We started our day on pavement along the Cowlitz River.
Soon pavement became gravel. Ugh.
We stopped at a closed railroad company gate with a deep ditch on each side.
Jeffrey figured out how to open it: remove rock from hole in latch, swing latch, lift heavy gate on shoulder, pull handle to slide cylinder from rusty chamber, swing gate aside. He pushed our machine through, closed the gate, and reversed the process.
Off we went.
The air was 24F (-4C), cold enough to congeal the oil in the front derailleur. Suddenly Jeffrey could not shift gears without pushing the derailleur with his hand.
Jeffrey had ditched his leaking bottle of lubricating oil. He tried loosening bolts to free the derailleur joints. It didn’t help.
Jerry to the rescue!
Jerry is a Northwest Renaissance Retiree. Semi-pro surfer, school construction worker, horticulturalist—he’s happy with his lot, and therefore is rich. He brought some WD-40 and a more exotic oil from his house across the road, and applied some to our machine. Problem solved!
Jerry knows what’s important and what doesn’t matter. He sees history repeating, as ever it does: the lessons of the past don’t stick. The Refugee Act became law 41 years after the SS St. Louis (“The Voyage of the Damned”) was forced back to Nazi Europe with its refugee passengers. People in our government remembered this and were ashamed. Those now running the government have forgotten the St. Louis. Here We Go Again, this time on our southern border rather than in our seaports.
While we talked, Jerry’s neighbor Sam stopped by.
Cyclist Sam also is a Renaissance Retiree. He worked in construction (“If you want to work with concrete and stay young, invent lightweight concrete!”), for UPS, and more. He thinks Americans, deep down, love war, because they want to Belong to a Group. Maybe this is related to the Us versus Them narrative our rulers tell as part of demonizing immigrants and refugees.
After Jerry gave Jeffrey lessons on local history and trees and we’d solved the world’s problems, he and Sam wished us well.
We rolled north.
We passed farms and ranches where animals grazed and gazed.
Animals vocalize. They graze noisily: chew, chew, chew. Somehow it’s charming. But if a human makes the same sounds—especially chewing—it drives some people crazy.
And so it is with migration.
One objection to walling off the southern border is that barriers stop animal migration and isolate animal populations. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) walls and fences are exempt from environmental regulations. Coue’s Rice Rat, Reticulated Collared Lizards, and Arroyo Toads are among hundreds of “nonflying mammals, reptiles and amphibians” at risk from border barriers.
The animals are collateral damage. The real targets are people.
We punish human migrants for Breathing While Foreign. No matter how innocuous, no matter how many Americans need them and love them, some people simply cannot stand their presence.
Just like they love animal crunching but cannot stand listening to grandpa chew.
Those irritable people control the levers of power.
If Mayra were a deer or an armadillo, even if she ate with loud crunching sounds, who’d object to her coming and going and being with the ones she loves?
Not all animals are human. But all humans are animals.
Maybe no animals matter to DHS.
All animals should matter to you and me.
They have not necessarily forgotten The Voyage of the Damned. Stay safe. I admire the cause, and what you’re doing.
Aww, loved the animals! Hope Joey wasn’t jealous! Keep safe on the road!
Perhaps my favorite so far. Apparently llamas sound like a car that doesn’t start. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le3mqXLZwI0
Hope you had a soft pillow and a decent meal.