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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels across country in my mobile billboard truck as I attempt to engage in dialogue with people in hopes to wake us up and inspire action to change our country and communities and selves. And it is froth with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society and life we want

Thursday, October 06, 2016

"Freedom is not free" rest stop

Leaving Flagstaff, I dash in front of an 18 wheeler who has "..rump" and "usa" etched into the dirt on the back of the truck. I expect him to react in some way, but he doesn't. He follows me for several miles out of town and onto I40w for a minute and then continuing on I17 south toward Phoenix. When he finally passes me - I go slower than all the traffic - he doesn't even glance in my direction.

I hope I've influenced him - or maybe he doesn't even know that someone has climbed up on the back of his truck and graffiti'd it.

I drive through cattle ranges and past little tiny towns - still not one rump sign. One white man in a huge dually red pick up truck has extended his middle finger and arm way above the cab as he passes me and keeps it up there a good 1/2 mile until I can't see his arm any more.

Another white man, in another red vehicle but this one a small sports car convertible with the top down - it has gotten much warmed as I've come down a few thousand feet - with short blond hair oozing wealth takes both hands off the wheel to make the universal "up yours" sign, holding his elbow and jabbing into the air so long I'm worried he's gonna crash into the barrier.

But that's it for the overt rump supporters!

Again, I cannot express how beautiful the land is coming down from 8000 feet up at Grand Canyon, 6900 feet up at Flagstaff, and now I'm about 4000 feet up and at the "Freedom is not free" rest stop! Yes, there's actually a plaque stating this and dedicating the rest stop and the entire I17 highway to veterans of our wars against other human beings.

This of course, gives me pause, considering if I stay here or go on to the next rest stop. I'm tired, although I shouldn't really be, and hungry. There's no guarantee the next stop will be different so I decide to take my chances. I pull all the way to the last stop where there is no light this time and far away from the truckers.

I heat up the soup I made this morning and have another feast as the sun goes down and the black sky fills with the brightest stars and the tiny sliver of a moon.

Flagstaff and Savers

I leave the stunning Grand Canyon and travel the small roads to Flagstaff, where I want to go to the library to catch up on my internet work and to Savers to see if I can get someone there to donate winter things for Standing Rock.

The 2 lane 'highway' I'm on has no shoulder - hell it has few roads and even fewer turn-outs. It does have a few crosses along the road side but it is hard to see how someone can kill themselves here unless they're involved in a head-on collision - or maybe they broke down and someone else slammed into them.

But the road is pretty straight, lined on both sides with low maybe 1 foot bushes with small yellow flowers and a straggling of what appear to be junipers grown into stringy trees with trunks maybe 3" in diameter.

What is surprising is that I see not one rump sign - actually not any presidential candidate sign. I see signs for mayor, sheriff, and a couple of propositions, but it's like the presidential race is not even on the horizon.

The same holds true for when I get into Flagstaff: more local election signs but not one rump bumper sticker even - nor Hillary or Jill.

When I pull into the library parking lot, two young white punker men dresser in black with enough silver hardware on their faces and limbs excitedly approach my truck, taking pictures and happily exclaiming over every word.

They tell me they are punk rockers and at their last rave they had a rump piñata & I should have been there to see the crowd react! The piñata was smashed and then everyone continued to smash it until there was nothing but tiny bits of confetti left. I hoped the audience was registered voters!

When I leave the library, I drive through Flagstaff rush hour traffic. Again I see a few strained smiles, one enthusiastic honk and wave, two half-hearted middle fingers and that's it.

At Savers, I speak with the manager after I've collected $101 worth of winter jackets and 3 pairs of lined boots. He cannot donate but asks me how much I want to spend. He will not talk "politics" with me although he is registered to vote. I want to spend $25. He reduces it to $60. I try $50 but no go.

I decide it's too much - I'm not sure if the jackets will be warm enough or the boots either. I ask him to come see my truck, which he does. He reads out loud everything USA Today has said and looks at me in astonishment when I tell him I'm quoting them. He says he wants to look it up and I give him the date.

He apologizes again for not being able to donate anything but I find out that all Savers are having a 50% off sale on October 10th. Maybe I'll have collected some funds by then!

Lost and found

When I go to sign out of my camping space, the youngish (as in under 50!) white womon ranger asks me where I'm heading next. I tell her about the action on the border & the wall we're building. She's a resident of Arizona and has never heard of the wall. She's shocked. She tells me I have to hear this song and proceeds to find it on the internet and print it out for me - as we make sure 'big brother' isn't monitoring us.

I go to park headquarters to get online. After giving up on the slowest computer connection ever - I'm thinking it's my computer and not the system here - I decide to hit the road making a stop at the Lost and Found.

Finally, I get to engage in an in-depth conversation with a ranger Lisa - a white womon probably close to my age - who has been here at the park 40 years. She is reluctant at first to engage with me, not knowing how sincere I am. She tells me about all the red tape necessary for her to donate anything from the Lost and Found to me.

I tell her I'm on a mission to spread the truth about rump - I decided to call him that, although this is way too nice for him. She tells me she comes from a family of 6 children, three democrats (she's one) and three republicans. She says she cannot speak politics with the republicans but she's getting the feeling they are not going to vote for rump.

She comes outside the warehouse and admires my truck, reading all the USA TODAY's truth. She says she wishes she could vote for Obama again & then makes the mistake of asking me if I would. When I say no, she says well he did improve our economy to which I talk about the 7 countries, the wars, the soldiers, the military budget - all bigger and more violent than ever - and of course our country's economy is better - we thrive on war and violence.

She goes into the mantra that our politicians can't really do what they want to do, they have to compromise a little, and they're not perfect. I tell her again, I disagree. What is life worth if you can't act your conscience. This fear we have of supposed "cost" of doing the right, the moral, the human-affirming thing is propaganda of those in power.

She seems to go deeply inside herself and then nods slowly.

When she gets to the "Black Womyn's Lives Matter" and "White Silence is Violence" at the bottom of my truck, she balks. She says she gets the white silence part but she wishes, she'd feel so much more comfortable if it was "All Lives Matter".

I get to look her in the eye and tell her, well then you really don't get it. She stops talking and steps back, eyes wide, and listens carefully as I ask her, tell her this is about police killing Black people. This is about how she knows that Black lives have NEVER mattered in this country, that when whites say "all" we mean all white people.

Most white people never said "hey Black Lives Matter" when we've seen all the evidence that Black and brown lives really do not matter in this country.

She nods slowly and then brings up the Native population here and testifies she's seen police brutality and discrimination against them also. I say yes, and repeat Black and brown lives matter - it's all part of the same root of the racism tree.

She nods & I think she understands.

She wants a card as I leave - I'll have to get some made with this blog on it.

From garbage to elk

I rise early this morning, as usual, and I'm greeted by a whole herd of elk - at least, I'm pretty sure they're elk, although they are very pale brown, light like a cappuccino. The elk of Yellowstone are the rich dark brown of shiny espresso beans.

There are at least 10 mothers and one baby, that I can't tell from size but because she's nursing, strolling through maybe 10 feet from my camper door.

A male, I presume, with one antler that looks to be about 4 feet long, ambles way behind the herd. I wonder how he can keep his head upright and not listing to the left side.

Once they've cleared the campground, I embark on my early morning "run" - with a small plastic bottle I've picked up outside my door. I use this as the garbage container for all the carelessly tossed junk around: mostly cigarette butts - you gotta hate smokers - but also tons of pieces of plastic corners from potato chip & other junk food bags, plastic and metal bottle caps, shiny pieces of foil and discarded candy wrappers.

It's so very hard to fathom people being so careless in a place like the Grand Canyon. The ranger yesterday showed us a picture of a dead condor, her stomach full of such garbage that I'm picking up. When will we care enough about life to 1) not buy things that create garbage, and 2) make sure we dispose of garbage as properly as we can.

I will leave today, after I check out the lost & found to see if they will donate any winter items left behind by tourists. It gets quite cold here so I'm hoping they'll have things.

I'm disappointed no one has engaged in a conversation with me here at the camp ground. I've hung around trying to be inviting but it hasn't worked - thus far. I've also worn my "Black Womyn's Lives Matter t-shirt" whenever I've left the campground but I've been basically ignored. Hmmmmm