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Conversations With Homeless Campers, Living in the National Forest

posted 7/6/2009 11:10:19 AM |
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tagged: economy, camping
  Etowah

Now, here is the rest of the story . . . as Paul Harvey often said.

I have joked with friends on several occasions about I could soon end up living in a tent in the national forest. This still may happen. However, I egotistically assumed that my solution to economic catastrophe was an original idea. It wasn't. I will have the company of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of other Americans.

On the way back from seeing the bears, I picked wild raspberries and blueberries. Once at the campsite, I roasted some sweet potatoes in hot coals. My dogs don't like fruit, but they love sweet potatoes. After doing some reading in a book written by James Adair in 1776, it was time to do some more hiking.

Oh, and forget the image of a pristine park-like campground. We were in a area so remote, that rangers seldom even patrol it. The campsites are natural meadows beside a trout stream, that generations of campers have kept bare by the constant trampling of feet. The road was nothing more than a sandy trail. Fortunately, there is no clay on the tops of mountains here.

We took an even narrower trail to an even more remote area of hemlock groves. There I was shocked to come upon a camp site with a 20 year old car displaying a two year old Maryland tag, a tiny pup tent, a small vegetable garden and clothes hanging on a rope line. Oh, I bet they didn't have auto insurance either. How dare they be so irreverent of the god, Commerce!

I was equally shocked when the young couple informed me that they had living here for a year and a half. They pleaded with me not to tell the rangers, since the rules are that you can only stay at the same location for two weeks. He had been in construction. She had been a public kindergarten teacher. Both had lost their jobs, and had moved to Georgia Mountains, where they assumed the winters were milder. They had been rudely surprised that the mountain temperatures were colder than Annapolis, where they lived before. Keep in mind, that they were in a small PUP TENT, where at that altitude, the ground was covered in snow for much of the winter. I don't really see how they survived. They both were city folks, not a rugged Creek Indian like me, who had spent as much time as possible in the woods as soon as I could walk - and had grown my own food on a mountain farm for 17 years.

Coming back down the mountain, I talked to eleven other couples and families, who now called the Chattahoochee National Forest, HOME. These people were living in tiny camper trailers. The little campers had propane heaters and propane kitchen stoves. Some couples had propane generators that permitted electric lights and a mini-refrigerator. One camper even had a satellite receiver to connect to the internet. No one used solar power.

Most of these other homeless people also had spent the winter here, but moved their campers around every two weeks like musical chairs. They were on the main trail that was patrolled by rangers once or twice a month. All had lost their jobs One couple confessed that they didn't move their trailer during the winter months when the trail was frozen with snow and ice.

I noticed several common traits among these homeless people in the Chattahoochee National Forest. They all were very friendly. They all were either from the baby boomer generation or the children of baby boomers. Everybody was either in their twenties, or else in their late forties or fifties. Actually, they all looked healthy, too. Nearby farmers had let them grow gardens, and they got work from time to time that brought in some money. I didn't ask any personal questions, and therefore, can't tell you any more.

This was just one tiny part of one large National Forest. Multipy my observations times all of the homeless campers in the Chattahoochee National Forest, and then all the homeless campers in all the publicly owned land around the country, and you get a VERY DIFFERENT perspective of our nation's economy.

Our government spent hundreds of billions of dollars to maintain the opulent lifestyles of bankers and stock market executives, at the very same time that a winsome young couple from Maryland were shivering in a pup tent in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Is this justice? Is this "the American Way?" During the past eight years here in Pickens County, GA, I have experienced so much evil - so many mediocre people driven by a lust for controling the lives of others and who delight in the sufferings of others. Is this nation about to face judgment? Has the judgment of God already begun? I wonder.

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Comments:
Fender

Jul 6 @ 11:17AM  
Well, at least they are living in the woods...Which I'm sure is better than on the streets. It's a shame that people have to live that way...I'm glad though you said they did have a small garden so they could at least grow some of their own food to eat...
Etowah

Jul 6 @ 1:53PM  
Guess I should add that my sense of justice is angered by the fact that the United States government can not even afford portable tollets for the homeless living in campers or tents, yet can borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up banks and investment corporations.

No timber companies are cutting timber in the national forests here. Why can't homeless families be allowed to plant gardens on public lands? Why can't they be allowed to stay in one place?

The response of the secretary at at US Forest Service regional office was . . . Perhaps you can contact your congressman about your ideas and questions. We have experienced severe budget cuts.

Is that supposed to be a joke? Go to Georgia congressmen. who are there to "conserve" government of the elite, for the elite and by the elite" while waving a small American flag?
mikiebigeyes

Jul 6 @ 4:42PM  
God Bless 'Em! Most Americans are too far into their televisions to realize how close they are to being in the same situation.
MrPaul

Jul 6 @ 7:28PM  
Sad part is most Americans don't care because the media glosses over it. The government is to busy sending OUR hard earned money over seas and playing footsies with the big banks to give a dam about us And like sheep we are led to slaughter by our own goverment
ttomtarr

Jul 14 @ 7:46PM  
There is nothing sad about living in the forest. I have done it often, after locking the house, and taking off for several months of outdoor living. Urban guerrilla camping is a nuisance and dangerous, but sometimes a necessity enroute to a destination.

It takes very little to be comfortable, and can be a very carefree existance. You can do the same thing on a small sail boat, and have even more fun and eat fish and lobster too. You can buy small sail boats for under $1.000 or trade a car for one, It is water front (and back) living at its finest.

Didn't you find yourself envying them just a bit?
jayej

Jul 14 @ 8:35PM  
Personally I think they ought to open up a portion of the national forest land for homesteading. But that would mean people would actually do things like be self sufficient, and enegy independent.
I read in another blog this morning (Useless internet information) that Africa is 28% wilderness and the US is 38%. They bitch about how much it costs to maintain it, our taxes pay for it, but God forbid you let us make a home on it.


















musicianfriend

Aug 12 @ 12:03PM  
Our government spent hundreds of billions of dollars to maintain the opulent lifestyles of bankers and stock market executives, at the very same time that a winsome young couple from Maryland were shivering in a pup tent in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Is this justice? Is this "the American Way?" During the past eight years here in Pickens County, GA, I have experienced so much evil - so many mediocre people driven by a lust for controling the lives of others and who delight in the sufferings of others. Is this nation about to face judgment? Has the judgment of God already begun? I wonder.

I keep thinking of Biden telling us its patriotic to pay taxes.....and yet...they spent our money like you have said....on BILLIONAIRES...

When that money could have went to much better use..

This is very sad...very very sad..

Yes..I do believe that because this nation has kicked God out... we now have NO protection from evil..which is everywhere..but when we are in prayer...we have a protection from our Father in Heaven..

The bible teaches that if we turn from our evil ways..and acknowledge him as God....he will heal our land

But the evil forces of this world are busy turning peoples minds away from the one true God..and into false religions....religions with no foundation...based only on 'mens wisdom' which is corrupt and fallable..

These folks in the woods..Im impressed that they stayed together...these days..at the first sign of financial trouble...alot of couples split...I bet they have built the most awesome relationship based on total love...that is sweet..

I do hope that they are ok...I dont have all the answers to what is going on here..but I do know that God is with us ..and if we truly believe...and depend on him...like a little child..he is there..and he protects us...If this was not true..then why would so many people believe? There must be alot of truth in that Bible...
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