Don’t know what really possessed me to take this trip other than a hunch that I could not place. Also, there were two friends up there that I not seen nor heard from since my days in Special Forces. Not to mention that my distant riding skills needing some brushing up in preparation for the 1,200 mile runs in 30 hours each to and back from Cambridge, MA in October.
If nothing else is to come from the trip, it was good to see these two reprobates and fill in some of the holes that time has created. I guess the single biggest lesson that came from the visit was the importance of have a clear direction in what a person’s life is about. A lot of men I knew from those days have passed for one reason or another but the single biggest discriminator was not having that cosmic glue that gives meaning to life. It is the reason we look forward to getting up the next morning to get into a meaningful life. Bear in mind that each of these men were 70 or closing on 70 years. I need to point out that Ben (on the right) has a Harley-Davidson to die for. Will visit Ft. Benning on my next trip.
The Georgia Highway Patrol and assorted police departments were out in full force on Sunday and Monday. I think their preferred hiding place was on the bridges over the interstate. This gives them lots of distance to spot and single out vehicles that are moving above the speed limits. They had a predilection for bridges with railings so that they could get some clear distant vision while breaking up the outlines of their cars. It must have worked because they were writing tickets to beat the band.
There is no high speed roads going from I-75 into Columbus, Georgia and as such my GPS took me through rural Georgia on a trip that sent my mind reeling. The first stepping stone on this journey down the rabbit hole was the repetitive bone yards of what I thought were torn-up school buses. But then I pulled off the road for a closer look and realized that these were the buses used to haul undocumented farms works from one Agribusiness site to another. These buses where chopped in the same manner I saw and photographed in the journey last summer to the four corners of the nation. We are not speaking of one or two busses but close to fifty and if you count only 20 workers per bus then we are talking of 1,000 undocumented workers working at slave wages reporting for work on a daily basis to be hauled around in the Georgia sun in conditions we would never let our kids ride in much less the general public.
Then I made a circle to take a photo of the business sign in front of the boneyard. It hit me that the name on the sign was not important because it was all the farmers in Georgia that hired the cheap labor to get the work done. However, it was not just the farmers in Georgia but the entire country because we are willing to overlook such practices because not only are we the American people unwilling to do the work ourselves but we are willing to enjoy the cheaper foods that come with such abusive labor practices.
The hight of ironycomes from the fact that we have millions of people out of work and we have the work waiting but it is easier to pay unemployment and give out food stamps to maintain the political status quo as well as . This photo may seem like a little over the top satire or irony but when I turned around to get back on the road the below storage depot with lots of fashionable speed boats greeted me.
No sooner than I pulled out into the highway than I saw the first signs for Andersonville. Being the history buff I am, my mind went back to the days of the civil war. “…Union prisoners of war are pictured at the Andersonville Prison in Macon County on August 17, 1864. Malnutrition and poor sanitary conditions at the camp led to the deaths of nearly 13,000 of Andersonville’s 45,000 prisoners, the highest mortality rate of any Civil War prison….”
Where as the conditions of Andersonville went beyond the pale, I could not help but think of some of the photos of refugee camps in the news as well as some of the ones I had visited run by the UN in Central America. Then, I began to wonder just where do all of these undocumented aliens go for medical treatment? Then again, how do they get feed in the camps they live in. Had a vision of a song from my youth Tennessee Ernie Ford Sings 16 Tons. Yesterday it was cotton and coal and today it is melons.There are those that have told me in the past that this is the United States of America and we don’t do those kinds of things. However, the chopped school buses give lies to that story.
Driving through some of the small towns I did on the way to Columbus, could not help but wonder, just what was it in the nature of the rural south that gave rise to such atrocities. Then crossed under a sign that said Cotton Ave. Yesterday it was cotton and today it is melons.
Am hung up on 13,000 of 45,000 union prisoners dying in a prisoner of war camp in these the United States of America not 20 miles from where I took this photo. What a testamont to our national character. Further testament comes from such incidents as Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears. Then to think of all the men, women and children in the jails and prisons of the nation. Not because they are violent or a danger to the public but because there are a host of men and women as well as institutions that owe their well being to keeping them incarcerated.
Later in the day, I turned the bike south and headed back to Gainesville. As my luck would have it, down came the rains. On this day, I ran into something new. I was in some town and there were maybe four or five bands of rain that were maybe 100 meters deep. I rode through one and came out in a very dry stretch for maybe 200 meters and would hit another rain band. Each time got just as wet as if there was no space between them. It must have been the universe telling me to cool off.
]By the time, I hit I-75 was tired, wet and ready for a meal and bed. Never take off on 300 or more mile trip without a crash bag and it comes in handy every once in a while. As the photo was taken it occured to me that I will have to bring some sort of rig like this on my trip to Alaska next summer as the back rest and highway pegs are essential when riding over 300 miles a day.
The next morning it was up at 0600 and on the road by 0700. Got to say, it was a cold morning and was so glad I had a leather jacket with me. It made the ride warm and comfortable. Left all my heavy duty thinking of human rights abuses behind as I had to focus on highway speeds and the highway patrol. Counted 8 cars pulled over in Georgia by the highway patrol and 2 autos with U-haul trailers pulled over by some sort of Department of Transportation with guns.
All in all a good ride that makes life so worth living. Just something about the open, short conversations at the pumps, feeling the weather, being locked in the world as it is and not some sort of iron coffin with wheels. As I was reviewing this it occured to me that Gen Smedly Butler had too narrow a focus in his book ‘War is a Racket.’ “….In his 1935 book War is a Racket, he described the workings of the military-industrial complex and, after retiring from service, became a popular speaker at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists and church groups in the 1930s….” It should be expanded to be business and politics are a racket.