When I open my eyes and look at the wide world, I become great; when I close my eyes and look within, I become greater still.

There are several things in the news today that really get me going. Women’s rights, healthcare, LGBT rights, immigration, etc.

But something a little less talked about has been put on my plate as of my last road trip so I’ve been doing a little research and the facts are disheartening. While on the road, we were able to stop at Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. I think most everyone knows that US history never really got me going until after I graduated and spent that time out on the road alone (and yes, I’m planning another, longer trip for next year). Now it’s like I can’t get enough and if I could go back and time and have glass of wine with anyone it would be my homeboy, the Third President, Thomas Jefferson.

About a year ago I watched a documentary on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and I was appalled at the poverty going on within my own country.

Here are a few facts:
Unemployment rate of 80-90%
Per capita income of $4,000
8 Times the United States rate of diabetes
5 Times the United States rate of cervical cancer
Twice the rate of heart disease
8 Times the United States rate of Tuberculosis
Alcoholism rate estimated as high as 80%
1 in 4 infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome or effects
Suicide rate more than twice the national rate
Teen suicide rate 4 times the national rate
Infant mortality is three times the national rate
Life expectancy on Pine Ridge is the lowest in the United States and the 2nd lowest in the Western Hemisphere.  Only Haiti has a lower rate. (and I read somewhere that life expectancy was in the mid-40’s – subsaharan africa has a higher life expectancy).

So we met this man, Bill Grothe, who in 1948 photographed the remaining survivors of The Battle of Little Big Horn. He was full of information and happy to talk, but I felt like I was stumbling over my tongue when it came to asking questions. I could hardly come up with more than ‘these photographs are amazing’ – and while he is very well aware of just how important/amazing they are, he seem more concerned with the type of paper they were printed on rather than the subject.

This is John Sitting Bull – adopted son of Chief Sitting Bull.

These proud men that he had photographed were  from this area in South Dokota. If you could only see these photos, these men are so beyond proud of who they are and their history. They would no doubt cry if they saw what their people are going through today.

Why is this not making news? Why is this not a election topic? Why does the government expect these people to live on $4000 a year and some bread/rice handouts?

In the documentary, a woman cried over seeing fresh green peppers on her sandwich at Subway because she had only ever heard of them or seen them on TV before Subway opened on the reservation. I pick those thingsoffmy sandwich.

I don’t know, I’m just so blown away at how we as this great nation can sweep this whole issue under the rug and just not deal with it.

Fuck fighting for shit overseas, why are we not fighting to help our own people? Because let’s be honest. They were here first.

And before you shrug and hit the back button… think about living on $4000 a year. I’m pretty sure I dropped $2000 in the two weeks I was on the road, and that was for fun.

So if anyone is near by me and wants to contribute to a care package I’m going to put together – I would love the help. Things like toiletries (hotel size shampoo/conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc) are in big need. I hope to ship a package off in the next week or two.

Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale

It’s funny…. everyone that’s lived in/around Memphis always asks what I love about the city so much and I can’t describe it. I’m sure it’s different when you live here (my crankypants would be out of control if I had to deal with this heat all summer – and it’s only the beginning of bloody June), but as an outsider – coming in for a few days for good food, drinks and music, it’s just incredible. Everything is so laid back and relaxed, the museums are lovely (though I’m pretty sure once is enough when it comes to Graceland), and everyone is so nice.

We went to the Civil rights museum this morning before taking Cait to the airport. I went through here last time I was in town and it’s just so amazing. It’s interesting to follow around people that are old enough to remember the events or even lived through some of it down in the South. Much like the Vietnam memorial wall, I was stalking people to listen to their stories as they shared with family. At one point Cait and I commented on how we wanted to hug everyone as they told shared their experiences.

Yesterday we toured Graceland. I was surprised at the lack of Elvis impersonators (though one man had the sideburns), but it would’ve probably pissed me off after the first ‘thank ya very much’. His planes were pretty cool and his house wasn’t over the top (though I’m sure it was for his time).

We hit Beale again last night, listened to some live music (these guys were really funny – but not in this video) and had some really great drinks. Super cheap, super yum…

Nothing exciting tonight – repacking and then hittin’ the sack – we’ve got 850miles in the car tomorrow, so we want to get an early start. Yuck.


Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

I can’t believe the weekend is over already!

I’ve got the majority of my photos on facebook tucked safely in an album, but my favorite would be this one of me, flat!Gibbs, Frank Marshall and Mark Harmon. MH blushed and laughed when he saw f!G come in, but Marshall did a double take and was really into the photo as you can see. I tweeted a copy to him Friday night – talked to him Saturday and he saw it and said lots of people had been asking him about it. Too funny. Very friendly guy.

We went to the baseball game yesterday, but it was miserable hot with no shade. We watched MH bat, but then once he was on first base he asked for a runner – it looked like he tweaked his knee. But with no shade, I wouldn’t want to run either. So we watched the first inning and then headed out. I guess he only was up to bat one more time. I got the pics I wanted – I’m good.

Then we had dinner at our usual mexican place – the one with the Sangria/Margarita swirls. So yum. Then, once it was dark we headed up to the OKC bombing memorial with my tripod. I got some great photos (omg, love using the tripod!). It was just so haunting at night. No words to describe it. We ended our night at the Flint Bar/Restaurant for some drinks (the hotel bar). I don’t know what all was in my last drink, but passion fruit and rum and other stuff… and chunks of green pepper. Amazeballs.

So after a few last (long) looks at Mark Harmon over breakfast (benefit of staying at the hotel), we packed up the car and headed south toward Dallas and then out east to Shreveport. It’s absolutely MISERABLE hot (at least for a Seattle native like me) – said 103 on a reader board – so we mostly stuck to the car. But Texas was gross and the drivers are shit (and so are some of the people…? We pulled up to a gas station and there was shit – human – in the parking lot and trailed into the bathroom. We had to go next door to the casino because the bathrooms were closed). We stopped at some Catfish Village with high hopes for… something, but we were pretty let down. The gift shop was equivalent to those in Westport. I could sell better crap from my house.

So now we’re safe at our Shreveport hotel. We hit a BBQ joint for dinner and it was good, but I’ve had better (in Nebraska, mmm). One of the sides was ‘buttered corn’ but it was more like a few corn kernels floating in butter. Um, yum?

We saw lots of evidence that we’re in the South… and funny, not too many US flags, mostly just TX flags. But we got a good laugh out of the man driving his huge pick up, with a cigar in his mouth, cowboy hat and cross hanging from the rear-view mirror. Also, the billboards for gun shows/sales. Oh wow… tempted to stop in, but I’ve pretty much got ‘liberal’ tattooed on my forehead, so… maybe not.

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

And we’ve arrived.

The past few days have been crazy (but mostly in a crazy good way) with little drama and zero tires flying toward my precious car.

We weren’t horribly delayed – the damage to my car is only cosmetic so that can be dealt with when I get home. So Tuesday we hit Yellowstone a little later than we had originally wanted, but we made good time. Lots of Elk and lots of Bison but no bears. I was a little sad.

Old Faithful was a bit of a… well… letdown, but part of that was because the one super obnoxious person behind us that kept say “well, this is going to be the one time it’s not faithful” because we had to wait a little longer. Poor Cait was ready to put her fist in his face.

The gift shops were pretty awesome, not gonna lie, and we probably spent more time/money than necessary. We spent Tuesday night in Cody, Wyoming. We were a little slow in getting going, and after enjoying a decent (free) hotel breakfast we headed on our merry way to Burlington, Colorado for the night. We made a fun stop in Douglas, WY which is big on Jackalopes (my collection is growing), and had some fun there.

Thursday we were up and on the road, making one last longer haul. We got going at a decent time and didn’t make any stops worth noting until Lindsborg, Kansas which is a little ‘Swedish’ town. Honestly, it’s roughly one bad tornado away from not existing, but they had some cute Scandinavian things.

We rolled up to the hotel in OKC, found Bree and high-tailed it to Brix for the Southwest Chicken Wrap and a couple of margaritas. Then we wandered back to the hotel bar and I totes drank a whole pitcher of the worst Sangria (read, not even real sangria) ever. But I paid for it. It was basically white wine, orange liquor and a couple of lemon slices. We chatted with some OKC Thunder (read: Seattle Sonics) fans – the game was right across the street, and then Cait and I saw Mark Harmon come back from a night out with some of his buddies. Clearly I wasn’t the only drunk one. Too far away to talk to him and I wasn’t about to run down the sidewalk to chat him up.

Today is the bowling event, so we’re just chilling before we put our pretty faces on. He was at breakfast this morning and walked by with a friendly nod. Can’t wait for a little chit-chat, photo, autograph… whatever session. 😉