A Veteran's thoughts on Veterans Day


TODAY I PICKED UP LOUIS. He was cold and waiting to go see his girlfriend. He drives a big truck and parked it on the outskirts of Bangor. As we drove I watched him in Clem's rearview mirror. He asked me what day it was. I told him it was Veterans Day. He sneered.

"Whatever..."

I stayed quiet, though I have similar thoughts about what makes veterans veterans.

And then he spoke, looking at me in the mirror. All I could see were his black eyes.

"I'm a veteran... But I only went oversees to watch over my brothers. I couldn't stay here and let them go without me."

He told me stories that were hard to hear. And then it was time for him to get out of the car and walk the rest of way to his girlfriend's house.

Before he turned away he leaned back in the car and looked at me...

"Be careful out there, okay?"

"Thank you for your service, Louis."

And I drove away.

#SpeedDatingWithGod

Note: I am an Uber/Lyft driver and spend part of my time driving strangers from one place to another. I used to think I did this for money. Now, I think I do this to learn lessons I wouldn't otherwise be able to learn.

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Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
— Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

BLACK SNAKE KILLAZ - A #NODAPL Story

DURING MY TIME AT STANDING ROCK (North Dakota) I worked as a videographer on one of Unicorn Riot's affinity teams, which basically means a small group of journalists working on a specific project. My work has been included in UR's feature-length BLACK SNAKE KILLAZ documentary film.

BLACK SNAKE KILLAZ is premiering November 17 in Minneapolis, MN.

UnicornRiot Black Snake Killaz

Black Snake Killaz is a feature-length documentary film about the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. This film explores actions taken by water protectors to stop the construction of the oil pipeline and highlights actions taken by law enforcement, military, and corporate mercenaries to quell the months-long protest. Black Snake Killaz timelines the historical events that unfolded in Standing Rock throughout 2016 and brings you the raw experience from many frontline actions to protect the water. Although the Dakota Access Pipeline is completed, the impact of the movement will be long-lasting. As fossil fuel extraction projects continue to impact some of the most vulnerable communities throughout the United States of America, the importance of the water protectors story grows.

Oh, St. Anthony... It's Me Again...


So... this happened. Many of you know that I hold St. Anthony in pretty high regard. We go way back...

I had an appointment to get Clementine's carpets cleaned at a detail shop very near where Robert Polovina lives. After completing my regular morning rides I dropped Clem off at the shop and Bob came to pick me up. I had $47 in cash tips in my pocket. Nice... I hung out at Bob's apartment for a few hours to do some work and then decided to walk back over to pick up my car. Along the way I thought... "Hmmm... I wonder if there are any Geocaches around here," and pulled out my phone to check. Nope... So I kept walking.

I picked up Clem, paid the bill and headed back out to drive. About three hours later I went to Flagg's Kitchen Store in Veazie to pay for my November cooking class (Pies, BTW)... Put my hand in my pocket for the cash and... no money. I searched my purse. I searched every inch of Clem and then realized I must have somehow lost it sometime that morning. But where? I'd been dozens of places, driven many miles, gotten in and out of the car many times. I just thought... "Oh well, maybe this is just one of those times when somebody needed the money more than I do." And then I broke...

"ST. ANTHONY PLEASE HELP ME FIND THAT DAMN CASH!!"

And then I saw it... a picture of the money on the floor in front of Bob's apartment door. And I got all whiny stupid... I thought... "RIGHT! There are people in and out of that apartment building all day every day. Even I would pick up cash laying on the floor and think... 'OOOooooo! Nice! Thanks God!' "

So, I almost gave up again... But then... a little niggling voice said... "What, THIS time you don't trust me?"

And I said... "Uh, I guess not."

And then I heard that goofy laugh. And I smiled... and turned Clementine back toward town.

Okay... I was heading back to Bob's apartment to look but I certainly didn't hold out much hope. And then...

I heard... "Turn here..." (down some random street)... and "Turn here and drive three blocks." (So, as this was all pretty damn loony... I did those things...) And then... "Turn right and park." (I did.) "Now get out and walk across the street." (I did... and recognized the path that I had walked on from Bob's apartment to the detailing shop.) "Turn to your left and take three steps." (I did.... Remembering that this is where I pulled out my phone to check on the location of any nearby Geocaches.) I looked at all the freshly fallen leaves and felt silly and exasperated. I was almost ready to get all whiny again... "LOOK DOWN"... And I did. And there, right in front of me... was my $47.

And yeah... THAT just happened. I danced around in the Autumn leaves telling St. Anthony just how friggin' AWESOME I thought he was. And yes, I said many prayers of gratitude.

And so it goes...

#SpeedDatingWithGod

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Road Gifts...

So, this just happened, too... More recently than my jaunt with St. Anthony.

I was driving Elias to school this morning (Its Gramma Dell Day). He was asking me something about the Disney song he was listening to.

Out of my right periphery came a HUGE dark flying blob of feathers. I recognized it as a big wild Tom turkey. I WILLED him to flying higher and faster than his obvious collision course with Clem's hood. He just made it but I have no doubt his wing tips brushed Clem's front grill.

I said thanks of gratitude (for me AND the Tom turkey) and drove on to Winterport where I dropped Elias at school, turned around and headed back to Bangor.

I drove two miles and saw a dark lump of something on the road. I was CERTAIN I hadn't hit that turkey, and pretty certain nobody else did either. As I got closer I could see that it was a turkey, but a smaller pullet hen. I was sad for her but kept driving, watching her broken wing whip in the wind of the passing cars behind me.

And then I heard Shell Nelson's voice in my ear...

"GO BACK AND GET THAT DAMN TURKEY! THOSE ARE NICE FEATHERS, RIGHT THERE!!"

And so I did...

#RoadGifts


Long hard day...

Long hard day. My tipi poles were stolen. May mean I turn the truck around and head back to Oregon. It's too damn cold out here to try to survive in a tent. And if theft is a constant concern, maybe my support needs to take a different form. Disheartened, but Ken Downhill has been a huge support.

Coming to Terms with Historical Brutality

IN LIGHT OF THE TRAUMATIZING BRUTALITY that is happening at Standing Rock, many, many, MANY people - and in particular women and children - who have experienced abuse and trauma in this lifetime apart from Standing Rock are being triggered with PTSD symptoms. Know that you are NOT alone. Know that this is a COLLECTIVE response to this experienced abuse. Unbridled rage is a part of that. As very loving, wise and supportive friends have counseled me... It's okay to grieve. Its natural to feel the traumatic pain arising. Understand what it is and reach out to those you love and who love you for support.

Its okay to cry, even when you may not fully understand why.

I have not yet come to the place of forgiveness or release for my own familial abuse. One day maybe that will happen. Further... Standing Rock is a collective reminder of the extent to which the United States was "founded" on greed and genocide. This country has been a killing field for 500 years. Software gaming companies have made a mockery ... and millions of dollars... desensitizing society to militarized brutality and killing. Its time to wake up to all of it and do something about it.

#SpeedDatingWithGod #StandWithStandingRock #NoDAPL #WaterIsSacred


Morton County deputy preparing for engagement

Water Protectors Cite 1851 Treaty for Eminent Domain

Cannon Ball, ND - This morning, at approximately 8am central, water protectors took back unceded territory affirmed in the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie as sovereign land under the control of the Oceti Sakowin, erecting a frontline camp of several structures and tipis on Dakota Access property, just east of ND state highway 1806. This new established camp is 2.5 miles north of the Cannon Ball River, directly on the proposed path of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This site is directly across the road from where DAPL security dogs attacked water protectors on September 3rd.  

Climbing Back in the Saddle...

QUANDRY SOLVED!... Several months ago Dale Cody brilliantly included a full-fledged Blog into my professional portfolio site: dellhambleton.com. I named it "The Road I Travel"... wrote a few blog posts and haven't touched it since last December. But, here I am... back in the saddle.

I think the original name is a good one... And so, I'm relaunching "THE ROAD I TRAVEL ~ CONFESSIONS OF AN EPIPHANY HUNTER." I'll spend the next few days figuring out how to get in and navigate the inner workings of the blog (and probably will make a bunch of blunders... and learn how to undo/fix them...). Honestly, I often get distracted by interesting, shiny things so, it might take a few days...

I want to throw out some "Kudos" and thanks to a couple of bloggers who I find inspiring and from whom I continue to learn much... First, Dale Cody (who helped me design my main site and was insightful enough to include a blog knowing I'd want one eventually) blogs about his travels in GOPHER BAROQUE. Second, Nick & Darience created GOATS ON THE ROAD to help others learn how to get out on the road, and stay there (if that's what they want).

BTW... I might as well throw out this SHAMELESS PLUG... Dale and I are available to help YOU, YOUR COMPANY, YOUR FAMILY... or your Grandma... with creative projects of virtually any kind... Check out our design studio DHARMAPHARM (www.dharmapharm.com).

I also launched EPIPHANYCHICK'S MOBILE LEGACY LAB the day I loaded LaRoc onto Everett's back, and am available to come to your location to create a stunning family legacy video, corporate legacy story, scan and repair old photographs, etc. Currently, I will conduct ELDER video/audio recordings Pro Bono for those in hospice care. (I only ask that you cover my transportation expense and provide a place for me to park and a reliable power cord.) (Check out my project portfolio for samples of my work - www.dellhambleton.com).

BARTER: Both Dale and I barter. Have a need? So do we! We're open to your suggestions.

HOUSESITTING: Both Dale and I are experienced and responsible housesitters with great references! Both of us are available to house sit solo pretty much anywhere in the U.S., Canada, Mexico or South America. Drop us a line!

Preparing for a new journey or ending one, I take time to be grateful and ask for guidance.

Rethinking Travel Meet-ups...

LAST NIGHT we went to a Global Travel Meet Up group to meet other people who like to travel. I was miserable.

Not only do I have a pretty serious head cold, my hearing isn't so great. And the floors were concrete so sound bounced around everywhere and landed in my ears like a plate of mashed potatoes. And then... a man sat down beside me who really only wanted to hear himself talk, except that, he really wasn't saying anything interesting - with one exception - he said he'd taught ESL for 7 years. (I imagined the poor people trapped in his ESL classrooms.)

I scooted my chair back so that he could talk to Dale about climbing. Dale was gracious, but quickly understood the prognosis of the one-directional conversation.

I wondered what the point of the whole evening was. And I think that, when it comes to travel, I'd prefer to just do it and meet pilgrims along the way...

I'd just prefer to meet pilgrims along the way...

I'd just prefer to meet pilgrims along the way...

Cheers! ... to beating the Battle of the Boxes

It is 2 a.m. on Dec. 1...

As of today, I will have no belongings in a storage unit, and neither will Dale. This is sort of a big deal. Storage units have allowed us to pack up stuff and shove it out of sight where we subconsciously "know" its there, but smugly "forget" so we can tidy up our living space. We can't do that anymore. I mean... we could... but, we're choosing not to.

Most of my friends and family remember the Grants Pass Summer "Furnace Purge." (If you don't, no worries. If you do, I promise not to relive it now...) Dale and I moved into a pretty cool apartment in St. Johns recently (across the Willamette River from Portland). That "pretty cool apartment" is now packed wall to wall and almost to the ceiling with the last of our moving boxes. Yesterday I was ecstatic to find my dish drying rack. (Yay for small joys...)

Here's the deal... even with all of the purging, selling, giving away and trashing... we STILL are struggling with having too much stuff! I have no answer for this. This is not some quippy post where I pull some wise ass answer out of my hat...

So... with MOD nicely wrapped up (for you who forgot, I celebrated the complete month of November for my Double Nickle birthday... so it was Month of Dell... ) I am dedicating December to (quietly) completing the purge of belongings that I no longer need and that no longer needs to fill up my bubble space. We have a big red laundry bucket that I have been filling and then taking to the thrift store. Some things I'll hand deliver to homeless folks. (There are a lot of homeless in Portland.) Some things I'll be handing off to friends and family. In the end, I know that whatever I truly need will always show up. There is being wise and thrifty, stocking the pantry and personal belongings. And then there is that line of "too much... just too much."

December is going to be about moving my ass back across that line.

I am finally enjoying the Black Flower Tea my daughter, Anna, gave me a long time ago.

I am finally enjoying the Black Flower Tea my daughter, Anna, gave me a long time ago.

To initiate this quest I made myself a cup of tea from a stash of Black Flower teas that I just found in my unpacking. My daughter, Anna gave them to me sometime ago. I decided to stop saving them and enjoy them... now.

Aaaaand... I have a truck

Yep, this happened. Meet the newest member of our adventuring vehicular family - A 1996 Ford F250 XLT 4x4 with heavy duty towing package, gas engine, & automatic transmission...and that hefty 8-foot bed that I need to haul Phat Betty.

This gem was owned for the majority of its life by the electric utility in Cambridge, Idaho. For the last five years, by a great old guy by the name of Everett Blackburn. Both the electric utility and Everett have taken great care of this truck.

I have a number of people to thank for helping me find and buy this great truck: First, Keith Darling found it, AND helped me test drive it - Believe me... Keith knows how to put a truck through a road test, including its 4x4 abilities. ;) Second, Donna Darling offered to carry the financing short term, and third Ken Downhill is willing to have us redesign the Better S-Penders website in exchange for the truck's purchase price. (Plus the marketing video that I've been promising him for over a year.)

We're driving to Cambridge this coming weekend to pick up the truck. I'll then be driving it to Grants Pass, Oregon to have it checked over from top to bottom by one of the two mechanics in this country that I trust - Rick at Auto Pro. Then its over to Les Schwab to check out the tires.

I'm not sure of the date that we'll be heading back to NC to pick up Phat Betty, but that's on the horizon. Yay!


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Its Just What We Do...


I FIND IT HUMOROUS that DharmaPharm's five main projects right now focus on 1) Yoga; 2) Urns; 3) Marijuana; 4) Logging Suspenders and 5) Tattoos. Gotta love this freelance lifestyle! (We do!)

In addition, Dale and I 1) have our first photography show coming up in the first couple of weeks of November at The Peddler and Pen Tavern in Portland; 2) We just rented a fantastic Artist Work Loft at Cathedral Park Place in St. Johns; 3) We are working on two awesome video training programs that will be available via UDEMY, and 4) I was just contacted for an ISD (Instructional Systems Design - the incredibly expensive masters degree I earned in 2007) training position at a nationally renown global outdoor equipment company.

Yep, things are lookin' up! ;)

Oh yea... and 5) this coming weekend RiversWest is hosting a wooden kayak refinishing demo class at the Boat Shop featuring my wooden Pygmy Kayak - Jane. Stay tuned for the video!

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FINDING ELIAS

I DROVE ACROSS THE BELLY of the United States to find my grandson. I had not seen him since he was a baby and now he was almost 4. I'd decided the time had come. I stopped to see some friends on St. George Island, Florida before driving on to Bradenton where my grandson was living with his mother. I had a lot of time to think. Mostly, I thought about what "home" really means...