Recent Posts


Back in the 1700’s people were flooding into the yet-to-be established United States of America. At that time, it was just colonies. People from many different walks of life were searching for a new start. Many of them were seeking religious freedom. The kings of their former countries had decreed a specific christian faith, to many that worked well, to a few it did not.

Among these people was a young girl, named Hazel. She came to these shores with her parents. Her father was a tobacco farmer, her mother was a seamstress. Both eager to start a new life in the new world. Father settled on a plot of land and wasted no time establishing crop. Mother began her duties mending and hemming for others. Meanwhile Hazel played in the nearby woods and fields.

In this area where they had settled, the native americans were still very friendly. The children of the local tribe adored Hazel. They played with her every day, and before long she had adapted so well you would think she was a native american herself! She wore her deer skins by day, dresses by night. She became so close to the tribe that the old medicine man began teaching her the ways of the tribe.

He showed her all of the plants and herbs of the forest and fields. How to cure pain, heal wounds, and relieve itching and burning from insect bites or from poisonous plants. Hazel enjoyed learning from this old man, she absorbed the knowledge like moss absorbs water. It didn’t take her long to master the medicine of the wild. She would practice her newfound skills every chance she could.

Whenever she came to town she would cure all sorts of ailments. Before long, people in the nearby town began to wonder and question how this young girl was able to perform such miracles. Some people became jealous of this talent, rumors began to spread. Like wildfire these rumors spread, turning from innocent stories to elaborate schemes. The good that Hazel brought to the town was poisoned by the ill of man. A dark evil rose, and began to pose a threat. The girl that shared kindness and wisdom was now being branded as a witch.

Rocks were thrown her way, and she never ventured into town anymore. The ones that she helped were now the ones that sought to hurt her. Yet the more she withdrew from the town, the more they sought her. This time not for her help, but to burn her at the stake for her alleged “witchcraft” and using “magic” from the devil. Hazel ran.

She ran long, hard, and fast. Her eyes filled with tears, her feet carried her deep into the woods, far away from those that would hurt her. The sounds of dogs, and men on horses were not far behind her. She had to get away. She couldn’t go back, never to the town, not home, and not even back to the tribe. For, if she were to return to either of those places, the town may hurt her tribe or family. She ran deeper yet.

She wasn’t watching where she was going, in such a hurry. She ran towards the river, not slowing down. Her feet that lead her so surely here were not familiar with this new terrain. Moss and slime covered the wet rocks near the river. Hazel, moving at such a speed slipped. Instantly she began to fall towards the river edge, where many large and dangerous rocks loomed. Surely to end Hazel soon.

Hazel didn’t fall though, she simply swayed forward and then back. Where she had slipped, her foot had rooted itself into the ground, beside the slippery rock. Hazel looked down, her foot had literally turned into a root, now firmly planted into the ground. She looked around and behind her frantically. There, coming out of from between the trees and mist was the old medicine man. How had he kept up? How did he know something was wrong with Hazel? Where did he come from? These thoughts raced through her head.

The old medicine man slowly walked towards her, calmly, smoothly. His calm presence somehow instantly calmed Hazel of all her worries. As he got closer he began to speak. Telling Hazel how he had talked with the forest, and had asked mother nature to protect her. That her rooted foot was a sign of this, and nothing to worry about. It was an enchantment from the trees that caught her, saving her from what surely would have been death.

The old man began chanting, and raised the walking staff he had above his head, shaking it vigorously. Her root-foot slowly began to turn back to normal… Suddenly through the woods a shot rang out! The men from the town had caught up! One of them had fired from a great distance and, horrifically, this shot hit the old man! Blood began to seep through his clothes as he dropped to his knees. Chanting stopped, his eyes filled up with tears. The old man whispered two more words, the first was an apology to Hazel, the second word she didn’t understand.

The old man dropped his staff, and as it hit the rocky ground beneath him, there was a bright flash and the deafening sound of a angry thunder! As the old man’s staff settled to the ground, his body became a cloud of white smoke and instantly a sparrow formed from this smoke and flew into Hazel’s open hands.

Her foot reverted back to root, and furthermore the plant transformation raced up her leg and across her body. Her fingers and hair to leaves. Her legs and waist to plant and wood. Her skin to bark. Just as quickly Hazel raced into the woods, her body now raced into being a shrub. Not but seconds later were both transformations complete. Where once was two people was now a sparrow in a tree.

The evil town and all of it’s evil men were never able to find Witch-Hazel. Yet forevermore Witch-Hazel is used by so many to continually cure all sorts of pain, wounds, and ailment. If you ever happen to spot a sparrow in the Witch-Hazel shrub, you will now know their story, and have new respect for the power of nature.


Two stories

One of these stories is 100% true, one is majorly fabricated. Which one is which?

Story #1

It was late October, leaves were changing and the nights got very cold. I took a week vacation from work because I had just finished a very long and hard project and needed time to unwind. I would have taken the vacation earlier, but the project had run late. So I just worked with what I could. I loaded my 94 astro van with a mattress, coffee maker, sleeping bag, and various other camping things and just left town for a roadtrip.
I didn’t know exactly where I was going, nor did I know how long I would be gone. So one of the last things I decided to bring was a fresh litterbox pan and my kitty. Surprisingly I was able to make it all fit quite well. And off the road we went. First stop was Duluth where I spent a night in one of those trucker stop parking lots. I decided to stop there because it had a great view of the lake and bridge. It was at a high place looking down over the city, all the lights of ships and cars and bridges.
The next day I continued over into Wisconsin, following lake superior as it carves along the northern landscape of rural Wisconsin. I would veer of the beaten path every now and again, whenever I would see something interesting. Things like a small river with a tiny bridge off in the distance, or a tall hill that I wanted to know what was on the other side. There were even a few vast fields that I stopped at, climbed on top of my van, and peered off into the far distance looking to see what might be out there.
This was exploring.
I finally made it to a small town that bordered the UP of Michigan, which is the farthest East I decided to go on this trip. But this town was a small and probably dying old mining community. Being in the Iron Belt of northern united states, this town was built for one thing: Housing of Miners.
Huge mounds of rubble rock piled up from what once was buried deep under ground. Excavated in the attempts to gather more iron ore. Little streams and rapids also ran through this area. Overflow from a small nearby dam, put in place to keep the river tame and the small town safe.
Kitty would cuddle inside the sleeping bag with me at night. Even though she hated me greatly for putting her in this god forsaken metal box called a van. It would get so cold at night in this northern Wisconsin that all my windows would be frosted over by morning. I would have to fire up the van to make my coffee and to thaw my bones.
After exploring the majority of the little trails that this small town had to offer, I decided to start my trek home. But instead of going back the way I came, I figured it would be a good idea to cut through the middle of Wisconsin, and take the “long way home”. The majority of this route was woods and some logging operations. Little towns scattered about with tiny bars and even tinier churches. I would be lying if I said I never once stopped into one of those bars. Being Wisconsin, the bars usually have good burgers because all the beef is local. Shitty beer though, because it’s either Pabst or Milwaukee. Nothing “fancy” craft beer that you would find in a city. Always a bottle of whiskey on hand though, so here’s to reliability!
One particular area that I was driving past I figured I’d pull of the main road to take a piss. Broad daylight, and I didn’t want it to be too obvious for the passerby. This particular road was probably the best road I could have pulled off on within at least 100, maybe 200 miles. For not even a quarter mile down the way was a castle! Mind you it wasn’t as grand or luxurious, or as ancient as the castles that you might find in europe… But a castle nonetheless. Someone had a dream at some point, and with a modest budget, built a castle in the middle of fuckin nowhere! So I admired this rural rundown little gem in the middle of nowhere woods… and then continued on my way.
Making it home but a few hours later, sleep and movies consumed the rest of the couple days left of my trip. Kitty was glad to be home, yet also pissed at me for another week yet to come.

Story #2

It was early May, rain was still rampant and unpredictable. Yet still, it was spring and this meant freedom! I was working my “government” job, in which your every action is “governed” by a ridiculous little handbook titled “Union Negotiation Agreement of 20xx”. I hated that book for just about everything in it except for one line item: Paid Vacation. As the rule goes, you slowly accumulate PTO. At some point, if you gain to much, it comes down to the “use it, or lose it” rule. You can’t accrue any more time, and it just starts falling off.
I had reached that point, so now it was my turn to take a nice solid week off from my daily duties and go on a roadtrip. Taking my car, and packing up sleeping bag, cooler, and some food I was off on my way. Headed West into South Dakota territory.
There were a few places in mind, but nothing permanent, nothing official. When you travel that far though, it’s interesting to observe the change of landscape. At one point you are driving along a flat nothingness, yet it seems like the next turn you take you have suddenly been plopped into rolling hills. Once or twice placed amongst bluffs surrounded by giant windmills. Then yet again back to a field, this time filled with giant sunflowers standing at least 8 feet tall. Such an impressive sight, making corn look pathetic in comparison.
Driving along the main freeway road thing, as common with big roads, every now and again there is an overpass bridge. Naturally teamed with exit/entrance ramps and what-have-you. Nothing new. Yet as I was just chugging along, there was one particular bridge that was different. This bridge had no entry/exit ramps, it also appeared to be completely covered in sod. As if the bridge looked like it was disguised as a small natural tunnel or something. Grass grew not just on either side, and in the ditches… but across the whole top of the bridge as well.
In any case: ♩♬ “One of these bridges was not like the other, one of these bridges does not belong!”♪♫ … Since there wasn’t a convenient exit ramp to this bridge, I had to wait until the next bridge before I could exit the freeway and start my back-tracking to find this location. GPS would have been handy right about now, except that I was in the middle of empty South Dakota. Where the most I could hope for would be a telegraph pole with a soup can tied to one end.
It took me a good hour and a half to finally find the location of this weird bridge. Dirt roads, dead ends, and a few peoples long ass driveways that felt like dirt roads. Eventually I came to it. And sure enough, the whole bridge was covered with grass, even across the whole top. Now mind you it wasn’t lush rich grass, but scraggly stringy grass because it was only growing on a thin layer of dirt over the what-once-was concrete road. This bridge was small, only looked like there was room for one car to drive across it. It had an odd architecture too. Steel I-beams formed a brace pattern at near shoulder level going across the stretch of this bridge. Rusted to all beat hell. It still looked mighty solid and was apparently built very well a long time ago. All the same I decided to leave my car there and walk across to the other side.
There weren’t any tire marks across the whole way, making it very obvious that it had been a long time since anyone had reckoned to see what was far yonder… But I was on vacation! Paid adventures! I made my way across this bridge and just kept walking along a somewhat apparent, and yet also somewhat overgrown dirt road. It was maybe a half mile in that direction before I came across the first signs of an ancient civilization. Not too far away from the freeway as to not hear it, but far enough away where it well past impossible to see any traffic from the freeway.
Not a lot of trees in this part of SD, but shrubs and tall grass. Grass so tall that they could play for the NBA if the leaves only knew how to dribble a ball. Buried, yet only slightly, among the brush was what appeared to be a collapsed building. Crumbled brick that use to be a half-height wall was the clear indicator here, but on the far side you could see charred wood remnants of possibly what once was trusses for a roof. I couldn’t quite determine what the building was, that’s how bad of shape it was in… but As I got closer I noticed that a tower sign was knocked over next to the building. A smashed giant “Amaco” logo in the vintage style. This use to be a gas station at one point.
Sadly not much was left in the majorly burned building, it appeared to have been cleaned out after the fire had destroyed most of it. Never rebuilt, left to disappear. I never did find the lids for underground tanks… which made me wonder if there even were tanks buried beneath the ground here, that’s how old it could be. So with that mystery run dry, I noticed one other building a ways away from the gas station. This time a house, and not burnt down.
Abandoned, of course. What use to be white washed wood siding looked closer to just stripped wood now. Tiny single-pane glass windows, most of which were smashed. The front door was open, and hanging from one hinge. It led into a living room area. Also very tiny on the inside. I was very careful to where I walked because th foundation on the outside had crumbled somewhat and the floorboards were kinda rickety. This place had a basement, and I preferred to take the stairs to get there.
There were little empty glass jars, of what once was food containers. The lids rusted off and contents gone. Things like “mustard” could still be made out on some of the containers. These were all found in the kitchen area. One of those small vertical pianos was in the corner of the dining room… A few keys made something that sounded like a note, but largely dysfunctional. The upstairs was attic shapped, yet somehow was able to fit 5 beds at least! That’s what I counted roughly. I didn’t actually want to go up there, because if I thought the main level floor boards were bad, these were much worse. The last place I went was the basement. Still a bit light coming down there because the crumbled foundation parts let in a decent amount of daylight.
Down here a huge furnace was in the middle of the house. Not the kind of furnace that has a blower… but something like a wood stove, or coal, or oil stove… maybe even sod?? I’m not sure, but it burned something… And on top of it was this huge hopper filled with sand. My guess is that the stove would heat the sand, and then keep the house warm through the night. Even if the stove burnt out… but that’s just my guess.
There was an ancient fire extinguisher that I grabbed from the wall that was still there. Antique, and I had no idea how it worked except the fact that it said “fire ext…sh..r” in faded rusted letters on the side. I gave it to my mom when I returned.
The rest of the trip was all just about seeing Mt. Rushmore and a few caves… but that house was by far the highlight and as far opposite from “touristy” as you could get!