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Dakotah - Easter on the Trail
Susanville, California is, by any stretch of the imagination, a small high-desert town in the northeast corner of California.
Aside from a few notable people in the Ultimate Fighting Championship league and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) community (Frank and Ken Shamrock), Susanville’s only other claims to fame are having been a ‘former’ logging and mining town and current home to some of California’s toughest criminals (The High Desert State Prison).
We caught up with Dakotah last Saturday and found him camped just outside the main drag of Susanville on Johnsonville Road. A local property owner (and owner of one of the larger self-storage facilities) gave our traveler permission to camp for as long as he needed.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Apr/12/Team_in_Susanville.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards)
The four-acre parcel was just beginning to show signs of spring as shoots of new alfalfa growth had begun to peek past the winter-hardened ground. All of Dakotah’s horses (Ed, Monte, Yuma, Contino, and J.R.) were all standing with their heads down eating with reckless abandon. Their sides were wide and their haunches full; as if to say, ‘life here is very good’.
With the exception of a ration of morning whole-oats, (which they chew with great enthusiasm inside their feed buckets) the team has enjoyed some well deserved time off for their pull up and over Morgan Summit (elevation 5,750-feet) coming out of Chester, California. Remnants of snow still hug the wooded terrain, but spring is indeed taking the earth back from winter.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Apr/12/Morgan_Summit.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards
As we pulled up, we could see that Dakotah was awash in color, as his sister sent him another care package of clothing. His orange shirt glowed in the afternoon Susanville sun, and the matching scarf was rather fetching for a cowboy such as Dakotah; mighty fetching indeed.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Apr/12/Dakotah_in_Orange.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards)
The malady, Tic douloureux n. (del-ah-rue), attenuates Dakotah’s vim and vigor these days. The affliction, which attacks a facial nerve just below his lower lip, comes without warning and makes eating, or any activity that involves touching his face, very difficult. The duration of the attack varies and ends just as quickly as it came.
The only medication for this non-curable condition is Tegretol®-XR (carbamazepine). Dakotah has a few pills left on a prescription he received from the Veterans Administration (VA) in 2004. The label states “Discard after February, 2005”, so I am not sure what the medication is doing ‘for’ him or ‘to’ him.
Dakotah’s son, Andy, found a source from which to order more medication on the internet and is having them sent to my office in Eureka. In the meantime, I asked Dakotah if he had ever taken the remaining pills into a local pharmacy to see if they could re-fill the prescription. He looked at me and said, “…could it be that easy?” I didn’t know for sure, but we all thought it was worth a try, so off to Walgreens we went. We won’t know until Monday if ‘it’ is that easy, but maybe. Who knows? Maybe the VA will come through for Dakotah; I’d like to think so.
The temperature was a crisp thirty-two degrees as we gathered outside Dakotah’s wagon this Easter morning and waited for the sun to rise. The horses were busy about the morning seeking their fill of grass.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Apr/12/Sun_over_the_West.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards)
Susanville sits along a valley in the high-desert with snow-capped mountain ranges directly to the east and west. The sun was casting a beautiful orange glow to the eastern horizon as the foothills, to the west, began to reveal their carpet of green with each minute the sun approached. We all stood looking into the sun and had our individual moment of silence and reflection.
Like many people, I am drawn to the rise of our sun on a new day, and when I take the time to stop and acknowledge its occurrence, my day goes much better. I have been to many Easter sunrise services in my day, so the Christian significance of Easter is not lost on me; however, I think I would like to see more than one sunrise per year before my days on earth are finished.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Apr/12/Dakotah_in_the_morning.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards)
Dakotah finds some of my epiphanies amusing, but he extends kindness to me in the face of the obvious; I don’t get out much. “…these are the rewards of living life in the slow lane” he has said to me on more than one occasion.
Dakotah will be in Alturas, California within a week and very soon his California chapter will be finished. The time of our next meeting is unknown; however, there is much left for us to see, me to write, and Dakotah to live and report from the road.
Drive on Dakotah.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Apr/12/Dakotah_in_horseshoe.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards)