I took a few days to give the ole Lewis & Clark trailer a winter shakedown cruise. I wound up in Great Smokey Mountains National Park. I’m now holed up and writing from a hotel in Asheville. I camped for two nights at Smokemont, campground near Maggi Valley in GSMNP. But it was cold. Way colder than I expected. 17 degrees both nights. It slowly climbed to 43 or so during the day, but there is little to do when tent camping in severe cold. It was way too cold to sit and read or write. Even my computer refused to work in those conditions. I got in a decent little hike and a few photographs of the camp trailer but it was mostly a busted and disappointing venture.
Even the mid-40’s high came at 3:45 and by 4:30 it was already 27 and dropping fast. The campground was in a deep valley which was beautiful, and lest I was not emphatic enough, fucking cold.
Today I will explore a bit of Asheville and drive back to Cleveland tomorrow.
I woke up at 2:30 and never got back to sleep, so I started reading Obama’s new book. In the introduction, he speaks eloquently about a topic that I have struggled to fully articulate. He also conveys far more optimism about the future than I believe is warranted. I have written on these pages about the terrible history of the United States. Our founding principles of slave trade and slavery and attempted genocide of Native Americans and Jim Crow laws right up to present day moment when white police kill unarmed blacks with impunity and systemic racism remains deeply embedded in our institutions and public psyche. In his preamble, Obama acknowledges the same observations and even the emotional complexity of having to transition to a newly elected president that was diametrically opposed to everything Barack stood for and tried to progress in American policy. Obama claims there is still hope that the gap between the American ideal and the American reality can be closed—that we can yet live up to the unearned myth of American exceptionalism. History, both distant and extremely recent, does not support that claim.
From his book:
‘I recognize that there are those who believe it’s time to discard the myth-that an examination of America’s past and an even cursory glance at today’s headlines show that this nation’s ideals have always been secondary to conquest and subjugation, a racial caste system and rapacious capitalism, and that to pretend otherwise is to be complicit in a game that was rigged from the start.’
Yes, Obama is writing those words directly to validate my views. Unfortunately I do not shore his optimism. If anything, the election of Donald Trump and the reality that 74M people voted for this monster for a 2nd term, is the hard evidence that we are not collectively progressing in the appeal to the better nature of our angels. Perhaps, if pressed to find one positive thing to reflect on in this matter, I would say that it is now apparent that this appalling racism and social dysfunction has always been a major part of our society. Trump just made it acceptable to talk about and celebrate racism and hatred and misogyny and xenophobia. So now that we have concrete proof that 50% of Americans are purebred hard-core assholes, we can figure out a way to drag them into the sunlight where hopefully the hatred will be burned out of them. Or said more politically acceptable, perhaps they will become enlightened and educated of a sudden and all will be well.
As I said. I do not understand what Obama sees that I am missing that inspires his optimism. Perhaps it is because he has daughters and our only hope for the future of the country (and the planet) lies in the generations that come behind us.
So, today a day to goof, assuming I get at least a little sleep, and then lots of road time tomorrow.
Wednesday or Thursday I want to pick up Pops and start that chapter of my life with a new companion.