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Friday, September 30, 2011

DAY 254: STARKE, FLORIDA

We are looking at the WAFFLE HOUSE Griddle. All across America I have sat at the counter amazed to see employees perform their artistry at the griddle....the food is excellent - and very reasonable. If I am hungry, I hunt up a WAFFLE HOUSE.

We arrived at Harre's home two days ago. Harre was busy, so I pursued SPIA's problem of being tail heavy with SAM's hanging - cantilevered - out so far behind the rear wheels that the front wheels do not properly perform their job...a condition which cannot be tolerated in the Northern Climate we will soon confront.

I drove to three local companies, who all referred me to a Company - ABC Company - in JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, about 50 miles away from STARKE. So I took the bull by the horns and drove to JACKSONVILLE.

The owner - another Bruce - convinced me that because of the manner of construction of SPIA's leaf springs, there is absolutely NOTHING to be done to raise the tail end of SPIA as long as SAM is aboard. I had taken SAM off for my visit to ABC Company...they confirmed that SPIA was sitting just fine - without SAM.

I have spent the past two months stopping at Toyota Dealers and numerous "suspension" shops, all of whom have told me the same thing as ABC Company.

So, we must face the fact that SAM can not go with us into the Northern Climates during the Winter. SAM must remain in Florida.

I discussed at length with Harre my problem. Harre wants me to stay with him until the end of December...he has considerable for me to do. In fact, today Harre gave me my first task:

DISASSEMBLE A COMPLETE MOTOR HOME !!!

Early this morning, Harre and I set out on my task. When I saw the actual Motor Home, I was shocked...I anticipated a little thing like SPIA...this is a full grown "A" version as seen in the following photographs.

I have worked the entire day INSIDE the Motor Home, cutting it apart and tearing out all the systems and apparatus...handing the pieces out the large hole I cut in the side. Harre loaded up his Pickup Truck as I handed out the remains of a DEAD machine.

I must admit that I was shocked at the crude manner in which the Motor Home was built...I am not an engineer, but I could NEVER accept a machine to travel the highways and hope to stay together being built the way this machine was constructed.

Removing the Air Conditioners (there were two of them) from atop the roof was a particular "harry" experience. They are held in place on a flimsy roof by two 1-inch square steel tubes resting on the side walls. They were heavy as the dickens, but I managed to - from inside the beast - shove them off the rooftop to fall onto the ground.

I also must admit that my carving into the vitals of such a machine has been emotionally difficult for me...my life is now surrounded by just such a machine...and from sad experience I have learned that SPIA is also designed and manufactured in a careless manner using materials totally unsuited for the purpose...anyone want details, just ask.

But, I will finish the job...probably by tomorrow evening.

I also want to comment on Ron's gift to me when I visited he and Vicki a few days ago. Ron gifted me his second book, The Mark. I have stayed up late reading his "Novel". I have previously read the complete series of the "Left Behind" books. The Mark is every bit as well written and perhaps more "believable" than the Left Behind series.

Religion, is a reflection of what I have found in the Deep South.. and I would be amiss if I did not comment on it.


Please say HELLO to Harre Cooney, my Host for the third time during my recent walk.

This is the Motor Home I have been assigned to dismantle. I started by cutting a large hole in the starboard rear to get access inside and create an opening to remove the innards.

So far, all has gone quite well. I have not injured myself. The motor home is nearly gutted. Only the refrigerator, stove, toilet, and one closet remain to be removed.

I plan to complete the job by tomorrow evening.

When complete, the roof, sides, and every item will be gone...only the vehicle running gear will remain.

This would be a great opportunity to take my anger and frustration out on folks who have wronged or cheated me...

Strangely' and to my great relief, I have not found a single person who fit into the category of wronging or cheating me. I feel VERY good about that.

It is now 8:00 pm; it is very dark out. As I prepare to lie down on SPIA's bed, I do so with a bit of guilt...having spent the day desecrating one of her kind.

I wish all a good night. I will return to the road shortly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DAY 252: ON THE ROAD TO STARKE, FLORIDA

Please go to Blog DAY 172 for background information re the Harre Cooney:

I have returned to the home of HARRE COONEY and his wife MARYANNE, where we three (SPIA, SAM & ME) are invited to take some R & R while we fix up SPIA and help Harre around his ranch.

SPIA is snugged up to the lakeside shed, complete with electrical hookup and fresh water.
Tomorrow, we have to ourselves as Harre and Maryanne have previous appointments to tend to.

We may have found a solution for SPIA's worn out leaf springs holding up the "Home" part. With the added weight of SAM cantilevered off the back of SPIA, there has been a severe out of balance condition since leaving the Peace Arch. SPIA is unstable at the front tires...especially when braking.

Before heading North on the next (Winter) phase of our walk, we MUST find a solution to get SPIA balanced out...this may mean new rear springs and overload shocks (shock absorbers), or perhaps we must leave SAM behind in Florida to be retrieved at some later date.

Our original plan was to spend three (3) months at Harre's ('til about January 01, 2012) to wait for warmer weather up North...I just don't know if I can sit still for that long. As much as I have been looking to spend time with Harre and Maryanne - which I do -, the call of the road is so strong, I would not hesitate to set out tomorrow morning...snow, ice, or cold be dam....d.

I have invited a number of my friends to help choose the walking route. Our general route will be:

from LAKE CITY, FLORIDA - along the East side of the Allegheny Mountains (perhaps along the barrier islands - OCRACOKE, CAPE HATTERAS, KITTY HAWK, -), thence up the Shenandoah Valley with a quick stop in Washington D.C., thence to Manhattan Island (New York City - where I lived nearby in WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK for nearly 20 years),'

thence up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal - following the canal all the way to ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA (where my Great Great Grandfather made somewhat of a name for himself a few years back)'

then turning West under the Great Lakes, then following the USA/CANADA border back to the Peace Arch in Blaine Washington - with possible side visits to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and a trip or two across the border to visit some of Canada's treasures.


I give this general outline so that anyone may participate in our route selection to visit a favorite - or desired - place near to the main trek.

Oops...a number of gnats somehow found their way inside SPIA's living quarters while I was typing this up...I have the itty bitty fan going to cool the humid evening air a bit. To get rid of the critters, I gave them one shot of CUTTER Insect Repellent - they were congregated around the ceiling light...

Not expecting any spread of the spray, I was surprised that the fan forced it around the back wall and directly into my face. I received a bit of spray inside my mouth about 10 minutes ago - I rinsed, gargled, and spit a number of times, but the top back corner of my mouth near the throat is giving me some pain...I feel fine at the moment and continue to rinse with clear water. If it keeps up, I may ask Harre to take me to ER just to be certain all is OK...

We shall see...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DAY 251: SAL BATREE, MISSISSIPPI

There are eight -yes - eight puppies this new Mama must tend to. Ron and Vicki, my Hosts during the past two days, picked one to take home as soon as they are weened.

I made it to SOSO, MISSISSIPPI, to be received as an old friend. Actually, I met Ron, Vicki, and Sandra - Vicki's Sister - as I walked up SR 28 a few weeks ago. Seemed a natural thing that I stop by on my return to Florida.


Many hours were shared inside this 'back porch" screened in room looking out on the trimmed lawn, the bird feeders, the garden which seems to produce something new all year long, and the dense forest surrounding the house...the forest where SAL BATREE lies hidden away from prying eyes.

Ron and Vicki's home. I was invited to stay for two nights - longer if I wished -. Found that Ron and I have much in common, chatting for hours on end about subjects most would not sit still to listen for 5 minutes.

Rose Of Sharon, growing - it seams - wild in the front yard.

Not too far from Rose of Sharon - and in the middle of the lawn, is this mound of delicately processed soil. Beneath the mound lives a CRAW FISH !!!...yes, the same little fellow the miniature of the LOBSTER. I simply could not believe that these "fish" lived on land far from water, so Ron pulled up You Tube, Google, and Wikipedia which give an astounding series of videos on the Louisiana Industry of raising and marketing CRAW FISH.

Every morning, a handful of chickens - a couple roosters like the gent above standing guard - produce a dozen or so eggs...fresh eggs hot out of the chicken for breakfast...which Ron had on the table before he called me out of sleep in my own bed with King Size quilted mattress...Yum.

Lunch and Dinner were mostly of veggies and meats grown at home or by neighbors in SOSO.

For many years, Ron owned and operated this "Chicken Farm". Today, his Son Ron, JR, operates the same ranch, but with many more times the number of chickens...with a few head of cattle roaming around the stunningly green pasture grass - made so healthy from the "Hot" nutrient filled EXHAUST AIR pumped through the Chicken Houses...some of which are seen above.

Two new Chicken Houses, the fans easily seen. At the far end of each Chicken House is a ground to roof mesh curtain with three to four rows of horizontal water pipes dripping a continuous stream of water onto the screen. The large fans pull the water-laden air into the Chicken Houses to cool the rapidly growing chickens

A "flash" photograph of one half of the 500 foot long by 50 foot wide chicken house.

Chicks are delivered from Ron's Client - a competitor to that famous "chicken man" when the chicks are only four hours old. Each Chicken House receives 31,000 chicks.

The chickens in the above photograph are four (4) weeks old and already weigh 4 pounds. At seven (7) week they will weigh 7 pounds, at which time, Ron's client comes to claim his full grown chickens, which we all know so well.

The entire operation is automated. The client furnishes not only the chicks, but also the feed with is complete with vaccines, nutrients, hormones. Two pounds of feed per chicken per week produces one pound of chicken per week...one of the fastest growing living animal.

Ron is experiencing superb mortality rate with his charges...loses something like 2% over the entire 7 week period. He raises four to five groups of chickens per year.

Ron now has eight (8) of these chicken houses - 30,000 chickens per house x 8 houses = equals a lot of chickens to look after 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

and, Ron JR seems quite pleased with it all

Please say HELLO to Ron (Jr) Gavin, chicken rancher supreme.

I might mention here that Ron Sr gave me his book SAL BATREE, which takes place in SOSO, MISSISSIPPI. Ron, Jr. is "Curtis", a leading character in his Dad's book.

The subject of the book is a SWAMP with historic background, lying totally on the Ranch property of Ron, Sr. I have enjoyed reading SAL BATREE, and have met many of the characters in the book - all of whom are real live family and neighbors with changed names. The places are also all real. I have also visited most of them.

One can find the book on FACEBOOK : SAL BATREE; or by going to www.JR GAVIN.COM, or from the Library of Congress Control Number 2009910733.

Ron has published a Sequel to SAL BATREE, entitled "THE MARK", which I received as a gift yesterday. I am already 1/4 through it...some might find it disturbing...I find both books fascinating.






When full grown - in three weeks - this 500 x 50 foot room will be wall to wall with fat chickens, with little room to move about.

Ron Sr. expressed his feelings - he raised chickens in four of these same houses while Ron, Jr was learning chicken ranching from his Dad - that some changes are being considered to benefit the conditions under which the chickens spend their 7 weeks - the total time they will live.


SOSO, MISSISSIPPI to the casual tourist - like me - looks like a sleepy little village.

Ron Sr. yesterday took me on an in-depth tour. I was blown away. One of the homes only a few blocks from SAL BATREE is pictured above...one of many high quality / expensive homes hidden away off the beaten path.

One residential street in an up-scale neighborhood.

This is a local Cattle Ranch...as beautiful, neat and trimmed as any I saw in all of the USA.

The rancher's cattle know just what to do with their small lake - now nearly filled with water - on the hot early Fall day.


Ron asked me to take a walk with him around his property. No problem...as Ron picks up a deadly looking Machete. We have to cut a trail, I ask...no, Ron replies...I carry the knife to defend against the Rattle Snakes. Vicki told me only two days ago one was on SR 28 in front of their driveway...and, when I last visited, Vicki said the day before I got there, there were two (2) COPPERHEAD snakes in the front yard.

Make sure you keep CLOSE behind me and step where I step !!! No Kidding !!!

Like glue, I walked into the snake infested forest behind Ron...his machete swinging out whacking this branch, probing behind a log or tree root a foot or two away.


These two gorgeous guys are Ron and Vicki's Rat Terriers.

Ron says...com'on guys we're taking a walk into the woods...the two of them led the way, scouting ahead and beside us sniffing out snakes.

They did their job well....I returned without any viper teeth in me; in fact, my record is still clean...having walked over 10,000 miles of "mostly" snake infested forest, desert, and bayou, and am still looking for my FIRST snake.

Vicki says...how lucky can you get...they are all around here.

Ron led us on a slow deliberate walk the 1/4 mile through his forest along a "road" which he "mows" once a year in October.

Along the way, Ron named every tree and plant we came upon, such as this Poison Ivy - the three (3) leaved stinging plant.

and, these huckleberry bushes.

plus many varieties of Mushroom - which Ron admitted he did not know the names.




Quite a variety, Huh?

Then, too, we met up with webs hanging between trees at least 12 feet apart. This fellow's web was easily 4 feet in diameter. Ron let them be as they eat tons of bugs, as we ducked beneath or around the silk threads leading up into the tree branches.

This spider is about the size of the back of my hand...about 3.5 inches across.

So, at last, we come to SAL BATREE.

This swamp has a Beaver Dam at the far end - behind the tree line -. The dam is at least 300 feet long says Ron. The swamp is alive with Water Moccasins (very poisonous snakes ) and a few alligators.

Today, we could not even see any water. It is either dried up - as many waterways are, or perhaps the beaver dam broke...In any event this is the first time Ron has seen the water plants reaching over 10 feet above the normal water level.

With Ron Gavin's permission, I post this photograph which is the cover for his book SAL BATREE. This neighbor was wading near the shoreline of the swamp where the next photograph was taken by me yesterday.



SAL BATREE lost in a forest of grasses.


Ron took a different route back home...trying desperately to roust out a snake for me.

I
After that long walk in snake infested forest and swamp, Ron and his buddy have earned a rest on the swing rocker.

It is now Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 7:30 pm. SPIA, SAM & ME are settled down in the parking lot of a WAFFLE HOUSE restaurant - one of my favorite breakfast places just outside the Florida city of PENSACOLA.

Tomorrow, we will drive on I-10 the rest of the way to LAKE CITY, FLORIDA, then take SR100 the 30 miles South to STARKE, FLORIDA, the home of Harre, who has kindly invited us to stay while we prepare for our final dash around America.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

DAY 250: ON THE ROAD

A coupe miles North of GAINSVILLE, TEXAS, we came upon this Soldier...to my eyes, a magnificent piece of art dedicated to those who did not come home from World War II.

I caught the Monument as the Sun was setting behind the camera.

The Monument was a centerpiece for a modern Rest Stop, complete with PERMANENT Security Guard

Turning from the WW II Monument, I caught this scene of the Sun slipping behind the covered Picnic Area.

SPIA, SAM & ME spent the night parked between the two above photographs.


A few miles North of the Texas / Oklahoma border lies the Arbuckle Uplift...a millions of years old mountain range running East to West...the entire range now worn down by wind and rain into a narrow row of hills dominating an otherwise flat prairie extending far to the North into Oklahoma and to the South into Texas.

Another view of the Arbuckle Uplift.

We three Sojourners are driving from FORT SUPPLY, OKLAHOMA back to STARKE, FLORIDA to prepare for the next phase of our stroll around America.

Thought I would add some photographs from my recent visit to GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA.

Not too many years ago, GLACIER NATIONAL PARK was literally covered with living Glaciers.

Today, nearly ALL of the Glaciers have melted, leaving the peaks to the rocks and soil.



Where the Sun don't shine, some snow is hanging on.

but, one must ok carefully to find the Glacier remains.

Arriving at the Visitor Center at the Summit, a herd of twenty or so Big Horn Sheep greeted visitors right in the middle of the parking lot. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera, so missed that once in a lifetime opportunity to be up close and personal with some very wild and dangerous animals...The big guys were slamming into each others horns not 5 feet from parked cars and astonished people, including myself.

They were also playful with Humans. A Park Ranger - not 25 years old, and cute as the dickens, chased after the Big Horn Sheep yelling...I told you guys not to come near our visitors...now Git ...as the Sheep broke into two or three small groups and ran off in different directions...Our fearless young lady Ranger, chasing after one group, knowing full well that the others would turn right back to entertain us visitors...I really believe the entire performance was choreographed.


Not to be out done, I happened upon a small group of Mountain Goats while walking 5 miles or so out from the Visitors Center.

These Mountain Goats are about 6 feet tall and the same in length. They look to be calm and friendly...a big fraud I was told...they are also extremely dangerous.

These three photographs (I have many more) show a particular moment of my close encounter with a single very big Mountain Goat.

I was walking on the path which that animal is crossing over...He turned and walked directly up to me...not 10 feet away and stopped looking me in the eye.

Telepathy told me that this trail was HIS trail and I must move out of the way so he can pass.

I did as he ordered, stepping a foot or two off the trail...whereupon he walked forward, nearly brushing past me, but making no move to touch me.

I save this photograph for last. This is how I first observed this beautiful animal.

From his perch above Lost Lake, he purposefully walked over to the path, confronted me, and when I moved out of his way, strolled on by.

I have been fortunate to travel extensively in many places in our World. These photographs are a sample...if of interest, I would be pleased to share more on this Blog as I prepare to walk the rest of the way AROUND America.

We three are holed up in a Truck Stop on I-20 about 10 miles West of MONROE, LOUISIANA.

In the morning, we drive to SOSO, MISSISSIPPI to visit with Julius.

nite nite

Friday, September 23, 2011

DAY 249: SEILING -WOODWRD - FT. SUPPLY, OKLAHOMA

Please say HELLO to Leslie.

Yesterday morning, Leslie served me breakfast in a small cafe in the town of SEILING, OKLAHOMA. The following photographs are taken from hanging pictures in Leslie's restaurant...pictures many of us have never seen - I have not - . I look to Leslie as the modern lady of a SEILING steeped in history of famous persons of nearly two centuries ago.

My walk took me to many of the hallowed towns of the Old West.

Main street of SEILING, OKLAHOMA. The restaurant is at the far end of street on the left.

SPIA spent the night and a good part of the day across the street - US 270.

The Native Americans - Indians - called this beast the IRON HORSE.

It is, of course, a wood burning steam locomotive of the early 1800s


These are framed photographs - I photographed them hanging in Leslie's restaurant.

Judge ROY L. BEAN...the law West of the Pecos.

WILD BILL HICKOK.

LT. COLONEL CUSTER, and GERONIMO
INDIAN WAR CHIEF, GERONIMO.

LILLY LANGTREE...a world famous actress and hostess of the same era.

In the past 30 years, I have had some affiliation with modern-day activities handed down from Lilly Langtree.

CALAMITY JANE.

LITTLE ANNIE OAKLEY.

No truer words were ever spoken.

A painting which says so very much. Little America about 100 miles East of Salt Lake City on I-80 (which I have walked and many times driven to) must have looked something like this.

This building WAS a Motel.

It has been refurbished into storage units in the town of SEILING, OKLAHOMA.

A home in SEILING, OKLAHOMA.

and, another.

US 270 venturing West through endless Prairie of Oklahoma.

The hay trucks are rolling around the clock.

Somebody's Dream.

Vastness of the Great Plains is awesome to behold...to walk across it is not to be believed.


In every direction, the Great Plains of Oklahoma / Colorado (not to forget Texas) the horizon never gets any closer.

This depression in the land is often called a "Wash". In the bottom of this Wash is the following small stream...the stream actually created the Wash.

The Stream...today, just a standing puddle...but when it rains, it becomes a raging torrent.


This is one of the 70 foot long Wind Propellers headed for a tower nearby.

Each Wind Tower has three such propellers turning a generator atop the tower. The Generator Room is large enough for many men to stand up and work in.

A recently harvested wheat field.

and, another.

This is the VERY tiny village of FORT SUPPLY, OKLAHOMA.

In this Blog, I have always referred to WOODWARD, OKLAHOMA as my "final" destination. As I got closer, it dawned on me - old age setting in - that Jody and I last Summer turned around at the village of FORT SUPPLY, about 10 miles short of WOODWARD.

So, yesterday, I walked on to FORT SUPPLY, closing the Diagonal Crossing of America from the Canadian/US Border at the Peace Arch to Florida, a distance of some 4,000 miles.

FORT SUPPLY tribute to her Military Members.

and, a second memorial...

Two vintage businesses in old FORT SUPPLY...the Bank and the Drugs (Drug Store).

Across the street is this partially preserved Church.

Two miles down US 270 lies this Oklahoma State Prison.

Twice I walked slowly past this Prison. The second time by, the Prison sent out an official demanding to know why I was strolling up and down outside their Prison.

We chatted...the conversation turning away from me and to the 6 years that the Guard had lived in FORT SUPPLY...about his wife and three children...when a radio call summoned him back to the Prison...

They probably tracked my history down from the confrontation I had last Summer in Colorado with no less than eight (8) guards / police, all pointing guns at me...but that was another story to be found in an earlier Blog.

A memorial dedicated to Indian Hunters of Buffalo...please click click...it is interesting.

Wolf Creek...where the last Battle between the White Man and Indians occurred in Oklahoma Territoy.

About Wolf Creek Battle...

Local scenery along US 270 between WOODWARD and FORT SUPPLY, OKLAHOMA.

And, so concludes my planned walk around America. I have completed something in excess of 10,000 miles in 12-1/2 months...the route:

Peace Arch, Canada/USA Border Blaine, Washington to Key West Florida via:

1. Oklahoma City

2. Bakersfield, California, El Paso, New Orleans, Cape Canaveral.

...a large Triangle: Peach Arch - Bakersfield - Key West - Peach Arch.

I will now take a 90-day break in STARKE, FLORIDA. SPIA needs some modifications and repairs. On or about January 01, 2012, I intend to walk North along the East Coast Seaboard, up the ERIE CANAL to ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA...then West around the Five Great Lakes, across the top of America - N. Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington...back to the Peace Arch.

When I complete that planned walk, I will have walked the circumference of the entire USA plus a diagonal between the two most distant points...

A total of something on the order of 16,000 miles.

My appointed return to the Peace Arch is August 15, 2012.

You are invited to join me as I intend to blog all the way.

It is now 8:15 pm, September 23, 2011. I am overnighting at a Rest Stop on I-35 on the Northern outskirts of GAINSVILLE, TEXAS. In the morning, I will drive SPIA to the small town of SOSO, MISSISSIPPI, where I am invited to spend some time with my new friend, Julius...Julius furnished me a bottle of his home-made MUSCADINE wine, which I just happen to be enjoying at this very moment.

nite nite.