JeremiasX Goes To Washington (Part 1)
Posted by jeremiasx on September 21, 2007
OK…so the time has come to tell the tale of my trip to Washington, DC for the 9/15 Stop The War protest sponsored by the ANSWER coalition.
I’ll start in the beginning…I was sitting here on my ass at home one afternoon, a couple weeks ago…and saw THIS VIDEO on YouTube about Adam Kokesh and Tina Richards getting arrested for putting up posters advertising the march in the park in DC, arrested even though they were operating in compliance with the park codes and guidelines for such an act. They were the only people arrested for putting up posters in DC (so far as I know) in the last many years…or ever? I’m not sure.
Anyhow, as I watched the video my sense of rage grew against the growing tyranny which I often speak of within this forum and others. I was absolutely in AWE of the dedication of those two individuals to their cause and the way in which it was obvious that they had conquered their fear of the authorities and the authoritarianism which pervades not only our nation’s capitol but seems to spread daily in this great land. The tasering of a student at a John Kerry function yesterday speaks to the same type of typical abuse of authority in my opinion.
So I sat and watched this video and I thought about what I could do to support the cause of peace beyond just hanging out here upon my mountain and talking and typing to the world at large. I wondered to myself if things were really so bad out there like the video seemed to suggest. I wondered if the spirit of Liberty was still alive and well in this country. I decided to take a trip to DC to find out for myself.
Just jumping on ye olde grey-dog and bussing up there occurred to me, and I could have easily found the money for it…but it didn’t seem to be much of a statement. Then I thought to myself…self… you’ve hitchhiked around the country plenty in your younger days…for far less worthy causes, so why not do it this time for a good cause?
I spent about four to five hours convincing my wife I wasn’t either leaving the family to become a holy man or a homeless bum and giving up on life (though we’ve had it pretty rough lately to tell you the truth) and that I believed so strongly in the cause of peace that even if I were to be harmed upon this journey, it would be a small price to pay for standing up for an ideal…though I must admit that my faith is strong enough that I didn’t worry TOO much about that aspect of it. One of my favorite quotes…
“Of my life they may deprive me, but my integrity, never…”
We went shopping for some rations for my trip and settled on some snack packs of tuna and crackers and pop-top cans of ravioli, which were delicious in times when I found myself woefully distant from society or any type of store. (note: I never finished all my rations…never needed to.) It’s not hard to get stuck between exits while hitching due to the number of turn-offs and interchanges one encounters. A lot of walking is standard…I’m guessing I walked at least thirty miles or so on this trip. I broke the soles of my GBX’s before I ever made it to DC.
Mostly I prefer to ride over walking, and the rides came quickly and easily as my faith was confirmed time and time again by the good people who kept pulling over and offering their assistance to me without the hope of fee or reward, and without fear for their own safety or well-being. I’m eternally grateful for those who live their lives in trust rather than fear especially as it relates to this hitchhiking situation. I feel that the more we live by faith and the less we succumb to fear, the more we will become united as a nation and a people.
Ok…so from the top…the first two days were a little slow getting started…
I took off from the house on 9/11 around 9am…I remember waking up six years ago to a world gone mad on this same date…I felt sure that there was no better date to start on the path to peace than the same which our nefarious leaders used as a rallying point to turn us as a nation onto the path of war that same day.
My first rides were short ones through the Ozarks but quite enjoyable…I didn’t know how much I’d miss the mountain air until my trip home. The air is so much different here. Clean, crisp, dry.
I stayed the first night with my good friends in Conway. They are fellow believers in the cause of peace and justice…I upgraded my backpack from a Petsmart to a more suitable military rucksack (thanks Mark!) and caught some much needed sleep after “chili with the homies.”
The next morning I went across town to the university I attended to discuss my trip with my Honors professor…and I tell you, we had a great conversation. He offered his support and even helped me with a few shekels, despite my saying that I didn’t NEED them. I suppose he felt it was one way he could think of to help without walking with me himself, being a man in the twilight of his years and not as sure-footed as I, though we travel upon the same level of time together. I wasn’t about to refuse his graciousness when I saw things that way, and due to his help my experience was much smoother when I found myself in need of a federal reserve note or two. I left there satisfied with my visit to my hometown (Conway, Arkansas) and refreshed…to begin my second day.
The next rides from Conway on managed to get me all the way past Little Rock by nightfall. I was dropped onto I-40 east by Remington Road and walked a LONG distance on the freeway (in the rain) to Carlisle, Arkansas, where I stayed most of the night at the local truck stop trying to catch a ride. As soon as I got there I called the wife to let her know…that I was reconsidering this whole trip. Part of my faith is that if I’m obeying the will of the divine, then my steps are ordered and will be blessed…and that night, I didn’t feel very blessed.
She told me something I never thought I’d hear her, of all people, say…”give it one more night baby…I love you.”
This was a HUGE shock for me…I had spent four HOURS convincing her that I was sane and convicted of my intentions for this trip to DC on foot in the first place. After all that she missed me, she said just what I needed to hear at that moment, or you would be reading a different story most likely.
With those words ringing in my head, I headed to the overpass to catch a little sleep…for those of you who don’t know already, overpasses provide great shelters from rain and even from the cold if you know how to insulate a sleeping place properly. Some are nicer than others. I’d rate this one at about a 7 out of 10.
Upon awakening, I gazed at the beauty of the sunrise from my resting place under the noisy overpass…morning traffic was contributing to a cacophony of thumping and bumping that was making me a bit uneasy after watching footage of recent bridge collapses around the world…a little unfounded fear makes things interesting.
I emerged from my hiding place under the bridge into the morning light and took a picture of the morning star…glorious in the dawn of this third day.
I walked to the entry ramp and sat down in my obligatory post behind the sign that says I can’t legally walk on the freeway…and within maybe fifteen minutes I had a ride down to the next rest area, which I thought would be a good place to catch a longer ride. I had just sat down and taken off my socks to dry in the sun when a man came up and asked me where I was headed, and I told him to DC. He offered to get me as far as Knoxville, which was 600 miles away. I was in like Flynt.
Paul is one of my new friends from my journey who I’ll never forget for many reasons…to me he represents the undying spirit of patriotism and activism despite circumstances which I would say NORMALLY excuse a person from being too involved in a political movement. He drives an 18-wheel rig over the road…an owner-operator to boot, with a fine old green Peterbilt and an ambition to help change the world. I updated my information to the web while rolling 70 mph in his cab on our way through Tennessee…it was a great ride.
When we got to the I40 369 exit in Knoxville I felt the memories of my OTR days creeping back in as I looked around at my old world of truck ports, strip clubs, and freeway interchanges. I hollered on Paul’s CB to find out if anyone was heading on out of there to DC…we caught a response but it was muffled…but by the time we got parked (in a pull-through lane, nicely done) I heard the call from a man pulling into the fuel isle at the Flying Hook..(flying J) which is the same truck stop we had just parked in. OH THE LUCK!!!
So 30 seconds after hopping out of Paul’s truck I was in with Dennis, a company driver from Alabama who was heading all the way up by Bethesda, Maryland…we drove for a few hours and shut down in a Wal-Mart parking lot. I talked to him at length about personal issues he’d had in his life, and tried to offer whatever helpful words I could. I’m hoping for the best for this man…he’s had a lot of tragedy to deal with including the deaths of several of his closest loved ones. His caring for his fellow man was genuine and spoke of a spirit of southern hospitality that has been noticeably dying in the world outside these past many years…here in the South, I mean…
I was dropped off close to the Department of Energy…thought about trying to tell them about salt-water energy as a viable option but the building didn’t honestly look that warm and inviting. Maybe it was the big fence and concertina wire…I don’t know.
I found it’s IMPOSSIBLE to catch rides ON the DC freeways…I took some great shots of stuff I thought was amusing though, like this sign telling motorists to watch for “suspicious behavior.” I took a pic of it…then did the MC Hammer right there in place. I thought it was funny. *shrugs*
Then I traveled along the DC freeway ramps for a while until I saw a sign that was a little more INSPIRATIONAL to me…and I knew that I was approaching the heart of what used to the exemplar to the world for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I felt pretty sure that any place with a street named Democracy Boulevard..had to be in pretty good shape, right?
Not exactly…I’ll tell you more in Part 2.