Marysville, Kansas
Black Squirrel City

Scurrius sniffed the warm evening air, his nose twitching in the breeze. The squirrels had spent the long Sun sitting in their cells again, but at least the Carnival Master had set them in the shade this time. 

Most of the Elders were already asleep for the long Moon. The Young Ones were rambunctious as they chittered away at each other.  Scurrius chuckled softly as he thought of the old saying, “Young Ones and boredom lead to…more Young Ones.” 

Scurrius had stopped dreaming of escape years ago. The Carnival Master did feed them well. Humans loved fat squirrels, so at least there was that. He paused to remember the good ol’ days when some Native Americans believed that the Black Squirrel was responsible for the eclipse of the Sun. “…believed we ate it!” Scurrius laughed to himself. 

Scurrius continued to listen to the Young Ones chatter softly, and decided to close his eyes for a minute. Just a minute. 

Twitch. Sniff. Girl. Human. Girl Child. 

Scurrius’s eyes popped open and he looked directly into the huge face of a young girl child. “Shh.” she whispered. Her warm breath smelled of sweet popcorn and peanuts. “I’m here to save you!” 

Scurrius looked over to the cell of the Young Ones. The door was open. Wide open. They all looked at him, their eyes wide and black. “Go!” he yelled. He saw the Elders farther down the row. “Go! Go! Go, now!” he screeched. 

The girl child was reaching through the open door of his cell. “I just want to help…” she laid her hand gently down on the floor. “Come on.” He stepped onto her hand slowly, and sucked in his belly full of nuts and fluff so he could squeeze out the cell door. She set him gently on the ground, looking mighty proud of herself. “Go! Be free!”

He knelt at her feet, bowing before her grace and kindness. He could hear her giggling as he hurried after his scurry. 

Humans can be slow, so it took longer than it should have, but the Black Squirrel became the gods they were destined to be. The human village erected statues in their honor. There is a yearly celebration of their very existence. Humans come from far away lands to feed and worship them. The scurry scurries freely across the lands of Marysville, Kansas…there is no place like home. 

They take their squirrels very seriously around here.

The Legend:

Local legend has it that in Marysville, Kansas in 1912 a child released black squirrels from their cages during a carnival show. The squirrels scattered and their population grew, as it does with squirrels. On August 28, 1972 Marysville adopted the black squirrel as their town mascot, with an accompanying ordinance for the safety of all black squirrels. Today, about 1/5 of the city’s squirrel population is black, with most of them residing in the city park

Oh! ‘ello! Please follow our Black Squirrel rules and regulations! 
The black squirrel has the right-of-way on all streets, alleys and railroad crossings in Marysville, KS.
If you harm a black squirrel you will be fined a minimum of $25.
It’s nuts!
If you could also avoid running me over, that would be greatly appreciated as well!

The City Park: 

Marysville City Park is beautifully shaded with their famous black squirrels maintaining ownership of all the shade trees. This large park includes free camping, a themed playground, a swimming pool with colorful slides, tennis courts and various historical buildings.

Camping spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis. 30 amp/50 amp and 110 is available.  Tent camping is welcome as well. The city does request that you limit your stay to five days. There is potable water, a dump station, and restroom facilities on site. Donation information is located at the restrooms.

Marysville City Park
Squirrel!
Free RV and tent camping at the city park!
Squirrel!

Black Squirrels on Parade:

34 five-foot fiberglass black squirrels are displayed all throughout Marysville. Each one designed and painted by local and regional artists. You can find squirrel maps at the Visitors Center or at area gas stations for a driving tour of the squirrel statues. 

What do you call a fight between squirrels? A squarrel.
I got kicked out of the park after arranging all the squirrels by height. They didn’t like me critter sizing.

Pony Express Museum:

Marysville features the Home Station No. 1 on the Pony Express route. The home station is a stone barn that was built in 1859, and is the oldest building in Marshall County, Kansas. The building now houses the Home Station Pony Express Museum. 

A Help Wanted advertisement allegedly read, “Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.”
Squirrel!

Abandoned Kansas:

Kansas is full of ghost towns and abandoned homesteads and farms. While staying in Marysville we explored the area to find the beauty of the forgotten.  

An old abandoned power plant along the Blue River near Marysville.
A deserted Herkimer Grain plant.
Squirrel!
Decaying homestead off of some old county road.
Historical choo-choos in nearby Waterville, Kansas
The Weaver Hotel in Waterville.
Squirrel!
Abandoned barn on an old homestead. 
While we explored a local man stopped by and told us that this place was last occupied in the early 1990’s. We were surprised by how fast the neglect had deteriorated this beautiful property. If these walls could talk…
Rusty and Frankie exploring with us…until they found the piles of deer shit to roll in. #rvingwithdogs

For More Information

 

Visit Marysville

Black Squirrels on Parade

Native Languages of the Americas: Preserving and Promoting Native Languages

10 Things You May Not Know About the Pony Express

City of Waterville

The Weaver Hotel

Squirrel!

The Man Who Rode Halley’s Comet

I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: “Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together”  ~Samuel Clemens, 1909

 

Hannibal, Missouri – Hometown of Samuel Clemens

Born in Florida, Missouri in 1835 just 2 weeks after Halley’s Comet closest approach, Samuel Clemens was the 6th of 7 children born of Jane and John Marshall Clemens. Only four children would survive past childhood, his older brother and older sister, Orion and Pamela, and his younger sibling Henry. Though born in Florida, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri (less than 30 miles away) when he was very young. It was growing up in Hannibal, the people, the place, the experiences, that would shape his most popular works: The adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 

A ‘Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read” 

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

Samuel Clemens, of course, was more well known by the moniker MARK TWAIN. Twain, a pen name based on a unit of measurement in riverboating, was one of many that he used. Prior to settling on Mark Twain, he signed sketches as “Josh” and was often known as the humorist Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.

A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.”

A tour through Hannibal today will lead you to many Mark Twain landmarks as the city has fully embraced itself as the home of the man William Faulkner called “the father of American Literature.” There still stands his childhood home, and even the fence that would be the inspiration to the infamous whitewashing scene in Tom Sawyer. 

Tom Sawyer’s Fence
Grab a brush, and get to work!

Just across the street you’ll find the home of Laura Hawkins; the inspiration for Becky Thatcher. One of the tiny homes that Tom Blankenship, Twain’s best friend and the basis of the character Huck Finn, has been restored and can be visited as well. 

Becky Thatcher’s Home

 

In ‘Huckleberry Finn’ I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly how he was. He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as any boy had.”

Huckleberry Finn’s House
The home of Tom Blankenship (Huck Finn)

The museum in Hannibal offers a wonderful exhibit where you can walk through his most famous works. Including A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, Roughing It, Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn. As well as a look at his time on the riverboats of the Mississippi; where he got the pen name we all know him by today. 

Mark Twain was the nom de plume of one Captain Isaiah Sellers, who used to write river news over it for the New Orleans Picayune. He died in 1863 and as he could no longer need that signature, I laid violent hands upon it without asking permission of the proprietor’s remains.”

The Origin of Mark Twain

Mark Twain was well traveled doing speaking lectures — that bordered upon what we know today as Stand-Up Comedy — around the world and everywhere within North America. Within the United States, he held residence at one time or another in Missouri, Nevada, California, Connecticut, and New York (where he and his wife are buried, side by side).

 

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”

 

Travel is education.

It was due to his experiences growing up in a slave state in the pre-civil war era that shaped Mark Twain into the pro-emancipation, abolitionist that he was. Twain was also known to support the women’s suffrage movement and fought for worker’s rights. He also advocated for disability rights. Twain’s working partnerships and friends included people like Frederick Douglas, Helen Keller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Prudence Crandall, William Dean Howell, among others. To further his own point about travel and bigotry Mark Twain’s opinions on Indigenous people, of various lands, grew more as he ventured around the world and saw the trauma left behind by imperial colonizers.

There are many humorous things in this world; among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.”

All right, then, I’ll go to hell.

He was Presbyterian, but was critical of organized religion in general, especially late in life. So much so, that his most critical writings were not published until well after his death.

“But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?” 

Besides being a writer, a miner (which he was no good at), a riverboat pilot, a speaker, and an activist, Twain was also an inventor. He shared a friendship with Nikola Tesla and was one of only a few people who ever spent extended time in Tesla’s lab. Twain would go on to patent a few inventions of his own including one in use today: The elastic hook closure for bras. A patent which he filed under “An Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments.” He had hope that it would do away with suspenders, which he hated. 

“…for the vest, pantaloons, or other garment upon which my strap is to be used.”

During the final year of his life he would write (dictate) his autobiography. The first edition was 736 pages long, but the notes were compiled by others and the order changed from which he recited it. It was not published in its intended, non-chronological form, until 2010 and became an unexpected hit, which put Samuel Clemens, a.k.a Mark Twain, in the very limited writer’s club of having a new bestselling book in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Mark Twain died in his home just one day after Halley’s Comet made its closest approach to the Earth in April of 1910. 

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.” 

Mark Twain’s Desk

After his death Mark Twain went on to make appearances in television and film including Star Trek, Touched By An Angel, Holmes & Watson, and Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues**

“It is no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

 

He lived a legendary life. He grew, he learned, he observed the world and all its good and bad. He wrote much of it, and spoke on the rest. He was not a perfect man, but he lived an extraordinary life, riding a comet through history. 

Mark Twain reading to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

“I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell – you see, I have friends in both places.”

Mark Twin on the Enterprise

**Disclaimer: Samuel Clemens may not have been the actual person portraying Mark Twain on screen.

 

“When in doubt, tell the truth.”

 

 

History from the Road
The Unsinkable Molly Brown

*”I am a daughter of adventure.”
– Margaret Brown, The Denver Post – August 1923*

Hannibal, Missouri. Photo Credit: writeontheroad.com

Hannibal, a small town located along the Mississippi River, in Northeastern Missouri is known for a few things. Most notable is that it is the hometown of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, but we will get back to him in a later post. 

Hannibal, the town, not the cannibal, is also the focus of a true crime documentary on Investigation Discovery about the disappearance of a young woman named Christina Whitaker. The documentary does not paint Hannibal as a pleasing picture. The seedy underbelly of the town is infested with drug abuse, sexual abuse, and apparently some shifty acting police officers. 

But today, I want to talk about some other bad behavior. This kind of bad behavior is what the late John Lewis would call Good Trouble. 

*”As long as they’re talking about me, I don’t care what they say.”
– Margaret Brown to a reporter – circa 1920″*

In Hannibal on July 18, 1867, John and Johanna Tobin named their little bundle of good trouble Margaret Tobin. Margaret was well educated in her childhood, and promptly put to work to help support her family once she reached her teenage years. 

Hannibal, MO. Photo Credit: writeontheroad.com
Margaret Brown childhood home. Photo Credit: writeontheroad.com

Upon reaching adulthood, Margaret followed her older siblings to Leadville, Colorado where she landed a job working in a department store. In Leadville, she met and fell in love with James Joseph Brown. In 1886, Margaret and J.J. were married. Margaret unashamedly admitted that she had dreamed of marrying a rich man, but silly ol’ love got in the way and ruined her plans of riches. Margaret and J.J. went on to have two children, Larry and Helen. 

Margaret and J.J. Brown. Photo credit: mollybrown.org

In 1893 Margaret’s dreams of having a wealthy husband finally came true. J.J. Brown had struck it rich in the mines near Leadville. The couple proceeded to build a mansion, and a summer home in the Denver area. 

The Brown Mansion. Pennsylvania Avenue, Denver, Colorado

Now that her dress pockets were lined with money, Margaret was finally able to do what she always dreamed of; philanthropy work. Margaret chartered the Denver Woman’s Club, whose mission was improving women’s lives with education, philanthropy, and the suffragist movement. During this time, with intention of upcoming travel, Margaret became well versed in the arts and languages of France, Russia, Germany, and Italy. 

Margaret led fundraisers for Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which was completed in 1911. She worked with Colorado Judge Ben Lindsey to establish one of the United States’ first juvenile courts, which became the basis for the entire U.S. juvenile court system. 

In 1909, after 23 years of marriage, Margaret and J.J. quietly arranged a legal separation agreement. She would maintain occupation of the mansion and the summer home, while also receiving a monthly allowance, and J.J. would smile and hand it over. Margaret and J.J. would remain friends for the rest of their lives. 

In 1912 Margaret and her daughter, Helen, were traveling through France with the John Jacob Astor IV party – rich people doing rich people things. During this time Margaret got word that her eldest grandson had been stricken ill and she booked passage back to the states as soon as possible. Helen was supposed to travel with her, but decided to remain in France to continue her studies.  On the evening of April 10, 1912, Margaret was boarded as a first-class passenger on the RMS Titanic. Perhaps you have heard of it?

RMS Titanic. Photo Credit: history.com

The unsinkable Titanic sank early in the morning of April 15 after playing a losing game of chicken of the sea with an iceberg. Margaret was in her room reading when the collision took place, and was so engrossed in her novel that she wasn’t aware of any issues until a ship crewmember threw a life preserver through her cabin door and yelled at her to get to the lifeboats. 

Margaret spent the next hour assisting other passengers to lifeboats, until she was finally convinced to board one herself. Margaret was assigned to Lifeboat No. 6. Once aboard the lifeboat, Margaret would take it upon herself to help oar the boat away from the sinking behemoth. When it was safe to return, Margaret insisted Lifeboat No. 6 should return to the wreckage and find more people to rescue, as their boat wasn’t full. Quartermaster Robert Hichens denied her request insisting that drowning people would topple their lifeboat, and death would find them all. At one point, Margaret threatened the Quartermaster that she would throw him overboard either way. Whether or not No. 6 returned to help others is unclear, as history tells it both ways. 

After being rescued from the Atlantic by the RMS Carpathia, Margaret set to work organizing a survivor’s committee with other first-class survivors. Working with the committee, Margaret managed to raise over $10,000 for the first-, and second-class survivors before they reached New York. 

*”Thanks for the kind thoughts. Water was fine and swimming good. Neptune was exceedingly kind to me and I am now high and dry.” – Margaret Brown to her attorney after the sinking of the Titanic.* 

After surviving the sinking of the Titanic, Margaret Brown went on to run for office in Colorado in 1914, which was before it was even legal for women to vote. She dropped out of the race before the election so that she could travel back to France and work for the Committee for Devastated France during World War I, which consisted of rebuilding areas behind the front line and helping the French and American wounded soldiers. Once she came back to America, she went on to continue working for the rights of workers and women, children’s education and literacy, and history preservation. 

Margaret spent her last few years in New York working as a stage actress. She passed away, much quieter than she lived, in her sleep on October 26, 1932. After her death, Margaret was given the nickname the Unsinkable Molly Brown. 

 


For More Information

https://www.visithannibal.com/attractions/museums/molly-brown-birthplace-museum/

https://mollybrown.org/

 

 

Young Love, Old Earth

by M.D. Parker

The blue trimmed, off-white building came into view. The over-painted brick wouldn’t give up the textured detail of the stone underneath even if Calvin had been touching the side. A sign near the corner of the school said something about Building future minds since 1949. Calvin passed the sign with the hollow thump-thump of skateboard wheels over cement cracks. He guided himself in a long arc toward the entrance. Steering clear of the meat of the parking lot, where those who already had cars were pulling in to join the fray. He already had Dad on his side; even showed him which car he wanted. Tonight was the time to start working on convincing Mom.

Stepping off the board, he kick-stomped it into his hand. He paused, looking up at the school’s attempt to use the bright color to distract from its looming presence. Pleasant colors to hide the natural angst of every one of the future minds being built.

“Hey, Cal.”

He turned his head. He grinned as she strode the final few steps toward him. A clamminess slickened his palms as he readjusted the hold on his skateboard. He drew in a deep breath. She looked at him, glanced at the ground, and smiled as she lifted her head up. She knew. He knew she knew, but they both pretended that they didn’t.

“Hey. ‘Nother day of servitude at the day-prison. You ready, Mads?”

“Nope. But no one is giving me a choice, are they?” Madeline’s rhetorical sarcasm lofted through the air and she took her first step toward the doors.

As Calvin’s eyes fought a losing battle to not follow Madeline’s march away into the hub of social conformity, the world around him brightened. The sidewalk suddenly illuminated as if by an extra sun. The light gray of the cement reflected the glare as it grew to blinding proportions, joined by an array of brilliant color. The rapid increase of purples and oranges, of blues and greens, overtook the morning’s yellow-white hue. His head turned away from her and up to the sky. His mouth fell open as his vocal cords squeaked out one last word…

“Mads–”

Madeline had already turned to see it.

The sky ripped apart, like a tear in the middle of an overstretched vinyl seat cover. The rip was growing; a swirling mix of every color they ever had a name for poured through the wound in the sky and forced the gap even wider. No sound accompanied it, but in their minds Mads and Cal could hear a torrential ripping sound as it rattled their souls.

Every color spread out from the tear as a blackness filled the center of the growing rift like the iris of an eye; a cold dark nothingness of an iris. The gash filled the whole of the visible sky with the trailing end dropping below the horizon. The black opening slowly gained color of its own in the center of the center. A steel gray flecked with various greens shaped itself into a circle. And like the first pimple before the school dance, Calvin and Madeline watched as the circle became a sphere and started to bulge through the blackened center of the kaleidoscope.

The sphere grew in size and appearance of closeness. The green of a hundred variations splashed across a gun-metal gray surface. The prism of color that tore open the sky gave birth to a planetary orb as the sky cried in silent agony. The orb slipped through the great tear. The rip began to draw the colors back into itself as the hole shrank as the last of the orb was free from it.

Other students, and teachers populated the grass and front steps of the school building. Gasps could be heard, vulgar inquiries of the divine were made, and others remained frozen in the same mouth-agape silence as Mads and Calvin. Nearly the whole of the orb could be seen above the western horizon, and it filled the illuminated sky in glaring contrast to the morning sun on the eastern horizon.

Then, the Earth itself took its cue and groaned under their feet.

A great wrenching sound twisted itself from the miles below them. The world screamed with a voice born of breaking glass and snapping wood and crumbling brick. Some ran in every direction with unknown destinations. Calvin fell. His ass hitting the ground harder than he would have liked, if he cared enough to notice. Mads hollered, but he did not hear it. His own shock and the sound of the second level of the school lowering itself to the first floor, stopped her voice from reaching its target. Car alarms screeched. Buildings collapsed into rubble. Trees were ripped from their ancient roots. Calvin’s eyes turned away from the orb for a single moment to see the nearly two hundred year old tree in front of the school join the dying world around him.

Mads was still beside him. He realized she held his hand. Together they watched. He was reminded of a freight train as a new sound wormed its way into the world. The barreling, chugging, crunch of a sound grew and climbed to an octave a hundred times louder than anything else. The screams and whimpers of people scampering about were muted. Power polls and their exploding transformers could only be seen, not heard.

Mads and Cal turned away from the orb in time to see most of their beloved day-prison swallowed by the Earth as it opened in a jagged line that disappeared into the streets beyond the school. The freight train noise paused. A single moment of stillness before rising again in a crescendo that would claim Cal and Mads as they locked in their first, and last, embrace. With closed eyes, their young souls merged as they breathed each other in.

The Earth cried as it claimed them.

They never let go of each other.

 

Prehistoric Decay – Michigan

 

Our journey has taken us into the past before. We have seen the graves of famous gunslingers. We have walked in the forests of the ancient Redwoods. We’ve slept just outside of buildings so old that they had collapsed under the weight of history.

So, where to now?

Hold on to your butts. 

“Just one drop of your blood contains billions of strands of DNA, the building blocks of life. A DNA strands like me is a blueprint for building a living thing.” – Mr. DNA, Jurassic Park

So, where does one find ancient mosquitoes that have been trained in the old ways as bloodthirsty assassins and DNA traps?

Michigan…apparently.

No, really. Have you seen the amount of mosquitoes that Michigan has? It’s like a mini-vampire breeding ground. There could be all kinds of things being transmitted by their mutant mosquitoes…DNA, malaria, the ridiculous stupidity it takes to come up with plans to abduct and murder their governor.  Sorry Michiganders, but if the mitten fits…

I digress. 

Welcome to Jurassic P… er. Prehistoric Forest Amusement Park. Abandoned. 

Located about 25 miles from Ann Arbor, the Prehistoric Forest was first opened back in 1963, and was quite the attraction for its time. Life-sized fiberglass dinosaurs where just the tip of the tail for this amusement park. There were cavemen, waterfalls, an active man-made volcano, a Safari train, and fossil digging pits. 

Welcome Center – with a small Beware of Dog sign in the window.
Fiberglass trees in the middle of a prehistoric forest is just so weirdly…American.

As with so many old roadside attractions, Prehistoric Forest fell victim to the interstate that routed traffic away from memory making roadtrips and into the fast lane. Attendance dwindled in the ‘80’s, but Prehistoric Forest managed to limp along until 2002, when it closed it’s gates for good. 

“Uh uh uh! You didn’t say the magic word!” 

 

The park is private property, and there are plenty of signs letting you know that. Immediately upon our arrival, a police officer arrived to give us the stink eye and let us know that we can take pictures, but not to trespass. There is one large dinosaur visible from the parking lot, and a few fake trees and cacti scattered around. 

Prehistoric fake cactus.
Long neck. 
She is an old, tired one. It’s been hard work holding up that long neck since the dinosaur age.
Check out her camouflage. Clever girl. 

Taking a sneaky peak into the forest, you can find the king of dinosaurs, Mr. T-Rex. In a sick twist of fate, time has only made short-arm jokes more painful for him. 

If you’re hungry and you know it, clap…. 

Rumor is that the owner of the Prehistoric Forest still has big dreams of re-opening the amusement park. I think that ship has probably sailed, but perhaps…if they spared no expense. 

As it sits, the property is just going the way of the dinosaur. I do hope the prehistoric decay is left to be enjoyed by those that are eager to hear stories of the past whispering through the trees and flimsy fences. 

“Anybody hear that? It’s a, um… It’s an impact tremor, that’s what it is… I’m fairly alarmed here.” – Dr. Ian Malcolm

 

Just a reminder for those that want to visit abandoned places…take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but…nothing!

 

 

The Mothman

November 15, 1966

Near Point Pleasant, West Virginia

The Silver Bridge

Roger and Linda Scarberry stole a quick kiss while Steve and Mary Mallette walked away from them and around the corner of the old TNT bunker. The two young couples were on a double date that had led them out of the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia towards some old military storage bunkers that were closed up after the end of the second World War. 

TNT Storage Bunkers

It was a cold night. Winter chewed at their jackets as they explored the bunker area in the dark. Linda caught up with Mary, their soft giggles broke through the oppressive darkness. 

The girls spun around to look behind them, as Roger gasped loudly. He was pointing over the top of one of the bunker doors, into the tall trees. There, all four of them saw piercing red eyes staring at them from the heights of the forest. 

Terror seeped in as the two couples watched a creature separate itself from the shadow of night. It emerged standing like a man, but unfathomably tall with shoulders so broad it seemed to lean forward under the weight. Then it’s shoulders began to ripple, the muscles tightening as a wing unfolded on each side of its back. 

Roger, Linda, Mary, and Steve started towards Steve’s black 1957 Chevy. They all slid across the leather seats, while keeping an eye on the creature in the trees. Linda later recalled seeing the creature’s leg muscles and tendons flexing as it lept from the tree into the dark night. 

Flinging gravel behind the Chevy, Steve pushed the gas pedal to the floor. The back country roads were not made for high speed endeavors, but Steve pushed the limits of his courage and his car. 

Mary, looking out the back window, screamed, breaking the silence of panic. 

Mothman Mural

The creature was behind the car, flying through the darkness after them. The Chevy was pushing 100 MPH, but the monster was keeping pace.  

Shining in the headlights of the Chevy, the Welcome to Point Pleasant sign came into view. Steve kept his foot on the gas as he drove passed the sign. The giant monster cut off to the right, and perched on the sign, its eyes glowing red and angry as the Chevy drove through town and out of sight. 

The two young couples stopped at Tiny’s Diner in town and whispered over french fries about what they had seen, and who they should tell. Knowing that their story sounded like a science fiction tale, they faced possible ridicule and went to the sheriffs office that night to make a statement. 

Diner replica inside the Mothman Museum

Soon people of all of stature and standing in the Point Pleasant community would see the glowing red eyes, and the 10-foot wingspan of the Mothman.  And that was just the beginning. The next thirteen months were filled with weirdness, followed by the impossible…topped with a whole lot of WTF. 

Weirdness, Impossible and WTF

Mothman Sightings: After the original sighting of the Mothman, more and more people in the community were reporting similar incidents. Hundreds of townspeople got wind of the story, and invaded the TNT area to see what they could see. Footprints were found in the area that were described as “two horseshoes put together, but smooth.” 

 

Over the next thirteen months, the Mothman was seen perched on landmarks, like the Silver Bridge that crossed the Ohio River, or on city limit signs as you entered Point Pleasant. An omen of things to come, or a town on the brink of mass hysteria?

Mothman

Poltergeist Activity: Roger and Linda Scarberry would go on to report poltergeist activity in their home after their original sighting of the mothman. Linda claimed she saw the bird-beast pacing their roof one night, inside the city limits. Linda would go on to give multiple interviews to various different kinds of newspapers, magazines, and television programs. Roger Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette refused to participate in any interviews that didn’t involve the local authorities. 

Police uniform worn in The Mothman Prophecies starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney.

UFO’s and Strange Lights: UFO sightings started being reported shortly after the first Mothman sighting. Groups of lights would float through the air, performing intricate routines in the sky like synchronized swimming in the stars. A few people reported serious eye burn and eye injuries after watching the light shows. A few even reported permanent damage to their retina’s, leaving them at least partially blinded for life. 

Dreams and Visions: Report after report of strange dreams and visions started pouring in after the calendar flipped to 1967. Visions of UFO’s, aliens, ghosts, the Mothman, tragedies, and turmoil; there seemed to be no topic off the table when it came to dreams and visions from the paranormal. 

Phone Calls: Many Point Pleasant residents reported that they began receiving phone calls at exactly the same time every evening. One of the reports came from the Fire Chief, a serious and honest man that no one questioned the word of. He would receive phone calls daily. Most of the time it would only be static, but if he stayed on the line the static would start to sound like words being whispered from the other end of the line. He attempted to record a few of the phone calls, but when he listened to the recordings later, there was just a high pitched screeching sound…just feedback from the world of sci-fi.

Hello? Mothman speaking.

Men In Black:  Once the stories of the mothman reached international status, Point Pleasant residents started reporting receiving visitors from…the government? The reports were of men wearing basic black suits, hats, and sunglasses. If asked to describe one of the visitors, townspeople would just give generic descriptions that could pass for most any man in America at that time. Some stated their faces were just plain, so plain it was hard to remember a feature. Eye color, brow shape, cheekbones; their memories were void of anything that would distinguish one of the men in black from any of the other men in black. 

The title held by me, MIB Means what you think you saw, you did not see

Ingrid Cold: The name Ingrid Cold came up in multiple interviews with multiple townsfolk. One local farmer stated that a disc spacecraft landed in the middle of the road, and a nice looking, but plain, gentlemen confronted him in his farm truck. The stranger walked to his truck window and introduced himself as Ingrid Cold. He made small talk of the local happenings, and told the farmer that he could answer any questions that the people of Point Pleasant may have. The man from the disc went on to tell the farmer that he would contact him again in the future. Another person reported to have received a phone call from a man claiming to be Ingrid Cold. Ingrid had told them that something was coming, and then hung up. Other’s saw Ingrid Cold in their dreams or visions; a premonition of weirdness. 

The train trestle bridge that ran alongside the Silver Bridge

The Silver Bridge: On December 15, 1967, exactly thirteen months to the day of the first Mothman sighting, hundreds of residents of Point Pleasant were crossing the Silver Bridge into town from Ohio. It was 5:00 P.M., and many people were commuting from work, or headed home from Christmas shopping. On this cold, winter evening a single eyebar on the bridge fractured, creating a domino effect of vehicles falling into the depths of the Ohio River.

A piece of the collapsed bridge from The Mothman Prophecies film.

After weeks of diving, emergency responders and search crews were able to locate most of the missing from the bridge collapse.

46 people died that day as the Silver Bridge collapsed into the cold Ohio River.

As the eye-witnesses and survivors were interviewed it became known that as the bridge had started shaking that fateful evening, multiple people saw a large bird-like creature standing atop the Silver Bridge; it’s wings spread out, and eyes glowing red. 

The Mothman of Point Pleasant West Virginia.
The World’s Only Mothman Museum – Point Pleasant, West Virginia

 

Visit the Mothman Museum Online https://www.mothmanmuseum.com/

 

 

Evil Dead
Morristown, Tennessee 

 

Welcome to the Tennessee backcountry. Where the cabins are in the woods, the dead are evil, the forests are kinda rapey, and the car is a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88. 

The Classic – Courtesy of New Line Cinema

Back In 1981 a young man and his girlfriend, along with three others headed out to the middle of nowhere for a weekend camping trip to an old cabin in rural Tennessee. In between the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, the group still managed to find a hidden cellar that held an old tape recorder and a book. A book that was bound in human flesh; inside were incantations to summon hell on earth. They played the tape. They read from the book. Hell came to earth. 

Ash Williams watched, one by one, as his friends all became possessed. Ash had to fight for his life to escape the evil dead in the wilderness, knowing that his life would never be the same again. 

All that remains of the cabin in the woods now is an old chimney, a hole in the ground, and a multi-million dollar franchise. 

We interrupt this history lesson with a few words from our sponsors. 

Shop Smart. Shop S-Mart. 

 

The first film of the Evil Dead franchise was meant to be a full blown, gross you out, scare your pants off horror film. But it was funny. Cheesy, terribly, bloody funny. And so the horror comedy franchise of Evil Dead was born. The franchise includes three original films, a remake, a sequel TV series, video games, comic books, and is one the most quoted movie franchises of all time. Groovy

With a bit of research and still getting mildly lost and confused, we found the film location for the original Evil Dead film. It is on private property, and we do not recommend trespassing in rural Tennessee, lest you find yourself on the business end of a boomstick. 

The road less traveled…leads to a Sumarian Book of the Dead.

The cabin was destroyed after the filming of the movie. Rumor says director, Sam Raimi, destroyed it himself, but other rumors claim that the cabin was destroyed when it was struck by lightening years after the film was made. But rumors aside, what remains now is just the stone fireplace, and a hole in the ground that was dug for the cellar scenes. 

Bruce Campbell, who played the main character, Ashley Williams, states that at the end of filming the crew put together some mementos and left them in the fireplace for people to find in the future. 
The script called for a cabin with a basement. This cabin didn’t have one so the crew dug a hole and gave it a cellar door for most of the scenes of evil Cheryl tormenting the rest of the group.
No Trespassing.
If you want to wander in the wilderness, pick a different wilderness with a better concept of consent…it matters.
Get permission.

 

 

 

 

 – 

 

THE CARETAKER

by M.D. Parker 

 

 

Chapter 1: YESTERDAY

 

He knew where to leave the trail. He had made the hike every week for years. The ageless canvas pack, with its sew marks from the multitude of repairs, rode over his left shoulder. It always felt awkward on his left, but the right shoulder ached more and more with each passing year. He wondered if old age might finally be catching up with him — if only a few decades late.

He paused for one last look behind, verifying that no one was within sight, before he stepped around the rock outcropping and dropped into the wash. The recent wind and rain had brushed the sandy wash smooth, leaving only a graveled whisper of his own tracks from the week before. The rains had been heavier this winter than anyone had expected, but the season was changing. Yet, he could still feel it in his shoulder and the ancient joints that bent his legs. He could smell the damp building in the air, though he didn’t expect a full rain. He felt the humidity crawl across his skin, dampening the pits under his arms. A line of sweat slid down his back and he felt the moistness building high in his crotch. He stopped, wiped his arm across his forehead, and pulled a water bottle from his little canvas sack. One large swallow rolled down his throat before he splashed some onto his thin gray hair. He drank a second time from the bottle before dropping it back into his sack, slinging the pack onto his shoulder, and sidestepping around the scraggly scrub brush.

His arm caught the spines of an acacia bush, and the bush refused to yield. He yanked free from the cat-like claws. He looked down and his eyes widened when he saw the thin drops of red popping through the long white line the thorns had drawn on his bare forearm. He dropped the pack and pulled the handkerchief from his back pocket in one motion. He dabbed his arm as his chest hauled in deep breaths. He sat himself on the dying gray-white log of a fallen Joshua Tree holding the rag tight on his arm. A clicking howl from some distant world met his ears. 

Knowing that the sound was borne of his imagination did little to comfort him as he lifted the rag and looked at the long scratch. He scanned the ground, searching, with frantic haste; no drops had made contact with the sand or rocks under him. He wet the cloth and dabbed it across his arm, wiping away any of the thin blood trails attempting to find a path down his arm to the sand below. The rapid breathing only subsided when he pulled back the rag and found no new droplets forming. He flexed his arms a few times and watched the cut. He had to be sure. Could not risk spilling any of his own blood this close to the boundary. He shoved the damp handkerchief into the front pouch of his knapsack, and waited a few more moments until his breathing had fully returned to normal. 

Following the path of his previous footsteps, he left the dry wash and stepped through a cluster of old rock formations. There, his tracks were joined by another set; prints shaped like the clubs on a deck of cards. It looked like more than one came through. He scanned the nearby tiny caves and crevices, but saw nothing. Coyotes hid well in the middle of the day. As he came through the cluster, the bottom half of the mountainous formation he’d been marching toward came ito full view. The large boulder pile looked more like a giant’s toy blocks kicked about in a temper tantrum, than a proper mountain. This way or that, he thought, jus’ glad I won’t be climbin’ over it. 

On the other side was the fence line. There he would find the posts set in place more than a hundred years ago. ‘No trespassing’ signs that were much younger than the fence, but ancient in their own right, would be tacked to him. Signs that were put there by people who knew not what they should fear trespassing against. His destination, however, was on this side of the mountain, for the signs were not enough to protect those who would disregard the fence’s purpose. He drank a third time from the water bottle.

He found the first stop quickly. Tucked up beside an stunted oak that was infested with the hanging piles of desert mistletoe. The mistletoe’s drab orange color stood in stark contrast to the decaying gray wood of the ancient desert sentry. He stepped around the tree. Careful to avoid a repeat, he reached around the needles of the cactus infested underbrush. Gently he stepped into a prickly pear, pushing it sideways, with his boot. It did not care how the blood was shed,nor its origin. 

Under the shadowed side, a dinner-plate sized flat rock lay embedded in the hard crust of graveled sand. He lowered himself to his knees. He opened the pack beside him and removed the small plastic quart of black paint. He set the container down. He reached in the bag and pulled free a small paintbrush. The bristled head was no bigger around than his pinky finger. He unscrewed the lid on the paint. He took the brush in his hand, and drew in a slow deep breath. A second deep breath followed. His hand steady, he dipped the brush in the paint, and began to trace over the remnants of the flaked color already on the stone. With each stroke he studied his work. His eyes squinted down to make sure each centimeter of the symbol was correct. The off-centered ‘J’ with what looked like fingers to him, hung down from the cross bar at the top. Inside the hook an extra swirl like the keys on those big brass horns he had seen marching bands carry. An additional flared line came off the right side, and he was done. It was perfect. It was exactly as it needed to be; exactly as he had done a hundred times before. He hoped he was right and the rain would be soft, or not come at all. He knew he’d have to change his schedule over the next few days to come back and check it. He knew better than to take chances.

He replaced the lid back on and dropped it back in the bag. His knees popped as he stood up. He carried the brush in his free hand as he walked to his next stop a few hundred yards away. There he knelt down and repeated the process on an oblong chunk of rock, with a new symbol. Beside the rock an old tin can sat pressed into the coarse sand, its rusted red as dark as venous blood. The metal was so thin he could nearly see through it; just another ghost of the past held to this place. Things die slower in the desert, like me, he thought.

With the touch up paint on what he thought of as the ‘squashed bug’ symbol completed, he tucked away the paint and brush into his canvas knapsack. The paint was nearly empty. He would have to make a drive to the store before he could venture through the eastside. A fresh can of paint would do all the ones he still had left to check and leave enough for touch ups if the rain came harder than expected. As he stood he was happy to only hear one knee pop. The paint had flaked more than he had hoped for. He knew the sigils on the rocks had probably not been doing their job. 

“All fixed up now though,” he said. 

With his water bottle in hand, he slung the bag back over his shoulder and reminded himself, again, that he’d have to deviate from his schedule and come check his work if it did rain hard. He had thought about waiting until after the rain, but he knew it had been too long since he’d checked on these two. He scolded himself for how long he had let them go without being checked. 

“Yup, you’re gettin’ old, Jack.” 

The trip back through the wash and around the rocks slowed him. The afternoon sun was bearing down. That time of the year in the high desert where the days got hot, the nights would freeze your bones, and the wind was as sharp against your skin as if a thousand shards of glass rode upon it. 

It was rare, but it did happen. Those moments in the middle of the day, when an animal more accustomed to the night, would make an appearance. As he rejoined the main trail he was greeted by one of the desert’s oldest residents. Its thin fur matted down. The gray and brown of its coat blended into the rocks and sand under its feet. It lifted its snout and Jack halted. It had found the remains of a hiker’s granola bar. The wrapper held down under one paw as it looked up at him. Its tongue swept across its snout, pulling a crumb between its jaws. Both man and coyote sized each other up.

“You stay back from there. You know better. You know what’s o’er them hills. Go back the way you came old fella, an’ I’ll be goin’ my way. Ain’t no reason for us to be botherin’ one another. Long as you stay away — don’t be disturbin’ him.” Jack held his eyes at a squint, his brow crinkled down. 

He changed up his grip on the water bottle. The coyote did not move. The wrapper under his paw was already coated in dust. Had to be around for a day or two before becoming the scavenger’s midday snack. Man and beast regarded each other for a minute, neither yielding any ground. Jack snapped his feet forward and hiked the bottle up.

“Go on, git outta here! And stay away from there,” he said, his voice raised to a shout. It came out gruff and graveled.

The coyote yielded. It snatched up the remains from the ground and took off at a trot down the path. It retraced its marks along the trail a few yards before darting sideways into the brush. It looked back every few feet until it disappeared into the rocks even farther to the west. Jack watched it until it was out of sight. Then, he drank the last of his water before heading back to the trailhead where the old pickup truck awaited his return. 

The door of the truck squalled in protest as he climbed in. Two turns of the key and it finally came to life. He forced the long granny-shifter into reverse and released the clutch. Jack watched the rearview as he drove away from the trailhead. 

Home tonight, town tomorrow, and check those wards I done as soon as I git the eastside all finished up, he thought. 

He caught the next gear and the fifty year old truck picked up speed. He stopped watching the rearview mirror, but he could still feel that guttural clicking sound echoing somewhere in his memory.

 

Joshua Tree National Park

 

 

 

 

THE SPRING ROAD AWAITS

Matilda (motorhome), the Mothership (car), and a jug of sun tea. Life is good, when it’s good.

We waited. We hid. We isolated ourselves. We wore masks and we social distanced (at least 10 miles from anyone every chance we got). Then we got our vaccines, and so did most of the family. So, how about a spring drive to see the ones on the east coast to start our summer? We could take a month, drive slow, enjoy the sights. Easy. Simple. No rush, no fuss, no hassle…

What was that saying about the best laid plans?

We started off in Oregon, along the Columbia River Gorge. We stayed along side the river and watched the windsurfers, played games… and spent a small fortune saving the lives of both dogs. Rusty, and Frankie, being explorers like us, both managed to get into something that made them deathly ill. They each spent 2 days in the animal hospital on IV antibiotics and fluids, and were sent home with lots of fun drugs. 

*** We pause this blog to give a special shout out to everyone at The Columbia Veterinary Hospital for the amazing care and compassion they showed our fur-kids. There may have been tears of gratitude as we drove away with them.***

These windsurfers were amazing!
It looks like a ton of fun. And like I would probably break my body as I was drowning.
Some serious Jesus moves going on here.

After all that fun we thought, hey, the worst part is behind us, smooth sailing from here (Pro tip: Don’t ever assume it will be smooth sailing). Farewell Bend, the Oregon State park along the Oregon/Idaho state border was our next stop. This time, we simply took some pictures, played with our reinvigorated doggos and relaxed along the Snake River.

Farewell Bend, an Oregon State Park.
The Farewell Bend of the Snake River along the Oregon/Idaho border.

Next Stop: Milner Recreation Site in Idaho. Without discussion, we apparently decided to follow the Oregon Trail in reverse as we slowly tootled along the Snake River. Just a few feet away from where the greatest ol’ motorhome, Matilda, sat, were the very ruts carved by wagon after wagon during the westward expansion (and the sad land theft from indigenous peoples) of the United States. Being so close to hundreds of year old history that you can see and touch is quite a feeling. 

Wagon wheel ruts from along the Oregon Trail. Maybe the doggos had preemptively tried to die of dysentery. 
The Snake River in the Milner Recreation area near Burley, Idaho.
Frankie (Doodle Dandy), the Great Tree-bone hunter.
Rusty, making a sport out of watching Frankie work her ass off swimming for tree-bones.

Remember that pro-tip earlier? Well just enough time had passed that we felt like we were truly on the road again. Then we stopped somewhere and a squeal like the banshees of legends greeted our ears. Matilda began losing power and we were forced to pull off the road. We breathed in a sigh of relief at realizing it was just a thrown belt and we could get it fixed and back on the road ourselves (this part of the story doesn’t end here).

Our next mini-adventure found us under the bridge, like trolls. GPS said we should be somewhere else, but it was occupied. So we explored, and we found a hidden, off-grid gem. A gem that turned into an extra couple days stay because our dear Frankie had to return to the vet. The minor infection in her ears that we thought would clear up with the drugs from the previous trip had gotten worse, and was now a full-blown double ear infection. Fortunately they have vets in Utah. The Wasatch Hollow Animal Hospital took care of our little lady (Thank you so much!).

Think bridge trolls are cool? You should see him troll on the Internet.
Rusty meandering through his retirement age like a good boy.
She is always tracking down the tree-bones with ease.

Okay, is that enough headaches now? Should be good to go now, right? Right? We had plans for two stops, one in Wyoming, and one in Nebraska, before making the final jump to our family on the east coast. And yet, nothing went according to plan. 

Just before the town of Rawlins, Wyoming, Matilda broke down again. The banshees had returned and it sounded as if our very souls were in danger. It turned out that the previous belt failure was not due to an old belt, but rather a smog pump that had seized up. After 2 days on the side of the road as we tried to track down a part, we were able to make our way to the Dugway recreation site about 20 miles away. 

Memorial Weekend brought us a patriotic visitor, flying over the North Platte River in Wyoming.
A neighboring camper brought his half Bernese Mountain Dog, half really big bear to peacefully enjoy the river.
Where the antelope roam, indeed.

Think this part of the adventure is a simple buy a new part and replace the old one? Oh no, that would not make for a juicy story. Nope, we had to discover that the shop that had installed the previous pump had duct-taped the back of the pump together. Not only did they duct-tape the main air line to the pump, but they also skipped installing the check valve or even the right high pressure air lines. In all, we learned that we had previously paid an $800 bill for a shoddy installation of the wrong parts.

But wait, there’s more… 

We were forced to wait for 4 days to find out if we could even order the part, only to find out that it was available for 2 day delivery the whole time. At least we now had a nice quiet spot with a decent view. The only advantage to living our life when Murphy comes to visit. 

Dammit, Murphy.

Is there any good news to talk about for the last 2 months? Sure there is.

The wildlife that visited us was amazing. We spent the majority of the 2 months alongside a couple of rivers, and the seclusion was wonderful for both of us, our writing, and our dogs to run and play. 

Mourning Dove looking for it’s love.
American White Pelican
Beetley Buddy
Red-Tailed Hawk
American Bison
American Bison
Bald Eagle
Pronghorn Antelope. Dat booty, tho’

So now what? Well, we cross our fingers, leave offerings and say prayers under seventeen different religions and spiritualities, check the dogs’ temperatures, triple check every belt, fluid level, electrical connection, and then hold our breath as we turn the key and get moving on. The Traveling Writing desk will not be held back (at least not for long). 

The road awaits.

 

 

JUST HERE FOR THE DOGS
(A writer’s life update)
by M.D. Parker

Where the magic happens… now off to find a magician.

While there is plenty of travel-related stories and pictures coming soon, I thought I’d take the time to update people on the world of being a writer on the road, during a pandemic, who got in a fight with his muse, and who has been reevaluating the entire craft and his place in it.

First, let’s tackle the “big” project, THE GENESIS ECHO novel (cue ominous music):
I’ve been working on this saga for 4 years off and on. I’ve completed the book two times, and am currently trying to rewrite and massively overhaul the entire thing. I’m halfway through that. I’ve also managed a full novella, a short story, and now I’ve tried making my #BrickBuiltStories revolving around the same saga, which is of course part of my larger RorriM universe.

My other writings, political essays, and random flash fiction all have suffered and stumbled as badly as the main work in progress.

…and a spring just broke on the trampoline.

Sales of my anthologies and my novella are at or near zero for months.

I’m discouraged.
I’m burned out.
I’m exhausted from the dread of the real world, and desperately finding a way(s) I can make an actual difference for the better.

So, that’s where I’ve been at… it’s like a party… in a dumpster… that’s on fire. Yay! 

All good here. Nothing to see…

So, what does this mean going forward? Well, I’m about to disappoint 4 of you. THE GENESIS ECHO and the larger RorriM universe are going into hibernation. I’m going to lock them away in a mental closet. For how long? I have no idea. Maybe a month or two, maybe a year, maybe a decade. I need to recharge, wrap myself in the joyous parts of the craft and create. I just need to create. I wish to bring imaginary people into existence and share them with you. I know, it sounds like I have a god complex, but my name does mean “next to god” or “godlike” after all. 

I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.

I have projects in my mind, notes and ideas jotted down. I have a bookmarked list of more than 50 websites or articles to start research on various horror inducing topics or science fiction explorations. Sometimes those things intermingle. I know I just started my new Brick Built Stories series, but I am going to change it into something more akin to travel and fun. Maybe some shots of Lego Me exploring the place where the real world and the plastic brick world meet.

A lot is happening. I hope you’ll stick around as we continue to write on the road, with our furry companions.

What? What’s that you say?

Oh – you were just here for the dogs – Yeah, us too. 

Rusty enjoying a wee bit of snow before going back inside to lay in front of the heater.
“Found a stick on the ground and now I’m gonna use it. All this power that I found, gonna totally abuse it! Gonna hit so much stuff–do not get into my way cuz I found a stick and I’m using it today!” – Frankie

And don’t forget the food!

This is what my wife sticks around for too.