse there. The horses name is Commanche and it was CPT Keogh’s horse and the only survivor of Custer’s contingent at the Little Big Horn. He was found wandering around full of arrows, everything else was butchered and hacked to pieces. Amazingly he survived and was nursed back to health. He spent the remainder of his life pampered at Ft Meade. He was never allowed to be ridden again and had a special place in all the parades. Somehow after he died he was stuffed and is now in the museum in Lawrence Kansas.

Search for warmer climes and better times. Jan-Mar 2021

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Mar 11,12 2021

Day 50

We landed in Big South Fork National Recreation area.of Tennessee. This plateau of the Cumberland mountains is cut by the Cumberland river almost like the grand canyon 600 vertical feet and no small hill up and down for the Jeep to pull the camper! Our senior pass gets us a spot for $14 and hot showers. Being Fed the visitor center is of course SHUT DOWN and reservations are all done by internet, at least they left the water and electricity on. There is no camp host. It is about half full and I love the sound of children playing, it is getting close to spring break. This is a great area for so many things from just camping to white water rafting. It is a large area apparently not suitable for a monument or park. I am coming to find out we have so many incredible places in this country particularly as you go north and west. Not far from here is the Cumberland Gap National Park. These rugged or marginal lands were either inaccessible or unproductive so never settled or farmed, yet their value for other things has become apparent and we are reaping the reward in the form of public lands to be cherished by all. E Pluribus Unum. I am up to Chapter 20 on my second sequel to Maroons A Human Epic. May even finish the rough draft by the time we get home.

On return to the camp Pvt Rajni guided me in with absolute perfection to hook up the Casita no yelling or name calling! It entered my mind to possible promote her but i recalled she is a backslider and should wait a while to see if these improvements are permanent. On a positive note she makes the most delectible and nutritious meals seemingly with no effort and keeps the Casita ship shape! And she is very nice to look at.

We landed at Mammoth Cave NP a place I have always heard about. logged into camp and made reservations at the cave. Amazingly the Cave is open but the tours are self guided. The fee is an astounding $35/person for an hour. My half off Senior pass has now almost paid for itself. There are few people here and only one campground is open. The rules are oppressive as always and the ridiculous fear mongering of the hateful Covid 19 persists. I went for a cross country hike in the forest for the afternoon. This is land of Daniel Boone, Davie Crocket and Abe Lincoln and many more. I made it down to the Green River. The overstay of very large deciduous trees has made for little or no undergrowth and easy walking. I grew up with the Daniel Boone show which I now know was mostly untrue and heavily embellished but certainly impacted me. One of my favorite true stories of Daniel Boone is when he had come home after a several year foray into the “Wilderness” his wife had given birth to another child. He asked her whose child it was to which she replied his brother. Ole Daniel simply said “Well at least you kept it in the family”. That was Daniel. And he probably did not wear a coon skin had.

Day 51

The big Cave day. Mammoth Cave is the longest Cave in the world. It was formed by underground rivers that have moved down as the Landscape moved up. The current river is in the 6th level down. The Cave is a “Dry CAVE” no water in the upper levels at all and no stalactites or stalagmites. The passages are very large for the most part and over 400 miles have been explored. A couple of interesting things. The cave was discovered very early and was a major supply of salt petre a component of gun powder. The dry dirt and bat guano being the material mined. It supplied the vast amount of gunpowder to fight the war of 1812 and much of the building material is still in the Cave. The massive bat colony is now gone due to shooting, disruption and farming practices and the death nell -white nose disease. In the 1840’s it was thought by modern medicine that the tuberculosis pandemic could be cured by cave air. Many wealthy paid a prominent physician who leased the cave and built stone cottages deep inside to live in (still there). They were brought food, water and wood to burn for heat and stayed in the cave for long periods (one man 8 months). They’re waste was taken by buckets farther back in the cave and dumped (where it is to this day). Between the smell of human waste, wood smoke and no sunlight it must have been awful. Accounts of tourists who actually passed by these huts by candle light told of seemingly ghost like figures that would come out and ask about the happenings on the surface. Needless to say no one was cured. Lesson: When it comes to physicians and Engineers always get a second opinion!!!!!

We headed West and had a wonderful BBQ lunch in Paradise Ky. 10 miles down the road Rajni noticed we did not have the cat!!! A frantic drive back and we found her in a bush by the parking lot. We made it to Paduka in the rain. We found refuge in the VFW parking lot which actually had Wi FI!! We were able to stream a movie and fell asleep to rain all nite.

It

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Mar 8,9,10 2021

Day 47

Its time to leave the lowland behind and head into the Appalachian mountains. This chain of mountains was a major barrier early on in American history to expansion of the Colonizing europeans from across the sea. When the Cumberland Gap was discovered it opened a floodgate into the interior until the next barrier the Mississippi River. These somewhat low elevation mountains are very old but incredibly rugged with clear streams and rivers. Few stopped to populate and occupy them. Progress was slow and these people were characterized as inbred illiterate musicians of what we now revere and call bluegrass. We were all freaked out when the movie “Deliverance” came out and depicted men with a preponderance of having sex with various barnyard animals. All that has changed now. They are all Democrats, the rich ones from all over buying land here for vacation homes and such and the poor locals waiting for their welfare checks. WOW, was that harsh or what.

It is indeed beautiful with the famous Appalachian trail. Rajni was here back in the 80’s working with a program called “Hoods in the woods”. Now that term would be considered racist, I will refer you to her blogs to describe its purpose and such. We visited the two towns she remembered Hendersonville and Ashville as small burgs. They are now large cities sprawling up all the Hollers. She did not recognize anything. Crazy Horse (my large automobile) struggled and almost overheated pulling the Casita up the steep hills.

We landed in Hot Springs a very small town on the junction of two rivers. We made and apt to soak in the Hot Springs on the morrow. This is a very small town and we refused to pay the $65/nite with a two nite minimum for camping!! The Pisgah National Forest campground is closed-figure that. We ended up parking in the closed NFS office for the night.

Day 48

Last nite we had Wi Fi and watched the movie “SNOWDEN” An incredible movie i highly recommend it if you have not seen it. It will challenge you and open your eyes to the massive covert happenings within our very own government. It is difficult to take in that every phone conversation, text email, transaction on the internet or phone is in the possession of the government. Despite the furver that Snowden caused by blowing the whistle nothing has really changed and instead of being a hero under the whistleblower act he is a criminal under the espionage act and lives to this day in exile. Someday we will all pay.

Hot springs was originally Warm Springs around the 80-90’ degrees until while drilling they hit a hotter temperature of about 104. The land here has seen many things including Civil war camps, battles, a German POW camp from WW1 and numerous floods. I did warrior Yoga on the grounds of all of these. The SOM here is neutral showing the experiences of long ago have balanced out. The high point of the springs there was a massive mansion with colonnade, pool and soaking tubs. A massive flood took it all out. The foundations and some walls are still standing. The new well is actually across the creek and they pump it thru an insulated pipe across the creek to a line of hot tubs with sides for privacy. You rent a tub for 1 hour for $45. By the time the water reach’s the tubs it is about 100-102 perfect for sitting in for an hour with wonderful scenery all around. It is clothing optional
since they are all separate. It was a wonderful soak and I recommend it. They do not provide towels or showers but the water is drained after each use and refilled.

In the afternoon we headed west thinking we would camp at the close USFS campsite in the Pisgah National Forest. We never saw it and shortly after passing into Tennessee we saw a sign pointing up a hollar to Wolf Creek Trailhead. We headed up the road which kept on going and going and there was some consternation as too whether we could turn around and get out with the camper. Behold there was a large parking lot at the end and we have it all to ourselves deep in the wiles of Appalachia!

DAY 49

The Mahatma has been calling me names like drifter, lolligager, loafer, lip flapper, shuffler, ner do well, and a host of others. Meanwhile I soldier on escorting her on these fantastic voyages, making coffee in bed for her and searching her body for various and myriad insects that bother her. How much abuse can a man take? This is the weight of leadership and service! It is very difficult for the Mahatma to live with the last free man in America. Like the last of the Mohicans when I am gone the light will go out on this era and the new era of unquestioning, law following, socialist robots will have arrived. While this is sad, one can only hope that a new generation will ultimately reappear that loves freedom and the pendulum will swing the other way.

We are at what I refer to as a serendipitous situation camping alone and then hiking up Wolf Creek to the legendary Wolf Creek Falls. It was and could be the high point of our journey. Rajni was in heaven and my camera battery was dead so you will have to refer to her blog and pictures. 2 miles and we had not reached the falls but my foot and her ankle determined we should head back. Appalachian magic.

We came out of the mountains to a town called Newport. Stopped in a mom and pop joint with all you can eat buffet. I am in heaven

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Search for warmer climes and better times. Jan-Mar 2021

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Mar 5,6,7 2021

Day 44

An interesting day, we entered South Carolina got a map and decided to head along the scenic route following the Savanna River. We happened upon the entrance to the MODOC (sound familiar?) campground run by the Corp of Engineers. When we got to it the gate was closed, the area was being cleaned and prepped for opening April 1. I let Kiowa out to walk him down to the river. Along the way the camp host and his wife drove up in his UTV. Stanley is retired a former airborne ranger. He and his wife and I had a wonderful visit and he even opened up the gate house and got me a map of other areas that were open for camping. In the meantime Kiowa disappeared. We waited at the gate and Stanley even came out and drove me around helping me look for him. I ended up heading deep into the woods until dark. It was hard to determine direction the woods are so thick and by darkness I had a hard time finding my back. When I arrived the Ranger was there talking with Rajni. He was a total dick telling us we could not park there and had to leave. He took pictures of our license plate and told us about camp grounds over 5 miles away. He even stayed and followed us out. I made the decision we should not go far and the small burg near the opening we pulled into a church parking lot and prepared to spend the nite. Around 9ish I got a call from the Dollar General Store down the street that Kiowa had come in the store!! I quickly walked down and got him. Its good my phone number was on his tag— Rajni’s idea. No one bothered us in the Church parking lot and I will leave a note of thanks to them. I always tell the Mahatma you can find refuge among the christians. I will also go back and thank Stanley. Rules unlike criminal law should never be hard and fast. In this time of great mistrust and fear we need to become human, after all WE ARE ALL JUST WALKING EACH OTHER HOME.

Day 45

We found about the most secluded spot in the National Forest and set up camp. I enjoyed a hike through the forest which in summer probably requires a machete. Here in the end of winter it was more workable. A lazy saturday, even took a nap. The morning was completely overcast and spitting rain but the afternoon became cloudless but also means the night will be cold. A wonderful fire and meal by my beloved. South Carolina apparently never got the “Don;t Be A Litterbug” campaign, remember the indian getting out of his canoe and stepping ashore with all the trash and the tear in his eye. Bet then again, it never got to the Reservation either. I spent some time picking up the litter as a good member of the Kit Carson Club and burned it all in the fire.

Day 46

Awoke to a bright sunny clear sky but frost on the windshield! We met a couple our age in the forest from New Hampshire. They had moved down to be nearer to their grandchildren. A wonderful conversation. There were many things they missed from the LIVE FREE OR DIE state but were integrating well into the small community they had chosen to move too.

We went to a rails to trails trailhead and in route in the woods was an old plantation cemetery. Here now heavily overgrown was the family plot with a granite wall around it. Among the ancient graves was one individual born in 1743 described as a world travelor by land and sea in a long epitaph carved in the stone. He died childless but was taken in and well loved by this family. Just outside the wall were the very numerous graves of their slaves. which someone has marked. The few stone slabs had inscribed the death date and a name, no last name. I wonder how the current black population got last names? One grave did have a marble stone stating he was a well loved slave and was given a christian burial, how nice is that? There was a historical marker on the road describing the plantation owner a well respected lawyer and opponent to South Carolina succeeding from the union. His famous statement was “South Carolina is too small to be a republic and too large to be an insane asylum.” In the 160 years since the Civil War the landscape has obviously changed and it was hard to picture fields of cotton on this hilly terrain. We did find the old spring house also made of granite and very nice masonry work. The hike on the bike trail was beautiful and we saw only one other person.

This area was originally settled by the The Huguenot migration to South Carolina is part of a larger diaspora, traditionally known as le Refuge, which stretches from the late 1670s to the early 1710s. Huguenots are French Calvinists . The origins of the term “Huguenot” is uncertain, but historians believe it comes from the Swiss-German word Eidgenossen ,…

In Florida these settlers were gathered up by the Spanish and executed. Here they thrived until the onslaught of the English. If they had survived we would have had a huge Quebec, its troubling to think about, can you imagine it— nightmarish really.

We have already stopped several times at incredibly interesting sites including a farm for orphaned children started in the 1700’s!! the Barn was made of Granite random ruble and very fine work. We are heading to a famous Revolutionary war battlefield. This area is so steeped in history Rajni thinks I might O.D. and is watching me closely.

We stopped in Abbeville a cool little town and the Mexican restaurant was open on SUNDAY!! MRs O came out of the grocery store yesterday with a six pack of high alcohol beer. It is obvious that she intends to get me liquored up and have her way with me. This shameless use of men by women has been going on for thousands of years yet no one seems to care??? She might also think I will promote her from private but that will never happen until she ceases her insubordinate and sassy ways. Also she has been filling my LARGE automobile up with plastic objects, hers and other she picks up. I told her she needs to get rid of it or I will start blogging about it and posting it on FB!!!!!

We came to the battle of 96 the name of the town where it took place. I learned so many things at this National Monument. It was very well preserved. The first thing I learned is in the last 240 years the entire landscape of this country has drastically changed. The current prevalent trees are all coniferous. However the early accounts and drawings do not mention any coniferous trees, only very large deciduous. Also in the early accounts they talk about killing buffalo! This is the east side of the Appalachian chain, It is hard to believe looking at the country today. The town of 96 not to be confused with the ladies number in bingo 69 was the site of two battles. The first being the actual first battle after the exchange of gunfire at Lexington. It ended up in a truce. The second battle later in the war was the longest siege of a then built star earthworks fort built by the British. The siege lasted almost a month and they even were attempting a tunnel under the fort wall when word came that British reinforcements were on their way and the siege was lifted. The nearby fort was taken by a very capable calvary commander by the name of lighthouse LEE. His family would later own a large plantation across the river from Washington D.C. in Virginia. His grandson Robert E LEE would become the commander in Chief of the Confederate States of America army. Because of that, the Federal Government would confiscate their plantation. It is now Arlington Cemetery the most revered of all National Cemeteries in the Country.

What is interesting is the Revolutionary War was to succeed from Britain and it is questionable if the majority of Colonist supported it. The issue being taxation without representation. Less that 100 years later The Civil War was to succeed from the Union and it is questionable if the majority of Southerners supported it, The question being slavery. One war succeeded and the other failed. You would have thought that a country based on successful succession and strong States rights would not have raised such an objection???? In some ways Lincoln did great harm to the concept of States Rights,

Search for warmer climes and better times. Jan-Mar 2021

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Mar 2,3,4 2021

Day 41

We made the move north into Georgia, despite inquiring many places we have yet to get a map of this state?? The days of paper maps are gone. We are heading straight north and made it to Wacross only to find despite having two Walmarts neither allows overnight camping. Apparently the campgrounds and lodging have been pressing them to stop this practice, figure that. We landed at the American Legion which appears to be very little used but old Glory is flying. No phone to call so will just hope we don’t get bothered. I also figured out the bugs in question are mite of some type. It has rained all day long and even now as we retire. Rainy night in Georgia, oh how I feel like its raining all over the world.

Day 42

It rained all nite and the temp got down in the 40’s but the sun came out today and its going up! People have asked how the moral of the crew is doing? Kiowa the dog has surrendered to his existence of being on a leash and sleeping in the car but at times when he is let free he slides back into blatant disobedience. Tawnee the cat has gone from scaredy cat to enjoying all facets of the camper, riding in the car and being out on a leash. My navigator private Rajni has become less joyful with the onset of the chiggers and continues to be insubordinate, rebellious and argumentative to the Commodore. Some of these traits make well for her taking the helm should anything happen to the commodore but her preponderance to rely on feelings and emotions rather than rational and facts is disturbing. People are constantly asking me how I maintain such a tight ship? I have to humble say it has to do with my great listening and problem solving skills. Along with my easy going positive attitude topped off with compassion and love!!! And oh yeah I take a nap often. All in all the spirits are good and the ship continues to be operational. It seems the battery in the Casita is not holding a charge which needs to be looked into. We stopped at a laundromat to clean cloths and the sheets in hopes of dealing with the chiggers. I believe they will be with us for awhile and they go straight for the scrotum OUCH.

Heading north Georgia I have seen only 3 cotton fields and no tobacco farm?? We have however stopped in Visalia where they grow the famous sweet onion and had a meal with these, very tasty .There is very little in the way of public land in Georgia and my desire to visit Andersonville where the confederates imprisoned the Union Soldiers (a nightmare equal to the holocaust) has been voted down. We are going to the Carolinas and will dip back into northern Georgia on the way east along the Appalachians’.

Day 43
We landed in a Regional park near Savanna. We are out of Gator country so the fear has turned to snakes LOL Now all the signs say WATCH OUT FOR SNAKES. – when does the fear end? It was very cold last nite and we are determining where to go next. The campground here is not full by any means. Still almost if not all campgrounds do not make reservations except via the internet. So much for white privilege, you can’t tell someones skin color in an email. Oh well, I don’t think I ever made use of it anyway at least not in my life experience. We are however reading a book together about it and how to exorcise it from our lives. Truth be known the whole concept of privilege for any reason or basis is what should be tackled.

I had a nice conversation with a pastor who was praying in the park. He ministers to the homeless and that is one group he says that no body wants. I concur, the discrimination against these people is across all racial, economic and religious lines. For the most part our society has tried to accommodate those that find themselves homeless. We do it however by forcing them into certain areas like shelters and allocated places. We don’t want to see them in our neighborhoods or parks. Having some experience I can say that while there are some homeless by fault of some kind there are many homeless by choice. The Vagabonds, Wanderers gypsy’s. They are harmless and will not hurt you or damage property. The paster gave me a blessing and told me big changes were on the horizon and that I had a mission to to bless people in my travels. I will do my best.

Our neighbor is a vet 65 with over 20 years of service, He and his wife have sold everything and are on the road. They plan on being in the Black Hills in June and we invited them to come visit Hot Springs.

We have decided to stay here at least another day, it is quiet and this AM the Mahatma saw a beaver which made her very happy. 70’s and Sunny.