Passed By

Sometimes when you travel, you step out of the ordinary. Away from the highways, sometimes away from the pavement, you find places where time has seemingly passed by.

Todd, North Carolina is one of those places. A railroad line once terminated there, there were mills and shops, a growing community. Lumber fueled everything, and when the trees were all cut, the trains stopped running.

Today, there is the Todd General Store, a church, and a canoe/kayak rental shop in one of the old train buildings. The tracks are gone, a paved road now follows the old rail bed. An old caboose and a diesel locomotive sit on a tiny piece of track, faded and rusting.

We rode our bicycles for several miles along the river and stopped in the general store. A mix of old hardware and new tourist memorabilia, antiques upstairs. They sell some basic groceries and serve food from behind the old meat counter. An eclectic collection of unmatched tables and chairs fill the center of the room clustered around an old wood stove. Every Friday night they have a dinner special and live bluegrass music.

Six o’clock, baked chicken and homemade mashed potatoes, homemade soups and cake. The food was good and plentiful. By seven almost every seat was taken. Two guitars, a banjo, a bass, a mandolin, and a fiddle. They played for two hours. Old Hank Williams tunes, gospel hymns, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, and Tom Dooley, all played for twenty-five people sitting in an old store.

You can fall in love at first sight with a place as with a person.
–Alec Waugh


Outside the Ordinary

Every year, to celebrate out wedding anniversary, we try to get away. We’ve been doing a fall trip to the mountains, staying outside of Boone, NC. in a very old cabin.

It is a chance to step away from the ordinary. We hiked along a creek with a series of small waterfalls yesterday. It has been damp and rainy, but the woods are beautiful. The colors of fall are just about gone and there is the feeling that winter is close.
For all the pleasures of the other seasons, autumn has been our time. Being up here brings back memories of all the other times and places, of how young we were and how we thought we were all grown up.

Love vanquishes time. To lovers, a moment can be eternity, eternity can be the tick of a clock.
–Mary Parrish


Now most people are going to think, when they read this story, that Taylor Mitchell was the victim of coyotes.

I think she was a victim of her upbringing, that mindset that lets so many people wander through life thinking that bad stuff just won’t happen, nature is like a Disney movie, and people really are good once you get to know them.

I love the woods, I will be out hiking later today, but I do not pretend that nature is benevolent. Bad stuff happens. Nature is tooth and claw. Some people are good, but some are monsters.

A medium framed revolver chambered in .357 Magnum would have allowed her to continue her hike in peace. Even a stout walking staff and the will and training to use it might have driven off a couple of coyotes.

Before anyone bothers to say that letting people carry guns in parks is bad, let me point out that people are carrying guns in that very same park today. Men with rifles are hunting those coyotes, using guns to make the place safer for other unarmed hikers in the future.

Self-defense is Nature’s eldest law.
–John Dryden

Everything is a Weapon

Everything. A tightly rolled magazine, a cup of a hot coffee, the ground you stand on.
Here is a link to a true story titled Don’t bring a knife to a coffee fight. Of course, a tool made for a specific task will usually work better than one you have to improvise. After sharing the coffee, there was one of these.
No shots fire, bad situation dealt with. Kudos to the author of the article.

Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion… in private self-defense.
–John Adams

Our Tax Dollars at Work

The Washington Post has the story today of a Foreign Service officer that has resigned his position in protest over the U.S. military’s presence in Afghanistan. He’s not a pacifist, he’s a former Marine with combat tours in Iraq. He has what seems like solid reasons for his decision, and I think he’ll do well at whatever career he chooses in the future.

In the interview, as he was describing his work overseas, there was this quote:

“At one point,” Hoh said, “I employed up to 5,000 Iraqis” handing out tens of millions of dollars in cash to construct roads and mosques. His program was one of the few later praised as a success by the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

Tens of millions of dollars spent to build mosques? That would be U.S. tax dollars. The same U.S. government that won’t allow a high school football team to collectively bow their heads at a team meal, the same U.S. government that recently had a case before the Supreme Court in an effort to tear down a WWI memorial in the middle of the desert because it consisted of a cross, the same U.S. Government that has spent the last 50 years stripping any mention of any sort of Christianity from schools and public life, is spending our money to build mosques.

I don’t want my tax dollars spent on religion. Any religion, even my own. I especially don’t want my tax dollars spent on building mosques in a part of the world where we should be bombing, shooting, and killing our way to victory. In Japan in 1945, we forced them to give up their religion and join the modern world. We could do that because we had won so completely that the enemy had surrendered unconditionally. That seems like a better plan, looking at Japan today. Let’s try it again, or as Matthew Hoh suggests, let’s recognize the utter failure of what we are currently doing and get out.

A religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it.
–Sigmund Freud