LJWorld.com weblogs Dakotah Drives
Willits - Redux
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/01/Willits_-_Gateway.jpgThe Fall of 1983 held several events that made world-wide impact. The United States invaded Grenada; Polish Trade-Union Leader, Lech Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize; and the Korean passenger jet, KAL 007, was shot down after violating Soviet airspace.Locally, on November 16, 1983, a man was spotted south of Laytonville, California driving a two-horse team covered-wagon. The Willits News carried a photograph of the event in their Wednesday’s edition, and the man was Ronald McElvery.During the past twenty-five years, Mr. McElvery has traveled over an estimated fifty-thousand miles; covering nearly every state west, and south of Montana. Now, he is once again in Mendocino County and has stopped in Willits.Mr. McElvery (now called Dakotah) arrived late in the afternoon on December 31 and was noticed by one of Willits’ finest (of the Willits Police Department), Officer Mark McNelley. Officer McNelley suggested that Dakotah make camp just outside the city limits by the skateboard park. He explained that there is a nice grassy area where the horses can graze and the gravel parking lot was far enough off the road so as not to cause a traffic problem if motorists drove by and noticed Dakotah.Dakotah was grateful for the chance to rest his horses and relax into the New Year. He set up his portable electric fence (used to corral the horses) and made camp; expecting a two to three day stay. However, around 1pm on New Year’s Day, Officer McNelley, accompanied by Sgt. Jake Donahue and rookie WPD Officer Ryan Hutts, arrived with a bit of bad news.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/01/WPD_and_Dakotah.jpgOfficer McNelley regrettably informed Dakotah that the location he had suggested earlier was unknowingly still within city limits and WPD Chief, Gerardo “Gerry” Gonzalez, said that Dakotah had to move on.The dark sunglasses worn by Officer McNelley could not hide his sense of personal responsibility for the predicament now facing Dakotah. It was too late in the day to find another camp outside the city limits and, even if Dakotah had sufficient funds for a private camp, such as the KOA, they don’t allow horses inside their camp ground.Just as Dakotah, the four police officers, this reporter and my photographer, were standing in a circle staring at one another looking for a solution, an angel appeared. Whereas one might expect an angel to appear in a descending cloud, this angel arrived in a pickup. Her name is Tia Ford.When Tia, a member of Willits’ Frontier Days Association, (a non-profit organization dedicated to giving back to its community) heard that Dakotah was being evicted from his camp, immediately suggested that we contact the Frontier Days Association president, Chris White, for permission to use the Association’s property across the street from the skateboard park. Tia obtained Chris’ phone number and the call was made.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/01/Frontier_Days_Assoc.jpgI spoke to Chris and explained Dakotah’s situation. Chris was more than happy to come to the aid of another horseman; especially one who is living a Frontier Days life, three hundred sixty-five days a year. Chris gave us the combination of the lock for the property gate, and Dakotah started breaking camp.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/01/Dakotah_in_Tow.jpgFor the sake of expediency, (and so the horses didn’t have to be hooked up for such a short drive) I used my old Ford 4X4 pickup to tow Dakotah’s wagon across the street to a wonderfully lush pasture that is gated and fenced around the whole perimeter. Thanks to the efforts of Tia and Chris, Dakotah and his team are happily in camp. http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/01/Team_at_Play.jpgWillits’ motto is “The Gateway to the redwoods ~ The heart of Mendocino County” and, in the opinion of this reporter, Willits is also the “Gateway to civility ~ The Heart of Humanity” for the hand extended to Dakotah as he makes his way through the area once again.Whereas Dakotah’s destination is anyplace beyond the horizon, he moves each day knowing that life on this earth is meant to test our mettle and build character. As Dakotah puts it: “…today we all got a chance to grow. One person righted a mistake; another got a chance to help another human being; and I got a chance to grow by not worrying about the outcome; it all works out. Everybody wins today”Drive on Dakotah.Other stories about Dakotah can be found here: http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2008/dec/03/dakotah-is-alive-and-well/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2008/dec/07/dakotah-drives-part-2/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2008/dec/14/the-heart-of-dakotah/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2008/dec/21/inside-dakotah/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2008/dec/23/a-dakotah-christmas/ http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakot...