Tag Archives: Road danger

Road danger: catching up to yourself

road danger pass wrong way1

Wide open on his right lane, this guy just wants to smash the other guy out of the way in his left lane even though oncoming traffic, me, had to severely swerve out of his way. I was happy enough to do so as I knew no one was next to me. Note that this battle between the blue and red (actually only the red is raging with him/herself) is happening in a turning lane to the left coming up to a traffic light.

road danger pass wrong way

He successfully shoves the blue car out of the way. But then, not wanting to turn left after all, severely swerves in front of the blue car, miraculously not smashing into a handicap transport who is turning to the left. A shot from the rear window camera as the red car squeaks in between the blue car and white transport into a normal traffic lane:

road danger pass wrong way3

Yawn. I had already said my guardian angel prayer. Yawn. No worries on my part. It’s a good idea to pray this prayer every time you buckle up. Also at other times!

  • Angele Dei, qui custos es mei, Me tibi commissum pietate superna, hodie (hac nocte) illumina, custodi, rege, et guberna. Amen.
  • Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom his love commits me here, ever this day (night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

I said a prayer for the driver of the red car. That’s always a good idea. Running from yourself is never a good idea. You’ll never win the race. You’ll only catch up to yourself.

Other clips were already automatically written over by the time I write this. Another guy, at a stop light, didn’t stop, but screamed around everyone through an adjacent parking lot and back out onto the intersection full speed in a cloud of dust. Really lucky no one was walking in the parking lot. This is just wanton disregard for human life.

I’m sure you all have similar experiences every day, and not just in traffic.

I have them one right after the other.

They say not to drive faster than your guardian angel can fly. Ha ha.

By the grace of God, we can let our guardian angels be the ones who catch up to us instead of just ourselves. The angels will introduce us more directly to Jesus in whom we find our identity. Better, we find that we are found by Him.

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Tornado? It’s been a while…

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Tree downed near Peach Tree. It was right across the road. Imagine: night, bucketing rain, hail, blowing rubbish hitting your windshield, you know the road, but then… a tree across the road. This one was obviously cut by some guy who lives on the road just to get by. I myself have done the chainsaw thing like seven times on the backroads, at one point not going anywhere without my trusty chainsaw. This tree continues on the other side of the road.

Where I was, there was also lightning, thunder, a bit of rain and hail. But no wind where I was. Stupid me. I didn’t think: “tornado.” I should have known, having been in plenty of tornadoes as a kid, that these are all the signs of a tornado, for which you don’t at all need wind if the funnel hasn’t yet dropped down. The second it does, it’s all full speed out of control train on the run. I and the ones I was with should have taken cover. But, come to think of it, there was no place to go. Except. Heh! To heaven! At least hopefully on the way. As one reader said recently: Go to confession!

When I was in the hermitage there was a level 5 tornado that when right overhead, slamming the hermitage as a number 3, but skipping over the mountains until it landed harder in eastern North Carolina, Virginia and D.C. How quickly I forget.

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Things I hate to see… But then!

road danger anger

I was out on Communion calls on Sunday, getting on toward a couple hundred miles in this expansive parish, when I wound up behind this guy, and not for the first time, and it’s always the same with this guy: all over the road, over the double yellow or with a tire in the ditch. Weave, weave, weave. You would think he was drunk. But, I think not. Or maybe an angry drunk.

You can’t really tell, but when I’m behind him he always seems to be leaning way over into the passenger seat, yelling down into the seat at what must be just a little kid. I mean, it’s really ugly, like you wouldn’t be surprised if you were to see a little kid thrown right through the closed window and into the ditch.

But then! Then he turns off, always into the same driveway, and is immediately followed by what looks to be a deputy in an unmarked black Suburban with super-blackened windows. Hopefully he’s getting nailed for something, like a custody kidnapping. But, what do I know? Maybe he was yelling at pet goldfish. It’s just that it reminds me of when I was a kid and was in untoward situations in untoward vehicles. Bad stuff happens. I got out of it. I don’t know about this kid. It seems to happen a lot. I’m rarely on that road, and there’s a quantifiable percentage of times that this scenario plays out with this same vehicle, which would mean that it happens a lot more than just when I happen to be on that road impossibly coincidentally behind this very guy. It’s stuff I hate to see. But maybe he’s in prison now.

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Just use explosives: Appalachian Trail

rock slide graham county nc highway 28

Aerial shot of the massive explosion site in the northern part of the parish. That controlled explosion helped the mountainside move down and then get hauled off the road, which itself was destroyed. There had been a smaller rock slide which had destabilized the mountainside. The explosion quickened the work by three full months, which is a real help to the economy this coming Spring. The road (Highway 28) was just opened to Fontana Dam and the Dragon’s Tail just the other day.

An Appalachian Trail hiker at Mass in Robbinsville let me know. We get hikers at Mass once in a while. I assume he’s moving South to North at this time of year. I asked him about a certain landmark on the road above. Apparently, he went an entire day’s walk past the rental cottage he would get for a couple of days to take a break and regroup, that is, to a place where once again the trail would cross a viable road quite far from his rental, on the far side of the rock-slide on the far side of the mountain. He didn’t look to be any worse for the wear since he started. His flimsy tennis shoes seemed to be utterly unfit for the trek of thousands of miles across twelve states. He’ll find out. An interesting fellow. Nice guy.

If you plan to hike the trail, read everything you can about preparations before you start! Do practice walks up mountains trying out footwear that won’t cripple you or give you blisters on your heels, the bottoms of your feet or toes after just a few hours. When I lived on the Via Francigena in Montefiascone, we would get hikers with bloodied feet hardly able to walk.

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Road danger: invisible is for angels

road danger cop blocks road

This State Trooper is a nice guy. He’s been helping out with some too rambunctious drivers since we don’t yet have a North Carolina certified Police Officer, just a Chief certified down in Georgia. He’ll be regularized soon.

The Trooper suddenly pulled out directly in front of me on the highway, perpendicular, as if he were going to try to cut across the median, but he changed his mind and raced to the U-Turn just a couple hundred yards up. He was frantic.

My first thought in seeing this is that he had been shot by the guy in the truck and needed to rush to the EMS station which is right nearby. There was no one behind me, so I just stopped dead right there on the highway and out-waited the guy in the truck who had been taking off at the same time as the Trooper, until he saw me. Sorry, but in these circumstances I just didn’t trust him. He finally took off.

All this happened because I guess I was invisible to the Trooper. It happens. I guess the Trooper had a long day. “Routine” traffic stops can be exasperating when people have guns, are drunk or on drugs, have warrants, are uncooperative. Who knows. Anyway, I figure this Trooper owes me one for wearing down my brakes and not T-Boning him on the driver’s side. ;-)

Perhaps I need to ask my ever invisible guardian angel to make me more visible to others. Being invisible has its benefits, but not always. The angels always see us, as does God Himself, of course, He being the One who holds us in existence.

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Road assault: when 911 not in service. Priest happy to have gun at the ready.

road danger fist fight

It was my day off yesterday. First I went about 80 miles one way to a rehab to give sacraments to a parishioner. Then on my way back to highway 74/40 just off parallel 19/23 East of Canton (coming from the far road next to the Exxon), I stopped to the side of the entrance to the eastward on-ramp to see if this damsel in distress needed some timely assistance. I had seen him wildly slugging at her as I came around the corner. She had her hands up in a defensive position. I think he did make contact with her forearms.

In the picture above from the rear-window digital recorder, you can see him rolling up his sleeve to get in some better slugging with his arm and fist ready for action, walking toward her. You can see her quickly backing away again with hands up in a defensive position. The white truck to your left had stopped. He kept honking his air horns at the aggressor and just let traffic pile up behind him. Another car had stopped on the ramp just ahead of me as well. It was quite the wild scene.

I tried to call 911 dispatch. The phone got the signal but 911 was not to be had:

” ♮ ♪ beep ♮ ♪ Beep ♮ ♪ BEEP: This number has been disconnected or is no longer in service. If you think you have received this recording in error, please try your number again.”

I tried again. Once again, the same recording played. Perhaps that happens when a number is overwhelmed with calls. I’m guessing that’s the case here. But I didn’t know that. As far as I knew, I was on my own unless the trucker and the other guy would come to my assistance if need be. They were watching inside their vehicles to see what would happen next.

Here she is bawling her eyes out walking away from him. Or is she cradling facial injuries? Or both? He hesitated, but is now chasing after her.

road danger fist fight run

In just another moment a couple of firemen in a red pickup with roof lights showed up and firstly, smartly, did a perimeter check. “You O.K.?” they asked me, seeing if they could find out if I had any connection with these two. I told them I  was trying to call 911 but couldn’t get through. They said they had been watching this scene unfold as well. I think they then used their radio to get another fireman in a more official vehicle with an array of white and red lights flashing to come. They then ran away, well, perhaps they were going to another call. The other vehicle did come all lit up. Then two law enforcement cruisers with lights flashing and sirens blaring showed up. So, O.K.

For myself, I had been standing next to my car, making it obvious that I was a witness and was getting pictures on my phone. He was not impressed. He was only three lanes away (just over ten yards or so) and I’m sure deciding whether he should rush me or not, just a few second sprint. Staring me down, he then turned to his car and looked like he was madly searching for something in his car, rifling through a mountain of rubbish. A gun? Dunno.

But this was my way of attempting deescalation. And it did work.

After this, he just argued with her, really ferociously, and chased her repeatedly, but I didn’t see any more wild swinging with fists that would have made any connection. You have to know that not all people taking pictures are simply letting bad stuff happen, or getting pictures for social media. Sometimes they are. But sometimes this is done as an indirect threat with the aim of deescalation. I mean, pictures can be used to help throw this guy into prison for years, right? Criminals know that and sometimes back down. Sometimes not, but it’s worth a try. Deescalation is important, necessary when possible. It was possible in this instance.

For the record, I never brandished. I never open-carried. But – I will be honest about this – I was happy to have my Glock 19 with me. And – I will be honest about this – if he had smacked her to the ground and started smashing the life out of her, or started to rape her in front of God and everyone (some people are just that arrogant), I would have done something about it, not hesitating to save her life by stopping the threat against her, he being much, much stronger than her. Bullies like this, by the way, are always cowards. They will almost always back down from someone at least as capable as them.

Some are saying, I’m sure: “Priests should just be nice! Don’t be such a meanie!”

No. Not nice. Priests should act in God’s own charity. Deus caritas est.

Meanwhile, I recommend to women in an abusive relationship, ditch the cosmetic cover-up of wounds and black-eyes. Just get out. Do it. And don’t go back. You will die if you go back. That’s how it works. It’s a progression. Get out and stay out.

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Road danger: lefting rights brakecheck

road danger pass on right 1

It seems that this guy is trying his best to ditch another guy. This guy is passing on the right in a right turn lane only at about 90 miles an hour in a 45 mile an hour zone. Whatever. As expected, the other guy who is chasing him also passes on the right in the same way, except he’s not so nice, cutting me off because, hey, I’m some other guy on the road, a common condition of humanity:

road danger pass on right 2

You can see the guy he’s chasing up ahead. But this guy was going so fast that he crossed the solid double white lines. Not having knocked me off the road, he decides that it would be a good idea to brake-check me to a dead stop, screeching tires and all, because, well, you know, just because:

road danger brake check

And then he squeals away. Happy day. As it happens, and it always happens, there was a slow vehicle up ahead of both of them with double yellow no-passing lines for miles and miles. Hurry up and wait! There was a long line of cars ahead and behind.

I said the “Angel of God, my guardian dear…” prayer again for good measure. Being close to one’s guardian angel is always a good idea. Our guardian angels see the face of God right now. Jesus told us this.

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Road danger: I never saw it

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This was an accidental picture, as it were. Descending from the top of the Nantahala Gorge, negotiating sharp curves at top speed, I come screaming down to the T-Bone with Highway 74 / 19 (Truck 64) at Topton, taking a right toward Andrews. There’s a Stop sign at car level at the end of the bridge to the right of the driver, as one might expect. I’ve always seen that Stop sign. The one I’ve always also seen but never noticed hangs in front of the driver high up on the high voltage power cables. That’s almost 4 1/2 years worth of seeing but not noticing this Stop sign.

Maybe it’s just a dumb place for a sign as you come down perpendicular-wise into a 90-degree curve over the train-bridge and have to look for oncoming traffic from a blind hill-top to the left while stopping. Leaning over the steering wheel so as to look up from under the car roof is a bit of a strain when you’re busy doing other things.

Seeing but not noticing. It’s like seeing a criminal coming out of an office building but not noticing the criminal because he’s disguised as a UPS driver. UPS drivers are invisible in that situation, right? You could describe the UPS driver in detail never thinking that he’s the one for whom all the police are searching.

So much for the strength of my situational awareness. I’ll have to work on that. Meanwhile:

“To those outside everything comes in parables, so that ‘looking they see but do not perceive, and hearing they hear but do not understand, lest they turn and be forgiven” (Mark 4:11-12).

You might almost think that Jesus is locking people out on purpose. And He is! Here’s the deal, if we aren’t drawn by the truth of His love, the love of His truth, we are only looking at ourselves and so we don’t want to be turned to Him to be forgiven by Him. He’s the one who draws us to Himself, who turns us about, who forgives us. We’re not our own saviors. We can’t see His salvation of us without Him revealing that salvation to us. He’s the One. He’s the only One. He can be grabbing us by both shoulders and shaking us so that we might actually take notice of Him whom we’ve otherwise always seen. But we can choose to just keep going through life on our own, thinking that’s enough, but remaining in darkness.

Back to situational awareness. It’s a service one renders not only to self but to others. Part of situational awareness is noticing what is otherwise usually un-noticeable. It involves always taking it down a notch, stepping back so as to be more immersed in the situation.

 

 

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Road danger: Most accidents happen next to home. Angels to the rescue.

road danger t-bone avoided

Today saw a zillion miles put on Sassy the Subaru with Mass and Communion calls up in Graham county. Vigilant situational awareness was very useful as always, but one tends to relax a bit when right near home. In the picture above, I’m only about 150 yards away from the rectory. Yet, I was still paying attention. The second I saw this lady in her car way down her alleyway to the right, I just knew she was an accident waiting to happen with me. I could have sworn that she looked right at me before she pulled out right in front of me. Had I not immediately slammed on the brakes I would have totally T-boned her driver’s side door, leaving her as a heap of broken bones. I hope I always remember to say the “Angel of God my guardian dear…” prayer as I did every time I started the car today. Do you remember to ask for help from your guardian angel?

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Road danger: well, no, just some fun, but also some questions

road danger river

The splash, always with the windows wide open and me getting soaked, goes up as high as the trees on the day off. The hood of Sassy the Subaru is about level with the road on the other side of the stream I smash into at pretty high speeds at least once a week. This past week brought the joy of four crossings, pretty much hydroplaning across the water. Saint Peter would have enjoyed being in the passenger seat for this it seems to me. But I only think that because the other side of the stream at those high speeds comes up pretty quickly. This wouldn’t work if it were the Sea of Galilee. And it would be much better to be saved and then reprimanded by our Lord Jesus for our lack of faith than to merely fake out gravity.

SUBARU DECALS

As long time readers know, I like to brag about my dad. No apologies. The reason for the decals on the back of Sassy the Subaru are meant to provoke questions. A million times, it seems, I’ve then had the occasion to tell whoever about him. He was commander of the Checkerboard squadron in the North Pacific. The Distinguished Flying Crosses seem to have classified citations still today. North Korea borders a certain country. ;-) Anyway, I’ve been looking at Amazon for metal-foil decals of the USMC like the one at the bottom of the picture above. The one I have, unlike the picture, is now half off and looking pretty miserable. All the ones I’ve seen are vinyl. No metal-foil ones anymore? What’s the deal with that? I think these were given out at Lowes on the 4th of July last. Maybe they were leftovers from recruiter stations or made up by Lowes. Unfortunately, some people really, really, really DO NOT LIKE the back of the car. What’s there to argue with? But it seems to make some people quite aggressive. I don’t think it’s the USMC or Israeli bits. I think it’s the cross and the “4G0D4ALL” plate.

medical bracelet

Anyway, I’ve been thinking of getting a medical bracelet or equivalent in case of any untoward emergency for whatever reason as I do, in fact, have a reason for a bit of special activity by EMTs in whatever catastrophic event. However, I saw that my phone, which goes with me everywhere as I always want to be available if possible, has an option to fill out emergency health information which is easily accessible by EMTs for the same purpose. I’ve done that. But is that good enough or is a physical medical bracelet better?

 

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Road danger: “Let’s go kill people”

head on collision

Sorry about the salty windshield. This was some hundreds of miles into a hospital run with one of my parishioners after a rare Winter storm in the mountains here. We’re making the final descent into the Nantahala Gorge.

Pictured is me slamming on the brakes, just squeaking in between the guard rail and the otherwise certain head-on collision. The driver wasn’t going fast at all, perhaps just ten or fifteen miles an hour. It wasn’t a sudden thing. It was like he was determined to be a danger to himself and others, you know, entitled to do so. Little did he know that I make a thing of asking my guardian angel for protection.

Perhaps he was drunk, off his meds or some such thing. But he was just a little too stubborn. I was honking at him but he seemed to be purposely ignoring my difficulties in avoiding him. He looked to be in his late sixties.

I had just had another incident hardly a minute before this just over the same hill, just some hundreds of yards away, with a woman who also looked to be in her late sixties and who also seemed to have the same belligerent determination to cause death and mayhem, you know, like she was entitled.

not an accident

Much closer than it looks.

She pulled out directly in front of the tractor-trailer with heart-stopping slowness and determination, just like the guy described above, and, like him, continued going no more than ten or fifteen miles an hour. It was not a sudden thing. It was like she had waited for the circumstances to be what they were. I had stopped completely and pulled over as far as I could so as to give the tractor-trailer guy a bit of an option should she brake-check him. He waved, thankful that I had done this. It’s quite a few miles of double-yellows. I wonder if she kept everyone trapped behind her at such a slow speed. She was yelling and gesturing at me for having gotten out of her way, apparently upset that she and everyone else was still alive.

I gotta wonder if this man and woman had been having a fight. Were they married? Was it road rage against each other which turned into road rage against everyone?

Situational awareness is a service to self and others as it looks for ways out of potentially bad situations instead of letting them get worse. This is a courtesy, and can spell the difference between life and death at any given time.

Are we aware of the situation we are in what with all of eternity before us?

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Road rage tender snowflake tantrums and peaceful situational awareness

road danger nantahala gorge

A view in front right where the slow-moving-vehicle right lane just quits.

Situational awareness involves always having at hand a number of ways to deescalate a potentially dangerous situation. This is especially useful in road rage situations, which, it seems to me, are on the increase for the reason that road rage is all about the tender snowflake entitlement mentality of “it’s all about me.” There are so very many tender snowflakes these days. Very few have their identity in their Creator, Christ Jesus. Nothing to do about that until they get to know the self-sacrificing love of Jesus, with some goodness and kindness and respect for others. So, patience and a good example is what’s best. In a dangerous situation, give them what they want, which is that the road is for them and nobody else. I don’t want to die and I don’t want to see anyone else hurt, not even the tender snowflakes.

I tend to go right at the speed limit, or, as I like to tell people, just a 1/2 mile an hour under the speed limit so that I don’t ever get a speeding ticket from a State Trooper in the area who gives everyone a ticket who is going just a half mile an hour over the speed limit. But anyway, it’s a known fact that speeding up a couple of miles an hour enrages road-ragers. So I just go the speed limit. It’s also just safer with all the blind drive-ways and the possibility of hydro-planing because of misconstructed roads and fallen-trees after a rain so very common in the gorge. Speed limits are there for a reason.

Well, last evening as dusky dark, coming back from Bishop Curlin’s funeral, passing through the Nantahala Gorge, which is pretty much double-yellow no-passing for miles and miles, I noted a group of cars going waaaaay over the speed limit zipping up behind me, driving really aggressively among themselves, enraging each other like yellow-jackets attacking a hornet’s nest, with all the more raging when they got behind me, what with me going only the speed limit. Now I was a common enemy to the lot of them.

There’s a courtesy lane for slow moving vehicles to move into for a few hundred yards right at the end of the gorge, so I thought I would get in that, fearing that if I didn’t, they would pass on the right and knock me into oncoming traffic on the left. Yes, that happens… lots of cross-markers for deaths that way. Or they might otherwise just pass on the double-yellow going up the mountain to Topton, likely, then, to kill themselves and others on the blind curves, causing head-on collisions. The passing on the double-yellow thing is a way of life here in the mountains. Lots of deaths that way too, but, it seems, no one really cares. But this crowd was particularly a raging sight to see. So, all situationally aware, I let them pass while I got into the slow-moving-vehicle-lane.

I knew I would have to slam on the brakes in the all-too-short lane as there is no one polite on the road anymore it seems, and the entire line of traffic would surely try to pass me whether I crashed out or not. I don’t like crashing!

Here’s the video from the back window of Sassy the Subaru as the tantrums of the tender snowflakes unfolds.

Note all the angry honking as they passed, ever so angry that I was only going the speed limit. It’s kind of humorous in a sad sort of way in that it’s all so predictable. The more tender snow-flake one is, the more angry one becomes. You know: tough tender snowflakes. Honk honk honk. It’s a tender snowflake world. That sounds like a song title.

I’m not saying that these guys did anything wrong at all. But real road ragers who actually endanger others should have some sort of punishment like sporting huge car-magnets for a month which say “I’m a tender snowflake throwing a tantrum.” Then they pay a fine to cover the cost and replacement of the magnet if they throw it away or if they don’t have it on their vehicles during the required period. I’m so bad and evil. But really, it seems that driving is getting to be a barometer of the soul. Does no one have the ability to just take it down a notch?

Jesus, save us. Give us a sense of identity in you. Don’t permit any of us to be tender snowflakes. Make us tough, that is, Lord, have us be good and kind and courteous and polite and respectful. Have us be safe so that we can be good stewards of soul and body, which are to be tabernacles of the Holy Spirit, at peace and peaceful, joyful in your presence. Amen.

At peace and peaceful. Joyful. Amen.

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Road danger: Just the good ol’ boys

Just the good ol’ boys, never meanin’ no harm, beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born

Staightenin’ the curves, flattenin’ the hills, someday the mountain might get ’em, but the law never will

Makin’ their way, the only way they know how, that’s just a little bit more than the law will allow

Just the good ol’ boys, wouldn’t change if they could, fightin’ the system, like a true modern day Robbin’ Hood

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About two or three days after reporting an arson in a certain place the other year there was a period of some nine months of good ol’ boys in that area riding my bumper even for dozens of miles wherever I went. I could literally set a stopwatch to see how long it would take before I had good ol’ boys (often two ruffians) on the back bumper. Usually no longer than three and half minutes, sometimes less. That was in the days before I got a Thinkware F770 (with front and back cameras with auto-cycling digital recording). After the reporting of the arson, it was like turning on a light switch, every trip out. It was a bit annoying. For no reason I can discern, nine months later, it was like turning off a light switch. Nothing more, except on the rare occasion.

There were a few occasions when some trucks raced up at what must have been twice the speed limit only to slam on the brakes before actually ramming me off the road, then charging, backing off, charging, backing off, weaving aggressively into the ditch and over double-yellow lines, charging, blah blah blah boring. I just didn’t react, always 1/2 mile under the speed limit. Most of that was in the middle of absolutely nowheresville.

But now I think I’ve discerned a motive for some of this activity, which of a sudden has picked up again, not related to the reporting of any arson, but because it’s now much more difficult to acquire hillbilly heroin, opioids, prescription pain-meds, what with Trump’s war on this kind of drug abuse. The price goes up. Addicts need money.

Waiting outside the church after a Sunday Mass is the occasion. As everyone leaves and I take off, the pursuit begins. A junky truck with a couple of good ol’ boys will race up at something like twice the speed limit, get on the bumper, and stay there with evident aggressiveness for the next ten miles, with a half-dozen opportunities to pass, but never taking them, and then simply turning around and returning, upset with themselves for being cowards, in the end, for not taking down the priest with, they presume, the Sunday Mass collection. Hah.

I think it might be a good idea to get a somewhat heavier vehicle than Sassy the Subaru Forester. Dunno. Heavy usually means less agile, and all we have in the mountains are super-curvey roads, which are, in fact, the tourist attraction. But heavy also means hard to do a PIT on (see video above). I’ve so often had people ride just off the back corner of the vehicle while they drove in the passing lane, but never passing, just sitting there in pre-pit-maneuver position. I’ve successfully avoided bad consequences quite a number of times by slamming on the brakes when they were truly off to the side, with them in the same nano-second, literally, also slamming on the brakes, frustrated that they lost their opportunity. No one who is just passing does that, nor do they just ride in the on-coming lane just forever, regardless of double-yellows. Hah.

Guardian angels are really very wonderful, but I’m thinking we’re also supposed to do our part. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” and all that.

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This gunslinger priest: It is to laugh! More updates on the ironies. Ha ha!

wrong way off ramp

October 27, 2017: The first time I had my gun at the ready, brandished and all, was when I was the victim of a carjacking on highway 40 while bringing a retired cop to his major surgery appointment. Lucky for me, nine cruisers showed up just when I needed them, that very second. Thanks to the cops! I’m guessing he was an escapee on the run and they had just gotten a tip he was in the area. The timing was perfect.

The second time I had my gun kind of at the ready was today. With the neighboring priest sick to death, I was on my way to the hospital in his parish in Bryson City to give one of his parishioners the last rites, priest that I am, and I had Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with me. I was coming down the off ramp at Exit 67 on Interstate 74, clearly marked on the far side with the proper wrong way signs for any would be knucklehead drivers not paying attention, something like the picture above. It’s not a good thing to get on an interstate highway going the wrong way.

Because I was going to a hospital in North Carolina (with the law prohibiting entrance with any gun, concealed or otherwise), and since the trip was almost over, being now only a couple of miles away, I took the gun out of the Serpa Blackhawk holster and secured it otherwise in the vehicle. This is really stupid. You just never know when a critical incident is going to occur.

As I slowed up for the intersection, an ultra-sports sports car, the kind with really wide tires pulled up into the one-lane off ramp coming right at me, going the wrong way. It wasn’t a Corvette or a Lamborghini, but perhaps, if I remember rightly (looking now at some pictures), a Bugatti Veyron (one or two million for the el-cheapo version). It can go 60 mph in 119 feet, 255 mph maxed out (410 kms per hour for those across the pond).

I pulled right into him, decisively, slamming on the brakes with a bit of attitude. I didn’t hit him but my perception was that he fully intended to do what he was doing and he was pretty upset that I had totally blocked his access. It was a man driving with a woman in the passenger seat, both about 65 years old. Were they on a scenic tour of the mountains here in his new car? This was a very elegant looking man and woman. The look of big money. Was he trying to show off to her, racing up the highway the wrong way just until the next exit, perhaps running circles around cars (easy to do in a Bugatti)? My perception was that he wanted an explanation of my behavior and so put his window down halfway even as he continued to go around me in the ditch.  In the ditch. I was fully aware that he could have put his window down a bit so as to shoot me. He did seem to be messing around with something in his lap. In fact, he didn’t say anything. But he was determined to get on the highway going the wrong way. He was still edging forward. It was my perception that it would almost be impossible for him to be making a mistake. Another car came down the off ramp behind me and laboriously went around this scene of mayhem. It couldn’t be clearer that this was on off-ramp, NOT an on-ramp.

I jumped out of Sassy the Subaru with my hands up, waving him off, so as to stop him. My message was unmistakable. He kept moving forward slowly, but it seemed with determination, as he was ignoring my indication to stop. I ran right in front of him and told him with calm authority (where did that come from?) that I wasn’t going to let him go any further. I stared him down like I’m sure he’s never been stared down before. His companion looked scared to death with her hands to the sides of her head while he was looking at my hip. It was my perception that he was intent on going on an adrenaline joy ride. He was still edging forward with the low front of the car getting obnoxiously close to my shins. This is reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. Did I put myself in danger? Sure. But for every possible reason he could and should stop. And I had every reason in the world to make an attempt to stop him from mortally endangering his life, the life of his companion, and the lives of those on the highway behind me.

It happens that I wear a black and frumpy 5-11 tactical shirt (with Roman collar!) over my Glock 19 which I carry OWB but unseen on my right hip. But when I’m in the car I pull the shirt back behind the Serpa Blackhawk holster so that the gun is immediately available even with the seat belt fastened. I still remember the carjacking and I refuse to be a victim. I forgot that the shirt was still tucked behind the holster even though the gun was itself secured in the car. He saw the holster and couldn’t be sure that there was no gun in it as the shirt flopped over the top opening of the holster in it’s baggy fashion, though without concealing the rest of the holster itself. That’s O.K. North Carolina is an open-carry state also for those who have concealed carry permits but who may happen to want to open-carry on occasion.

So, I didn’t brandish. I never threatened. I wasn’t terrorizing the public with a weapon. I was formulating a plan to perhaps shoot out his tires if he continued to run into me, perhaps over me, that is, if conditions indicated this was the proper thing to do for the safety and welfare of all concerned, including the general public on the roads. I’m practiced enough now that I could shoot out tires that with the certainty of not hitting the occupants. I’ve been run over with extreme violence before, with plenty of shattered bones, so I know what that’s like. I know I can be totally calm in a storm. I know what adrenaline is. So, easy peasy, however intense. It didn’t come to that, thank God. There are plenty of videos on-line demonstrating that personal defense rounds from a 9mm will leave a big enough hole in a reinforced steel-belted extra heavy duty truck tire so as to let the air out in about 15 seconds, so, no worries there. The bullets only go through one wall and generally get stuck coming out the far side.

Anyway, however upset he was, I’m sure he just couldn’t believe what he was seeing what with me wearing the Roman collar and all. I actually think that made him all the more angry and upset, though he just couldn’t fathom what was on my hip. If he was looking to show off with dangerous driving, risking the lives of others, he finally figured out that killing a priest, especially considering what he was doing with his life, would be counterproductive in every way imaginable. He stopped, backed up, and turned his car around. Off he went getting an ear full from his friend.

I was elated as I got back in my car. I looked over to the share-ride parking that is there as I came up to the stop sign at the intersection, and some guy in a pickup, looking very much in the part of an undercover cop, gave me a big thumbs up, which I also returned. I’m sure he also had a good view of what was on my hip. He looked terribly amused to see my Roman collar as well. I was amused that he was amused. I’m sure he was happy to see civilians doing their part, even the clergy. I’m quite sure Jesus was amused as well. I think I give Jesus lots to be amused about.

I was also quite impressed with this incident that you just don’t know when bad things can happen. It can all go down in mere seconds. I gotta thank my guardian angel for arranging the timing of this and for smacking me down to make sure I did the right thing. I could have let him go. But to what end, to kill themselves and others? That’s not right. I realize that this could have all gone south very, very quickly, but that’s O.K. too, isn’t it? I mean, just because something could go wrong doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the right thing, right? I’m sure Jesus doesn’t mind if we do the right thing. I’m still elated it all went well… and I’m still thanking my guardian angel.

October 28, 2017 (early the next morning): The face of the woman in the passenger seat was burned into my mind, as she framed her head with her hands while reprimanding the driver, who I just assumed was her husband, seeming to be about the same age and all that. When I was on the phone with Father Gordon MacRae this morning (the 28th, still only hours after the incident above), we were sending a note to a lady who is perhaps by definition the most anti-Catholic, anti-priest woman in these United States. (She’s quite willing to receive the messages, by the way). Her photo came up as I started to type in her gmail address. She’s a spitting image of the lady in the car. The face, the age, the exact weird color of hair, the exact exact exact hair-do. Exact amount of lower-chin-fat. Everything. 100%. That’s her. This, I’m sure, was her worst nightmare: to be rescued from malicious death at the hands of her companion by a priest who helps Father Gordon, her biggest nemesis in the universe. Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah! I love it. I just love it. Happy to provide the nightmare. Maybe she will also have, upon reflection of what happened, a better regard for priests. As I say, the angels arrange just this very kind of ironic circumstance. I love it.

December 26, 2017: While doing some editorial work for Father Gordon MacRae, it struck me that I should google-image someone for whom I never had occasion to see an updated picture. Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah! I love it. I just love it. The driver of the Bugati was not her husband, but rather, someone who is, perhaps by definition the most anti-Catholic, anti-priest man in these United States. I didn’t recognize him earlier because, in fact, he’s lost some weight what with all pressure he’s suffering from all the hypocrisy and corruption being uncovered about him, and… and… he’s grown himself a goatee. It was this thinner, goateed guy that I saw. The ironies are so rife it’s hard for me to write this update. Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah! O.K., I’m happy to have saved him from himself as well. I’m not laughing at him with some sort of schadenfreude. I do hope he lives long enough to repent and be on his way to heaven. The angels are more amazing than we can possibly imagine, setting up the timing of such encounters more than we know, perhaps more than we care to know.

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Extreme Sport North Face of Tatham Gap Trail of Tears Communion Calls.

tatham gap summit ice

This is the summit of the North Face of “the mountain.”

Being from Minnesota, I have to think that there is nothing about snow and ice in Western North Carolina that I can’t handle, especially with all wheel drive Sassy the Subaru Forester, though with only street, not snow tires, no chains, no metal studs.

Stupid me. Notice the bevel of the road is rather severe from left down to the right, and it’s all slick ice. And, at this point, the car just wouldn’t stop tumbling down the mountain side if it started to slide ever so slightly. But, hey, I’m clever! And immortal! I can do anything! Especially filled with adrenaline!

And that’s why these roads are eventually closed in the winter time by the Forest service, you know, for people like me. Sigh.

I’ll see if I can’t put up a video of at least parts of this Trail of Tears, which pretty much starts in my parish church and heads out to Nebraska.

I don’t have to go this way on Communion Calls, but I do because it is a short cut and so very beautiful. I’m quite certain that I have the most beautiful parish in the world.

But then again, I recall the words repeated to me as spoken by Humberto Cardinal Medeiros before the Archdiocese sold a castle in the forest on the rocky north shore of Massachusetts. Someone commented to him standing atop that castle while looking over the beauties of nature just how very beautiful it all was. His response was that he himself found the grimy steel pylons of the elevated trains back in the city to be so much more beautiful.

Boston El Train

Well, I’m sure there is the same adrenaline rush on an icy Trail of Tears over Tatham Gap as one might have being jerked around by the rickety and now closed El-Train in Boston. I remember it well. Someone else also remembers such things:

pope francis bus albert the great

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Road-danger, Angel of God, BATFE, Shadow-dog, clericalism at its best

head on missed

Yesterday’s trip started off with a would-have-been head-on-collision had I not been paying attention. I was coming around a sharp blind curve with a double-yellow and some joker had just blown another car off the road and decided to drive into oncoming traffic. I slammed on the brakes and watched as he was just able to get back to his side of the road. My reaction? I mean, after the first second or two? ;-) Angel of God my guardian dear…

The 400 some mile trip was successful. Lunch with the Abbot, a LOOONG talk with the bishop, as always, as I come from so far away, and catching up with very many other priests. We have the best bishop in the world (sorry Pope Francis). He puts on an Advent meal out of his own pocket every year for the priests. I’m sure my guardian angel conspired to make all of this go along very well as well.

I have to say that a number of priests were mightily interested in Shadow-dog, and demanded more posts on Shadow-dog. I think that’s a good idea. One priest, however, shared his opinion that dogs are most inappropriate for priests as they “hold the priest back from doing what he needs to do.” I guess I just don’t feel that way. It’s never stopped me from rushing to hospitals day or night, or going on long excursions, or trips, say, to Rome. The neighbors are happy to look after the dogs and they do anyway, so who am I to judge? And… and… the way I look at it, Shadow-dog is security. Times are changing, also here. Even BATFE is making its presence felt in my little neighborhood. Imagine that. I’m sure they’re happy to have Shadow-dog around as well.

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Sharing the road with druggies. Or not.

ditch driving

You never know what you’re going to meet on the road, or not on the road, while on Communion calls to the shut-ins on the tops of the back ridges of this Appalachian wilderness. A good sense of situational awareness is important.

I was keeping an eye on this fellow as he was closing the distance mighty fast. And then he decided to drive in the ditch. He almost rolled the car overcompensating but then soon stabilized, spraying dirt round about and creating a cloud of dust, and then he sped up again and got on my back bumper. After another couple of miles he suddenly peeled off among some recycling dumpsters at the side of the road.

I can’t imagine such a very exciting trip was to drop off a little bag of recycling (the car being really very tiny). I’m guessing he was going dumpster diving for drugs, perhaps after hearing that someone had just been doing their recycling, someone who always throws away any extra prescription pain killers.

This is one of the worst areas in these USA for abuse of opioids. There’s a real crackdown on the doctors in the area who have been prescribing opioids for anything and everything or nothing at all. People are hooked. The supply is running dry. They are getting desperate. It’s pretty bad.

People have zero sense of identity. They are defined by their drugs. People need Jesus.

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Lane splitting and brake checking: So, what’s the cure to hopelessness? Jesus!

lane splitting

Quiet mountain villages are not so quiet anymore. Sure, this is where Thunder Road was filmed, but I’ve never seen the level of dangerous driving here that I’ve seen in the last few days. The example of lane splitting above, I’m guessing at about 80 miles an hour, almost took out two other vehicles.

ford ranger

Something more or less like this.

But that’s nothing compared to a deep but very bright metallic blue pickup on Highway 40 the other day. He almost clipped my front bumper passing me on the right. He seemed to hesitate as to whether he should brake check me for the offense of being on the highway at the same time as him, but he sped up again, perhaps well over a 100 miles an hour, almost ramming into the back of an SUV, perhaps pushing that vehicle to make it go faster. As soon as that SUV passed a tractor trailer, switching lanes in front of the tractor trailer, the bright blue pickup passed him and violently pulled in front of him and slammed on his brakes. You can imagine the ensuing chaos. See the picture below. The brake lights are those of the SUV. The pickup is right in front of the SUV (you’re seeing the reflection of the SUV headlights on the back bed of the pickup). I imagine the trucker got some good video.

brake checking

This isn’t road rage as no one else was doing anything wrong. I don’t even think it’s people full of self-importance, who make adrenaline their god, with everyone else paying the price for such idiocy. Instead, I think it’s driving while on some pretty strong drugs.

No one is hopeless, but trying to reason with anyone controlled by the drugs they take is a hopeless cause. Druggies consider themselves to be hopeless while taking drugs. Hopelessness is a licence to kill. But, here’s the deal, they are also feeling terribly hopeless before they choose once again to take drugs, throwing themselves into such uncontrollable behavior. But that’s the only time to a hold of their souls, making them understand that there is hope for them. Giving them a way out of hopelessness is key.

Prison ministry? Of course, hopeless people are just absolutely FULL to overflowing with mind games, with a seemingly infinite number of rationalizations and fears and peer pressures and escapes from reality at the ready, making sport of those who would chisel away at their cynicism and despair. What to do?

Rehabs which don’t answer the big questions in life, which cannot or will not speak of Jesus can only be accidentally and only very occasionally successful. The only way to crash into the midst of someone’s life and brake check them for the good is Jesus.

The Indian government once asked Mother Teresa of Calcutta if she could take on the training of government social workers, as those social workers were utterly useless to society, but, they said, Mother’s sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, were doing a most spectacular job. Her response, of course, was that she had never done social work, but only manifested the love of Jesus for all, His respect, His goodness and kindness. That’s what makes the difference. She said she would train the social workers, but under condition that she could speak to them about Jesus. The government, of course, refused.

But Jesus is the One. He’s the only One. It’s all about Jesus. All else is violence and a waste of time. We want Jesus!

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Road danger. Total respect for our State Patrol and Highway workers. Craziness.

On the way back from dropping off Shadow to get “fixed,” while on the steep mile-long downhill of a straight-away on Highway 74 just north-east of Andrews, a damsel in distress needed help, her SUV parked, out of gas, fully half-way onto the north-east lane of the highway.  The four lane highway at this point is just two lanes. The near head-on collisions were pretty continuous as traffic tried to go around her. A tractor-trailer just plowed right up the opposing lane of traffic around her parked vehicle regardless of oncoming traffic, so that oncoming traffic had to fly into the ditch. Craziness. Total insanity. People just don’t care. A lot of people could have died right then and there.

I had already turned around and was parked on the highway behind her so she wouldn’t get hit. I had put my emergency blinkers on and jumped out to direct traffic, slime-green emergency vest at the ready, of course. One car almost hit me, it seems on purpose, I guess angry that I was stopping him from getting in an accident. Phone in hand I called the dispatch, asking for a blue-light until the vehicle could be removed (the ditches being straight down some fifteen feet at that point. No one came. One Patrol per three counties. Busy on another call.

Meanwhile, the damsel in distress was frantic, saying the car wasn’t even hers. A boyfriend, it seems, appeared and grabbed her and away they sped in his red truck, saying they were getting gas, but leaving all gas stations behind in the opposite direction. I called it in again, saying I was thinking the car was stolen and the perps just ran away., giving the licence tag. They never reappeared as far as I know. The car had a handicapped tag, but the girl, terribly dirty, druggy looking (sorry), was not in any way handicapped at her 20-something age, running around the way she was.

Lots of near head-on collisions. Some nice people, but many really angry for having had to slow down for a few seconds. I called it in again, saying this situation was totally crazy and I really needed help as someone was bound to get hurt bad really soon. Finally, a State Patrol showed up. He thanked me profusely, apologizing for the delay. We had a great chat, actually, and we reviewed the scene. He then sent me on my way, saying he was going to get the vehicle towed.

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Laudie-dog, snakes, tears and tech

wp-image-866364329

When getting back last night from a second trip to graham county Laudie-dog noticed a snake coming out on the back porch of the rectory, despite the cold, and she was immediately in protective aggressive flurry mode. Poor snake.

Here’s the summit of the Trail of Tears, Tatham Gap Road, which basically starts in my parish church and makes its way out to Nebraska. The government of the time killed off thirty million bison so as to starve to death those Cherokees who survived the death long death march.

tatham gap summit info sign trail of tears

I would like to know how to turn my 770 ThinkWare clips into a YouTube movie so that you all know where I go on my screamingly beautiful Communion Calls with Jesus. This is paradise here on earth.

tatham gap washout

Perhaps there is a techy trick to this. Anyone?

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