Day 13

Miles traveled: 13
Location: Chula Vista

This is the first day we did not move and it felt good. Well, not true, as we did move from the cabin to a tent camp site as all the cabins were taken for the next couple of days. Got to say, this place is cold and I mean cold. Don’t know if it was the deserts that got to me but here I sit in my leather jacket writing on the computer in the camp site and thinking very seriously in terms of going into my foul weather roll to get my sweat shirt. There was more than one fleeting thought about chucking the blog for the night and just crawling into the sleeping bag.

Have done a fair amount of camping but most of it has been in the army or marines. Civilian camping is a strange bird. I guess the first and biggest impressions is that any more, camping is a rich man’s sport pretending to be an outdoor event. In every camp site we have stayed at from New Orleans to San Diego, California, the ratio of tent sites to RV sites runs about ten to one and with the exception of this place most of the tent sites are empty and in a couple of the places, we were the only tents there. This place is quite the cat’s meow as they have a lot of cabins like the ones in the photos.

If I had it to do over again, I would sleep in the cabins as they are about $5 OR $10 a night more than a tent site and it would mean I did not have to bring a camping bag on the bike. That makes for a lighter load when traveling and more importantly, more maneuverability when in metropolitan areas. Then there is the gas mileage. I figure the camping gear came to about 50 pounds which is a considerable differential over 11,000 miles. Also, breaking camp and packing bikes for the road with camping gear takes about 90 to 120 minutes. A single bag only requires tightening a couple of straps and you are on the road.

This is a cool cooking shed or pavilion if you will. The center island is divided into three cooking areas that have stoves and sinks. In a sense it is neat because three sets of camping groups, families or whatever can cook at once and the atmosphere is congenial to say the least and for the most part everyone is perfect strangers. Am totally amazed at the miscellaneous information I pick-up. I would imagine it is sort of like a variation of the Canterbury Tales. The people that talk to us, for the most part, think we are certifiable. However, some are impressed. One KOA campground manager offered us a free cabin.

Our credit card was for the Zen Center and he looked us up on the internet. I later went back to the office for some post cards and he open the conversation by asking about the center. It turns out that he was at Hunter Ligget military reservation the same time I was a rifle company commander in the 7th Infantry Division. He like the idea of the talks on Mothers and Children in the Jails and Prisons of the nation. He offered me the cabin and I was new to the game and regretted it within an hour of setting up camp laying on the sleeping bag trying to wind down while sweating like a champ.

What you have in this photo is an old school bus load with migrant workers from Mexico towing two porta-poties on the way to some agribusiness work site or another in the Imperial Valley. The first thing struck me about this bus was that most of the windows were missing and there was no air conditioning. Then it occurred to me: we are a nation with a staggering unemployment rate and we are hauling in migrant labor to work. Then there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented aliens working through out the nation. At some point on the journey across country, a man told me that American workers could not or would not do the work of the migrants brought in to work.

Then there was a lone motorcyclist that pulled into the camp site in New Orleans who was a machinist in Detroit with his own shop. He said that he could find no workers that were willing to do the work and learn to be a machinists. Early this morning, as I was laying in bed, I could not reconcile all of this information in my mind with my concept of the American worker. So, I went around to everything that I had for the 11,000 mile motorcycle odyssey to the four corners of our nation. Only found one item that was made in America. That was the fiberglass saddle bags on the motorcycle that we made by a man in Arkansas. Even the leather motorcycle jacket was made in
China. So, my question, and it is rhetorical in nature, as these master craftsmen die off, who is going to replace then in the fields and shops of our industry?

I watch men and women getting out of prison and desperate for work hunt and I mean hunt for jobs. They don’t have a chance in the job market of today. Yet, those that take a chance on them, usually find them the most energetic and dependable of their work force. For the most part, it is the small businesses that do the hiring of these men and women. What they get in return is a person that is conscientious, appreciative and willing to work. In the last decade, I have seen this pay big dividends time and time again. However, the small ma and pa shops that existed a decade ago are gone for the most part and the big business for whatever the reason will not go near them.

So, we have a potential super labor force of men and women that only want to get a life that want to and can be an asset to any employer and we have an obscene number of non-felons that are unemployed while all our products are coming from China and our agricultural workers are coming from Latin America.

On a rather comical closing to this thought: several years ago, the Army decided to go to berets. They shopped around for a producer and could not find any companies or sum total of companies that could produce enough berets for the soldiers. So, they had to go to China and let the contract go for dressing our troops.

On a not so comical closing for today: I got a phone call from a young lady in Florida that had been hunting for a job for maybe three weeks. She finally found a job in a gas station across the street from the police station. She did this by going by the gas station every day for over two weeks asking if there was an opening yet. This she had been doing with several businesses. She finally got the job and will now have to move out of her re-entry house program because she can not work past 9 pm. It seems as if she was hired for the 3 to 11 shift. Now that she has a job, the question is: where is she going to put her head down on a pillow till she can save enough money to pay for her room not apartment and not an efficiency but just a room to live in?

Well, it is 10:45 pm on Pacific Standard Time and my batteries are running down. Most likely will edit it in the morning but know this is my best effort for today and that I do wish each and everyone of you well.

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