Sunday, February 10, 2019

Road Trippin': Miles and miles...of heart.

On my way to Casper this weekend (which has turned out to be a frequent trek)…I stopped at an old historical landmark, “Hell’s Half Acre” (pictured below). Despite the single-digit temps (add the wind factor, and it’s in the negative integers), I got out of my comfy “Prius Pod” and took a couple of shots (photos, not espresso). Hell’s Half Acre has been but a glance for destination-bound road trippers buzzing through the flat prairies. I remember, when I was a kid, my folks would stop there to stretch before taking to the road again. There used to be an average-sized billboard sign that pointed to the attraction, but that has long since been torn down and replaced by a small green road sign, and you might miss it if you weren’t paying attention…or didn’t actually know it was there.

For those who don't was the locale for shooting the bug planet scenes for the movie, Starship Troopers.

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, I do still try to get away on the weekends. I always check the road conditions on WYDOT first and plan accordingly. If there’s a good day or two of sun after a storm, I can pretty much maneuver the wind and the roads pretty well. Saw that California was (is) getting quite a dumping…brought back memories of mountain living in Pioneer at 4000 feet.

I sit here at City Brew Coffee in Casper - enjoying two delicious coffee drinks: A Coconut Caramel Macchiato and a Honey Macchiato - scrolling through all of your Facebook posts. I love when you do that, by the way. It’s so nice to see what’s going on in your lives…the ups and downs, laughter and tears, joys and pains. New life with the births; happiness with the relationships and marriages...grief, yet shared memories and celebrations of life for those dear to you who have passed. Thank you for enriching my life by sharing yours!

If you haven’t noticed lately, I’ve taken a long break from political “discussions” and debates. But one post this week in particular caught my eye and triggered a response:

Should we build a wall? Yes or No.

As I much rather prefer questions like: “Bacon on your burger?” or “Espresso at three in the afternoon?”, I indulged the post with my answer:

“Yes…and then we need to tear down that damn Statue of Liberty.”

After all, what it stands for would no longer apply.

Prisons have walls. Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues all have walls. Interstates have sound barriers. There are gated communities, “good” neighbor fences (at least we hope they're good), etc. etc. There are even “invisible fences” to keep animals and pets on our properties. All fences and walls serve some purpose, but while no one thing can keep everything out…what’s more to consider is what is kept inside.

America has a myriad of problems. Domestic violence, child endangerment and neglect, animal cruelty, sex slavery, robbing, thieving, bullying, abuse and battery, suicide, mass murder. Prison overcrowding. Drunk driving. Bigotry. Hate crimes. White collar crimes. Those are just some of the problems I could think of off the top of my head while sipping my coffee within the cozy walls of City Brew Coffee. Walls don’t make problems go away, and Trump’s wall isn’t going to make America’s problems go away. In my opinion, this whole "build a wall" business is a distraction that points a “scapegoat finger”, always posed and ready to shift the blame on a bordering country and/or people. A wall that would keep heads in the sand, noses to the grindstone, and control on the masses…when such monies could be better spent on finding the solutions to the problems that have historically plagued us. Money put towards resources that would improve our communities’ overall health and wellness. Money better spent on our own roads and interstate highways, historic parks and landmarks, our environment and water sources. Money invested in building each other up, solving the crises of homelessness and joblessness.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it sure fell, and fell hard. Hitler’s rise to power didn’t happen overnight, but the impact of his fall surely shook the very foundation of any World War II veteran who may have had to witness the horrific aftermath inside the walls of Holocaust concentration camps. There are students today who don’t even know (and weren’t taught) about the Trail of Tears and the genocide of Native Americans as “progress” pushed out to the "Wild West".

Hey, I get progress. I just don’t get why it has to happen one funeral at a time. I guess we will never learn our history lessons if we continue placing Sponge-Bob Squarepants band-aids on the present’s gaping wounds.

Because America also has an Achilles heel:


What makes America great? Our Constitution. That we as Americans do have rules to abide by and rely upon...rules that should help us in our hopes and dreams to achieve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They should help us. But we are constantly distracted by red herrings, allow bills to pass into law without our knowledge or consent, are taxed without representation. We are gridlocked by extreme partisanship, glued to the political bickerings on the TV news channels and talk radio stations. We are controlled by corporate interests…and all the while the homeless populations grow, crime and violence increases, and prison walls start to bust at the seams.

My mom used to say: “Every generation needs to do it better than the one before it.” Make it better by doing it better. America is great because, along with that Constitution that has survived 229 years and 44 (now 45) Presidents…We the People also have something that is very effective when it is collectively used for the good of the nation:


Each year after the Super Bowl, I have a tradition of watching the movie, “The Replacements”, and there’s a scene where a news reporter asks Coach McGinty (played by Gene Hackman):
Reporter: What will Washington need to get back into this game?
Coach McGinty: Heart. Miles and miles of heart.

I took the photo below on my way back from Casper a few months ago. It's the "Tumble Inn", Powder River. I’m always intrigued by old neon or vintage signs, or fading murals. I get nostalgic, thinking of the eras gone folks just probably drive on by, not thinking or caring about that old motel, an old café or that old drug store that used be a hopping place at one time.

What will it take America to get “back into the game” when it comes to the dealing with its own weakness of greed? How can we “do it better” than the generations before us? How can We The People save the very Constitution that seems to be always used against us, when it was supposed to be written for us? I can tell you right now, it won’t be done with endless gridlock and bickering, nor walls of cement and steel.

It will be done with heart. Miles and miles of heart.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
– The New Colossus, inscribed on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty

Carol Harper

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