Posts tagged with Lifestyle

Wagon Teamster Recovering

I spoke with Mississippi Highway Patrol, Sgt. Mike Cain this morning for an update regarding the accident between Bob Skelding and a semi-tractor trailer.On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, at approximately 11:27am/EST, Wagon Teamster, Bob Skelding, was traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 45 toward Meridian, Mississippi.Visibility on this two-lane country road was good, under a partly cloudy sky. For reasons yet to be determined, the semi overtook Bob's and struck the back of his wagon at full speed; estimated to be between 65-70 miles per hour.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/11/Dolly_By_Post_PA.JPGDolly - Wagonteamster.comThe impact of the semi totally destroyed the wagon and ejected Mr. Skelding clear of the vehicle; however, two of his Percheron horses, reportedly Doc and Dolly were killed upon impact. The two other Percheron horses, Joyce and DeDee are being cared for by local veterinarian, and are expected to recover.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/11/Joyce_In_Garden_PA.JPGJoyce - Wagonteamster.comBob was taken, by ambulance, to Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi where he underwent surgery to repair undetermined internal injuries. Bob is expected to recover and is currently in the Rush Hospital ICU; standard procedure for this type of injury, according to Sgt. Cain.Bob's website has been flooded with posts of support, prayers, and well-wishes from all across the nation, as it seems the journey of a man taking life one day at a time brings all of us to the roadside to cheer him on. And there is a host us standing alongside Bob with our hearts and hands raised in chorus for healing and hope for Mr. Bob Skelding; Wagon Teamster.

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Wagon Teamster is struck in route

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/10/Bob_By_Wagon_Ready_4_Walls.jpgDear friends of Dakotah;I just received a phone call from an East Coast Wagon Teamster, named Lauren, who let me know that at 11:27AM this morning, Mr. Bob Skelding ( http://www.wagonteamster.com/) was struck by tanker truck while traveling through Scooba, Mississippi this afternoon on Highway 45.I contacted the local hospital emergency room to find out how Bob is doing, but am waiting for a call back. Initial reports are grim, as I was informed that all two of his Percheron horses were killed in the accident; however the condition of his other two horses have not yet been confirmed.I will post a story about Bob once I have more information, but at this time, please hold Bob and his family in your prayers.Peace to you all,http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/10/6-28_Driving_3_and_me_wagon02.jpgChuck

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Dakotah - Anticipation

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/09/Talking_Horses.jpgHow many times have we heard, “A watched pot never boils”? It has also been said that what separates the human species from lower forms of life is that humans have the power of reason and anticipation.To that end, I was anticipating a day of observing Dakotah visit a few of his new Modesto friends, in addition to reconnecting with his sisters (after a nine-year period of time), daughter, and grandchildren; of whom, this would be the first meeting of his grandchildren. One of the ironic points of comparison between Dakotah and me is that we share an estrangement between ourselves and our daughters. My youngest daughter (age twenty-four and a mother of a son) has not been part of my life for almost six years. Although I can not point to a ‘single’ incident that caused the estrangement, suffice it to say I fell off the pedestal on top which a little girl places her daddy, and have been unable to find common ground for co-existence.In many ways, (and I have to be painfully honest here) I was hoping to learn how reconciliation played out in hope of creating the same scenario for myself; but it was not to be. When I called Dakotah to let him know we were only an hour away from arriving to his Modesto camp, he told me his daughter called and cancelled their visit.I asked Dakotah how he felt about his daughter not making it Sunday and he stated “…I’m okay with it. I’m going to be heading toward Redding on Wednesday anyway; so we’ll have another chance to visit the next time she drives her route up that way. It might be better if it was just her and I anyway; might give us some privacy not having other company”Dakotah’s camp sets just beyond where Modesto suburban sprawl meets rural America. A young family adopted Dakotah, and his horses these last two weeks, by opening their small walnut farm to him. As we pulled up, his horses were running around the grove like children chasing each other on a park playground.Dakotah quipped, “…I have to keep moving the fence (his portable electric horse-fence) further out. They have been eating the grass in the grove right down to the nubs. I’ll bet they (the grove owners) are seeing ground they haven’t seen in years. My horses are better at mowing grass than a weed-eater” Rain finally came to the area the previous day, but the sun was out just enough for two of Dakotah’s sisters, his brother-in-law, and a few friends to come by and share their stories.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/09/Dakotah_and_Sister.jpgNine years is a long time not to see someone, and changes to our appearance seem to come more quickly as we age. As a van pulled up and stopped, in Dakotah’s opinion, too close to the road to be safe (this two-lane country road could at times be mistaken for a drag strip), he approached a woman as she opened her car door and said, “Ma’am, you really shouldn’t park there; people around here drive too fast and might hit your van…” To which the woman responded, “…Ron? It’s Junyelle, your sister!” Dakotah turned several shades of red and began laugh as he reached over and gave his sister a hug.The scene that followed was a cross between Christmas morning and the unloading of a naval supply ship. A cadre of clothing, blankets, and pantry items were packed and zippered neatly into clear-packing containers; in such a quantity one might think Dakotah was planning to open a concession stand.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/09/Dakotah_-Christmas_in_Februrary.jpgOf all the items brought by his sister, two appeared to be an instant favorite. One was a red cowboy shirt with pearl buttons and an artistic barbwire design embroidered across both sides of the two chest-pockets. And when I say red, I mean bright red; the likes of which road flares burn in the dark of night.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/09/Red_Shirt_Dakotah.jpgThe other item was a cookie confection made with two Ritz™ crackers with a peanut butter center, covered in dark chocolate. Dakotah offered me a cookie, and before I could decline (I had just eaten lunch moments before she arrived), Dakotah looked at me and said, “…now I wouldn’t ordinarily mind if someone didn’t take me up on my offer of food, but these cookies were hand-made by my sister, and they are world famous”. And so I did, and am glad I had.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/09/Dakotah-_Sisters_and_BNL.jpgInasmuch as Dakotah hadn’t recognized his sister, I asked her if Dakotah had changed much. She said, “…no; you have to realize, we’re (the family) used to Ron. You guys are the only ones that think he’s special…it’s just Ron”. The same might be said of Dakotah’s other home in Arco, Idaho; the town in which Dakotah’s brother lives.Dakotah asked that I contact the editor of local newspaper, the Arco Advertiser and send him some of the stories from the road so that his brother and other friends might enjoy reading them. When I told Dakotah that my phone call and email letter had gone unreturned, in typical Dakotah style, he looked up at me and grinned and said, “…a prophet has no honor in his hometown.” So it seems.Sunday, Dakotah added a new member to his horse team, a six-year old Quarter Horse gelding, named J.R. This horse is a loving gift from two local men, Derrick and Don Wilson, and for which Dakotah is most thankful.J.R. is a beautiful horse that will soon join the other four on the road to somewhere else; leaving behind memories of a man we have come to know and miss as we wait for the next time destiny calls us to a common point.Drive on DakotahOther stories about Dakotah can be found here:http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakot... 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/dakotah-drives/2008/dec/31/dakotah-a-place-in-time/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/01/willits-redux/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/05/dakotah-the-drive-ends/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/10/dakotah-the-winters-end/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/13/dakotah-remarkably-unremarkable/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/19/dakotah-a-yin-and-yang/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/23/dakotah-powered-by-light/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/27/dakotah-agent-of-change/

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Dakotah - Small Graces

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/31/Dakotah_and_Ed_II.jpgThe week has been busy for Dakotah as he settled into camp just outside Modesto, California. This week we produced a small internet movie to portray the events of the week. I hope you enjoy the view.You will have to copy and paste either of the links below onto your browser:http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=51505487 orhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H74g0_...

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Dakotah - Agent of Change

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/27/Dakotah_At_Peace.jpgcat•a•lyst (noun) an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.Since I have been covering the travails and travels of Mr. Ron “Dakotah” McElvery, I have come to know that he is a simple person living within simple means; traveling at speeds (4-mph) that make his existence other-dimensional.By this I mean, Dakotah lives among us; yet he passes by nearly unnoticed until we take, for just a moment, our eye off a destination or goal and see someone out of ‘our’ ordinary. I am witness to a change of consciousness where people, responsible and dutiful people, stop and say “you (Dakotah) are living my life; I only wish I could do what you are doing…”http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/27/Officer_McNelley.jpgLike the lyrics of a popular song, I have heard this comment recited by a chorus of Police Officers, cowboys; moms and dads; retirees; writers; successful business people; wealthy and those of modest means; irrespective of gender.During one of our recent conversations, Dakotah said “…we are living in a time where the greed finally caught up with us. We just had to have ‘it’ bigger, better, newer, faster, prettier. We borrowed against a future we did not own and it is sad that many are now faced with those consequences. But the truth is, folks really only lost what they didn’t have in the first place and now they don’t have it again. I hope we learn this time”I have a few axioms by which I live, and one such states that: Show me a person who nothing to lose and I’ll show you a bold person.” And by reason, those who have nothing to lose stand to have everything to gain. A few bold people showed up this week and I have to say I admire their courage. If it is true that “Many are called, but few are chosen” then I recently met a chosen few.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/27/View_from_Anns_House_1.jpg(Picture by Ann)Going on ‘The Road’ can be literal or it can be a metaphor for leaving a place of surety toward an unknown adventure or life-change. Ann is from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her New Mexico home offers breathtaking mountain views from her kitchen window and rainbow vistas over her luscious flower garden.From Ann’s MySpace blog, she states “…in the spring, as the melting snow water comes down the hills, the first meadow larks are such a pleasure to hear! Sound at last, after the silence of winter (though there is still silence otherwise, which I treasure!)” http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/27/View_from_Anns_House_2.jpg(Picture by Ann)Yet, amidst all of this comfort and identity, Ann is leaving. Her last blog comment is in the spirit of the ‘Road’, “… I will miss all this, as well as the wild iris, the summer rain and thunder storms, the rainbows and sunsets. There is something about the big puffy clouds here.....maybe the arid atmosphere or the high altitude.......that I will not see in the new home I hope to go to. But I want a year-round garden, a vintage cottage, a beach walk and to be near my children......so one phase of life must be let go of before a new one can begin…”Another traveler that has come into the life of Dakotah for the last few weeks is Lauren. Lauren lives in Pennsylvania and has had the dream of driving a wagon and team of horses for over twenty years. She has been writing Dakotah for advice on several issues relating to building her own wagon and assembling a team of ponies to pull her across the northeast. At age twenty-seven, and after two years of symptoms, Lauren was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Hemosiderosis (IPH). “… I was 27 when I was diagnosed with IPH and was told I would have about five years (to live), and since two (years) where gone, I waited to die. When I was 31 and death didn't take me I went back to work. And here I am today, almost 18 years later; alive and kicking, a bit slower, but still here.…”When I asked Lauren why there was so much passion in her quest, she simply stated, “…my life has been one journey after another, but this one has been in my mind for over 20+ years My IPH isn't going to ever get better, slowly over time it will kill me or at least try. So it's now or never” and so it is.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/27/walt-whitman3.jpgWe see Dakotah on this land-locked ocean of highways and roads that intersect our coming and going, and we’ve often wondered why? I came across a poem by Walt Whitman (Aboard at a Ship's Helm) that sums it up best:The bows turn, the freighted ship tacking speeds away under her gray sails,The beautiful and noble ship with all her precious wealth speeds away gaily and safe.But O the ship, the immortal ship! O ship aboard the ship!Ship of the body, ship of the soul, voyaging, voyaging, voyaging.Drive on, DakotahOther stories about Dakotah can be found here:http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakot... 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/dakotah-drives/2008/dec/31/dakotah-a-place-in-time/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/01/willits-redux/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/05/dakotah-the-drive-ends/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/10/dakotah-the-winters-end/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/13/dakotah-remarkably-unremarkable/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/19/dakotah-a-yin-and-yang/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/23/dakotah-powered-by-light/

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Dakotah - Powered by Light

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/23/Solar_Panel_NO_Background.jpgAside from the natural curiosity of ‘why’ someone would adapt ( as their lifestyle) a life lived from the perch of a horse-drawn covered wagon, is ‘how’ such a person actually does it.An email arrived regarding the use of solar panels to facilitate the electrical needs of Dakotah's wagon. The answer became sort of a primer for solar power; I like to call, Solar 101.I have found the following website to be very useful http: //www.solarliving.org/ when it comes to all things solar. This organization is located in Hopland, California, and is open year-round with living exhibits of alternative energy and water conservation. It is worth stopping by if you find yourself in the area; but in case you can not visit in person and would like to know more, they have a catalog in addition to the website.There is a basic rule for solar panels to keep in mind. The bigger the panel, the greater the power generated by it.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/23/Solar_Panel_-Wide.jpgPower is the term used to describe the wattage used by any electrical device. In addition, there are two basic types of electrical current to consider; AC (alternating current - the devices you plug into your home outlet, like TV's, toasters, etc) and DC (direct current - the type of electrical devices you might plug into your car cigarette lighter socket.) Most automotive vehicles today are 12-volts DC, and in the US , most all of the smaller electrical devices are 110-volts AC.Solar Panels (cells) collect sunlight and through a solar-voltaic process, convert the sunlight into electricity which, in turn, charge the 12-volt DC batteries (also called Deep-cell or Marine Batteries - car batteries discharge too quickly) A device called an "Inverter" converts the DC voltage to AC voltage which will power small household electrical appliances (laptop computers, radios, etc). The disadvantage to using an Inverter is that it also consumes power (wattage) to make the conversion; so it is best to use only 12-volt DC equipment whenever possible, or you may have to buy additional batteries. So, all that being said, make yourself a checklist in advance to determine your specific solar power requirements:1.What electrical devices will I need?2.How much power will each device need?3.How much power will all devices need if I have to use them all at once4.After calculating your power needs, then look at how many batteries it will take to provide the power.5.Use the calculations above to determine how big each panel and how many solar panels it will require to re-charge (or put back) the power you consume on a daily basis. The cost of a solar panel is proportionate to its size, as the size is proportionate to the amount of power it can generate.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/23/Solar_Panel-_Close.jpgLastly, and this will be a major factor in how much electrically powered equipment you can use, is how much direct-sunlight is present during any given day? Even though a person has a sufficient number of solar panels with which to produce the power needed, the sun has to show up to make the panels work.If we lived in Alaska during the winter, we're not going to get enough power to charge our batteries with only 3-4 hours of daylight. Or, if we lived in the Pacific Northwest, where it is gray, cloudy, and raining many of the days, we're not going to get sufficient sunlight either.A good rule of thumb when considering a "Dakotah" lifestyle is: take only what you need, and improvise the rest. Otherwise, you'll be hauling a generator in your supply trailer with a spare 100 gallons of gas to keep up with your power consumption.Happy Trails.

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Dakotah - A Yin and Yang

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/19/Press_Pass.jpgI’ve come to understand that everyone has a story. Whether it is Dakotah driving his team down an interstate or county road, or the people who actually stop to talk to him; we’ve all got a movie being played-out to some conclusion on the big screen of life.Possessing a Press-Credential is not a license to kick-in the doors of people’s lives; however, every once and while a door is opened and the invitation is given to enter and explore. This week, such an invitation was received; and for a few hours, Dakotah entered the world of Jack Smith of Modesto, California.The Ukiah Daily News published several stories about Dakotah. The most recent story prompted one of their readers to post the following letter to Dakotah’s MySpace page:“Hi, Ron. I live in Ukiah and saw the article about you in our paper. When I read that you were heading to Turlock I wanted to give you my father's phone numbers...you two would have a lot in common. He is 83 years old...owns his business for many years...has been married to mom for 60 some years and raised five children. You are probably wondering at this point what you guys could have in common. Well, in his dreams he has lived the life you are now living. Meet him and you will understand… His name is Jack Smith (we fondly refer to him as "Jack Wayne"...you'll understand that too… Hope this works out...I want to hear about it. I have told him about you and he is looking forward to hearing from you. Jill Hartmann - Ukiah, CA” http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/19/SW_Tire_2.jpgAt the time of the Jill’s note, Dakotah was camped behind S &W Tire Service in the little levy-town Walnut Grove, California. Dakotah’s horses needed a few days rest and new horseshoes, so S & W owner, Trini Jaime, offered the pasture behind his shop for as long as needed. Additionally, Dakotah had been looking to replace the tires and rims on his supply trailer (in tow behind the wagon) to decrease the drag created by his current set, so the tire store was a welcome sight.Traveling to Modesto from Walnut Grove, by wagon standards, is about a four and half-day’s journey, so Dakotah obliged my request to pick him up and take him to Modesto this past Friday to meet Jack Smith.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/19/Dakotah_in_Sunglasses.jpgDakotah dressed for the occasion in his Wild West buckskin suit, Open Plains hat, and a vintage pair of Varney sunglasses he found at a Good Will somewhere along his twenty-five year journey. When I called Jack to get directions, he offered to meet us near his home and guide us back to his house for a visit.Jack pulled in behind us as we stood at the rear of my pickup on the Chevron lot. He was driving a gold Lexus sedan, and Dakotah looked up and gave me a grin and said, “this could be interesting’. Jack is a man who possesses a persona bigger than life, and as he exited his car, I knew what his daughter meant when she said we’d understand why they affectionately refer to her dad as “Jack Wayne”.Even though Jack is eighty-three years old, he walks tall (about 6’1”) and had a strong handshake as we greeted one another. Jack was tan and looked fit. His face bore the rewards of a life lived under the shadow of responsibility and, at that moment, I knew this was a man whose feet were solidly on the ground.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/19/Dakotah_in_a_Lexus.jpgJack asked to have Dakotah ride with him, and so Dakotah opened the passenger door and climbed in. It was quite a site to behold. Dakotah started his morning in a horse-drawn covered wagon, and by the afternoon, he was traveling in a Lexus sedan; what a paradox.We spent the next hour sitting in the living room of Jack’s home as he and Dakotah bantered back and forth with stories of the great outdoors and travel by horseback. At age sixty-five, Jack started a five year period of summers leading “city-folk” on horse excursions through Yosemite park four times a day. Jack’s daughter, Jill, told me, “…I was single at the time, so I would go up on the weekends and take a rubber raft and float down the river all day and meet dad back at the camp at the evening. You should have seen him. He would keep up with all those young cowboys until two O’clock in the morning and then be up and ready to go again by five…”http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/19/Dakotah_Poem_on_the_wall.jpgJack showed Dakotah pictures and mementos of the cowboy life he was able to muster between his other life as husband (for 62 years), father (of 5 children), grandfather (of 10 grandchildren), great-grandfather (of 20 great-grandchildren), and employer (of over 160 employees in three locations).As I listened, it became evident that Mr. Smith lived his life to the benefit of everyone else; and in such he found fulfillment. But, as evidenced by his cowboy hat collection that lined the ceiling perimeter of his study, and the few photos that adorned his wall, Jack has been able to keep his cowboy spirit alive all these years. And so it remains.It is said that to every Yin there is a Yang, and balance is maintained. The truth of this belief was never more evident than when I stood in the company of Mr. Jack “Wayne” Smith and Dakotah. Two lives lived at diametrically opposite poles, yet holding a common passion that brought them together for a moment of time. Each with a gift for the other; the acknowledgment of worth and respect for the life each chose. And life is good.Drive on Dakotah

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Dakotah - Remarkably Unremarkable

Life is not usually a series of monumental events; rather, our life is summed by the total of the small, seemingly insignificant and often unnoticed moments that never make the lead story of the day.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/13/ept_Test.JPGThe wonder and amazement, at the realization the home pregnancy test you are holding in your hand just indicated ‘yes’, or the gaze from your fiancé as you take their hand as the minister declares, “Dearly Beloved”. Words may not be spoken, but at that moment, you knew you life was about to change.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/13/Wedding_Photo.jpgSuppose you’re traveling upon any road or highway and you come across a tattered 1983 motor home, stopped alongside the road with the owner sitting outside the vehicle. The paint on the motor home has faded, the tires do not match, and the bumper is held on by duct tape. I suspect the thoughts one may have would most likely not be benevolence and awe.Yet, everyone with whom I have had the pleasure corresponding, without exception, (after meeting or seeing Dakotah) feel not only admiration, but a sense of kinship; and I am no different. It is as though, by merely seeing Dakotah, we are transported to a place where the road diverged and, as Robert Frost wrote, we did not take “...the road less traveled”. So, we are compelled to stand alongside this road and cheer for the one who has.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/13/Officer_McNelley.jpgWhen I approached Willits Police Officer, Mark McNelley, the day he regrettably had to tell Dakotah to leave his temporary camp (due to city ordinances against camping on city property), Officer McNelley stated that “he (Dakotah) is living the life that I have fantasized about all my life”Folks from small towns all along Dakotah’s journey, (the names of which no one, with the exception of cartographers and the town’s residents have known) come and visit at the first opportunity to shake the hand of one of their own; living life outside the collective conscience of society. Don and Marijanne are two such folks from Lockeford, California.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/13/Don_and_Marijanne.jpgI asked Marijanne what it meant to know of Dakotah and his lifestyle. She wrote, “In his (Dakotah) travels there is a restfulness that I am sure not too many can identify in these fast paced modern times. Folks nowadays want instantaneous gratification of their hearts desire and the thought of working for that doesn't even enter into it... like meandering down the road at a walk and stopping over the crest of a hill to gaze at the sight before them or sitting down to a campfire to cook”Not too far from where Dakotah is currently traveling, just off Highway 80 is El Sobrante, CA. This bedroom community sits unnoticed by the freeway traffic that eclipses the area’s perimeter; however, to its twenty-thousand or so residents, this is home.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/13/Lisa.jpgOne El Sobrante’s resident, a single mom, named Lisa, is recovering from a near fatal injury when a semi-truck crashed into her vehicle. After reading Dakotah’s story, she wrote to say, “I am a big advocate of children and having two of my own, I couldn't help but seeing it (the lifestyle of Dakotah) as a means of making history come alive and in a sense a tool to show people of all ages, the value of what was and what people of his generation truly have to offer us in wisdom. Thank you so much. He is a hero in my eyes. Heroes are said to be ordinary people who didn’t shrink back when thrust into extraordinary situations. They forged ahead without concern for personal well being. In this current time and place in history, we could use a few heroes.In one of our recent conversations, Dakotah remarked: “…we need to be merciful to people, even when they annoy us. We only get to be on this earth for a short while, and I have to remind myself of that.”As the story of Dakotah unfolds, I am astounded by the simplicity of the fact that he is remarkably unremarkable, in every way. He is not on a mission, nor does Dakotah adhere to a dogma that is rigidly guiding him. Dakotah is living his life without pretense.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/13/Road_Friends.jpgMy photographer (and wife) Jennifer Edwards put it this way, “Most of us are so busy maintaining the facade we want others to see; but, when we see people like him (Dakotah), we get a little hope we too can be real, and besides, the façade isn’t making us happy anyway.”Today, we need someone who does not hide the good gifts, but shares them with anyone. The gifts of a kind word in the face of alienation, or compassion in a time of struggle; both of which are dispensed freely by the man with his wagon.Drive on Dakotah

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Dakotah - The Winter’s End

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/10/IMG_0136.jpgI am mesmerized by the sound of horse hooves as they mark time on the pavement; a rhythm of song sung in a lullaby. To the man driving his team toward the next destination, it is a sweet symphony.The world in which we live is so large; yet at times, minuscule in its separation between solitude and community. Or, as Dakotah puts it, “Have you ever noticed that they, who have the least, give the most? I heard one fellow tell this way, 'they, that bring the least, stay the longest'. When asked to explain, Dakotah said, “The one’s that have learned how to live with what they have can outlast those who need to have every cotton-picken thing they’ve ever had. They don’t know how to survive.”According to Abraham Hicks and the Law of Attraction, “like attracts like”. This past week Dakotah has been the benefactor of many ‘like’ people who came to the aid of one of their own; and as such, his 130-mile drive to Turlock will continue Sunday morning.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/10/Dakotah_in_the_mud_2.jpgEquipping a nineteenth-century mode of conveyance with twentieth-century technology can be a challenge. Above the wheels, Dakotah’s wagon is as authentic as one can build; however, the wheels and braking system are present-day automotive technology utilizing 16” tires with electric trailer brakes.The brakes are needed for down-hill travel, as the horses pull, but they don’t push. Dakotah’s wagon weighs approximately 4,000lbs (fully loaded, including his supply trailer) and the inertia of going down-hill would push, and possibly run over, the horse team. “I got this brake controller for about a hundred bucks, but the digital adjustment only rises in increments of five at a time, so I am constantly locking the brakes when I go downhill, and the thing just gave out” Dakotah said.One of the cowboys who came to his aid last Sunday, Don Nichols, was laid off from his job where he made PVC electric conduit, but that didn’t stop Don from being at the side of Dakotah. Don, and his girlfriend, Diana Sindeff, own seven horses between them, and keep them at the six-acre property owned by Don’s mother. The same property Dakotah stayed on Monday and Tuesday this week. http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/10/hayes-endeavor-brake-cont.jpgDon spent most of his free time shuttling Dakotah to various places to look for repair parts over the last few days.. “I’ve put almost one-thousand miles on my truck this week taking him (Dakotah) all over the place” Don stated. When I asked Don why he would go to such lengths for someone he didn’t know, Don said “I wish I could meet a man like Dakotah every day. He is straight-forward and honest and kind hearted. My brother and I (Mike Nichols) took him (Dakotah) out in our truck all day to look for a brake controller, and we found one. I will tell you, it has been a pleasure to help this man”http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/10/The_Drive_to_Turlock.jpgKnowing that today (Saturday, January 10, 2009) would be the last day they would see each other, (for a while at least) Dakotah said his goodbyes to both Don and Mike. But before they parted, Don said, “I had this hundred-pound bag of oats in the back of my truck we picked up for Dakotah, but before I could take it out and give it to him, Dakotah looked at me and said ‘I know you’re as stubborn as me, but I want you to have that sack of oats for your horses’. We didn’t say thank you, we just shook hands, and I could tell by the gleam in his eye, he knew how much I appreciated the gesture”.And so, the circle of goodness and community continues from an act of kindness that spawned the same. A musician and poet I know, Bob Bennett, wrote the following words for a song entitled, Small Graces, and I think they sum it up quite well:Sometimes they slip by without notice;Sometimes they’re very hard to see;Other times it’s oh so clear when they’re happening to me.These are the small graces; the little moments when the miracles come;These are the small graces; small graces leading me to the larger ones.And in no small way, we are all reminded to let small graces lead us to the larger ones.Drive on Dakotah.Other stories about Dakotah can be found here: http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakot... http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakot... http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakot... http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakot... http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakot... http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakot... http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/01/willits-redux/http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dakotah-drives/2009/jan/05/dakotah-the-drive-ends/

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Dakotah - On Television

The internet television news outlet, www.ukiahvalley.tv and their reporter, Tamara Drake, published their story on Dakotah yesterday and I posted it on his MySpace page: www.myspace.com/rondakotahRon asked that I convey his sentiments regarding the events of Sunday and they are as follows:http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Jan/07/IMG_1059.jpgGreetings, to all my friends;The last few days have been a mixed bag of goodies that have left me with a host of emotions. Everything from fear (when I was told by the CHP officer that they were there to arrest me) to anger (for having my right to travel freely within the country of my citizenship infringed upon) to extreme gratefulness for the help given to me when it looked like my journey (and my lifestyle) was about to end.I am camped right now on Highway 16, near the little California berg called Capay. I am sitting in an area that looks untouched by modern civilization since the time when my mode of travel was commonplace.My horses are so happy to eat the lush grass that they actually walked over the alfalfa I put out for them this evening. While I was watching my team enjoy a well deserved rest and renew, I too have had a moment to let the last few days settle in and make sense.To that end, I want you all to know that, even though the CHP acted in a manner that was inconvenient for many (I, being the least of which, as I have no actual destination or schedule) they were acting in good-faith towards what they perceived as a dire and unsafe situation.I could make a case for my road-worthiness, as after 25 years living on the road as I have, but the greater good was to humble myself and ride this bronc out.Even at my age, I am not above having my character built up. And this was one good thing to come out of the experience. Even greater still, was the chance to meet folk just like myself. .Spencer Brewer and his wife Ester Siegel; along with John Tilley and Alvin and Sally Tollini; Tamara Drake (www. ukiah. tv) and Don Nichols and his girlfriend, Diana; just to name a few.I am living a life of my choosing and at a speed that gives me an appreciation for the little things most people can't see at sixty miles an hour. I see every sunrise and sunset and it is the tabernacle in which I worship.I am thankful to have met everyone of you that have stopped, and those who couldn't stop but sent words of appreciation and encouragement via MySpace.Chuck here is my mouth-piece, as I don't type; and if I tried, I would never be able to get very far. And, as you may have noticed, I don't sit too well.Happy trails to all my MySpace friends. I'll be in touch again soon.Happy Trails,Dakotah

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