Road Trip / Vision Quest - Summer, 2016

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joeyv23
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Road Trip / Vision Quest - Summer, 2016

Post by joeyv23 » Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:22 am

My journey across the country was something that I'll never be able to consider as being anything other than extraordinary. I've been trying to decide how best to describe the trip so as not to leave out the spirit of the journey as I experienced it. And so, I'll start from the beginning.

On the first day of my trip, Monday, June 20th, 2016, I left my family home in Portal, GA at 4:45 AM. The plan was to put as many miles behind me as I could as an attempt to ease the tension of leaving as much as possible. I headed West towards Columbus, GA then North towards Tennessee to Edgar Evins State Park.

I hadn't ridden further than 80 miles away on my bike from home before this, so 500 miles in one go was a far cry from what I was used to. I wasn't listening to music so as to give myself the proper space to deal with my thoughts and feelings as I took the ride. As I had been having a go with the complexes in my psyche prior to the journey, the long ride turned into the perfect opportunity to deal with the leftover things that had been keeping me from truly moving forward. As it was, I was moving forward - literally - and the psychic complexes had no recourse but to deal with it.

This wheeling and dealing of and with my psyche was something that I find remarkable. Looking back over the course of the past year, I can see my thoughts about making different choices with regards to my health and thinking that I had effectively dealt with and realigned the ego (physical survival) complex. I was quite surprised when it came back up in the early stages of the trip and attempted to take control of the ship and turn back towards home port. Anxiety would sweep into my sphere of awareness, but the Animus/Spirit/Intelligence complex that has been and continues to be developed had strong enough command of the helm that there was no turning back. This didn't stop the ego complex from attempting mutiny on multiple occasions.

I had an interesting and synchronous encounter with a man named Hank when I stopped for fuel and lunch that first day. He basically told me what the Animus already knew and felt, but I would be remiss to deny that it didn't encourage me to hear it from a stranger - that I was on the right path and doing the right thing by taking the journey.

When I finally made it to the state park in Tennessee after driving in the mountains I was tired, sun battered, anxious still, and frustrated because the day's journey had taken quite a bit longer than I had originally intended. As it is, 14 hours on a motorcycle is a very long time on a motorcycle, indeed. I arrived at the campsite as the sun was setting and hurried to set up camp before I lost light. I also needed to eat, shower, call home to report that I was alive and well, and do all of this in about 45 minutes.

Add to this, the fact that the campgrounds were very hard to access. I'd gotten quite out of shape due to the sedentary lifestyle that had come from working at a hotel desk overnight, sitting down for most of the shift, then going home and sleeping during the day. You might be able to imagine how truly difficult this first night felt. I wasn't able to get my tent set up properly because the earth was very tightly compacted there. It may as well have been rock. My tent looked quite sad, but I got it standing and it would keep me dry if it rained and the bugs off of me, so it would have to do.

The other campers there were up late -- drinking and playing music, having a good time. By the time I finally fell asleep, my mind had effectively wrought havoc upon itself. I dreamed that night of the complexes in my psyche rioting at the fact that I had actually gone through with and embarked upon the journey West. I suppose these parts of myself had doubted that I would go through with the plan to leave the security of home, and seeing that I had done just this, were quite inflamed as to the consequences that such a decision would have on the structure of my psyche and were lashing out.

Thus concludes day 1.
Last edited by joeyv23 on Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"Living is not necessary, but navigation is." --Pompey
"Navigation is necessary in order to live." --Me

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Road Trip - Day 2

Post by joeyv23 » Sun Jul 17, 2016 7:22 pm

At the start of the second day of my journey, I woke up feeling a mixture of excitement and left over weariness from the grueling ride the day before. I had made it through my first night which gave a bit of encouragement to my soul. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

As I went about packing my mechanical steed, I decided to alter the route that I had originally planned for the day. When I plotted my course out a couple of weeks before the trip, I had scheduled myself to take as many scenic routes as possible. I had also found a place of interest in Tennessee called the Bell Witch Cave. I had planned to make this my midday stop and then continue on to my overnight stop at Energy Lake campground in the Land Between the Lakes.

Due to the exhaustion that was left over from the day before, I decided to skip the midday stop and go straight to Energy Lake so that I could rest some. I would spend some time in the forest and by the lake there and recharge. Here are a couple of pictures I took shortly after I started on day 2. The hope was to be able to show family back home the mountains there. The river in the pictures is the Tennessee River.

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The ride from Edgar Evins State Park to Energy Lake was almost as grueling as the preceding day's journey. I hadn't ridden my motorcycle on any interstates before, and if I were to save time and be direct, I'd have to take the interstate through Nashville, TN (which was as much of a crash course [with no crashing, thankfully] as one could imagine.. driving through the heart of a state's capital in peak midday traffic) to make my way towards the northwest tip of the state where the Land Between the Lakes acts as a bridge between Tennessee and Kentucky in that area. I rode through the town of Clarkesville, TN where my eldest aunt had resided many years ago when she was in (or perhaps just released from) the Army. That town is quintessential America on a grand scale.

Point of note to be shared about my time in Clarkesville... I stopped at a Dollar General to buy a roll of duct tape, as I had apparently lost mine back at Edgar Evins State Park. The store didn't have what I was looking for so I ended up buying a roll of masking tape instead, thinking that I'd make due somehow. Interestingly, I found out that masking tape makes for pretty good makeshift rope if you fold it in half long-ways.

About a mile down the road after I left the dollar store, the umbrella that I had taped down to one of my saddlebags decided that it would go no further and threw itself from my bike. Seeing as I had looped the leather strap at the handle of the device to my left rear blinker, the decision to depart from my bike was met with resistance, and the umbrella found itself under my back tire and then rocketed out like a baseball in a pitching machine. This caused my tired to leave the ground and when it (the tire) found it (the ground) again with a squeal, I realized that something had happened. I saw in my side-view mirror the umbrella skidding in the opposite direction towards the traffic behind me and I decided that I should stop, make sure nothing had been severely damaged, and make my way back to pick it up.

I pulled off onto a road to the right, which turned out to be and entrance road to a subdivision. I pulled off the road, set my kickstand (I thought) and turned off my bike. I wanted to check and make sure that my rear tire was still in good working order and that my blinker hadn't been damaged. I got off my bike to take a look and to my bewildered dismay, my bike started to roll forward without me on it. I wasn't able to stop the slow motion event-in-progress and my bike fell over. All of the gear that I had so meticulously packed was now laying in the road. I got upset, but only for a moment. It was a heated moment, brief as it was, but I knew that for whatever reason, this had happened and rather than sulk in my own misery, I could/should/would take a breathe, remove the remaining gear that was still attached to the sissy bars on my bike, stand my bike up and repack.

I'd had a couple of premonitions about this very thing happening - that I would have to repack my gear - because my backpack had been leaning sideways (a product of being packed on the angle of tilt that the bike sits on when parked), and I was thinking about what would happen if it all shifted too much as I was driving. Surely it would be catastrophic. Once I had freed my bike of the extra weight, I stood it up and tried to set it on the kickstand again. Yet again, the bike tried to roll forward on me, but I had both hands on the handlebars this time so it didn't fall over again. I realized the problem, that I had picked the perfect spot for my bike not to sit balanced, being that there was a combination of a slight downhill grade and a sharp crown in the road which made my kickstand useless. I looked around the ground to find a level spot and realized that the grassy ditch just off the road was shallow enough that I could park my bike in it. I eased my bike into the ditch and set my kickstand. Finally, stability!

I got off of my bike and lo and behold, the repack job would be done as it should have been originally, because here in the ditch, my bike was parked and sitting perfectly perpendicular to the ground. This misfortune was the answer to the worry that I had been having about shifting gear. I repacked my bike, adjusted my mirror which had turned in when my bike laid down for a nap, took a few deep breathes to re-center myself, climbed back on and set off again. Needless to say I didn't go back to get the umbrella. I'm sure it will have gotten picked up by someone and tossed in the garbage by now.

A few hours down the road, as I approached the Land Between the Lakes, I pulled off to check my route and have something to drink and as I was parked there at the convenient store, a man got my attention and wanted to talk about my bike and trip. We spoke for a bit and at the end of the conversation, he told me that when I get out there, not to set up camp right on the lake because the wind from there was a storm blowing in from the West that would likely blow everything I had away - to get there and hunker down until it passed. I thanked him and thought about pulling a large trashbag over my gear to protect it from the rain, but looked up to the clouds, decided that I should be fine, that the storm would push off before I got to my destination, and set off again. The strip of land that constitutes the Land Between the Lakes runs for a much longer span than I had anticipated. It was bright, hot (this being the day after the Summer solstice) and clear for the longest time. The Land Between the Lakes is beautiful and was a pleasure to ride on. While the road did twist and turn, it was nothing so precarious as the hills in Tennessee had been, and it was quite enjoyable. It was at this time that I came across the first thing on my trip that I absolutely had to stop and observe.

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As I continued on my way, after stopping and asking about the regulations for fishing and being told that I'd need a Day Permit to fish, I drove off out of the LBL area to the nearby town of Aurora to purchase a permit so that I could fish at Energy Lake and not worry about getting a fine if I were apprehended by a game warden. I was running low on fuel and wasn't sure how far I'd need to go to find a store that sold fuel and fishing licenses to I stopped at an old fashioned general store there to ask for guidance.

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A few miles later, I was filling up my bike, had purchased a single day's fishing permit, some nightcrawlers, and was getting ready to head back towards LBL (I was only about 6 miles off site) and the rain started. It was only a light drizzle, and I thought, again, that the clouds would cooperate with me and I'd not get very wet. I had rapport with nature and could talk the weather into bending to my egoistic desire to be above the worry for it... and boy was I wrong. A few miles down the road, and the bottom dropped out. That's a Southern-ism for it started to pour.. the bottom (of the clouds) opening up and releasing all of the rain. I hadn't heeded the warning given to me by the man before and my gear was exposed and now drenched. I pulled off of the road and in the pouring rain, pulled a large trashbag over it all so that it would continue to get wet. I felt remorse and shame at myself for not having listened to the man, and my inner knowing that nature wasn't ready to talk to me in those types of terms that my ego had decided I could. As I continued on in the rain, about another 20 miles to my destination, the rain finally began to let up just as I arrived to my campgrounds. I drove into the campgrounds, got my lot pass, and moseyed on down to my campsite.

The rain had stopped now, for which I was grateful. At the same time I knew that this whole thing had been a lesson to me to put me back into my rightful place. I was quite humbled and had accepted the shower/swim as having been quite necessary. As I began unpacking and setting up my tent (no easy task on a gravel pad), the sun started to come back out in patches so I was able to lay out my sleeping bag, blankets, and pillow to dry.

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Finally, I was there, unpacked, dressed down in some shorts and a t-shift, I was alone in this campground which was a nice contrast to the night before, and my campsite was just at the head of a walking path that led back by the lake and into the forest. After my sleeping roll had dried, and having a light meal of high protein beef jerky and mixed nuts with Gatorade, I decided I'd try to fish the lake. What I hadn't considered was the shallowness of the lake and the time of day. This was the first time I had put a line and hook in the water in over 10 years. To say I was out of practice would be an understatement. I conceded to having wasted a few dollars on the fishing permit and to the fact that it was in vain, because I was sure to not catch anything on the shore of a lake that was no more than knee deep for what seemed like 50 yards or more in the glowing sunlight.

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I returned to my campsite and stowed my fishing gear and decided that tired as I was, I'd like to take that nature trail and start getting back in touch with Nature.

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As with my attempt at fishing, much to my chagrin, I was ill prepared for the trek through the woods. The forest there is thick with spider's webs, stretching across the walking path from low hanging branches to shrubs on the ground. Some would even seem to defy common sense, as I would have to look for some 20 feet to find the origin of the web that I had just walked into. Some, I would see and be able to avoid. After about 3/4 of a mile of bumbling through the woods, and wrecking more than a few spider's webs, I had to sit down with my back against a tree and slow myself. I realized that regardless of how in tune with nature I felt, I had, in actuality been out of the natural world for some time and it would take some clock time for re-acclimation to occur between myself and it (Nature). I knew that I would continue to run into spider's webs but would work to avoid as many as possible. They are tenacious and meticulous creatures and don't mind rebuilding when an animal passes through a pops one of their anchors to a shrub. My attitude lifted, I got up and was able to continue down the trail.

I encountered a deer at about a distance of, I would guess, 100 yards. I didn't see it, but heard it snort and bleat as if to call to a foal. When I got a bit closer, I heard her snort again and jump off into the woods to get away from the two legged thing that was trying to walk quietly through her home. I little ways further, I encountered a little box turtle sitting on the path. My large presence caused him to retract into his shell and so I didn't stay long except to apologize for scaring him and telling him that I would be on my way now. Further on, I came across a feather. I believe it to be a turkey feather, but I decided that I would carry this token out of the woods, and perhaps one day when my oldest nephew is old enough to understand the meaning behind it, present it to him as a gift. I walked on, and on, and on, and as worry began to set in that the path wasn't going to curve back towards the campsite, finally - it did, and I was back at my tent.

Tired as ever, but satisfied that I had made it the distance, somewhere between 3 and 5 miles, I sat down to organize my things and bed down for the night. As the sun set over the trees on the opposite side of the lake, I sat and watched the light show put on by more fireflies than I'd ever seen. These videos don't really do the experience justice, but I wanted to share anyways. If you put the volume up, you can get an idea of the sound of the place as well.




I decided my day was over and entreated myself into my tent to get comfortable and sleep. As I lay there contemplating the day and pulling ticks off of me as I became aware of them (this became a "thing" for the whole trip.. will revisit), wondering why I still had cell phone service after having driven so far (I thought) into seclusion, a skunk sneaked up on me. I rolled over to see what I had so sneakily approached me and saw the back of its tail as it sauntered off away from me. Luckily, she didn't feel threatened so I didn't get a face full of skunk spray. I turned off my phone, and listening to the sound of the crickets and frogs, fell asleep.

End, Day 2.
Last edited by joeyv23 on Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Living is not necessary, but navigation is." --Pompey
"Navigation is necessary in order to live." --Me

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Road Trip - Day 3

Post by joeyv23 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:57 pm

On day 3 of my trip, I woke up with the sun and set to packing for the next leg of the trip, to a place called Logger's Lake in the Mark Twain National Forest. During the first portion of the day, I spent some time contemplating the psychic activity that I had become aware of in my sleep. Where on the first night, there had basically been a riot in my psyche, on the 2nd night, after realizing that a riot wouldn't be effective, the method of approach changed and I found myself in what felt like a global diplomacy meeting. Still, I pressed into my mind the fact that I had made it this far, and even though I was still not half way, there was to be no turning back. I began to feel less restless, but there was still an underlying sense of urgency in my mind to try to find a way to get me to back out. With the Animus guiding, I pressed on.

As I traveled West out of Kentucky and into Missouri, I was struck by the beauty of the landscapes there. As I exited Kentucky and crossed the Mississippi River, I noticed how the landscape stopped being hills and began to stretch out for miles and miles in all direction. Back home in Georgia, regardless of where you are (save perhaps sitting atop Stone Mountain) you can't see very far into the distance. This was a very interesting change of pace for me. After some time, towards the second half of my journey that day, I found myself in the forested, hilly areas once again. The area in and around the Mark Twain National Forest is beautiful. One could easily tell that you were miles from anything, winding down the back roads in this area, seeing only an occasional vehicle at a stretch of maybe 20 miles at a time, minimum. As I began to get close to my final stop for the day, I noticed a text message from my mom that said I needed to call home. A bit of context is needed here.

About 3 weeks before I was to set out on my journey, my Aunt Littlebit (her name was Teresa but there was a Teresa in the family already before she (Littlebit) married my uncle so she ended up with the nickname) had been admitted to the hospital for what everyone thought was a stroke. She had been dealing with poor health for the past 7 or 8 years and she had taken ill once again. I had dealt with the possibility of her passing far earlier than this latest bout of declining health. This time when she went into the hospital, things were slightly different. The hospital staff, not being able to figure out what was wrong with her accused my uncle of trying to overdose her on her meds. It was a very dramatic thing to witness. I had already put some distance between myself and all of this as it was going on, but my family was dealing with it.

My aunt was sent home after the first positive sign of improvement. A day or so later, my uncle again had to call for emergency support. That my aunt had been allowed to go home when she did was an act of negligence. She had to be airlifted from the dirt road where she, my uncle, and my cousin lived and flown to Savannah for emergency care. She spent a couple of weeks there. It turned out that (to my knowledge) a combination of the negligence of the hospital in the college town where I'm from and a potential genetic issue that her brother suffered from as well, my aunt had suffered brain damage as a result of an infection that was not properly dealt with. This brain damage was irreversible but she could still speak and recognize some people. This didn't remain to be the case, however, as her mind began more and more to slow its processes. After the few weeks in Savannah, my Aunt was brought home on a hospital bed with it being understood that she had essentially run the course of her life. Hospice would be called in and they would do what they could to make her comfortable.

I went to see my aunt and uncle the day before I left. My aunt was "there", but stuck in a body that she had no control over. I had an unseen interaction with her as I sat talking to my uncle, letting him get out to me what he needed out. Having reminisced with my uncle about earlier days, the conversation of fishing trips came up. I lived with my aunt and uncle for a couple of years when I was an early teenager. My aunt was like a second mother to me. Even before this time when I lived there with them and after I moved back home, one of the things that we spent a lot of time doing was going to the nearby ponds in the fields that my granddad tended before he passed and fishing the afternoons away. My aunt loved to fish and then when we were finished we would go back to their place and have a bonfire. The adults would drink, the kids would roast hotdogs over the fire that I was in charge of tending. As we talked about the trip I was getting ready to take, (the focus being on the fact that I'd be moving out here to get work that paid better than anything I had at home) we got to talking about fishing and my hopes that I'd be able to do a bit of that on the way out. My uncle took me into a side room where all of their fishing equipment was, picked out the rod and reel that my aunt used and gave it and a small bag of tackle to go along with it to me. This was his way of giving a piece of her to me. It was also a way for him to let me go, knowing that I had this piece of her with me. My aunt and uncle had three girls and lost one boy and I was the closest they had to a son, so this was very much as though I was saying goodbye to the father (archetype) that was held in my uncle, and for him--letting go of me in a similar fashion. More people started to show up to see my aunt and pay respects and so I began to make my move back to my house to pack up my bike.

Before I left, I kissed my aunt on the forehead and told her without words that I'd see her again soon. I wasn't wrong. I packed up the rod and reel that I had been given, got on my bike and rode home to my parents place to finish packing.

I return now to that third day on my trip across the country. I had been thinking about my aunt and the knowing was building in me that she wasn't going to last nearly as long as everyone back home hoped that she would. Then, about an hour out from my destination, a place called Logger's Lake in the Mark Twain National Forest, I stopped for something to drink, and some ice to pack in my cooler to keep my drinks cold. I saw that I had the text message from my mom saying to call home as soon as I could. The issue, however, was that I had very little battery life and even less service. Finally, I had found a place that wasn't wrought with wireless signals beaming every which way and it happened to be at the critical point when people would (think that they would) be needing me the most. I continued on to the campgrounds, thinking perhaps that if I found any signal at all, I'd check back in with my mom.

As I drove out there, finding myself going 12 miles on a gravel road into a heavily forested area, I began to realize that there was no way I was going to be able to connect back home until the next day when I was somewhere far removed from this area. I could feel very clearly how clean this place felt due to the lack of radio and other waves being emitted at every few miles interval. I continued down the gravel road and found myself in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. You know you're really "out there" when you have to cross through a stream that is flowing across your road/path on your way to your destination.

I checked in with the site's custodians, an elderly couple (he a former Coast Guard sailor - instant rapport given my veteran status) who live there in a camper. They were delightful people. They really seemed to get a kick out of me, a lone traveler, young and with a pioneering spirit, blazing across the country and camping out in the wilderness as I was in a way that many others haven't, don't, and probably won't for some time. I asked them if I'd need a fishing license to fish out of the lake there, and while that was technically the case, I was told with a sly grin that I could always stand there with a pole at the waters edge and defend myself in case a fish decided to come up out of the water at me and to do so at my own discretion. I took this to mean that they thought it would be just fine for me to fish. I was offered a cord of firewood and accepted the offer. They would be down shortly do deliver it for me.

I drove down to my camp spot and began unpacking, eager to put a line in the water. I was having a conversation in my head about my aunt as I did this. I knew that she wasn't going to make it through the night. I couldn't reach home, but this would be the best way that I could think to honor her life and memory, by doing two of the things that she loved the most. Fishing, and sitting and talking by a campfire at night. The site steward and stewardess came down, brought me some fire wood and wished me luck and told me to let them know if I needed anything. I bid them farewell for the evening and after setting up my tent, got my aunt's fishing pole and set about to try to catch some dinner.

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I was more than a bit rusty at first, not having fished in several years, but quickly got the hang of it again. I caught a small bluegill brim and a small trout (what most people would refer to as a small mouth bass). I used the knives that had been passed down to me from my granddad from another uncle (a great teddy bear of a man named who died when I was 4 - Bruce) to clean and gut the fish and set about to roast them in the cast iron frying pan that I had packed for the trip. I was able to borrow a bit of seasoning from a family that was camping nearby and discovered that their family had been coming out to Logger's Lake for the past 50 years and that in all that time the place hadn't changed at all. It was virtually untouched by the modern wold. And boy, could you feel the truth of it!


I wanted to get some of the sounds in this video but don't think I succeeded so well.

I cooked the fish in a little bit of water over the open fire, sat and stared out at the lake as I ate and thought about my aunt. I reminisced about the conversations that we had that had helped me become who I am today. She was one of the only family members that really encouraged me and all the others of my generation in the family to be who we were. She was a no holds barred type of person. She would tell you how it was. As I finished my meal, I moved over to my tent and lay down to listen to the bull frogs and whipper wills and enjoy the fire as it died down a few yards away. At some point, as I was falling asleep, I knew that my aunt had died. We smiled at each other, hugged, and I fell asleep.
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"Living is not necessary, but navigation is." --Pompey
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Road Trip - Day 4

Post by joeyv23 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:58 pm

After having spent the night listening to the sounds of the wilderness at Logger's Lake, I woke up refreshed and feeling much better than I had upon awaking the days before at the start of my trip. Today, I would be headed West into Kansas to spend the night at our friend here in the forum, Tom (mongo)'s house.

I took my time packing that morning because I knew that today was one of the shorter days, mileage wise, to travel. I was also enjoying the morning energy of the area to the fullest that I could before I set off. After I packed, I went back up to the camp hosts' area to have a word with the host about the area. We stood and talked for almost an hour. I was able to explain to him the core reason for my journeying across the country. He understood completely what I was working on and we both agreed that it's a shame that more people don't see the same picture of reality, but that regardless of the fact that many don't, that shouldn't stop us from living our lives on our own terms as we have decided to do. It was a very enriching conversation for me, and I think, for him as well. He instructed me on the faster way back out to the paved road so that I wouldn't have to navigate the gravel road the whole way (which, as a matter of fact didn't matter since I took a wrong turn on the way out and ended up traveling nearly the same distance on gravel that I would have had I taken the way out that had brought me in). I told him that if ever I had any friends out in the area that I'd send them out there. We shook hands, I got on my motorcycle, and I was off once again.

After I got back out to the main road and began to wend my way North a bit so as to get myself back to the main highway headed West, I began thinking about my aunt again. When I made it to my intersection to take the left turn - West, I stopped and checked to see what calls I might have missed or if there were any more text messages from home. I found that I had, indeed, missed a couple of calls, had messages saying that I needed to call home. I called my mom and when she answered, it could be clearly heard that she was upset. She started crying and told me that my aunt had died the night before at around 11 o'clock. I told her that I knew, and that it was going to be ok. I told my mom about using my aunt's fishing pole to catch my dinner the night before and that I had sat and spent some time with my aunt by the fire. This made her cry more, but I could hear that she had taken some strength from my recantation of my experience from the night prior.

As I drove on after that, I got to thinking about my aunt and the fact that I had known that she was going to pass the night before and the feeling that I had when I was convinced that it had happened. In response to my thinking about her, I felt my aunt's presence find me and our consciousnesses were shared for a moment. At first it was though there were a second set of eyes a few inches above my forehead looking out and seeing what I was seeing with my physical eyes. It felt like she had come up behind me and thrown her arms around my neck and hugged me. At the same time I felt her tell me "You go, boy!" with the happiest smile that I can think to relate to having experienced from her in the whole time that I knew her. She was free from the constraints of that body. I got from her confirmation of something that I knew before I left, that she hadn't been trapped in it and could have left at any point, but was waiting on everything to be set up correctly for her immediate family. They would be bearing the brunt of the loss and she had waited until she knew that they had dealt with all that they needed to deal with before she took the next step and left them to sort through and deal with the loss. I felt the hug tighten around my neck, I hugged her back, smiled, and she was gone then to go be with some of the family who were needing her presence.

The ride after that was fairly uneventful in the way of experiences of this kind. I did get a chance to enjoy riding my motorcycle more than I ever had while traversing through the rolling foothills of the Ozark mountains in Missouri. I was like a kid on a roller coaster, because that's exactly what those great and winding hills felt like. As I made my way out of the foothills, the land began to flatten out a big and the green of the scenery, somehow, became greener than I had ever seen it. All around me were vast fields of one crop or another and they sang in the light of the day, soaking in the sun's rays and converting it to energy. It seems contrary to what we know considering the geoengineering going on in the world, but I swear that the area there was somehow a pocket of vibrancy unlike anything that I've ever felt before.

I had been using directions that I had typed and printed based from the route I had selected out of my 2017 road atlas, and this had gotten me this far on my journey, but I ended up resorting to using my phone's map/GPS application to help get me into mongo's since I had to drive into (and then out of) developed suburbia in order to get there. Again, I found myself with a very low charge on my phone. I had stopped at a tiny town in Missouri for lunch and had charged it a bit there, but the little charge that I had on the phone was dwindling down to nothing and using my GPS was exacerbating the issue rapidly. I resorted to checking the map on my phone, putting it in a hibernation mode, continuing on until I needed to check again, and then repeating the process. My phone held out until I got to the road that I knew was the one mongo lives on. I knew that I'd have to turn left, but didn't know what house I'd be looking for. I turned my phone on and was able to get to the app and see the number of the residence a full split second before my phone died for good. I took the left turn down the road and (having thankfully navigated this way in the past when I delivered pizzas) counted my way down to his house using the numbers on the mailboxes.

Mongo and his wife (and all of their furry little children) were spectacular hosts to me that night. I was able to get some laundry done, enjoy a good meal, and have a wonderful conversation with them before going off to sleep in a cozy bed surrounded by newfound family. Tom, whenever you read this, again, my friend, all my love to you and Cindy and the fur babies all :)
"Living is not necessary, but navigation is." --Pompey
"Navigation is necessary in order to live." --Me

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joeyv23
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Road Trip - Day 5

Post by joeyv23 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:02 pm

I woke up the next morning, had breakfast with mongo, talked some more and set out on my way. This next day's journey would see me through Nebraska, Iowa, and into South Dakota. I knew that something special was in store at the end of this day's journey but I didn't want to cloud it with expectations so I set out to enjoy the day's ride as much as possible.

The ride out of Eastern Kansas into Nebraska and then Iowa was incredible. It was decided at some point that America ought to be renamed Corn. This way, if anyone else in the world ever pointed our way and asked what's over there, the answer would be self evident. Iowa had recently experienced a large amount of rain and there were several small ponds on either side of me as I made my way up the Western coast of the state. I only found out about a couple of months ago from some college volleyball players from that area that there were no wetlands in Iowa as I had thought them to be, that I must have just been passing through after a bit of flooding had occurred. Regardless, this wetland area seemed, somehow to be the logical progression for the trip that I was on. I expect that there was something of a mirroring going on between my internal and external landscape.

After some time, I drove out of the wet area and found myself among oil rigs. The area there seemed finally to match what I thought perhaps others saw of the industrial evolution of the country. There were warehouses scattered about, and very little else in the way of scenery. At some point along the way, I found myself in the very center of the country. I knew so because there was a great and massive flag with a sign at the bottom declaring this to be so. The place was wind-swept and dust was flying everywhere. I stopped for fuel and to rest (all those miles with no cruise control makes for a sore wrist after a time) but I couldn't bring myself to linger. I thought to myself that if I had been kidnapped, drugged, blindfolded, and brought to this very spot in a helicopter that I would somehow know that I was in the very center of America. The place wreaks of it. It's not that the people seem to be the haughty, spoiled, American type... it was an energy of being worn down.. The wind and the dust really set the picture. The folks there somehow looked to be at the heart of the oppression of the what idea of the American dream has become.. a delusion that keeps people from living fulfilled lives for the sake of an alternative that would see us performing good slave functions for as long as possible with the (light) potential of a payoff when we're too old to enjoy it. Folks were hurriedly moving into and out of the gas station, eyes squinted to shield from Nature's onslaught, and quick to be once again on their way through the matrix lives that I could feel them a part of again. I took stock of the area and decided without haste to be on my way as well.

Given the wind and the feel of this portion of my trip, I began to feel myself fatigued as the afternoon began. I knew that I had yet a long way to go before I reached my destination for the day and I knew that I needed not spend much time dawdling because if I did, I ran the risk of wearing myself out before I got there, and the implications inherent with this feel - even still - that if I had, the entire journey would have had a very different conclusion than it did. Once I got to the Northwest corner of Iowa after having gone through Sioux City (and losing the pillow that I had taken along for the trip on the interstate) I found the landscape changing once again. Things began to open up once more. The contrast between the green of the flora of the land and the blue of the sky was incredible. The green below, blue above, and one heck of a wind blowing in my face since there were no physiological formations to slow the movement of air across the land spurred me onward towards my destination, a state park called Union Grove that's just a few miles to the Northwest of Sioux City.

I had checked ahead for all of the campgrounds that I had planned to stop at before I left for my trip and Union Grove, from what I can remember, was listed as a first come first serve type of campground and that no reservations were needed. In fact, I can't recall seeing an option to make a reservation at all when I looked into the site. This was all well and good, considering the next couple of days would see me in areas where no reservations were needed to camp, so I made my way to the park without much of a thought about it. When I got there, I found that you did, in fact, need a reservation. There was a phone connected to a light pole that dialed directly to the State Park service so that you could make a reservation if you didn't have one. I felt a bit miffed at this, because I had circled around the campground and spoken with the site hostess and found that there were no vacancies at the campground. She told me to get on the phone and see if I might find accommodations at a nearby park, or in case that I couldn't, she knew of a campground back towards Sioux City that I could go to. The way she described it, it sounded to be more like a tent city where homeless lived than anything else. If I had to, I would go, but I really didn't want to leave. Something had happened upon my arrival that let me know that I needed to be there at that place for the night.

I couple of days before, in response to a trip update that I had made on Facebook, daniel relayed a message to me from his LM friend, Thor. The message: "When you hear the sound of a stream, look to the purple flower". I did have it in mind early in the day when I left mongo's that this message would be relevant on this day of the journey, but I didn't have it in mind when I pulled up to the park to pay for my parking stub and pulled off my helmet to hear quite clearly, the sound of running water. I knew that it wasn't water that I heard, it had actually been the wind, but the sound had registered so clearly in my mind as that of a stream that I knew I was in the right place.

I made my way over to the site hostess to find out, begrudgingly, where the other campsite was in case I couldn't find a reservation through the state park system. I think she could see it in my face how tired I was and how much I didn't want to leave, because she told me that I did have another option if I wanted, that I could stay there if I was willing to camp at the site designated for equestrian campers. It would be more expensive, but I told her that I might just have to take her up on that offer. After speaking to the operator at the park service and finding that there were no open vacancies anywhere near my location, I hung up the phone and spoke with the site hostess again, telling her that I wanted to stay at the horse campsite. She directed me deeper into the park and told me that when I got out there it was an open square where folks would usually park their trailers. I said that would be fine, I was too tired to go anywhere else anyways. She told me that she would send her husband down after a while to register me into the system and have me pay the registration fee to stay.

When I got out to the back are of the park where the horse trailers were to be parked, I had mixed feelings. I did know that I was where I was supposed to be. I found myself in, basically, a rectangular parking lot, unpaved with gravel on the ground, but I was alone, and there were benches and fire pits to make use of. Had I stayed at the site where the other registered campers were, I would have been crowded by people all around, with loud music and all manner of festivities going on. I parked my bike in the farthest corner of the lot from the road. It wouldn't be comfortable, but it was a place to sleep and I was tired. When I turned off the power to my bike, I saw there in the corner, a large rabbit sitting and looking at me. Somehow this was very amusing. I spoke to the animal, smiled and said hello, and after having spoken to it, watched as it hopped off around a corner down the horse trail that was just there along the edge of the lot. I began to unpack and saw that there were some stairs leading up a hill going off, I assumed, to another horse trail. I saw there at the base of these stairs, a purple flower. I knew then for sure that I was in the right place and my mood lifted because even though this parking lot was bare and I'd be bedding down on gravel, I was alone and it was quiet (aside from the breeze blowing).



The site host drove down to where I was and we got to talking a bit while he put all of my info into his registry, he told me that if I wanted to I could go up those stairs and I'd find some grass to lay on. There were stables for the horses up there and if anyone with horses showed up we'd be rooming together, but it was better than the gravel down in the parking lot. I told him I'd have a look and when he departed, I started up the stairs to see how much better of a prospect I would find at the top of this hill than at the bottom in the parking lot. What I found was... the word enchanting comes to mind. I was DEFINITELY in the right place.



I spent some time resting under the boughs of this great big oak tree that carried for me the grandfather/wise old man archetype that I had decided (or rather felt it decided already for me once I saw the spot) would be my shelter for the night.

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Something of interest from this stage in the journey... I had apparently gotten an infection in my left foot due to a tick bite a couple of nights before at Energy Lake. When I got to the tree I asked for one concession, for Mother to grant me respite from ticks and them not come to visit under the tree that evening. I was answered by a laugh from the wind and agreement. I read some, snacked on bit, had a very interesting conversation with the air elemental that was there, and learned a couple of different things about myself as well as the mechanism by which nature heals in response to my questioning about my swollen foot. After this conversation and a short afternoon nap, I walked away back down to the parking lot, drove down to the main site for a shower, came back and made some calls to check in with some folks, and then listening to the sounds of the wind blow gently through the trees and crickets all around, I went to sleep under the protection of my new friend, the Great Grandfather Oak Tree.
"Living is not necessary, but navigation is." --Pompey
"Navigation is necessary in order to live." --Me

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joeyv23
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Road Trip - Day 6

Post by joeyv23 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:03 pm

On the 6th day of my trip, I woke up refreshed, happy, and ready to push on to the Badlands area of South Dakota. I bid the great grandfather oak tree goodbye, packed up my things and set out on my way. I had a couple of options as to how I would get to my destination at the Badlands. I could have taken I-90 West for the entirety of the trip or I could skirt some of the interstate and travel county roads between towns. I stopped at a gas station a few miles out once I left the campsite. I bought some drinks for the day and a sub sandwich that I would save for dinner, since I didn’t know how many options for dining I’d find in or near the badlands. When I got back on my bike to leave the gas station, I consulted my phone’s gps in order to remind myself of my travel options to see which way struck my fancy. The route that would have had me taking I-90 the whole way was a bit shorter, but the alternative route showed me arriving at my destination in 4 hours, 44 minutes. I took the synchronicity as a fair marker for the way to go and set out on my way.

Several miles along the way, I realized that by taking this route, I had effectively avoided a massive storm that I could see to my North which was undoubtedly pouring down all along the interstate that I had chosen not to take. At one point, it looked like I was going to run into a bit of the storm, but recalling the grid-like layout of the roads in this state, I went off route and took several roads on impulse, always heading West or North, zigzagging my way back to where I knew I’d have to reconnect with the interstate, but just out of reach of the storm. At one point, I knew that I needed to stop for a short rest. As I sat on the side of road in the deep rural areas of South Dakota, I watched as the storm raged Eastward to my North. I saw that some of the front had split off and would hit me if I stayed put for too long, but I felt the need to wait just a bit longer, so I did. When I set out again, I found another road West that basically became the path that was my thread with the rain on either sides of me being the eye of needle to slipped through. I was operating on intuition and it felt good to be trusting myself and my communication channels with my surroundings.

A few hours later, after I had reconnected with I-90, having skirted the storm completely, and having been confounded to no end as to what Wall Drug was (I would find out later that Wall is a town on the outside of the Badlands… they’ve paid a lot of money to advertise their tiny town along that interstate) I found myself approaching the Badlands. I refueled before entering into the park, and set out on my way. The first thing that I encountered was a Prairie Homestead showcase just at the edge of the Park.

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Image credits go to my friend Kelly who, on a cross-country trip was able to take pictures along this stretch of the route, where I on the other hand did not.

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This also happens to be home of one of the largest recorded prairie dog towns.
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I continued into the park, marveling at the stone walls and canyons all around me. Here and there along the road were pull-offs for people to stop and take in the scenery and take pictures.

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I saddled back up on my bike and headed again off down the road. The campsite for the night was located at the very end of this road and down another gravel road for, again, about 12 miles. I had spoken to a park ranger upon my arrival into the park area and been told that if I wanted, rather than camp at the free campsite at the end of the gravel road, I could – once on the gravel road – park and hike off at least a half a mile or until out of sight of the road and that this was considered back-country camping and was perfectly acceptable. I’d had it in mind that I’d go all the way down to the end to see the official campsite, but as I neared the last bend, after having seen my first bison on the side of the road, I realized that I was going to have to take the park ranger up on the advice she had given me. I knew that there would be too many people at the campsite and I wanted to be alone so, when I felt as though I was where I should be, I pulled my bike over on the side of the road, grabbed my tent, bed roll, and the things that I would need with me – food, knife, flashlight, things of that nature – I set off over a tall hill. I knew that on the other side of the hill I would find a tree for shade and that this would be where I would stay for the night. Now, if you haven’t been to the Badlands area before, you might not understand how much of a potential shot in the dark this was. There is very little tree life out there. The hills and the prairie stretch out around you for miles and miles an you might see only half a dozen trees, none of them worth much for shade. When I crested the hill, I saw, only about 50 yards away, the tree that I knew would be there.



I hauled my gear over and found the flattest piece of Earth that I could and set about to setting up my tent. After having done this, I decided I’d like to have my dinner, but something nagged at my mind and I realized that I was lacking in one vital thing if the occasion arose, having left it at my bike… I had no toilet paper. I closed all of my things up in the tent and set back over the hill and down to the road where my bike was to grab my roll of toilet paper and while I was there I packed the thermos that mongo had given me with ice to go with the Gatorade I had waiting back in the tent, and set back up the hill to camp. When I got there, after looking around and surveying the area, I realized that there was a taller hill next to the hill I was on that I might like to sit atop of and eat my dinner. Then, I thought, I’d come back down to the tent and get some rest. I grabbed my sandwich and drink and headed to the top of the very tall hill. When I reached the crest, I knew that I had made a mistake. I was going to have to move my tent to the top of this hill because this was where I wanted to sleep. From the top of the hill I could see rolling prairie for miles and miles in all directions. It was a truly wondrous sight to behold.

So, realizing that I was losing the light of day and needed not to dawdle, I set back down to my campsite to pack my things once again and haul it all up to the top of the taller hill. As I started packing, I found the ego complex at odds with the intellect/spirit complex.. A part of me wanted to rush to get up to the top of the hill. Another part of me knew that there was no need to race myself, that I’d get there and have plenty of light. I decided to forgo packing everything neatly and rolling up my bed roll just to have to undo it all when I reached the top of the tall hill, and threw everything into my tent, closed it up, grabbed a corner of it and started dragging it all up the hill. Before I could really get going, I had to remove from one of the two poles that gave the tent its curved structure, a metal piece that was meant to secure the pole into the grommet attached to the tent that was never properly glued into place. I knew that this piece might come loose and if I lost it, I’d be in pretty poor shape considering the rigging that I would have to do to fix it. This moment turned out to be one of the most interesting moments of decision I’ve ever made in my life. In that moment of contemplation, I decided to put this small tent piece in my pocket rather than to toss it into the tent with everything else, so that I would have it readily available when I reached the top of the hill.

As I ascended the taller of the hills where I had decided to have dinner and sleep for the night, I found myself again at odds with my ego which wanted to rush to beat the waning sunlight. I kept going back in forth in my head “I’ve got to hurry.” - “Relax, there’s plenty of light, you’ll get there, it’s fine.” - “Well that’s all well and good, but tell that to our feet.” - at which point I lost my footing and slipped. I caught myself somewhat awkwardly, having narrowly avoided landing on a prickly pear and after that it was decided that for sure, I need not rush. I took my time the rest of the way up the hill and once I had reached the top, I started scouting out for a good place to set the tent up. This was no easy task, as there was sagebrush, prickly pears and other assorted stiff, dense weeds to navigate around. I found a spot that I thought would be suitable and set my tent out. I started staking the tent to the ground and I realized to my horror, that I no longer had the small metal end for the tent pole. I had known to think about not wanting to lose the thing but had gone ahead and lost it anyways. Worse still, I had just discarded a piece of human junk in this otherwise pristine, unhumanized place. I was quite upset with myself. More than anything, I was upset at being just like all the other people that go into these parks and leave junk behind.

I set my tent up as best as I could without the piece to secure the one pole into the grommet and then made to take all of the things that I had thrown in the tent before, out. It took only a moment for me to realize that I had parked the tent directly on a very sneaky prickly pear and that I would not be able to sleep there. Now, thoroughly frustrated, I unstaked the tent again, drug it across the ground about 10 feet, paying special attention to the ground where I would soon be laying, and set about to erect the tent for the final time that night. It was somewhat of a sad sight, not having the one supported corner as it would have had I not lost the piece but I was able to make it work nonetheless. I sat down at the mouth of my tent, tired, upset, but satisfied in some small way that everything had fallen into place in such a way that I had enough time to eat my sandwich and zip myself into my tent just as the sun was setting over the hills to the West. The missing piece was on my mind a good bit and I had to convince myself to let it go for now. There was nothing I could do. There was no way I would be able to find it on the side of the hill where I had slipped and fallen, where surely, it had escaped the confines of my pocket. It just wasn’t feasible. So, as best as I could, I put the thoughts of it out of my mind and set about to get some rest. Interestingly, This was the most comfortable place that I slept along my whole trip. I had apparently found the one spot where the grasses and other plants held my body almost in a hug or embrace. Finally at ease, I fell asleep.

At some point in the night, I woke up to a sound that I hadn’t prepared my mind for. Somewhere in the distance was a pack of coyotes howling. I realized with a start that… “I’m really out here, just me, on my own.” I listened to the coyotes calling back and forth to each other. I allowed my mind to go out to them and see them running on the prairie, hunting. I sent a message/request to Mother that they stay far enough away that we wouldn’t have to encounter each other. I didn’t want to get hurt and I didn’t want to have to defend myself. I felt around and found the buck knife that had been my uncle’s. I thought outwardly to the pack / Mother that – again – please, stay away. I wasn’t afraid of what would happen, so much as I was sure that this is what needed to happen, that the pack keeps its distance. I left the knife laying beside me and fell asleep again.

When I woke up again, the sun was starting to rise in the East. Had the wind not been so cold and blowing as it was, I may have gotten up immediately but I decided due to these factors that I would allow myself some extra sleep time today. I was able to eek out a few more z’s before the sun was up high enough to start things getting rather hot in my tent. At this point, I arose and started about getting things together to take off for the day. I put on my riding clothes through shaky limbs and fingers (the wind really was cold that morning) and pulled my boots on. My foot was still swollen, albeit not nearly as bad as it had been the night before at Union Grove. I thought that I’d probably have to find some way to take care of it soon if the swelling really didn’t start to go down. I tied up my bedroll and packed away my few possessions that I had brought up the hill with me and then the last thing to do was to pack up my tent and be on my way.

I pulled out the support pole at the head/opening of the tent first. I breathed a heavy sigh as I recalled what had happened the evening prior and wished again that I could take back that moment when I had decided to put the fastening piece to the support pole in my pocket rather than in the tent with the rest of my stuff. I collapsed the support pole and dropped it on the ground so that I could undo the other support pole, the one with the missing piece. I removed the pole from the tent and collapsed it, looked at it with resignation, and reached down to pick up its matching pair so that I could place them both in the carrying case where they belonged. Upon grabbing and picking up the pole that I had removed first and tossed on the ground, I found, right there beneath it, as if having been placed there quite intentionally - the piece that I had lost on my way up the hill the evening before. In a moment my mind reeled. I knew for a fact that the odds of my having lost the piece in the exact place where I would, the next morning, toss one pole down to disassemble the other pole, after having moved the tent a second time due to a prickly pear, and away from the area where by all logic, that I must have lost the thing, were slim to none. All of that went through my mind in a flash and I was left looking down at the piece and then around at the prairie as though I were looking at a person for the first time for having said something profound where before none such profundity could be found. I thought… “O..K… well that’s that I guess.” I reached down, picked up the lost and now found piece and put it back where it belonged on the end of the support pole. I felt elation at the fact that I wouldn’t be leaving my trash out there in the wilderness. I finished packing my stuff, having to shake my head with a smile on my face occasionally as a matter of dealing with the fact that this did in fact, just happen. I descended the hill, packed up my bike and set out again, this time headed to the Thunder Basin National Grassland where, I wondered, what magic might lay in store for me there.

Here's that mysterious disappearing/reappearing piece that defied conventional laws of physics

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"Living is not necessary, but navigation is." --Pompey
"Navigation is necessary in order to live." --Me

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Road Trip - Day 7

Post by joeyv23 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:06 pm

As I departed from the Badlands, I felt, more than at any point so far in my journey, a sense of adventure. I had been looking forward to this leg of the journey since I started out 5 days before. From the Badlands I was to make several short trips to see some points of interest in the area. My first leg saw me heading Northwest into the Black Hillls to Sturgis, SD. Specifically, I was heading there to see Bear Butte which is where LoneBear had his encounter some years ago with Fool's Crow, and a pact was sealed that has led to the continued attempt to create sanctuary for humanity.

I will say this of Sturgis: Though I ride a motorcycle, drove one across the country even, I am not a "biker" like the people there are bikers. Every person I saw in Sturgis so perfectly wore the persona of “Biker” that I felt, even on my bike beneath me, a bit out of place. The energy there is like, I imagine… trying to sit comfortably and securely on a tumbleweed.. I didn’t spend any time in Sturgis except to fuel up and head through to Bear Butte.

As I rode up to the butte, I felt a sense of smallness. Again, having been around and through larger mountains at this point and not feeling the same way tends my mind towards the temporal aspect of this feature. I entered into the learning center there at the park entrance and spent some time looking around. Upon entering the shop and speaking with the woman at the counter, a Sioux native, I was drawn to a wall where books were displayed for sale. Of all the books there, one in particular shone forth to me, the book Black Elk Speaks. Black Elk was the uncle of Frank Fool's Crow. His face shows forth on the cover in this book in such a way that I felt deeply that I needed to know this man.

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At this point, after purchasing the book and securing it in with all of my other gear on my bike, I returned back to the shop to have a look at the articles on display. It’s quite surreal being around items that you know were once used for sacred ceremonies. There are signs posted not to take pictures of the sacred articles so I have only my memory of these different things… a ceremonial pipe, tomahawk, hair pieces, necklaces, and tobacco pouches (used on the butte as prayer offerings). Upstairs you can find, among other things, the taxidermied head of a bison as well as a bare skull of the same type. There was a collection of various bones and stones on display which are there to be handled and in fact this is encouraged by signage there to give people a literal feel for the different objects. There is also a mural painted on the wall that I am, hopefully, going to be able to get a picture sent to me by the woman that operates the shop. I can say only in summation that it very accurately showed the situation that our species finds itself in, in a very visceral way, and the evolutive way forward from here. I left the gift shop and decided that I would now make the ascent to the top of Bear Butte.

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I walked to the trail head and stopped, realizing that I might like to leave the feather that I had found in Kentucky at the top, as my own type of prayer offering. I retrieved the feather from my bike and with it in one hand and a bottle of Gatorade in the other, I started my hike. After only a couple hundred feet, I realized that I would have to do something differently. I was going to need my hands for balance and if I left them swinging at my sides carrying these things the whole way, they’d be swollen by the time I made it to the top. I thought about the easiest course of action which happened to be sticking the feather in my ponytail so that I could pass the Gatorade bottle back and forth between hands so that they wouldn’t swell up. Imagine this image… if you had seen me from a distance, I’d have looked very much like I belonged.. long, straight, brown hair with a feather secured in it, making an ascent to to the top of a monument of great spiritual importance to the natives of this land. Then, as we got closer, you’d see how not native I look and the image might be slightly comical. I was perfectly ok with that. The reactions that I got from the different people that crossed my path were varied and quite interesting. I passed by a family on their way down and heard the kids after we had crossed paths telling their parents that they wanted feathers too. I was quite amused. Most people would look at me and smile. Some went out of their way to avert their gaze. It was on the way back that I encountered a Native on the butte, a family actually, a man, his wife, and their son. The man looked at the feather in my hair and laughed out loud. I smiled, knowing that I’d given him something to talk to his friends about for some time.

When I reached the top of Bear Butte, no small feat mind you, I stood at the top and marveled at the sight of the landscape all around me. Knowing that I was where so many others had been before me on spiritual pilgrimage was humbling. Seeing all of the prayer cloths and tobacco offerings tied to the trees on the way up, even more so. I stood at the top and decided to cast my own prayer to the wind and thought to leave the feather there at the top. I tried to secure it to a tree branch, but the wind kicked up as I did and I couldn’t get it fastened. I tried again and the wind denied the offering again. I took the hint this time and realized that this wasn’t to be the final port of call for the feather and so I stuck in back in my hair and made the long trek back down.

Once back down at the bottom, I had a nice conversation with the people who run the park. They asked me why I was out that way and I told them about my trip and about Sanctuary. I told them that I had a friend who had encountered Fool’s Crow whose bust sits at the entrance of the education center and how the prayer that was given in front of Congress in 1975is inscribed there was part of the founding tenets (highlighted in bold below) for what we are working on with Sanctuary.

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In the presence of this house, Grandfather, Wakan Tanka,
and from the direction where the sun sets, and from the direction of cleansing power,
and from the direction of the rising, and from the direction of the middle of the day.

Grandfather, Wakan Tanka, Grandmother, the Earth who hears everything,
Grandmother, because you are woman, for this reason you are kind,
I come to you this day to tell you to love the red men,
and watch over them, and give these young men the understanding
because, Grandmother, from you comes the good things,
good things that are beyond our eyes to see have been blessed in our midst
for this reason I make my supplication known to you again.

Give us a blessing so that our words and actions be one in unity,
and that we be able to listen to each other, in so doing,
we shall with good heart walk hand in hand to face the future.


In the presence of the outside, we are thankful for many blessings.
I make my prayer for all people, the children, the women and the men.
I pray that no harm will come to them, and that on the great island,
there be no war, that there be no ill feelings among us.
From this day on may we walk hand in hand. So be it.

After about an hours rest and conversation, an exchange of contact info was made and I was on my way again. From Bear Butte, I would begin my change of course to the South as I this had been the Northern-most point in my journey. The next stop was Devil’s Tower. My spirits were quite high as I rode on from one sacred site to another. I didn’t go all the way up to the once former giant tree, now just a stump (you read that right) because I had done some research on it beforehand and was quite happy seeing it from a distance. Also, the number of vehicles I saw pouring in and out of the area was off-putting so I stopped, snapped some pictures and continued on my way.

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From Devil’s Tower, I headed further South towards the Thunder Basin National Grassland. On the way, I saw Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, and then a feature called Muddy Gap. All of these have a rich history and some lore attached to them that may be interesting for further exploration. The landscapes I saw on this leg of the trip left me feeling with surety that I had definitely made it to the West. I’d felt that in the Badlands, but there’s something iconic about the scenery in Wyoming. I guess perhaps it’s due in large part to so many Western movies having been filmed there. As it was, I was feeling quite accomplished. I was 2 days out from my destination. My bike hadn’t died on me, and I, myself, was still alive. Things were going well. Unfortunately, my phone's battery had lost its charge by the time I made it to Independence Rock, so here are some stock photos to at least give an idea of the landmarks I saw along the way.

Independence Rock
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Devil's Gate
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Muddy Gap
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In Wyoming, the least populated state in the country, you can (and will) go very long stretches without seeing anyone else on the road. Sometimes the nearest fuel station is 75 miles in any direction so you have to stop every time you get an opportunity. There were a couple of times where I wondered if I was going to have to use the reserve gallon of gasoline that I had packed in one of my saddle bags. At one point, the next day, I did – but I needn’t get ahead of myself.

My destination in the grassland was down, yet again, a gravel road. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, gravel roads on a motorcycle can be quite frightening. It would only take one rock angled in such a way that running over it with the front tire would have you turning the wheel down and then off you go. I was fairly tense navigating 16 miles down this rocky road of potential death. Add to this, the fact that there is an abundance of wildlife in the grassland, so much so that it becomes part of the task at hand not to let the wildlife be the thing that unseats you from your ride. A couple of time I nearly drove right into a herd of antelope. I saw a couple of mule deer that seemed very uncertain and frightened at the sound of my bike and as they began running to make their escape, I had to nearly stop because I wasn’t sure… and I wasn’t sure if they were sure where they were going and if we were to cross paths. More than anything though, were the rabbits. I have never seen so many rabbits in all of my life. It was with these creatures that I had my next ‘magical’ experience.

As I was riding along, I found myself losing light once again, but I was sure that I’d make it to my destination on time. I’d gained much from my trip in the Badlands to know as much. As I drove along the road, these rabbits would scatter as I approached them. Some would dart across my path from one side of the road or another. A couple of times I did find myself concerned that a rabbit might be my undoing in the middle of nowhere Wyoming. I didn’t want to get hurt, and I didn’t want to hurt any of the wildlife there so I started - as a joke at first – pointing the rabbits to either side of the road. I would see them sitting in the road as I approached and I would mentally shoo them along to the left or the right. I noticed that they were going in the direction that I thought they’d be going to the point where I knew that something "more" was going on. Either I was being precognitive or they were “listening” to me. To test it, I decided to pull a Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz and point in both directions. In response, the rabbit to whom I directed to both sides of the road zigzagged in front of me several times before I put one hand back down and it trailed off in the direction of the remaining pointed finger. This, I figured, was what rapport with Nature is like. With the right intention, things go the way they need to go so that it’s a win-win for all parties involved. I didn’t harm any wildlife with my bike and I didn’t get hurt myself.

I found myself, finally, at the end of the road (a literal expression… see the video below) and set up camp. I decided to have a fire that night, knowing that it would likely get cold again as well as having a means of a deterrent for predators in the area. I trusted that Mother would be listening still and that it wouldn’t be an issue, but I also took note of all of the bones lying around in the area. I was camping in something’s feeding area so I didn’t want to take any chances that the great archetypal Mother Nature would just as soon see me starting my next reincarnation cycle from this spot. I settled down, sat next to the fire and contemplated my day. At this point, even though I hadn’t yet made it all the way to my final destination, I had made it. I was, without a doubt, not the same person that had left Georgia a week before. I laid down in my tent and dozed off. I woke up only once to the sound of coyotes, threw another log on the fire, and as I laid back down, I cast my gaze to the sky and was dazzled by the clarity of it there. Words won’t suffice. Seeing the sky so clearly out there in the hills and prairie of Wyoming… incredible. I fell asleep again and slept soundly until the morning came.

"Living is not necessary, but navigation is." --Pompey
"Navigation is necessary in order to live." --Me

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joeyv23
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Road Trip - Days 8

Post by joeyv23 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:09 pm

On the 8th day, I awoke with an energetic vigor in me that I hadn’t felt in.. well, perhaps, ever. I was two days from my destination and had one more place on the way that I was excited to visit, Sinks Canyon State Parkin Wyoming. I packed my things, ate a light breakfast and was just about to get on my bike and leave when my attention was called down to the ground at my feet. There I found a stone sitting, and somehow felt it calling out to me. It didn’t look like any of the other rocks in the area which were mostly white and jagged. This stone seemed as though it would be more at home in or near a river. I looked at this stone with curiosity and heard my thoughts form around a request made from this particular piece of nature.. “Take me with you!”. I reached down and picked it up, thought that perhaps I would find it a more suitable home one day, stuck it in my backpack and was on my way. I've since come to realize that this was the external function of the alchemical process of creating/finding my philosopher's stone. I've carried my friend around to the different places that I've visited since we've met and it's soaked in and enjoyed every bit of it. One day I'm sure I'll find myself in a place where it bids me farewell and I leave it in its new home to continue its life cycle.

The ride out of the grassland was (queue the buzzword for the day) vigorous. I was quite energetic and had very high spirits. I knew that the ride out to Sinks Canyon wasn’t as long as several of the other legs I’d ridden and that it wouldn’t be a very arduous day on the bike at all. I drove the whole way with a certain lightness that’s still somewhat difficult to explain other than to call it this… lightness. I expect this was the product of gathering some really good Qi from the areas that I had been staying.

As I approached my next stop, I was amazed by all of the different types of geological formations along the way. Wyoming IS the Wild West. It’s wide open and removed from the human element so much that I’d almost wish I could build a teepee out there and live, but I know the winters wouldn’t allow for such a simple existence on its plains. I thought it was very interesting to be in a place where there were signs posted along the road warning drivers to be alert because it was open range and to pay attention for wildlife that might be crossing the road.

I reached my destination early in the afternoon that day. Driving into the canyon provided me with yet another opportunity to be flabbergasted by the sheer grandeur of nature. I found myself driving through a town, turning left onto a county highway, and then almost out of nowhere, I was entering into this massive canyon whose walls extended up for several hundred feet. I stopped at the first Park area which was an overlook of the Rise portion of the Popo Agie (pronounced Puh-poh-zha) River. I learned that the canyon was called Sinks Canyon because the river, 1 mile South of my location at the Rise actually sinks down into the canyon, flows underground for some distance (the likes of which puzzles geologists to this day) and comes up and out, literally rising out of the ground. See http://www.sinkscanyonstatepark.org/nat ... -and-rise/ for more info.



When I arrived at the campgrounds, I had free reign to pick out a campsite. This was different from the other parks that I had been at where I had to reserve a specific site beforehand. I picked my site there based on the fact that I found myself once again faced with Thor’s message, “Where you hear the sound of a stream, look to the purple flower.” The Popo Agie River definitely fits for the former aspect of the message, and there in the site I found the purple flower leading me onto the most secluded of the campsites there at the park.



I did indeed get wet, and boy was it cold! Bruce has indicated to me since the trip that this indicates a living system. I could tell from the energy of the place that it was alive and well. The whole area was pristine. I enjoyed a dinner by campfire and began reading the book that I had purchased back at Bear Butte. I found while I was reading that I had unconsciously situated myself in a very opportune position. I had a fire blazing to my left, the river flowing to my right, I was sitting on a rock with the clear sky above. When I realized this, I stopped reading the book and sat for a while in meditation. It was a very effective centering experience. Some time passed, and I decided to turn in for some rest. I slept very peacefully next to the river as it roared steadily throughout the night.
"Living is not necessary, but navigation is." --Pompey
"Navigation is necessary in order to live." --Me

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joeyv23
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Road Trip - Day 9 / Conclusion

Post by joeyv23 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:14 pm

    On the 9th day, I made my way out of Wyoming and into Utah. I passed through more spectacular scenery on the way through the mountain passes into Salt Lake City. I arrived at LoneBear’s place and recanted the entire experience. We spent several hours discussing a number of different things. As I’ve told Spaceman, if my trip was “a lot” - and it was, then the days and weeks after the trip were “a lot more”. I got to know my self in a way that I can’t have imagined before making the journey. I feel as though I matured a minimum of a year per day. After I arrived in Salt Lake, I spent about a month living in a hostel as I was getting my feel for the area and starting work. On the day before Independence Day, I set out for an afternoon in the park, and I'd like to share that here as a kind of conclusion to the journey that was had, but also, as a marker for a new beginning.


    I was wondering what I might like to do with my day after I woke up and had some breakfast. I contemplated sitting around, reading or watching a movie or tv . These didn't sit very well, so I decided that I'd like to go out for a walk. I took a look online and Liberty Park was the closest park to the hostel, so I decided to pack a light lunch and picked out a couple of books to go out there, find a nice tree to sit under, and have lunch and read.

    I found my tree, ate my lunch, and read about Black Elk of the Oglala Souix tribe's great vision, and decided to make the walk back - going around to the Artesian well to refill my thermos. I started off towards the well, and I heard a drum beat. Very tribal, very loud. I investigate. The park was pretty packed around that time and I was interested in seeing how people would react to this. Most folks near the sound just seemed to ignore it. I follow the sound of the drum and I find an old native man, drumming and singing native music. I knew then that I was in the right place. I approached quietly and when the song that drew me was over, I approached and said hello.

    I think he really enjoyed having someone to talk to that understood and had a spiritual outlook on life. I told him that I had come all the way from Georgia, had visited a couple of native sites on the way out, and was actually reading about Black Elk from the Oglala Sioux just before I heard his drumming. He invited me to have a seat with him and started playing again.

    I thought to take my rock friend out of my backpack (if you look closely at the end of the video posted below you'll see it sitting on the ground at my feet) and let it experience the encounter as well. I set it on the ground in front of me and we sat, listening to this Navajo, Marlin, play. He said that he was Zuni, Nei (sounded like 'knee'), Teewah, but the Spanish called his people Navajo.He hails from Arizona, and served in the Army in Vietnam. He told me about his warrior spirit and that he had actually scalped his first kill and sent the scalp back home, which was then used in ceremony by tribesman. He didn't seem to relish in it or enjoy the memory, it didn't phase him really. That's how it was, and that's all there was to it.

    He told me about his drum, how the bison whose skin was made into the drum was his brother. How the cedar that made the drum's shell was his brother. He talked about the Sun, his father, the Earth his mother, the stars his grandparents and their grandparents, before them. He went on to tell me how he was using his music to help keep good energy in the area. He explained how he would pray over his drum, the park, the people, and then played another song.

    When I told him my friend the rock liked his music, he got a pretty good kick out of that. I told him about my incident in the Badlands. This really opened him up to me, and it was after this that he told me about his prayer system and went about playing more and praying in between songs. He said a prayer to this end and included me, his brother on a mission to get back in touch with nature and my native spirit in the prayer. After another song, he pulled some native spirit tobacco out and gave me some as an offering to go with the prayer. I felt very honored.

    By this time, a few others had been attracted by the drum beat. One was a woman who, when he spoke to her, told him that she was a writer for a free magazine in the area called the Catalyst and was documenting how different people make use of the park. She was very interested in what he had to say, and she wasn't ignorant to much of it. In response to something Marlin said about heaven, she mentioned how she had been to a monastery near here and had spoken to one of the older monks and gotten his views on it. Turns out, she has a similar Christian background that I do, so that opened the door for us to talk while Marlin when to go get something to drink. I gave her the link to the Sanctuary page on the Antiquatis top site and gave her the rundown as to what drove me all the way out here from my home back in Georgia to Salt Lake City.

    Shortly after Marlin returned, a storm cloud began building overhead. We all said our farewells. I bid farewell to the drum, giving notice to both brothers, cedar and bison, then Marlin and I shook hands. He told me that he'd be back around and to come find him again. As I began walking away he told me to make sure to watch my back. In response, I told him to keep looking forward. I went on with my day then, enriched by the whole experience.

    Its very interesting the types of encounters you have when you get yourself working in rapport with nature. And this is just the beginning! It's exciting, the prospect of there being more encounters such as this to come as the future unfolds.

    "Living is not necessary, but navigation is." --Pompey
    "Navigation is necessary in order to live." --Me

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