After yesterday’s thoughtful, cordial conversation with two former Marine pilots, this appeared on the blog, Sixty Somthing .
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013
2013 NC Trip
This Monday, 8 April, 2013 I traveled to Surrancy, Ga to meet my good friend Dick Ward and to give him some company on the last half of his trip to Aiken.
We stopped at the Georgia welcome center on Hwy 301 for me to make a phone call. Before I made the call I noticed a slightly past middle aged man sitting on a recumbent bicycle resting in the shade of the portico of the Welcome Center. He had a friendly face and welcoming smile.
I told Dick I had to go talk to this guy. For those of you read this blog, you may be familiar with my concept of “Historical Strings of Experience”. Well, I felt one of these coming on and I was, this time, prescient for my new acquaintance, Jeffrey Heller, was a soul mate with the gift of gab.
Jeff is a New York City liberal who has a heart of gold and a mild mannered way of expressing his ideas. He told us he was a part time nurse and a part time lawyer whose main interest in life seems to be the legal support of those immigrants requesting asylum in this country. Jeff and I differ in major ways on most political subjects of the day but he and Dick and I were able, through civil discourse, to find small areas of agreement on some things that could lead to compromises.
All three of us agreed that our discourse was one that would probably never occur in the halls of Congress or in the comment sections of the New York Times or the Washington Post.
Meeting Jeff was, at once, a new experience to talk to a long distance bicycle rider and consult with an informed citizen with ideas about how this Nation could be better.
We could use millions with the character, devotion and dedication possessed by Jeff.
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The writer, Colonel Gus Fitch, USMC (ret.), is too kind. (N.B.: Jeffrey still thinks of himself as middle-aged.) But he reinforces a point we have made and proven on each Ride for Human Rights. No matter where we’re born, what work we do, how we worship, how we vote, or where we live in wonderful America, almost all of us want to do the right thing. When we respect one another, accept our mutual good motives, bend a little and avoid loud talk, we end up in the same place more often than you might realize. Respect for human rights is not liberal or conservative (whatever those terms mean). It’s all-American.
Before leaving Sylvania, we took a spin around the village green. Civil War cannon set the mood. Variations of the black plywood silhouette, evidently an art installation, are everywhere.
In the Carolinas and now in Georgia, we saw prison work details. They looked nothing like the chain gangs of legend. The workers wore safety vests and picked up litter or (in this case) ran leaf blowers, mowers and other outdoor equipment. We won’t get into the issue of whether prison labor deprives free workers of jobs. We just think, from the prisoners’ point of view, it was good to be doing something useful outdoors on a nice day.
Gus was born and raised in Statesboro, Georgia. He said it’s a good place to live. He admired the trike and gave us some route advice.
Near Georgia Southern University, we enjoyed a few miles of bike lanes.
Then Gus’s advice got a bit garbled. We made some turns, believed the GPS once too often, and in an effort to avoid those endless dirt side road “shortcuts”, rode about 10 miles more than we had intended. But it wasn’t a waste. We saw trees being harvested on a tree farm, swamps teeming with birds, smelled the fresh pine of log trucks and the stench of chicken trucks, and in Claxton, saw a water tower naming the town “The Fruitcake Capital of the World”. Then we passed the Claxton Bakery, which has a shop. How could Jeffrey resist?
Interesting signs: This is on a local IGA grocery bag. It would be scary in a different context.
This too might be scary, or might not. Context, context.
Jeffrey saw a large billboard touting “Fibermax”, calling it the “Seed of Prosperity” and depicting people next to what looked like a giant block of concrete. Jeffrey thought it must have something to do with health food or, ahem, a laxative. A few miles down the road, it hit him here in cotton country (there are loose bolls by the side of the road), it’s an ad for a high-yield cotton seed. It was too late to photograph the billboard, so we bring you an enormous block of cotton from the Bayer Crop Science Website. You’ll have to imagine the rest.