Monday, May 24, 2010

Dispatches from a Disaster -- Continued

[Note -- This series is starting to pick up steam and get lots of interest. It's on the Spokesman Review web site, as its own tab, and We'll keep PacifiCAD informed by posting the dispatches here. This oil disaster is bigger than the national media or pundits or others are making it out to be, or not to be.]

Honeysuckle Evening, Blue Creeks, Night of the Flood, Don’t Be An Armadillo on the Road

By Paul K. Haeder as told by Marc Gauthier

Marc listens to thunder right above his Ozark National Forest canopy. The lightning seeps through the tent. Then, at 1 a.m. he feels around the tent floor. “I felt like I was on a water bed. The rain was pouring on my tent.”

He ended up ditching the tent to kip for a few hours in the car. He was pumped up about seeing these trees, the cypress, the oaks. Swamps and a few bayous have caught his eye. It was his first time in Arkansas, and Kansas. He was 30 miles from El Dorado, on the Arkansas-Louisiana border.

He’s been seeing a lot of timber operations, coal- fired plants, swollen rivers, signs of flooding. The Southern drawl is growing on him. He could tell he was getting into humid semi-tropics when he started seeing dead armadillos on the side of the road.

He’s heartened by the fact that people he approaches in parking lots are accepting and want to talk. His goal is to make camp today, Saturday, at the end of Highway 1, south of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, 10 miles west of the mouth of the Mississippi.

He’s thinking Leevile and Grand Isle will be his El Dorado – where he can come face-to-face with park rangers and fisher folk.“I’m hoping I can hook up with a fishing boat and get a lift out to one of the wildlife refuges.”

He’s been seeing a lot of poverty, trailers, old cars, especially in the small towns, contrasted by the freeways and big cities where “everyone drives these new big rigs.” More and more he’s seeing African- Americans not just in the bigger cities but in the rural areas. It reminds him of his Michigan of his youth – green, lots of trees.

He got to ask a 33-year-old wife of a military pilot about the oil spill. Mikia Simon is concerned that the oil disaster will affect her husband’s mission. She believes we all are responsible for the oil spill, but “drilling in 5,000 feet of ocean raises a lot of red flags … . Digging for trouble, you find it, that’s for sure.”

Mikia wanted to talk off-camera, but wished Marc good luck on his trip.

The standing water, lush trees, the little side trip into Little Rock (where he saw all sorts of tributes to Bill Clinton), the Southern person-to-person contact, all of it is making Marc feel as if he has entered into another world.

He’s hoping the bay he’s heading to will be one of the brighter moments on the trip. Maybe clean shores. Good fishing. A place to build relationships so he might be able to continue east and explore, film and pen further “Dispatches from a Disaster,” now sub-titled – “Dispatches from a Changing Personal Narrative.”

To see video of the spill visit

1 comment:

  1. Well, what you all (everyone involved with this endeavor) are doing is just incredible. I am amazed, and grateful to live in the Spokane community where something like this could materialize. Thank you!

    Please be careful and stay safe Marc.


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