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Dakotah Drives - The Sun Sets


http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Mar/29/Dakotah_into_the_sun.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards)

From the satellite view provided by Google-Earth, Red Bluff, California, is surrounded by mountain ranges that make this little central-California town seem like a pin on the green of par-six eighteen hole golf course.

Today, the wind was formidable and the clouds, perched high in the atmosphere, took on an other-worldly purple and pink hue that sat on the horizon like a backdrop from a high-school play.

White-capped Mount Shasta appeared high in the north sky and Mount Lassen was clearly visible to the east; both standing as a reminder that, even though all is calm now, this part of California, in geological terms, had a violent past.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Mar/29/Dakotah_Leaving_Red_Bluff.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards)

The past few weeks have been unpleasant for Dakotah. Local police departments, not schooled on every aspect of the California Vehicle Code permitting any mode of “animal” travel (either ridden or driven) on California highways, just can’t wrap their minds around this mode of travel in a modern age.

If a man perched on the deck of a modern-day Conestoga wagon causes consternation for the men and women in blue, imagine the shock of seeing someone driving a cart led by a team of swine or lama?

The most powerful foe in a person’s life is not necessarily from external forces, but those entities that rise up from within. Maladies, that lay dormant for such long periods of time that we tell ourselves they no longer exist, on a fateful day reappear as if to say, “we’re not done yet, you and me”.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Mar/29/Dakotah_6.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards

Tic douloureux n. (del-ah-rue) [also called, facial neuralgia, trifacial neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia] causes shooting pains of the facial area around one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve, of unknown cause, but often precipitated by irritation of the affected area. Or as Dakotah put it, “it is like someone is stabbing me in the jaw with a sharp object, and it hurts so bad I can’t eat, drink, or sleep; and don’t make me laugh.”

When asked what triggers an occurrence, Dakotah said, “…it comes and goes when it pleases. I literally can be talking or eating and feeling just fine, and pow. It stops me in my tracks. Then, I have to just wait it out. Sometimes it is a few seconds or several minutes; I never know. It can start simply by washing my face in the morning. I just never know.

Dakotah is an honorably discharged Army veteran, and has a prescription in his possession that helps him cope with this unpredictable and un-curable condition. Tegretol®-XR (carbamazepine), a powerful anticonvulsant medication, was prescribed by the Veterans Administration (VA) for Dakotah; however, the side effects make him look sleepy and talk very slowly.

Additionally, I couldn’t help but notice that the prescription Dakotah held in his hand (more than half-full) was dated 2005; now four years past expiration.

When I asked Dakotah why he hasn’t sought a follow up visit with the VA, his reply was classic Dakotah, “…whaaat! I’m going to just drive my team through a main street in a city big enough to have a VA facility and leave my (now five-horse team) parked in front of the building as I go in? Oh, maybe they’ll have a valet parking service too. Whaaat, this is life on road ole Chuckie-boy”. Well, he had a point, and the thought of leaving his team with a valet did make me laugh a bit.

Now that we’re back home in Eureka for a few days, my wife and I will attempt to wait out the phone maze, that is now standard procedure for any under-staffed organization, to see if we can get Dakotah another prescription filled. I wish I could tell you that I am optimistic.

So much can be taken for granted. Even a simple trip to a pharmacy can be an event for those on the road; especially for an otherwise very healthy sixty-eight year old man living each day in front of the next.

The California sun will soon be setting on Dakotah’s wagon. He is currently camped along a section of Highway 36, approximately twenty-five miles east of Red Bluff, California.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Mar/29/Geological_Scape.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards)

The terrain bares the remnants of California’s geological past with sparsely populated scrub-oak trees rooted in reddish clay among the remnants of rocks scattered as though tossed with the wrist-flick of a giant hand.

“If I ever come back this way, Highway 36 is the way to go. No traffic, lots of grass; it just couldn’t get any better than this. I’d tell everyone that ‘this’ is the way to come into California…”

Dakotah spoke of heading toward Montana or Idaho this summer and the possibility of spending next winter in Texas. His brother still lives in Arco, Idaho and Dakotah said he might go by there too.

I suspect Dakotah will follow the winds of freedom, as he knows it; taking nothing, as he goes, but the experiences of the day. Leaving nothing behind but the memories we mortals, bound by our choices and apprehension to live outside the world we have created, hold in our heart of the man and his wagon.

Drive on Dakotah http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Mar/29/Setting_Sun_on_California.JPG (Photo by Jennifer Edwards)


Charles Edwards 9 years, 2 months ago

Hi, MD; I wrote an article for the Rural Heritage magazine this month that gives an update.

I'll send you a copy!

Thanks for asking.

Ronda Miller 9 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Chuck;

It is nice to see what has been transpiring in Dakotah's life. Seems there is never a moment when something isn't taking a claim on his otherwise calm life...existence.

I hope you are able to get him a new prescription; pain of the type you mention is a life changing event when it occurs.

Lovely photos from Jennifer....how long will you continue to follow his life?

Charles Edwards 9 years, 2 months ago

Hi, Miss Ronda;

My days of being able to drive and see him are rapidly coming to an end.

I have been traveling almost 700 miles round-trip the last few times and it is becoming hard to take the time away from the TV Production business and the book I am currently writing.

Jennie and I will try to catch up again week after next as Dakotah travels up and out of California on Hwy 36.

He and I will stay in touch via cell phone as long as he is in a service area, but that will be hit and miss as he travels the mountain ranges.

The 'other' story about Dakotah is developing, as his son, Andy and Andy's mum, Pat, are coming to the U.S. this summer. I hope to interview both of them while they are here so I can start on my next book; this time, about Dakotah, Pat, and Andy.

Stay tuned; it ain't over.


Mr. Chuck

Alia Ahmed 9 years, 2 months ago


Thanks for the update on Dakotah. I'm sorry for his pain. I'd be really surprised if you get a prescription refilled for him without him being seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Jennifer's photos are magnificient, as usual. I loved the one with Mt. Shasta in the background.

Charles Edwards 9 years, 2 months ago

Hi, Alia;

Jennie says thanks for the encouragement! She really appreciates the fact that someone, other than her hubby, thinks she's got a great gift.

I am pretty sure I will not be able to get him a script, but maybe the VA will mail a fresh one to his address of record? I don't know, but will soon.

Peace to you,

Ronda Miller 9 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Chuck

It will be with interest that we await the full(er) story of Dakotah...great that his son is coming here as that will save you expenses and time out of your otherwise crazy busy schedule.

How old is Andy?

How long since they have been together?

Why did Andy and mum move to England to begin with? (Yeah, I know, buy the book)

All the other things in our "modern" lives seem so incidental when it gets down to the most base components of our world - family, nature, connections. Dakotah's story certainly helps put it all into perspective....

Thanks, Charles...and thank Dakotah for sharing......such an isolated life in some respects...but one that is so far reaching in other aspects.

Charles Edwards 9 years, 2 months ago

Hi, Miss Ronda;

Yeah, buy my book, dang it!

Andy and Pat are native to the U.K. Dakotah met pat when they were both young adults whilst Dakotah was stationed in Germany.

Andy was a "love child" of sorts, who is now 45 years old; married with two children.

Thanks for asking and I so look forward to telling this story.


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