Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Bear Mystery

The main coastal highway is Route 17 and it goes through sprawling Myrtle Beach. We had a quixotic family sorting out to do near there so we went on another major highway artery (bleeding) inland. During this major roadway traveling I disconnected from liking South Carolina and I think this is part of my prejudice about “the South.”
First off, the urban sprawl, flat roof ugly and full on frontage advertising signage just goes on for miles and the devastation of natural features into these expendable pine lots- it’s just a model for deadening the spirit’s connection with community and the land …Then the creepy word “plantation” on all kinds of development…The whole lack of planning and responsibility for the blight of how it looks and how it is for the vehicle traffic with long lights, hardly visible road signs and just plain old jumble. There would be no possibility for pedestrians or bicyclists to survive a street crossing, none would be attracted to even want to try—everything just melds into crap row, even though the elements aren’t really crap, that’s the outtake.
The communities off the major roads have either an elegant grace like Tara wannabes with weepy Spanish moss off enormous oaks or they are communities of little homes that look like they are settling into the sand of their small lots, quietly decomposing, the former inhabitants looking Caucasian, at first glance, and the latter, African-American, maybe there is overlap or integration but we didn’t see it. We just get one wavering line of sight on this journey so I can only report with this Mason-Dixon jaundice-thing kicking up. We have lots of states to work this out through though, this is the time.

We crossed the Santee River and took a turn into an area called Cape Romain. It was late in the day, after doing the family side tour and Michael sporting his new Veteran’s Day Vietnam Vet haircut. We needed to process veggie oil and camp so we went into a beautiful and inviting looking place that was part of the Santee Wildlife Refuge. No one was in the campground but there were some tents set up and a dog barking through the trees, otherwise it had quite a wild feel. A bald eagle soared out above my head and herons hunched and launched as they croaked their hoarse alarms while we wandered the mown part of the campground. We noticed the smell of mammal death coming from the wood margins toward the swamp, which was just at the edge of the campground. Then, in an open pit we glimpsed down to the hacked up, skinned carcass of a bear.
This sighting, the absence of humans and the calls of wild creatures in the night set off all the Deliverance bats in my belfry and I think that is what this trip is especially good for. I stayed in my shard-like alarm bell feelings without letting my mind yap until the fear cleared and I organically recognized the demarcation between the feelings and how useless pre-terror is. Michael, who is a bona fide warrior, said in the morning that he respects fear and was amazed at himself in the middle of the night for not getting us out of there when we both sensed, and discussed, possible risk. How much risk was there though and how much of it is the unfamiliar people and environment?
We drove into the Francis Marion National Forest after that, which is a huge tract of timber pine, deer hunters, and not-on-the-map sub-roads, basically the same subtext as at Santee but in the bright light of day. The Wampah creek runs dark chocolate brown here and the swamps are still wet even though this is the worst drought in recorded history. Here I remember the veterans, civil war on, and all that divides us in this moment with real renewal clearly visualized as exceptionally hard work. The first step is sinking into the generosity of a peaceful and open heart in the presence of the mystery of the bear, which continues.
ps--We reported about the bear and I couldn't get SC photos to post.


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