Bad Daughter Stuck in What's Left of Gulfport, MS

Trip Start Aug 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 30, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Mississippi
Sunday, September 3, 2006

Well, Blue is sick... she's got a leak in her radiator and needs a new water pump. You try finding someone who knows how to work on a vehicle without a computer system today... HA! We don't even have one in our area, and now we're in the third world portion of the US... So as I am scouring the 4x4 discussion forums with google search strings like "85 FJ60 mechanic Gulfport," I find some guy who lists his location as "What's left of Gulfport, MS." Loved it! Then I found a guy whose "call sign" is "Bayou_Flyer." His location is "North of the lake, LA" For those of you not from these here parts, that's Lake Pontchartrain... anyway, he actually owns an 85 FJ60, so I searched around, found his name and email and hopefully, we'll get a response that includes a reference to a good mechanic. In the mean time, Chris ordered a water pump from the local Toyota dealership, and it arrives on Wed... so we're stuck here at least through Wednesday.

It's not just living in Jason's front yard that's depressing, this whole town has this defeated, despondent, "stick-a-fork-in-me, I'm-done" feel to it - so completely unlike New Orleans. As bad as NOLA is, there is a palpable energy there, no doubt about it...

Why am I a bad daughter? Cuz I'm down here relieved that Ernesto turned his nose up at us and didn't call my mother to see how she was faring as Ernesto blew right through the Shenandoah Valley and her farm in Madison, VA.


One should never have to ride out a hurricane alone. And ponies and dogs for company don't count in a hurricane. So, I admit I am a very bad daughter... strange thing was, even though the NHC cone maps showed it going right through Virginia, neither CNN or the Weather Channel mentioned anything but the Carolinas and Baltimore, MD... I did listen to see what was going on, but of course got distracted...

Sorry it's been awhile, but we had the Colonel (and correction to my earlier post. The Colonel's secret recipe has 11 herbs and spices, Good Seasons salad dressing has 7 herbs and spices) for a few days, so we didn't really eat any of the freeze-dried food. Plus, Chris is ALL about the breakfast menu at PJ's Coffee & Tea (the coffee shop with the wi-fi access).

Adventure Food's English Peas & Corn Salad
9 out of 10
Need some veggies on the quick? This is the answer. Re-hydrates well, tastes great on a croissant, but a bit messy all around. This is my second time with this dish - the first time being in the Thorofare in Yellowstone. This time, I had to drain A LOT of the water before adding the mayo. It's possible I did last time but don't remember. And trying to keep the peas on the croissant was challenging while driving... Not sure it was meant to be consumed that way, so not really their fault. I wish it was as lumpy as the tuna salad, tho.

MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) "Cookies with Pan Coated Chocolate Discs"
5 out of 10
Edible but not tasty... Any guesses as to what the hell it is we ate out of this package?? Come on, guess. I'll give you twenty guesses... No one? Anyone? Believe it or not, "Pan coated chocolate discs" are M&Ms. No kidding... We opened the wrapper, not knowing what to expect, and there they were, good ol' Chips Ahoy with M&Ms cookies... Now if you like that sorta thing, you might give these cookies a higher rating, but they didn't do much for me...

MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) Fudge Brownie
6 out of 10
Not heaven on earth by any means, but it was chocolate-y... kinda dry and flour-y, tasted like espresso in the mix, like when you'd make a chocolate cake using cocoa powder when you were a kid? Like that.

MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) Pound Cake
1 out of 10
Blech... couldn't finish it. Whereas the brownie was flour-y, this was sugar-y. Ick! And I love sugar...

Richmoor Lasagna with Meat and Sauce
7 out of 10
Chris renames this "Sauce with Lasagna and Meat." Thing is, we were looking for something light, and this was it. We would not be happy with it at the end of a 20 mile hike on the trail, I can tell you that! It was thin, not much to it. In fact, it was like school cafeteria food - not a dang thing wrong with it, didn't need salt, but just was kinda there. It did not announce its presence with ah-thor-i-tai! It was not offensive, but when Chris opened the bag, much like a plastic bowl of Parkay Margerine, it said, "got bread?" We did, in the form of day-old croissants from the coffee shop in NOLA. Chris put the brick-hard bread in the nuker, and after 20 seconds, rolled back the stone and they were resurrected... One thing to note, Richmoor has neither the ziplock seal or the "glass-bottom boat" stand up structure of the other brands. Not sure if consequently, Richmoor is cheaper, but those two amenities were noticeably missing.

Adventure Foods Potato & Cheese Pancake
3 out of 10
It's edible, but that's all. It would be a fine addition to a breakfast but it, in and of itself, is not breakfast. A little rubbery (I might have pulled it out of the pot too soon? too late?) As the lasagna last night begged for bread, this one begs for sauce... Gotta have something to wash it down with (we are writing this as we masticate), it's not getting better as we continue to eat it. It is what it says it is and maybe there are thems that like this... They should make a non-vegetarian version with eggs and sausage - that might be good. Neither of us could finish it.

So, the kitty saga continues... since I last blogged, I've met the neighbors at the house where the cats hang out, found out that they have two cats, but that the bulk of the cats belong to the neighbors next door to Jason. Talked to Jason about the details of the three he killed, and today, met the neighbors whom everyone thinks "owns" all the cats. The situation is both better and worse than I originally thought. The good news is that Sayward and Ken, the neighbors, are very cool. It turns out that only two of the seven cats are actually theirs - the rest are post-Katrina abandoned strays that Sayward has been feeding. So, she and I are going to work with the Humane Society and see if we can get the strays trapped and off to a no-kill shelter over the next few days. The bad news is that it's not as simple as 3 cats getting poisoned - one got hit by a car, one was probably poisoned, and the third one is recovering from a gunshot wound in her home. We are not dealing with a stable person here. Sayward suspected something was going on, but she hoped she was overreacting. As my friend Kim put it - "we all know that kind of shit happens all the time down there, like the KKK, but this is the first time you've faced one of the devils himself and he said it out loud to you." I waited until after the interview to get the details about the poisoning from Jason, but it didn't sound right... I won't go into details, but it just didn't seem like he was telling the whole truth. I think Jason needs professional help, and I am really sorry that he's not getting any. In the meantime, I just hope I can help get the cats out of the situation they're potentially in, if he loses control again...

This whole situation has been an epiphany for me in many ways. For those of you who know me, you might remember I was the one who would leave the room when someone was retelling a story about accidentally hitting an animal while driving. I'm amazed at how I can now stomach stories about intentional cruelty. I guess it is a form of desensitization, and I want to try and be careful not to upset anyone who isn't as desensitized as I am now. It's a strange place to be in, like when Chris first taught me to "see" light. I was cognizant of being able to see light and of my previous inability to see it before. It was very "Flowers for Algernon." The same is true here... I never could understand how my friend Carolyn could know so many stories about so much abuse and neglect and cruelty. How did she sleep? How did she not put a gun to her head? Well, I think, and I may revise this assessment later, that when you start doing something about the situations you encounter, it begins to tip the scales a bit. Your involvement could be all an animal needs for his or her story to have a happy ending. And once you do get involved, , you become committed to making sure the ending is happy, if possible. The more you get involved, the more bad stories you hear, the more stray/neglected/abused animals you see because you learn what to look for and where to find them, and hopefully, the more positive outcomes you hear/read about. I believe it is the hope of a good ending that enables you venture outside of your comfort zone and do something, as well as the knowledge that if you don't do something, who will?

For example, it would have been SO much easier to have just kept this whole story to myself and tell myself that it was probably an isolated situation, that it wasn't my business, and to look the other way. In fact, I think that always happens... But how could I?

"Am I supposed to intervene - is that why I am here?" I asked Magic Eight Ball one night...

(yes, I brought the Magic Eight Ball - how else will we settle disputes about which way to head next?!)

"It is decidedly so," Magic Eight Ball answered.

"Will any more cats die on this property?"

"Ask again later," M8B replied cagily.

"Am I supposed to help get these cats away from here?"

"As I see it, yes."

Good enough for me! M8B never lies...

I didn't push it, in fact, Sayward and Ken came to meet us, and Sayward told me (after testing the waters out to see if I was friend or foe) she thought her cats had been shot. Once I finally told her what Jason had told me (this is getting rather soap opera-ish, ain't it?), she began to question the "mysterious" death of her Russian Blue kitten... So, now we have a plan to get the feral cats trapped and transported to a no-kill shelter, hers indoors and her neighbors with cats alerted to the fact that their cats may be in danger. Then, it's up to Sayward to keep an eye on the situation and pray he doesn't strike again.

The second epiphany is about why so many people, including myself, "got involved" in New Orleans after Katrina. I seriously did not know what to do about this poisoning/shooting situation... No one wants to believe that humans do this stuff, even though, of course, we know it happens far too often. In a strange city (literally and figuratively) trying to rebuild itself, knowing no one except the sick puppy in question, who could I turn to for support and advice? I did contact friends in New Orleans, Portland and other places, but they were not here by my side, experiencing what I was.

After Katrina, when all of the animal rescue volunteers descended upon NOLA, you stood shoulder to shoulder with others who were there for the same reason you were. Some (like me) were clueless, some were veteran trappers of feral cats, some were wild dog wranglers. The group dynamic created a prime directive to save animal lives, and people went forth (sometimes in their own misguided ways ;-) and did the best they could to do just that. Now, I'm not gonna tell you it was all rosy - far from it, but at least no one was down there alone, in a vacuum, facing that horrible situation.

Things we LOVE:
Robert, Peggy, Meghan and Billy are safely back from Thailand. No one was abducted, no one washed away in a tsunami, no one had their wallet stolen, and they are apparently tan, rested and ready for the new school year.

Things we HATE:
The Derby Fire in Montana is hell bent on destroying Robert's cabin and the secret fishing locations that cannot be divulged. Robert is flying out tomorrow to see if he can get to the cabin to get his personal effects but the town has been evacuated, the road is closed, and the fires are moving 1.5 miles an hour after jumping the river. This is a bad one folks...
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