Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My friends, you are looking at video of Boone, North Carolina, from earlier this evening when Sherpa Team stopped at a roadside diner. I had a cheeseburger, something I’ve not had since quitting Cozy and leaving for Malaysia last May. Given the rationing troops and civilians alike must suffer, imagine our surprise to find this little mountain diner offered not only 'All American Cuisine' featuring 'Down Home' Country and Southwestern Cooking', but a selection of wines from Chateau Morrisette and Villa Appalachia –and even a selection of boutique brewery domestic beers! Being a fancier of Dogfish Head beers, myself, I was pleasantly surprised to find this out-of-the-way restaurant offering more than one variety.

The United States truly is a great nation, and the human race owes a tremendous deb to cows and hops.

Somewhere along the way –without anyone saying anything– interaction with the locals has become a daily occurrence. Command calls ahead; we show up with a generator and pay for our meals and leave a bit of gasoline behind; everybody's happy. Needless to say, nobody believes we are under any immediate threat from the U.S. military.

Apparently, however, Coalition forces are not the most desired neighbors. Many residents evacuated the region when international conflict with the Christian Identity Group, PURE, had brought Pan Moslem Forces into their backyards. To offset any feelings of animosity by the local populations, military action by Pan Moslem Counter Crusader Forces has been accompanied by humanitarian airdrops, including a substantial quantity of fuel, a gift to the townspeople here, I suppose, for putting up with horny, hungry, lonely, itchy, smelly, noisy invaders in their backyard. Nevertheless, I'm told shelters as far to the east of the Mountains as Winston-Salem in Forsyth County are filled to capacity.

Many communities resemble ghost towns, but those people that do remain are quite friendly, or at the very least put on a smile when we pass.

I would say that given the fuel shortage, the PMC's presence is well enough received. Although, fuel or no fuel, our convoys are still the only vehicles we see on the roads here, apart from local and state police. As a result, they have become a novelty with the children in the area.

The American kids, believe it or not, love the troops, even if their fathers are in Iraq, or actually at home packing Winchesters in case an Indian knocks on the front door.

I can't blame the adults if they are fearful. There is laughter aplenty, but a palatable tension nevertheless vibrates through these hazy gray mountains. These men are on a mission and would shoot you dead if you stood in their way of accomplishing it. I can vouch from personal experience that one is constantly thinking that the next sound you hear is potentially a rifle shot shattering the still winter air, right before your head blows open.

And still no sign of Lowell, or indeed anything I would categorize as associated with the Christian Identity. From what one reads overseas, you'd believe that the South was a unified amalgam of Crusaders, Nazis, Klansmen, Storm Troopers and Christian Extremists, –but that is so far from the truth one wonders how the cliché sustains itself? I am beginning to think that perhaps there has been a miscalculation on the part of the intelligence.

In the meantime, I can tell you that above all the children desire souvenirs from the soldiers, perhaps an Indian rupee or some Baba Green Mango candy. They also want to know how we are doing, or so it seems as they are always asking the soldiers, 'what’s up dudes'.

By the way the mountains are flush with marijuana plants. We’ve stumbled on many of them. Too bad the winter has killed them off or I'd be high off my ass instead of cold as ass. Maybe after this is all over, we four can all take a holiday down to the Blue Ridge Mountains and harvest some of this pot. Hopefully, I’ll be able to remember where I’ve been, and where it's planted!