Special Forces, not Special Warfare

Published: October 29th 2003
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I'd like to think that I'll get this journal uploaded onto my blog before I hit the road tomorrow, but I just don't know if that's going to happen. I feel exhausted, and the week isn't even half over yet. Last night I checked into a motel in Clinton, NC with walls that probably met code 50 years ago, but I could hear every single one of my neighbor's tuberculoid coughing attacks throughout the night. Since he couldn't sleep, I gguess he figured that he'd watch TV while he was at it. After an 85 mile day in the cold, rain and dark, I really didn't have much patience, and I didn't get much sleep. At around 5 AM my neighbor's co-worker arrived to discuss his illness & absence from work with him, after what had been a blessed few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I rode into Fayetteville today, and what should have been a 38-mile day turned into 54-mile day when I made a wrong turn and ended up on Fort Bragg instead of in downtown Fayetteville. I knew I had to pass by the Special Forces Museum on my way to Fayetteville Quaker House, but I mistook it for the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum on my map After riding to Fort Bragg and back, I arrived at Quaker House two hours later than I had planned. I made a few perfunctory phone calls, hopped in the shower and then laid down for a nap with a Spiritualized CD and bags of ice cooling my knees. All too soon I had to get up & start printing out more pamphlets. One of my goals for the day had been to arrive at Quaker House early enough to get in some computer time. I needed to download software for my Palm Pilot, post blogs and get some printing done. My stock of literature had been depleted along the road, and I needed to replenish it. I finished up printing just as people began to arrive for the potluck supper. With a cup of coffee in hand I sat down for an abbreviated Quaker Meeting for Worship. I was thankful that it only lasted 15 minutes, as I was afraid that if it went any longer I would have fallen asleep. Chuck Fager, director of Quaker House, quipped to me, "We don't want any snoring during Meeting (for Worship), this isn't a programmed Meeting!"

All told, 10 people from the Fayetteville peace community gathered to eat, listen to my presentation and watch a half hour Australian news feature on the movement to bring American troops back home. During the summer an Australian reporter had visited Fort Bragg and Fort Jackson to investigate the growing discontent amongst military spouses. I was stunned to watch a television news show develop a story over thirty minutes, not thirty seconds, and without commercial interruption! Part of the story had been filmed in Fayetteville, and featured Quaker House and Veterans for Peace. As Chuck Fager observed, American media outlets would be loathe to re-broadcast the story because it would highlight the abysmal quality of American television journalism. The interviewed subjects included the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, veterans for peace, veterans for war, discontent military spouses, content military spouses, newspaper editors, parents and children of military members, military members themselves and the usual peace activists. I had no idea that TV news could be so informative.

After the meeting broke up I shot a brief portrait session on the front porc & then retreated to the computer to download programs & restore data to my Palm Pilot, which I had picked up in Wilmington a couple of days prior. I have come to depend upon my Palm Pilot in many ways, and so I had to download a GPS mapping program, maps, a personal accounting program, a word processor and a keyboard support utility. I also spent another hour typing in contact information for Quakers along my route from my email. With the hour approaching midnight, I checked my route for the next day, which promised to exceed 70 miles, and tried to figure out how I would get enough sleep to get up in the morning at a decent hour, upload my latest journal entries, pack my bags, pack up & ship my camping gear to Atlanta & get on the road by 9 AM.

With the next couple of weeks spent climbing up to Asheville, North Carolina, and with my accomodations lined up until Atlanta, Georgia, I decided to lighten my load for the mountains and send my camping gear ahead of me. Hopefully the lighter load will mean less time spent with ice packs on my knees. I figured that the extra time spent at the post office will easily be made up for as I climb the hills to Raleigh. Even though the trip is not yet halfway over, I'm already starting to feel the strain.


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