America as seen through russian s eyes

AMERICA AS SEEN THROUGH RUSSIAN'S EYES
OR HORSE SWEAT IN MY FACE

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Broad, wholesome charitable views cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth. Mark Twain

 
Anatoly Shimansky
 
BIOPREFACE
 
 I was born during the most painful and dangerous times in my countrys history. The German army was pushing ever nearer to Moscow; Leningrad was encircled with the strangle rope of a blockade. From my earliest memories, I was constantly hungry and my mother fought for our survival her entire life.
 If you have nothing to eat, you read, and I began reading at the age of four. My favorite books were those about traveling, such as Kids of Captain Grant, by Jules Verne, and Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In my youth, I strongly and honestly believed that I was lucky to be born in the best country in the world, and wanted to do everything possible to make my own contribution to the future of Mankind. After graduating high school, I went to Siberia and worked for two years doing construction projects. There I witnessed so much misery and daily hardship of regular people that I began to suspect the honesty and the development of Soviet Society.
 While a student at Leningrad University, I joined an underground group of students and professors whose purpose was to overthrow the government and hang Bolsheviks from street lamp poles. Our group was infiltrated and destroyed by the KGB, and I barely escaped the trail, hiding for a few months in the Kazakhstan steppes, working with a geological field party under an assumed name.
 Later, back in Leningrad, I managed to defend my dissertation and earned a Ph.D. in Genetics. For a while, I was satisfied traveling around the Soviet Union with field Expeditions, writing science articles that nobody read. Nevertheless, the bondage and restraints of family and society life became unbearable, and I decided I would become a monk and sit somewhere in the Himalaya mountains in Nepal, perhaps, or India.
 While dreaming like this was easy, it was not so easy to jump over the Iron Curtain. At least the Soviet System allowed some freedom for Jews to emigrate, and while I was not Jewish, a friend sent me an invitation from Israel and I was able to slip out. After two years of fighting the System, refusing to be a Soviet Citizen, I found myself in Vienna, Austria. There I discovered that neither Nepal, nor India accepts immigrants. Therefore, I had just three options: the USA, Canada, or Australia. I definitely choose the USA, and have never regretted my decision.
 After coning there, I worked as a research assistant, a construction worker, a gardener, a security guard, etc., making my way around America, until finally I arrived in New York City - the best and the worst city in the World. In New York, I decided to change my profession and enrolled in Columbia University School of Public Health. I studied full time, while driving a yellow taxicab on the graveyard shift until I earned my MPH (Master of Public Health).
 I was lucky to find a job very quickly as a Public Health Sanitarian, but my own luck was the result of my colleagues misfortune that lost their jobs for taking bribes and pay-off just before I came onto the scene. For three years, I inspected restaurants and swimming pools, 9 - 5. I was miserable. I have never been so unhappy as I had a secure City job. To make matters worse, my employers asked me to be an informant, to report on my colleagues. It was nearly the same as the KGB approach, luring citizens to spy on citizens. Shame on the Systems! One might say, "so what? the government needs to defend itself and information is necessary for it to know what is going on among citizenry." However, this is using criminals to defend the System. Judas will be Judas forever, and I doubt that he betrayed Christ only for the 30 shekels. He probably thought what he did was politically correct. (I am very concerned about "politically correct" because I don't know what is correct and what is not, but others seem too.) In any case, I rejected my employers' proposal and left this country for England. There lived with my girlfriend for a ear, but I guess that a person who is used to a big country with open horizons has a hard adjustment to the crowded life of Europe. It is even worse to be in love in Europe because love and freedom are inconsistent with one another.
 I came back to New York absolutely broken, and for a while felt a joy of grief. Around that time, the USSR was falling to pieces and I returned there for a while to help my family and friends to cope during their hardship. Since then I have been shuttling back and forth between Russia and the USA, occasionally doing some business between the two. Russia is at a stage of finding itself, and this process will doubtless last for many years. Again, I found myself on crossroad of my life where you should make a proper turn but which way? Finally I decided to find the USA retracing it with horse and wagon, the way which  American pioneers used to cross in XIX century. I managed to borrow three thousand dollars and went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where on St. Valentine's Day I bought my lovely horse. The previous owners were Amish people and had called my horse Jack. This did not sound particularly Russian, so I changed his name to Vanya, which stands for Jack but in Russian interpretation. This was the beginning of my expedition to be called "From Russia with Love & Peace." Along my way, I committed myself to follow an ancient Taoist word to the wise:
 To understand others is to be wise,
 But to understand one's self is to be illuminated.
 One who overcomes others is strong,
 But he who overcomes himself is mighty.
 
 THE NEW BEGINNING
  February 20
 
 Finally we are on the way, Vanya trotting slowly along the shoulder of Rte. 443. My wagon is decorated with the Russian and American flags, and on the left side is written our slogan - "From Russia with Love & Peace." A tarp cover is good protection for my belongings inside and the hood over my head helps a bit so long as the rain is coming down going vertically, but sidelong rain could be annoying. The road we are on is going up and down hills, waving along Fishing Creek and crossing the small villages of Dauphin County.
 Yesterday Vanya was shod for the first time in his nine years-old life by the farrier H.D. Plasterer, who did not take any money for his work. The professional welder Robert Firh fixed the turntable of my wagon charging just $20 instead of his regular fee of $100. I left the stables of my host with sorrow and pity for his owner, who could not stop drinking his "Ice Tea" beer.
 My horse was coughing non-stop, and twice a day I was giving him a shots of antibiotics. In the crowded conditions of the Auction where I purchased him, he had gotten a "Shipping Fever" and was recuperating very slowly. Later that afternoon the heavy rain poured over us, a vapor twisted around the hot body of my horse and I could barely see the road. As we neared the bridge, my horse suddenly stopped, made a sharp turn and went in opposite direction. I jumped from the seat and barely managed stop him. After tethering Vanya to a light-pole, I approached the bridge and found that its passageway was covered not by concrete or asphalt but a metal grating. I guess my horse seeing an abyss between the gratings and have been scared. I held Vanya by his bridle, and led him across the bridge, but Vanya was resisting vigorously. This was the first, but not the last serious obstacle which I would have to keep in mind as we went farther.
 Rain was pouring nonstop but there were neither farms nor even barns around, just a downpour splashing our physiognomies. Finally I spied the shadowy figure of a girl on the sidewalk carrying a box with pizza. I questioned her about any shelter for a horse in this area. She was a bit surprised by such a request but after a moment, she said: "I would like to ask mother, she might let you use her garage to shelter your horse." We drove to her house, and mother came out in her bare feet. Without hesitation, she agreed to accommodate my horse in garage. Tina and her mother, Elizabeth Stroh, pulled the cars out, and I walked a resisting Vanya inside. After that, we drove in Tina's truck to neighbors and found some hay and straw to cover the concrete floor of the Stroh's garage. In their kitchen, I was greeted with whiskey and tonic, and shared already tepid pizza with the family. Liz called her husband to warn him that he should not be surprised coming home and finding a stranger in the house and a horse instead cars in his garage. She also called neighbors and soon I was in the company of railroad-man, carpenter, brick man and insurance agent who lived in Fishing Creek Valley. We drank and talked about Russia and horses, about love and family matters, and about which roads we are choosing. Carol Osborn stressed that impracticability and profit-freeness of my expedition gives me a great advantage of advertising nothing else but the free spirit. At the end of the evening, I was given a separate bedroom with a pile of magazines. I managed to read only couple of lines from a "Readers Digest" before falling into the abyss of unconsciousness and pleasure being by myself.
Nothing is so good as to be awakened by the smell of frying bacon. After a short shower and checking on Vanya, I enjoyed a morning meal of pancakes with bacon and a maple syrup. Breakfast was served by Liz's mother, who reminded me an aged Cinderella - a small and beautiful woman in her 80s with a slight German accent. Hearing her life-story, I was surprised to learn that during the time of WW II in this country they used to prosecute the people of German nationality almost as much as in the totalitarian Soviet Union. Born Swiss and married to a German, she came with him to this country before the War. When the War broke out he was incarcerated, then later detained in a camp for years. With her household imprisoned, she had to fight for survival with small children to take care of. I had heard about the detention camps for Japanese Americans but never before about those of other extractions, who happened to belong by trace of blood to countries fighting against the USA in that war.
 Germans had been invited to live in Russia by Empress Catherine the Great in the second part of the 18th century, and used to inhabit the southern part of Russia and the valley of the Volga River. But at the time of WW II descendants of those hard-working farmers were given 24 hours to gather their belongings and they were transported to a remote area of Kazakhstan. Thousands perished from malnutrition and severe weather conditions. The American government was at least sufficiently humane and realistic not to treat Germans descendants in this country similarly or perhaps there were just too many of them for such relocation and detention. After breakfast, I dialed to the State Police and asked their permission to drive along Highway 22 where I would cross Susquehanna River by the Clarks Ferry Bridge. The police officer was very friendly but explained that no slow-moving vehicles could drive on the highway. Considering, however, that there was no other way to go across the bridge, he promised that at time of my driving there would be no no police in that area to arrest me.
 It was terrible driving my buggy up the six-lane highway - cars, tractor-trailers, rigs were rushing along roaring, growling and howling, gusts of wind threw showers of sand and gravel in our direction, exhaust fumes shrouded us. Vanya was horse of mark pulling our wagon along the roadside, just snorting off the fumes of fuel. Glancing to my right I saw that about 100 yards away was the engine of the train with its headlights beaming. It was only then that I noticed that the railroad tracks were just 20 yards off the highway. It was obvious that the engineer was surprised to encounter us, but no more than I. In my mind's eye I pictured his finger nearing the button for the train's loud whistle, but before the sound wave reached us I jumped off the wagon, ran in front of my horse and covered his eyes and ears with my jacket. If I hadn't done this, my Vanya hearing that profound whistle and seeing the oncoming train, might have jumped to the left under the wheels of tractor-trailers and cars. Having been raised among the cornfields of rural Pennsylvania he had never had an encounter with a train before. I have managed quite safely to cross the Clarks Ferry Bridge and after sharp left turn on Rout 849, found myself in a different world with almost no traffic at all. The road wound between hills with abandoned farmhouses and new developments popping up along the way. Finally, to the right I noticed a small farm with a huge barn and a lot of old machinery. In the field, a huge backhoe with a roll of hay hanging from its bucket could be seen working. Building contractor John Leiter was on his way to feed his cattle and the two horses kept for the amusement of his grandchildren. He did not mind keeping my horse in his machinery shed but could not put him close to his own horses. Vanya was coughing and John was concerned that his own horses might be infected. He gave Vanya a lot of hay and some grains and invited me to stay in his house. John's wife Patsey phoned their children and relatives for a dinner-party and despite the fact that she suffered from arthritis fixed a delicious meal. After dinner, we sat around the fireplace to talk. The Leiters wanted to know why the life in Russia is so tough but I could not explain it. Possibly, we Russians are a bit masochistic in conducting our lives.
 
 VOLUNTEERS
  February 22
 
 After a good breakfast, I hitched Vanya to our buggy and proceeded down Rte. 34. As we passed a huge barn, I was stopped by a short, stocky man with copper-red hair standing up in a hedgehog-style of hairdo. "Shorty," as he called himself, invited me in his warehouse filled with a garage-sale" antique stuff and suggested a cup of coffee. In his younger years, Shorty used to drive quite a bit around this country, so he was envious about my adventure by horse and buggy. For a farewell, he gave me $20 and wrote in my diary a very strange wish: "Anatoly, may God be You." Thanks Shorty, I hope God will be with me.
 As we arrived at the Perry County Seat, the small and cozy town of New Bloomfield, I found it just as it was supposed to be - with a Main Street, Courthouse and Central Square featuring a monument to Veterans of the Wars. I entered the Courthouse to check-in my expedition and the County Clerk put the Golden Seal of County in my ledger and signed officially beneath it. Gary Thomas, a reporter for the "Perry County Times" decided to interview me outside the Courthouse so I tightened Vanya to a light pole. As we talked, Vanya decided to pull at his tether until stretching it farther and farther, he bent the pole, shaming me with the damage of public property. I had not realized when I tied my horse the pole was a hoax made from plastic but textured and painted to look like cast-iron. I was wandering after this accident, how many of such hoaxers I'll meet on the way across this country - cast-iron outside and plastic-empty inside.
 Shortly after making our getaway, heading for the farm of James Stambaugh, I was sidetracked by borough council member Dale Beaston, who invited me to the Fire Company's annual membership banquet. I could not miss such an opportunity to witness the real life of Pennsylvanians. After accommodating my horse, James gave me a ride to the Fire Department Depot, where banquet was to be held. A crowd of about a hundred volunteers congregated in the basement to celebrate and estimate their own performance. After the short prayer, they sang the national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner" which sounded a bit strange to my ears. Honestly, I've always felt sorry for anyone singing it - it's hard to sing. There are so many possible mishearing in it, such as the opening, "Jose, can you see," or the closing - "Orlando D. Free and Homer D. Brave." I believe that most Americans would have a hard time singing even couple of lines of their own anthem. Following the more formal part of the meeting was a business meeting with reports concerning the quantity of emergency calls and the number of new volunteers.
 It was curious to hear the long address of Allan Egolf, Member of House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His long oration was sprinkled with jokes and political slogans but I could not grasp the main idea. I guess it was better expressed when he wrote in my ledger, Anatoly ... we appreciate what you are doing in trying to foster friendship between our peoples. I'm glad you came to our volunteer fire fighter dinner meeting where you could see what makes our country great - people helping each other and serving their community for the benefit of all, rather then relying on the government to take care of our problems. Best wishes for a safe and successful trip across our country." As honorary guest, I delivered my toast with a greeting to those self-sacrificing firefighters and with the regret that in Russia they don't have such an organization. I don't know how many people understood my broken English but got I my portion of applause.
 Once ceremony was taken care of, a banquet of roast beef with potatoes and green peas was served. What surprised me most was an absence of any alcohol on the tables, and nobody was smoking. Out of the entire audience, just one young man and I went outside to smoke. It looked like the anti-smoking propaganda was effective. As I smoked my death warrant of a pipe I murmured to my death-mate, "In Russia we have such a saying - if you don't smoke or drink, you'll die being very healthy."
 Richard Hall, the membership director issued me a certificate of Honorary Member of New Bloomfild Volunteer Fire Company and after discovering that I have no sponsorship they collected $50 toward the financial support of my expedition. The next morning my hostess, Jane Stambaugh, served a fantastic breakfast and decided she would show me her hog farm. She and her husband James work as a teacher in primary school but as a side business they raise about 1,000 piglets on their farm. All operations are so completely automated that they come to barn just twice a day to check what is going on. The animal feed company brings food on a regular basis and loads it in bunkers; animal breeding company brings piglets, and a meat packaging company comes to take the hogs every six months. All the operations inside are absolutely sterile. Even we have to wear disposable outfits in order to tour this futuristic factory of pork.
 The day before I'd promised to visit West Perry High School so I drove there to talk with the students and staff. As I tied Vanya to the flagpole in the middle of the school's lawn, I could see hundreds of pupils faces peeping out of classroom windows and smiling at my horse. I was invited to talk with the students who were studying the history of religion and science. Their teacher Joe Burroughs was a retired Major of the US Marines and a very intelligent person. He commented upon my lecture about Russia and my expedition in a very eloquent way without suppressing the students' own thoughts about matters, but I have had feeling that he knew everything better than I do. For a send off the staff and students gave me a box containing a snack for me and apples for my horse. After this first experience, I took advantage of any opportunity to stop in a school to talk with students.
 
 BLAIN
 February 23
 
 Progressing down Rte. 274 I made a wrong turn and found myself far south on 74 and was out in the dark as I came close to Blain. Oncoming transport was blinding my horse and me but I had no headlights or blinking lights on my wagon, only the fluorescent triangular sign of slow-moving vehicles attached to back of my buggy. However, I did have had a small Mini-Maglite flashlight, which I now rotated fore and back in the hope that passing automobilists could see it and would not crash into my vehicle and horse. It was not long before the police were informed about something strange happening on the road and trooper Andrew Thierwechter pulled over and stopped me. He explained that I was permitted travel with no lights only during daylight hours. Luckily, I was already in town and farmers Frank and Lorena Rice offered to put me up. Their neighbors James and Mary Adams invited me to stay on their farm as well.
 The next morning I had breakfast at the Blain Hotel with the Rice family and the company of their neighbors discussing the prices for pork, beef, Soya beans and corn. Of special concern was the falling price for beef - just 46 cents per pound. At first, the local farmers appeared not to show any interest in my figure but then Frank made a loud announcement about my expedition and for a while, I was the center of attraction. Frank told me that he felt the main advantage of my kind of transportation was that it excluded any possibility of jet lag. When our neighbor Dave Sharp heard that I had recently lost my wristwatch, he kindly gave me his own.
 An elder couple was seated at the next table, listening to our conversation. Finally the man, Charles Dodson came over to our table and introduced himself. Just a few years ago he had paid visit to Russia with a group of other Americans as the "Citizen to Citizen Ambassadors." They had even been allowed to visit the top-secret satellite-launching base in Plesetsk in northern Russia. At the time of WW II he had served as a mechanic on the air-base in Okinawa, Japan; had also fought in the Korean war; during peace-times he had worked for MacDonnell- Douglas. After retirement he settled, with his wife Mary Jo, in Blain and looked after three dogs and some chickens, besides making his own wine.
 Later on Mary Adams came to the restaurant and instantly her personality overshadowed all the patrons. She just recently purchased her farm and was newcomer in this small town but all the farmers had a great respect towards her. She decided to take me to her dairy farm. With her husband James, on 150 acres, she raises 50 cows, 10 horses and 6 children - Joan, Jim, Josh, Jennifer, Jacob and Joe. I figured out that she intentionally named kids with the same first letter to make easier such command, "Hey, Jays, go to bed," or something like that. Farming brings them about $6,000 monthly but of this $ 4,000 goes for their mortgage payment. This was the first time I'd had the opportunity to see a milking process, where the cow's udder was sprayed with an iodine solution and washed off with an individual paper towel. Each cow produces about 70 lbs. of milk daily. At 14 cents per pound, the Adams' generate $10 per cow, per day.
 Later that day James loaded my wagon on to his truck and brought it to his friend-Mennonite, Amos Hoover. Amos helped me with the installation of blinking lights and rear view mirror, free of charge. Mennonites don't drink alcohol and don't smoke cigarettes but when I asked Amos whether they at least chew tobacco, he smiled and suggested that I follow his habit of chewing alfalfa. I gave it my best shot but very soon found that it was nicer to follow my own bad habits, at least for a while. While my buggy was worked on, James's 10 year-old son was constantly around driving tractors, moving equipment, and learning from father his skills. I was privileged to be invited for a family dinner. The food had been grown or raised on their farm. No coffee or tea was served but it was delicious as never before not being spoiled by alcohol. As I've found in many farm households, the wives as a matter of fact have more writing skills than their husbands and Lynn wrote in my diary, "Nice to meet you, 'Commit thy ways unto the Lord + he will direct you." The same day Mary Adams brought me to the home of her friends Carl and Carol Dieffenderfers, who live in huge messy house and breed, besides children, Labrador Retrievers. That night they were gathering with friends - the families of Hoovers, Bankes, and Colestocks. There was a lot of barbecued meat, beer and friendship, especially from their children and, beer in hand; I enjoyed being a sinner again.
 My Guardian Angel, Mary with her friend June decided the next morning to take me to the Quaker meeting in Carlisle, which had been a long-anticipated experience. Once, in Yardley, Pennsylvania, on my previous expedition, I had befriended Samuel, Attorney at Law, owner of a nursery and distinguished Quaker. He brought me to the Quaker Meeting House or Friends House, where I had been impressed by the simplicity. In that place were no crucifixions or icons, nor even Bibles or Hymnbooks, and no priest. In cemetery, the graves had only a tombstone with no lamentations, just names and date the births and deaths of its inhabitants. Since then I had wanted to visit other meetinghouses and pray with Friends, as Quakers call each other. This religion and odd nickname go back more than 300 years. The followers of George Fox in England were known as Children of Light and Friends of Truth. Once Fox was brought before a magistrate to answer for his unorthodox religious views, and Fox warned the judge that even he must tremble and quake at the Word of the Lord. The judge asked Fox if he were a Quaker. The name of Quaker stuck and is now accepted worldwide.
 The Quakers reject the classical Lutheran view of human nature as totally depraved as a result of origin sin. They believe that freedom to be good and free from sin is possible in this life, and they deny the idea written in Bible that God has divided humanity into the elect and the damned. The Quaker norm of speech, dress, and conduct had begun as a commitment to live in truth, simplicity, equality, and peace. To keep one's hat on before a noble or a judge was a direct confrontation of pride and a challenge of repentance, and they refused to use titles also as a challenge to human pride. Truth itself became a nickname for the Quaker way of life. In England and America, Quaker merchants refused to buy cheap and sell dear; they stated an object's faults and virtues and what seemed a fair price and stuck to it. Nevertheless, exactly this reputation for honesty and reliability made their merchants rich and many of them became bankers. They consider the Bible as the word of God but believe that even more important is the Inner Light which comes through meditation and manifest God. The same spirit of God, which once inspired those who wrote the Holy Bible, can enlighten the individual seeking Christianity now. It looks like they don't attribute to the Bible the final authority as most Christians do. Sounds it heretical, but this is their attitude if I am not mistaken. The rationale of Quaker worship was expressed in a statement distributed at the meeting of the World Council of Churches in 1948, "Worship, according to the ancient practice of the Religious Society of Friends, is entirely without human direction or supervision. A group of devout persons come together and sit down quietly with no prearrangement, each seeking to have an immediate sense of divine leading and to know at first hand the presence of the living Christ. It is not wholly accurate to say that such a meeting is held on the basis of silence; it is more accurate to say that it is held on the basis of 'holy obedience'."
 Actually, this state was founded by the most prominent Quaker William Penn who came to America at October 31, 1682, on board of his ship Welcome as the absolute monarch of the new colony Pennsylvania. Back in England, he used his political skills to persuade King Charles II to give him royal land here to repay debt of 16,000 pounds owed to his father, Admiral Penn. This Royal Charter gave him absolute powers, but he intended for a "holy experiment" in which "myself and my successors" have "no power of doing mischief." He was a new kind of ruler who insisted that, "the will of one man may not hinder the good of a whole country." In 1712, the assembly consisting mostly from Quakers banned the importation of slaves into the colony. When the same year William Penn suffered a severe stroke, his wife Hannah, took over the governing of the colony. In Carlisle, we came to the meeting-room of Quakers and sat silently for an hour. After about 30 minutes of meditation, I visualized some kind of dreamlike figure, which hugged me and whispered - "Anatoly, go ahead, you are going in the right direction." Never before, in the deepest Yoga or Zen meditation have I experienced such a vision and contact with my own Guardian Angel and this feeling exists within me even now, as I am writing these lines.
 
 THE PAST
  February 26
 
 My host Frank Rice woke up earlier than used the next morning to write in my ledger, "Anatoly - I am writing this book for the second time to say I have learned so much on a such a wide variety of subjects (Religion Politics International + also US. Home life in Russia, timecard stops in U.S.S.R etc) It has been quite a learning experience - (excuse my spelling)."
 Before departure he showed me his collection of antique cars, which he's been restoring by hand. All his life Frank has had a passionate love to old models of cars, but had no time or money to get such. After retirement, he decided to buy some wrecks and give them a new life-chance, restoring their bodies and giving a face-lift. At early Memorial Day parades, those former wrecks were running young again and enjoyed a new life. This was a new life for Frank as well. I left this hospitable household in hope to pay visit some times later. And again we were on Rte. 274, going up hill through the Conococheague Mountains in Franklin County, passing the Tuscarora State Forest, the Big Spring State Park, and more abandoned farms, and summer homes. Twice during the day, I was passed by a school bus, but there was no other traffic. Recalling the familiar New York City "No Parking" signs, I was enjoying seeing "No Hunting" signs - it was different surroundings, almost a different country, one that I had never seen before. After passing the summit at 1,800 feet, we came to Doylesburg, such a small and secluded town that about its existence knew just its inhabitants. In its main meeting place, a grocery store, they suggested that I could find accommodation at a Cambels farm, owned by Bonnie and Martin Wilson. We were so exhausted that we barely reached their place. Begging for a place to rest, they had no choice but to accept us. Martin works as a pilot for Delta Airlines in Atlanta, Georgia, and flies to work from a local airstrip. Bonnie has been taking care of the farm, consisting of a few horses, ducks, chickens and dogs. As a side business they grow potato by organic way and sell it to cooperative in Houstontown. Later Martin loaded 50 sacks of potatoes on his truck and we drove to the New Morning Farm owned by Jim and Moie Kimball Crawford. They told me that the number of farmers who are growing organic food has been increasing to meet public's demand. Students from other states and even other countries come here to learn how to grow and market organic food
 Some of the farmers are planning to give up their tractors and only use animal power to raise their crop. I was pleased to hear about this trend of going towards the Future by meeting the Past.Back on the Wilsons farm, we were greeted by Bonnie's father and my friend Charles Dodson, who brought along more "Pilgrim Wine." Both old men were veterans of WW II and had been stationed in Okinawa. All the evening they spent recalling those "best years of their life."
 In meantime Martin decided to show me the collection of his and his wife's family's personal effects from the Civil War era of 1861-1865. At that time the industrial North had overpowered the agricultural South. Six hundred thousand soldiers and civilians perished on both sides, when fathers fought against their own sons, and brothers against brothers. At the end of the War president Lincoln proclaimed that there were neither conquerors nor defeated, but only exhausted people and a Country best needed reconciliation and rebuilding. Prisoners of war were released and had never been prosecuted.
 In Russia our Civil War lasted from 1918 to 1922, with even more devastating results. Victorious Bolsheviks from the industrial North defeated the White Army of the South and chased its soldiers from their own country. Those of the defeated who did not managed to escape by steamers were massacred in the ports. In the port of Sevastopol alone more than 30,000 mostly peasant and Cossack soldiers were massacred. Soldiers who were not killed in the ports were placed in labor-camps of the GULAG and later exterminated. There almost no documents, photos or even memories left of the victims. But here, deep in Pennsylvania, Martin Williams proudly displays photos and documents of his and Bonnie's ancestors, who had fought on opposite sides of the American Civil War.
 To entertain me, Martin told me how last year a young girl from Russia had come here on student exchange program and was living on their farm. She lasted only a few months not able to tolerate the hard farming life style. This daughter of the new Russian ruling elite used to have her own chauffeur and home attendant. In the evenings, she was accustomed to patronizing the most high-class restaurants and casinos. She left to join her parents who have been selling out their own country to the highest bidder. The Wilsons old farmhouse was filled with memorabilia, and ghosts of the past inhabitants. I slept in a huge bed with pillars and dreamed about my suffering Country.

PHANTOMS
February 27
 
In order to avoid the very hilly Rte. 75 heading south-west, I had to take 35 and 522 going north-west through nearly abandoned farms and villages with the half-dreaming, hibernating inhabitants. Perhaps they begin thinking and reacting just when warmed up, but now they had no reaction on my greetings.
The mixture of snow and rain was a sleety downpour, making slush along the road; my hands and feet were as much numb as my face; cracks in the skin around my fingernails were bleeding with the cold. There was no place for us to rest, in the barns we passed only cattle crowded around rolls of hay, not a person to be found. Here the owners just come around to check on the cattles well-being and to fix fences that are sometimes broken by wild deer or elk.
Finally I meet the old farmer who told me of an abandoned farm on the banks of the Tuscarora Creek where I could stay. On crossroad with 641, I found a huge barn with plenty of hay. Across the road was towering a huge two-story building with paint peeling off the walls and no lights in the blind windows that reflected the overcast sky.
It was absolutely dark when I unhitched my horse and made him a place in a cow shed. Using my flashlight in the pitch dark I dropped enough hay to last overnight and brought some water for him from the creek. It was an undisclosed night filled with strange noises and the moon too reflected on the blind panes of the farmhouse across the road. I hugged in horses big neck, taking courage and energy from him, but he just snorted and asked for more oats and carrots. If he had such sane frolic so should I. Ive heard that horses know the whereabouts of ghosts and goblins and will warn of their coming. Vanyas calm must mean that the coast was clear.
Early the next morning, I jumped out of my sleeping bag and washed myself in the creek. I fed and watered Vanya and decided to investigate that spooky house across the way. I climbed uphill to the front door, where I buzzed, but nobody responded. The door was locked. However, the back door was half-open with the dead leaves littering the hallway.
Stepping over a threshold, I found myself in the kitchen. On the shelves were cans and boxes of cereals, a frying pan and a casserole were sitting on the stow. I lifted the telephone and heard the dial tone indicating that it was not disconnected.
As I made my way upstairs, I noticed many framed photos hanging on the walls, figures of deceased people looking at me with disfavor as if they were asking - what the hell are you doing in our dwelling? I was anticipating a skeleton in the closet or may be a dead body with a slashed throat and blood all around. The creaking sound of the floorboards resonated throughout the house, but nobody moaned or cried out. The home itself was dead because it looked like its people had left it for good.
Finding myself outside, and escaping arrest by the police for trespassing, I took a moment to recuperate after a self-inflicted spook while I hitched and talked with my horse.
For easier crossing, the Allegheny Mountains I had to go down route 522 south and turn right on 30 going west. Rte. 30 was a washboard-type road - up and downhill, and my horse was absolutely exhausted by the time we came to farm of Bill and Althea, Ph.D.s., a couple of professors of Psychopathology from Baltimore. They had just come to the farm from the city and were warming themselves up with a cold beer and hot red wine, I enthusiastically joined this company.
The Wagmans had purchased this farm recently, mostly for fun and to keep themselves busy. Their neighbor, a long time farmer, had asked them recently why, instead of buying a condo in Florida, they had decided to dig around in manure and try to raise cattle? The Wagmans had explained to their neighbor, that children were already grown up and did not need parents as much as they used to, but the cattle need attention and so they themselves felt needed again.
We were just running out even kosher wine when along came my friend and our life-saver Charles Dodson with two more bottles of his Pilgrim wine and 52 self-addressed postcards and a request that I mail these cards to him each week informing him and people of Blain about my progress.
It was so nice to sit in an intellectual surrounding and drink wine and smokes my pipe with no restriction to do it outside as is required in most American household nowadays. Besides all this, my hosts taught me a new word for my growing vocabulary - serendipity, which means the faculty of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for (Websters Dictionary). It was used in Altheas good wish, Anatoly came here with (Jack) Vanya his new horse - what a surprise. Vanka OK. Actually looks like a good guy. Anatoly good for stories, music. Serendipity!
The next morning was cold and snowy, and although my horse was still coughing, we had to go. On the way to Harrisonwille I had to stop to give an interview to Dave Rhodes, a reporter for the The Morning Herald in Chambersburg and to the owner of the Fulton County News who donated $20. He was the first and last one of media people, who gave me a some contribution, which wasnt so bad for my expedition. However, the same time he explained that by some stupid code of conduct the media is forbidden to pay people for their coverage.
Vanya had his cough and I had my own problems - my stomach ulcer was absolutely devastating me. In Harrisonwille I dropped in at a grocery store and finally found on a shelf a pack of baking soda for 69 cents and soothed the stomach pain with a spoonful of soda.
Marie Hoffman and store owner Gloria Fetterhoff made a lot of calls around the area and finally found the Pine Tree Farm whose owners Jeff and Mary Huston generously agreed to accommodate me.
Vanya was placed in their stables and it was really a blessing for us because of his continuing coughing. My sleeping bag was very old and didnt offer much protection from a night of frost so I decided to sleep in the farms office on the concrete floor. For insulation, I piled three layers of empty paper bags from Agway cattle feed and slept comfortably on top of this pile. The single nuisance was a mice running around all the night and helping themselves to share my supply of M&Ms. I was just sorry having around no robust pussy-cat Tom to catch those multiple and arrogant Jerryes. I guess these cartoons about Tom and Jerry are the most unsuccessful attempt of Holliwood to pervert American mentality.
It was cold and sunny on the first morning of March, when I hitched my horse and started the long journey of crossing the Blue Mountains.
Stopping for watering at the Pine Crest Inn restaurant, I met with its owner Bes Juilfoy who told me the story of an Amish woman from Lancaster County. Three years ago, she had been passing through area with a horse and buggy. Her husband had died and shed decided to go with her three young children to the Salt Lake City area to live with his relatives.
Her story was a great inspiration for me - if that young woman managed to go through, what the hell have I been complaining about with my stomach ulcer and night cold?
But the Blue Mountains were really steep and my horse needed to stop for rest ever 100 yards. At one such stop across from the gates of a milk farm a middle-aged woman with a good-natured face and an open smile came along.
Hows it going? - I asked with my broken English.
Good, I have no complaints about my life. The owners have give me food and housing. Definitely, milking cows isnt easy; I have to work every day.
How much are you paid?
159 dollars every two weeks.
I almost fell down off my buggy - I knew this was an incredibly low salary for such a hard work, but it wasnt my business to count somebody elses money and so I said nothing, just proceeded farther on my way.
However, in about twenty minutes that same woman drove up in her truck and asked my permission to make a snapshot - no problemo, go ahead. For a farewell, she gave me a book about the life of Jesus Christ called The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived and published by Jehovah Witness Press.
At the beginning I wasnt intending to read this book, but because of our frequent rest-stops climbing the hill I actually had enough of time to finish reading it by the time we reached the summit.
Allowing for my poor comprehension, I think the main idea of the book is the belief that Jesus Christ was just a great man, but not the Son of God. If I am wrong, I am sorry in front of Jesus Christ or/and God.
 
 LLAMAS AND BISONS
 March 1
 
 Arriving in the town of Breezewood I decided to stop at "La Malot" farm, where Nyle and Joan Mallet have been breeding llamas and sell them to llama lovers "for Pleasure or Profit," as it's written in the farm's brochure. There also I learned that llamas are native to the mountains of South America and have been domesticated for over 5,000 years for their gentle disposition and fine wool. It was interesting to discover, that besides the other numerous material advantages, these animals are also used for therapy for the ill, elderly, and the handicapped; they can pull carts and wagons and make the perfect 4-H projects for any age youngster. Quite curious information about llamas was supplied to me by my secret love Stephany. She quoted the poem written by Ogden Nash:
 A one-L lama is a priest.
 A two-L llama is a beast.
 And I would bet a silk pajama,
 That there is no three-L lllama!
 When I got to the farm, there was nobody around, just a spooked herd of llamas who came up to the gates to watch us. I could not say that they looked a very intelligent, compared with horses. They didn't exhibit a distinguish individualities; llamas were more a flock than a herd. They even behaved like a flock of sheep, randomly spooked and running away together and then coming back again curious about newcomers. In English language, I found a very good expression for the senseless curiosity of a crowd of individuals named: "sidewalk superintendents," spectators at a burning building, or demolition activity. Those llamas reminded me of this kind of crowd. However, simply - I did not like those llamas because they remind me myself in a state of curiosity. Finally, the farm manager arrived on a site and allowed me to park my wagon in machinery shed. My horse was placed in the llama's shelter, a three-sided building with no wind protection. It was getting cold and windy so I masterminded a kind of a horse-blanket, sewed from my own blanket covered with a tarpaulin; a little strange, but it protected Vanya from cold very well. "Invention is the poor men's protection" - just writing these lines I created this motto. But, perhaps, somebody already managed to say something similar.
 For my own comfort, I was given an electric heater with a fan that I installed in the wagon but it was very shaky and had it tipped over, it could have burned all my scarce belongings while I was sleeping, so I had to switch it off. The night was cold.
 Surprisingly, the next morning Vanya decided to trot pulling my wagon, he had never done that before by his own initiative. I guess he just wanted to warm himself up. I was running along with him, and new day was smiling on us. It was a long and tiresome day of rain, snow and slush. Passing through Everett I decided to make right turn and found myself on the farm of Paul and Ethel Ford, who very openly accepted my horse and me. Their farmhouse had been an hotel during the time of the Revolution, and George Washington once was resting here. The blue plaque was attached to commemorate such an event in the history of this dwelling. Now its owners promised to accommodate me in what presumably had been Washington's room.
 Paul was aging patriarch about 80, but muscular and strong as my horse, but a bit more gray. He used to be in the business of selling agriculture machinery. His younger son was now in charge of the business, his elder one recently died of cancer. Deceased son's wife Carolyne moved with their children out to north-west Pennsylvania. But that day she had come to pay a visit to her parents-in-law with her 17 years old son Nathan and daughter, Sara Maria, 14.
 I experience some peculiar pleasure of the man crossed meridian of his life when I watched this young man Nathan. He was blooming with health and curiosity of oncoming life. Up 6 feet tall, with blizzard weather outside, he wore summer outfit of T-shirt and shorts. Trunks of his legs were reddish after cold, but he enjoyed the blood circulation throughout all his young body and actually was warming up people around just by his own appearance.
 His mother Carolyne was a City Manager in Tituswille, located in North-West part of Pennsylvania and was very proud of her job. As she helped me to unload the wagon, she described some of the details of her task. The main problem of the City Council of Titusville was to keep a balance of economical development. If City's economy was slow, it could create the burden of unemployment and a tendency for workers to leave for a better place to live. But the over-development could create an influx of newcomers and make life of the natives uncomfortable. I have never heard about such a dilemma of development, especially concerning big cities such as New York, where everybody complaints about businesses relocating for better places, or lover taxes and unemployment is very high. Very possible, such an over-development problem do exists in small towns with a high standard of living, where population fear that newcomers could bring with them all the problems of big cities. Carolyne's son offered to help me with the problem of finding a bale of hay for my horse, and we drove to a near by farm, where James Simer donated a bale of chewy hay for Vanya. He refused taking any money, saying, "The first time in my life I met Russian. How I can take any money from you. It was my pleasure to talk with you and share something that I have in abundance." On the way back, Nathan decided to show me the beauty of land belonged to his family. He drove up high hill and proudly pointed out the wide borders of his family's land with the small creeks and patches of wood embraced this homestead. Many years ago, his grandfather had purchased a piece of land that included a small graveyard of the former owners. All the family until now takes care of this plot with the respect to those people who came to this land and took care of it before them. That evening I was privileged to be invited to a family dinner-party with candles on the table and the prayer of grace pronounced by Paul. It was something of deep-root Americana, the gathering of this family, living on this beautiful land, enjoying the beauty and calamity of this life; something deeply religious and also remarkably optimistic about it.
 Matriarch of the family, Ethel, wrote in my ledger, "Anatoly, you knocked at my door & I asked you in. May the Lord guide you on the journey...when you knock on the door of Heaven; I pray you will be invited in. Sincerely." I spent a night in the bedroom that George Washington had formerly enjoyed. Next morning Ethel served us with a substantial breakfast, and all the family went to church, but I proceeded farther.
 It was snowy and drizzly day with a slush thrown in our direction from passing cars. On such dreary day, I was lucky finding a warm reception on farm of Tim and Kate Pretchett. They grow flowers, make hay and raise sheep. We shared a dinner that featured home-baked bread and a bottle of "Pilgrim" wine provided earlier by my friend Charlie. As I writing this book, what is killing me is, that I can not describe or talk about all the beautiful people who I met on my way. About all the women whom I fell in love with just for the short time when I was their guest. I hope that their husbands don't mind a such platonic love but they will have to understand that I am not a homosexual falling in love with husbands, despite all my greatest respect and appreciation for their human beauty and hospitality. Driving the next day down Rte. 30, I learned that this area had at one time seen a lot of military activity between English and French troops.
 General John Forbes in 1758 was on his way to dislodge French troops from the forks of the Ohio River. After losing Loisbourg and Fort Frontenac to the British the French were forced to evacuate Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh), which the British renamed Fort Pitt. Also in this area the future President of the future the United States, George Washington held his military honor. Young George was not always lucky in his military career - on July 3, 1754, British forces under his guidance were defeated by the French near Fort Necessity in the Ohio River valley. He was a brave soldier but not necessary lucky in his battles even when he sided with the British. Actually, it is very hard for me to apprehend how he could have become so resentful to his former allies as to go to war against them at the time of the Revolution. Even though he was in retirement, he had broken the oath to the King and agreed to colonists' request that he command the Continental Army, 21 years after his defeat at Fort Necessity. Perhaps he had no choice, and it was a necessity?
 On my way across this country, I was trying to understand the role of the African American in making its history. I found absolutely astonishing data about the population of black in the middle of the 18th century. According to "Chronicle of the World" published 1989 in England, in 1760, people of African descent were said to constitute 30% of the population of the 13 British colonies. Such tremendous proportion of blacks was due to the constant import of slaves from Africa by British slave-traders. At the beginning of the Revolution, the British colonial administration and the Continental Congress struggled to gain sympathy of blacks. In 1774, George Washington signed the Fairfax Resolve, which barred the importation of slaves and threatened to halt all colonial export to England. In retaliation, the Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, offered freedom to any slaves who would like to join the loyalist army. Fearing the response to the Governor's offer to slaves, George Washington decided to recruit blacks into the army but, to preserve the support of his neighbor-planters, only free Negroes were allowed to join the Continental Army. Not surprisingly, most blacks found themselves lost in this conflict of interest and not very many enrolled in either army, that it was not their war.
 Traveling down the road at such a slow pace, I saw many things that I would not have paid attention to driving a fast car - with a high speed you apprehension may be fast but it is short. The most recognizable vehicles along my way were the yellow school buses and mail carriers cars of many varieties. On most of them, a steering wheel was installed on left side but all the mailboxes were on the right side of the road. For this reason, many mail carriers drove seating close to the right side of their vehicle so they could easily throw in the mail. To me this looked so ridiculous, especially keeping in mind that in earlier years most mail carriers vehicles used to have their steering sensibly on the right side. From my observation, the US Postal Service is the worst organized bureaucratic structure in this country. But, luckily, it's becoming obsolete with the development of faxes and the Internet.
 In Schellsburg I stopped at "Penny Lane Antiques" to warm up and chit with the owner Carol Lefler and chat with her small dog resting near the burning stove. By chance while I was there, a customer advised me that I should along the way stay in Ligonier with his nephew, who speaks Russian. I made a note to do that. About two miles west of Schellsburg I noticed a billboard announcing "Cedarrow's Farm." On the left towered a massive red-brick farmhouse, on right, behind fence was grazing a herd of bison. Both my Vanya and the bison were astonished, viewing each other's kind for the first time in their life. We pulled left off to the backyard of the house and three huge dogs came out to perform their duty of barking hysterically. But they did not approach very close to the 1.600 pounds of horsepower. The farm owner Richard Darrow soon came with his truck and spying Vanya exclaimed, "Wahoo, I like your horse! I will find enough hay and oats for him in my barn. You'll have to sleep in the cold part of the house, but I'll give you a buffalo buckskin for a cover and you'll be hot as a buffalo in a heat." Such promise was very promising indeed, I needed some kind of release. Richard and his wife Anny worked on 1,400 acres raising 90 bison and about 500 cattle with the help of two farmhands. For the summer season, they hire local school- children. Richard's business of breeding bison started just as a hobby with the purchase of bull and a cow for breeding. After his first pair, he bought more; now he's the best-known bison breeder in Pennsylvania and just couple days ago had attended the meeting of bison breeders in Colorado.
 I was surprised finding in the house so many breeding trade magazines that he subscribed to. At the end of the last century, only about 1,000 of these magnificent creatures were left roaming around this country. But during the era of President Theodore Roosevelt, a notorious hunter but also a nature preservationist as well, many National Parks were created. (I am not surprised that Americans in his honor named bear cubs "Teddy Bears). After the law about protection of endangered species was endorsed the population of bison began to increase. Nowadays, about 130,000 of these animals roam free or are bred on private farms. Rich told me that Ted Turner, the owner of CNN TV company and husband of Jane Fonda, raises about 10,000 of bison on his ranch in Montana. This animal isn't considered endangered any more. In recent years, hybrid of buffalo and domestic cattle, called "beefalo" which is hardier and heavier than cattle and thrive on range grass has gained popularity. Richard is a fifth generation farmer and proud to be one. "I'd never exchange my life for somebody else's, I am my own boss and have no neighbors in a two mile radius. We never lock our house," he lamented. Certainly, I commented, he would not need to, having three dogs outside and an arsenal of firearms in the living room. I was sleeping covered by buffalo buckskin, and in my night dream, I was the host of it.

 FATHER MICHAEL
 March 5
 
 Richard loaded me up with bison salami, pemmican and jerky and evidently concerned for my well-being suggested, Anatoly, I'll watch you with my field-glass as you cross the Allegheny Mountains. Wave the flag if you need my assistance, I'll come over right away." In four hours, I managed to reach the "Bald Knob" summit, elevation 2,906 feet. "Noah Ark Restaurant and Inn" in the shape of that Ark was closed for good; just a few tourists were wandering around and couple of eagles were circulating in the cloudy skies, mousing or lizarding. In "DeLong's Heritage Inn" I stopped to water my horse and found quite a few patrons sipping beer - miners, road workers, farmers. This area of Pennsylvania is in a deep depression. Most of the coalmines were closed in president's Reagan era with his policy of removing subsidies to unprofitable mines. He followed the example of the "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher, who closed most similar coalmines in England. But smart English capitalists purchased the most profitable mines in this area and now export coal to Japan. The quality of coal isn't good - too much sulfur, but in recent last years the technology of power plants has improved substantially, and they now can burn even this sulfuric coal with reasonably high efficiency and low levels of environmental pollution. In the town of Ferrelton a very nice woman came up to my buggy and as she fed Vanya an apple she announced that the Doomsday was coming soon and I must prepare myself for it. The best way to do it, she said, was by joining to the Church of Seventh-Day Adventists because only its members could be saved.
 I was sorry for her fanaticism but, at the same time, more sorry for myself that I could not jump on her bandwagon and escape an unavoidable burning in Gehenna. However, I was saved for a short while by Father Michael Miklos, Reverend of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Jenners. He heard about my arrival in his area from the report on local TV and had decided to invite me to his parishioner house. He overheard as well that woman's pronouncement about the rapid upcoming of Doomsday, and was furious about it, stating, "Listen, woman! Nobody, but God knows the date of Doomsday. Don't you understand that each day of Creation could last millions of years and we, humans, couldn't figure out the Judgment Date." Personally, I don't care at all when that Doomsday is coming because Hell and Heaven, by my own perception, are located right in your own soul. Belonging to "right" religion or sect will not make you better off. However, as I was baptized as a Russian Orthodox, I was happy finding myself in a house of Father Michael and his wife - "matushka," which stands for "mommy." My horse was accommodated on the farm of Joe Pelesky, a parishioner of the church, and I was met in Father Michael's spacious house by warmed up towels in the bathroom and a sweet smell of cooking borscht. Father Michael opened bottle of homemade wine and we drank to friendship and to people on the road. It was so relaxing sitting in this hospitable house knowing that outside snow was whirlwind, and the temperature was dropping to zero.
 My host had formerly served as an engineer on air bases around the world and traveled a lot but after retirement, he decided to become a priest. He graduated from an Orthodox seminary and afterwards was sent to serve this small parish of 60 mostly older people. Younger parishioners come to the church just for marriages or for funerals. Over the last year, Father Michael has been confronted from time to time by the church committee, those who make the decisions about how much money should be allowed to the priest, and all the everyday regulations of church life. The main topic of confrontation between the Father and his church committee is his habit of smoking in the church's cafeteria. However, Father Michael's response is straightforward, "I am used to smoking and I will continue to smoke until I decide to stop, but it will be on my own terms."
 His office is equipped with the latest models of computers and modems, which he uses for publishing the church bulletins, and through Internet, he has connected with other orthodox churches around the world. His foster son works as an environmental specialist in Florida. He is a good boy and, actually, is expected for Thanksgiving Day's family gathering. Father Michael is a handyman and his parishioners often drop by for his help in fixing a car or TV set but more frequently they come just to seat in front of his fire-place and talk about life.
 For three days, I was detained by a snowstorm and used the time lecturing school-students. In Boswell I was pleased to be able visit Russian Class in North Star High School. The students wrote the well-wishes in a mixture of English and Russian, which was quite unusual and touching. Before coming to this country I was of the opinion that in Russia they teach foreign languages very badly, but after visiting many schools along my way across America I have found that the quality of second-language education in this country is no better off. Students, and even many teachers, believe that knowledge of the English language is enough to communicate around the world but they deprive themselves from developing the big part of the brain responsible for combining meanings and creating a more sophisticated picture of the world. Finally the skies were clear again and Father brought me to Pelesky's farm, where my horse was ready for further conquest of the West. My newly acquired friends of three days gave me so much foodstuff and other gifts that I could not find enough room in my buggy. I was especially happy with a nearly new sleeping bag. For a farewell Father Michael handed me a wooden crucifixion with a medallion of St. Nicholas attached and said, "Anatoly, God bless you. Take this crucifixion and my blessing with it. Don't forget us. Write, call us, and we always will be happy to answer."
 
JOHNSTOWN
March 9
 
As Vanya and I drew close to Ligonier, we were greeted by Phil Zimmerman, an icon painter who has a big art studio in Antiochian Village, a conference center for Christians of Syrian descent. He came with his seven-year-old daughter Nadia, beautiful as a not yet open flower bud, like some kind of vital principle existing in flesh. She was so happy to have the chance to drive with me in buggy. It was cold outside, so I wrapped her in my new sleeping bag. Later on, she made a fantastic drawing of our short trip with my horse looking like a dinosaur.
We pulled up at the White Barn stables where we left Vanya to be groomed by Joe Lynn, a specialist in performance horses and a farrier. From there, Father George Geha gave me ride to Antiochian Village where he was Executive Director. He gave me a separate room at this quite unusual hotel which featured a chapel and huge conference rooms of Antiochian Center. Only after reading Father Georges well-wish in my ledger did I learned the origin of the name of this place; he had signed, May our Lord and God be with you as you travel through this Great Land! May your journey be like that of...Disciples who were called Christians first in Antioch! Acts 11:26.
I happened to arrive during conference of Christian-orthodox women because of which there were so many varieties of food in dining room that I couldnt believe my eyes that Orthodox women could have such a developed and unorthodox taste for a good food.An evening service was being hold in the chapel, and I felt that I was betraying my hosts not sitting, there was so much to do besides this.
Phil invited me for a tea party in his studio and I was amazed by his vast knowledge of Christian-orthodox rituals and icons. He is a very well known artist, and churches all around the country place orders for his icons. He knows many of the colleges in Russia, and goes there on a regular basis.
As far as I know Phil wasnt born orthodox but changed to this faith in later years. I felt truly sorry that I did not feel I could adhere to this religion as he did. His new faith gave him a new sense of life, and new love.
The next morning Phil took me and his three children to see Johnstown Flood Museum commemorating one of the countrys worst peacetime catastrophes.
On Black Friday May 31, 1889, after long rains the South Fork Dam collapsed releasing a 40-foot wall of water and debris crashing through the Conemaugh Valley. A telegraph operator, who happened to be close to the dam sent a telegram 12 miles south to Johnstown warning them about the upcoming flood but nobody paid any attention to his desperate signal. More than 2,200 people died in about 10 minutes.
Nobody in charge of the dam was accused of either negligence or wrong doing, wealthy owners of the surrounding estates organized a lobby to prevent a proper investigation and the case was dropped for good.
What was more amazing that this terrible disaster didnt teach officials and residents of this area very much; subsequent floods of 1936 and 1977 also caused severe damage to people and property.
The next morning Joe Lynn flossed my horses teeth. This was the first time I ever heard of this procedure being performed on a horse. Kendall Cross, videographer from TV Channel 4 came from Pittsburgh to shoot footage of my expedition. It was ridiculous but, because of a reporters union strike, he could not breach his contract to ask me any questions about the trip.
About 10 a.m. I left White Barn and went south-west down Rte. 711 towards Rte. 31 west. The road was hard hilly but beautiful with its north slopes covered with snow and reflecting the mid-day sun. It was the perfect reflection of rural Pennsylvania with no traffic, only friendly people road siding me from time to time to talk about their desire to make the same kind of trip or just wishing me the best.
Reporter for KDKA-TV 2 Michael Challih wrote in my ledger, Dear Anatoly, youre doing something that I have always wanted to do. My thoughts and prayer are with you.
In the village of Acme where I stopped for a rest in the home of the Trout family, Dean and Roger Lenhart came to see my horse. These brothers are enthusiasts of draft horses and every holiday hitch their horses and drive around the rural roads of this area.
For half of the next day Dean took charge of driving of my buggy and for a second half Roger came for the reins giving me an opportunity to write in my diary and make order in the wagon. It was nice to have a break but I have to admit that I wasnt happy having another person in the buggy - these hills of western Pennsylvania were more steep and tiresome than the Allegheny mountains; the road reminded me of some kind of gigantic washing board of ups and downs which absolutely exhausted my horse.
On farm of Chuck and Jackie (whose last name I will not mention here) my horse found good shelter but I was placed in their basement and not allowed to go upstairs even to watch the TV news about my expedition. Chucks wife was absolutely and definitely eight months pregnant, but he was even more definitely jealous about her and insisted on my departure at 5 a.m. The next morning when he was leaving for his job. Even my Vanya was surprised by such early departure but he didnt say anything.

 COFFINS
  March 13
 
 Nearing West Newton I was stopped by the local police accompanied by Pamela Fleshman, Borough Secretary and Treasurer, who invited me to share dinner with the senior citizens in their center. I have some envy of seniors in this country because after their retirement they can afford much more than the young people can. Like a flocks of birds they migrate across North America in mobile homes and some with a healthy sense of humor wear T-shirts with motto such as - "I proudly spend my grandchildren's money."
 My mother Olga Kidalinsky saved her money all her life for her own burial expenses, and also to help educate her grandchildren, Igor and Stanislav. By the end of 1990 she managed to collect about 5,000 rubles which was an equivalent of $6,000. However, after the dismantling of the USSR, and the inventing of the new economy, the selling out of Russia by "New Russians," her saving shrank to the amount of four dollars. Her pension now is 132,000 rubles monthly; in American currency, this is about 25 dollars. Prices for food in Russia are almost the same as in the USA, though housing is about ten times cheaper in Russia than in this country.
 Those thoughts were passing through my mind as I was enjoying dinner in the company of beautiful senior citizens in West Newton. They loaded me up with a lot of food for both my horse and me and off we went proceeding farther by Rte. 31, which changed into 136 after crossing the Monongahela River. A couple of miles down this killy-hilly road I was stopped by Ernest Parnell, owner of the "Vault and Burial Service," whose motto, according to his business card was "Selection, Quality, Satisfaction." Along with his two sons, he performs burial services, as well as a quite profitable business making vaults for coffins. Later on, he displayed the wide variety of those vaults from the very cheap, to expensive ones with hermetically sealed lids, which prevent the seeping of groundwater into your rotting flesh. As Ernie explained to me, "What is good with this kind of business, is that there are never ups, but never downs either."
 Ernie with sons brought bags of sawdust and used it to cover the concrete floor of machinery shed to accommodate my horse. They fixed the brakes of my buggy and installed a new seat with a back support, which improved my driving conditions dramatically. They also phoned to the local farrier Steve Pysz who arrived with his beautiful wife Kathy and shod Vanya free of charge. Certainly, while Steve was working, I was felling in love with his green-eyed wife. I could not understand why all the women with green eyes are gorgeous.
 After magnificent dinner-party, their mother Carol offered to wash my clothing for the first time on my way across this country. He generous impulse was in spite of the fact that she did not really understand the extent of my journey. In telephone conversation with a reporter Stacy Wolford for "The Valley Independent" newspaper, she told to Wolford that I could be in California the day after tomorrow, meaning a small town by that name south of Monongahela. She could not apprehend that I am in reality going with my horse to the State of California.
 By such a way I survived March 13, this number has always been good for me, but March 14 was not so bad either. Meeting with so many beautiful and generous people, I am becoming less misanthropic with each new day. Pulling up to the "84 Packing Co." retail store to give my horse a drink, I met storeowner Gary Gregg who wrote in my ledger, "Anatoly, thank you for stopping to visit, what you are doing is quite impressive and brings a smile to everyone, especially the children." I think Gary's well wish described my own hopes for my expedition. The unusual navy-blue house of John Scanlan attracted my attention, and I turned right to there. His beautiful young daughter prepared for ride and was attired in clothing of British noble equestrian, which I used to see only on paintings. Her body color trousers were so tight that seemed as her skin and lured to touch them. She had own thoroughbred horse and was happy to make room for Vanya. For the first time during our trip my horse was let in to open field and had the chance to relieve all his accumulated itching, rolling over on the sandy ground and running around in enjoyment of life. It was the first day, in addition, that he seemed recovered from his coughing. In the town of Washington, I pulled in front of the Courthouse and parked at a bus stop. Upstairs the Recorder of Deeds (even to this day I have no idea what that means) Kathy M. McCullough-Testa attached to page of my ledger the Golden Seal of Washington County.
 Commissioner J. Bracken Burns, Sr. decided he would like to meet with Vanya and came out of Courthouse. He did not mind the pile of horse-manure Vanya had produced on the pavement, but he was absolutely furious with the bus-driver who had parked his bus in front of my horse and kept the engine running with the exhaust pipe just a yard away from the horse's nostrils. Thank God that we came out earlier than expected and saved Vanya from CO-poisoning by chasing away the stupid bus driver. While I was cleaning up after my horse, I was approached by a woman beggar who asked whether it would be worthwhile for her to relocate to Russia for panhandling. Such query shocked me, but quickly recovering I recommended that she stay in her neighborhood for at least 20 years until Russia recuperates a bit. Most of its population nowadays is no better off than this beggar.
 This city is special not only by its beggars, it also proud of being the first in the United States to establish in 1876 the crematorium for good cadavers. Besides this, its citizen David Bradford was a leader in the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion, a protest against the high excise taxes on domestic spirits that hurt the grain producers of this area. Almost for sure, if living that time, I would join his troops in fight with such an injustice. Federal government was so troubled with this rebellion that George Washington dispatched 13,000 of militia troops to crash uprising of his own citizens. However, what was even more ridiculous that secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, led these Federal troops in person. It is inferred from later Hamilton's own admission that his object in proposing this excise law was less than obtain revenue but to provoke just such a local resistance that would enable the government to demonstrate its authority. The rebellious Pennsylvanians submitted without bloodshed, Bradford fled to New Orleans; some of his supporters were tried for treason and convicted, but promptly pardoned.
 The same times, our Russian authorities were much worst in putting down the freedom of their subjects. The greatest our general, Alexander Suvorov defeated troops of the Polish patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a hero of battles in the America and French revolutionary wars. About 6,000 civilians in Warsaw were slaughtered. French were not idle in 1794 as well. Republican troops were busy wiping out the peasant's revolt in Vendee by firing squads. Soon after the revolutionary court inspired by the "People's Friend," Robespierre, guillotined his friend G.J. Danton who spoke out against the dictatorial revolutionary committees. Four months later the "incorruptible" Robespierre who masterminded the Terror against own citizens was also consumed by the guillotine. Definitely, this country was blessed avoiding such a turmoil. The anti-Federalist James Madison and his supporters were prompt ratifying in 1791 the Bill of Rights. The second of its ten amendments gave U.S. citizens the right to bear arms and defend themselves. As my friends told me on the way - the freedom diminishes as soon as you stop defending it. After passing through Washington, I found myself on Rte. 40, called "The First National Road." Most traffic now goes down Interstate 70, and Rte. 40 is quite and as comfortable for horse driving as it used to be 100 years ago.
 In Claysville we pulled in to the farm of retired auctioneer Edison Caldwell. After his last heart surgery he sold his cattle and now takes life easier, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. With his wife Zelma, he is an active member of his church. That evening they were visited by Betty and Lucille Toth to discuss the matter of Immaculate Conception and sexual relations of people in Heaven. Ed insisted that in Heaven all of us will be asexual Angels but Lu believed that we keep our gender once we are in Heaven, and will be able perform sexual acts even better than on Earth. I was thoughtfully silent but my night-dreams about Heaven were quite imaginative.
 
 WEST VIRGINIA OHIO
 March 16
 
 At 12:48 I crossed the border and entered the State of West Virginia, Ohio County. Nobody could help me with finding why this state decided to separate from Virginia. Perhaps, it is written somewhere, but for my guessing - just because its settler had no imagination. Actually all the USA supposed to be named Virginia because by charter of "Virgin Queen" Elizabeth this American province had extended its territory "from sea to sea." Perhaps settlers of this area separated from Virginia because did not go to church on a regular basis. In 1618 the governor of Virginia decreed, that parishioners who miss church service had to be jailed "lying neck and heels in the Corps of Gard the night following and be a slave the week following."
 I do not exclude and antifeminist motive in separation of that male-domineering colony - they could not stand to stand close to self-proclaimed princess Pocahontas. Those male chauvinists were already fed up with self-imposed virginity of their Queen. Their feelings were articulated by Sir William Fitzwilliam in the most vulgar terms, "God's wounds, this it is to serve a base, bastard, pissing kitchen woman." Actually, inhabitants of this land were bloodthirsty long after end of the Revolution. This time they were fighting against Indians and the small town of Triadelphia was named in the memory of three brothers who were killed by Indians in retaliation. For two hours I wandered around this town, finally deciding to climb up hill to the farm of Stan and Mary McCardle. The two of them came out to porch and for a long time were watching as I was approaching slowly up hill road, curious - what the hell that guy going to their place for with no warning or invitation. Nevertheless, finding what is going on, they very willingly agreed to accommodate Vanya and me. Stan confided that their farm was the most unprofitable farm in this area. They managed to keep 14 horses, 8 cats, 4 dogs, 40 hens, 3 ducks, 2 peacocks, one belly-bottom hog and one turkey. Their 700-pound hog's name was BP after "British Petroleum" Company, which he used to advertise on TV when he was a small and inexperienced piglet. Since then this piglet had become the McCardles pet and they didn't have the heart to butcher him. As we left the barn I was encountered by a huge, colorful he-turkey bubbling with anger - Stan laughingly called him Saddam Husseine. Poor turkey, he did not deserve such shameful allegory, and I instantly forgave his outburst.
 All his life Stan had been a miner and he now enjoyed retirement by building model airplanes and taking care of his animals. His son after first marriage is married to a daughter of Mary, and Stan with Mary share between them 13 grandchildren and 5 great grand children who consume some extra eggs and other crops from this farm. After dinner we touched one of the most widely discussed problems in this country, the abortion issue, and Mary insisted that each abortion is killing a human soul. Being a follower of the reincarnation theory, I could not agree with her, arguing that the soul is imperishable, and would always be able to find the proper body. With such terrible overpopulation in the World, each human being born takes the space and resources of a wild animal. Humankind is the enemy of Nature, destroying it like a rapidly growing cancerous tumor. If the reincarnation theory is right and the human soul cannot be divided or multiplied, millions of a newborn humans have no proper soul at all and perhaps just inherit the souls of a perished animal. In my book, Mary wrote the following message: "Dear Anatoly, when I saw the message love and peace on your cart it spoke to my heart. My blessed Lord came to this earth teaching love and peace. If everyone wanted to teach and follow those precious words, this would truly be a wonderful world. I wish we were wealthy so we could help you in your journey. You will be in our thoughts and prayers as your Vanya takes you onward. Take care of yourself and Vanya. He is truly a beautiful animal. Sincerely yours in Christ, Stan + Mary."
 My dearest friends Stan and Mary stood at the top of the hill and waved as I was going down to meet new friends, never forgetting old ones. Going across shining under spring sun town of Wheeling I was stopped by reporter Jenifer Lyn from WTRF-TV-7, and shortly after that by Kelly Tounsend from WTOV-9, who decided to drive with me for a couple of miles. Her eyes were green as the color of today's St. Patrick's day and I immediately fell in love with her, at least for the time she was around me. On the tarpaulin of my buggy, Kelly signed her well wish, but as all these of the hundreds of other well wishes, it faded out in two months under the blasting energy of the Sun and the time.
 To cross the Ohio River I needed the police escort that was provided by a police-woman who safely delivered me to Bridgeport. I used to frequent kissing women in an appreciation of their help, but never done it with females in uniform. Perhaps, the incantation should not have any uniformity. Actually, shut up, Anatoly!
 After proceeding on to Lansing I wandered around for a couple of hours, stopping at bars and gas-stations, enquiring about possible accommodation, I even renamed that town in Everlasting. Nevertheless, I was finally saved by Ben Taylor, boy of 14, who approached riding a bike and suggested that I follow him to the farm of his neighbor, Virginia Zlenn. Virginia was not home, but her roommates phoned to the veterinarian clinic where she worked and got permission to put my horse in her grazing field. Vanya was happy and I found some time to help Ben with the installation of a new rear-view mirror, which had broken long time ago. I should admit that his metalworkers skills were overwhelmingly superior to mine. Ben is part of a big family with many small children. His mother does not work and his father has only a part-time job. Prospects for such bright boy to get a higher education are very slim. However, he hopes to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps and in this way earn College Scholarship. He was elated when I gave him the emblem of the U.S. Marine - "Golden Eagle," presented to me by retired Major of U.S. Marines Joe Burroughs in Blain, Pennsylvania, and I was happy to assist such a continuity between the former and future Marines.
 Soon my host Virginia returned after helping her boy friend to take care of his farm. He recently was seriously injured by his rowdy horse and could not work for a while. Farming actually is one is the most dangerous occupations, and most of accidents happens with using machinery and chemicals. Virginia's father, at around my own age, committed suicide after learning that he was ill with a progressive paralysis, and his wife has abandoned him before that. Good Lord, how much pain and suffering You let exist on this Earth!
 While we were watching TV-news coverage of my expedition, the State Police called and asked us to come and take my horse from their custody in Blaine, four miles west of our location. Grazing around Virginia's field my horse had eventually found a gap in the fence and decided to go by himself toward the Pacific Ocean by way of the First National Road. When we arrived, the police squad car was parked with its flashing lights on. Near by my naughty Vanya was tethered to a tree, grazing but he looked a bit surprised with so much hubbub about his own adventure. I expressed my deepest appreciation to the officers, though I still have no idea how they managed to discover find my whereabouts and make a call to my hostess. Is it means that police always know our location? After making a knot around his neck, I took the end of a rope and pulled Vanya four miles back to farm along the road-shoulder in the absolute darkness of midnight. It was a bit dangerous because oncoming drivers were panicked to see the huge figure of horse on the road. Only when I was finally getting close to farm, absolutely exhausted, I had the idea that it would be easier just to ride the horse - how frequently we are smart by our postmortem quickness!
 Next morning I was going west on the same road which I had traveled east the night before. I stopped at the "Ohio Valley Mall" to print my rolls of film and meet with Eugene ("Doc") Householder, Executive Director of Belmont County Tourism Council, who recommended that I plan to stay overnight with his friend Clifford Collins in Bethesda. Doc's been fighting for the post of County Commissioner in company of 9 pretenders. On the way to the County Seat, town of St. Clairsville I noticed a lot of posters and billboards with the names of candidates for the elected posts of Commissioner, Treasure and other official positions. It looked like my new friend Doc did not have enough of money for a contemporary election campaign, because his name was flashed very rarely on the sides of the National Road.
 In St. Clairsville there was a lot of activity connected with the preliminary elections - TV crews were interviewing politicians, the front steps of Courthouse were occupied with supporters or opposers of the current administration. Even I was partially involved in this handicap when the current Commissioner John Pollork came out and greeted me under the shooting cameras of media.
After extricating myself from this political bedlam, I got a little crazy myself and entered Interstate 70. I'd but managed to drive just a couple of miles before being stopped by State Trooper Dennis Conrad, who told me, "Despite of all my respect for your expedition, get out of here with your horse at the next exit 213." Being honest as much as possible, I should admit that I had no choice but taking Interstate 70 because Rte. 40 ceased to exist after a few miles and became the highway. In order to go farther west I had to go south-west by 147 Road. Passing through the small town of Bethesda, I noticed a trailer park. Each time when I pass these shantytowns of America, I feel depressed. Many inhabitants of those trailers live on public assistance with no hope or desire to get job and this aura of depression besieges those dwellings.
 Doc Householder's buddy, the huge and friendly Clifford Collins was waiting for us outside his spacious and almost empty house. Clifford is a retired bachelor who keeps himself busy raising 24 horses and playing with three grandchildren. Sometimes his daughter comes to fix dinner but mostly he is being trying to cook for himself. That evening we opened for a dinner three cans of "Cambel's" soup glorified by artist Andy Worhal and the soup was as tasty and sophisticated as that artist was.
Clifford would have liked us to stay longer but I needed to keep my schedule and to move at least a few miles every day. Besides, it was no beautiful woman in radius of at least five miles, and I always get wilt not seeing at least one woman per day or per square mile. Passing the next day through Barnesville, I was soaked with a pouring rain. Luckily I was stopped by a young man standing on the roadside who waved to me to pull in at the next farm. He said that his father was a fan of draft horses and would be happy to shelter his soul mate. His father Tom Weleh came from a house as large as a castle and placed my horse, together with the wagon, in a spacious newly-built barn. The old barn had burned down while the family was on vacation. Some horses had died in the blaze but one managed to survive even with 90% of its skin having burned, it is recuperating. Tom was close to 60, stocky with a red beard and friendly smile. Recently he transferred the management of his family construction company to the sons and went into semi-retirement raising horses and cattle. Even in the winter time his cattle live outside finding shelter under the trees and shrubs of the river valley. Tom drove with me to check on their well-being, and to fix a fence broken by wild animals. Who else could take care of his cattle? Tom felt needed by his animals, and found satisfaction being the Essence of their Universe. Watching him I thought that our Good Lord would perish with boredom were he not in charge of such restless creatures as humans.
 Later on Tom invited me to visit some kind of men's club hidden in a hunter's cabin deep in the forest. Each Wednesday executives and other influential men of Barnesville have been coming without their wives to this secluded place to discuss the current problems of the town, their own mutual interests and simply to rest after business and family-life, just to feel free, for a while, from any obligations. About 15 men congregated in a small hut, barbecuing, playing cards, drinking whisky and teasing each other nonstop. A snowstorm was furring outside but we were comfortable and free. Somebody said that Freedom is an apprehended Necessity, but I am pretty sure that Freedom is usually the not apprehended Necessity.
 We got back to the farm after midnight and went straight to the barn for a bit of communication with our animals, and I ended up talking with Tom about the sense of life, drinking home-made wine until 3 a.m. Tom confessed a sense of "deja vue," that this very conversation had happened already between us, perhaps in a previous life. I was close to the same recognition, but then his wife Kathryn came to incarcerate us in separate rooms for the safety of our current lives.
 
 
 I spent that night sleeping in a waterbed with a temperature regulator that I did not know how to operate, so the water was boiling under and around my body. For breakfast, Tom brought us to the American Legion Club, of which he was a member. Eating near by us was a local beggar who supplemented his veteran's pension by collecting empty bottles and cans. He paid $3.40 for his meal and left a 50-cent tip to the bartender. Suffering after hangover, but trying to warm up my tepid mind, I automatically figured out that this generosity cost him ten empty bottles or one working hour. About such people whom I was that morning in Russia they say, "And you are handsome not in good place, and smart you are not in proper time."
 Later that afternoon Chris Graham, a teacher at the Barnesville Elementary School, asked if I would talk with her pupils and I was happy to. Those beautiful kids were so interested about horses and the life of kids in Russia, that I did not want to leave their class. It was not so much difference between them and Russian children. Just most of them did not know the feeling of craving, having always around some snacks. Last year I was taking subway in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was a long ride and across me on bench was sitting boy about twelve years-old with his mother. She gave him to carry a loaf of brown bread. As all the kids, he started to taste it from tasty crust, but he was so hungry that to end of the ride he almost finished this snack and, perhaps, the single days meal.
 But here twelve years-old Emilya Kinson made fantastic drawing in my ledger of her school and the pumpkin festival in her town, and a teacher inscribed this good wish: "Dear Anatoly, how lucky we were, at our school, to be blessed by your visit. The children will long remember your mission and wisdom that you shared. We wish you a safe journey." They handed me a few envelopes with return address and asked to inform about my progress down the road, and I did wrote them couple letters on the way. Hello kids again from this page!
 For a dinner-party in the home of Tom and Kathryn came all their sons with their families, and their grandsons were even bigger than the sons - beautiful kids with light skin and wide, blue eyes, and looked like they were cooked in the good "melting pot". I was privileged being accepted in this big family of people proud of their past and optimistic about their future.
         
THE NATIONAL ROAD
          March 21
         
         
 
 I  didn't  want to leave this hospitable house with a hot bed,  Jacuzzi,  good food and new issues of "Readers Digest" and  "National  Geographic"  but I know very well that any hospitality  has its  limits.  My arrival had disrupted the routine of my host's life, and would be a burden as soon as they notice it themselves.
 Snow  was  blowing  in  my  face by a cold western wind; these  rural  gravel  roads  were empty. Farmers don't drive very much off season, and spring-time was very late this year.  Coming to Quaker City I hoped to meet with the students of the Quaker College located there but everybody was on a spring recess.
 This, now peaceful, neighborhood of rolling hills and bubbling streams was actually a battle ground of the Revolution wars. That time most of American Indians were on side of British who opposed new settlements of colonists. Not surprisingly, the Indians were regarded by American as nuisances and had to be wipe out from their hunting grounds. The Iroquois tribes of Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas retreated into Canada when the 13 states achieved independence.
 But not all the Indians were on the War Path. One of Algonquin tribes of Pennsylvania Delawares was converted to Christianity by German missionaries and bounded to a Quaker- like creed of peace and nonviolence. The Moravian Indians, as  they  were  called,  moved  from  they native grounds to dwell  in  neat  village of Gnadenhutten, located just a few mile  north  from  my  path.  They bred horses and cattle, ploughed the soil, and worshiped to God following his advice turning the other cheek to persecutor.
 But Americans believed that the villagers were harboring hostile  warriors  and  one  day in March, 1782, militiamen, led  by  Colonel  David  Williamson,  herded  men, women and children  into  the  church  where  they  were  given  a few minutes   to   sing   to   "the   most  High"  before  being slaughtered. This brutal deed sparkled a new wave of violence, and Delaware Indians, thirsting for revenge, captured Colonel William Crawford. He was innocent of any connection to that killing but just substituted Williamson as the commander of           militiamen.Crawford  was  tethered  to  the  stake  by  a long leash inside  a  ring  of  fire,  His inquisitors thumped him with embers and  pierced  his  body  with  red-hot poles. Before roasting him for two hours, they torn off his ears and genitals, as well as parched his body with gunpowder fired at point-blank range.
 Actually, at that inquisitive times torture was common and in New Amsterdam in 1643 a crowd of Dutchmen flayed an Indian alive while the governor "laughed right heartily." But only Indians, victors as well as victims, accepted torture of enemy as a means of revenge and triumph. Torture was not one-sided process but the battle ground of honor for the helpless victim as well.
 In  written  by  Paul  O'Neil  book "The Frontiersmen," I found  the  memories  of  Antoine  de la Mothe Cadillac, the commandant  of  the  French post near Lake Huron in the late 17th  century. He described torture as theatrical stage where both martyrs and inquisitors compete for better performance. Being  myself  a bit masochistic, I can't help but  quote  these  notes: "First  the women caress them and take  them  to  their cabins. They anoint them and give them food, urging them to conserve strength to suffer the longer and more courageously.  Suddenly  their feminine sweetness changes  into  despair  and diabolical fury; and this is the way  the  woman  who has demanded a prisoner's death informs him  of  the  fate that awaits him. She calls upon the shade of her husband or son, who has been killed or burned, and speaks: "Come hither my son; today I have a feast of fresh meat for you; accept this sacrifice I am making of this brave warrior.  Rejoice, my dear son, he will be roasted and his genitals will be torn out; we will drink from his skull, we will tear off his scalp.'  One of the the warriors now enters and says, Take courage, my brother. You are to be burned." The other replies: 'All right and thanks for the news you bring me.' At the same moment a horrible cry is raised   throughout the village. This cry is called a Sakakua. They seize him, take him away and fasten him to the stake.
These sinister preparations, which should make the man shudder, only serve, however, as a means of showing his scorn for his tyrants. He chants his death song in a bold  voice,  recounting  all  the warlike deeds he has done during  his  life  and the manner in which he has burned his prisoners,  encouraging  those  around him not to spare him, and  to  put  him to death as a warrior. I do not think that all this talk is entirely sincere; it is certain, however, that his gaze is steadfast and countenance tranquil. "But is a time to open the ball and see how the chief actors are made to dance. The first step the prisoners are put through is tearing the nails from their hands, one after another, with teeth. They then put the victim's fingers in the bowl of the pipe and thus smoke the victims fingers, one after another. After this little feast, five or  six  workers take up burning firebrands; they apply them to  his  ankles,  wrists, and temples, and do not take them away  until  nerves  and  flesh  are burned to the bone. The third is a necklace of glowing hatchets, made red hot in the fire over the shoulders. Each of them cuts off a piece of the buttocks with his knife, which he broils and eats without any seasoning. The women have kettles of boiling water ready, which they pour over these wounds. From time to time they pierce his neck and armpits with red-hot irons.
They burn his genitals with birch-bark, which gives a very hot and penetrating flame."It might also be thought that anyone tortured in this way must shed tears or utter pitiful cries. But most of them  taunt their tormentors, calling them cowards and women who  lack a courage  to  cut them up into bits; and if any part  of  them  has  escaped being burned, they point it out themselves  and  speak  to  them like this: 'if you are ever taken  prisoners  by  my tribe and are burned in my village, do  not weep or cry out: a true warrior should die as I do.'
Last  of all they take off his scalp and throw hot ashes and sand  upon the raw and bleeding flesh, and cut off his head, while  all  the  village resounds  with  shouts  of joy and  delight,  as  they  had  won  a great victory. Whoever reads this  short  description  may  perhaps  have  difficulty  in believing  that anyone can bear such suffering without dying -  they do not leave him a nerve or any artery which had not been  subjected  to  the  fire  or  the  knife  -  but it is absolutely  true. The terrible practice is especially common with the Iroquois, who burn their slaves by inches for four or five days on end."
But no traces of Indians left in this neighborhood of Old Washington.  I phoned to Ed, presumably my soul-mate as an owner of Percheron draft horses, and asked his help with accommodation. He   came and  guided  us  to  the  local fairgrounds  with a  race-track  and stables, where a stall was  found  for  my  horse  but  no grain or hay. Very soon, however, some horse people found me a bale of hay and a lot of grain.
Idling  around,  I  witnessed  as  the  young  horse  was brought  from  the  herd to tame it for cart racing. She was tethered to the cart by rope and was pulled behind. She  didn't  want  to  follow  it  at  all,  and being scared was jumping,  falling on the ground and neighing in despair. But elder and experienced horse was making its job of pulling and taming as they used to do with her a few years ago. She knew that her mate was raised for races in between two wooden poles and very soon she will be happy running inside them and happy to win the prizes.
For  my  own accommodation I was given a blacksmith shop with  broken  windows  and  doors but with a pot-belly stove and  a  lot of firewood. I covered the broken windows with a plastic tarp, insulated the doors with a spare blanket and made a good fire by cutting boards and planks. Very soon my shack was transformed in my home. Salami was sliced and broiled on the open fire, making some kind of shish-kebab; I opened a bottle of Tom's home-made wine and enjoyed the coziness of primitive vivacity. About  45  years ago I had been sitting the same way near a  wood-burning  stove at  the  Yaya  rail-road  station in Siberia,  and  the  same  kind  of  winter-storm was raging outside. Being young and idealistic I had gone there after graduating high school to help my country the USSR to build Communism. For two years I worked as a construction worker building electric-transformer stations for the electrification of railroad to run between Moscow and Vladivostok. I was happy to give my life for welfare of my country. That country has ceased to exist; now I am sitting in Old Washington and drinking wine to the glory and failures of mankind.
 Snow was all around the next morning but road conditions were acceptable for driving to Zanesville to visit "The National Road/Zane Gray Museum." This museum was created to commemorate the construction of the First National Road, which took 29 years. By 1840, this road stretched from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois. Using pickaxes and shovels, workers dug roadbeds twelve to eighteen inches deep, then filled the beds with broken stone and rolled it to form a level surface 66 feet-wide; it stretched 600 miles and cost about $7 million.
 For several decades it was called the "Main Street of America that opened the heart of the nation for commerce and settlement. Huge Conestoga wagons, the tractor-trailer rigs  of those times, hauled produce from the frontier farms to the East Coast, and  rolled  back the other direction bringing  industrial  products,  coffee and  sugar  for the western settlements. Stagecoaches travelled the route on regular schedules, and thousands of families moved west on the road in covered wagons. And  now  I  am  going by the same road by the same kind  of  transportation, making  stops as my predecessors used to do to "water the horses and brandy the gentlemen." Because of repair work being done on a bridge, Vanya and I were derailed from Rte. 40 onto local gravel and hilly roads and came to Zanesville absolutely exhausted and late.
   Museum  manager  Alan  King  was jut taking down the flag when I  pulled  in  to  the  front-yard. He was hospitable enough allowing me to observe the exhibition although they were closed. Especially interesting for me were exhibits of different kinds of harnesses and an original Conestoga wagon, which could carry about 5,000 pounds of merchandise and was pulled by six horses. After an examination of its brake-system I found why, in car-part lingo, such term as brake shoes still are used. On these antique wagons, old leather shoes here once used as brake pads. A substantial portion of this museum is dedicated to the life and works of Zane Gray. The allure of the frontier life was celebrated in his books which helped to create the image of the West so familiar to Americans now.
 Gray was born in Zanesville, which was named after his great-grandfathers estate.  After several years practising dentistry, he changed his occupation to become a writer of historical novels.  His famous best-seller "Riders of the Purple Sage made his name known to Hollywood dreamers who concocted his and their own vision in about 100 westerns. The personification of good American men of the land, as well as moral frontiers, was created by him and John Wayne.
The "political incorrectness" of Hollywood dreamers concerning the moral correctness of white frontier men was expressed in movies of the first half of this century, but was corrected by the dreamers of the second half of it. The new movies turned the tables on the old westerns. Now blacks or American Indians are supposed to be good and carry the sense of indigenous morality. The "John Waynes" were transformed into murderers and cowards, killing or being killed by the innocent and honest indigenous people. Was this revenge?
 The  history,  if  not  of Mankind itself at least of its Literature,  has  been  rewritten or sometimes banned in the school-books  in  this  country.  The heroes of Mark Twain's books can no longer use the N words without risking banishment from school-libraries.
 I  was  also  astonished  watching  a remake of the movie "The  adventures  of  Robinson  Crusoe."  In the new version Crusoe's  former  friend  and  servant,  indigenous American Friday in the end burned down their house, and his former boss  Robinson  lay  down  beneath  the  foot of his former servant Friday. Such a perversion of literary history won't help to heal an old wound, but can create new ones. While  I'm  on  this rampage, what is worst is that there  are  so  many  TV-talk show ghosts in this country who bring on  stage  so  many perverts, who never otherwise would ever be  visible  or  make  the  chance to infect the society had their  behavioral  lunacy not been exposed to the television audience. These shows give the opportunity for such injurious individuals to be in the limelight, licensing their behavior as if it were valuable. Actually, I have to admit  that watching the TV-shows addressed  to  the  Bible  Belt population about how to be a goody-goody,  drives  me  even  crazier.  I guess I dont appreciate any extreme.
 In the meantime my host Alan invited a reporter from TV-18 to cover my visiting the Museum, and he arrived promptly to interview me sitting at the front of my buggy. My horse was in hitch, tied to a tree in the middle of lawn. During our conversation my dear Vanya suddenly fell down on his right side, breaking the wagon shafts and moving his feet convulsively. I  raced  toward  him  as  fast  as  I  could and cut his harness  off to free him, after which he managed to stand up again. The camera-man had continued shooting this scenario non-stop, and very soon left to assemble his program leaving me to fix the damage.
Alan  immediately  called to maintain  men Jim and Matt Shrigley  who  very  promptly  found  two  tree  trunks  and crafted  a  new  shafts  from  them.  Only  afterwards did I realize  a  possible  outcome  of  this  accident  - if this episode  were shown on television, hundreds of animal lovers and animal abuse activists might call the police or to the state's  animal  protection agency and I will be stopped and maybe even arrested for cruelty toward my horse. I felt responsible for Vanya's accident which happened because of my foolishness. Tethering him up to the tree I didnt pay attention to the soft ground he was on. Stamping his heavy feet on this ground he finally was stuck in it and fell down. But who would believe this simple explanation of my misbehavior. I  immediately  phoned  to the TV-station's  office and requested  that  they  cut  the  footage  of my horse on the ground  or  completely  cancel  the report about my arrival.
  When  later that night I was invited by David Carter to stay free of  charge  in his "Baker's Motel," he told me that on the  news  they had shown just the broken shafts, not airing the  portion  of the film that captured my poor horse on the ground. Thank God.
 
 HORSESHOING
 March 23
 
 Making a morning check-up of Vanyas body I found that he needed to have his shoes changed and asked my host to enquire about local farrier. He recalled that the Sheriff of Muskingum County used to be a horseshoer and phoned him. Very soon Berny Gibson came without tools but with a suggestion that we stop at his "Bernie's Kountry Kitchen" for a dinner and afterwards follow him to the local Fairgrounds' stables to find the proper farrier. Bernie used to be the local horseshoer 12 years ago until he decided that he would rather be the local Sheriff. Surprisingly, he won the elections and since that time has forgotten how to shoe, but has acquired a new skill of handcuffing. "Actually, Anatoly," he told me, "you don't lose your skills if you used to be good with it. If they don't vote for me next time I'll very easy recollect my skills and shoe horses again."
 As I pulled up to his restaurant in the eastern part of Zanesville, I was greeted by his wife Sandy, who made a fantastic beef Stroganoff especially for her Russian guest. Recalling his former horse-skills Bernie managed to make a whip combining a fishing pole with a clothesline. However, trust me - I've practically never used it against my beloved Vanya.
 On the way to the Fairgrounds I was encountered by a newly-wed couple of Wolfes. Tim just recently brought his wife Irina from Ukraine. At 58, he found his wife who is almost 30 years younger and they are happy with each other. Only a few years before he had lost a lot of money, and eventually lost his family. It took about five years for him to recover and start a new life - with his wife he opened a new company called "Stellar" for importing custom-made candles from Europe to sell in this country.
It had been long time since Irina had seen Russian in this neighborhood. She was excited by our chance meeting, and wrote in my ledger in Russian this wish, "Anatoly. I am very happy by our meeting, happy that the world is small, people here like, and understand us. Good luck."
 We drove to the Fairgrounds under police escort, courtesy of the Sheriff. There I was met by Raymond Brandt, trainer and driver of horses who extended his best to my horse and promised that the farrier would be along to do the shoeing. While we waited, I wandered around stables and met a woman who keeps her horse there as a pet. She has no time or money to train or ride her horse, but for years she kept her thoroughbred not even in a paddock but in a stall with almost no movement. I believe this horse was literally sacrificed by its owner to die of a heart attack or some other disease, never experiencing the freedom of galloping, it was victim of humanity. In spite of this certainly unconscious cruelty, the woman was a good person per se and brought "Red Dog" beer and foodstuff for Raymond and me gave me permission to take whatever I liked from the refrigerator in the office.
 Farrier Bryan Tubb came later after rounds of serving his clientele in this area. He welded boron metal called hardtack to horseshoes to make them more durable and shod my horse meticulously and very professionally with no charge.
 I made myself comfortable in the wagon writing in my diary. While this enterprise was going forward, I was visited by the deputy sheriff who just wanted to check whether everything was OK. It was. Thank you, good people, for your generosity and hospitality.
 
COLUMBUS
March 25
 
Coming in to famous by its tomatoes Reynoldsburg, I thought I might find shelter through the police office and made appointment with Chief of Police Jeanne Miller. In a spacious office seated a gorgeous young woman smiling at me and, perhaps, at my unusual outfit. On the wall among a number of family photos, hung one of Jeanne as teenager practicing on the firing range. Perhaps, in such a way she was showing, that always dreamed to be the police officer.
And she helped me out by assigning an officer to the duty of escorting and finding shelter for me in this area. Walking after the officer with unbelievable huge rear parts, I was curious what she will do if her uniform trousers will tear in two parts down meridian and two semi-globes will be exposed.
However, she brought us safe to Indian Creek Veterinary Hospital. All its staff joined the effort of finding accommodation for us, but they had no grazing field or stables for my horse. In the meantime, however, I learn some quite interesting news about the last advances in veterinary technology.
These days they can insert a miniature chip with a transmitter under the skin of the animal, so a pet owner could very easy locate a lost animal through his receiver. This could be a very useful invention for my horse who has the tendency to run off, but I didnt have the money for such a luxury.
Until I could find a proper place, Vanya was tethered to an apple tree, consuming the hay and fruits brought by people from the neighborhood. However, suddenly, just as it had happened a few days ago in Zanesville, he fell down on his right side of his body and started fighting to regain his posture and dignity. Again, I ran with a knife and cut his harness to ease his efforts. When he woke, the picture of his downfall was frustrating. Again he had broken both shafts, his harness was in a mess and my horse was trembling with the aftershock. It looked like I had not learned anything after the last mistake. He stuck in mud again and again had lost his balance.
A lot of people came to offer various suggestion to help. Beautiful as young Gypsy, Melody Tankovich called her husband Bruce and he came in 15 minutes, smirked surpassingly at the scene, then loaded the broken shafts in his truck and promised to bring the new ones in a couple of hours.
Kathy Moor, who witnessed the accident, decided that Vanya would be better off in her back-yard. I left my wagon unattended hoping that nobody in this friendly surrounding would loot it, and rode Vanya down residential roads towards Kathys house.
I doubt that the residents of that area had ever seen a picture like that - my mighty horse filled the entire street, his heavy shoes clattered on the pavement. Local kids left their computer games and cartoons and with awe followed the real horse.
Vanya was barely able to squeeze through Kahys wicket gate where he found himself in a kind of enclosure which he had never seen before, with swings, seed-beds, a miniature pool, toys and other human nonsense. The smells and sounds of this city enclosure were unfamiliar and Vanya started running around, endangering himself and property. Only after he was brought a bale of hay and some grain did he calm down and realize that it was better to eat than to run.
Close to midnight, Bruce came with the new shafts and we installed them under flashlights. I have always been surprised at how fast and effectively Americans can work if they dont do it for government or big company - post offices in this country especially drive me crazy.
After completing this task we sat together - my hosts and Bruces family, and talked about life and I was happy that because of my mishap two these families were befriended.
The next morning I took Rte. 16, which brought me straight to the Capitol in Columbus. I dont think that the Governor George Voinovich (perhaps of Slavonic ancestry) was up to seeing me, but his representative August Pust gave me a tour around the Capitol. He placed the state seal in my ledger, and even tried to write in Russian: Za wash uspeh which stands for good luck.
Outside of the Capitol I was awaited by mounted policeman Donnie Christian who escorted me to the stables of the mounted police. Their office was outdated and crowded with old garbage, but their stables and training arena were in perfect shape. Before letting my horse in, their veterinarian checked up his paperwork and gave him physical. He found Vanya healthy enough to co-habitat with the police horses.
The Columbus police thought it inappropriate for my honorary guest status to sleep in my buggy and offered to get me a room at the Economy Inn. I could not reject such generosity and Donnie brought me over to the Inn.
As Id already discovered, in this country many small hotels and motels are owned by immigrants from India, frequently they even have the same last name, Patel, as happened to be the case here as well. Indians like also to acquire newsstands and never in competition with the Korean immigrants for the fruit shops.
This hotel was filled with the smell of old moldy carpets, mixed with an unpleasant urine effluvium. It was also colder inside than outside which pushed me to the street and I decided to go downtown.
My friend Kathy gave me the telephone number of her confidante Marcia Barck, the owner of small hotel called The Lansing Street Bed and Breakfast which was located in historic German Village. I phoned Marcia and she invited me for dinner later that night, so having nothing to fill the intervening hours I decided to walk there.
When I had driven through this area a few hours ago, Id been greeted by everybody, people rushed to talk, shake my hand, and ask for my signature. Now walking down the street with no horse around, I was transformed to Everyone, just part of crowd, or maybe even looked a like suspicious, because in this country normal people dont walk; they drive a cars.
My numerous attempts to stop a passing car to ask about the direction were useless, and I found that without my horse I was nothing.
German Village that evening was as boring as the symphonies of Hayden and Mahler being played together. It was something opposite to Greenwich Village in New York City or Soho in London. The street were empty and I had impression that inside home all the aborigines, bored with Mahler were practicing Indian music on sitars to play it here at German beer Oktoberfest once a year.
Marcias pension wasnt the night cabaret either and could accommodate three patrons but when I came, only a businessman from Detroit Richard Kort was enjoying the hospitality and cuisine of its respectable owner. Rich was allergic to crowded plush hotels and preferred to stay in such cozy Inns. Marcias inside decor is in the English style; outside she prefers Japanese, with Hokusai-style pines.
For about two hours I was trying to balance her two styles being a gentleman and a samurai the same time, but the wine was finished and there was no sake to take its place. Eventually, I asked Rich to give me a lift to my filthy hideout.

PRESIDENTBURGER
March 27
         
The Old National Road was becoming straighter and flat which Vanya and I appreciated very much. Those old road-builders were sophisticated to such an extend,  that  laid  out  the  road so there was no grade in excess of   five  egrees,  which  equals  8.75  yards  of elevation  on  each  100  yards  of  the  road  - remarkable standard  for  the  time  in  so  mountainous a country. The Interstate Highway Act nowadays allows grades of up to 7 yards for each 100 yards of the road in rugged terrain.
It  was  delightful  to  observe  along  the way an old, decorated  by  wild  vegetation  stone  bridges abandoned by modern  straight  road. These "S"- ridges, so called because of their shape, were the monuments to the Americans who compensated lack of sophistication by gusto of elegance.
The  engineers  of  those  time  found it more difficult and expensive  to  construct  a bridges where the road crossed a stream  obliquely  than where it crossed perpendicularly. So these duteous builders made the crossings straight and fluently curved the bridges around and back in the shape of an "S".
In  Lafayette  I  was attracted by a two-story red-brick building  in  the  colonial  style.  On  the front was a big sign: "Red  Brick  Tavern"  with  a  picture  of stagecoach pulled  by  horses;  it  obviously  had been built long time ago.  I  pulled  to side of the building, got Vanya tethered to  an  old  iron  ring,  and  went  inside  to  satisfy  my curiosity about the place. The  owners, Gene  and  Shirley  Freet,  were  happy to accommodate  the  first  horseman  with coach after so many years serving to busy-fast car drivers. Strategically  located  on  the First National Road, this tavern  was opened  in  1837  and  used to accommodate many travelling  dignitaries ncluding U.S. Presidents Adams, Van Buren, Garrison, Tyler, Taylor, and Harding.
Freet's  family  feels  a  great  responsibility  as  the keepers  of  such  a  historical  landmark.  Old  and  well-preserved  fireplaces  are  decorated  with copper cook-ware from  the last century; on the walls are good oil paintings, and   daguerreotypes   in   which  upper  class  women  have dedicated themselves to eternal life.
Upstairs   rooms   that   had been bedrooms have been transformed into dining rooms, where business parties are served for contemporary gentry.  Nowadays these gentry consist of lawyers, stockbrokers, doctors, and real estate agents.  They eat mostly health food with bean sprouts, and work their cellular phones to check rates on the Chicago and New York stock exchanges. The  whole  staff of the old tavern came out to greet and feed  my  horse,  while  in  the  meantime, restaurant chief served  their  traditional  beefsteak  with red wine, strong coffee  and  carrot  cake,  charged to the house. As a quite unusual guest I was asked to sign their honorable guests book - 75 years after Warren Gamaliel Harding and some time before the next President. Just  recently  the  Freets had been waiting to receive a young  and restless president Clinton traveling in this area doing some fund-raising  but  he  didn't  show up. I later found out the reason why.
After leaving the tavern I traveled a couple hours to reach the crossroad with Rte. 56. "Charlie's House of Meats & Deli"   attracted   my attention because of its big advertisement    board   -   "Here You can taste the Bush" at any time in the future.
In his shop Charlie told me, that a few days ago when president's cavalcade was passing this crossroad, he raised this big sign, suggesting tasting his hybrid of President and beef. Curious, the President stopped by, and spent some time eating and talking with Charlie, causing him to his scheduled dinner with local authorities at the "Red Brick Tavern."
The taverns owners, as well as the county administration, were so upset and angry about Presidents missing the planned assembly, that they decided to retaliate, closing Charlies shop. The Health Department found that he hadnt any restaurant licence for selling hamburgers and, especially Presidentburgers. But Charlie's response was very simple, "I didn't take any money from the President - Giving a gift isn't selling, go to Hell!"
The locals decided not to bother him any more, once they found out that his shop has gained landmark status in Franklin County. Charlie himself is already planning a dive nto politics. Thanks to the Presidentburger.
I tasted it and found that Presidebtburger was perfectly matching to its counterpart: juicy and spicy, but perfectly tasty. It would be a good idea for Charlie to open chain of the Burger-President fast-food restaurants around this Country to counterpart the existing Burger-King and glorify himself and the President. After some more chitchat, Charlie loaded me up with some smoked salami, and advised me to stop overnight next-door at "Mara Rae Stables."
The  owners,  Kim  and Tom Casto, breed and train quarter horses   at  their  small  farm  named  for  their  bellowed daughter  Mara;  they  belonged  to the fraternity of horse-lovers, who accepted me with open arms.       
   Before anchoring at this haven of Love, Tom had managed to cross the turbulent waters of Life with many scars and bruises.  When  he  was  young,  he  had  spent 18 months in Vietnam  as  sergeant  of  ground  search  patrol. This duty earned  him  a  lot  of  decorations  but  he  lost a lot of friends and took a lot of enemy's lives.
  When  with  his pack of disillusioned and exhausted mates he got back to San  Francisco,  platoons  of  faggoted students,  who  had managed to avoid the draft and had never seen  the  hell  of war, met him with nauseating slogans and rotten  eggs  of  hate.  Tom  was  so  upset  by this unfair reception  in  his  own  country,  that he sent back all his decorations  to  the  Government.  Even now he's still very bitter, You know, in Vietnam Americans won all the battles but lost the war.  Not we - the GIs, but those idiots in Washington, who didnt know what they were doing. Many of my pals perished under "friendly fire," and it isn't over yet.  If  I  had  my  way,  I'd  kill  all  those  who  were responsible for our dead."
  As  I  recalled  those  already  long  gone  times of the Vietnam  war,  I told him, that we - Russian intelligentsia, for  the  most  part, had been on the side of the Americans. For us it was a battle between Good and Evil, Democracy and Communism. And Evil had won the victory. Perhaps, looking back from this vantage point, Americans were right to pull out of Vietnam and allow their enemies and bogus friends to swallow their own manure of nationalism.
   My host and new friend Tom managed to overcome a lot of suffering before he finally found happiness. He'd had open-heart surgery, been divorced, then eventually remarried when he met Kim. And as the prize, their daughter, their jewel was born 5 years ago, when Tom was well past 40. Mara is the princess of their castle, and her joyful vibration is the expression of mutual love and attachment of this alliance.
 
CLARK COUNTY
March 27
 
 Down Rte. 40, approaching Clark County's seat, the town of Springfield, I had a mishap with the turntable of my wagon, which required instant repair. Fortunately, it occurred close to John Miller's car repair shop in Harmony and he offered his assistance to fix broken metal bar. After long deliberation, supported by quite a few cans of beer, his team decided that Bryce Hill would be the best person to weld that bar. Being an independent contractor, he was used to variety of performing and was known as a handy man. Slim and tall with green eyes and curly hair, he reminded me of the image of wandering knight who had changed his armor for blue denim. After spending more than two hours mending my buggy he refused taking any money, so as a gesture of my gratitude, I offered him to drive in my wagon across his hometown of Springfield. He was very enthusiastic about such travel and asked to invite his girlfriend along for this trip. Katie Lippincott soon arrived with a case of beer and a cake as her contribution to our expedition. Blond with blue eyes in her twenties, she was exactly in my style but in other's hands. Bryce and Katie sat in the front of the carriage, waving to passing friends and well-wishers, laughing and kissing each other. It was the hour of fame for them and I was almost happy inside, drinking beer and dissolving my envy in it.
 It might be considered as self-glorification but I cannot help but to quote Bryce's note in my ledger, which he made at the end of this trip, "It was more than just crossing of paths. God brought us together to bring strength + wisdom to both of our lives. I thank you for the honor of working on your wagon. The reward of driving through Springfield will be forever in my mind, my heart, + my soul!
 -From days of the past
 -To times of the new
 -The only friends that last
 -Are those who remain true
 -But like a dove in the snow
 -One's feelings sometime hide
 -And only a true friend will know
 -That Love is the purest HIGH
   Love - Peace - Happiness. Bryce Hill"
 
 Bryce and Katie were in love and I was happy for them; I knew that my own evening star Venus was waiting for me somewhere. However, castrated Vanya did not care about such woolgathering and was only interested in hay and grain, which we managed to come on with at the adobe Bryce's friend Dennis.
 Some years ago, Bryce and Dennis used to work together as car-dealers for Chevrolet. After a while, Bryce decided to join his father's business, and resigned. Very soon after that, Dennis left Chevrolet too. He could not bring himself to cheat his customers, which is not an advantage in such a tricky business of selling cars, so he was laid off. Dennis did not waste time feeling sorry for himself or angry at his bosses. He opened his own dealership of buying and selling Corvettes. He was lucky getting into the business when Corvettes were not as fashionable as they are now, and was able to buy them for quite modest prices. He monopolized the market in this area and in boom-times sold his stock with a good profit. Nowadays he owns a good collection of old and modern Corvettes, and a new Mercedes is parked close to his newly built house, which waits only for designer to furnishing it.
For my needs, the stable he built to keep in 12 horses, was perfect when he found an empty stall for Vanya. After taking care of Vanya, Bryce and Katie escorted me back to Bryce's house. Two previous marriages had devastated Bryce's house almost to bare walls; it looked as if Ghengis and Kublai Khans joined their forces to eraser the small farm from existence. Besides taking his furniture and appliances, his ex-wives had moved out his horses and other animals. But there's always existed hope for a new life. Though Bryce is 46 and Katie only 23, they are so much in love that they almost do not need to speak, and some kind of rainbow encompasses them.
 Sleeping on bare floor is good for your posture, my friend-artist Arnold Sharrad has been sleeping such a way for last five years and enjoys it very much. For the better inconvenience he use as mattress of his bed a table top covered just with sheet. Eventually, he insists that sleeping on such a surface improves health and sexual life. Indeed, I felt the next morning fresh and ready to go the next leap toward the west.
 Vanya was in good shape too going from Springfield to Vandalia. But in center of that small town I experienced the most terrible horse misbehavior of my entire trip; it definitely was the result of my own oversight. A loose bolt came out of the wagon shaft and the metal rod dropped the concrete pavement, making a load gritting noise. My horse was so spooked by it that he ran berserk for about 100 yards, and no reins or brakes could stop him. This crazy run took place on a busy main road with vehicles and pedestrians all around. It was only by miracle that he didn't hurt himself or anybody else. After he got used to the noise and slowed down, I managed to stop him in the middle of street. Since that incident, I always remember that I have at my disposal 1,600 pounds of live dynamite, which could explode any time.
 After such a terrible experience, we were rewarded, finding solace on "Aullwood Audubon Center and farm." As its director Charity Krueger explained, "It is a special place where children are taught about the natural world and organic agriculture. We treasure the common things in life - wild flowers, salamanders, spiders, soil and light. By creating awareness, appreciation and knowledge of the environment we hope to build personal stewardship for the earth."
 And indeed, I met children who were living and working there under the supervision of these non-profit farmers. The famous Audubon Society has created many educational centers like this around the world, where they teach people about Mother Nature. I've never before seen such hospitable and natural people working for small salaries and teaching children some basic skills for being human.
 Farm workers Mark Wright and Bob Grimes took care of my horse and fixed all loose bolts and rods on my wagon. I was allowed to stay in the main building, where the farms souvenir shop held a variety of merchandise with thousands dollars. They recognized that I was like them, and trusted me. From the pages of this book, I am expressing my deep appreciation for their wholeness.
 
WEST ON NORTH
March 30

Late in the morning, driving back to the main road, I was greeted by Katie and Bryce, who decided to catch up with me to give me a saddle pad that would fit on the wide back of my horse. For some reason, I do not know why, I asked Bryce if he would join me on this trip. His response was quite witty, You know Anatoly. There are people who should travel, and other ones who should help them on the way. God bless you, Bryce!
In Englewood passing through very tricky crossroad, instead of following Rte. 40 I found myself on 48, and only after a few miles of driving noticed that the sun was shining not at my left, but from behind. There was no excuse for such a deviation - I had not had any alcohol for two days. Thank God, that Vanya was not aware of this circumnavigation. Feeling guilty, I decided to give him a good rest and pooled up to the front yard of huge brand new house located close to the road.
Paul Lewis, Jr. was inside, he didnt hear my coming, vacuuming brand-new carpets, but my request for some water for my horse was met with kindness. Id confess in front of Animal Rights Activists that as a rule I didnt feed my horse any grain in the middle of a drive. Only short time grazing or a couple flakes hay were allowed.
This time I broke the rule and let Vanya have a couple pounds of grain in a mixture of oats, barley, corn and molasses. After watering Vanya, Paul fixed us some sandwiches with rubbery bologna, and some instant coffee - it was some bachelors dinner.
Paul is a bachelor, and earns good money as a sales rep. For the International Pipe Machinery Corp. Perhaps he built this house with three bedrooms and bathrooms for his future family, which existed, in his dream. In this respect Paul reminded me a male bird built its huge and picturesque nest to attract his female counterpart for coming breeding season. I wished him the best in filling this big house with a life.
On the way to Eaton I was stopped by Deputy Sheriffs, Joseph Renner and A. J. Schmidt, who inquire whether I needed any help. From past experience I knew that in searching for our nightly rest spot police were pretty much able only to suggest public facilities that usually had no fenced area. I preferred to find a private farm or ranch.
So, I thanked them and proceeded further on to The Rodeo Shop. My poor horse! Vanya pooled our wagon 25 miles that day instead of the regular 15.
Founded in 1959, The Rodeo Shop in hay days serviced the needs of hundreds of rodeo contestants and their horses of this region. All the walls in office of its owner, Don Lutz, were covered with photos of the young, gorgeous prizewinners of 20 or 30 years ago who wore fashionable that time trousers, wide on the bottom. Worn-out and discolored, these tokens of former glory made my heart ache. I could imagine how much moldier the human originals nowadays look.
Actually, I didnt need to use much imagination since the main hero of that glorious day was with me here. After heart and joint surgery, Don gave up the rodeo business and concentrated on selling rodeo-related merchandise and souvenirs; for my horse, he found everything we needed.
Don invited me to the cafeteria of American Veterans House to sharing a meal. He proudly informed me that just 30 miles north, in Greenville, was born the most famous American woman of the last century, Annie Oakley. To support her family and pay mortgage of their farm she developed skill of marksmanship hunting any kind of game and selling it on local market. She even won the shooting contest from the noted marksman, Frank Butler, by one point and after that they were married. Perhaps Frank decided to justify this American saying: If you cant beat her - marry her. Later they both joined the Buffalo Bill Codys Wild West Show. She could hit a dime in the air from a distance 90 feet or having a playing card tossed in the air and shooting it full of holes before it fell. I can imagine how the macho men of that time felt when these small women overpowered them on their own playground.
Perhaps she made much more for the stake of women equality than all those suffragettes. Most of people make they mark for posterity producing children in a hope that those we will work out something substantial for humankind. But there are some ones who can make own marksmanship during their own life. Annie Oakley managed to do it and died peacefully in 1926, being 68.
We also discussed with Don the spooking incident that had caused such a stirring in Vandalia. Don had a radical tip: to tie a rope around one of my horses legs. In case of spontaneous running, I should just pull rope up, and my horse would not be able to run farther. I still have no idea whether this suggestion was just old horseplay or a real tip, but in his well wish Don stressed, Anatoly, horse with one leg tied up cant run off. Good Luck.
In the Russian army, the newly arrived rookies are usually sent by salty colleagues to sharpen the edges of tanks tracks with a file. Im a rookie in the horse business but hope Ill never again find myself in a situation that requires Dons trick.

EARLHAM COLLEGE
March 31
 
Just after few miles of driving separated my last stop in Gettysburg, Ohio, from the border with State of Indiana, which proclaimed itself The Crossroads of America. Along the way, I found reading Tour Books, published by American Automobile Association (AAA) very useful. There it is noted, that natives of Indiana State are called Hoosiers. This name came with the Kentucky immigrants and referred to mountaineers, and even tramps. I didnt buy such a boring theory, and in other source found the facetious explanation offered by great local poet James Whitcomb Riley (for my knowledge, riley stands for turbid, angry). He suggested that it originated in the belligerent habits of an early settler of this state. They were frenzy and vicious fighters who speared, scratched and bit off noses and ears. That was so common an occurrence that a farmer coming into a tavern the morning after an affair of honor and seeing an ear on the floor would touch it with his toe and casually ask, Whose ear?
Perhaps, his partial namesake and Governor of Indiana James Whitcomb knew essential problems of his compatriots and in time of his tenure 1843-1848 was prompt establishing the Indiana Hospital for Insane and Indiana Asylum for Education of the Deaf and Dumb.
Unfortunately, a famous mountaineer of this state, former Vice President Dan Quayle is mostly known for misspelling the plural for the of word potato in front of a National TV audience. After that, he was portrayed as a moron that is absolutely not true.
Because of his national shame, more Americans now know that the plural for of the potato should be potatoes, not potatos. However, because of this mistake his boss George Bush lost his second election. On the other hand, am I wrong?
Departing from each nightly stop I never knew where I would find the next one. As I crossed the border with Indiana, I very soon found myself in the beautiful and well-preserved town of Richmond. By the way, terminologically, I do not know how to distinguish a town from a city, so let it be called the town with 39,000 residing in it.
Driving through Richmonds historical downtown, with Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian-style homes, I found the local museum, occupying the former Quaker meeting-house. The most interesting there was a collection of horseshoes, which previously had been exhibited at the Chicago Worlds Fair. They had on display about 50 different models of shoes. It would appear as if 100 years ago Americans respected horses as much as their women and even more because they could ride horses.
I was planning to stop for a rest at the campus of Earlham College and called in advance to the security office to get permission to do it. Because it was the weekend, the other offices were closed. Surprisingly, they let me come to the stable area, where the attending students decided themselves, with no seniors approval, to accommodate my horse, and the maintenance people allowed me to take a shower in the students locker room.
Founded in 1847 by Quakers, this college has since then kept high tutorial standards in science and liberal studies. Because this is a private college, the cost of education is quite high, but they have scholarships for gifted students, who come to study here from many countries around the world, and even from Russia.
The next morning I went to the Stout Memorial Meetinghouse to sit and meditate with the professors and students as I used to do in Pennsylvania, reuniting with myself and my surrounding fellow humans in the name of God or the Absolute of Everything.
Richard Holden, Director of Public Information, made arrangements for my lodging in colleges guest house and gave me a pass for free meals in the cafeteria. We also visited the colleges physician who examined me and gave me a good supply of Zantac pills to reduce the pain of my stomach ulcer.
My new friend Richard was busy with public relations, fund raising, and millions of other duties. However, to his great disadvantage he was the cigarette smoker, who had no right to smoke even outside of the building. He was only permitted to smoke in his car or, better yet, off college campus. So, we shared the same complex, to be outcasts, pariahs in this non-smokers world, and smoked driving in his car. I despise such a societys regulation of peoples life and legend of the second-hand smoking, which even in words meaning sounds voiceless. I have a right to be foolish and careless with my own life, because its my own business, and everybody has the right for an euthanasia.
Beautiful and fragile as piece of art, Stephanie Crumley-Effinger, director of Campus Ministry, gave me the directory of Quakers meetings and worship groups around the country and I hope to visit some of them on the way. In my book she signed, Dear Anatoly, Blessings on you in your journey - may you learn and grow with every stop you make, and find hospitable people who will learn from you as well. May you come to know God in new and deeper ways through this journey of faith and peace? It was so nice of her to write this wish. I definitely have learned a lot so far from the people of this beautiful country.
After visiting with the college professors, I was invited to have dinner with Andrew and Deborah Gershman, who were planning their honey-moon trip to Russia. Both were about 50, and after many lives of searching, they finally met and now enjoyed the company of each other dearly. They had married and bought a spacious new house and were in exciting process of refurbishing it. Both physicians, they did not have money problems, so have been able to purchase not just what they need, but what they really wanted. This is possible rarely in my own life.
Andrew was much shorter than Debby but that did not mean that he was not in charge of their new life. Puffing his short pipe and sharing with me his best tobacco, he walked around the new house, directing interior design.
He ordered for all of us in his favorite restaurant and asked many questions about my Fatherland. I advised Debby and him to be careful in big cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg. My country has been internally bleeding after many, so many years of false superiority. People have gotten lost, suddenly finding themselves responsible for their own lives. They have no security, which is of greatest importance for most of them. Freedom does not work well for everybody.

INDIANAPOLIS
April 3
 
I left the College grounds feeling great respect for the people who work and live there. They have created an environment for themselves that was both comfortable and challenging. Still, I was not envious because I could never belong to any campus.
After his long rest, Vanya was strong and prompt and we were happy to be on the road again. I had become so used to greet people on all sides that even when we passed horses or dogs I waved to them automatically.
In the town of Cambridge City I met a very attractive woman Joan Conner who was more familiar than most with the grim circumstances of my country. She left this note in my diary, Sir, Im concerned about the elections in Russia this spring. I hope they will never have a cruel murderous leader again. Please study the prophesy scriptures in the Bible concerning your Country. Welcome here. We love your people.
I always have had some doubts about prophesies and do not believe in oncoming Doomsday. About eight years ago I red book of Nostradamus where was figured out that crack of our civilization scheduled on 1997, now they extended this date in the beginning of the millennium.
It was very hard to find an appropriate place to house ourselves in this region, and we drove almost 20 miles until arrived at a farm near Knightstown. As luck can sometimes have it, after such a long drive, the farm owner happened to be the most inhospitable person I met for the whole distance of my trip.
He allowed my horse to graze on his paddock, but neither he nor his wife came out for even formal communication. They even didnt emerge from their Castle of the Ignorance to watch that nights moon-eclipse, probably not believing that it could happen in such a rural neighborhood. As people around later explained my hosts were newcomers from Indianapolis and did not trust anybody or anything around.
The next morning the local Chief of Police, Dennis Hoppes made an arrangement for my staying with the Mounted Police Squad in Indianapolis on their downtown grounds.
On the way there, I stopped by the Capitol for checking in, and to have the state seal stamped in my ledger. Under police escort I came to their stables and was given everything I needed for my horse and myself including lodging in their office, which came with an unlimited supply of pizza, donuts and coffee.
Black patrolman, Harold Davis, gave me ride through the downtown area recently transformed into a giant shopping mall with a circular park in the middle where the Soldiers and Sailors monument rises and is surmounted by a figure of Victory. Hows blessed is this country that it has newer been invaded by foreigners, yet still has such a respect for her sons, who fought for the freedom of all people here and around the world.
Indianapolis Mounted Patrol Unit consists of seven officers with the politically correct influx of women and blacks. The officers even have as their caretaker the autistic young man Tony, who at night works as a stripper in a restaurant.
The role of this unit is mostly ceremonial and I couldnt say that they exhaust themselves on duty. It was so nice of them to be so hospitable and open. Tony even gave a shower to Vanya - first shower of his life.
It looked to me like the economy of this city was healthy. Many tourists enjoyed coming here, and carriage business of my soul-mate and horse lover Peggy Best was booming.
She used her robust Belgian and Clydesdale draft horses for weddings and other family events and they are almost an obligatory and colorful part of all parades and other special events in the City. Peggy signed in my diary, Anatoly - I am so glad you stopped by our stable! Our Belgian is not as big as yours, but you should have seen the best at the farm! It is so exciting your trip! Good luck on the rest and I hope your weather improves.
The next morning my wagon was loaded with grain and patrolwoman Karen Wheeler with her horse Norman gave me an escort to the central round square. From there reporters from TV channels 8 and 59 followed me a ways down Rte. 36.
This particular road gave us a lot of trouble. The zoo, located on the outskirts of the city, had constructed along the road about thirty sculptures of animal made of concrete. All the way down the road each time we approached next animal, my Vanya went berserk. He was especially nervous when passing einosaurus with a huge horns and long tail. Perhaps in his genetic memory was saved scene as 40 million years ago this guy chased one of his ancestors, Equus simplicidens, whose remains I found later in museum of fossils.
On the way many people were inviting me to stay at their places, and Dal Benefiel even told me that, if I get to California, I can stay in his cabin # 84 in Twin Bridges.
Oddly, in this area I met many young people from countries of the no-longer existent USSR. Mostly they are exchange-program students, who are living with American families.
Alysher Artokov from Tashkent missed his country very much and meeting with me he expressed a hope to try some similar journey in the future. God bless him.
Two girls and boy from Moscow came here to treat their diabetes and lived in their doctors house in Danville. They invited me to spend an evening time at their place but I needed something more convenient for my horse.
I decided to make a short stop in this town to record report about my expedition as it aired on local TV. My Panasonic Camcorder video camera, depending on weather conditions, can shoot either in color or in black and white, which isnt important for History anyway.
I located the best TV set for my recording in JJs, a Mexican restaurant owned by Jerry J. Garcia. Because of the upcoming Easter Holiday, all the halls were packed with patrons, who enthusiastically joined me to watch the news, and many of them offered to share their burritos-like meals. To the Watermans, Borems, and Leachs, thank You very much now, from the pages of this book, for your generosity.
The restaurants owner Jerry served his spicy Carne asada with as much booze as Id like to consume, but I knew that my partner Vanya wouldnt be happy with a drunk driver.
Jerry signed in my diary, Anatoly, good luck on your journey across our great country. Hope you meet people as nice as yourself. People like you will make the world a better place to live if we learn to love one another for world peace. Good luck + Happy Easter.
It was a strange feeling to be a celebrity for a short time, with a feeling that most of the people around me were worth much more than I was. My situation reminded me of an observation made by the naturalist Jane Goodall about the male gorilla, who upgraded his social rank, by finding an empty gas drum and making an unusual noise in the middle of his troop.
I couldnt stay here any longer because my partner Vanya needed hay and grain and didnt like watching TV. After saying farewell to all my new friends I drove a couple of miles west of town and found the farm of Garry and Joann Milk.
Their farm was actually just a big house with an empty barn and small paddock. Thanks to my police friends, my wagon was loaded with grain and hay which was helpful that evening because there was no new grass growing in the pasture.
My host Garry was a retired executive of Marathon Oil Co. who had managed to invest his generous salary and dividends in lot of properties in Ohio, Indiana and
Florida. The value of this farm has been jumping with every day because this area is getting to be suburban Indianapolis. It is a bitter thing to say, but the developments and shopping malls in this country are popping up, like pimples on a teenagers face and make big scars on the face of the land.

EASTER
April 7
 
On a cold sunny day, I left the Milks farm, condemned to be a housing development. Today was Easter, and I decided to celebrate in any church I came upon along the way.
In Groveland I made right turn from Rte. 36 into a church parking lot. I tethered Vanya to a tree and went inside for the Communion. The congregation was wearing their best clothing and singing Verbs. I joined the crowd and tried to sing using the hymn book not knowing which page I was supposed to open on. But it didnt matter because I was happy to share with people the joy of resurrection, and the hope for a better and new life which Jesus demonstrated through own sacrifice.
My quite casual outfit and horses effluvium derailed the meditation of my closest neighbors and church attendants. Ive had no choice but to explain my circumstances, and was introduced to the pastor who, in his turn, asked me to give short speech to the audience, which I did obediently.
After the worship everybody was invited for a dinner in the church basement, many people signed my book with good wishes, and Vanya got a lot of apples and carrots.
Farther west, I met on the road Stan Calvert, who invited us to stay that night on the grounds of his Oak Leaf Mobile Home Park and explained how to reach it. After many unsuccessful stops and turns searching for that site, I decided to go on further towards Raccoon Lake Park, and make my night stop there.
Incredibly, Stan managed to track me down there and brought in his truck, hay for my horse, and a ; gallon of vodka for me, as well as a lot of food, snacks, and even fresh strawberries.
At the campsite, we built a big bonfire. We opened the bottle of vodka for wine and us for his beauty-blonde wife Priscilla who had accompanied him, and celebrated Easter Sunday in the company with arrogant, insolent raccoons. It was a starry cold night with a sparking hot bonfire, warming-up people and red-eyed raccoons eating from our hands and stealing everything in their reach. My Evening Star was bright as never before. Already, for one and half months I have been following my Venus who lives somewhere on west and luring me every night to catch her.
Three times during the night raccoons got inside my wagon to steal something and I had to chase them out; those brats are absolutely spoiled by their contact with humans. It was a very cold night but crispy morning came with a big bright sun, hope for a better life and new open ranges.
On the way to Rockville I stopped at Billie Creek Village with its three covered bridges, a farmstead, and old authentic buildings. Observing those masterpieces of rural architecture, I thought that in last century people used to live at a much slower pace. It was not as hard finding the time to do something beautiful with their own hands, living in more natural surrounding than we do now.
Nowadays people appreciate the beauty and wisdom of the world through the small screen in their living-room - somebody else lives in behalf of them. Nevertheless, who knows how our descendants will judge our life-style and creativity?
I cant forget reading a science-fiction novel about the billionaire and art collector from the 23rd century, who was proud of the masterpiece of his collection. It was a central heating radiator saved from our century!
The people of Rockville were extremely friendly and enthusiastic about my horse. I pulled up close to a street pole and a local free-lance artist and writer Susie Teschmacher greeted me with her poster of a covered bridge. To the best of my knowledge, those wooden bridges used to be covered for protection against the elements, especially from rain, and besides, there were good hiding places for lovers.
After crossing the Illinois border, I found myself in flat farm-country, quite desolate and poor; it was a drastic change after prosperous Indianapolis.
In dilapidated as a regular Russian village, Scotland I found the big barn of William Gill with the small mobile home next to it. I guess Bill was the most prosperous person in that neglected neighborhood, being the owner of a repair shop in the next town of Chrisman - at least, he could make about $10 in an hour. His son works for a glass factory, makes just $6.61, and is happy having even such a job as this.
Bills barn used to be the gymnasium of a local school that was closed and sold out to Bill by the school board. The almost new building with high redwood beams and parquet floors could be used for business or any public activity. Bill has saved it for the brighter future and patiently has been waiting for it.
His previous marriages almost ruined him financially, but now, with a new girlfriend Mary Sayre, hes been recuperating slowly. They helped me very much with finding hay for my horse, and they served me a good meal.
The next morning on the way though Chrisman I was stopped by the teachers of a local grade school who requested that I give a lecture to their students. I have always been happy to do that. These occasions have never failed to provide mutual exchange of energy and wisdom. And this time again my beloved Vanya was in the center of excitement and attachment. Over and over many times this happens. I am blessed having such a beautiful horse.

OUTLETS
April 9
 
It was terribly cold for springtime with snow hiding in deep ditches along the road. A shivering northern wind was blowing soullessly, somehow forgetting to blow from the opposite direction that would have brought some warmth and relief.
In the village of Hume, I decided to stop to water my horse. I pulled up to ask an old woman standing on a porch whether she could help me out with that. For whatever reason, she refused, and sent me to the gas station. That was the first and the last time during crossing of this country that we were refused water.
The compensation for this moral trauma came very soon, just couple miles west, in Newman. The owner of the restaurant Hacienda Del Sol, smiling Denise Melo, greeted me with a broccoli soup and an omelet made from three eggs and called - DEL PATRON (The Bosss). The description in her menu removed all traces of recent persecutions:
You are the boss. You say what goes in it!! based on Ham & cheese plus 0.20 ea. extra (Green Peppers, Bacon, Sour Cream, Jalapeno peppers or almost anything you might think of) - $ 3.75.
I liked Denises very cozy style of writing her menu, such as, HUEVOS RANCHEROS (Ranchero Eggs) Two sunny side up or over easy eggs smothered in salsa. How HOT you tell us mild, medium, hot or extra hot - $2.99.
As in appreciation of her hospitality I masterminded halfhearted complement, as her last name Melo associates to me with goddess of love Venus of Melos. I doubt that Denise completely ruminated my pun, but signed, Best wishes! May god be with you on tour Journey.
On the way to Tuscola a passing motorist advised a stop at an upcoming farm where Johne and Charlie Dobbs breed Quarter horses. When I pulled into their estate, Johnes first reaction was one of suspicion, but after reading the motto on my caravan and petting my horse, her mood greatly improved. She asked her grooms to help me to unhitch the horse and find a paddock for him. Johne categorically rejected my plans to sleep in the wagon as inhumane and her son Travis took me to the Super 8 Motel, located in downtown Tuscola.
Across the street from the motel, I found a complex of brand new factory outlets representing the biggest companies, such as: GAP, FILA, NIKE, LAURA ASHLEY, etc. Hordes of shoppers were strolling around all that luxury - consuming, devouring, absorbing, expending and spending. I went over and wandered through the various warehouse shops, but I couldnt find even one item that I wanted to buy and use. So I do not know, who was poorer - the shoppers or my discontented self.
Early in the next morning, Charlie Dobbs brought me back to his estate for a homemade breakfast with pancakes and omelettes. Beautiful (and in very good shape), Johne was apologetic for yesterdays neglect of me. She also satisfied my curiosity explaining that she was named Johne in memory of her grandfather.
Besides raising horses for show (not for the races, but for some kind of beauty contests), they are in charge of the Equine Insurance Company and are not extremely poor. Being even quite well off, they keep to the simple philosophy - if the Good Lord gave you wealth, you should share it with your neighbor.
We hitched Vanya and exchanged addresses. Who knows? May be Ill come here again for a longer time to learn horsemanship from such professionals as the Dobbs family.
At most of my stops Ive been finding so much of hospitality and respect, that with each day of travel my consciousness is getting more profound and complimentary. I found that all people, as coins, have their head and tail. Their expose to you generous head or vicious tail depending of which side you decided to demonstrate.
Passing Atwood, I had no choice but to make a left turn after seeing the sign Amish Country Cheese Outlet Mall. At the top of the billboard was the silhouette of a buggy, pulled by a horse, and wooden poles for tying horses were in front of the shop. Inside I found sales-women dressed in the same kind of outfit as the heroes of the television series Little House on the Prairie used to wear. All the food and artifacts in the store were made by the hands of Amish people, whom I had already paid respect in Pennsylvania.
All of us were elated recognizing one another as soul mates. It was as if a time machine had transferred me into a village of the last century. What was most impressive that these people were not actors; it was their natural surrounding. The fashionable factory outlet mall in Tuscola was just 3 miles west, but 150 years away.
They insisted that I take some maple sugar candies not wrapped in cellophane, but packed in paper cones as they used to be sold in this country just 50 years ago in country shops and still sold such a way in Russia. My wagon was decorated with the addition of a bronze cowbell. Vanya was given bag of carrots and his forehead was decorated with peacock feathers.
As we drove on, I noticed alongside the road tons and tons of corn kernels spilled on the shoulders. I could not fathom any excuse for such a squander. We in Russia have heard so much about American thriftiness. It looks like those reports were just insubstantial rumors and the real Americans waste more than anybody in the world was.
Getting a bit Sherlock Holmesian, I very soon discovered the reason of the spillage. The bungy straps, which were intended to secure the covering tent on a grain truck, had owed loose and windblown kernels were escaping out of the truck. I found hundreds of lost bungy straps along the road as I traveled and put them to my good use, attaching loose bags, clothing, and tools - inside and outside of my wagon.
In Hammond I found a resting place on the farm of Rusty Russell, who was busy at the time drilling horses for rodeo. Just minutes ago, his stallion had badly bitten his customers horse and two of them were in a heated discussion over who was responsible for the accident.
Rusty calls himself The Air Conditioner Man and the motto of his business is, If we cant fix it, no charge. On his small estate he raises 4 Quarter horse stallions, 2 turkeys, and 6 hens. One Welsh shepherd dog guarding all of this.
Rusty would certainly, like to go with me, he told me, but he worried about who would take care of all his animals. His temporarily unemployed friend Jeff Ekiss had no such burdens to prevent this pleasure, so he decided to come along, at least for one day.
The next morning Dennis Magee and Dave Moore from Macon county paper Herald & Review joined us on the way. The two young reporters were enthusiastic about their native town Decatur, named for American naval hero Commodore Stephen Decatur. This County Seats known for its wealth of historic landmarks of every architectural style, from the Civil War to the Depression era.
In 1830, Abraham Lincoln arrived here with his family and built a log cabin on a homestead along Sangamon River, working hard as a farmer and rail-splitter and earning money for his education. Later he returned here as circuit-riding attorney-at-law. His statue as a young man stands in front of the Courthouse, which I visited for checking-in.
Jeff decided to get off at his brothers farm and I preceded further to Illiopolis, where I came upon a group of people in the middle of a graveyard. They were not mourners; they were the members of the Historical Society, restoring the resting places of their ancestors. Along the way I found that Americans keep their graveyards in a perfect shape paying respect to their passed away  predecessors. In Russia, we have no respect to our ancestors and frequently old cemeteries can be erased and new developments could be constructed on their site. However, it is obvious - if you have no respect to your ancestors, you do not respect yourself.
George and Gayle Siles with Pegg Zupp invited me to their restaurant The Wedge for a cup of coffee and to talk about the history of this region. It was a great pity not to have had more time to visit with these fantastic people but I had to keep going.
In Buffalo, I have pulled left in to the farm of Paul Mudd. Naturally, he wasnt expecting me, but was happy to accommodate my small caravan, and especially happy was his granddaughter Jessica. About 8, she was already good at helping to pasture and ride my horse. Vanya adored her as well and happily was walking with this joyful featherweight on his wide back.
Jessicas mother, Pauls daughter Paula Sagle, works with him on 1,300 acres of their own and rented land, earning about $40 per acre. With yearly profit around $54,000, they could not afford to buy a new modern tractor, the kind that now feature computers and cellular phones. They are just using an old wreck.
Pauls son helps with fixing machinery but he decided to open his own repair shop, which gives him more money than farming would bring him. His free time is spent constructing race cars, and if he ever wins his return could be much bigger than his fathers. Pauls 10 children and grandchildren have no interest in farming, but they visit here on a regular basis, not losing contact with their land.

SPRINGFIELD
April 12
 
The spring weather was definitely late this year; nobody was sowing their fields in this area, so Paul had found the time to help me with attaching a zipper on the wagons tarpaulin. Pauls wife Mary Ann was busy fixing pancakes, my love Jessica was drawing my horse which looked like a brontosaurus.
Lately Id gotten obsessed with collecting patches to decorate my jacket, and in Buffalo I chased after a cop for his police patch, which he generously gave me. But in Riverton, cop #737 Philip Brown couldnt find any patch and instead derailed me from the main road to Springfield. Obedience isnt my forte, but compared with Russian cops, police officers in this country are more humane and helpful, despite the internal drive that many of them have to show their omnipotence.
Capital of Illinois since 1839, Springfield has been thriving on the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln lived here for 24 years. It was here that he practiced law, married and was buried.
I made a small research about the origin of his name - Lincoln, and found that it comes from the name of County Lincolnshire in England. In its turn, that County got its name from the British word Lindun (the hill fort by the pond), and the Latin word Colonia, making the name of Roman colony Lindum Colonia, which over time became Lincolnshire. Therefore, the ancestors of Abraham came from an old colony to new one and gave birth to one of the most prominent Presidents of the America - Lincoln.
I pulled up to the State Capitol and tied Vanya to a light pole. With ledger in hand went to the Governors Office. Governor Jim Edgar was not home, but left his signed picture for me. His clerk autographed my book and had attached the State Seal with the motto: STATE SOVEREIGNTY, NATIONAL UNION.
Local media in the form of The State Journal-Register and News Channel 20 was waiting downstairs, watering my horse for me and feeding him apples. Even Daniel Mast, a Mennonite farmer from Artur, came to pet Vanya although he confessed to feeling uncomfortable in front of the cameras in his black clothing, straw hat and long beard. It is a fact, that member of this sect tend to avoid the cameras lens, so I felt sorry for him when the next days newspaper published a snapshot of him with me.
On the way I found that Springfield was a jumping point of the Donners brothers, Jacob and George, who decided on April 15, 1846, along with their neighbor James Reed to go west for California and start there a new life. Everybody in this country knows the ill-fated Donner Party, where all the Donner family perished after starvation and deceases. On the way, in a traffic altercation, James Reed killed his counterpart, John Snider, who objected overpass his wagon by Reeds oxen team. However, in my case, everybody was zipping along me and I did not mind.
After four hours of driving I found hospitality in New Berlin, on the farm of Pamela and Mark Kerhlikar. They had only just graduated from college in the neighboring Jacksonville and had found jobs tutoring music at a local high school. They both were happy to accommodate me but Mark recognizing that Pamela was the boss of the household, went to find her to reach agreement before accepting me. Fortunately, Pam is real admirer of horses. She knows much more about them than I do, and during our stay complete relieved me from the routine of taking care of Vanya. From time to time, I think Id like to have such a wife.
While Pamela did the work I invited Mark to my wagon for a shot of vodka and very soon his neighbors joined us. Kathleen Lovig brought her homemade cookies and hot coffee. A radio hung on her belt so she could wait for her husbands call to pick him up after he finished plowing his cornfields.
Actually, in this country farmers dont plow but till their fields, in this way saving their lands from erosion and not exposing infertile lower layers of the soil. In my country they had talked about this modern kind of cultivation for more than 100 years, but even today still plow instead of till.
About 40 percent of the farmers in this area work on their own land; those who lease pay between $120 and 180 per acre, per year, or share their profit with the land owner 50/50. To survive they need to cultivate 1,000-1,500 acres of this very fertile land. The farmers I talked with are very proud to be the grass roots of their land, and their own bosses.
 
JACKSONVILLE
April 13
 
  My host made a few calls about my accommodation, and soon Professor Jay Peterson and riding instructor Judy Williams met me a few miles from Jacksonville. My horse, it was decided, would be happy at Judy's stables and I would be at Jay's house for a while. After giving me directions, they left me going down county route 1613. A couple miles before the town I noticed the complex of Illinois Correction Facility, with its huge towers at the corners, and barbwire all around, a very impressive and depressive construction. As an additional precaution against runaways, there was a big sign for motorists, "Don't pick up hitchhikers."
 From the very first view, Jacksonville gives an impression of a peaceful and prosperous town, and it is indeed. It is the home of Illinois State College, and the private MacMurray College, where Jay Peterson holds his professorship. A large chunk of this town's prosperity comes from the salaries of hundreds prison guards living in the area.Vanya's host Judy Williams teaches at the School for Visually Impaired students. She stabled my horse next to her own gracious Arabian horses and gave him everything he wanted.
 After that Jay brought me to his spacious home, where his wife Cheryl prepared a special dinner, served with candles and fine wine. However, I, being a primitive Russian savage, choose vodka. Cheryl is a Project Director in State Department of Children and Family Services. Every day she is witness to the most desperate and dysfunctional families of the State. Her continuing optimism may be a requisite for her job as she seeks to find the solution to their problems in education and rehabilitation.
 In America these days, there is much discussing of the recently published research about the intellectual bell curve, according to which people, by merit of birth, are divided into the brainy, the average, and the morons. Neither education nor social environment can change this status quo. Although this research is considered controversial, being geneticist, I agree with the theory. However, if this theory is correct, many government educational and rehabilitation programs are worthless. Discussing this problem, my intellectual hosts and I found ourselves on opposite sides of the bell-barricade. The Gordian knot of our discussion was cut by Zuzana Jackevicius, photographer from the "Journal-Courier," who came to take a few photos of me in a cultural surrounding, without Vanya. Naturally, I fell in love with her right away forgetting about the entire intellectual hubbub. As I slept in a separate bedroom, with all its paraphernalia, I had a nightmare - I was hanging inside of a bell, as a bell's clapper, bumping my head against its sides as the bell was rung. It was making a sound as if I had drunk too much.
 After breakfast, Cheryl gave me a ride around her beautiful town and dropped me at off the entrance to Illinois State College. James Davis, professor of history and political science was waiting for me there to discuss Russian matters in Russian language. James has visited my country frequently and has sponsored exchange students from there. He has also written book about something Russian. I would have liked to just talk with him all day but I'd been invited to a concert of organ music. Since my host, Jay was the main performer it was not to be missed.
 I've been in love with organ music for many years and found any excuse to go to concerts in the best concert hall of the former USSR in Riga (Latvia). Actually, my brother used to live, but now he barely survives there under the new nationalist government of Latvia, which is much worse for Russians than the old one used to be. There are hardly any good organ halls left in Russia but I still hope that my friend Jay, sometime in future, will go to Russia to teach and to give concerts in newly built concert-halls. The recital was performed in the acoustically sound Annie Merner Chapel which was crowded with music lovers. Where had they gotten so many of them in a such small town?
 Jay played the music of Bach, as well as the modern composers Horatio Parker and John Ferguson. I was immersed in Toccatas and Fugues, swam in the big roaring surf of Bach's ocean. Oh, Good Lord, You are the Music! After each individual's recital the public responded with a storm of applause. Luckily, in my program there was a written warning, "Please reserve applause until the conclusion of each performer's portion of the program." I have never know when it was proper to clap and so had always waited for others to start. My other handicap is more serious and that, coupled with an emotional exhaustion, did not permit me to remain seated in the concert hall for too a long time. So after an hour of pleasure, I went outside to smoke my pipe and to recuperate. There were no other smokers outside. It would appear that Americans have traded in this self-destructive habit for something else. Eating, may be?
 A little later, the wife of James Drennan M.D. picked me up for a dinner-party in their house. Her husband, doctor Drennan, a huge, bald and cheerful man, had served in the military stationed in Japan, and had managed to accumulate a good collection of lanterns. Both of us liked Vodka with Coke and spent our before-dinner time sipping these satisfactory concoctions and discussing the legitimacy of doctor Kevorkian's approach in helping the terminally ill to commit suicide. This vivid topic of discussion was interrupted by an invitation to take our seats for the prayer and dinner.
 Reverend Meg Shepherd from the Congregational Church pronounced the Grace and we paid respect to the considerable culinary skills of our hostess. Everything was extremely tasty, but I don't eat much when I drink, and in this peculiar way keep myself in an acceptable shape. I wandered out to the porch to watch as the first spring thunderstorm broke the firmament - pouring, babbling rain was washing out all the dirt of our human universe.
 The next morning, arriving at the stables, I was sparkled by how our horses had been transformed. The night storm had charged the air with electricity, ionizing and filling it with new fragrances and sounds. Shining after a natural shower, the horses were in their free animal spirits, and charged around the field at top speed, happy to be alive one more year. Condemning myself for interrupting such joy, I nevertheless hitched Vanya and went into town for scheduled meetings with officials and, more importantly, to visit with the handicapped children at Judy's school. On Main street I've met local love, photographer Zuzana, who decided to follow me and record today's round of visits with her camera.
 My first stop was at the Courthouse for checking in and talking with the local authorities. To my surprise, I found there not one, but two Morgan County Commissioners, Virgil Smith and Monte Hall. I guess it's pretty unusual, but a frustrating situation for a visitor to have to choose which Commissioner they should give preference to.
 At the School for the Visually Impaired, I was escorted by Judy to a classroom with about 20 students, blind and partially deaf. Some appeared to be in some kind of a stupor and as I talked about my expedition, I was not sure whether they understood anything, I was saying, so I decided to invite them outside. All the students, some in wheelchairs, surrounded Vanya petting and stroking him lightly, cautiously as they would their own pet. They even started giggling. Perhaps, the colossal vital horse energy charged through them, breaking the clogs and barriers in their brains, releasing their own dormant energy. It was a display of mass healing or at least an awakening. Zuzana was crying as she took pictures of this circle of mutual understanding and enjoyment. At the end of our visit, the children typed in the Braille alphabet the appreciation letter that to this very day I consider the most valuable of all the gifts I received along my way. Zuzana invited me for dinner in her studio apartment, right across from her newspaper's office. Together we have fixed together baked fish with salad, and drank wine (both white and red), and talk about our lonely lives. We both have survived much unhappy affection and were cautious about being trapped again, but are waiting for the last and real One, just the same.
 She and I both used to be involved in Siddha Yoga, whose followers in recent years have opened ashrams all around the World. The philosophy of Yoga is very simple and attractive and teaches that Consciousness pervades and permeates this entire Universe. It's known by many words and titles, such as God, the Creator or the Absolute; in Siddha Yoga it's called the inner Self. However, the path for self-understanding, according to Siddha Yoga, goes through the following of your Guru. The head of this sect Gurumayi Chidvilasananda is a beautiful woman past the age of 30, and she rules the millions of her followers with an iron fist and open heart. You don't need any love if you are in love with your Guru. And I was, spending a lot of time and money just for the pleasure of sitting and meditating close to her. The climax of meditation and excitement was her touching your forehead with peacock feather. What else do you need if your Guru loves you thus well?
Once on the way to ashram, my car broke down. I tried to ask help from quite a few passing pilgrims, but they were in too much of a harry to see their beloved Guru, and had no time for me. - Hary Krishna! Hary Rama! Thank God, a passing motorist-nonbeliever gave me a boost and I turned around and drove in the opposite direction of the ashram. Since then I'm in love only with my own Guardian Angel. Toward the end of our evening, Zuzana wrote in my ledger the prayer of the Guardian Angel:
 Angel of God, my guardian dear,
 To whom God's love commits me here.
 Even this day be at my side,
 To light, to love, to rule, to guide.
 Amen.
 I kissed Zuzana farewell. The road was waiting.
 
 MISSISSIPPI
 April 16


 Early in the morning, Doctor Drennan brought his friend and former patient Ray Cox around to have a look at the sores on of my horse's back. The harness, which I'd purchased from an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania, was made from an organic plastic and its saddle had rubbed against horse's back causing painful sores. Ray installed a leather saddle and the doctor's wife made some kind of laying from a sheepskin or chamois. Judy loaded us with grain and we departed to the west. Driving just a couple miles down Route 106, I was stopped by teacher from Four Rivers Special School. He asked whether I could pay a visit to his students, who were already waiting outside. There were about 50 of them, mostly boys, ranging in age from 10 to 16, who were kept in this school because of behavioral disorder. They looked almost the same as our Russian naughty boys, only the color of their skin was darker. The boys encircled Vanya and petted him with care, at the same time asking many questions about horses and Russia. Everybody wanted to join my expedition right now! They were certainly different from the regular students I'd met, who, as a matter of fact, weren't that keen to go with me. Perhaps these boys are not the best in distinguishing p's and q's, but the spirit of adventure is bubbling in them, they are looking for their own path of life.
 Back down the Massey View Road, I was stopped many times by people who just wanted a short chitchat or who had suggestions of where I might stay next. One woman asked me to drop in on the way to see a lonely man of 90 living in a trailer near the road. He had no relatives and she herself has been helping him for last 5 years. I did stop by for 5 minutes and talked with the old man, who with advancing age had returned to his native German language, and had no idea with whom he was talking. Oh, Good Lord, don't let me to reach such a state of mind. Later that afternoon I decided to stop at an estate that from a horse's point of view was quite attractive. A sign said "Coats Small Engines." There was nobody home, so I waited about an hour until the owner, Wilbur Coats, arrived fresh from playing a round of golf with himself. Willy all his life has been busy. He is especially busy now, after his retirement. He was involved himself in assortment of construction and renovation projects. The following week was dedicated to a machinery auction to be held right in front of his house and Willy was busy organizing it. He was filled with energy and couldn't be idle even for a few minutes. There were 6 Belgian draft horses in his stables, which he hitched just a few times a year for parades and other social events. He turned out to be much more familiar with horses than his guest was and his inspection discovered that my shafts were too heavy. After making my horse comfortably, Willy fixed the wagon's shafts and decided to show me the town of Winchester, where he owned properties and had just recently opened a Laundromat. When we came there, I found that his wife was looking very fragile and exhausted after attending that Laundromat all day long. She was in visual opposition to all her husband activity and just wanted to rest.
After visiting a restaurant for a lavish dinner, we came back to Willy's place very late and I had no opportunity to tour the inside. His friendly and not very busy cat Sam came to my buggy, shared my sleeping bag with me, and purred into my ear a sweet and promising dream. (By the way, in Russian households he-cats usually are named Vasya, and she-cats - Murrka.)
 The next morning I proceeded down 106 in warm weather and good humor. Near Detroit I very easy crossed the Illinois River and found more hilly surroundings. The serenity I had been enjoying was suddenly broken when we came into view of "Two Rivers Ostrich Farm," Vanya has always been spooked by these two-legged creatures, running fast and making sharp turns. On this farm, owned by the Cox family, I stopped to inquire about a more convenient place for an overnight and they recommended that we go more west. Before departing, I begged the Cox's for a few ostrich feathers to decorate Vanya and may be make him more accustomed to these two- legged spookers.
Pike County was once to be called the Hog Capital of the USA but over time it lost this title and now many farmers have switched to raising ostriches to meet a growing demand for their skin and meat. This county may already have earned enough credits to be named the Ostrich Capital of America.
 Finally, I came to the estate of Pat and Connie Gresham, who just recently purchased one of the former hog farms and still did not know what they would do with it. Having all his life an independent butcher, Pat used to kill animals, but now he had sold his business and decided to raise animals, which will be butchered by somebody else. His wife Connie works as a prison guard, planning to retire soon and to do something creative as well. It is hard even to imagine how family life in the home of a butcher and a prison guard would be, or who would be the boss. But they were getting along very well.
 While we were talking about Gresham's Ostrich future, a truck with a young woman pulled over. Judy Douglas, Gresham's next-door neighbor, was on her way to a meeting of the local Saddle Club. She offered to show me her town and introduce me to the members of her Club. On the way, we picked her sons and husband who were working at some construction on their neighbor's house, making extra money to supplement Dennis's salary as a police officer. The annual meeting of 30 horse-lovers was dedicated to the enrollment of new members, and the election of a new president and treasure. A potluck supper was served as well. Pete Fuller, President of the Club gave me a podium and collected $50 toward the financial support of my expedition. He signed in my diary, "Anatoly - It was very interesting talking to you and having you attend our Pike County Saddle Club. Our club members are all horse lovers and hold trail rides in the summer and fall months. We wish you the very best of luck and peace be with you."
 Next windy morning was very exciting - I was coming close to the mighty Mississippi river. Because of frequent high flooding in the river's valley, most local farmers had relocated up into the hills. The especially devastating flood of 1993 destroyed the last farmhouses and businesses in this area. So, I was surprised to see a small farmhouse in the valley close to town of Hull and a blue van coming in my direction - Lynn Lindhorst lived there with her husband Paul and daughter Mary, and she invited me to stay the night. After the '93 flood, her neighbors had all decided to relocate to higher grounds, but it was not the case of the tough Lindhorsts. They stayed and rebuilt their ancestor's house; just the day before my arrival, a hired repairperson had begun painting the outside walls. There is a very strange insurance law, which provides the federal compensation to victims of such disasters, despite the knowledge that they are likely to happen again and again. Using the insurance money, the Lindhursts were able to do a complete renovation of a very damaged building.
 The painter's son Mike, had come along to the job site with his dad, but didn't have any job of his own to do. When I drove in, this beautiful boy was just wandering around looking a bit lost, so I decided to give him ride. He was so excited that he wrote his name in my ledger: "Mike," followed by this report, "The horse was big. We stayed around to see the horse and wagon. I got a ride in the wagon. The news comes out to see the horse. It was a windy day. I rode the horse bare back. It had large feet. I liked the horse a lot."
  The house painter was their neighbor, who had spent quite a few years in Memphis jail. When came back to his family, he found a new addition to his 6 children living with his unemployed wife on social security benefits. It is my guess that he will not stay a free man for long, since he's never sober, and drives his truck with expired license plates and driver's license. Poor, beautiful Mike will be fatherless again very soon.
 The next morning was a landmark - or, more accurately, a watermark for my expedition: crossing the mighty Mississippi and entering the State of Missouri with its town of Hannibal, known as the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). In his best-known book "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" this town's called St. Petersburg, the same name as the city in Russia, where I came from.
 As in Twain's times the river, filled with muddy waters, flows around Jackson's Island, where Tom and Huckleberry Finn used to make a campfire, hiding from their relatives and smoking their pipe. But smoking was not nearly so much fun when there was no danger of being caught. My horse was a bit spooked by the open waters, moving with a strong current. After turning left on Hill Street, I found myself in Historic Downtown, where the Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher homes are located, the house of Huck Finn was also nearby.
 When I was Tom's age, I used to reread many times his adventures with Huck, and was in love with the beautiful Becky. And now, after so many years, I am again with my childhood friends and playmates. Finally, I could touch the board fence which Tom persuaded his gang to pay him for the privilege of whitewashing. Becky Thatcher in real life was Laura Hawkins and lived in a two-story frame house here on Hill Street. She and young Samuel were playmates, sweethearts, and classmates and he liked to show off for her. Both already widowed, Laura Fraser and Mark Twain dined here in Hannibal in 1902 and in 1908 Mark had Laura and her granddaughters as guests at his home in Redding, Connecticut. In her house, here in Hannibal I found photo of her with Mark Twain in their very retirement age and it was awful to see "Becky" as an old woman with an old "Tom." Samuel Clemens did become a licensed boat pilot in 1858. The expression "mark twain", which he adopted as his byline, refers to the 2-fathom (12-foot) water depth necessary for riverboats to pass through a river. In the town of Elmira (in the state of New York) the grave of Mark Twain is adorned by a monument that is exactly 12 feet high - "Mark Twain." Before my departure from New York I managed to visit Elmira and paid tribute to the greatest writer of this country.
 Tom Blankenship was the prototype of Huck and the son of the town boozer who lived just behind the Clemens house. In 1906 Mark Twain remarked: "In "Huckleberry Finn" I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was. He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy had. His liberties were totally unrestricted. He was the only really independent person - boy or man - in the community, and by consequence he was tranquilly and continuously happy, and was envied by all the rest of us."
 Tom and Huck partner, Jim, was depicted from Daniel, a slave owned by Mark Twain's uncle, John Quarles, who had a farm of few hundred acres labored by fifteen slaves. It was located not very far from Hannibal, near Florida, Missouri. In 1897, Mark Twain recalled that childhood summer days: "All the negroes were friends of ours, & with those of our own age we were in effect comrades....We had a faithful & affectionate good friend, ally & adviser in "Uncle Dan'l," a middle-aged slave whose head was the best one in the negro-quarter, whose sympathies were wide & warm, & whose heart was honest & simple & knew no guile. He has served me well these many, many years. I have not seen him for a half a century, & yet spiritually I have had his welcome company a good part of that time, & have staged him in books under his own name as "Jim," & carted him all around - to Hannibal, down the Mississippi on a raft, & even across the Desert of Sahara in a balloon - & he has endured it all with the patience & friendliness & loyalty which were his birthright. It was on that I got my strong liking for his race & my appreciation of certain of its qualities. This feeling & this estimate have stood the test of fifty years & have suffered no impairment. The black face is as welcome to me now as it was then." How come that those "polity correctors" have even desire to throw out Mark Twain's from the school libraries?! Let them read these lines. By the way, in 1855 Quarles emancipated his "old and faithful servant Dann who is now in the fiftieth year of his age about Six feet high complexion black."
 It was not easy for Mark Twain to give up his childhood heroes and he almost finished but not published his book "Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer among the Indians." However, in 1894 he published "Tom Sawyer Abroad" where resurrected the three major characters - Tom, Huck, and Jim, and send them on a balloon trip to Africa and Holy Land. Being on Mount Sinai, Tom found that his old ornery corn-cob pipe caved in and went to pieces, so he sent Jim back home by a balloon to bring a new one in 24 hours, as he reckoned. With Jim he mailed a letter: "Thursday Afternoon. Tom Sawyer the Erronort sends his love to Aunt Polly from Mount Sinai where the Ark was, and so does Huck Finn and she will get to-morrow morning half past six. "Tom Sawyer the Erronort." The statues of these two Erronorts is located at the head end of Main Street and is believed to be the first one in the world dedicated to fictional characters. The statue depicts Tom Sawyer preparing to venture forth into adulthood, and Huck Finn attempting to hold him back in childhood. In this respect, Huck is more close to my nature than the more respectable Tom. The river's banks and Jackson's Island look as pristine as perhaps they did in Mark Twain's times and I, after visiting this town of my childhood, proceeded further down my childhood dreams and adventures.
 
 MISSOURI
 April 19
 
 About 15 miles west of Hannibal I found a rest on the farm of Carl and Melvin Kaden, producing "Jersey Juice" from 70 Jersey milk cows. Using a highly concentrated food, they can get about 70 pounds of milk per day from each cow, but with such intense milking a cow could be used up just 3 - 4 years, afterwards heading to the meat-packing factory. Because of the high concentration of proteins and minerals my horse could not eat the cow food, though it was recommended.
 The Kaden brothers mostly use prolific hybrid cows and couldn't imagine their business without computers. The price of land's going up all the time, and Carl and Melvin would like to buy another 230 acres from their father but their siblings, who aren't in agriculture business, oppose the sale. They would rather have the land divided it evenly. Old Kaden's giggling, and saying that his children will find his decision only after his departure to the other world with no land to worry about.
 After a good night's rest on the farm and fresh milk for breakfast, I proceeded farther down 36 towards Shelbina, where by chance I met up with the members of the 4-H Club, who were enthusiastically lent their help calling to Harold and Margaret Gilbert, known in this area as old-timers and devotees of pulling horses, especially Belgians - my horse mates. Sadly, Harold was not in good shape to accommodate us, so wee found an overnight stop on the grounds of the abandoned farm of Randy and Susan Hillards, who lived nearby and very soon brought over a lot of human and horse food.
 For the second time since Pennsylvania, I was sitting on the porch of an abandoned house, my horse grazing in the yard, and snorting every time he feels something unusual. The hobgoblins inside the house live their own lives and some are making a noise to scare me out, but I already know their tricks. I talk with them telepathically and puff my pipe. I was in contact with a shadows of former inhabitants of this land who used to fight for they freedom and lost, and those who won.
Future state of Missouri was part of Louisiana Territory, brilliantly purchased by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. The entire area of the Mississippi Valley as big as 828,000 square miles was purchased in 1803 from Napoleon just for 15 million dollars. Jefferson City, the capital of this state, was named in memory of this incredible public official. I mesmerized by his personality. Thomas Jefferson was the vernacular proponent of America's independence. In his letter to the Continental Congress Jefferson stated: "Our emigration to this country gave England no more rights over us than the emigration of the Danes and Saxons gave to the present authorities of their mother country over England." He signalized his service to this country by the authorship of the Declaration of Independence. When he came to Paris in time of the French Revolution, his democracy was already seasoned and he was rather a teacher than a student of revolutionary politics. In 1789 Jefferson received invitation to assist in the deliberation of the committee appointed by the National Assembly to draft a new French constitution. Their Declaration of the Rights of Man was based on the theories of their smart man Rousseau and on the drafted by Jefferson the American Declaration of Independence. (Their slogan of "Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality" was borrowed from English masons.)
Therefore, Americans were teaching French democracy and freedom, but not vice versa. Besides, intensive help of the Lois XVI government to American Revolution drained French treasury between 1775 and 1783 and contributed its bankruptcy. (During the first couple of years after the Declaration of Independence, the French supplied 90 percent of American military needs.) The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 was triggered by this overdrawn account of the government. By that time Americans were sympathetic to French Revolution, however, its revolutionary disorder and radicalism insulted many of them. By 1793 Jefferson agreed with George Washington that the United States should "observe a strict neutrality" while selling its goods as much as possible to France and its enemy England.
It was appreciated by British, just recent enemies of Americans, and the Foreign Secretary, Lord Grenville, expressed this peculiar situation boldly: "None but Englishmen and their Descendants know how to make a Revolution." I guess, since then, French always were suspicious about American intents. In 1796, the French minister to the United States, M. Adet, at his close to his government complained: "Jefferson, I say, is American, and as such he cannot be sincerely our friend. An American is the born enemy of all European peoples." Obviously erroneous about American interests of his own nation. (French minister wasn't aware yet that Jefferson already "acquired" and brought to the United States the recipe of making "French fry" potato.)
 This country was born in rebellion and by rebellion and perhaps it's natural that this flame of dissatisfaction expressed in existence here numerous liberal or conservative groups. They are the quintessence and necessary "nuisance" of American democracy. The great liberal of modern times, Jefferson apprehended this and lamented: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants: It is its natural manure." Perhaps, it was a bit harsh expression, but this generous-minded aristocrat of the American mentality predicted what would happen with his compatriots in next couple of centuries. He didn't speak without equivocation saying: "Societies exist under three forms - (1) without government, as among our Indians; (2) under government wherein the will of everyone has a just influence... (3) under government of force...It is a problem not clear in my mind that the first condition is not the best." His strongest opponent was brilliant federalist Alexander Hamilton, a vigorous spokesperson for a strong national government. He opposed Jefferson once saying to him: "Your People, Sir, is nothing but a great Beast." Jefferson summed up their differences: "One feared most the ignorance of the people; the other the selfishness of rulers independent of them." In short, Jefferson had an unlimited faith in the honesty and common sense of the people.
His ideas have become the very foundation of American republicanism. And he is considered as the founder of Republican party, as his opponent, Alexander Hamilton, is cherished by Democrats as their predecessor. This first real people's president distinguished himself also by the simplicity of his two administrations. He eschewed the pomp and ceremonies of his predecessors inherited by them from their former English rulers. George Washington as the president established the rules of a virtual American court. He returned no calls and shook hands with no one, acknowledging salutations by a formal bow. He drove in a coach with six horses and lackeys in rich livery. At receptions, he came in a black velvet suit with gold buckles, yellow gloves, powdered hair, a cocked hat with an ostrich plume in one hand, and a sword in a white leather sheath.
 Thomas Jefferson's dress was of "plain cloth" on the day of his inauguration. He rode to the Capitol and hitched his horse to a neighboring fence, chitchatting with his fellow citizens. Between himself and the governors of States, he recognized no difference in rank. Even such titles as "Excellency," "Honorable," "Mr." were rejected by him. All this was premeditated system of republicanizing government and public opinion, as well as the nature of this man who knew no social distinctions. His main concern was an improvement of life quality of Americans. For many years he was president of the American Philosophical Society, the range of his interests included geography, geology, botany, zoology, agriculture, medicine, mathematics, educations and religion. Nevertheless, I was especially impressed finding that Jefferson was the first discoverer of an exact formula for the construction of mould-boards permitting the least resistance of soil for ploughs. The next morning was sunny and crisp and a lot of people came to greet me. The Gilberts, who yesterday had been unable to accommodate me, came with an apology. It seems their World Champion Belgian horse Ted had made a wrong turn in his stall and hurt 70 year-old Harold. The next day their calendar is marked to go for a shoeing, and they offered to take my horse as well. About 11 a.m. I was in Clarence, visiting The First Christian Church, taking Communion along with its parishioners and sharing a meal with them. Again, I was blessed meeting with these fantastic people while their children were given an opportunity to communicate with my horse.
 Two miles west, I have found another rest spot in the home of Sandra and Kenneth Smith and their 5 children. Because of his heart disease Ken does not work, Sandra's busy with raising her kids and is unemployed as well. They are not alone in this respect; many of their neighbors share the hardship of unemployment, relying on government support. It's very hard to find a job in this rural area of Missouri and these poor people are bit envious of the farmers, who have their own land and don't need to depend on government hand outs.
 One of the farmers, Dean Carron came to visit me and talk about his experiences while in the USSR seven years ago with a group of young farmers. He would like to go again to help the new Russian farmers to work the land that does not belong them. Even in America, the rural people, who do not live and work on their own land get lost and disappointed. My host Ken is a stout man with a serious heart problem, but even after his last heart attack he still eats a lot and drinks beer, too, and hates any exercise. To visit his neighbor, who lives just 100 yards away, he never walks, but drives his truck. Neither he nor his other unemployed neighbors grow any fruits or vegetables on their plots of land, but they adored my horse and found him a good pasture on an abandoned paddock.
The Gilberts came the next morning with a horse trailer and picked me up with Vanya for the long trip to their Amish friends for horseshoeing. Members of this sect came to the area of Clark from Pennsylvania. There was not enough arable land there, around Clark they bought some plots, cultivating them using Belgian and Clydesdale draft horses. But even in this area there isn't enough land to support the family by farming and so many of the Amish people work as craftsmen, but they have especially made a name for themselves as horseshoer.
 When we got to Jeff Gingerich's farm, there were already two clients waiting with horses to be shod. I had to put my video camera back in the truck, because the Amish don't like to be shot by any cameras and, especially in their private surrounding. I always like to look around and see how the people are living in different places, but I did not discover how many cows Jeff had on his farm. Perhaps not so many because his wife milked them by hand. (On their dairy farms in Pennsylvania, the Amish use milking machines. Because they can't use electricity to power them, necessary for their function vacuum is produced by diesels.) As we waited our turn, we decided to drive along the road and to watch the horse-and-buggy life-style and the housewives going to do their shopping in their carriages, pulled by one horse. It was already sowing time, and ploughmen were working in the fields with teams of 4 or 5 horses, mostly Clydesdales.
 Back at the farm, we found that Jeff was nailing down shoes on my horse hooves with the special boric-added tacks, making the shoe friction-proof, which could serve at least 200 miles on a hard surface like concrete or asphalt road. Jeff refused to take any payment from me and wrote in my ledger a good wish for my travel. He wasn't as eloquent as his namesake Newt Gingerich in US Congress and just noted, "Good luck Anatoly Shimansky PhD. Come again. Horse-shoer Jeff." On the way back we made a stop at the repair shop of Jeff's father Jake, who sells all kind of equipment for working the land with horses. His other son Joder was just there shoeing his beautiful Clydesdales. I've noticed with Jake, Jeff, and Joder that in Amish families they prefer to give children the first names with the same consonant as the parents.
 We came home very late but my host family, the Smiths, was waiting for me with a farewell barbecue party, and it was beer, beer, and beer again. They live on a very modest budget but give to people everything they have.
 
WEST ON EAST
April 23
      
 
All the neighbors of the Smith family came the next morning to say good-buy. The Gilberts brought a sack of grain for my horse and some food for me. Fresh after rest, Vanya was stamping his feet with new shoes, and consuming a lot of carrots and apples, hugged by children and adults.
The day was sunny and windy; the road went up and down with the hills; and I make sometimes short stops to make a snapshots of the most interesting mailbox supports. Some people quite inventive with their elevation of the low mailbox to an art form, welding heavy chains in a vertical position, or horseshoes done similarly or some used old plows or milk-cans. A professional carpenter might make his mailbox in the shape of hammer, or veterinarian...a big syringe. I hope in the future to make an album from the pictures I have taken of the peoples ingenuity in making their front yards individual.
Coming close to Macon, I was greeted by Thad Requet, a reporter from the Macon Chronicle-Herald, who asked me about what time meant to me. Unlike a lot of people time is not money for me; time is Adventure.
For Thad time was - love because currently he was in love with his Stephany and had composed this song in her honor:
Have You Ever Loved Somebody?
Have you ever loved somebody so much
You lied awake at night,
Wishing you were right by their side?
And you ever loved somebody so much
It brought chills to your spine,
When you held them in your arms oh so tight?
Holding on with all my might
To every part of you that I know,
 
Have you ever loved somebody so much
That you think of them all the time,
 And it puts you in such a wonderful mood?
And have you ever loved somebody so much
It nearly drives you insane,
Wishing you could just feel their touch?
Holding on with any might
Baby you I will never let go,
 
Have you ever loved somebody so much
 
It brought tears to your eyes,
As you watched them walk out of your life,
And had you ever loved somebody so much
It tore your heart in two
Wondering where they happen to be,
Holding on with all of my might
That someday Ill see you again.
 
I never heard this song actually sung, but it is supposed to be beautiful as his love. Being in love so many times myself, I was in tune with the song but should admit that I remember mostly my unhappy loves, and guess there may not be any such thing as a happy love. A happy love - if it does exist - is supposed to be boring. Besides, love is a selfish trend anyway, to be happy on somebody elses expense. Actually, shut up Anatoly! You are just too bitter about it.
In Bucklin, along the right side of the road, I noticed a high fence with some strange looking animals grazing in the field. Intrigued, I made a right turn and found myself in the front yard of the Johnson Elk Farm. A tall, slender man came out of the barn and greeted me warmly. He was about 70, but looked very strong and walked fast. His white 10-gallon hat looked as if part of him.
Rush Johnson and his wife Inez were definitely in harmony with their old, perfectly designed and preserved red brick house, built in 1865. Veteran of WW II, Rush had changed businesses and occupations until he decided to buy this farm. To learn how to raise elks he first went to study in Germany, and then polished his skills in England.
He became professional breeder but when he handed me his calling card that he had license #43-EEO, MO. DEPT. CONVERSATION #059, so it sounded that in Missouri State to speak out, people needed a special conversation license. Certainly, I found soon that printing company misspelled word conservation, but it sounded funny.
This is a very profitable business, growing elks for their antlers (called velvet when young). Each pair of full-grown velvet antlers brings about $ 1,500 in the Far East market. They are considered a potential aphrodisiac not only in the Far East, but in Russia too.
Rush used to rise about 350 heads but after last heart attack, he sold most of them and kept just five of the best ones for himself. He proudly showed me a specially designed system of boxes used for retaining, restraining and cutting an elks velvet. A painkilling injection is administered for this process. Rush told me that in Russia they have the same kind of farms, but they cut the young antlers with no anesthetics. I did not know this, but it did not surprise me because there are not enough prescription drugs in Russia even for human consumption.
The interior of the Johnsons house is decorated with Rushs hunting trophies from around the world; even his trash basket was designed from cut-off elephants foot that looked awful. Seeing my reaction, Rush assured me that this rarity was not from his safaris. It was purchased at a garage sale. After the honest explanation, I found myself, suspicious that and many other of his trophies had similar origin.
In their barn, Inez had been collecting old farming equipment such as sickles, scythes, shovels, rakes, hoes, etc. I wanted very much to swap her horse collar for mine, but decided not to ask, hoping to find one like it latter in my travels. However, Inez helped me dearly applying Velcro to the side curtains of my buggy to keep out the varmints.
In our way to the Country Kitchen Restaurant for dinner, we stopped in Marceline to see their daughter Kaye Malins who was taking care of small wooden house where Walt Disney has lived as a young boy. The inspiration for the Walts creatures such as the mouse, the cat, and the duck came from those years on this farm. These farm dwellers were transformed by this creator of American cartoons in such creatures as Donald Duck, Micky Mouse, Tom and Jerry, and other of his creatures who have been teaching for many years the American values to millions TV viewers.
Walt Disney was and is the real Big Brother of American mentality, and I was surprised that this humble house of his was neglected by his adherents. Only Rushs daughter was taking care with devotion of this crib of American civilization.
At the restaurant, everybody knew Johnsons, and gave me a good greeting. Our next-table neighbors were celebrating the arrival of a new female doctor to the Brookfield hospital. It seems like here, just as in Russia, fresh-baked doctors must put in their time in the rural areas.
That night I was given a nice separate bedroom upstairs at Johnsons. All the bedclothes were embroiled with the Johnson coat of arms; it was warm inside and outside.
Before my departure the next morning, Rush wanted to show me how to sedate an elk that needed to have a deformed antler cut. The antler was growing in such a way that it was piercing the elks skull. Rush used an air gun to shoot the elk with an ampoule of sedative, assuring me that within 10 minutes the elk would fall down and he would cut the antler. But, as it always seems to go where there is an audience, the show stunt did not work out as planned and after 40 minutes I had to leave, but stubborn bull elk still had not fallen down.
In respect to this Murphys Law of show biz, I still do not know how great Houdini managed to perform his escape tricks in the front of the public. Of course, unfortunately, in 1926, he did not manage to escape from a water tank in public view, and went to history.
I turned back onto Rte. 36, but after an hour of driving Rush caught up with me and handed me a bottle of home-made wine and some salami sausage made from elk meat. It was tasty and spicy as hell. As I continued on after this lunch, I was stopped many times by the usual newspaper reporters, police officers, farmers and parents with children who wanted to pet my horse.
About 4 p. m. I made left turn into the farm of the Dou (Im withholding his real name.) - Quite strange farm, kept in such an order and being so spotlessly clean that I felt like some kind of intruder. In Russia about such places, they have an expression: there is no spot to spit out.
Mary was planting flower plants in her front yard and Nick was fixing one of his four tractors in his roomy repair shop. They agreed to let me stay on their property, although I sensed it was with a big chunk of reluctance. Two of them live in a small house and own a big farm. They have another house in Arizona where they fly their airplane, a vintage 1960 Cessna.
Nick was after 60, strong and sinewy man with unusually unsymmetric face, which left part, was more developed than amorphous right one. Looked alike that all his life Nick has been chewing his food just by using his left jaw. Even this part of his face was sour when he finally permitted Vanya to graze on his pasture, but showed no interest in talking with me, nor did he invited me to wash myself in his house. There was no fenced paddock on his property so it did not take long before Vanya found the green shoots of Nicks wheat field very tasty. Obviously, if Nick discovers this he would kick us out right away, so I had to tie horse and keep an eye on him over night.
The next morning Nick came to my wagon and asked, Hows everything going? I thanked him for his hospitality and said, If youll find a time, fly over to visit me in Russia. His wife did not even come out to say Godspeed. Leaving their property, I made an observation: there were no live animals around. They lived only for themselves.
I was so upset by the encounter that I stopped in the town of Chilicothe and bought a big bottle of Old English beer. In violation of my own regulations, I was drinking and driving on the road. We traveled the way for some time, when suddenly, a stillness awakened me and I realized that Vanya had turned off at a crossroad and was now stopped to join my nap.
Fuming on myself for allowing this disgracing, I turned back onto the main road and proceeded farther. As I went along I observed some small piles of horse manure along the road and wandered who else would be driving or riding along this route.
After about three miles, I pulled over to neglected farm and asked an old farmer whether I could find accommodation with him. He proved reluctant to put us up, and advised that we go farther west, but pointed to the east. His geographical ignorance surprised me, but I very politely corrected him, saying that east was in the opposite direction. My pleasant observation drove the old man crazy:
All my life Ive lived here, and I know for sure, wheres west or east. Only then did I comprehend that after our brief stop at the crossroad, I had managed to turn us back in the opposite direction. The horse manure in the road was our own.
 
VETERANS
April 25

 In the village of Breckenridge, on crossroad I found a store, type that used to be in this country before times of WW II where they sell everything from pampers to alcohol. Such stores are more common for country sites of Russia and are named "Selpo," or Village Consumers' Cooperative. Its attendant was old and horsemen-friendly woman who knew all the people of this small neighborhood, she advised to go farther north and try my luck with finding night stop at the farm of Pauls. On the way there young woman with son asked me to give them ride. Vanda was of German extraction and surprised reading on my wagon's tent such motto in German: "Pferde - Welt - Reise" which stands for "World - Wide - Tour." Driving with me, she told her story as being young married an American technician and came with him to live with his family in this village. Before long, she had given birth to a son and divorced her husband, finding herself estranged in this small community of farmers and unemployed workers. Her situation seemed to trigger a latent superiority complex, of a "civilized European woman" over these "ignorant Americans." In their response locals call her "German bosh whore" despite of that this area populated by people with German roots. Looks like in unity against foreigners American regain their national identity.
 In any case, with her help I found a resting place on the outskirts of the village, with a good fenced pasture and a lot of kids visiting (but few adults around). Just half block farther down adults congregated in the middle of village's junkyard and drunk their beer hopelessly with no curiosity about my Pferd Welt Reise. Kids told me that this small settlement is ruled by an 80-year-old mayor, who is the chief of police at the same time and his wife's deputy and nobody is challenging their authority. I was not surprised by it - this village was a challengers-free, and I had no time for a political activity - in the sleeping kingdom, even napping person might be the king.
 That evening was windy and unfriendly, as if it were not mine but somebody else's, as nature joined these people to chase me out of here. Just my European cousins Vanda was bustling about my accommodation, before leaving she asked if I would stop at her sons school and give a lecture for his first grade class, perhaps hoping in this way to improve her social status. I willingly did it the next morning but the reception from school officials was quite cool and it seemed that Vanda's unpopularity was contagious.
 On my way to west, it would be unforgivable to miss stopping in Hamilton, known as birthplace of James Cash Penney (He was born with good middle name, but and last name was sounding good in his times.), who established a chain of department stores across the nation and this nation until now appreciate it. (Actually, for me it's amazing - what's the big deal developing a new chain of trade.) That may be Hamilton's the biggest claim to fame. At least for outsiders who come to visit the J.C. Penney Museum and see his boyhood home - and they, amazingly, do!?
On the way from the site of this museum, I was invited to visit Anne Tezon, publisher of The Hamilton Advocate who told me that this town rich with not only Penney history. I was even given a lustrous album, entitled Hamilton Historical Highlights where I found that in The Squibb Pharmacy in 1890s was invented "Skunk Oil Liniment," but speaking seriously, this was one of thousands American towns where was born today's wealth and honor of this country. Anne and her husband Marshall entertained me with doughnuts and coffee in their spacious office, where we talked about their deep roots in this part of the land. I sat across from them thinking about my own roots, burned by events of WW II, about my relatives living now in different countries that were created after a crush of the USSR. I was envious.
 In Cameron, I decided to stop on the beautifully illuminated estate of Howard Ramey. At first, he was stunned, seeing my rig standing in his tidy front yard. However, his natural hospitality soon overpowered his caution in dealing with strangers. I was given a good pasture and his neighbor brought a lot of grain for my horse. What else did I need for happiness? Howard is 80 now, and suffering from hernia, but he had in the past held his ground in many difficult arenas. Enlisted as a private in WW II, he had found himself on the killing fields of Omaha Beach in Normandy as the Allies swept into France. He was wounded and recovering from his injuries in the hospital when he was offered the Purple Heart. He refused to accept the medal because he had heard that his lieutenant had been awarded the same Purple Heart for cutting his finger on the jagged edge of a can of Spam. Howard showed me an issue of enlisted men's newspaper Yank, dated January, 1945, with a schedule of Bob Hope performances and a report of the recent (last) German attack in Ardennes.
Howard completed his army service in Austria, then, returning to the U.S., he received $10,000, in service pay (our Russian servicemen after the end of WW II got each about 0.00 rubles.) which he spent on his first chunk of land. From that time on, he had always been farmer. Bit by bit he'd accumulated 1,500 acres, which he now rents out. His girlfriend Doris Barber, 11 years younger than Howard but in this age such a difference isn't substantial. She fixed us a fantastic supper. We spent all evening talking and examining some farming appliances that he had saved from younger years. I was especially touched when he showed me a stone water jar that he used to take with him when he went to do field work. Similar jar I used to take with me in my younger years when I used to go for hay- making, and I was just 12 years old, barely lifting a scythe. The water evaporation from its porous surface kept the contents cold. There were not so many fridges around back then.
 That night I slept in a bedroom filled with Howard's memorabilia as well as gold and silver jewelry scattered around. It was not the first time that I had been trusted this way, like someone's closest friend, Americans are trusting, but often not believing.
 
 PONY EXPRESS
 April 27

Finally the springtime came and, too, lilacs blooming. It reminded me of my school times in Russia, when, before the final exams, I used to search out a rare five-petal bud and eat it, hoping by this trick to overpower my own ignorance and to get the highest score 5 of on my test. I do not know how many more tests I must pass in my time, but this trip I am now on is quite a challenging one.
Arriving in the former frontier town of St. Joseph, I read in book The American West, by Dee Brown, that world-wide known French actress, Sarah Bernhardt, used to perform here in 1881. Local reporter, Edgar Howe covered her performance in a typical American style, At exactly 8:31 last night Sarah Bernhardt made her appearance on the stage of Tootles Opera house, walking down the centre as though she had but one joint in her body, and no knees...Her dress was of white and costly stuff, and cut so low in front that we expected every minute that she would step one of her legs through it...With reference to Camille in French, it is about as interesting to an American as five acts of a Chinese drama running three months. For sure, these lines are written in style of Mark Twain.
I pulled in close to the main entrance of The Pony Express National Memorial and tied Vanya to the blossoming cherry tree. All the stuff came out to make us feel at home and gave me a tour around. The museums curator Leonard Elliott made a gift of the splendid book The Oregon Trail Revisited, by Gregory Franzwa which as I found later was very useful for my trail. For me it was not revisit but my first encounter with the Oregon Trail.
The Pony Express memorial is dedicated to one of the most romantic and heroic periods of American history, before telegraph and railroad tracks crossed this country. On April 30, 1860, the Central Overland Pony Express Company was created, which promised to deliver mail from St. Joseph to Sacramento, California, in just ten days. Each rider carried the mail 36 miles one way, before handing it off to the next one, and picking up mail to go back. For such a task young, stubborn riders were hired, who could ride days and nights through deserts, plains, mountains and hostile Comanche Indian country.
In 1861, Mark Twain with his brother, Orion, landed at St. Joseph to hunt up the stagecoach office and paid $150 each for tickets to drive by coach to Carson City, Nevada. Orion was appointed secretary to Governor of the newly formed Nevada Territory and Mark Twain decided to join him in hope to open new horizons in his life.
Their stagecoach was making between 100 and 125 miles a day (24 hours), the Pony Express riders - about 250. In his book Roughing It, Mark Twain left a very vivid description of a pony-rider: Every neck is stretched further, and every eye strained wider. Away across the endless dead level of the prairie, a black speck appears against the sky, and it is plain that it moves. Well, I should think so! In a second or two it becomes a horse and rider, rising and falling, rising and falling - sweeping toward us nearer and nearer - growing more and more distinct, more and more sharply defined - nearer and still nearer, and the flutter of the hoofs comes faintly to the ear - another instant a whoop and hurrah from our upper deck, a wave of the riders hand, but no reply, and man and horse burst past our excited faces, and go winging away like a belated fragment of a storm!
So sudden it is all, and so like a flash of unreal fancy, that but for the flake of white foam left quivering and perishing on a mail-sack after the vision had flashed by and disappeared, we might have doubted whether we had seen any actual horse and man at all, maybe.
This pony-riders venture only lasted 18 months before it was ruined by the extension of railroad trucks to California and the advent of trans-continental telegraph line.
It is noteworthy that the trend for faster speed, freedom and enterprise of 1860s which culminated in Civil War in this country was common at that time around the world. In Russia when tsar Alexander II came to the throne he said, It is better to abolish serfdom from above than to wait until the serfs begin to liberate themselves from bellow. With this edict March 3, 1861, about twenty million serfs were granted freedom.
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the election for Presidency on an anti-slavery platform and said, I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free.
These two humanitarians and libertarians of 1860s, Alexander II and Lincoln were good companions in perceive to make free all their citizens, and fight against their common enemy, Britain. Russia and the United States were concern about an invasion of British and French fleets in purpose to side Confederate forces, divide this country and take their old possessions. In according to secret agreement, in September, 1863, Russian navy flexed its power on both sides of the continent - in New York came squadron under command of admiral Lesovsky, San-Franciscos harbor was moored by fleet of admiral Popov. They shoved to their enemies that ready to defend the American integrity.
In 1867, traveling on board of the Quaker City ship, Mark Twain, with group of fellow Americans, had the audience with this Tzar in Yalta, Russia. I would like to quote feelings of this not regular, but certainly American, from his book The Innocents Abroad: A strange, new sensation is a rare thing in this hum-drum life, and I had it here....It seemed strange - stranger than I can tell - to think that the central figure in the cluster of men and women, chatting here under the trees like the most ordinary individual in the land, was a man who could open his lips and ships would fly through the waves, locomotives would speed over the plains, curriers would hurry from village to village, a hundred telegraphs would flash the word to the four corners of an Empire that stretches its vast proportions over a seventh part of the habitable globe, and countless multitude of men would spring to do his bidding. I had a sort of vague desire to examine his hands and see if they were of flesh and blood, like other mens. Here was a man who could do this wonderful thing, and yet if I choose I could knock him down. The case was plain, but it seemed preposterous, nevertheless - as preposterous as trying to knock down a mountain or wipe out a continent.
These secret thoughts were bred not only in mind of this great humanitarian but also in fuzzy brains of the assassins, members of secret organization named as the Peoples Will... They wanted to be known killing the Emperor. And they did - in March, 13, our emperor, popularly called Alexander the Liberator was assassinated by grateful members of underground group called themselves The Peoples Will.
Their American same-minders were under the influence of same 1881st loonaty, called themselves the Stalwarts and assassinated September 20, 1881, their president, James Garfield.
As its known, no good deeds should be left unpunished. Being great humanist and humorist, Mark Twain had no intention to kill our emperor and finished his observation of meeting with tsar, mentioning that the Emperor of Russia and his family conducted Americans through their mansion and, ...then the Imperial family bade our party a kind good-bye and proceeded to count the spoons.
I safely crossed the coffee-colored Missouri River by Pony Express Bridge and found myself on the plains of the state of Kansas. Perhaps after crossing this river one settler in 1838 wrote this line in his letter to friends in Tennessee: There is good land on the Massura for a poar mans home. However, I had no intention to settle here, my plans were directed towards Lincoln, Nebraska, where my friend Dave was waiting for me.
It was very hard to find a farm in this highly populated area of the Missouri River valley. I nearly made camp behind a gas station, but along came a girl wheeling around on her bike who told me that I should go a little farther. She remembered that she used to go with her classmates for riding lessons to a farm that had Arabian horses. She gave me very clear direction and within an hour, I was on the estate of Larry and Joyce Theis.
Larry works as a welder at the Air Base close by, but his real love, and soul is calling, is horses. After many years of hard work, he managed to buy 15 acres of land and build a great house on the top of a hill. His four Arabian horses are known as the best in this area and many people came here to learn riding. His entire family accepted me as a kindred spirit and for the evening that I was in their company, I was treated as a fast friend.

MORMONS
April 28

 Going down the road toward Sparks I run into the town of Fanning, which wasn't shown on my map. Following my Sunday's observance, I pulled into the local church's parking lot and for the first time encountered the Mormon's "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints." I had heard quite a lot about this sect or branch of Christianity.
 Their Prophet Joseph Smith, on the evening September 21, 1823, was praying in Fayette, New York, when he was enlightened by the appearance of Morony, a messenger of God who said, "...there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this Continent, and source from whence they sprang." He also said, "The fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants." I am citing here in part The Book of Mormon, which was given to me in this church, and I am trying to understand the contains of this religion. If I am wrong in my I have met and befriended on the way and respect dearly.
Joseph Smith had found those plates along with a pair of crystal spectacles. Looking through them, he "translated tablets by the gift and power of God" from an ancient language which he identified as "Reformed Egyptian." He found that words on those plates "were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon." According to this book, two waves of immigration from the Middle East created two great civilizations on the American continent. "One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians."
 The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection." Here is the breaking point between the Orthodox and Mormon Christianity. Because Mormon insists that only in their Book was it revealed, "forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come." This statement shows that Mormons believe in the second arrival of Jesus Christ on the Earth with the Gospel known only to them, but not to Christians who preach and know His Wisdom from the New Testament. Joseph Smith taught that his followers whom he called the Saints must bow to the good of established by him in 1830 the Church of Jesus Christ. In return as a chosen people, they would obtain the benefits of living in an earthly city of God before receiving the inner circle of the heavenly in future. Very soon he had won thousands followers.
 I am fascinated by personality of Joseph Smith - how a young farm hand from upper New York State managed to create absolutely new religion? If he was not inspired by God, who else helped him to write The Book of Mormon and invent all its events and mythology? His talent, inspiration, and writing genius could be matched with genius and mystic of William Shakespeare. In 1844, he announced his candidacy for President of the United States on his own platform of "Theodemocracy," which for common people sounded as threat to the constitutional separation of state and church. Even more outrageous for orthodox Christians sounded Smith's revelation that a man has a spiritual obligation to marry as many women as he could support. He called it a celestial marriage, this term derived from his belief that in the future such families would be reunited and resumes connubial relations. But immediate goal was the bringing forth of children who would be raised in the faith of the Latter-Day Saints Church. Smith not only preached this idea but also followed it having as many as 60 wives.
The Mormon council found some kind approval of this custom in life of Jesus Christ who, allegedly, had practiced plural marriage. Member of council, Orson Pratt wrote: "One thing is certain, that there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus - such as Mary, and Martha, her sister, and Mary Magdalene; and Jesus greatly loved them, and associated with them much; and when He arose from the dead, instead of first showing Himself to His chosen witnesses, the Apostles, He appeared first to those women. Now it would be very natural for a husband in the Resurrection to appear first to his own dear wives, and afterwards show himself to his other friends. If all the acts of Jesus were written, we no doubt should learn that these beloved women were his wives." Now I could apprehend why the followers of the Mormon Church were the subjects to harassment, antagonism, and persecution from proselytes of the traditional Church.
 Nobody likes to be outwitted and, especially, outlived. The Mormon gathering at Fanning was a large one and I received an exceptionally warm greeting by all the parishioners, including Galen Weiland, district representative in the Kansas State Congress. After Communion, we shared good meal and people signed my ledger, which now I was calling the Book of Friends.
 Farther down Rte. 7, passing us in his truck, Dick Linden invited Vanya together with me to stop at his place in White Cloud. Despite the fact that this road was marked as a "Scenic Route," it was not so much. The Missouri River was quite muddy and wide, and at Iowa Point on sunny day I could have seen all four neighboring states - Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri - but this day was grim and depressing. Our boredom was interrupted by the magical appearance of Laurel Dunn, who brought me some sandwiches and coffee. Signing my diary, she wrote 26 April, instead April 26, as regular people usually sign. I immediately asked her whether she ever been in the service, where they use an international standard of document dating. At first she was put on her guard by my "penetrating" question, but after an explanation, she relaxed and brought out her U.S. Marine Corps KA-BAR knife, inscribed: SGT LAUREL J. DUNN, MACS 7 RADAR, 3 SEPT 88 - 30 JUN 90, and gave it to me.
I did not ask why she decided to part with her military past, but was very touched by so generous a gift. (I excused her for not knowing that we in Russia never give knife as a gift to friends because believe that such a gift can break the friendship.) Because her Rose Red Farm was far removed from my route, she invited me to visit her at some later time. On outskirts of White Cloud Village, I was greeted by a tall, grey-bearded and pony-tailed man graciously leaning on a long shepherd's stick. He was the local celebrity, known as Wolf River Bob. When Bob was younger, he had lived in California and worked as a stunt man for a major movie production studies. Now he was retired and back in his native home where he practiced his art for rear here tourists and taught school children the skills of "FAST GUNS" and "BULLWHIPS" which he acquired being a fictitious "COWBOY" or "FRONTIERSMAN" in western movies. He is more than 70, nut looks strong and continues to follow his life slogan: "Till the wheels roll no more."
 Wolf River Bob showed me the farm of Dick and Maria Linden who were waiting for me with dinner on table. I supposed that they were Mormons because no coffee or tea was served after dinner; milk or plain water was suggested. Bob works as a mechanic and they have two mules, and a pony that is used just a few times a year for parades and other events of local interest. My Vanya got everything he wanted and I read in a warm room Riders Digest - symbol of American intellectuality and a political correctness of the posthippie - preyuppie generations.
 
 INDIANS
April 29

It was rainy but warm in the morning. The road in front of us was misty, and from this obscurity beamed the car of Ron Robidoux. Stopping and getting out, he crawled slowly in my direction, using crutches for support. He had recently had an operation that fixed him up with artificial hip joints and he suffered now with post-surgery pain. I have heard that 60% of surgical interventions in joints and hearts of Americans aren't necessary and performed just because it gives biggest profit to hospitals, and I absolutely agree with such a judgment. Don was half European and half Iowa Indian. He was on his way to the reservation of the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri, located here, in Kansas, where he worked for the tribal council mediating relationships between the various tribes.
 After so many years of contacts with Europeans, those American Indians who can claim pure Indian blood are only about 5-10%, yet living on this reservation Indians had higher percentage of indigenous blood. Don described me that the Tribal Council has held meetings to determine who could be included in the Tribal Roll, membership in which guarantees all the Federal subsidies due for indigenous peoples. According to Don, even those with 1/64 Indian blood could be included in the Tribal Roll.
Seems in modern America to be Indian is not stigma any more but high privilege. Certainly, we spoke with him in English, and Don told me that of the approximately 300 North Indian languages that existed when Europeans came to what is now the United States only 20 are still spoken by mothers to babies. He said that among the Navajo, the most populous tribe in this country, the portion of native speakers among first graders is just 30 percent. The main influence for language ignorance was made by TV-watching, the cultural nerve gas of American civilization. I didn't smoke a peace pipe with Don because he's a nonsmoker. We just said farewell to each other and carried on in opposite directions.
 Approaching to town of Reserve where was headquarter of Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri, I twice was stopped by the passing vehicles of young Indians, drinking beer and smoking pot. In the Tribal Office, Collin Shumaher and Don Treaver signed my ledger with good wishes and recommended the Red Earth Cafe next door. The owners, Cathee Yosel and Anna Marie Klaer, were as huge as Mother Earth herself, and provided me with enormous amounts of crispy fried chicken with coffee, they weren't Mormons for sure. Discovering that I planned to stop in Falls City, they put in call to their friend there, who promised to find me a good place to stay. Linda Stout, manager of the Chamber of Commerce, was waiting for my one-man-one-horse caravan north of the border between Kansas and Nebraska on Highway 73. Finally I came to this famous state of Nebraska, which in an Indian word means "flat and shallow," on the way to the Platte River which was a French equivalent of the same word.
But Linda was not flat and shallow at all and much more opposite in her composition - for sure, Linda was Miss Anti-Nebraska. She guided us to our lodging and pasture at Gary Weakland's place. Linda was extremely busy with all her meetings and fund-raising but found the time to bring me supper from a restaurant. My host, Gary used to be in army service and since then has had a great love for - and a lot of fun with - geography. He was so happy bringing out his maps and talking about the best way to cross the Rocky Mountains, ultimately recommending that I use the Oregon Trail. Coincidently, John Humm, a retired grocery store owner, invited me to take a shower in his cozy next-door home, and luck would have it, they were showing a segment on "The Oregon Trail" on ETV.
 It was a fascinating history of American pioneers who as if by God's command, wanted to bring the western part of the country under the control of "civilized" people. There was also the promise of a new beginning of a life filled with all good things. The attraction was land. With it came a new sense of dignity, freedom and material well-being. "Go west and grow up with the country" - was the slogan. In covered wagons and two-wheeled carts the emigrants traveled down the Oregon Trail to the lands along the Pacific Coast. It also became the main route for the Mormon migration to the Salt Lake Valley from 1846-1869, and the California Gold Rush in 1849. (Only after learning about this gold rush I apprehended why San Francisco football team is named "49-ners.") About 350,000 people trekked this route the years 1841-1869.
At least 20,000 people died along the way, about ten deaths for each mile of the Trail. The Indians were the first explorers of the west and nearly every exploring party depended upon their knowledge of the rivers and the passes through the Rocky Mountains. At that time the various tribes roam the plains: Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee, Sioux, hunting buffalo herds. On their first encounters with the emigrants, they were more inclined to trade than to fight. It has been said that the biggest killer of the pioneers was cholera, but this is not true. Gregory Franzwa, explorer and researcher of the Oregon Trail, found the prime killer was carelessness in handling firearms. Spooked cattle also sometimes took human lives. The big nuisance for travelers was a nasty habit the Indians had of burning prairies to channel game into an ambush which threatened the lives of the travelers and their animals. The second purpose was to stampede pioneers' cattle and round it up later. In those days, Indians would rather steal cattle, horses or guns, not caring about white scalps which were way down at the bottom of their list. They rarely killed travelers until the end of 1860s.
After watching the TV and reading more about the Oregon Trail, I decided to follow it myself as a hundreds thousands of my predecessors had done 150 years ago. My main concern plotting this part of journey had been about crossing the Continental Divide, which near Denver reached 12,000 feet. If I followed the trail, the highest point would be on the South Pass, just 7,550 feet. On the way out of Falls City I was stopped by Dee Pounds, the owner of the Culligan Water Conditioning Company, who wanted to give me a ten-gallon bottle of purified water. I declined this generous gift, first because of the weight, but secondly because my horse could survive on regular water, and myself - I'd rather drink beer or something stronger. But owner of brewery perhaps traveled on other road.
 We found our next rest west of Humbold, on the farm of Marilyn Glathar, whose husband was out, working as a truck driver in Omaha, making it home just once a week. Her two children, Jason and Megan, were happy to take care of Vanya, but there was not enough of grass in the paddock to satisfy my horse's appetite. Marilyn's farther in law came to help us mow some extra grass. We sharpened my scythe with a hand stone and tried to cut the grass in a nearby field, but both of us disgraced ourselves in this endeavor. Old man finally admitted that even when he was young he never used a scythe, but hay mowers, and in my younger years, I had used a different kind of scythe. I have seen in this country a scythe users swing the scythe as if it was machete on a long handle, hacking forcefully at the grass. A scythe is primarily a slicing, rather than hacking, tool, but American scythes designed for hacking not for a slicing. Luckily, I also had a sickle, with which we managed to cut enough fresh grass for my Valentine, as I sometimes call my horse, because I bought him on Valentine's Day.
 

 HOMESTEADS
 May 1
         
 May the First used to be a big holiday in Soviet Russia, called the International Labor Day. All around the country they would hold parades and other festivities and despite its political aspects, it was a really our Spring Holiday. In this country, they celebrate May Day too. People around here (mostly children) deliver baskets (or small cups) with candy in them to their friends, or give little bouquets of flowers to their mothers. This is to say, "We are happy. Spring is here." (I was surprised finding in this country that Mayday also is an international radio signal of a distress. Why?) Coming to Table Rock, though, I couldn't see any sign of celebration at all. The central square was empty and dusty, surrounded by once-glamorous buildings. In 1920s, the town had been prosperous agriculture center, even boasting its own Opera Theater, where actors on tour from St. Luis used to perform.
Years of Great Depression stroke this town so hard that it never recuperated completely, now it is a ghost town. But former glory of Table Rock preserved in its spacious and precious museum. Earl Wilcox, maintains man and volunteer museum curator, gave me a tour around the complex of buildings that make up Table Rock's museum, and showed me its multitude of exhibits. The eclectic collection was started by a local veterinarian. With the help of his friends, he was able to accumulate the best collection I ever seen of barb wire, agriculture machinery, tools, cars, printing presses, etc., etc. I learned something I'd never known before, that in the old days farmers used to put a mesh blankets on their horse's backs to keep off mosquitoes and horseflies. It was also amazing to see the local electric power station from the era before a central power supply. Just an internal combustion engine generated electricity for the entire town. About ten huge-capacity batteries managed to discharge electricity, when the engine was turned off. Despite obvious neglect by county authorities, this museum attracts a lot of tourists. When I was around, about 30 schoolchildren from Tecumseh came to learn about their past. We took many snapshots of each other in front of this fantastic museum and promised we would write letters back and forth (Oh, these sweet promises - they never sent me any letter, and vice versa.)
 Farther down the road I was stopped by Rod and Sharon Bartels from Estes Park, Colorado. They were celebrating Sharon's miraculous recuperation after surgery. She gave me an angel wind chime with this comment in my diary, "She hung with me in the hospital through cancer surgery and chemo; now let her go with you." Thanks, Sharon. She's still with me! But when I met newly wed Pam and Mary, lesbians from Washington State on their honeymoon trip across this country, it drove me crazy. Honestly, being Ph.D. in Genetics, I have nothing against homosexuality - I consider it a natural phenomenon and, maybe sometimes, a misfortune. As matter of fact in homosexuals the right half of brains responsible for creativity is more developed than left side which in charge of analytical activity. It explains why there are so many homosexuals between designers, artists, musicians and writers. The most famous homosexuals were the great warier Alexander the Great, Russian composer Tchaikovsky, and an ancient Greek poetess Sapho. But how come, such beautiful women prefer making love with each other instead doing it with me? My smile was bitter and hypocritical when I talked with these Amazonian women. "Bon voyage," murmured I to a self-sufficient couple.
 In town of Virginia I found a rest on the farm of James Mencl, who owns 700 acres of his own land, but actually works 1,200, growing wheat, millet, and soybeans. It cost a lot of money for the education of his four daughters, so his family works to make ends meet. Fortunately, it is possible to lease land here for just $60 an acre per year, much cheaper than $150 that it costs in Illinois. Many inhabitants of this area are Czech's extraction and used to hang together. But nowadays they seldom use their ancestors' language and loosing cultural identity. A reminder of the old days of companionship and helping one another is the Stone Bar, located close to James' farm. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, a local wealthy farmer decided to build a huge barn, and in this way to give jobs to some of his less-fortunate neighbors.
This story told me James and I had no time to make own research about it. I don't know how this man latter used the barn while he was living, but now it's used by the community for any kind of social events. The people here call it the Stone Bar, but they don't remember the name of that great man who commissioned it. By way of Rte. 136, I came to the front yard of Homestead Corral gift shop of Dave and Shirley Haner. Mostly they sell hand-crafted artifacts made by local craftsmen. I especially liked a group of three cranes made from a shovel blade (for the body), a bicycle fork as legs and a scissors for the head.
I decided to leave my horse for rest here and visit the much-recommended "Homestead National Monument of America," to which, Byron Ray, a friend of Haners, gave me a lift. This museum was established in 1936 to commemorate the lives of the settlers who came here after the proclamation of the Homestead Act of 1862. According this act, 160 acres of land per family were offered free of charge if it were lived upon improved for five years, after which settler could file for ownership. To prevent land speculation, a federal regulation required to build a house on his plot that was at least 12 by 12, with windows, but failed to specify whether it meant in feet, yards, or whatever. To avoid this restriction, those farmers or land sharks used to make a ploy of erecting on their claim miniature houses with windows measuring exactly a foot high and foot wide, as it was required by the regulation - "12 by 12." I like American ingenuity!
 That year in America was popular slogan: "Land for the Landless! Homes for the Homeless!" which attracted to mid-west states not only Americans but immigrants from Norway, Denmark, England, Germany, Russia, etc. So many Germans moved to Kansas and Nebraska that one tribe of Kansas Indians in the late 1870s spoke German, not English, as a second language.
 I was proud finding that most the common kind of wheat grown in Midwest was selectioned in Russia. It was introduced in 1874 by Mennonite immigrants from southern part of Russia and proved hardly enough to withstand severe extremes of climate in this region. So, now I know that we import from America our own wheat. The prairies and the plains presented challenge and hardship for these pioneers. No trees grew here, the land offered only two natural resources: soil and grass but in abundance. Settlers had to build houses without timber, to cook food without wood and to grow crops in conditions when annual rainfall was below the 20 inches needed to grow it. These people were branded as sodbusters because they managed to use this precious commodity for many purposes, especially for building houses. Prairie sod, peeled of in rows with a special plow and cut into blocks.
For making walls each block was laid with the grass side down, two rows were placed side by side, making walls about 36 inches thick. The same material was used for covering roof but the grass side was up. An acre of turf was needed to construct relatively comfortable soddy, as the house used to be called. I was fascinated with some of the museum's exhibits, like a horse collar made from twisted straw which used to substitute leather one. Museum was proud showing a special plow to cut adobe bricks about the same size as they cut dirt-grass for lawns nowadays. It was direct progeny of John Deere's steel plow invented in 1837 especially for plowing the tough sod and sticky soil. In shed was  displayed Cyrus McCormick's reaper which was patented in 1834 and greatly improved farm production of this land. Getting used to new surroundings settlers grew to require such a financial institution as bank. I found in exhibition memories of a local banker describing bow he founded his private bank: "I didn't have much else to do and so I rented an empty building and painted 'bank' on the window. The first day I was open for business a man came and deposited one hundred dollars. The second day another deposited two hundred-fifty dollars. And so, along about the third day, I got confidence enough to put in hundred myself."
 The new developments in agriculture, as well as a series of exceptionally good wet years, attracted thousands of brand-new farmers in this area. Many of them, however were city dwellers and knew almost nothing about farming. Some did their homework and learned from their neighbors how to be real farmers, but many others lost or left their homesteads and returned to the cities. The Gage County Seat, town of Beatrice gives the impression of being prosperous and growing town, and I met a lot of impressive people along Rte. 112. Robert Becker, the photographer from the Journal Star, wrote in my album, "Anatoly - Good to meet you on the road to Nebraska's capitol - Psalm 3: 4-6." After reading such a puzzling farewell, I had no choice but to learn what it was written about it in The Holy Bible. This is what I found:
 
 To the Lord I cry aloud,
 and he answers me from his holy hill.
 I lie down and sleep;
 I wake again, because the Lord sustain me.
 I will not fear the tens of thousands
 drown up against me on every side.
 
 I have never been able to understand how some people manage to remember so much from the Bible. As for me, I have a very short memory. Commenting on the Psalm above, I would have to say that I have met on the way across this country only friends "on every side" and it wasn't necessary to ask Him, (as it written in 7 verse):
 
 Arise, O Lord!
 Deliver me, O my God!
 Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
 Break the teeth of the wicked.
 
King David in this verse sounds like "the wicked" himself in his persuasion to punish his own son Absalom, and he did it in a battle which took the lives of more than 20,000 men. So...Te Deum, Bob Becker, for an inspiration to read the Bible.
 In the town of Cortland I approached an old man moving his lawn and asked about an accommodation, which was granted. My host, Ted Trouba, had lost his wife to cancer only a week ago and was in a very bad disposition, sobbing every five minutes. It's hard to imagine how to survive by yourself after 40 years living with your spouse, your soul mate. Many people find no way to adjust themselves for a new empty life, and die very soon after their spouses. The measure of man's life we come to realize is not "how long?" but "how good?" I was feeling very sorry for Ted and consoled him as much as I could, and in my consoling drained myself into my own melancholia. Unhitching Vanya, I found a big sore on his shoulder, made by the rubbing of a loose collar. This drained me down even more. Almost sobbing, I hugged him and lamented, "You are the only one in my life. We are not needed by anybody but ourselves. I don't need a woman so long as I have you around. You'd never cheat on me as they used to do!"
 I was in such a relaxed and profound state of mind that lost control of surroundings and was corrected right away - Vanya suddenly nipped my back, and it was very painful. In my sobbing and hugging, I had accidentally rubbed his sore. Horses and women are both alike in this - they both snap if you touch their sores.
 
LINCOLN
May 3
      
 
Early in the morning I called my friend in Lincoln, Nebraska, and he promised to meet up with me on my journey. I knew David without ever seeing him; for the last six months we had spoken on the phone on a regular basis. Before my departure from the east coast, I had decided to find out all available information about anyone who in the past twenty years had traveled around this country by horses and buggy.
The first was John Coffer, who began his trip in 1978, and in the next six years to travel about 11,000 miles with the very same horse and wagon. In 1985, he self-published a book about his trip, Horse Hairs in My Soup. Since then he has lived in a secluded area of Dundee, New York, on a farm with no electricity or telephone, working on it just with oxen and horses.
The second of my new horsemen friends was David McWelchy, who lives in New Hampshire. In 1994, he departed from the eastern part of New York State with a wagon pulled by two Norwegian Fiord draft horses. Despite numerous mishaps, he managed to reach western Montana. He returned to east, and now breeds the Norwegian Fiords. We call each other monthly.
The third one was David, professor of Sociology at Nebraska State University, Lincoln. In 1995, he took a sabbatical and decided to go around the world with a horse and buggy - his family inside. He got as far as Washington, D.C., but finally was forced back home after many unsuccessful attempts to get visas to cross the USSR and China. I looked forward to meet him today.
Going up Rte. 77, I was stopped by Sergeant Steven Keller bringing a message from David who was waiting for me on Capitol Parkway West. Never before I had such kind of communication through police as a messenger.
I proceeded further, and within the hour I was greeted by tall smiling man, hair going a bit gray, sad eye. David had come with his son who wanted to drive with me. Dave himself had been busy making arrangements for my meetings with state officials.
As I pulled in front of the State Capitol, Heidi Karr, beautiful as an early spring, handed me the flag which had flown on the flag staff atop the Nebraska State Capitol. In the name of the Governor of Nebraska, I was bestowed the diploma of the Honorary Citizen of the Great State of Nebraska. This ceremony was recorded by local TV and shown that evening on the news. It was a very well-orchestrated public relations stunt, and everybody was happy. For Vanyas accommodation, I was told to go to the Capitol City Horse & Pony Club in an area called Raymond.
On the way there, however, I was stopped and derailed to a parking lot by two cops who insisted, that I had created a traffic situation. This was the first time such a thing happened to us in all our traveling across the USA, and it was very much annoying. My referral to the old traffic regulation, giving preference to horse-driven vehicles didnt soften the hearts of the cops. It looked as if even an Honorary Citizen of the Great State of Nebraska could be messed with, just like anybody else. Sic transit gloria mundi, as it used to be said in Latin, which is translated means: Thus passes away the glory of this world.
After half an hour I was allowed to proceed and finally found a pasture close to the Pony Club, on the property of E.J. Cole. E.J. Cole is called by everybody simply E.J.. (Actually, I would like to find out why some people prefer be called just by the first letters of their first and middle names. In such a manner, I could be called A.M., which does not sound like a particular improvement over Anatoly. After outrageous and politically incorrect process of O.J. Simpson who was acquitted in killing of his wife on ground of racial animosity, everybody with name sounding close to his could feel himself uncomfortable.
E.J. promised to take care of my horse for a few days, and David came to take me in his home. On the way, we stopped at a K-Mart and Dave happened to mention that this was the biggest K-Mart in the USA. I have always felt uncomfortable being in supermarkets, perhaps because I have never had the money to buy those things I needed. The K-Mart was not the only monument in these parts. As we approached his villasge, I was impressed to see a fence, nearly a mile long, made from wheels and spare machinery parts. Like some of the mail box supports Ive seen along my way it looked quite inventive.
Dave brought me into his huge house in the small village, resting in the hills of eastern Nebraska. Now there are only three younger children remaining at home with Dave and his wife. Five older ones already left to begin their own struggle for happiness. Four of their children were adopted from other, dysfunctional families.
When he was younger, David used to be involved in political activity, and once even made a run for the office of County Commissioner, but his rival was too rich and powerful for a young contender. Dave ended up being framed, and practically evicted from his own property, which just happened to be on the site of a future development project. Later it was sold for a good lump of money by the new owners.
After his unsuccessful attempt to go around the world in a gypsy wagon, David subsided into his very secure position of Professor of Nebraska State University. But my arrival re-animated his dormant spirit and he decided that he would like to join me, at least for a few days.
He suggested that I stay at his place, and the entire ground floor was given over for my residence - an extensive library, laundry, lavatory and a potbellied stove - what more could any human being need to be happy? I even managed to find and finally read the book From Russia With Love, by Ian Fleming, after which my expedition was named. I liked my lodging, especially the wood-burning stove, built before the era of fire-place regulations. In it I could consume Daves entire library very easily - its drought was incredible.
In this small village David is the main authority. He is chairman of all possible committees, and the deacon of local church. There are only five pupils attending the school, including Daves youngest son. In Russia, I used to study in a school like this one, with mixed ages and grades and just one teacher. I have saved many sentimental memories from that time, and I appreciated it when Dave invited me to visit this school.
We arrived before classes began, and I was privileged to witness a ritual of schooling which has been preserved in this room as it was since the last century, with prayer and singing the American anthem before the flag. There was something so inherently profound in this ritual that I found myself almost crying.
The teacher was very generous, explaining her approach and experiences working with the students in this school for 26 years. She emphasized such basics as discipline, drilling and guidance. Her pupils were fast recalling the names of state capitals, presidents, and even the names of foreign countries. David had donated his old computer, and he himself drilled teacher on the basics of using it.
David is very much involved with a computer business and believes that through Internet connections he will soon be a millionaire. He brought me to the New Media Center at the University of Nebraska and introduced to his colleagues. Many students from other countries come here for training. Amjad Abuloum, for example, came here from Yarmouk University in Jordan to study the application of computers in education under guidance of Sara the Centers coordinator.
Actually this city was quite sophisticated even on April 23, 1882, when the greatest esthete and writer of those times, Oscar Wilde, came here from London to lecture. He was introduced to a young professor at the University, George E. Woodberry. Together they drove to the Lincoln jail to meet a convict named Aires, who was scheduled to be hanged soon. Do you read, my man? asked Oscar. Novels part of the time. I am now reading The Heir of Redclyff (By Charlotte M. Younge), responded convict. Wild left the cell with his friend, but he could not resist later to comment, My heart was turned by the eyes of the doomed man, but if he reads The Heir of Redclyff its perhaps as well to let the law to take its course.
The next convict was even more sophisticated and in his cell Wild caught sight of two rows of books, between the titles he found poetry of Shelly and Dantes The Divine  Comedy. Oh dear, he said, Who would have thought of finding Dante here? In his letter to Helena Sickert Wilde commented, Strange and beautiful it seemed to me that sorrow of a single Florentine in exile should, hundreds of years afterwards, lighten the sorrow of some common prisoner in a modern gaol. He would remember to read The Divine Comedy when in prison himself many years later, convicted for his homosexual attractions.
Oscar Wild was honored all around this country, and in Leadville, Colorado, he was invited to open a new shaft, named The Oscar in his honor, with a silver drill. He was very pleased but disappointed with it as well, commenting later, I had hoped that in their grand simple way they would have offered me shares in The Oscar, but in their artless untutored fashion they did not.
Poor, sophisticated Oscar! They just invited him for a dinner where, as he recalled, The first course was whiskey, the second whiskey, the third whiskey, but still they called it supper. In his letter to friends in London, Wild reminiscent: In the evening I went to the Casino. There I found the miners and the female friends of miners and in one corner a pianist - sitting at a piano over which was the notice: Please dont shoot the pianist; he is doing his best. I was struck with the recognition of the fact that bad art merits the penalty of death, and I felt that in this remote, where the aesthetic applications of the revolver were clearly established in the case of music, my apostolic task would be much simplified, as indeed it was.
But he found later more sophistication and lost his heart in San Francisco being invited to studio by some young artists with the same state of mind and sexual preference as his. I am not surprised that San Francisco of those times was already the brewing pot of homosexual life - many of its inhabitants were descendants of the California Gold Rush which was made mostly single men. My guessing - many of them were homosexuals or bisexuals and later those men founded the first homosexual community in this country. I am not surprised that after meeting them, Wilde commented, This is where I belong. This is my atmosphere. I didnt know such a place existed in the whole United States. Perhaps, Oscar Wilde could be considered as one of the founding fathers of this biggest Gay community in the USA.
While I was busy learning in the University library about Oscar Wilde and the difference between bite and byte, David left for a scheduled meeting with a family consultant, who mediates his relationship with his son fighting for his independence but dependent on other substances. Its amazing, how much Americans rely on any kind of consultant and psychotherapist in their efforts to solve their family problems. Thousands of Freudian and non-Freudian psychoanalysts enjoy a very lavish life-style through explaining to their patients, for instance, how to develop their libido in subliminal activities or creative sex, yet in spite of this the magnitude of a sexual abuse is climbing up in this country.
Back at Daves home, watching the TV news, we learned that the celebrated comedian David Letterman had announced he was transferring his office to Wahoo, Nebraska. This announcement was the result of his then sour relationship with CBS officials, and was certainly nothing more than a practical joke, but Dave and I decided to play in it:
Presumably, I, as a Russian admirer of David Letterman, had bought this joke, and understood it as Lettermans serious plan. I had decided to meet up with him in Wahoo, which is only about 20 miles north of Lincoln. Considering his immense popularity in this country, I would suggest that the Capital of Nebraska be moved also, from Lincoln to Wahoo, his new residence. I already had in my possession the state flag, and being the Honorary Citizen of the Great State of Nebraska, I wouldnt mind to be the new Governor and accept Letterman as my persona comedian. For the hymn we could use the former hymn of the former USSR. So, it was to be our practical joke inside Lettermans practical joke. We called the producers of his show in New York City and suggested that we play. They responded vaguely, but the possibility of some sort of follow up was not ruled out, so I decided to depart for Wahoo the next day.

WAHOO
 May 8
          
Early in morning Dave brought me and his son Francis to the estate of E.J. Cole, where my horse was resting and grazing on plenty of a new grass. E.J. once more had fixed the wagons shafts, and farrier Lyle Petersen had fixed Vanyas loose harness. Dave couldnt go with me that day, but asked that I take his son, who on his own accord determined that he would drive my charabanc, giving me a much needed opportunity to clean it inside and to locate in my dictionary word wahoo. Then I learned that wahoo is used to express exuberance or to attract attention, which was exactly I was planning to do. Besides that, wahoo is also is arrowhead in Dakota Indian language, and the name of a a large vigorous mackerel that is common in warm seas.
As we neared Wahoo, we came upon a big roadside billboard, informing us that this is The Home of Five Famous Men: Darryl F.Zanuck, founder of 20th Century Fox Studios; Wahoo Sam Crawford, signed in Baseball Hall of Fame; C.W. Anderson, World Famous Artist; George W.Beadle, Noble Prize Winner and Howard Hanson, Music Composer, and I am coming there also.
David had called in advance to media and reporters from Omaha World-Herald, Fremont Tribune and Wahoo Newspaper were waiting for us in Wahoos central square. Don Virgl, the Mayor of the town greeted us with appropriate exuberance, and as a token of friendship presented me a model of a John Deer tractor. I was slightly surprised by such an un-horsy gift, until apprehended that Don was a dealer of this tractor company. I dont know why media people didnt pay attention that he used his official position in promotion of his own business.
After a pow-wow with reporters I was grilled by National Public Radio and used this opportunity to express my intentions of meeting with David Letterman, and suggesting the transfer of the state capital of Nebraska to Wahoo.
My publicity stunt did not work very well for attracting sponsors for my expedition, but it was, I think, very good for town of Wahoo, which proclaimed itself the Official Home Office of the David Letterman Late Show with the designated location in a telephone booth on Maine Street.
The Wahoo Saddle Club invited my horse to stay on their grounds and gave him plenty of grains and carrots. For my own lodging, I was invited to stay with Davids son Bordan.
Bordan lives with his girlfriend Laurel in a trailer and works in the construction business. He was born the son of a white mother and a black father, neither of whom felt a use of him, afterwards David adopted him. Bordan is very stout and good-natured young man, working hard to establish his own family. His girlfriend is disabled with arthritis, but she has a beautiful face and bright mind. As a couple, they compensate each others handicaps, and live happily in the company Beeper, the dog.
On the way out of town the next morning I stopped at a weight station and found that the weight of the wagon with me inside was just 1,220 pounds, and Vanya in harness weighted 1,660. Normally a draft horse will pull a vehicle twice its own weight but lazy Vanya was pulling our wagon with less weight than his own.
Francis was again in charge of driving, but the weather had changed drastically since the day before. A non-stop thunderstorm with pouring rain was now turning into hail. There was no shelter to be found, so finally I decided to pull over in front of the KV Vet Supply Co. that featured a huge figure of a horse on the top of the building. Almost immediately David came to pick his son. He promised to meet me later on the way, but he could not come just then because he had been called to duty as a member of the National Guard.
Meanwhile, Ray Mezner, the owner of the KV Vet Supply Co. came and suggested I leave my horse in front yard, and he found me accommodation in a Motor Inn located close to David City (it sounds as if there are too many Davids in this chapter). Before we could go there, I had to supply Vanya with forage, which was easy to make because there was a big field of alfalfa surrounding the building. I untied my scythe, sharpened it with the sandstone bar, and cut enough grass to sustain Vanya over night. (Its much easier to cut alfalfa with scythe than wild grass.)
Ray took me to a Pizza Hut and introduced to his friends and family, and together we managed to consume three big pizzas with a little left over that they gave me to eat later at the hotel. As in any hotel in this country, my room was supplied with a Bible and a TV set. I guess for the last 30-40 years, since the beginning of the television era, these two symbols of Western Civilization have been in constant confrontation, and the TV is gaining new ground. In my own case, in keeping with the friend rather than reading Bible, I switched on the box and watched a humdrum movie, Russian House, featuring agent 007 outsmarting those stupid Russians. Since the dismantling of the USSR, in my country they have practically stopped showing such anti-American bull-manure, but in this country I have been able to watch anti-Russian manure on a regular basis.
When Ray brought me back to my mobile household, I found three horsemen surrounding my wagon - father and son Zeilingers and their relative Gary Staal. After catching my radio interview the day before, they had wanted to meet me and give me a hand with whatever I needed for my further travels. Right away Donald discovered that Vanya was uncomfortable pulling the wagon because we were missing a singletree, the pivoted swinging bar, that evenly distributes the pulling power of the horse. Also, our horse collar was too big and needed a sweat pad to be inserted. It took them only an hour to fix those problems. They loaded me up with a big sack of grain and signed in my book: Dr., may the Lord travel with you always. I wished them the same.

 OSCEOLA
 Masy 10
 
 Down Rte. 92 close to Shelby, I was stopped by Phyllis Schlesinger, manager of the local Senior Center, who requested that I stop and talk with the senior citizens in the Center. Such requests were getting to be matter of course along the road, and I willingly paid my respect to my-perhaps-future dwellings and to my future roommates. (Actually, I've noticed that nothing dissipate so fast as our Future.)
I gave a short speech to the audience and invited to come out to communicate with Vanya, but hardly any of the old people wanted to go outside. After sharing lunch with them I proceeded on my way, but as approached Osceola I was again stopped, this time by Deputy Sheriff George (Bud) Shepard, who asked me to pay a visit to the Osceola Good Samaritan Center.
 The senior citizens here were in an even more faded state of body and mind than those in Shelby, and many were being fed by center's attendants. I was astonished by the plenitude of their diet. This is the "Good Sam's Daily Gram": Dinner: Meat Loaf, Creamed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Bread, Butterscotch Pudding. Supper: Scallop Potato and Ham Casserole, Peas, Bread, Rosy Applesauce, etc.
 These tough folks had managed to survive all their ailments throughout their long lives, but now they might very well perish because of large helpings of rich aliments. They suffer and are treated for such "geriatric problems" as senility, diarrhea, constipation, and heart problems. In my country, people suffer under-nourishment, but hear they overeat and over consume, and pay for it dearly.
 Back at the crossroads, I was greeted by Arthur (Archy) Polley, who I could tell was more than 70, but I would not by any means call him an old man - and he smocked a pipe as I do. He offered to let me stay at his place for a few days and give Vanya a rest. I asked Archy how his town got its name and was told that Osceola was a Seminole Indian chief who signed the Peace Treaty with the Federal Government. One of his conditions was that his name be given at least one town in each state of this country. I have own doubts about this legend, but it is true that peoples' vanity is quite universal.
 It turned out that Archy is actually 72 years-old, and during the Second World War he was with the Allies Convoy in Murmansk (Russia) and had saved many good memories from that time. He served as an Air force photographer and later had his own plane from which he shot aerial photos of private farms and ranches making good money on it. For many years Archy was a short-wave radio fan; he has friends and correspondents all around the world. But for last four years, this hobby has taken a back seat to the opening horizons of the Internet. Although I am twenty years younger I was afraid even to approach a computers, and ashamed myself, finding Archy traveling so easily on the virtual highways.
 Archy's wife Joyce has no interests in this particular business. She never comes to his shack in the backyard. That is considered as his private domain, and only his closest friends are permitted. Joyce is busy making keepsakes of all kinds - especially dolls and bears - which are real works of art and very sought after by collectors.
 In such a small town, everybody knows each other, and so very soon Archy's friend Bill Lindsley came to find out what was going on and whose horse was grazing in the field. Bill used to be a post office clerk and cowboy at the same time. In his spare time he used to shoe and raise horses, and was a big fun of draft horses. After his retirement, Bill completely changed his habits and adopted a new life-style. He bought a trailer and now spends most of his time on the road, or in Arizona, especially in the winter time. Recently he has begun to supplement his pension making and selling turquoise jewelry, and I have to say, he makes some real masterpieces. His new enterprise he named quite exotic: "Bear Paw Jewelry." Bill even suggested taking with me any of his masterpieces, but I declined it with appreciation pleading my inherited allergy to decorate myself with any kind of adornment.
 From a long time ago, Bill had somehow saved a complete set of harness for a team of horses and he suggested it might be a good idea to exchange my plastic harness for a leather one. Since the beginning of my trip this had been my biggest dream so I almost kissed Bill on his unshaved cheek. We went to his barn and brought out the wonderful harness - custom-made sixty years ago, and looking like it could serve at least sixty more.
 On Mother's Day we went to visit Archy's old friend Gerald, who lives by himself in the middle of his own 3,000 acres of crop fields. Gerald about fifty, massive and as strong as a bull; consequently he lives in two big houses. His girlfriend lives in Omaha, about 90 miles from here and doesn't want to bury herself in the boredom of these plains. So Gerald entertain himself making homemade wines and flying in an airplane simulator, creating a virtual reality of real flying. His just recently purchased house was obviously built for a big family. It has five bedrooms with a matching quantity of bathrooms and other facilities. It is an ideal place for games of hide-and-seek but there are no kids around to enjoy it. When we left, Gerald gave me two bottles of black currant wine, and we went for dinner in an American Legion Club, Post #91. In honor of my expedition barmaid Shyla Spencer served me cocktail called a "Dry Martiny," reminding me that it was James Bond's drink of choice in the movie From Russia with Love.
 Back home at Archy's, we were greeted by a busload of schoolchildren, Class of 2,000 and Class of 2,001 from Shelby. They had just finished a track competition and decided to drop by and talk with me. It was a big honor to talk with people actually belonging to this new millennium. Unfortunately though, I had a lot of things to take care of with my wagon so our meeting was brief.
Since the beginning of the trip, I knew something was wrong with an alignment of the wagon's wheels, giving them the tendency of taking us to the left. After some very meticulous measurements Archy and Bill found that the front axle of my vehicle was bent, and needed to be straightened. These two musketeers brought torch, jack, and winch, heated and hammered down an axle, straightening it as it was supposed to be. It gave them pleasure again to be doing something that they had done in younger years. My horse was watching this procedure and, I suppose, was thinking with a hint of a reproach, "How come, Anatoly, you didn't do this yourself a long time ago?" Blessed this country having such skillful and generous old-timers.
 
CHORUS
May 13
 
Osceola was very hospitable, but I had to go in spite of that - or maybe because of that. Archy and Bill followed me up, checking their job and bringing me sandwiches and coffee. Along Rte. 92 there wasnt so much traffic, just local farmers and bus-loads of school children shuttling back and forth. At 12 h. 28 min. I crossed the famous Platte River and the Oregon Trail. I will join it in the town of North Platte from where I will follow traces of my predecessors who managed to find the easiest way across the Plains and over the Continental Divide to the Oregon Territory.
Most of travelers were coming from east by Missouri River and congregated at jumping off point in Independence, Missouri, to buy supply, wagons, and livestock for proceeding further by land. Their wagons usually measured 4 feet wide by 12 feet long. Into these 48 square feet they had to pack all the food supply for long journey, tools and firearms.
For the beginning the emigrants got used to learn how hitch and unhitch their livestock, to keep wagons in good running order, and to make sure that their animals got sufficient amount of water and food along the way. To make it easier, they traveled along waterways. They started long journey driving along banks of Little Blue River from its mouth to source, and after that it was short jump across prairies to Fort Kearney on the Platte River.
Second major jumping off point along the Missouri River was in Omaha where the emigrants would start their journey from the mouth of Platte River. I choose not joining traces of Oregon Trail in this part because of heavy traffic along Rte. 30. I was less dependent of water supply than my predecessors, and decided to make a shortcut and travel along Rte. 92, more deserted and picturesque than route along Platte River. I already knew that most interesting people live in seclusion.
In the town of Archer I was attracted by a small farm with goats grazing behind low fences, and decided to try a taste of goat milk. Kitty and Kevin Guthmiller were out earning a living so I spent about an hour with their son Jason while I waited for his parents.
Soon Kitty arrived and granted me permission to graze Vanya on their padlock; Kevin arrived much later. He works as a cowboy on the cattle feedlot next door, earning about $1,000 a month. His shift each week can stretch into 70 hours, but as a perk of the job he can take home as much of beef as he needs.
Life had been tough for Kitty and Kevin; both were divorced, and Kittys daughter was spending some time with her father, but Kevins son lives with them. They make a little additional money raising and selling goats. They keep about 50 in stock, milking six for their own consumption. I was unlucky in finding that they were just learning how to make a goat cheese and had not yet perfected the process.
The Guthmiller neighbor Tonya Schank dropped by and agreed to show me around her familys business, Schank Mink Farms. At one time I worked as a geneticist on such farm in Russia and was quite curious to see how they do it here. Each year they raise and sell the furs of about 5,000 animals for $50 each. Business is booming, mostly, I suspect, because of Russias collapse. Years before, Russia was the biggest exporter of a fur. Now its industry and agriculture are in a mess, and my country now is actually the biggest importer of furs from the USA.
We found Tonyas parents at the United Methodist Church. Jim and Candy were studying Bible together with Gloria Weller and Nora Lindner. They drooped Bibles study for opportunity seeing my horse and came with me to the Guthmillers farm, where after inspecting my caravan Candy wrote this note, I am sitting here at the table of our neighbors Kevin and Kitty, having coffee and pie and visiting with you Anatoly. You are very interesting to listen to, and I suppose we are interesting for you also. The travels you are going through will last for you and the memory forever! When you visited our Mink Ranch in Archer, Nebraska, was interesting for you since you had worked on one many years ago yourself. I want to tell you Anatoly, to caring the love of Lord, with you. Meeting you was a very meaningful experience for me as well as my family. Thank you Candy Kay Schank. We shared Goats Milk!!
Windy and cold was the next morning, but it was the day of Primary Elections so many people were going to Central City for voting. I met rancher Dale Fridichsen on his way to vote out Sheriff Dan, who has been accused of arresting innocent citizens. Dale let me in on the secret that in recent years many ranchers in this area have given up using the growth hormone Sinevich. Evidently, the implanting of this fast growth hormone is becoming economically unprofitable because public had been scared by its side effect and refuse buying beef with traces of this hormone in it.
My next encounter was with rancher Kirk Schwarz, who besides cattle raises about 50 Quarter horses. Kirk actually refused to answer for my indecent questions about acreage and quantity of cattle on his ranch, but - shame on me - I always ask it, and most of farmers and ranchers do tell me, if unwillingly. Kirk, however, was tough about it, maintaining even as he wrote in my ledger: I dont know how many horses or acres I have. Good luck. May God guide your path and keep you safe.
Later that afternoon, I made a left turn and found myself in the tiny village Farwell (population 170). The best grazing field was around the house of the Kruse family. Their daughter Amy was very much enamored of horses, and her father Jim acquired surrounding field for her two horses. My Vanya happily shared with them the abundance of this life.
Jean and Jim Kruse, being happy with their own two kids, decided to adopt two more girls from Korea. As in any country, those least wanted are given up, and these two girls had some problems as well. But they are getting used to their new family, and when I asked twelve years-old Melissa, whether she would like to be back in Korea, she sharply responded, I wouldnt go back to that country where I was thrown in a dumpster by my own parents.
I was lucky to be invited by the whole family for a Spring concert at the Kruse kids Elba High School. The population of Elba is just 221, boasting two bars and no shops. The main employer is the school, which is kept in incredibly perfect condition.
Certainly I am not a minstrel or first fiddle, but by my perception, Mr. Bailey, Music Director of Elba School, mastered the concert at a high level of kid performance and self-realization. The first part of the concert was dedicated to the rendition of such well-known (not to me) pieces as Aventura, A Childhood Hymn, Step-Ahead March, and such songs as Gonna Ride That Chariot and I am a Small Part of the World.
The second half was named The Romance of Trains, and was divided into four parts with songs about Building the Railroads, Special Trains, Trains as Symbols, and Train Rides. Even I was singing along with everybody else, those songs known worldwide, such as Ive Been Working on the Railroad, Down at the Station, Get on Board, and - the most splendid for me - Casey Jones.
The last song was very popular in the USSR, but it had been perverted by the Soviet Propaganda. In the Russian translation the railroad hero Casey Jones, who risked his life to save the lives of passengers, was changed to a railroad strikebreaker. In the Soviet version of the song, he betrayed the solidarity of working people, and was sent to Hell for this. I could imagine poor Casey rolling in his coffin, listening to such a fabrication.
The next morning was foggy and warm. It looked as if springtime had finally come. Checking Vanyas shoes I discovered that they were getting worn out and would need to be replaced soon.
Loup City was the next rest stop. This County Seat is also called the Polish Capital of Nebraska and has quite a nice Historical Museum. There I discovered that the strange name Loup comes from the French rather than Polish, and actually means Wolf.
Del Peck and Helen Grzechowiak invited me for lunch at the Frederick Hotel & Cafe, where the owner, Marion MacGarlane fixed a very substantial beefsteak. Before long we were joined by a local mortician Terry Kurtzhals, who came by after work. Terry handed me his business card where I saw, to my surprise, his funeral home address was 321 O Street, Loup City. How did he manage to find such an address, with the numbers diminishing symbolically into O? Later on, though, I found another funeral home with an even more symbolic name: Svoboda Funeral Home. Svoboda, in Polish, means Freedom.
My new friends loaded my wagon down with food and souvenirs and I moved along, further down deserted Rte. 92. Suddenly, with no warning, the temperature leaped up to 100 degrees. My horse was sweating as if in Hell, foamy flakes of sweat were dropping on the ground and there was no a bit of shade along the road. When I noticed a small white house on the right, I made a turn and begged the owners to hide us from the killing heat and humidity.
Jean Kwiatkowski was home with her children, but her husband Dean was working with his father in the field. Jean took as in, and also called to her friend, a farrier, and asked him to come over to shoe my horse.
In the meantime she decided to introduce me to her mother-in-law Alice Kwiatkowsky, who lived just couple of miles east in a comfortable house. Just the day before, her daughter had come from California with family. Sonia now was Smith, and with her husband Greg looked as if they descended from a completely different country and civilization. In this rural area, people arent used to wear shorts and a flashy clothes. They speak and walk with self-assurance, as if they more grounded by Mother Nature and the land they work on. But the Smith family from San Ramon, with their two kids, Zahary and Cam, looked like intruders in this slow world of cornfields and slow-mowing vehicles. We shared a cup of coffee and chitchatted about a big foreign country called California, but thoses urbanites interests were absolutely different from my own.
Back on the farm we finally met Kenis Byam who came after his regular rounds shoeing neighborhood. Kenis was 23, and had just recently finished nine months of study at the Farriers Academy in Colorado. His parents Ken and
Cheril Byam joined us later, and my hosts decided to throw a spontaneous outdoor party with hot dogs on the barbecue. So, as it is ever meant to be, one was working and five of us were sitting around drinking beer. From time to time, one of the sitters was giving good advice to the worker. Kenis was shoeing a draft horse for the first time in his career and it took four hours to complete the job. He charged me $30 for materials.

SANDSTORM
May 16

The night before had be stormy and rainy, but the morning was ready for me with a dazzling sun looking over its domain. After breakfast, Jean asked me if I would give her three kids a ride. Two miles down the road she caught up with us to pick them up, and brought me a lot of fruits and enormous steak for lunch. It was so big that I was very sorry that Vanya is not a beef-eater. There would have been enough for us both. Actually, by his bearing, solid posture, and color he resembles me Beefeaters, the Yeomen Warders serving the Queen in Tower of London, or at least their horses.
A nice thing about such slow traveling is that you almost live with the people who inhabit the passing  landscape. Here, close to Ansley, I again ran into cattleman and cowboy Dale, who was going to vote out the sheriff the day before yesterday. Now he was coming from a visit to the veterinarian. He told me a painful but inspiring story:
Being an old-timer and a traditionalist, Dale did not like using artificial insemination for his beloved cows. He employs for this purpose pedigree bulls, each costing him about $3,000. A few days earlier his most precious bull Jake managed to inseminate five cows. However, in an attempt to get it on with a sixth one, he missed the target and broke his penis. Without his penis Jake was worthless. So Dale brought him to the vets clinic where some very sophisticated doctors managed to restore Jakes penis for only $120! Dale - and I guess, Jake, too - was happy.
I recalled Jakes story as I approached the neighborhood of the town of Broken Bow. At the side of the road was mounted a gigantic figure of an American Indian with no bow in his hands (quite understandably; it would be useless, having been broken beforehand). To his back was tied a bundle of arrows (what the hell did he needed those arrows for with no bow handy?). But to keep himself busy, this hapless Indian decided to direct traffic, indicating with his right hand the way West. To his chest was attached by white intruders a billboard with the motto: Welcome to Broken Bow where the West begins. I appreciated the greeting certainly, but wondered why, around these parts, folks always seems to break something?
Following the Indians fine directions west, on the way I was stopped by Dennis Beamont, who invited me to stay overnight at his place and supplied me with his own directions. I found his comfortable new house on the northwest part of the town. Dennis is craftsman in all aspects of the construction business, and on the side he does tree-trimming. He and his wife Fae adopted a few years ago a small child who developed herself in beautiful girl, with big eyes and mouth which intend to be kissed. Now three of them live in the anticipation of what will happen with them soon in her transformation in a woman.
In 1975, Dennis spent two months horseback riding across this country, and has love for horses ever since. Along with his other occupations, he nowadays raises Thoroughbred racing horses. While visiting his barn, he offered to teach me to ride.
I used to ride horses in Pamir mountains, and enjoyed it very much but I was self-taught and never had formal horse-riding education and diploma. Actually by nature I belong to that half of humankind who are chronic students, but not teachers. I even earned degree of professional mixologist - specialist in mixing drinks, or, simply - bartender but never worked in this role knowing, perhaps, that I would be fired immediately after the first night of such a lousy job.
Anyhow, Dennis instructed me how to behave on back of horse, bridled his most obedient horse and I mounted it. I did hear his warning that the horse would respond to the slightest tension of the bridle or push of my feet, but I didnt know what that meant. Right away, as soon as I had gotten on top, I pulled my reins and the horse backed up. Getting into panic, I pulled even more, and the horse stood up on its hind legs and I found myself on the ground with bruises on elbows and knees.
After I was myself again, I re-mounted the horse and slow rode around the paddock, eventually releasing the reins and letting the horse gallop. It was an incredible feeling to be on the horse, instead of behind it in a wagon. Both the horse and I were enchanted by the freedom of space and speed - I wanted to gallop in this way forever through prairies, mountains and valleys. The horse was like part of me, multiplying many times my strength and speed, liberating me from the shackles of gravity.
I doubt that Shakespeare was a great horseman but he was a great writer when in King Henry V he wrote the similar experience of his heroes Dauphin with the riding horse: ...When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk; he trots the air, the earth sings when he touches it; the bases horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. From now on I will be a cowboy forever.
Back at home, we were surprised to find two young men cleaning the floor carpets. They were Brad Kort and Chris Mueller, salesmen for Kirby Products, who demonstrated the high performance of its vacuum cleaners. Id never seen this kind of marketing - except in movies - and was surprised and amused to see that its still alive in the rural areas of the USA.
Fae cooked the super palatial supper, and afterwards we sat and talked about everything in the world, touching upon the very important topic of the Trinity, which I have some reservations about. Finally our heated discussion came to stalemate because this is the matter of faith but not intellect, whether Jesus Christ is the Son of God, or a Holly Man.
Dennis, my hospitable host, and friend since then, wrote for his farewell note: Hope you enjoy your visit to Nebraska. I envy you about this trip you are taking. It sounds like the adventure of a lifetime. I dont envy your position on religion. I believe that Jesus Christ was God in flesh, that he died for our sins, that He rose from the dead and the people that know and follow Him on Earth will see him someday in Heaven. It my prayer that you come to know Him like I do. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of you heart. Psalm 37:4.
Again, as I had once before, I opened the Bible, and found that Psalm. I hope that by the end of my trip I will be more enlightened and: He will make my righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of my cause like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:6.
And the dawn was shining, when I woke up next morning and departed at 7:16. Checking out exactly this time, later I found that Psalm with the same number stands for: The trouble he causes recoils on himself...
After two hours of driving I was stopped by the group of young men. Bob Hoffman, John Zullowski, Nick Jangush, Chris Nekesner and Eric Glazier were the students of Community College in Grand Island. They were heading out for a camping trip in the Black Hills of South Dakota. With strong bodies and beautiful, open and curious faces, they represent the future of this country, and I was happy for the opportunity to share my own experience with them and to be charged with their energy.
About seven miles East of Arnold, driving through a high tablelands, I was suddenly charged by a sandstorm. Strong wind raised sand from bald hilly fields, throwing it over and around my horses and my physiognomies. Whirlwinds lifted sand up and threw it down with a whistle. Our eyes, nostrils and mouths were covered with a crust of mixed tears and sand. We could travel no further. I covered Vanyas head with my jacket and decided to wait it out.
I had naively believed that such sandstorms exist only in history of this country; somewhere back in the times of the Great Depression when 40 million acres of arable land was swept out. Since then there have been a lot of improvements in agriculture practices, such as crop rotation, tilling instead of plowing, holding the soil together with the roots of old crops, et cetera. But, it looks like, sandstorms can still happen if such measures are neglected, as is probably the case in this area.
Once the sandstorm had abated we were able to move on, and in a couple of hours we reached Arnold. Near grain elevator I was met by Diane Finch, a local resident and the area correspondent for The North Platte Telegraph. She recommended that I try to stay at the farm of Frosty Ferguson, who owned this particular elevator. Luckily, Frosty happened to be around and he guided me to his grounds.
The elevator business was slow, just as the farming was. Whad was once his hog and cattle farm is now abandoned and waiting for new owners pasture. Consequently, Frosty is now more interested in the history and folklore of this area. He is about 70, but looks as strong as my horse. His energy spreads also in enjoyment of young women and old folk music. Besides all that, he writes a column - Frostys Fabrications, which are funny letters to the public - in the local newspaper. With his permission I would like to quote one of them:
Dear Folks,
I have some very exciting news for the men, women and children that tend to be a little overweight. I have come with a program that I am really excited about involving exercise and watching what you eat.
About 6 months ago I noticed I was gaining a little weight and was determined to find a way to get rid of the excess weight, and Ill tell you how I have done it.
I considered all the essentials of a good reducing program: it should take weight off slowly so it stays off, and it should be a plan that you will stay with. The first thing I did was weight myself carefully and record the time of day and the weight. Then I started watching club dancing and line dancing every night that they have it. Then I also watch exercising in the morning if Im not too tired from watching the dancing, or, in other worlds, if I wake up in time.
I have been keeping track and every months I have averaged 1/8 of a pound. Some months a little more and some months a little less. One month I got to watch some commercials of people eating junk food, and that month I gained six pounds, so you have to be careful what you watch.
I figure in 20 years I will weigh exactly what I should, if I dont loose too much height. If I had a computer I probably could calculate how much more weight I would have to lose if I lose two inches of height. Im not going to worry about that.
Wishing everyone a peaceful and healthy Christmas.
Smiling yours,
Frosty Ferguson
P.S. If thats not fast enough for you, watch football.
So, this is my new friend Frosty - being 70, bubbling with the humor and fun of our everydayness.
Later that afternoon, Frosty said hed like to show me the beauty of the land he lives on. We went up a road with no number or name on my Triple-A-made map and found ourselves among Nebraska Sand hills, which I had never heard of. The road meandered along the edge of a ravaged plateau with the ravines on left, down bellow criss-crossed by narrow creeks. On the right were feminized hills, which looked like Mother-Nature resting, exposing the most confidential parts of her body - the gorgeous gorges, the titanic tits, and the hippopotami hips. In that moment I understood perfectly why Frosty was so much in love with this land, and I share this love since.
We came down from the hills, strait into a local bar and the embracing company of Frostys friends, Cindy Preston and Karla Nansel, and drunk with them for Bruderschaft and love. God bless this country.

NORTH PLATTE
May 18

Early in the morning Frosty came out to my buggy, bringing some food, and invited for breakfast at the Rose Cafe with his friends, Susan Nelson, Deane Jenih and Cameron Hall. As matter of fact, I dont like eating in company, but here I enjoyed beauty of these women so much that didnt want to leave them, but my magnificent mate Vanya was waiting outside. O.K., boss, Im coming.
The lands in this area are not fertile for good farming so is and mostly used for pasture. From time to time, popping up on the landscape, I see the windmills used to pumping groundwater for the cattle. I thought that windmills were just quaint symbols of rural America, but in this part of the country they are very much in use.
Near a crossroad with 83, I was stopped by a tall man in a cowboy hat who got out of his Mercedes to ask whats going on with a horse and buggy driving along the highway advertising Love and Peace. As-a-matter-of-factorish, I described my plot and asked him to sign my book. Gerald Timmerman happened to be the owner of feedlots and meat-packing plants around this state, and for my guess, was not poor. With a gesture of person who used to not taking but giving the order, he placed his foot on tire of my wagon. I noticed his western boots made of bumpy-textured leather, which he told me was ostrich skin and cost about $1,000. Wahoo!
I had seen no farms or ranches around, but Gerald promised to find one on his way and off he went, leaving me for awhile. It was a long, dusty and tiresome road and Vanya occasionally turned his head back toward me, asking dumbly, What do you punish me for? He always does this when tired, and it makes me feel very uncomfortable and blameworthy.
Finally, Gerald came back and guided me to the ranch of Larry and Dee Meyer. On 800 acres they raise cattle and purebred Belgian draft horses. There was hardly any grass on the sand hills surrounding the Meyers farm so Larry brought some hay to my horse. My new friend and Guardian Angel Gerald went to town and brought back a lot of food from a restaurant, and a bottle of Stolichnaya vodka to tickle my nostalgia so I would talk about Russia.
I told him that in my country many new farmers can not afford to buy modern agricultural equipment, and actually dont really need it because the plots that the Government distributes are much smaller than the size of one of this countrys homestead (160 acres). On such small farms, draft horses would be quite useful, but in the 70 years of Soviet rule the horse population dropped from 38 million to 5 million, whereas in the United States for last 30 years it has increased from 2 million to 11 million. Of course, here most horses are used for recreation and sport, with just a few actually being used for farming and these mostly by Amish and Mennonite farmers. So far along my travels I had met many people owning draft horses but barely using them. It seemed possible to me that they might be happy to give them or sell them cheaply to Russian farmers. I had a plan to help my compatriots and by bringing these wonderful, under-used horses to Russia. Gerald had good contacts between horsemen and state officials and promised to help me.
Since then I discussed this matter on Russian national television and will dedicate more time to it as soon as finish writing this book, which publishing will be helpful in bringing draft horses to Russia.
My hosts filled me up with a big breakfast and recommended that we stay the next night at Buffalo Bill State Historical Park located west of the city North Platte.
Vanya and I sauntered down Rte. 83, not being in very much of a rush. Eventually we came to that city bearing the name of river which is quite famous in the Midwest: the North Platte. As I mentioned earlier, the river gained its popularity in the middle of the last century when hundreds of thousand of pioneers traveled along its banks on their way to the Land of Opportunity, than further west by a trail which later came to be known as the Oregon Trail.
It wasnt an easy turnpike and one of the harshest obstacles was the dreaded cholera. An eyewitness of that hardship, John Wood, described it dramatically, The sick and the dying are on the right, on the left, in front and in the rear, and in our midst. We ourselves are nearly all sick; I feel very weak myself. Death is behind as well as before.
Actually, the city is located near the fork, where the South Platte and North Platte rivers give birth to the Platte River streaming east. Here I am joining the Oregon Trail, whose jumping off point was in St. Louis or Independence, Missouri. My own trail is started about 1,300 miles more east of Independence and I still managed to drive the same horse, surprising myself and horsemen on the way.
Th wide-eyed emigrants used to arrive to jumping off points mostly by riverboats from the eastern sea board, the western one wasnt even known yet for most of Americans. In an 1849 edition of The Emigrants Guide to California Ive found such substantial recommendations to the travelers of those times as, Do not be deterred by any stories told you on the frontier about danger, what others have done, you can do. About transportation, it was important to know that, No person should attempt to leave the frontier with more than lbs 2,500 weight, or with a team of less than four yokes of cattle, or six mules.
I was fascinated to learn that the wildly picturesque view of horses pulling wagons, depicted in Western movies, was quite false because in this guide by Joseph Ware is written: Take no horse unless of the Indian breed; the common horse cannot stand the road. Oxen upon the whole, are the best; they need no shoeing, as the hot sand of the plain renders their hoofs so hard as to supersede the use of shoes.
Despite all this good advice I decided to drive on with me horse, reckoning that in those times they practically had no such powerful draft horses as my Vanya. But Ware was absolutely right with his warning about horse shoeing - this is a constant trepidation for Vanya and me. And even with oxen driving, I later discovered, it was common to shoe their hooves.
The city of North Platte was the hometown of Colonel William Buffalo Bill Cody and lives on his legacy. He was and is a very mysterious and controversial figure in the American history. First of all, hed never been in the service; he awarded himself this phoney commissioned officers rank just by putting on a colonels uniform and sticking with it. Secondly, his nick name Buffalo Bill came from his work with a railroad company, which employed him to supply meat for its workers. Bill Cody managed in eight months to kill 4,200 buffalos. Even in those days such a slaughter of these inoffensive animals was considered cruel.
He made name for himself fighting with hapless American Indians and his photo holding the head of an Indian Chief was printed in all major newspapers worldwide.
His real fame and money was acquired with the Wild West show, traveling around this country and Europe. William was very good with public relations and advertisement, even hired for his show a personal writer, Colonel Prentiss Ingraham, who invented legends about Cody. Between 1870 and 1900 he published close to eighty novels about fictional Buffalo Bill. After that real William Cody was established as king of the gods in the Western mythology. And the kings palace was here, just a few miles west of North Plattes downtown It was named Cody Ranch, where I decided to stop.
On the way there, I was stopped by owners of El Rancho flower shop Nancy Ness and Lee Glebe. They were so taken with my Love and Peace expedition that decided to pay me a visit later on the Ranch. In mutual admiration I praised the motto of their shop - Promise the best. Deliver the Very best.
Arriving at Buffalo Bill Historical Park, I introduced myself to the Parks superintendent Tom Morrison and after some shilly-shallying he gave us permission to camp in the middle of picnic grounds and Vanya got a very good grazing field.
Besides showing Buffalo Bills homestead to tourists, the park administration provides visitors with horse rides around park and maintains herd of horses for it. But what impressed me the most was the humanitarian or horsetarian role of this park.
There is a meat-packing plant in North Platte, where rejected horses are butchered and their meat exported to Europe or used for animal food. But in any case where a doomed mare is with foal, they send it here and she is taken care of for a year until foal is grown up.
Tom decided to ride with me around the Park; we saddled up a couple of horses and rode along the bank of North Platte River. A narrow trail made by the tramping of horse hooves brought us to the banks of the wide, but shallow North Platte River which was shining, reflecting the purple rays of sunset. Huge fishes were hunting for low flying bugs and dragonflies, and splashing loudly in the otherwise peaceful waters. Two huge symbols of America - bald eagles were circling in the sky, hunting for those fishes. Wild turkeys, frightened by our horses or those eagles, cackled as they ran for their hideout. It was pristine land, saved and preserved by the legacy of the famous buffalo killer.
In Codys grand house there are memorabilia of his times of glory and photos with celebrities of those times, like the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia. That son of Alexandr II was in love with America and in 1872 come here to hunt buffalo under the guidance of General Sheridan, George Custer, and Bill Cody. Magazin Harpers Bazar wrote that time: Thanks to Russia's support for the Union during the Civil War and its recent transfer of Alaska to the United States, America was ready to give this "young viking" a hearty reception.
After dusk I came out on to the porch of his house to write in my diary and to immerse myself in the surroundings of Codys era. Looking at Bills outfits its plain to realise that he was a quintessential exhibitionist with a love of flashy clothes, hats decorated with long feathers, trousers with wide golden stripes at the sides.
I sat in an armchair made from forged horseshoes and thought about how people used to come here for a party and smoke their pipes or cigars on this porch, while pompous Buffalo Bill talked about his hunting expeditions. I wondered whether their souls had reincarnated and with new flesh they live among us now, or are they gone by the winds of time for good?
In Russia I used to know a woman who gave lectures on stage in front of a big audience. She insisted that she knew her incarnations in both her past and future lives. Barbara used to say that in her last life she was a German army officer and had been killed in WW I by two bullets in the back. As evidence of the bullets she used to turn her back to the audience and roll up her blouse showing two birthmarks.
When she was German, she was an anti-Semite and because of that to burn her karma, she was born in this life as a Jew. She even knows her next incarnation - she will be born Chinese because she doesnt like Chinese people in this life. I personally believe in the theory of karma and the souls incarnation, but worry about what will happen with me later if in this life I dont like rats?

OGALLALA
May 20

  On the way to Sutherland I met a cavalcade of buses, followed by a few runners one of whom hold burning torch. At first I thought it was the 1996 Olympic torch relay, but it turned out to be the Love Nebraska Torch Run organized by Nebraskas Committee of Churches. Ten men were running 500 miles from the western to the eastern border of Nebraska State, each covering 10 miles a day. I was handed a leaflet, and read that the purpose of the run was to cover the state in prayer, share Gods love to communities across Nebraska, and be personal testimony, prayer, and encouragement to get involved with local Christian churches. My travel was the same kind of pilgrimage, so I felt a sense of communion with those young men and we signed good wishes in each-others log-books.
What is astonishing that this mostly Christian nation has adjusted to a proliferation of people with other religious believes. And if these people dont necessarily believe in Christian dogma of Holy Trinity, most Americans are embracing in their lives three universal values: God, family, and country.
In Sutherland I couldnt help but stop near a house whose front yard was crowded with sculptures and installations made from scrap metal, agriculture machinery, old cowboy boots, huts and other paraphernalia. On a makeshift gallows was hanged a scarecrow of an outlaw. The creator of these phantasmagoric structures, Ray Pierson, came out of his house and greeted me, raising the glass of his screwdriver cocktail. He was pleased by my delight in his sculptures and complained that not everyone had good an eye for art as I had. The City Council had tried to remove Piersons installations, claiming that they violated some written ordinances of maintaining front yards in required, not disturbing neighbors order. I assured him that his front yard is real museum and I will promote this work of art any way possible, in deep appreciation he made me screwdriver to go.
A few miles west down Rte. 30 I noticed a big farmhouse featuring a gypsum lions on either side of its entrance intended, perhaps, to add some sense of nobility to the estate. I pulled my wagon into its backyard and was greeted by a laughing woman saying: The funniest thing happened, I was watching the TV news showing your horse and wagon on the road, I heard a noise from outside, and there you were in the flesh, coming here.
Kate called her husband Tay Shuff and he placed Vanya to green field together with his own horses that were scared to death by the comprehensiveness of a newcomer. My caravan was stationed in the middle of lawn to let Kate make some good snapshot of it with their beautiful house as a background. It was completely designed and built by Tay a few years ago.
Kate and Tay assured me that their location on this road is the exact midpoint between the Atlantic and the Pacific, which meant that Vanya and I could celebrate having completed half of our journey. My hosts were happy to join in celebrating this mark, and recommended a local hot spot Oles Big Game Lounge in Paxton.
When we came there I found that in lobby of this old, luxurious restaurant was installed a huge glass case containing the impressive figure of a stuffed polar bear. All the walls, every corner and nook were decorated with hunting trophies and old photos of the hunting expeditions of the restaurants former owner, Rosser Herstedt, known to his friends simply as Ole. I asked the restaurant manager where is Ole now, but he had no idea - maybe he died or now lives in the nursing home in Ogallala. I dont know why Ole captured my interest, but I decided that I wanted to find him if he were still alive.
We didnt stay to eat at the restaurant, just bought some buffalo burgers and some side orders and went back home. And almost at proper timing - my wagon in the middle of lawn had been sprayed by sprinkles automatically switched on after dusk, and all my belongings inside were socked in water. So we had a lot of excitement drying it instead sitting and drinking vodka.
The Shuffs house was decorated with paintings done by Tays mother, and sculptures purchased during various trips around Europe and America.
Tays ancestors came to this land from Bavaria at the end of the last century and worked hard to accumulate 2,000 acres of irrigated land. He leases out most of it to his neighbor Bruce, who dropped by that evening and told me that in this part of state it was raining in July of last year. Farmers depend on ground water, but, luckily, it is just ten feet bellow surface. As I understand it, each acre of irrigated land can generate about $100 of profit.
Over breakfast the next morning my hosts told me that the best place for stopping in Ogallala would be at the Fairgrounds. As farewell they wrote, Congratulations on reaching the Half Way Point in your journey. We have enjoyed your visit & hope you will return on your next visit. Best wishes for Sunny Days & the Wind Always at Your Back as you finish your adventure.
Named for the Ogallala tribe of the Dakota Sioux, Ogallala became a railroad town and cattle-shipping point after completion of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1867. It was called Nebraskas Cowboy Capital because of a long tradition of cowboys anxious to discharge themselves after long and hard trail herding cattle up from Texas. It was also called as the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Plains for the drinking and frequent fighting between cowboys. There are many legends about those rough times, for example the one about a stranger who was killed because he insulted two cowboys for eating baked beans. Stephanie, heroic woman who performed titanic task to make this book readable, told me that her Texan friends consider just heretical the nasty habit of New Englanders to bake beans.
As we drew near to Ogallala my horse suddenly stumbled and fell down on both knees, blooding his mouth as well. Thank God, Vanya managed to get up and proceed farther but I was very much frightened about his condition.
Barely reaching the Fairgrounds, we were greeted by its manager Earl Wolf who found good pasture for Vanya, but I needed to get hold of a veterinarian to find out what had happened with my horse. Earl called to the Animal Clinic and Ron Moorthead D.V.M. came soon and gave Vanya a check up, found nothing serious, but recommended a good rest to him.
With Earl we drove to a grain elevator where John Vian, manager of FCA (Farmers Cooperative Association), donated big sack of oats. Vanya was ruminating it duly with a good appetite which indicated that he was not terminally ill at all. But I felt that I should give him at least one day of rest to recuperate from his stumble.
Soon along came Lee Glebe, the manager of the flower shop, whom Id met in North Platte. He invited me for dinner in his house where Lee shared with his wife Sandy and two her sons from a previous marriage. Lee adopted them and it looked as if he was a really good father.
His family business of making garden figures and monuments was booming and hes planning to open another shop. Driving across this country, I noticed many times figurines of ducks, cranes, antelopes, and even buffalos installed in front yards of aborigines houses. As for me, I despise those ugly gypsum Vanity Fair monuments which scare my horse. However, flourishing Lees business indicates that many people in this region have extra money to purchase those unnecessary bulls...
Lee was a very generous person and gave me a marvelously crafted Turkish smoking pipe with supply of tobacco. In the course of our conversation I learned that the former owner of Oles Lounge in Paxton lives here, just around the corner, and we decided to visit him.
Situated on one corner of a crossroad, Oles small house was surrounded by grown weeds and not been painted for many, many years. Nobody was expecting us and only after a long inquisition was the door opened by a woman after 60 with frightened but curious eyes and beautifully combed hair. Avis Viest, Oles girlfriend, at the beginning was a bit surprised by our visit but later mellowed and called Ole from bedroom. It was impossible not to overhear as she talked in a raised voice about my desire to meet with the famous hunter and namesake of the famous restaurant.
Finally to the living room came an old man in a baseball cap and worn-out nylon trousers, bent by times but stout. His face wasnt very wrinkled, but his skin hung in folds from his cheeks. Very slowly he apprehended what we had come for, and finally told his story.
Rosser Herstedt open his restaurant Oles Big Game Lounge at 12:01 a.m. August 9, 1933, the first day of the repeal of the Prohibition Law. The first load of beer arrived by Union Pacific rail car in North Platte and was delivered to Oles in an old school bus. The bar and back bar at Oles came from the infamous Frontier Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming, circa the 1880s. Ole had received the bar in lieu of payment for pitching a ball game.
Most of his customers originally came from construction sites dams and other irrigation projects. Because of its strategic location and good service it attracted boozers even from other states. Very soon Ole got rich enough to spend money on hunting expeditions around the world and hed accumulated a good collection of stuffed animals which he proudly displayed in the restaurant. He became known for his collection of hunting trophies.
In 1953, Avis, then young girl, fell in love with 49 years old Ole, who was happily married with children and had no time to her. But in 1973 Ole had no choice but to sell his restaurant to pay hospital bills for his wife whod had a stroke.
The next 17 years until she died his wife spent in a nursing home and Ole found himself bankrupt with no place to stay. It was then that Avis came and took him into her home. Since then theyd lived on social security benefits and the 30 years difference in age is getting less noticeable with the passing of time. Avis was always in love with Ole, but sometimes the waves of lost opportunity to have her own children do flood over her, and she occasionally will then go to an AA meeting to share with others this bitterness. It gives her some release for long days sitting with fading Ole. Avis was happy giving me some newspaper cuttings with description of Oles former fame and she phoned to the local paper to cover our meeting.
Next morning she brought Ole to my location and Jack Pollock an editor of Keith County News, did a story of our meeting and noted for my album, Welcome Doctor to Nebraskas Cowboy Capitol. You are a modern-day explorer and adventurer. Took picture of famous hunter Ole with famous Soviet Pilgrim. Even for me this kind of well-wish was too much, especially that bit about Soviet...

 MEMORIAL DAY
 May 23

After one day's rest Vanya felt O.K. but I was still having to making extra stops going down Rte. 26. About noon I pulled off to the right of the road to water him in front of old farmhouse that looked about ready to fell apart. From the dilapidated house came its owner, laughing for some reason I could not apprehend. So Duane Owen told me the story. Two years ago about this same time of year the same kind of wagon with the same kind of person inside, had pulled up to his front yard. One of his horses had been limping. For four days he and his horses were recuperating, but the horse did not improve so he had to change for a fresh one. Right away, I discovered that it was my friend David McWelchy on his way across this country and having the same sort of problems as have been plaguing me. Dave was a professional horseman and used to shoe horses himself, but he just wasn't lucky.
 We phoned to his farm in New Hampshire and Dave encouraged me, but also warned me to remember the importance of proper shoes and good rest for my horse. But now he was busy with introduction in this country "Norwegian Fjord" draft horse, which didn't show good performance on his trans-continental trip. This brand of horses is good for working in fields, but has problems walking long distances.
 In Lewellen I was a guest of Kelly Bradley who works on the railroad and keeps horses for pleasure. His ancestors at the time of the Civil War were fighting on the Confederate side, which used to win some battles but in the end lost the War. He has lovingly saved documents and letters of that era and has amassed a good collection of Civil War arms as well. Since he's a bachelor he eats at the next-door restaurant The Plainsman Bar and Grill and there we went for a supper. From the menu Kelly recommended that I try the Rocky Mountain Oyster Basket. Seafood is a favorite of mine, but where they managed to find oysters between mountains, I couldn't figure out. The dish's name sounded suspicious still, the taste was delicious. Looking around at the smiling faces of other customers I could tell that there was something fishy with this food, but heroically I chewed it. I already knew that I was victim and center of entertainment of these people and tried to be good in my simplicity of being cheated. Finally it was explained to me that the "oysters" were made from sliced bull testicles. Big deal, I used to eat fried earthworms fed with cornmeal, and they were delicious, too.
Kelly left for work very early, before my departure, but promised to catch me on the road. His dog MacArthur followed me on the road for awhile but eventually found the idea of going to the far west unattractive and returned to his empty but familiar manger. For entertainment Kelly had given me a tape with the music and songs of Civil War times, but it was sentimental to the point of boredom and didn't touch my hard-hearted nature.
 On the side of the road were endless fields of wheat, corn and alfalfa; windmills were rotating their fans nonstop, pumping water for irrigation, and skylarks were singing their shrill sweet songs free of charge, the songs of peace of this land. In Oshkosh, watering Vanya, I learned that this town has proclaimed itself the Goose Hunting Capital of Nebraska. That is nothing like being, for example, the Cowboy Capital, but perhaps such a claim might attract some goosey tourists and hunters. However, from the point of view of the community of hunted geese this boast could be considered as politically or ecologically incorrect, and even offensive.
 The next small town of Lisco was blessed to have inhabited like Don and Wanda Collins who accepted me as a member of their own family. Don performs every kind of work on a ranch belonging to a huge corporation located in Chicago. The place is so vast he doesn't even know how much land belongs to it. Wanda works as a secretary at the local school with 51 students and 9 personnel. By my casual calculation, the yearly cost to society for the education of one student here is about $6,000, which is two times less than in big cities.
 The Collins' now live by themselves with no children around because, as Don worded it, "All the chickens are grown up and live by themselves." Don plays card-games with his computer in his basement and Wanda's very much involved with the activities of an "Eagle Club."
The household reading is not limited to the usual staple of American home "Readers Digest" and share space with "National Geographic," evidence of the Collins' interest in worlds other than their own.Besides a good rest, my horse needed new shoes and Don phoned to a local farrier, who promised come out to shoe it after Memorial Day, luckily, my hosts had nothing against keeping me in their home for a few days.
 Memorial Day was celebrated in Bridgeport and we made sure to get there earlier to be able to meet with local horsemen and their horses. Most of parade's participants congregated on outskirts of town in a residential area. Each mounted tableau depicted a bit of this country's history such as American Indians bare back shooting rifles into the air, Revolutionary soldiers dressed in outfits of those times, pioneers in wagons pulled by horses, fire fighters riding on antique fire trucks, etc. This cavalcade of vehicles and horsemen draped in banners or the insignia of local banks and businesses, the sponsors of this parade, proceeded down Main Street firing into the air, throwing candies to children and playing music.
The heroes of such movies as King Kong, Superman, and classic carton characters Tom and Jerry mixed with the historical figures gave me the impression that this parade was probably the Hollywood version of American history. But who's to say whether it's more important for people to appreciate and enjoy the dull reality of everyday life or the legends and characters that spring from their own or somebodye's creative imagination. Most people can't stand seeing a real mouse in their kitchen and would like by any means to chase it off or kill it, but watching cartoons, we are lured to champion the small but courageous and inventive mouse Jerry, chased by the strong but unsophisticated bully cat Tom. We came back home and found Vanya in good mood, running around the field and rolling over on his back. We decided, we should stick around here until a farrier could find the time to shoe him.

 SCOTTSBLUFF
 May 28
               
 Finally local farrier found some time to shoe my horse. Don brought a horse-trailer to transport Vanya and we went west with my wagon attached behind. The farrier's farm was located on banks of the North Platte. His front-yard planted with flowers, his house and workshop all were kept in perfect shape. Perhaps he needed extra money to keep his household in such a perfect shape. Just for changing Vanya's front shoes and welding tacks onto the hind ones he asked $75. It was the most I'd ever been charged for shoeing and I couldn't afford it. I suggested a most modest sum of $40 and he reluctantly accepted my money.
 We left about noon but very soon it appeared that the new shoes weren't comfortable and Vanya was stumbling again. It looked like that farrier hadn't performed his job properly and we needed to redo it. Towering on our left in the haze of a beautiful spring day were Chimney, Castle and Table Rocks. My predecessors in last century, going down the same road, had been both amused and impressed by these natural phenomena, especially by Chimney Rock.
 Captain Bonneville wrote in 1832, "At this place was a singular phenomenon, which is among the curiosities of the country. It is called the Chimney. The lower part is a conical mound rising out of the naked plain; from the summit shoots up a shaft of column, about one hundred and twenty feet in height, from which it derives its name. The height of the whole ... is hundred and seventy-five yards ... and may be seen at the distance of upwards of thirty miles."
 These rocks were early announcement of the even more majestic Rocky Mountains dividing the continent into it eastern and western parts. Somewhere to the west the travelers hoped to find their Promised Land. This desire of people to find something waiting for them was expressed by the great American writer Henry Thoreau in his essay "Walking." It's written in 1862 when this Quest to West reached its highest point. I guess he was the most patriotic and romantic American who ever lived. It'd be pretty hard to top the mystic vision of America he expressed in these lines: "I must walk toward Oregon, and not toward Europe....We go eastward to realize history and study the works of art and literature, retracing the steps of the race; we go westward as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure. Atlantic is a Lethean stream, in our passage over which we have had an opportunity to forget the Old World and its institutions. If we do not succeed this time, there is perhaps one more chance for the race left before it arrives on the banks of the Styx, and that is in the Lethe of the Pacific, which is three times as wide." The pioneers were going to west, to the Ocean hoping to see the sun from another perspective; they wanted to find something yet Unknown. After a trip around this country, the English writer Charles Dickens is said to have commented upon the distressed pioneer who reached the Pacific Ocean and sobbed because he could go no further west.
 The lands which I now drive through were occupied by Euro Americans much later, mostly in XIX century. As soon as they were irrigated, people established their 160 acres homesteads around this region. From 1909 to 1918 thousands of homesteaders arrived in the northern plains, searching for a plot of land they could call their own. Water was plentiful and the winters mild. Later, the harsh realities of the plains life forced many to abandon their dreams as drought and hard winters drove them off the land. Such a homestead I presume was created on site of Chimney Rock Potato farm, which I pulled to.
 The owner Fay Chrisman was by herself and I thought her courageous to accommodate a single man with his horse. She put a call to her neighbors who raise llamas and they soon arrived, bringing a lot of grain for Vanya and joined us for dinner. Fay's husband had dyed not long ago and the farm suffers a bit from neglect, but she has managed to grow potatoes on 80 acres surrounding her home. Fay was amused that I would be making my trip in a buggy, or even undertaking such an adventure at all. Next morning in a conversation with Eric Fowler, a reporter for the "Star-Herald", she jokingly referred to me as "an educated idiot." "You have to have a lot of blind faith," she added.
 I decided to bypass the crowded city of Scottsbluff and proceed by the Trail through Mitchell Pass towards Mitchell. Driving through Gering I was stopped by reporters Liz Neumann and Amanda Bowman from channels 4 and 10 of local TV. I gave them an interview after which Liz wrote in my ledger, "Anatoly, Good Luck in your travels, you represent the spirit of what the Oregon Trail is all about." Thanks Liz, I will try to live up to the image, as best as I can. There is in American's mind an idea that Russians can't survive without vodka and I had no intention of setting them straight. When one of the girls brought me a pint of Smirnoff with sandwich it wasn't categorically rejected. Passing Scotts Bluff National Monument I couldn't help but stopping at its office where enthusiasts of this marvel of nature, Pat Baum and Donna Daney, greeted my expedition and gave me some postcards depicting this mighty tower.
For me Scotts Bluff was also a monument celebrating people's courage. The people who trailed these roads, built these towns, and seeded these fields did so not only with grain but with their own bones. In Mitchell, on the way to the Fairgrounds where I hoped to camp I stopped for a rest in the shade of a tree growing in the front yard of mobile-home whose tenant was so upset by this intrusion that he called the police.
 Chief of police George Harpole came instantly and once he realized that we were only interested in love and peace - not in making any kind of trouble - he gave me an escort to the Fairgrounds. As Vanya and I were getting ourselves situated there, I asked Harpole about a spare police badge for my collection. He was sorry not to have one on him but promised to find one. In an hour he came back, bringing his own shirt with a badge on it. Can't ask much more from a guy than to give you the shirt off his back. Livestock dealers Larry Rice and Fred Piterson happened to be around and brought a sack of grain. Vanya was more than content grazing on a lush field and munching his evening allowance of two gallons of grain. I'd have been happy to stay with him, but living close, in a trailer-park. Leo and Gerry Sayre invited me to watch TV news and sleep over in their RV.
 Before departing the next morning I've asked Leo to give me a lift to Scottsbluff to get some film processed and have a look at the city. Not swayed by the trend to move all the holidays to Monday to make a long weekend, Leo celebrated the date of Traditional Memorial Day, raising flag of the USA in front of his house. It looked a bit ridiculous for my cynical point of view on patriotism spoiled by 70 years of Bolshevik's rule who imposed their artificial prudence of being soviet citizen. In Walmart I was lucky to meet Monnette Ross, the Christian vocalist, a colorful occupation, about which I had only a very vague idea. On business card she cited Mathew 28:18: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
 I was becoming more and more Bible-savvy, I had never before read the Bible so much as on this trip. I've discovered that people in the mid-west are more religious than on the east coast, and generally behave according to their believes. For example, when we got back to Mitchell we met with its Mayor Bill Thomas who wasn't paid for his service. He owned a small company called "Light Hauling" and all his spare time was spent serving the community. Leo told me that in the winter time Bill takes his tractor and plows the town's streets to remove snow.
 We met another man Marvin Ziegler, whose German ancestors came to this country from Russia; I guess they were Mennonites. For last few years Marvin has been visiting his relatives in Russia bringing them gifts and helping financially being himself financially very far being millionaire. We departed from the Fairgrounds quite late in the day but it was soon obvious that Vanya wasn't up to walking very far today anyway. He looked tired from the very beginning as if he already had walked thirty miles. He used any opportunity to stop and I could tell that he wasn't cheating. It was likely that he had contracted chronic fatigue a fashionable syndrome, and needed a longer rest.
 At each of stops, passing motorists come to make our acquaintance and pet my horse. On one of our first stops, just a couple of miles down the road, the Johnson family with two their boys approached us. The head of the family had been injured on the job and was temporarily unemployed so their finances weren't in the best shape. Their younger son Michael decided to help me with my expedition nonetheless, and dug 11 cents out of his pocket as a donation. Farther down the road I was again roadsided, this time by Randy Meisner, a member of the well-known (as I found later) Californian music group "The Eagles." He was visiting his relatives in this area. Impressed by my horse, he decided to contribute $20 to our cause. Later on, somebody reading my ledger found the name of Meisner and explained me that I was lucky meeting this famous musician. But, as I found, ignorance is a condition for happiness.
 Later on Alfred Rodriguez stopped me, and using his niece as an interpreter asked in Spanish whether I needed somebody to help me on the road. I told him that didn't mind having a companion but couldn't pay him, so he gave up his idea of being employed by a Russian. This area is called Sweet Valley because farmers here specialize in growing a sweet beet. It is a very hard and hands-demanding process and many illegal immigrants from Mexico are employed here. Because of their hard work these people are called "sweat backs".
 Along the way I happened to meet Larry Birch, the owner of "Alliance Vending" company, who invited me to stay at his house. Though, his place was just ten miles from Mitchell but we could barely drive even this mileage. Larry was a bachelor and dedicated his leisure time to pigeon breeding and fishing. His roomy house was rented out from rancher Bernard Brown, who raised Texas Longhorn cattle. Later Bernard and his wife Marilyn (I should say - vice versa, because the main part of our meeting was she, and Bernard was just watching her activity sitting behind a steering wheel and making some comments.) came.
They decided to help out with accommodations for my horse on their field and even brought a chunk of a rock salt for Vanya. On route, many ranchers had already suggested me that I give Vanya this type of salt lick, but he had always rejected it. Perhaps there were enough minerals in his food that he didn't need any extra. In nowadays' ranching they don't use horses very much finding easier to ride on tricycles but my hosts were very much enamored horses, and offered to help in any way they could. I was concerned about Vanya's fatigue so requested that they call for their friend-veterinarian. Charles Cawiezzell came later with his beautiful green-eyed wife and again, just like the veterinarian in Ogallala, didn't find anything wrong. He just rubbed turpentine on Vanya's front legs and suggested we find a good pasture for a longer rest. My hosts phoned to Keith Perry, a well-known horseman in this area, who came to convey me and my horse to the grounds of Fort Laramie.
 
 FORT LARAMIE
 June 1

 Keith Perry was a retired Livestock Enforcement Officer and raised his own Belgian draft horses. His wife worked for the National Historic Site in Fort Laramie and negotiated with its administration to allow my stay on their grounds for 10 days. My horse was too sluggish to pull a wagon to the site so Keith put Vanya in a horse-trailer, my wagon on a flat-bed and in this peculiar way we crossed the border of the Great Cowboy State of Wyoming. On the way Keith told me a story how a few years ago he decided with friends to make some extra money, bringing cattle from Mexico to the USA. The beginning of their expedition was quite successful and they were able to purchase the livestock for a good price and herded it towards the U.S. border. The calamity did not occur in an encounter with local banditos as it typically portrayed in Hollywood Westerns, but with a local Mexican authorities. Keith and his partners couldn't go down the road without pay-offs to police and other officials so when they finally crossed the border and sold cattle, their profit was next to nothing. After retirement he built a new house in the middle of nowhere and set about raising Belgian draft horses for both pleasure and transportation. During the rainy season the dirt road to his house becomes inaccessible even with a four-wheel drive truck; only horses were capable of pulling is buggy out to the main road. On the grounds of Fort Laramie we were greeted by the park rangers Steven Fullmer and Casey Osback who placed my horse to graze with their own herd and agreed to keep him as long as he need to recuperate. My wagon was parked in the picnic area, right on banks of the Laramie River. I had a lot of time to learn about this important landmark of the Oregon Trail and American history.
 The recorded history of this site began in the early 19th century with the arrival here of Jacques LaRamie, a trapper with the American Fur Co. From its founding in 1834 until 1849, the fort was an important fur trading post. The promise of free land in the West and discovery of gold in California drew thousands of emigrants down the Oregon Trail. To protect them from conflicts with Indians, the U.S. Army purchased the fort in 1849. For the next 41 years the fort was used as the staging point from which troops were sent for pacifying Indian uprisings. By 1890, the last Indian warriors were neutralized in this area and the post was abandoned, its land and buildings sold at public auction. It gradually decayed but in 1937 was acquired by the National Park Service and most of remaining buildings were restored and furnished with Army paraphernalia circa the end of the 19th century.
 Compared to European countries, the history of the USA is relatively short. Its beginning associated with the arrival on November 11, 1620 at Cape harbor of the Mayflower, a 180-ton ship with 120 anti-Catholic Puritans. Actually it was a very well planned descent of European invaders on the foreign territory. On their side in conquest and fighting with American Indians was advantage of such a bacteriological arsenal as smallpox, measles, dysentery, typhoid and tuberculosis. In spring of 1718 only after smallpox tribes of east coast have lost up to 90 per cent of their population. It isn't surprising that first colonists met very small resistance from Indians. Firearms and alcohol combine with deceases were such eradicating weapons that can be matched with today's nuclear warfare. It was no way for Indians to withstand it.
 Actually the history of this country was built on the competition of four major European powers: England, France, Spain, and Netherlands. If the first English settlement Jamestown in Virginia was founded by Christopher Newport in May 1607, the first French settlement at Quebec was set up by Samuel de Champlain in July 1608. It was the beginning of fighting between Anglo-Saxons and Gallicans for ownership of North America which was lost by French. But fire of this competition still been smoldering in Quebec, which wants to separate from Canada.
I am surprised that everybody in this country knows about Mayflower descent of 120 pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620. But there aren't so many know about ships Sara Constant, Discovery and Goodspeed on boards of which 13 years earlier came on shores of Virginia 144 colonists. Perhaps it's easier to keep in memory just one and such magnificent name as Mayflower than three other dull names of those ships. Or Americans despise naughty behavior of Jamestown inhabitants during a winter 1609 hardship that ate bodies of their wives.
 But I like Virginians not for this but for their bold idea cultivating tobacco plants instead something edible like corn or potato. And they compensate the misbehavior of consuming own wives by making Princess Pocahontas their heroine. But ungrateful princess instead enjoying their adoration left them with her husband John Rolfe for a lure of the king James court in England. Even worst, this Algonquin princess was baptized in the dull Rebecca. It didn't prevent her from dieing after smallpox on board of a ship after visiting England. Those smart mates soon found that it's better to be boss than undreboss and already in 1619 purchased from the captain of Dutch frigate "twenty negars." In a separate transaction, 90 "willing maidens" were "sold with their consent" at the cost of bringing them here (120 pounds of tobacco) to become brides of settlers. From the very beginning this slavery venture was illegal because more than six centuries ago slavery in England was abolished by the Normans. And Virginia was colony of this country.
 Americans are very fond of their history and study it very meticulously. The same day of my own arrival, archeologist Dr. Danny Walker also showed up. With a team of volunteers he was planning to dig out the garbage dump of former Fort Laramie. Each summer groups of volunteers come to dig here at their own expense, working every day under the broiling sun. It's not surprising because this fort was important base for fighting between Indians and American Army. From here departed Colonel George Custer for his last fight at the Little Bighorn against warriors of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. He was a bit shortsighted believing in his victory over the Sioux nation and future occupation of the White House as the Great Father. After June 25, 1876 disaster, Custer's superior General George Crook kept here a conference with General Philip Sheridan how to take the Sacred Hills from Indians, and finally they succeeded. General Sheridan was famous with masterminding the awful strategy of starving out his enemies by slaughtering the buffalo herds, Indian's primer food source.
 We spent a lot of time with Professor Walker talking about romantic, heroic and tragic history of this country. Danny was impressed to learn that Vanya and I were retracing the historical Oregon Trail and noted in my ledger, "Anatoly,... it is a nice project and I'm sure you are making Americans think about their country. Keep up the work." But I am sure that Danny and his team thought about their country even more than I. My horse was happy grazing on the lush fields and I was almost happy, too. The biggest nuisances were swarms of miller moths filling my wagon and crawling around my sleeping or not sleeping at all body. Compared with the millers, the mosquitoes and gnats were more or less bearable.
A colony of swallows living under the bridge across the Laramie River was very helpful eating my torturers. Big fishes were splashing in the river also hunting for insects, but I wasn't permitted fish for them. My friends, the park rangers explained that if they caught me fishing without a license, they would have no choice but to arrest me or write a citation. According to park regulations, I was not supposed to swim in the river, either but I did wash myself in it and dived in to wash off the soap foam when nobody was looking.
 I'd been provided with a kerosene lantern that I used to seat and write my journal under its blinking light with millers and mosquitoes swarming around. In the dusk, the recorded notes of an army trumpet playing "Taps" signaled the end of the service day for the soldiers, and time to go to bed. But it was mostly addressed to me and shadows of those soldiers who were resting in their graves. In such a quite state of mind, a lot of thoughts were passing through me. Especially about those deceased soldiers who lived in the absolutely different country than we are - far off and little known, despite all these excavations and re-enactments. The past, like the future are another country with borders and customs which we'll never cross. Those people are foreigners for us as much as we for them. This is why all of us living now belong to the same country surrounded by inhospitable neighbors, and should enjoy each other to the end.
 Next day I received a fax from Jackie Lewin, coordinator of the Oregon-California Trail Association (OCTA), informing me that, "...the Wyoming OCTA chapter will be having a trail trek or outing in the Fort Laramie area on the week-end of June 8; you are invited if you want to join them." I was looking forward to meet them. Besides its museum and army barracks exhibits, Fort Laramie boast a Trader's Post Store with reproduction items for sale. All these replicas of the last century - lanterns, candles, clothes and other everyday items - were quite expensive for my budget. All I could afford to buy was a replica of baked hardtack that came with these instructions: "Hardtack, officially called 'hard bread' was standard issue field ration for the soldiers of the 19th century. Hardtack is a plain water and flour biscuit that is unleavened. Hardtack as suggested by its name is extremely hard and almost impossible to eat. There were several ways a soldier could make the hardtack more palatable. The most popular method was to soak it in coffee, or the soldier could crumble it in soup. A popular dish, Skilly Skally, was prepared by soaking hardtack in cold water and then frying it in pork fat and sprinkling it with sugar. This caused the hardtack to taste very much like pastry.
 Surplus rations of hardtack from the Civil War were used by the frontier soldier through the end of the 19th century. English Cavalryman Williamson wrote, on the quality of 1890 field rations, 'some of the hardtack was packed in 1863...the hardtack had green mold on it, but we just wiped it off and they were all right." This hardtack from Sutler's Store is still in my possession. I'm keeping it for hard times.
 Eight American Mountain Men came from Colorado in three cars with canoes attached to the roofs. They were wearing trappers outfits, and were armed with a firearms, circa the beginning of the last century. Bill Klesinger, a huge man with a round Slavonic face, was dressed in leather pants and a suede jacket; around his neck was a necklace made from beads and wolf's canines. His hunting shirt was made of coarse linen reached half way down the thighs. From his belt suspended scalping knife, tomahawk, bullet pouch and powder horn. Bill's legs were protected with a breechcloth and high leather stockings. I doubt that it was very comfortable clothing because his upper thighs and most of buttocks were exposed to elements. However, it was way of life of frontier dwellers two hundred years ago. In regular life, he was in the business of installing of sunroof cells to produce electricity, but in his spare time he plays the game of being the member of the "Jim Baker Party." Bill's mates were outfitted in similar clothing and moccasins were their preferable footwear. As Bill told me, moccasins were comfortable in cold weather, since they usually stuffed with an insulation of deer hair or dried leaves, but they soaked up water and gave no foot protection in rainy season.
 Ken Zurawski, a tall and muscular young man with a lot of good humor, owns an electronic company but here he outfitted in leather and armed according to his image of a mountaineer. Patrick Surrena, writer, historian and aeronaut, writes books about history of the California Trail in gold rush times. He wrote in my ledger, "Anatoly - very few people have the courage to take on a "real" adventure. You did!! Great to meet you! Best of luck as you continue." Donald Keas not long ago changed his religion and became a Quaker but still smokes his clay pipe. I thought that he had a long way to go to be a real Quaker because they don't usually smoke, and never use firearms. Donald Dykes used to be a government employee but now he's retired and enjoys playing the trapper's role. The men set up camp down river, and when I paid them a visit, they gave me a shirt to wear that was made in the style of the last century. They also invited me to canoe down the North Platte River from Register Cliff to Fort Laramie.
The next day we went to that cliff, and there found thousands names inscribed in the soft sandstone; the oldest was dated 1850. People always wanted to leave their marks in history. Travelers nowadays still write their names there. We unloaded our canoes and began our trip in a stile of last century. I rode with Bill, Ken, and Parrick. I used to white-water raft down Siberian rivers but this travel was a different experience. North Platte here is only about 50 yards wide and quite shallow. Its current is much faster than on plains of Nebraska, curving between low banks with grazing antelope and deer. Water snakes were crossing the river, hoping to find a better life on the opposite bank.
 Going through a whirlpool our boat scooped up about ten gallons of water; all our food-supply was soaked and our map fell to soggy pieces. Just after passing the railroad bridge we should come to the mouth of the Laramie River, but we couldn't find it and so passed farther down, missing it. There were no farms or ranches visible and nobody around to ask directions from. Finally we moored on a sandy bank and hauled canoe out to a country road, having no idea about our location. Perchance, it was a perfect re-enactment of what used to happen with trappers when they had no maps or Indian guide. Our colleagues in the other two were luckier and found a farmer who helped them to bring the trucks and load up our canoe, too. We drove back to camp where had a pretty good time celebrating a not very successful trip. We ate pemmican and jerky; substituted turkey breasts for bread as used to do hunters when short of corn; and drunken beer and homemade wine. These playmates knew a lot about style of life of their predecessors. Frontier dwellers had no money to acquire their hunting gears and barter with the outer world in deer hides and other furs. From this practice coined the term "a back," since a buckskin brought a dollar's worth of goods.
 After party Ken Zurawski wrote in my ledger, "Any time you want to go out and get lost canoeing on the North Platte River, give us a call!!". Bill Klesinger also commented on our adventure, "I hope you meet exciting challenges on your quest - the next time you float down the Platte River I hope you find the Laramie River. Keep your eye on the horizon and keep your powder dry." I will.
 
 BUGS
June 10
      
Ten days of grazing on the plentiful fields of Fort Laramie helped Vanya to recover substantially and he was ready to go. But in all that time I had not found a farrier to change his shoes. My friends thought that if we went farther on, perhaps I would find the real specialist in Fort Casper.
I said farewell to all my new friends and departed, heading west of course. This time toward Guernsey, known as the Hub of the Oregon Trail. Vanya really felt much better and the road was relatively flat and empty so we were able to make good time.
Coming close to town, I noticed a sign for the Air Base of the Wyoming National Guard. A helicopter over head seemed to be observing us. Perhaps its crew was surprised by the new method of Russian spying from a horse and buggy after theyd go then used to our more sophisticated coverage.
I followed the advice of local police and pulled in to the Public Grounds on the banks of the North Platte, violating my own rule of never staying on public property. As soon as I unhitched my horse, he ran like crazy over a cattle-guard and on to the main road, a swarm of mosquitoes and gnats following him. I managed to catch him in the middle of a bridge across the river, and brought him back, tying him up to tree. Very soon he set himself free, snapping the rope. Attacked by millions of bugs, my poor Vanya was becoming distraught. All I could do was to bring him up hill where there was a bit of wind.
Holding him desperately, I noticed a car pulled close to my wagon. From it came a woman who climbed up hill in my direction. Approaching my horse, she produced from a bag a plastic bottle, which she opened, and smeared some white liquid around Vanyas body, then suggested I apply it on myself.
She was the wife of a local cop who had told her of my whereabouts, and she had decided to help me by bringing and selling me (for $11) a bottle of Skin So Soft, insect repellent made by AVON Co. She was making extra money selling Avon products and I was captive customer. Its efficacy was more than a little ambiguous. As I later found, against bugs only the three Ts help: Time, Temperature and Tenacity.
Next morning, with my face sleepless and swollen after bug-bites, I was going up Rte. 319 until stopped by Hans Kauruff and Renate Heppenheim from Germany. They gave me a camping mat and a can of beer. On the road Id been meeting a lot of Germans and British subjects, but never French. I have a feeling that after loosing North America to Anglo-Saxons, French got so bitter that dont want even to see the lost battlefield.
They lost also, besides the other wars, the battle to make French a global language. English has become one, thanks to the favorite combination of inherited British colonialism and American entrepreneurship. Hollywood cartoons and films, television and CNN news rule a global media. I am sorry for those poor frog-eaters and truffle-lovers! I couldnt go very far because Vanya was again stumbling so I pulled into Pepperville Ranch where I got permission to stay and feed my horse. The owners were busy with their own problems and had no time for me. My horse and I felt isolated and all the night Vanya stayed close to our wagon, not grazing at all.
Next day, despite the stumbling, we managed to make about 20 miles along beautiful road with a lot of white- tailed deer jumping and grazing on the hills. In Glendo, town clerk and treasurer Cate Brooks offered us accommodations on her property. It was more convenient to stay with Howard Burton who had a motel and a grazing field nearby. By appearances, Hovard was quite well-off being the owner of motel, gas-station and convenience store, too.
When I went to the store for some supplies, his son Edward urged me to take from its shelves whatever Id like, free of charge. Such generosity ruled out my greed and I forced myself to take just two sandwiches with coffee, and elements for my flashlight.
All the people of town seemed to be in some kind of generosity contest, offering the best they had. Cates husband Dennis brought a sack of grain and suggested that Vanya and I stay a couple days on his ranch. The local nurse, Missy Johnson, came to my room with her daughter Cassie to share a couple of cocktails and talk about our life. Saying farewell they asked me what my favorite color is. I told them green, or yellow. When in a couple of an hours I came back after visiting the Roosters Saloon, I found a green 10 gallon drum for spare water, and hanging from its top, a key-holder made from green and yellow beads.
Next morning at the gas-station I met with people from the Chamber of Commerce of Platte County and they gave me a brochure about Glendo where I learned that wildlife in this area was not limited to the whitetail deer Id seen, but also pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk. Big Horn sheep and occasional bear or mountain lion can be found in the Laramie Peak area. Sometimes its confusing to find that instead of two roads shown on the map, only one exists. This was the case after Glendo where I managed to locate Rte. 25, but no 319. Rte. 25 was terrible requiring us to drive through cattle- guards, and open and close gates, cutting my fingers a number of times on barb-wire. With such delays I barely managed to make 16 miles to Orin Junction.
Orin Junction is the main crossroad for travelers going to or from Colorado, Nebraska or South Dakota. Truckers like to stop here to take a shower. They may spend the night sleeping in cabins equipped with beds, fridges, air- conditioners and even TV-sets. I also heard that sometimes they travel with a special breed of roadway prostitute, who shuttle between the coasts. Actually, I noticed them wandering around this station, but not paying any attention at my wagon with no air-conditioner.
The truck stop owners placed my horse in paddock but there wasnt enough fresh grass so I had to find some hay around. In the meantime Howard and Eva Barton came with their friend Ruth, the Postmaster from Glendo. They decided to share supper with me. While we waited for our order of sea-food, Eva borrowed a kitchen knife and cut the badge off Howards Conoco uniform which she presented to me for my collection.
Ruths children are already grown up and are involved with international trade. She likes traveling around the world herself. She amused me with such a cute observations as that in England the handles of toilet tanks are not placed on the left as in this country, but on the right side. Its only logical that if they drive on the left side of the road, they should also flush their toilets from the right.
But we in Russia have the handles in the middle of tanks, which probably is absolutely illogical. Being sincere, I should admit that in Russia we have a very vague idea even about the Petit Robert, or the bidet. Its described in dictionary as a low, oblong basin for intimate abolitions. It is absolutely and positively - the French invention used by their philanderers for at least 250 years in their passion for lamur. Four in ten of their bathrooms have such a convenience. We proudly declare the absolute zero of their existence on our sacred land.
A couple of young people were consuming food next to us. After chitchatting with them we found that Yup Whithorn and his girlfriend were traveling from Maine to Colorado in a 1954 school-bus. They were stopping occasionally on the way, working as farmhands, dishwashers or restaurant cleaners to earn money for food. These kids had no plans for the future; they were happy just surviving one day more.
The next to their dilapidated bus, a shining Kenworth tractor-trailer was parked, circa 1980. It was driven by Bernie Sikorski. Bernie was already in the deep retirement being far after 70, but he proudly drove his trucks around the USA. He was the owner of big trucking company. The same time he knew that as soon as he stops driving, he will cease to exist on this earth. His hobby he told me is restoring old trucks. Its a big country, and Americans love to drive to stay alive.
I giggled a bit finding on sale two post-cards of near Mount Rushmore. On the first was the well known picture of four Presidents heads chiseled-out of the mountain. But on the second, with a little the mid-west humor, was a picture of their rear parts. Two tourists in the second picture were commenting, ...near as I can tell, were somewhere behind Mt. Rushmore.

JACKALOPES
June 14

 It looked like Vanya was finally getting used to his shoes and stumbling less, but I'm sick and tired of those cattle-guards across the road. They're constructed from parallel railings with a space between them. They are meant to scare cattle from going across them but they scare my horse as well. Passing a railroad bridge I glimpsed a mother deer with a new born fawn. While not politically correct, I couldn't help but stop to pet him. The mother did not run very far from him, and was waiting nervously until I finished the cruelty of hugging her child. The fawn trembled in the balance, but still looked at me with big and fearless eyes that calmly asked a mute question - what are you doing, old man, on my ground?
 Farther down the road I was stopped by a couple of humans - Leroy and Mary Stock were on the way from Douglas. Leroy, a local rancher of about 35, tall and muscular, had decided to be a candidate for the position of County Commissioner on the Libertarian Party ticket. He had just today registered for it at the County Ballot Commission. Both of them were open, friendly and liked my horse. This is very good politics. I hope Leroy wins because he liked Vanya.
 On the outskirts of Douglas I pulled up to the tidy household of Dale and Audrey Munkres. They are retired but still breed cattle. Dale found a good grazing field for my horse. He was very proud of Douglas and gave me a ride around it. Douglas is known to be the original home of the "jackalope", a fanciful creation of local taxidermists. Thousands of convincing mounted specimens of this animal - jackrabbit sporting antlers - are on display throughout this country. A 10-foot replica of this "hybrid" stands in downtown Jackalope Square. The Mayor of Douglas, Kenneth Taylor, gave me his business card with a jackalope insignia on it. In appreciation, I suggested him to change town's name from Douglas to Jackalope.
 I fell in love with this beautiful and prosperous town and with my hosts, who keep themselves young by keeping themselves busy and needed by somebody. What I mean, that my hosts were enough well off to let themselves idling and enjoying their geriatric deceases. But my hosts managed to be active with growing cattle and refusing to be the "senior citizens" even being after 70.
 Next morning on the way to Glenrock I was stopped by Ron Howell who invited us to stay at his place located near "Aires Natural Bridge". It sounded intriguing for me to change my plans, so I turned left on Rte. 91 which proved to be very hilly and I castigated myself for such a diversion. Arriving to Ron's place I found it actually closed, but was lucky meeting rancher Kelly Darr, who was driving his tractor and finding me in such mischief offered to put me up at his place.
Kelly had once worked as an engineer, but got multiple sclerosis and had no choice but to change his career for ranching. With his wife Lory he breeds Angus cattle. Their two teenage sons Casey and Jeremy help them substantially. But the family's best treasure is their five year-old daughter Whitney. I've never seen in my life such amplitude of energy, beauty and joy of life as in this girl. I immediately fell in love with her and enjoyed watching her climbing a tree, swinging or riding my horse. Lori gave me a ride to the Natural Bridge where La Prele Creek has worn a passageway through thick stone, leaving an arch 30 feet high and 50 feet wide. Local Indians used to believe that this place was cursed by Evil Spirits and didn't come around to bother pioneers resting here. Water was rippling on a gravel river-bed and I was sitting on a boulder and meditating about everything and nothing. On July 4th, 1846, this place was encamp by the Donner and Reed party to celebrate nation's 70th birthday. They raised a flag with 28 stars, firearms were discharged, and the Declaration of Independence was read. James Reed daughter, Virginia, will recall later: "Some of my father's friends in Springfield had given him a bottle of good old brandy which he had agreed to drink at a certain hour of this day looking to the east, while his friends in Illinois were to drink a toast to his success from a companion bottle with their faces turned west, the difference in time being carefully estimated."
 This joyful party can't anticipate all the calamities in front of them: James Reed will kill his former friend, James Snyder, in a traffic accident, and Donner's family will perish near the summits of Sierra Nevada Mountains, eating a human flesh and being eaten themselves. But because of their misfortune they happened to be placed in history pages of this country. Donner's party happy end would be disaster for its existence in our memory.
Later that night I decided to pay visit again to Ron Howell who had invited me to his home. Finally I reached him and his wife Mary. Ron was apologetic not being home earlier, because after invitation of me earlier morning he realized that I couldn't get here because of a cattle-guard, not to mention the steep hills on the way. He was not aware that I fulfill my promises, at least 90% of the time. Ron told me his story how in 1957 he was a sailor and after WW II his squadron paid a first visit to Murmansk, Russia. He met a Russian sailor and had exchanged a pack of Marlboros for Russian cigarettes "Prima" and he had kept the pack to this day as a memory of those wonderful times. We filled our glasses with vodka and drank it, smoking 40 year old Russian cigarettes with no filters and becoming eternal friends.
 I slept that night at Rons place, which had been transformed into a spacious house from a former veterinarian clinic for Arabian horses. His friends Ben and Lois Baker came the next morning bringing turpentine to apply to my horse's feet. Turpentine is a fairly common remedy for a horse's aching feet and I thought it might be helpful in my future roads.
 Hooves property lubricated with Vaseline, we traveled to Glenrock. I was greeted there by a local cop, Jeff Nelson, and deputy sheriffs Steven Nunez and Jim Macormic who took a few snapshots with me with Vanya in the background. Before meeting these guys I had some concerns about cooperation and competition between officers of sheriffs and police departments, but they didn't fight with each other in time when I met them. For camping they suggested we go farther down the road to the estate of Bud and Kelly Fenster.
 After driving a couple more miles and sighting their house, I decided to go straight down hill off the road and it was a very foolish decision. Going around and between juniper shrubs I lost Vanya's watering bucket and barely escaped overturning my wagon on that steep hill. The Fenster family was also a bit surprised to see my wagon arriving over rough terrain instead of the regular entrance at near by their place. They had just come home after a roping contest on rodeo and were proud show off the blue ribbons for their achievements in this skill. At one time they had their own ranch with about 300 head of cattle, but a sharp drop in beef prices ruined the ranch. Bud had no choice but to sell everything and take a managerial job on larger but not his own ranch, and his wife got a job of clerk in the bank. They've been saving money to buy a new ranch where they plan on raising pheasants.
 
 FORT CASPER
 June 17

Early in the morning I hitched Vanya and decided to go straight to old Fort Casper, where I hoped to rest for a while. Two women from neighboring farm, Andrea and Jenny Berge, decided to be my chaperone with negotiations necessary for getting permission to stay on the Fort Casper grounds. They called for police to escort my wagon and supplied Vanya and me with food on the way.
Rte. 26 was under repair with rows of spooky yellow cones, which made my horse nervous, but all the soft-hearted flag-women with red faces and yellow flags gave us a green light through their various construction sites.
Stephen Myrum, Chief of police in Evansville, provided an escort through his town then handed us off to Robin Tuma, Casper police officer who safely guided us to the grounds of Fort Casper, located in the western part of the town.
Fort Casper Museum director Richard Young allowed me to park the wagon in the middle of the fort, which was constructed of five log cabins in a J-formation. The cabins had been reconstructed in 1936, just as they had been according to the sketches of Lieutenant Caspar Collins. The fort was named after Casper in recognition of his bravery defending his wounded soldiers under Indian attack in 1865. (It was no way to name this fort after his last name because another fort was already dedicated to memory of his father - Collins.)
Vanya was placed in a paddock around the corner to graze, but after a few hours I noticed that he had given up grazing and was standing idle in the corner of the field. After a closer inspection I saw that there wasnt any proper grass in the field, only chit-grass. This is a very sticky kind of grass thats only edible when young and green; when mature it will pierce a horses tongue and gums. It could even pierce light-soled shoes or sneakers. It was only after this encounter with chit-grass that I understood how useful cowboy boots are for ranching.
To help me solve the grazing problem, veterinarian James Thies came and loaded Vanya onto a horse-trailer to haul him to his own grazing field of fresh green grass. He agreed to keep my horse until I could find a farrier to shoe him. This would be a difficult task because the best farriers had left recently to take place in a re-enactment of the northern route of the Mormon Trail.
Here, at the Fort Casper site in 1859 by Mormon settler Louis Guinard was built a bridge across North Platte River and trading post. Later it was used also an overnight stage stop, a Pony Express mail stop, and a telegraph office. Here travelers used to stop to rest and resupply themselves; it was the last true outpost of civilization until many miles across the Continental Divide.
A major re-enactment, not of the Mormon, but of the Oregon Trail had been held in 1993 when 12 people with wagons traveled from Independence, Missouri, to Independence, Oregon, covering some 2,300 miles between May 2 and October 21. They were celebrating the   Sesquicentennial; 150 years after the first pioneers pointed their boots westward and began the Great Migration to the West - about 350,000 farmers, doctors, journalists, missionaries, young and old, male and female.
Since that successful re-enactment, Homer Farter (Unfortunately, they advised to change his name here.), the farrier of that trek had been making living by organizing short wagon expeditions for tourists who wanted to experience to stay in primitive conditions for a while. Knowing that he lived in this area, I hoped for his support and expertise on my way down the Oregon Trail.
The differences between Farters expedition and my own were tremendous - hed had financial support and qualified farriers, veterinarians and other skilled people who were part of that adventure. They could easily change horses for fresh ones and drivers could rest when their partners were in charge. I had no such advantages, and my trek would be almost twice as long.
The next day Homer came to the fort grounds guiding appearing rich tourist who donated five dollars to my expedition. The tourist did not put his contribution directly in my hand preferring to pass it through his guide. This was absolutely astonishing to me, and looked as some kind of country lord asked his obedient servant to give money to his serf. Even more shameful - this dirty serf accepted it.
I have had an urgent need to locate a good farrier, and also was eager for any information about the road conditions west of Casper. To my great surprise Homer was completely unresponsive to my inquire. Over the next several days he stopped by with various clients, but never even approached me. To this day I have no idea what secrets about trail he decided to hide from me.
Another member of that re-enactment and Homers former mate, Eric Regnier, came to visit me and didnt even want to hear Homers name - so bitter were his memories about of their common experience. In my ledger Renier wrote, I hope you can find as many ways to fulfil your dreams as possible! If it takes forever it is a small price to pay. I can only say I am happy for you, and make a safe journey. May you find peace + happiness wherever you go!
I had developed a small custom of shooting news coverage about my expedition directly from the TV screen with my videocamera. Because the television in the museum office was broken I went next-door to the trailer park to look for somebody with a working TV.
These sometimes gigantic Recreational Vehicles (RVs) travel all around this country. As a matter of fact, their retired owners congregate in RV-clubs such as the Good Sam Club and make up some kind of American subculture. They have yearly gatherings in North Dakota where several thousand RV aficionados congregate and celebrate their own vitality close to gathering of 300,000 proud members of bikers club. I used to meet also a lot of motor bikers along the road, always friendly and curious about my much slower than theirs advance.
A growing population of older people actually creates a specific market of the U.S. economy. Mobilized retiree distributes the accumulated wealth more evenly across the country, with their recreational explorations of the least developed regions.
In his book What am I doing here the British travel writer Bruce Chatwin wrote: Mans real home is not a house, but the Road. These Americans happily blended the pleasure being on the road with comfort of being home the same time.
A retired nuclear technician let me come in to tape the news from his TV-screen. He recently purchased enormous mobile home for $150,000. Most of the time he lived in it with his wife, the two of them, visiting children and grandchildren all around country. It had a two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom and separate shower, and was impregnated with modern electronics, computers and faxes. From my technologically primitive perspective it looked like the NASA command center.
It happened that I hit Casper just at the moment that it was the site of a soccer competition between school children of the western states, and thousands of them came with the parents filling the hotels, camping grounds, stores and restaurants of this small town. Vanya and I were just one more local attraction and they came to my wagon in packs asking a lot of questions or taking snapshots; I was happy talking with them and delighted to show them my rig.
Many RV-tenners came down as well, but especially colorful was a group of three musketeers - three old friends who were married to three sisters, but this time were traveling by themselves and having to adjust to a short-lasting freedom. Fletcher Willoughby was still involved with the real-estate business; Thomas Morgan stays active in insurance.
Joseph Maciocomski is more relaxed these days enjoying his retirement. During WW II he was a bomber pilot and usually stopped for resupply in the Ukrainian city of Poltava and had many good memories of the time he spent there.
These stalwarts were teasing each other all the time, but I especially liked their competition to see who could give me the largest donation.
Casper was a fantastic opportunity to meet interesting people and talk about their business or hobbies. For example, retired teacher Ed Strube has been involved with the building of Braille trails in Wyoming for blind people. His first, the Lee McCune Braille Trail near Casper was dedicated in 1975 to the visually handicapped and the sighted of America to enjoy Gods Unique World of Nature. Aluminum plaques located at 39 stations along the third-of-a-mile trail were printed both in Braille and English and described species name and biology of various trees and shrubs along the trail. Along with other members of the Casper Mountain Lions Club he has been involved with the construction of new similar trails and other charitable activities.
When Ed had been a high school coach, he used to enforce discipline and obedience of children to their teacher and couldnt succumb to the more lax approach of the educational process in modern schools and had taken an early retirement.
Now Ed has enough time to do whatever he likes; with his friends Bob and Helen Sheppard he invited me for a dinner party in the Evangelist Church of St. Stephen. About 30 mostly retired people showed up for a fund-rising dinner in the church cafeteria. It was amazing to me finding that they could generously dedicate part of their retirement benefit in behalf of Bosnian refugees. How much heart and passion you supposed to have for thinking about those desperate peoples who even were not Christian but Moslems.
This nation known by its rough and heartless survival approach to life is also dips out of its pocket close to $150 billion a year for philanthropy equal the gross domestic product of such a big and developed country as Turkey. And it doesnt come just from the rich: about 70% of all American households contribute. For the last 30 years all the individual handouts as a proportional personal income climbing in this country close to 2,0 percent. America is the nation of givers more than receivers, and I found it for myself along the road.
The church food was delicious but wine wasnt served. Since smoking was out of question as well, I decided to leave cafeteria and find another party.
  Churchs maintenance men and other staff were barbecuing, drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes in backyard. I immediately jumped on their bandwagon, joined their party. For the last of the evening, I shuttled between the two parties exposing two parts of my personality and trying to be acceptable to both.
Bob and Helen, my table neighbors at the official church party were the owner of an A&W Rootbeer Restaurant franchise and enthusiasts of this drink. A&W Rootbeer, they told me, was invented in 1916 by two men with the last names Allen and Wright in Lodi, California. This beverage has been made with the same secret formula for the last 80 years, using a blend of healthful and natural roots, barks, and herbs. I tried it and am still among the living, but personally prefer Old English 800 beer.

RENDEZVOUS
June 22

In the second part of the day a picturesque figure came to my place; he was cube-shaped, and stood very on to the ground. Dan Florea arrived with his wife and younger daughter (their elder was at a soccer competition) to greet me and talk a while. A gold Magen David star hung around his neck showing his devotion to Judaism and sympathy to Israel. Dan was short, potbellied and proud of it.
My kind of expedition right down his alley because in 1974-75 he managed to walk across the USA and Canada, and had once dug gold in British Columbia, and fished in Alaska. In the Vietnam War he was commander of an armored river-boat and bitterly recalled, Those prostitutes in the White House and the Pentagon lost that war and betrayed our Vietnamese allies.
In search of higher consciousness, he used to practice Yoga and Buddhism and had gone to India to meet with the Dalai Lama, but afterwards returned to Judaism. Still it didnt prevent him from kidding about orthodox Jews, those guys lose part of their brains when their circumcised.
But hes an adamant supporter of Israel. Hed signed a two-year contract with Intel and was planning to go to Israel to work on a construction project. Even about his beloved Israel he has own opinion, commenting, Israel isnt very much different from its Arab enemies in its methods of fighting; it couldnt ever survive without U.S. support. The Jews have managed to take their Promised Land back only because of their courage and self-sacrifice.
Besides his own four children Dan has an adopted son, now serving in the Navy. Over the course of four years the Government spent about $2.5 million on his training as a computer specialist and if he decides to discharge, he could very easy find a job at around $70,000 a year.
Professional military service is well paid and nowadays many minorities find refuge in it. Dan believes that service should be compulsory and each man should have to pass boot-camp to get some training and discipline, and after that to serve his Country. I absolutely agreed with him.
Later that evening I came to his camp site and drank with him a kosher wine, sweet and remorseful as a sin.   Fireflies were hovering around, burning themselves in sexual attraction and desire; wild deer calmly yet cautiously were crossing the camp grounds. Dans daughter was fishing but throwing her catches back in to the pond. In my Russia nobodys fishing just for the pleasure of it; they eat everything that is caught.
I forgotten my smoking pipe so was trying to form make-shift joints from newspaper. Such adherence to self-poisoning surprised the nonsmoking Dan and he asked me why I would be a smoker when I knew very well that it was a health hazard. My response shocked him a bit. I said, I once heard from somebody that our life is just a sexually transmitted terminal disease and simply to live is dangerous. My habits are just a part of an appreciation that life is the most dangerous and unhealthy kind of human existence in the Universe. Actually, I really couldnt say that he apprehended my jokes but he asked me to call him when I would be in Portland.
  The next day was the years longest day and was   celebrated in Fort Casper with the opening of the Rendezvous. This was a re-enactment of the get-together among traders, trappers, and Indians for the purpose of trade and revelry, initiated in 1825 by William Ashley, founder of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. At those years sometimes as many as 200 whites and 2,000 Indians used to congregate to share their plentitude.
These fairs used to give trappers and Indians the opportunity to trade their harvest of skins for traps,   guns, ammunition, tobacco and liquor. On such events friends and enemies would meet together, long-lasting controversies were solved and competitions in shooting and horsery were common. Alcohol was in great demand, although its price jumped sometimes up to $60 per gallon. Gambling, ball-playing, racing and other amusements created a buoyant atmosphere but the same time ruined American Indians moral. As one Arapahoe warrior told Colonel Dodge in 1835, his tribesmen were coming to these fairs in desire to get things in such an order: First, whiskey; second, tobacco; third, horses; fourth, guns; fifth, women.
The tradition has been revived in this area and now modern rendezvous are organized on the grounds of former forts, featuring re-enactments, and inviting lovers of primitive skills to mingle with traders, craftsmen, and makers of Indian-style outfits.
This fairs program included target throwing of tomahawks and knives; archery, and instruction in the art of making arrows and spear heads from flint. The forts lawn was crowded with tepees made from canvas, which actually wasnt historically correct but it isnt easy nowadays to find enough buffalo hides to cover a tepee with.
I stopped by tepee whose sides were hung with ornamentations of from feather and leather, fur hats, moccasins, smoking pipes and amulets. A handicraftswoman was seated close by cutting out suede for making a new purse. She was a gorgeous squaw about 50 with sprinkle of gray in her inky hair and sparks of light in her hazel eyes.
We introduced ourselves and I found that Maureen (Piper) Will was 100% (in tribe terminology this blood count is known as 4/4) Northern Arapahoe. Her native home is Wind River Reservation in Fort Washakie, Wyoming. As she told me, that fort was named after legendary and, the same time, controversial figure of Indian wars raged in this region between 1860 and 1880. Washakie was a chief of the Shoshone tribe and was born the same year when Sacagawea, the legendary Shoshone woman, joined the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Some historians consider him as a traitor, some as a wise man after he ordered his followers to be friends with the whites who traveled along the Oregon Trail. He was a great warrior and won many battles with the Blackfeet and the Crows. Perhaps from the beginning he found that the war against white settlers was worthless, and bluecoats were much more powerful than his tribesmen - if you cant beat them, join them. Washakie treated all Indians who fought against the whites as his enemies. His policy was rewarded by whites who gave his tribe a new reservation at the Wind River valley. After his death in 1900 he was given a military funeral and was erected the monument with these insignia: Always Loyal to the Government and to His Whine Brothers. Nowadays this wording sounds a bit controversial.
Learning that I was Russian, Maureen handed me a small medicine pouch decorated with an obsidian arrowhead and wrote in my ledger, Anatoly good luck crossing our lands. May the Indian Grandfather Spirits be with You.
Her husband Garry stood close by wearing a suede jacket, leather pantaloon and moccasins; his western hat covered long hazelnut hair that was going gray. Through bushy eyebrows shined his black prophet-like eyes. He was happy to share with me all the dissatisfaction of his encounter with contemporary life.
A descendant of English immigrants, he used to be Marine and fought in the Vietnam War and was highly decorated. He bitterly recalled how his compatriots met him after duty with a friendly fire of castigations and slogans shame to murderers.
After the service Garry studied engineering at the University of Pennsylvania but he grew disillusioned with the modern style of life, and relocated to Wyoming where he married beautiful Maureen
In the summer time the couple goes around the western states selling Maureens handcrafts and Garrys furs; during winter they move to hunting grounds in Wyoming and Montana where Garry hunts for furs.
Mostly we live on the road, Garry told me. A few days ago, on the way from Texas we were searched by state troopers three times for narcotics possession. Behind the cloud of dust thrown in our eyes and called the war on drugs the Government can do with us whatever it likes.
Where is a personal freedom and property rights? I cant openly have a firearm any more and the taxation police come into my home and ask how much I earn selling obsidian axes and amulets.
They burned alive the families of Koreshs followers in Waco, Texas, in Rudy Ridge they shot the wife of a hunter who was disturbed by their intrusion in his private life. And setting a blast on a Government building in Oklahoma City might be inappropriate, but its a reaction to the intervention in our private life. I dont support such a radical approach, but it let them know that well defend our freedom by any means.
Now they would like to Court Martial the American soldier who refused to fight under the UN flag, but he has taken an oath to his Country, not bureaucrats in New York or Brussels.
Nowadays they are creating the International Government and in awhile the USA will cease to exist as an independent country. The same international bureaucrats insisted on the eradication of about 4.5 million cattle in England because of mad cow disease without even scientific proof that this disease is contagious to people.
There was so much bitterness and resentment in his voice and he is not alone in such feelings. Former soldiers these days create bases with caches of ammunition in mountain areas to resist the police and FBI agents. Such anticipations might seem a bit childish, but the outcome could be devastating.
Also Vietnam veteran Altlatl Bob for last 12 years has been using different kind of arm. He reinvented and redesigned an ancient weapon made from the throwing stick and a six-foot-long gadget reminding hybrid of an arrow and a spear, named a dart. The Aztecs called this system - the throwing stick and dart - an atlatl, and successfully used in their battles against Spanish conquistadors.
It appeared on the Eurasian continent 30,000 years ago and arrived in the Americas around 12,000 years ago, when the ancestors of modern Indians crossed the then-existing isthmus between Siberia and Alaska. The bow and arrow came into use in America only about 2,000 years ago and eventually replaced atlatl in Northern America.
The atlatl buff, Bob Perkins determined that a dart launched from his Mammoth Hunter atlatl has more knockdown power than an arrow shot from a sixty-pound compound bow. Despite the atlatls wallop, the bow replaced it for reason of accuracy and stealth. Such drawbacks aside, the atlatls modern potential as a hunting weapon has scarcely been taped. Bob has taken deer and wild boars with one. He founded the company BSP Engineering making atlatls to the growing number of hobbyists who are taking up the ancient weapon and competing with it in contests like the Atlatl World Open held here in Casper.
With good a sense of humor Bob told me the story of how, while piloting his jet-fighter in the area Gulf of Tonkin, he was shot down by a Russian model of atlatl, SM-3 rocket.
Those flying light-poles, as Bob called them, have no mobility so when they were rising it was no problem to avoid them. But that rocket had crept from behind and hit suddenly. Ejected and crashing down he didnt feel any pain; the lower part of his body was paralyzed. He was lucky enough to be picked up by copter right away and delivered to the hospital.
The doctors found that one of his vertebras was shattered in fragments and no surgery could possibly reconstruct it. But at the doctors disposal was an experimental drug which injected into the vertebras fragments could dissolve them. In Bobs case the drug worked beautifully. After six weeks he was discharged from the hospital, more or less healthy, except that he was one inch shorter.
Now he was kidding, Russian, let us drink to the hope that in future we will not make each other shorter prematurely. We used to pay respect to those sons-of-bitches when we were opponents, we will have even more respect as a friends. Russians are now getting their freedom but freedom isnt something which is won permanently. You must fight for your freedom constantly; otherwise they will take it from you.
These tough guys were definitely descendants of Western frontiers pioneers, with a stubborn resentment of Eastern politics, taxes and the elitist attitudes of those who ruled from executive offices. Their predecessors were stern, violent and clannish, but brave, upright and wildly independent. However, these qualities played an integral part in shaping the American character and this nation of free people.
The last day of the rendezvous was a feast with potluck and a stew cooked in a huge cast iron pot, and everyone was invited to share it. Even though the weather was rainy people congregated under the tent, sang, and played folk music and danced.
After final competitions at the Fairgrounds next door the horsemen came downhill and mingled with us in a celebration of human freedom in the past and for the future. Standing close to me happened to be a rose-cheeked and ornamental squaw, Aja King, a Lakota Sioux Indian, who gave in memory of our meeting a magic crystal and wrote in her native language, Mitakuye Oyasin!, which means, We are all related.

POISON SPIDER SCHOOL - RATTLESNAKE RANCH
June 24

 Under the escort of Jerry Enderse, Chief of the Mills Police Department, I turned left and proceeded down Poison Spider Road. By this road I reached the school of the same name - "Poison Spider School." In front of it was a big billboard with a painted cobweb and the slogan: "Caught in the web of learning." Teachers Cindi Miller and Bob Keller happened to be around and signed my book. I was happy that a sense of humor and optimism haven't disappeared on this old Oregon Trail. The farther you are from big city the more hospitality you seem to meet.
 Passing by in their truck Zachary and James Fuhrer invited us to rest in their house a few miles off the road, but I had to decline their kind proposal, or I otherwise would never reach the Pacific Ocean. A couple miles farther Bruce Stewart stopped his tractor and suggested that I have lunch with his family, but I couldn't stop for such a long time there either. However, later on Bruce caught up with me and brought broiled sausages with hot sauce and hot coffee, and loaded me down with sandwiches + a bottle of wine.
 Farther down Rte. 319 became more desolate, with only irrigation ducts crossing it, and salt-marshes were reflecting rays of broiling sun, neither a farm nor ranch visible in this desert. Late in the afternoon I stopped by an irrigation canal. I placed Vanya behind a fence that ran along it, but soon mosquitoes decided to take over and showed up in swarms chasing my poor horse around. Vanya ran back and forth in the futile hope he could outrun them. Finally he stood exhausted and helpless, and I couldn't help him either. The arsenal of bug sprays, ointments and liquids that I had at my disposal was not of very much help. We had no tent or mosquito netting to hide ourselves behind so we suffered together as our predecessors used to, centuries ago.
 The phantoms of these earlier travelers were hiding behind the hills and rocks and drew nearer with darkness, but I recognized them as my friends in times of hardship; they knew how to survive on the hard open range and to keep on going. About them Stephen Vincent Benet wrote his poem Western Star, with these lines:
 Hear the wind
 Blow through the buffalo-grass,
 Blow over wild-grape and brier.
 This was frontier, and this,
 And this, your house, was frontier.
 There were footprints upon the hill
 And men lie buried under,
 Tamers of earth and rivers.
 They died at the end of labor,
 Forgotten is the name.
 It was pitch dark when Justin Scepter and Bill Lloyd came along, bringing a bale of alfalfa hay. Unfortunately it was moldy and Vanya rejected it. It was a shame for my horse because these two retirees had spent a few hours in searching for it. How could they know that what is good for cattle isn't necessarily good for horses; horses are a bit more choosy. Soon we were left alone again with the stars, moon and silence. I was sitting, waiting for a UFO landing with a some kind of Laputan creatures, who would take me somewhere in the Pegasus constellation to drive my caravan around there. But, why on earth should I go there to drive around when I have everything I need right here. Morpheus, god of dreams, finally came and embraced me - nobody else was around.
 Early the next morning I was awaken by the morning chill and the shaking of my buggy as Vanya rubbed against it. O.K. fella, if you're disturbing my sleep, it looks like you're ready to go. A couple of miles down the road I found myself in a forest of pumps which have been sucking the Earth's blood - crude oil - for the last 100 years. Actually crude oil was used in this country for a few hundred years firstly as a medicine to cure rheumatism, cold, blindness and baldness. Only in 1833 it was find useful as a machinery lubricant and latter as good source of heating and lighting. The times of using it as fuel for combusting engines were coming 70 years after that.
There was not a soul around, just the hissing of pumps working and a flying predator circulating in ardent azure skies, looking for something alive and edible. After driving some six miles down the deserted road I sighted the tops of trees and roofs of barns. A dirt road led me to a big billboard with a picture of a cowboy riding astride a gigantic rattlesnake and throwing out his lasso. The sign informed me that I had come to "RATTLESNAKE GRAZING ASSOC. MGR. - BOB MARTINEZ". Driving farther down the alleyway I was greeted by Bob Martinez in person. Wearing western hat and cowboys boots with spurs, the moustache Bob looked very much the Hollywood image, but he's the real life manager of 80 thousand acres of land on which 10 members of the Association raise both cattle and sheep. He is helped by his brother Bob and a young man named Jason Sacse, who works mostly for the pleasure of being cowboys apparently because their monthly salary is only about $600.
 Most of the books in Bob's library are dedicated to the documentation of the conquest of the West, including 50 volumes of Western fiction written by L'Amur who I had never heard of before. Actually, even this word - cowboy came to existence only in the end of last century. Very possible, that its godfather was Charles Siringo who published in 1885 his book A Texas Cow Boy; or, Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony in which the image of the plain cattleman gained some soul and reality. But the real father of the Cowboy was Harvard graduate and Philadelphia lawyer, Owen Wister, who decided to travel across Wyoming prairies and Montana mountains. He wasn't very comfortable horseback riding and met very few real cow boys. Most of his accomplices along the road were the wealthy ranch owners of Texas or even British extraction, but in his imagination he concocted some kind of American knight of prairies wandering around in search of his deed. His book The Virginian was published in 1902, and only then the romantic hero originated - the American cowboy of our times. It was a big jump in respectability and honor from simple Mexican vaquero to the cowboy.
 Being cowboy on the inside ever since childhood, I felt here at home, especially when Bob gave me a pair of spurs and I attached them to my boots. His girlfriend Becky Piles isn't a cowgirl at all and hates horse-riding. She is an artist and paints the fictional Indian princesses who look like Brunhilde, and mountain trappers riding on gorgeous white horses. Becky is very talented and many of her friends and neighbors are waiting breathlessly for their turn to be depicted in her gorgeous oil paintings. I was lucky in my turning in that I arrived here at just the right moment to witness tomorrow's cattle branding. Bill Larsen, the owner of the cattle, invited his friends to help him while enjoying their hobby. I am not mistaken using the word "hobby" because most of his friends aren't professional cowboys but professors or teachers, truck drivers and construction workers, though their favorite past time is to be cowboys now and then. They arrived at the ranch with their own horses in trailers and all the cowboy paraphernalia - saddles, boots, hats, lassos and spurs.
 The next radiant morning, while Bob was mastering a furnace to fire the branding irons red-hot, the cowboys formed a cavalcade and rode into the hills toward the open range to drive the cattle down for branding. Their horses, satisfied and ready to work, were galloping up hills making spurs useless, shepherd dogs barked in joyful anticipation of herding cattle. When finally the cattle were corralled, the real job began. One rider throw his lasso, catching a calf by the hind legs and pulling it back; two cowboys on the ground caught the calf by its horns and tail, bringing it to the ground. While Dona Larsen vaccinated the calves, two men rooted out horns and castrated the bulls. Bill branded the animals with a circle and square-shaped iron. Each calf only took about a minute, but for the animal it was an eternity of humiliation, pain and suffering. The corral was a gruesome place of torment for those animals. The cowboys circling on their horses and throwing lassoes, landing about one out of three attempts, the herd milling restlessly, the air filled with the smell of manure, sweat, burned hairs, and pain, pain, pain. Oh Good Lord, why you are so dolorous?
 At sunset the cavalcade of cowboys returned to ranch where the women had fixed lasagna, hamburgers and sausages. There was a lot of Coors beer, but just one bottle of whiskey which was drunk straight from the neck as we Russians used to do. Out of 15 men, just two smoked cigarettes. The rest were chewing "Copenhagen" brand tobacco insisting that real men don't smoke but chew. They were proud of having branded 275 calves that day. After supper I walked down bank of tiny Fish Creek to puff on my pipe. The moon was rising over the Rocky Mountains, the water gently rippling between green banks. Happy from grazing on some tasty honey grass, Vanya approached from behind and nipped my hair with soft lips. Thank God, I thought, to be happy and free with little to lose, except my unbranded horse and buggy!
 
MUDDY GAP
June 27
 
The next morning Scott and Jason presented me with an old, beautifully broken-in western hat and two huge sacks of oats. Owing to their weight I could only take on one of them.
My horse had had himself a good rest and was pulling the wagon quite easily so very soon we reached famous Independence Rock, which has been defaced with graffiti for more than 150 years.
Traveler Henry H. Haight passing it June 17, 1850, wrote this note: ...at Independent Rock ... an immense boulder lying on the Prarie (sic) some thirty feet-high, facing the South, not so high as the North, where it can be ascended to the top. The area on the top is some thing near an acre I think. Near this place and along the road, I wrote my name on a large rock, on the 17th of June, just one month after I wrote it, my father and brother, passing by, saw my name, and then knew I was on before.
Today as then, passing tourists were climbing up the rock to inscribe their names for Immortality, but probably only lasting until somebody else write his own name on top of it.
There was no proper pasture around, and even the sparse grass had been burned brown by the hot sun. I had no choice but keep on going. About six miles west down Rte. 220 I was attracted by a billboard with a picture of bell and words reading, Dumbbell Ranch. Then I pulled in. Norman Park, Dumbbells owner was out with his two ranch-hands, but their wives Sandra Welch and Christine Cuthbertson, on own initiative let me unhitch my tired horse and put him in a paddock.
While we waited for Park to get back we drove over close to near Devils Gate, where the Sweetwater River cuts through the point of a granite ridge. In some places the space between the cliffs didnt exceed forty feet. Some kind of levee conducted water to be used for irrigation. The place was very inhospitable, dumpy and mosquito - infested, but antelopes, mule and whitetail deer were in abundance, grazing continently. My hostesses told me that mountain lions or cougars like to hunt in this area, which didnt surprise me because this tough place.
When Norman Park came back to his ranch, he gave Vanya a bale of hay, but Vanya was too irritated by the bugs and couldnt eat very much. My own conditions werent much better. With stomach pain from my ulcer and swarms of mosquitoes I didnt eat either but consumed baking soda by the spoonfuls. The wagon tent didnt provide very much protection from the insects and I barely slept through the night.
I was happy to leave that dreadful site early in the morning to head for the small village of Muddy Gap Junction located at the intersection of three roads - 220, 789 and 287. The owners of Muddy Gaps convenience store and gas station, Deb and Jeff Hobbs advised me to camp near an abandoned gas station. Close to it was an old house, likewise abandoned, which had a fenced-in garden, where I was able to place Vanya for grazing.
The surrounding rocks were impregnated with clusters of fossils of plants and animals and I felt as if might be sleeping that night on dinosaurs bones. On the radio somebody was singing Everybody needs somebody to love. Ah! The biting irony of my whole life! So many times I have loved unrequited in vain. As the Devil seal was stamped on my forehead. Perhaps the Good Lord is saving me for something more important than love? Hmm...what it could be?
The next morning was cold, sunny and crispy - I was awakened by the sound of a whinnying horse. Peeping out of the wagon, I saw horsemen. Ranch-hand Don Mowrey and his sons were on their way to brand cattle at the McIntosh Longhorn Cattle Ranch.
We chatted about my expedition, and I mentioned of Vanyas habit of sneaking out wherever he saw a chance. To help me with this little problem Don gave me a set of hobbles that should do the trick. He advised to make our next stop in Jeffrey City and contact with the McIntosh brothers whom I could find in a local bar.
Before moving on though, Vanya had to make one more bit of mischief. Id take him to water at the spigot of the local fire depot, where he was spooked by the hissing noise of a passing truck. He jumped aside, breaking the left wagon shaft, but I managed to fix it with duct tape until I could do a more professional job later. (I did not fix it, and drove to the end with such tape on, and will drive with it around Australia. I knew that nothing is more permanent that something temporary.)
The way up Rte. 287 wasnt easy; the elevation at Muddy Gap was 6,250 feet and climbing even higher as we went up the road. At our next rest stop I happened to notice a mobile home, where couple of who I guessed to be retirees was resting.
My educated guess was based on the evidence of their Arizona State license plate. Arizona is the favorite state of retired people, but in summer time its too hot there and they migrate to the north as I was imagining this couple had done.
Exactly. James Bryan and his wife were from Prescott Valley, Arizona, on their way to Bighorn National Forest. In his youth James served as 1st Sergeant of an elite Green Beret detachment in Vietnam. Before going there hed been trained extensively in England and Italy to fight against Russian Spetsnaz - an elite detachment, as well. We shared our stories and had some light political volleying.
You Russians, declared James, didnt learn anything from our failure in Vietnam. You got your Vietnam in Afghanistan and now in Chechnya. Thank God that we managed to avoid fighting against each other. Your soldiers knew our methods of action but we were aware about yours as well. He insisted I take his Swedish-made compass, commenting: It served me well in Vietnam. It could be useful on your way across this country. I am retired and not planning to go across any more jungles or deserts.
With a deep appreciation, I accepted this generous gift together with a can of Diet Pepsi, and Vanya and I dragged us on up that steep road.
This area was crowded with landmarks that had been mentioned in diaries of my predecessors I had read. Split Rock was a soaring cleft in the mountain which could be seen at a great distance.
It was at the nearby Stagecoach Station where a real human drama had taken place and was noted September 5, 1861, by George Tearsdale: ...camped in the field near to the Station where last winter 3 men were hung for horse-stealing. It appears a train passing had some of their horses stolen; part of the company returned and finding their horses at the station hung up three men burned down the station and took all their horses. If I mistake not they were notorious for finding horses.

 CHRISTOPHER
 June 29
         
 The road towards Jeffrey City was hard on both of us. It was too steep for Vanya and for me too painful. My stomach ache was turning my insides out and I had to swallow more and more Arm & Hammer bucking soda. (If I'm not mistaken, the deceased owner of this company millionaire Armand Hammer was named after the company instead of the more used way of a company being named after its owner.) The small village of Jeffrey City (pop. 127) used to be a prosperous town and the center of uranium-mining industry with a few thousand workers living on it. It was known for its drinking and fighting. But after the USSR and Canada decided to unload their stocks of uranium, its prices dropped from 46 to 14 dollars per ton, and the mines around here were closed. Male population of the village spends most of its time at the Split Rock Bar where I found McIntosh brothers, who recommended that I stay at an abandoned trailer park and aided our cause with a sack of grain. Their ancestors, hard-working Scots, used to possess big chunks of land in this area and thrived with the opening of uranium mines on their property. But with the decline of mining, the family's good luck swamped, and since then the brothers Joe and Charlie have been fighting for survival.
I unhitched Vanya and left him grazing on fenced trailer lot with a good green grass. Even though there was no river or pond around, the mosquitoes still were crazy for sucking our blood. On the advice of my friend Dave McVelthy, who used to drive horse and buggy in this area, I added vinegar to Vanya's drinking water in hopes of repelling the bugs with its smell - no results. Following another's advice I sprayed my horse with liquid soap but this labor was too in vain. I used all sorts of household repellents, but none helped. I was almost in tears witnessing Vanya's suffering.
 Hiding in the wagon, puffing my pipe, I nearly suffocated in a failed attempt to keep the mosquitoes from consuming my body and eating me alive. In the middle of this frenzy I overheard the sound of a motor-bike. Leaving my refuge I was greeted by a tall, sturdy man in overalls and cowboy boots, with a 9 mm gun hanging on his belt. Despite a long gray beard he looked young and vital. "My name's Christopher Anderson. I wondered how you managed to come here from Russia. How's it going in your country? When will they stop demonstrating and get down to business?"
 His mass towered over me and radiated a strength that could overcome anybody and everything. He could have passed for a great Biblical prophet or warrior, but actually was the owner of Grizzly Ranch and had come to offer any help I needed. Since he couldn't help me to fight my nemesis the mosquitoes, I asked him to call tomorrow because wanted to find out more about him.
After second night without sleep, I left Jeffrey City with no regrets. On the way down the road, near Ice Slough I was greeted again by Christopher driving a USSR-made Belarus tractor. His two sons accompanied him on bikes. He brought fresh water and food for my horse and sandwiches with coffee for me. "You Russians, could make good machinery if you liked to," he commented on the quality of his tractor, and promised to pay a visit at my next stop.
 Near a convenience store at Sweetwater Station I crossed with Peter Rinaldi, Theo Stewart-Stand, and Greg Wilk, three young men were biking from Portland to New York averaging 70 miles a day - four times faster than me! We exchanged valuable information about road conditions in front of us, after which Peter signed in my ledger: "All who wander are not lost." A hopeful comment for my expedition.
 I stopped at a local campground and negotiated with the owner about placing Vanya in a fenced area. Very soon after our arrival Debra Lindsey from Arizona pulled in with her family to stay overnight with tent and good mosquito netting. But after only an hour of unnerving those hellish bugs they packed up and left for good. I wished I could do the same, but I had no option except stay and survive; considering last night experience I didn't waste any time spraying Vanya and myself with repellents. Our Good Lord was suffering and we should, too.
 I don't know how, but Christopher found me again and came with his youngest daughters Chrystal, Angela and Gloria. He also brought home-baked bread, "Cherry Wheat" beer and a razor-sharp knife. He was in the same overalls, T-shirt and rosy sun-glasses which he didn't take off even at dusk. Chris ignored the mosquitoes and apparently they paid him the same tribute, preferring to feast on my poor skin. As I thought he might, he brought as a gift the Holly Bible but I already had four copies of it. The main purpose of his visit was to persuade me that Jesus Christ came to Earth to save us sinners, and we could be saved if we followed Him.
 Even being Christian myself, I shall have some suspicions about the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but hope that everything be solved when my soul shakes off this rotten flesh and appears for His disposal.- "Promise me that you pray to God that he reveals Jesus Christ to you." - "I will, Chris."
Christopher is own abundance had been expressed not just in about 5,000 acres of own land but in fathering 11 children who adore him. His girls surrounded him, waving twigs to repel bugs. I've never seen so much attachment between father and daughters; he was more than God  for them. In a farewell he invited me to visit his Grizzly Ranch in the fall to do some hunting and resting. Perhaps I will do it some day. See you later Chris. I would like to believe, and live as you do.
 
PROSPECTORS
July 1

Atlantic City in Wyoming is namesake after its older east coast predecessor. When the 1849 California gold fever was over, gold was found in Wyoming, and in 1868, gold prospectors in hopes of fortune founded Atlantic City on the opposite side of the Eastern Continental Board.
For delivery of goods from the east, they built a short-cut named the Atlantic City-Hudson Road which I decided to drive by. It was a slight deviation from the original Oregon Trail going along Sweetwater River, but I definitely wanted to get out of that bug-infested river valley, my horse was bitten and exhausted.
This road was pretty much abandoned a long time ago, and is now used just by local ranchers. Up and down, from hill to hill, this road - like those in Pennsylvanian - reminded me huge version of the small washing boards still being in use in Russia. My upper jaw was beating lower one with the wagons shaking; its vibration was loosening all the screws and bolts.
Prairie dogs abundant in this area had made wide, deep entrances to their burrows right in middle of the road which my horse could very easily break his leg stepping in. Whenever Vanya managed to avoid them, the wheels of my buggy seemed determined to plunge into them, making it a harrowing drive.
But the surroundings were beautiful, pristine and human-less. Sagebrush covered the hills, skylarks were singing in the sky, pronghorns cautiously crossed the road and snowy summits of Beaver Rim and Continental Peak showed their splendor on the horizon.
Fabulous. In eight hours of driving just one pick-up truck with two passengers passed along, but didnt stop, despite my waving.
About 5 P.M. I found a good bubbling creek with green grass around and unhitched Vanya for grazing and resting. He had earned it. However, it was not long before I saw a huge flock of sheep about thousand head, grazing its way down the hills. A shepherd on horseback rode behind the flock. I beckoned him up and he slowly approached, his face, brown from the sun, showed no emotion. How many miles to Atlantic City? I asked.Habla Espanol? was his response.  Uh-Oh. He doesnt speak English and I doubt that he knows Russian, but shame on me. In Spanish I know just travajo (work) and manana (tomorrow) - a perfect combination, but not helpful at this time.
While we were held at a verbal standstill, the flock of sheep meantime was slowly but surely surrounding my horse. Very soon there would be no grass for him left. We were in sheep blockade and had to escape. I hitched Vanya for the second time that day and fled two miles farther to the next creek for our overnight rest.
I had barely finished making our new camp and let Vanya to graze with hobbles on, when that mornings pick-up that hadnt stopped, approached my wagon and a man and woman climbed out. Art Rothmeyer and Susan Horton were gold panning 10 miles down the road and decided to come visit me, bringing a lot of beer inside themselves and in cans.
Not long ago Art had been fishing in this area and had decided to pan gold. To his surprise, he managed to wash out gold worth about $400. As he explained me, a gold crop of that amount is considered profitable, but if a prospector can only wash-out $100-200 a day it isnt worthwhile to continue working the site; expenses run very high.
Perhaps the site he found had been panned by many people before him. Lots of gold-bearing streams in this area have been dredged several times, but each spring new gold gets been deposited in the dredged areas.
Anyhow, they resigned from work in Casper, loaded their truck with equipment and supplies, said farewell to friends, and came here for their Fortune. To celebrate the beginning of the season they brought a lot of beer and hoped to enlist me to share it.
Unfortunately, we Russians usually drink beer just in the morning to relieve a hangover, and honestly, I couldnt drink beer anyway because of stomach ache.
About 25 years earlier Art had been in the service and since then had been attached to firearms; Susan liked shooting as well. They brought a huge arsenal of guns and decided to do a little practicing right away. Never in my life have I shot a handgun, nor ever been in service.
Possibly sober they were superb sharpshooters, but beer made them a bit shaky and as a result I was shooting better and found that sometimes being sober is good.
Before we said good bye I asked their permission to drop by the next day at their site to try my hands at gold panning, but they were quite reluctant to allow it, perhaps concerned that I would tell somebody about their whereabouts. Art even joked, that they could be convicts hiding out here from the authorities. Some kind of Bonnie and Clyde. Why not? In my ledger Art wrote, Me mine Gold. But not enough. To a crasy (sic) Russian, you have Balls.
I was awakened the next early morning by the bleating of sheep - all thousand-strong flock was in a slow charge towards my camp. It was just 5 am, but I had to retreat again; that gaucho was following my steps.
I was riding again down the same, stomach-twisting road. The next cattle-bridge derailed me to cattle-gates and I had to jump out to open and close them. As I lead Vanya across the gates I heard a strange sound behind us. I turned back and saw to my great surprise that the front part of wagon had somehow separated from the rear, which was now lying on the ground. I was lucky not be sitting in front of the cart when it broke. Id have fallen flat on my face. The turn-table of the wagon was completely broken beyond my own resources to repair it.
In such desperate situations I always plunge in despair, but only for a short time, because I know that there no desperate situations but people who create them. I supposed to know that such a shacking can easily break a vehicle and be ready any time. The most important that Vanya alive and in good shape.
I found fence pole and used it as a lever to lift up the wagon, but there was nobody around to put support under the suspended wagon. It would take a welder to fix this breakage. Neither Vanya nor I were competent with a blow torch - even if we had one. I needed help from outside.
The whole time I was driving on this abandoned road there had been no traffic, and it was still about 15 miles to Atlantic City. My earlier excitement and happiness at having the road to myself was fading away. When you need help, another humanoid is handy. We can afford to be misanthropic until any kind of disaster crushes us and then we forget about being the kind of supermen, as Zarathustra, invented by German philosopher and subsequent madman F. Nietzsche.
I desperately needed help and it came in the person of John Philp, the owner of that damn sheep flock that had chased me across this part of the state. He just yesterday had brought some foodstuffs to his gaucho and was on the way back home. John said he was sorry he had no time to help me fix the wagon but was ready to give me a lift to look for a good welder in town. To prevent Vanyas sneaking off too far, I hobbled him and left, hoping to see him later that day.
As a passenger I had a chance to look at the surroundings from a bit different perspective. These lands are called Little Siberia; trees grow here only in the rivers valley or in hideouts between hills or rocks. In winter, temperatures can drop down to -20 F. Summer-time comes only in June. Only tough Wyomans could survive such conditions.
John dropped me in Atlantic City and promised to come next day if I still needed any help. During winter month just about 20 people live here, but summer attracts a lot of tourists and two restaurants that are open just for a few months, the Sagebrush, and the Mercantile, are always crowded.
The Sagebrush owner Connie Detimore recommended asking a local handyman Mark Ramsey for help. He was permanent resident of this town and knew everything about surrounding area and pretty soon he came in for his lunch.
After hearing my lamentation and description of my wagons whereabouts, he told me that I was stranded, ironically, in an area of Lamentock Mountain, where its sometimes hard to reach even with a 4-wheel-drive truck.
Within an hour we came to the site of the breakdown, bearing welding equipment and two huge jacks to lift up my buggy. In 15 minutes Mark finished his job. See you later, he said. I hope you safely reach Atlantic City tonight and then tomorrow Ill reinforce your turntable to take you on to Portland and further. You Russians should know better than to use weak steel for a frame, he joked. And that welding was a bad job. I should go and teach your people real welding. I was laughing in sleeve knowing that this job was actually the work of my 100% American friend from Ohio.

 INDEPENDENCE DAY
 June 3 - 4
 
 It was already dusk when I drove in to Atlantic City and stopped at the green field of a house surrounded by a fence of wooden poles. It was located on the bank of a small creek that used to be dredged for gold. Actually, gold deposits were found all around this area. Gold miners poured in to this district in the late 1860s and since that Atlantic City had experienced a continuing series of mining booms and busts. Here still is plenty of gold around, each spring would-be investors, prospectors and adventurers flock together for finding their fortune. The wind of this gold town always whispers a hope.
Sheep owner John Philp came and took me to breakfast at the Sagebrush Cafe where most of the summer residents congregated as well. As it turned out John was a buff of Russian culture and especially adored Peter the Great, who allegedly civilized us Russians. The somewhat different version on that I know is that that tyrant eradicated our native culture and vaccinated us with a strain of European culture and since that time for many years we have been allergic to it.
 In 1998 we celebrated 300 years since Peter imposed the use of tobacco on his people and castigated those who refused to smoke it. My own pipe-smoking is surely the result of his activity. Peter was lucky to have no Surgeon General, Congress, or lawyers to interfere with his efforts. But enough about Russia - life in this small town was bubbling; many prospectors were here from other states and even other countries. They were gold panning, mostly illegally, on a private lands, and didn't want to disclose their location or occupation. Our next-table-neighbors Tom and Buellah Bishop were going fishing that morning. Certain that here they would catch as many as they needed; they invited me for a baked trout dinner. The Bishops were just as lucky as they expected to be. They caught plenty of fish for the three of us. With shot of vodka, the trout was delicious. My hosts live in Casper and looking through my ledger they found a lot of familiar names. Tom used to be a columnist for the Casper Star Tribune, but now he free-lances and writes books about outdoor life. As a memory of our meeting he presented me with a very inspiring book named "Gold! The Way to Roadside Riches," which has survived 12 editions. I promised him to enquire about the possibility of a Russian edition, because I've never seen a book like this one on sale in St. Petersburg.
After our dinner, returning back to the wagon, I found that Vanya had been very irritated by a swarm of mosquitoes as well as coyotes and other wild animals that were wandering about. Twice he managed to break the gates and sneak out. I barely caught him and finally had to restrain with hobbles. My poor boy, what I can do about bugs sucking your blood for the propagation of their own species. Some remedy was achieved with applying Vaseline inside and out of Vanya's ears, it did helped against mosquitoes and black flies. The same ointment I used to soften his hoofs. And it did helped a bit, or at least made impression of doing something to help my horse.
 In preparation for the big Independence Day celebrations, more and more people were arriving and congregating in two restaurants; I shuttled between and absorbed the best from them. "The Buffalo Chips" band came, together with Cathy, her husband Gary and his brother Don Keene. When they handed me their common calling card I found they band was named after piles of the buffalo manure swarmed with joyful flies. Such kind of rough Mid-West humor is common for these rough lands.
 The three make their living as taxidermists and tanners, and they founded company called "Ancient Ways." Its name indicates that they use traditional methods of leather tanning and Indian craftsmanship. Beautiful as that legendary princess Pocahontas, Cathy belongs to Shoshone Indian tribe and lives with her husband in the same reservation on Wild River as my friend Maurine from Fort Casper. I was happy to found that Cathy belonged to the same
 Shoshone tribe, as was Sacajawea, the "Bird Woman." She was a wife of Toussant Charbonneau, a French-Canadian trapper who was hired by Lewis and Clark as interpreter and hunter. As they found later, Charbonneau was no great hunter and later proved to be a disastrous navigator, but his wife (thirty years younger than her husband) happened to be a good expedition's asset. She mended good relationships between the expedition and her tribe's chief, Cameahwait who happened to be her older brother.
I am not surprised that Clark fell in love with the Bird Woman and after end of the expedition suggested to take care of her and her son, Jean Baptiste. I also fell in love with Cathy and as Maurine gave me made by her own hands gift of medicine pouch so did this princess taking her hair comb decorated with beads and handing to me. My getting bald for last 20 years head barely need any comb but Cathy advised to give it to future girl-friend, so this beaded comb is still with me.
 My new friends are fans of outdoor life and prefer pack goats over horses for carrying loads. These creatures can reach a weight of about 250 lbs and carry about a third of their body weight. The goats are bred by their friend and goat-packing pioneer John Mionczynski. John was the first in America to discover this particular usefulness in goats and began developing the technique of using goats for trails. In Atlantic City he runs his own goat-centered outfitting and guiding service, raises goats, and writes about them. Soon we were introduced to each other and I found him very friendly, funny and generous. He offered me a copy of his glossy, well-written, illustrated book, "The Pack Goat," and autographed it: "To Anatoly, Your travels with horse and wagon fascinate me - I'd like to do something similar some day....for now...it's me and my goats in the Wyoming Wilderness. Best of Success."
 On regular basis John organizes groups of people, who like outdoor life, and guides them through the Wyoming Mountains with goats lugging most of their belongings. I met two of his customers from California, Chuck Graham and Sandy Campbell, who came especially for a trip scheduled on July 5. Prior to his goat tour Chuck had climbed the highest point in Africa, peak Kibo of Kilimanjaro, traveled across the deserts of Africa and Australia, and now works as a life-guard in Santa Barbara. You better have a lot of money on the side to afford such extensive travels, and work just as a life-guard, I couldn't help thinking.
 The next morning all members of Independence Day parade congregated around Fire Depot, and I was privileged to be invited to participate as well. About 10 o'clock we departed. The column was guided by Gordon, the bartender of the Sagebrush, on his Harley-Davidson; Tom and Buellah Bishop walked behind him waving the American flag. Vanya and I were third in line, my wagon decorated with our slogan, "From Russia With Love & Peace"; Russian and American flags were waving on each side. From time to time I tried to make a snapping sound using my whip for dramatic effect, but it didn't work out very well; besides, my horse was spooked each time when I snapped successfully, surprising us both.
We compensated by playing loud Russian and Gypsy music, broadcast from the wagon on my portable player. Actually, it was only loud to us because my speakers were pretty limited. After us came a boy riding on a lawn-mower with a teddy-bear behind him. Mark Ramsey drove an old army jeep and was followed by an old truck with Sagebrush waitress, Sherry, dressed as Bug Bunny. Parade organizer John Howell was last pulling portable cannon behind his bike. Down Atlantic City Road we parade in front of the Mercantile restaurant where its owner Rick Bezanson raised the American flag under the cannonade of our small gun. At the conclusion of this ceremony all the paraders debarked for the same kind of parade in South Pass City and I followed them.
 The seven miles to that town were extremely hard driving - three steep hills that were impossible to take straight, so we had to do them zigzagging. My beloved Vanychka (my soft name for my horse) never stopped in the middle of hills, which would have been disastrous for both of us. We came to town absolutely exhausted but managed to find a very good pasture with only a moderate amount of bugs. South Pass City had been restored to the way as it used to be in times of Wyoming gold fever, and it attracts crowds of tourists. Like Atlantic City, this town grew up on the hope finding the Big Golden Nugget, or "Mother Lode" in miners term.
 This rough and ready frontier town hosted famous outlaws of those times like Butch Cassidy, who used to patronize local saloons and enjoyed tossing silver dollars through the saloon doors to children playing in the street. At the same time this town inspired the women's suffrage movement, which in 1869 resulted in the Governor's signing a bill that guaranteed that women of Wyoming could vote and hold office. Consequently, in 1870 a local woman, Esther Morris, was appointed as the town's justice-of-the-peace, making her the nation's first female judge. On the town's main street South Pass Road, I found a group of children competing at kicking their own shoes as far as they could. After finishing this wonderful game of skill, the local amusers brought big baskets filled with very good dried cow chips and began the more intellectual and challenging competition of throwing them, children and adults alike competing vigorously. The longest distance of throwing was achieved by the local blacksmith and historian Steve Green who borrowed the technique of ancient Greece discus hurlers. I was sorry not to be able participate in this game, but just a year ago I'd fractured my right wrist roller-blading, on that one occasion when I had forgotten that past the age of 50, one is supposed to be taking grandchildren. In fact, I probably forgot that I don't have any grandchildren. My son hasn't even got a permanent girl-friend. I already told him, "If you'll not produce  grandchildren for me, I'll make children myself. And shame on you for my shame."
 On the far bank of Willow Creek I noticed a congregation of youngsters surrounding a big man who was gold panning, taking portions of gold-bearing gravel from a pile at his side. Old gold miner, Sam Peterson, was teaching children how to pan. Sam handed each kid a portion, and with his assistance he or she rotated a hodgepodge of dirt and water to find the flakes of gold on the bottom. With tweezers they placed the gold in small vials of water. For each pan Sam charged just one dollar, but there was so much excitement and challenge in each swing that it was worth more than hundred.
 By nature I am not a doer, but an observer but even I was involved in this gold delirium tremens; I swindled, rotated, and circulated an innocent pan in hope of finding a treasure on the bottom. Instead a nugget, however I found a few barely visible gold flakes. But at least since then I understand the symptoms of gold fever, and know there is no remedy in existence to cure it. In my ledger Sam signed, "May your Pan always Show a little Color."
 Later on Tom Bishop came by and took me to the Independence Day party at the Mercantile restaurant to meet old and new friends. About 100 people congregated in the three halls of restaurant. The night was something I will never forget - the sincere and joyful expression by Americans of their appreciation of freedom and independence. The Buffalo Chips were playing every kind of music; especially good was my friend John Mionczynski playing honky tonk piano. Everybody was happy and friendly toward each other. Those who came later had to accommodate themselves on the porch or at the next-door Sagebrush restaurant; many came over and befriended me. Amy Devik signed in my diary, "The Lord gave us memories to have roses in December. May the Lord be with you in all endeavors" Sheriff Herb Kusel was drinking beer and dancing with tourists and when I asked whether he thought he could find a sheriff's patch for my collection, he just cut his own off the left sleeve of his uniform. The restaurant's owner at his own expense created a phantasmagoric fireworks display, which lasted half an hour and was the highest point of this celebration. Watching it, I was again a small child and wanted to be like this forever. But my horse was waiting for me and my new friend Tom escorted me back to camp and the mundane life of horseman. My old mate, Vanya, didn't appreciate at all my rowdy behavior and turned his wide derriere when I came back to our camp.
 
CONTINENTAL DIVIDE
July 5
 
The geographical South Pass over the Rocky Mountains happened to be about ten miles south-west of South Pass City and at 2:36 P.M. I managed the climb to its top elevation: 7,550 ft. Hurrah, I made it!
Definitely, this passage was originally found by Indian travelers, but in March, 1824, this trail through a gentle low-lying saddle-back in the Rockies was found by eleven-man group of trappers which was led by Jedediah Smith, a New-York-born trader and trapper. Since then this passage was wide open and served as an easiest and shortest route for settlers to Oregon and California. (The easiest and the most expensive way to Pacific coast was by boat around Cape Horn and along shores of South and North America. Many wealthy American and European adventurers came this way to California and Oregon long time before land-tied pioneers.)
My predecessor, Benjamin Franklin Owen, on July 8, 1853 mentioned in his diary: The only Two business places at South pass were a small trading Post, & an Ox Shoeing device. There the Ox was swung up bodily without consulting his wishes, giving the Stalwart Blacksmith all the advantages.
Exactly three years later on July 8, 1856, J.A. Butler in his diary described this area more bitterly: A kind of bloodsucking trading post is up here, to take advantage of the misfortunes of travelers, & to furnish whiskey to those whom long abstinence has rendered very dry. Perhaps, he spoke from the same kind of hangover as I had after our Independence Day celebration, but was luckier finding that post. There was nothing like that around for my disposition.
But more interesting to me was Mr. Owens mention of a place for oxen shoeing. Examining exhibits at Fort Casper, I had seen an ox-shoe consisting of two pieces of horse-shoe metal - because ox hoofs are split. Usually oxen arent shod, but on this long and hard road shoes were necessary even for their tough hooves.
In July, 1846, the ill-fated Donner Party crossed this point on the way to California. Between them was young merchant from Chicago and native of Brooklyn, New York, Charles T. Stanton. In letter to his brother, this romantic soul wrote: Yesterday at noon we arrived at the culminating, point or dividing ridge between the Atlantic and Pacific...Thus the great day-dream of my youth and my riper years is accomplished. I have seen the Rocky Mountains - have crossed the Rubicon, and am now on the waters that flow to the Pacific! It seems as if I left the old world behind, and that a new one is dawning upon me.
And indeed - he fulfilled his second dream and reached not golden yet California, but Charles was volunteered to return back with help because Donner Party didnt have enough food even to reach the Sierra Nevada. With two Miwok
Indian scouts he brought flour, jerked beef, sugar, and beans on seven mules borrowed from Captain John Sutter, uncrowned king of California. But Donner Party was doomed, as well as its saviors - later the Indians were killed for food by William Foster. Charles Stanton, exhausted and snow-blind, decided not to be burden for his mates and stayed behind near his bonfire, puffing his pipe and wishing others good luck.
I am surprised, how come; this real American hero wasnt included in this countrys mythology. His bones were found in June, 1847, and personal items were sending back to his family in Brooklyn. Sheriff George McKinstry received letter and stanza of Charles poem from his brother, Philip:
Charles was always noble and generous, even to fault, always ready and willing to share his last cent with his last fortunate brothers and sisters. This characteristic he bore from earliest childhood. He was ever ready to sacrifice his own interest and means to the welfare of others, and hence it is not surprising he sacrificed his life to help his friends. In last stanza of his last poem, Charles has written:
When death shall close my sad career,
And I before my God appear -
There to receive His last decree -
My only prayer there will be
Forever to remain with thee,
My mother.
Suddenly and I realized that from this point I am leaving the Mississippi drainage bringing water to the Atlantic Ocean and coming to the valley of the Green River which waters flow towards the Pacific Ocean. I had reached this Continental Divide despite of all obstacles; at least 2/3 of the road was behind me. I had the same feeling as when I crossed the Ural Mountains which divide Europe from Asia. But there, all the streams on the left were flowing towards Atlantic Ocean, and those to the right were flowing to the Pacific. Here, everything was vice versa.
Driving by stage-coach, my famous predecessor, Mark Twain, met here his old school-mate, John, who was in charge of an emigrant train of many wagons, many tired men and women, and many disguised sheep and cow. Johns friendship he lost dropping many years ago on his head a watermelon from the third story building: I saw John standing directly under it and an irresistible desire came upon me to drop the melon on his head, which I immediately did. I was the loser, for it spoiled the melon, and John never forgave me and we dropped all intercourse and parted, but now met again under these circumstances.
Only here they recognized each other and any animosities were forgotten and the fact of meeting a familiar face was sufficient to make them forget all that bull..., and part with sincere, God bless you, after so many years they consoled each other.
And now I am coming the same road, and can say the same phrase as Mark Twain: During the afternoon we passed Sweetwater Creek, Independence Rock, Devils Gate and the Devils Gap.
This land was pristine and desolate as in Mark Twains time, just small herds of pronghorns and mustangs grazing at a safe distance from Rte. 28, active with holiday traffic.
As we drove along, Gloria Swartz, a saleswoman from California, stopped us in order to give me samples of the toothpaste and soap she was selling. I graciously accepted this gift even though I never use paste with my toothbrush.
The bar of soap reminded me an ill-fated love affair with a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) named Maryann. She, like many other WASPs, used to say that the Indian Princess Pocahontas was her ancestor. In response I would reply, so what, my ancestors were Adam and Eve, and they are more famous than your ill-fated princess.
Close to Valentines Day our relations reached a quite substantial deep rock bottom and as proof of her deep love she gave me for a Valentine gift a bar of soap, meaning, I guess, that I should wash myself from time to time. I barely managed to remain calm, deciding to swallow my pride and eat her dinner, despite my wounded feelings. She had cooked her favorite spaghetti, a dish I despise because I have no skills using a fork to twist and trap this white worm-like stuff.
I was fighting with the pasta and in a desperate attempt not to drop it on her tablecloth, bent my head close to the plate. Oh, that was the proper time for Maryann to blurt out, Anatoly, fork to mouth, not mouth to fork. It was just enough: all that uneaten pasta found itself hanging from the top of my Valentines head. Adieu, my Pocahontas, see you in the next incarnation!
Crossing the desert I found so much friendship and generosity. Almost everybody along this road wanted to feed us or to give us something in memory of our meeting. Donnie Miller, Mayor of La Palms, California, gave two cans of cold Sprite. Terry Willow, 4/4 Northern Arapaho Indian, and Ira Whiteplume, ; Arapaho Indian, gave me a Dream Catcher - a ring with a net inside, which according to Indian beliefs is supposed to catch good night-dreams and keep nightmares at bay. Retired engineer Don Eastman brought not only sandwiches, but a box of cigars which I puffed lavishly like some kind of a successful Mafioso businessman.
Nearing Farson I was stopped by Highway Trooper Edward Sabourin, who suggested we stop at the big fenced field of a local church where Vanya found the green grass especially delicious.
This evening Stephen and Mariann Watt invited me to sleep at their house. Both Watts used to work as police, but now Mariann stays with their four small children while Steve serves as Deputy Sheriff in Rock Spring.
After dinner, sitting with Steve on the porch (I like very much this country habit.) I asked him how he lost his left eye and he told me incredible story.
In 1980-th, working as a State Trooper he stopped a suspicious car not yet knowing that its driver had just robbed the bank. In response to Steves request to see the drivers license, he had gotten 5 bullets. Falling to the pavement, he managed to make just one shot that wounded the robber. Police were already on the way and after short chases apprehended the man, but were stunned to discover that he was the son of a U.S. Marshall.
Bank robber Mark was convicted and got 90 to life, and Steve not only survived, but returned to his duty. However, his life became a misery. He hated his job, himself, and especially that Mark, who nearly killed him.
But in few years some kind of light came upon him while he was sitting in church. He found his own Jesus Christ, who said directly to him, Forgive, and forgiven you will be. Suddenly his life was changed. He finally met his love and married her. He went to the jail where Mark was serving his term and asked him to forgive all that hatred which he nurtured in his soul, and he kissed his nemeses. Since then, Steve and his wife have been visiting his former rival on a regular basis, and its very possible that Mark will be released from jail in 7 years for a good behavior.
Successful conclusion? Perhaps, to forget we have to forgive, or vice versa. While we were discussing such a topics, it was 911 call about fighting near drug store. Steve putted back his artificial eye and gun and departed on his squad car for encounter with the next potential Mark.

 DAVID GRANT
 July 7
 
 Pulling back out to Rte. 28 I was sided by driver of a huge truck hauling mineral soda from a pit-mine. These road-monsters were making my driving very annoying, shuttling back and forth on this road, dusting me over, fuming and honking. Truck foreman Jim Guthrie finally decided to stop and enquire what the hell I was doing on their road; I was curious about their over activity too. Jim told me that a soda mining company didn't get mutually acceptable terms with Union Pacific railroad about the cost of transporting soda to customers, so instead they'd hired his Bonneville Transloaders Inc. (BTI) trucking company. It is a well-paid job and good boost to the local economy; as a token of friendship Jim gave me a baseball cap with the BTI insignia. I already have had quite a lot of such caps - enough for a good collection, but would not ever put on my head. They don't become me.
 Crossing the Little Sandy River I made the acquaintance of Howard and Lisa Bargete traveling with children Ashley, Amy, Nicholas, Daniel, and Emily. The Bargetes are Mormons who had come from Highland, Utah to visit this historical site where famed mountain man Jim Bridger met with the leader of the Mormons, Brigham Young, a man whom he detested to his dying day. Jim gave Brigham a rambling description of the area and the way to the Great Salt Lake, which he discovered in 1824. Jim generally discouraged the idea of the Mormons farming that valley, and even promised to pay $1,000 for a first bushel of corn grown there. But Jim didn't know whom he had deal with. Brigham Young had very little formal education and used to work in New York as a carpenter, house painter and glazier. After being introduced to the Mormon teaching in 1830, he reconsidered the Book of Mormon for two years and finally made his commitment to this faith. As he later recalled: "I knew it was true as well as I knew that I could see with my eyes, or feel by touch of my fingers."
Soon he was baptized in new religion and chosen as one of 12 Apostles by Joseph Smith, who designated himself as "a Seer, a Translator, a Prophet, and Apostle of Jesus Christ." But the gentiles, as Mormons dubbed nonbelievers in their faith, accused the Saints in a polygamy, blasphemy, and profanation of the Christianity, chasing them from state to state. As, in 1838, the governor of Missouri pronounced: "The Mormons must be treated as enemies and exterminated or driven from the state."
 On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were assassinated by religious fanatics while being thrown in jail in Carthage, Illinois, accused in violation of the Constitution. Brigham Young was choose president of the church and succeeded Joseph Smith. Brigham Young with his 12 Apostles decided that only hope to survive and save their flock was to go the Far West, in area of Salt Lake Valley, not yet polluted by the gentiles. They carefully studied an 1845 report on the area by the United States Army Captain John Fremont who concluded that the Valley might be adapted to "civilized settlement." In 1846, under relentless pressure of the gentiles, the Saints began leaving Nauvoo for 1,400-miles journey to their new Palestine with the salty Dead Sea on the Far West where they intended to build the Kingdom of God on earth. Their modern Moses, Brigham Young, superbly planned exodus, dividing migrant columns in military fashion with clear-cut duties. The advance groups ploved virgin fields and planted crops, followed them migrants harvested and left behind next year new planting for those behind, etc. Brigham Young was in charge of the vanguard of 148 pioneers, plotting a course along the north bank of North Platt River to separate the Mormons from the hostile gentiles, rushing down the Oregon Trail on the south bank, thousands followed him.
After founding, in 1847, the new Palestine in the Salt Lake Valley, Bringham Young decided that men cherish equality more than liberty. He followed to teaching of Joseph Smith that individual freedom must bow the good of Mormon society. When Sir Richard Durton was visiting Salt Lake City in 1860, he made observation that Birgham Young's policy was based upon: "The fact that liberty is to mankind heavier than slavery." And that people are happy only when they are kept in constant labor, especially for a common good. And the symbols of the Mormon community are beehive and the watchful eye, with the motto beneath: "Holiness to the Lord."
 Long before Lenin and Stalin, Brigham Young, known between followers as "the big boss," almost succeeded in creating of the Communist Society/ It was based on the Mormon's common religious believe in their Prophet and the United Order slogan, "Each for whole and God for all." He was the only mouth of God, and used to preach: "No man need judge me. You know nothing about it, whether I am sent or not; furthermore, it is none of your business, only to listen with open ears to what is taught you, and serve God with an undivided heart."
He wanted his flock to live the simplest way with no modern excesses such as tea, coffee, tobacco and fashionable clothing; and not only on the moral grounds but economical as well - these excesses would drain cash from the Mormon community. In his Sunday sermon Brigham ridiculed women imitating their request: "Give us a little Genteelism, the women say, let us wear hoops, because the whores wear them. I believe if they were to come with a cob stuck in their behind, you would like to do the same."
In his life Bringham followed his own preaching and treated his 27 wives and 56 offspring equally before he married in 1865, at the age 61, to young Amelia Folsom. With that woman he lost his mind, and even she bore him no children, Brigham built especially for her luxurious "Amelia's Palace," used to buy to her expensive jewelry, clothing, and carriages - he was getting old and sentimental. But towards his males Bringham had no excursion and insisted them to wear the traditional barn-door style pants, which folded over legs and buttoned on the side.
He despised modern and invented by the gentiles button-down-the-front trousers. Bringhams attitude was expressed by Heber Kimball, his long-time crony at Sunday sermon: "I am opposed to your nasty fashions and everything you wear for the sake of fashion. Did you see me with hermaphrodite pantaloons on? Our boys are weakening their backs and their kidneys by girting themselves up as they do; they destroying the strength of their loins and taking a course to injure their posterity."
 Bringham Young was genius of common sense and knew the danger for people of a plain luck. When in 1848 gold was found in California, he forbade the Saints to mine it, saying: "The true use of gold is for paving streets, covering houses and making culinary dishes." He instructed his flock that if anybody finde this evil metal in his own backyard in Utah, he might not dig that, either. I can imagine how hard was for his Saints to follow this restriction, because they came to this Promise Land to find their luck. As Archer Hulbert wrote in his "Forty-Niners", "The finding of gold is luck; you will not be held blamable if you are unlucky. But making the journey, overcoming obstacles, fighting your way through that is a matter of grit, not luck. Do that, get there, and you are absolved, you have mastered the part of the game that depended on you." I had had the same feeling coming here in persuasion of my own luck.
 Meeting with many Mormons along the road, I found them saving sense of common life but I didn't feel that they wanted to live under the preached by Brigham Young religious communism - they were normal and friendly American capitalists with the button-down-the-front pants. (Sorry, I didn't pay attention, whether they updated themselves for an advantage of zippers. For my knowledge, Amish and Mennonite men in this country still fight with a lure using on their clothing just plain buttons.) All the Bargete family was very inspired by my expedition and on their behalf Howard signed, "Anatoly, Thank you for speaking with us! You have traversed the trail that my Great Great Grandparents crossed when they came from Illinois to Salt Lake City! Thank you for helping us relives that experience! Good luck and may God Bless you!" This note from pioneer's descendant was and is very precious to me to this day.
Right after crossing the bridge we came upon a huge billboard informing us of: "Slow mowing traffic, no fences any more, BLM lands." This is my land of adventure and excitement, open horizons, wild animals, yet almost no grazing grass except for sage-brush suited only to the tastes of antelopes and turtles. Remembering all too well our terrible experience staying in the river valley with swarms of mosquitoes, I stopped for overnight rest about a half-mile before Green River. I didn't manage to find any hay in Farson and there was no grazing grass available on this stop, so I had to give Vanya about five extra pounds of grain on the top of his regular ration. In spite of my careful planning as I made camp and watered my horse, we were attacked by gnats and black flies, which were eating us to the bones, even worse than the mosquitoes.
My poor Vanya even tried to run back to Farson; I had to restrain him with hobbles. Neither of us was able to sleep all night because of clouds of bugs surrounding us, not even blown by the night breeze. Hitching my horse early the morning, I drove about 100 yards and there found the source of our irritation and torture. An irrigation canal with fast running water was crossing our road, one of the best breeding places for gnats. I vowed in future to make better research before pitching camp.
Coming to the village of Fontenelle, I stopped at a gas station to get my horse a drink. To my surprise, the attendant informed me that about half of an hour before somebody with a horse and buggy had passed through on the way to camp on Green River. My first thought was about former partners Petr and Nikolay, with whom I started this trip, but the attendant produced a post-card with a picture of some kind of Gypsy wagon pulled by huge horse. That group of three children and a man on the front seat didn't look Russian.
 Leaving my horse tethered to a pole, I walked to the camp. About a mile down the road, just across the bridge I found a red Gypsy wagon across which was written in the Russian language the name of the country of Scotland; bigger a horse than mine was staying in small paddock made of electric fence. Inhabitants were inside and I knocked at the rig's screen-door. Out came a man about my age and appearance, with a gray beard and a British accent stuck to his mouth. When I explained who I was, he was absolutely elated and invited me to come inside. Scotsman David Grant, his wife Kate, and three children Torcuil, Ellidh, and Fionn have been on the road with horse and wagon for five years. The family has been traveling around the globe, having departed from Scotland and crossing through Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and Japan. Now they were going from California to Nova Scotia in Canada, and from there planned to return back to Scotland.
The most difficult times they experienced, was going through Mongolia where David once used a slingshot to fend off three drunkards who tried to steal his horse "Traceur." He was faced a four years sentence in jail after one of the thieves sued him for hitting his eye. After paying off five thousands dollar to crooked thief, the Grants managed to escape Mongolia and got to China, where officials were even worse and didn't let them drive across that country. Traceur got violently sick when he was left by officials for four days in quarantine with no food and water while the family was waiting for their deportation to Japan. Japan proved almost impossible to negotiate driving through that crowded country in a horse-drawn wagon. They had no money left for transportation to America. But a local TV-station did a report and organized a fund-raising campaign to fly the Grants with Traceur to the USA; the generosity of Japanese people paid for their overseas travel.
 After this experience, David was a much savvier traveler than I; he could even shoe his horse himself. He used wolfram alloy for hardtacks which is more durable than the boron used by most of my farriers. Inside the wagon was enough room for all his family, complete with cooking stove. But more important - it was bug-proof. The bugs had been chasing me for the last few weeks, but actually these tiny creatures are Nature's best protectors against human invasion. Besides being an important part of the food-chain.
I couldn't help but recall how in Siberia the oil-well drillers asked soviet scientists to help rid them of bugs. Our egg-heads suggested pouring some kind of diesel oil on the surface of major bodies of water preventing in this way the insects' breeding. For this "genuine" invention they were highly rewarded. A substantial decline in the bug population was achieved but those lands were poisoned and lifeless for many years to come. Hardly better were the scientists working under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO)in Africa in effort to eradicate the tsetse fly which is a vector of human and animal trypanosomes, but does not significantly harm wild animals. For thousands of years this fly had been defending the wilderness of river valleys against human invasion. Using the huge scientific and technological might of the developed world, scientists managed to obliterate this tiny fly and very soon rivers' valleys were overpopulated by humans and cattle. Now these scientists cry with crocodile tears about the disappearance of rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, crocodiles and other animals in those areas of Africa.
Both David and I had had similar experiences and views on ecological matters. We talked for a while, exchanging information about road conditions in front each of us, then he suggested I stay overnight with them, but I disliked his camping site with too many bugs. His wagon was comfortable for humans but not for a horse. I was impressed with his horse that could pull a wagon three times heavier then mine. I invited David to come and see my wagon. On the way back to the gas station we were talking and talking, unable to contain the elation of meeting a soul-mate. In my ledger David wrote, "Anatoly - what can I say? To meet at Fontenelle by chance, both of us undertaking long horse journeys was fantastic - Fantastic! - But probably meant to happen? All of us wish you the most incredible good fortune and would be glad to keep in touch with you if possible." Yes, it was possible. Since then we have been in touch. David and his family now on the way to Canada, Traceur pulling their wagon.
 
 FOSSILS
 July 9
 
Willow Springs was just three houses with a bar which was closed. The owner of this sheltered tavern, Jere Kovach, came out when we pulled in and gave me permission to park in front of it. His sons, Travis and Cody, found a lavish pasture across the road for my horse.
A small herd of horses, who evidently felt Vanya intruded on their prior claim, tried to chase him out, but he skillfully and fearlessly kicked them off and defended his pasture.
The Kovach family had been lucky when State geologists found source of the best water in Wyoming on their property. The family set to work bottling it by hand and shipping it to customers, but their far-reaching plan is to install a bottling line so they can increase output and make good money from water.
Their single neighbor, Bill Hunter came to my wagon and willingly mended my broken hobbles. He recently purchased his house from Jeres brother who perhaps for more of a social life left this place of fortune for good.
Jere allowed me as much beer as would like to drink in his bar but I couldnt drink any. My stomach ache was still giving me lots of trouble. As a remedy he suggested glass of Italian liqueur Frantica. It worked like magic. I was completely revived and could drink beer or anything else. I even purchased from Jere the reminder of the bottle of this wonderful remedy and almost cured my ulcer, at least for the next couple of months.
Travis has been studying at Logan University and playing on its football team. I found it disturbing that, by Travis account there are many minority students on their team who can barely even read or write. He wasnt happy with relationship among members of his team and planned to switch to the soccer team the following season. I discovered a long time ago that the educational establishment of this country has been polluted by a hypocrisy and correct mindlessness.
It was hard road but pleasant going down Rte. 189 along picturesque Hams River meandering between the hills of Commissary Ridge. Lincoln County Seat the city of Kemmerer was once a boom-town after the discovery of coal deposits in 1897. The miners morale in those times was kept high by Higgins, the owner of the Preaching Lime saloon. Over the bar mirror hung the motto Dont buy a drink before seeing that your baby has shoes. His patrons liked the establishment because they could humble themselves during sinning and get the whole thing over at once.
On the way across the city I stopped in at the local branch of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to deliver compliments to its manager Jeff Rawson from my friend BLM manager Jude Carino in Casper. The whole BLM staff came out to feed Vanya with apples and to pose with him for snap-shots. After this I found that politeness and promise-keeping could be well-rewarded. Actually, I already knew that its better to be wealthy and healthy than poor and ill.
Kemmerer thrives on the legacy of J.C. Penney who opened his first store here, the Golden Rule, in 1902 with an initial investment of $500. I had already crossed paths with J.C. Penney in his hometown of Hamilton, Kansas, and nowhere was he again. I guess one day Ill have to pay a visit to one of his department-stores. Although, I have heard that they are a bit expensive for my holed pockets. I am more K-Marts than Macys person.
Leaving Kemmerer by way of Rte. 30, I was roadsided by police Cpl. David Sprankle, who came with his wife Janette, employee of BLM, and kids to say hello and give me some food. Oh, Good Lord, when Ill start fasting?
At this spot of the manuscript my beautiful editor Stephany, who incarcerated herself living in California desert, asked me in her comment: do you mean that you are too well-fed? I would admit - yes. Practically, I didnt spent any money on my or Vanyas feeding - good people of America took care of me. But the same happened with my new friend David Grant when he traveled with his horse and buggy across Russia.
After passing the turn off towards Fossil Butte National Monument, I decided to pull over at the ranch of Richard Levis. He came out of his house surprised and maybe even a bit angry by my invasion but very soon melted down petting my horse and let us stays on his property.
After accommodating Vanya I decided to pay visit to Levis neighbors, whose huge, newly-build, and well-designed house with veranda was just in 100 yards, across a creek. It reminded me in architecture the country houses of Russian nobles at the end of last century, who were the heroes of Chekhovs play of The Cherry Orchard.
As I fought with a gate made from an old wheel with wooden spokes I was slow to see a man almost my age and appearance approaching with 9 mm. rifle. I was ready to throw up my hands, but he reassured me, saying that he just happened to be here for hunting rattle snakes.
Carl Ulrich was the owner of this property and Fossil Fish Gallery. Chunks of limestone covered with fossils were piled around, seemingly being readied for sale. Carl excused himself saying that was waiting for VIP guests and disappeared for good, but I was still in visiting mood so decided to pay a visit to the people in a mobile-home parked on his property.
Robert and Eloise greeted me with open hearts and invited me to share dinner with them. They had come here from Texas to acquire a fossilized crocodile from Carl as a gift for their best friend.
Private excavation of fossils on Government lands is prohibited, but it isnt so with private lands. This whole area, about 50 million years ago, was a huge lake with a wide variety of fishes and animals. Favorable climate conditions of those times permitted deceased creatures to be preserved in layers of sediment, which later hardened to limestone. In this part of the country business of fossil extraction is very competitive, but also profitable. Perhaps, it makes people more eternal when they have in their possession the remnants of creatures who used to live on this planet millions years before them.
When I came back to Robert Levis farm, he asked if Id like to go fishing. It was a bit too late in the day but I agreed anyway. As we drove along the creek, however, I noticed that we hadnt brought any fishing gear. When I asked about this Robert laughed and explained that he had decided to show me how the prospectors search for fossilized fish. They leased from Bob a piece of land which had been thought totally worthless, until it was discovered to be rich with fossils.
High up in the hills we found a trailer, and farther up a flat terrace was crowded with digging machinery; a resting excavator looked like sleeping dinosaur. In charge of this excavation was the owner of a fossil shop from Logan, who has been coming here every summer to dig for fossils of fishes and reptiles.
A lot of knowledge and skill is required to locate a good site and figure out which layer of limestone will held the most valuable fossil nuggets. The best time to looking for fossils in the newly exposed layers of sediment is at sunrise and sunset, when the suns rays are almost parallel to the flat layers of limestone and reveal the barely visible remnants of past life. Plates of limestone with exposed fossils are cut out with a special saw and stored for future sale.
Such a plate with well-preserved fossils of fishes or reptiles 4 by 8 feet could be sold for as many as $7,000; smaller ones go for $700-1,000. Back at Fort Casper I had given a plaque of limestone with two fossils on it, and Tony Olivas was selling these 4 x 7-inch plaques for just $10-15. My hosts here explained that there are positive and negative parts of a fossil. The negative is just an imprint of the real 3-dimensional fossil of an object, called a positive.
Observing all the activity of fossil-hunters, I could see this fossil-fever is more contagious and even more profitable than the gold-fever of last century. I have myself already been infected by this fever to uncover the ancient traces of our reptilian ancestors.

BEAR LAKE
July 11

 There were very few sources of drinking water along Rte. 30, but I managed to find what I needed pulling into the service stations of the Union Pacific railroad. At some of these stops an inhabitants were a bit spooked by my appearance and hardly spoke to me. At the village of Sage I become a bit confused finding when Rte. 30 divided into US Route 30 going north, and State Route 30 going west, but our direction was straight north-west. Anyhow, after crossing the border of Utah by State Rte. 30, which was also 89, I found myself in rough country. With an each step closer to Bear River my horse was wearier, and at a next rest stop on the river-bank Vanya almost fell down with exhaustion. As we halted there to catch our breath, happened around livestock dealer Jerry Goodvin advised us to stay at the ranch of Bill Kennedy. Jerry pointed to Bill's roof, visible and shining on the opposite bank of the river. With Vanya worn out, we could not go farther without stopping for rest here, but immediately we met with a new enemies even more painful and irritating then mosquitoes or gnats. The insect world was still set on torturing us, this time with horseflies. In this river valley they were especially strong and aggressive and with no shed or hideout they could kill my horse just in a few hours. If even those vicious flies spared us, the mosquitoes and gnats coming out at evening time would finish the job. We get to go that ranch. It looked as if Vanya too understood this necessity. Using second or third winds, exhausted but stubborn, he managed to walk the next seven miles under the constant attack of bugs. I was using all possible means to keep them off - spraying, beating with whip, waving tree branches with leaves on and killing bugs by hand. Those seven miles I will never forget to the end of my days. I will not forget my helplessness, nor Vanya who heroically managed to stay calm, and get us to our destination.
 As we neared the ranch we were met by its owner Bill Kennedy, who without knowing about our already laid plans, invited to stay with him. I hastily unhitched my horse on the spot and let him run to hideout from those terrible predators. Nosing about Bill's spacious, covered by corrugated iron and newly built barn I found an arena for practicing rodeo skills such as roping, horse and bull riding, etc. My host came later and suggested a drive in to Randolph, the Seat of Rich County. Although it was getting dark, his friends were skill working on improvements of a rodeo arena, many of wearing a T-shirts sporting the insignia of Rich County with a swarm of bugs in the background. Apparently this County is notorious for its bugs - and proud!
 But this year all its inhabitants were even more proud of their native Tanya McKinnon, whod, won a pageant for the title of Miss Rodeo America. Bill wanted me to meet her, but she wasn't home, so the next day he specially drove back to her place to bring her beautiful photo signed with well-wishes to me. As I learned from her publicity pamphlet, Tanya, an only child, got involved in rodeo "because it was either that or practice the piano, and I hated the piano. The Western way of life is my life and my heritage." Her professional ambition is to become a veterinarian, specializing in large animals. Rich County is named after one of the Mormon leaders and lives on the legacy of its great past. Still, people work hard to secure their future. An important part of this flourishing Mormon community is its neighborly support of on another, and its healthy life style forbidding alcohol and tobacco. A few years before deposits of natural gas and oil were found on the land of my host Bill Kennedy and in the first year of its extraction, the gas company paid him about $100,000 (before taxes!), which he spent to build his huge in-door rodeo arena, where he lets his neighbors practice any time, free of charge. His main occupation is raising cattle on the irrigated fields of Bear River valley, where he skillfully regulates amount of water flowing through ditches and dikes that he built himself. He is the owner, the boss of everything and everybody here, and pretty happy about it. If that's not enough, he is skillful cowboy and rodeo master. Truck that we were driving in was awarded to Bill as the prize for winning first place in the state rodeo roping competition. Last year, while practicing his roping, Bill's horse stopped abruptly and his crotch bones were split. The doctors in the hospital refastened the bones with screws and bolts and Bill has been roping again with all this paraphernalia inside. I didn't believe this story was true, until he showed some outer parts of that sophisticated device.
 The next day was dedicated to a rodeo in Evanston, Wyoming, with Kennedy family and their friends from Randolph. It was a great performance with brilliant costumes, patriotic music, followed by bull riding, barreling, bronco riding, and calf roping. The most popular competition exclusively for women and girls was barreling. Contestants tried for the highest speed ride around three barrels in clover-leaf pattern, the barrels about 20 yards apart. Bronco and bull riding was more challenging and dangerous because to make the animal jump violently in an effort to throw off the rider a special rope is used and being tightened around the groins area to irritate the poor animal. The rider can use just a plain halter, one rein, and must stay on back of animal for ten seconds. He can't change hands on the rein and can be disqualified blowing a stirrup, or failing to spur his animal. This is a very breathtaking and dangerous sport, and perhaps because I have no skills or guts to try it, I can pronounce it cruel and inhumane. I'm surprised that the Animals Defense League hasn't made any noise about it. Among the cowboys the most popular game was roping.
A team of two lassos a calf in such a way that the first partner restrains the animal's hind legs with the rope, and after that the second one throws his lasso over the calf's horns. Their two horses pull the ropes in opposite directions while the second cowboy jumps down and overturns the calf and raises his arm up, showing the referee that the game is over. Bill teamed up with his son Matt, and twice they showed the best time, about seven seconds, but both times they lost because Matt was charging too fast, breaking the restraining rope between the stall and arena. At the end of competition he was absolutely cut up, but Bill consoled him saying, "I've broken this damn rope so many times until I learned to charge in a proper time. Keep going son, if you don't break it a few times - you will never win."
 The rodeo lasted until well after midnight and I shivered with cold but was happy walking around horses, touching them and talking with owners. This horse-oriented Universe was becoming my own, as well. It was after 2 a.m. when we got back home, but Debra, Bill's wife, was waiting for us with a hot meal and good sense of humor about her men's lost competition - big deal, there's always next time for a win.
 I was sleeping in camper with a quite acceptable amount of annoying miller moths and mosquitoes who happened to come inside and was trying to get out. The next morning when I went out to check on my horse I found Vanya standing under the protection of shed, where the horseflies couldn't bother him. Each time he tried to come out for grazing they charged him with all their force. The river was just 50 yards from the shed, but two his attempts to water himself in it were unsuccessful; he runs back, not making it even halfway to the bank. Green grass was just beyond the border between shade and sunlight, but Vanya couldn't step over into "no-horse land." I had to bring water and hay for him while water and grass were just a few yards away.
Later that afternoon Bill's friend Bob Hoffman came and shod my horse free of charge though he himself was not in the best financial condition. He'd lost yesterday's rope competition also, when he missed catching one of bull's legs. One thing that surprised me was that none of all my Mormon friends ever made an attempt to convert me to their faith. Perhaps, my stubbornness and ignorance were quite visible. The nearest they ever come was giving me the book in which was written: "As the Kennedy family, we would like to share with you this Book of Mormon and our feeling about it. We know that it is true. In these confusing times it gives our lives clear direction. It reassures us that Jesus is the Christ and that he lives. Read prayerfully, it will be a tool to let you know the purpose of your life." Bill has a good deal of wisdom, and saw more then I knew. I planned an early departure the next morning, so that night Bill came to me in the camper to express his hope that when I thought about his ranch I would remember more than the bugs! Sure, I will, my fried forever Bill.
 
 
PLAYHOUSE
July 13

I was up early to get out of the valley before the rising temperature could wake up all the gadflies and horseflies. It seamed as if Vanya understood my urgency. Very fast he was running us out of this bug-infested area.
Rte. 89 over the ridge encircling Bear Lake was especially steep and most of the time I was walking in front, pulling Vanya behind. At a resting stop close to the summit I was greeted by a stocky, heavily bearded, and very enthusiastic Lance Wright, who on his way home from work stopped to talk with me. He invited us to rest at his place in Laketown a little farther on. In my ledger he noted, Anatoly, you are Living My greatest Dream, I would love to live the Gypsy life. A Great experience to meet and talk with you. Good luck.
On an easier stretch of road, going downhill, I was roadsided by a Russian family, Edward and Valentyna Wint were coming back home to Salt Lake City after touring around Bear Lake. They were the first Russian couple I met in all the way across this country and very friendly, not worse than Americans, at least.
The Wints loaded us down with cookies and water-melon which I shared with Vanya. We proceeded into the town, where Lance was waiting for me. He had only a small garden with a nervous small donkey already gated behind its fence and making big fuss about Vanya. There was no grass to spare, so we transferred Vanya across the street to the paddock of Craig and Jane Floyd.
The Floyds Mormon ancestors used to farm on lands now occupied by the housing developments of Lakewood; his spacious new house showed that the insurance business, in which he was involved, could supply some of lifes luxuries. It made me happy that the Floyds blind teen-aged son enjoyed Vanyas company petting him and talking with him.
Mormons have an ordinance that requires them to marry only other Mormons, and Janes sister Mary Ellen was married with a big family in Baker City, Oregon. Craig and Jane gave me the address and telephone number of their relatives and called them in advance asking them to meet and accommodate me when I came through those parts.
In the meantime Lance invited me to go with him to a theatrical performance of the Pickleville Playhouse in Garden City. Tonight they were playing the musical, Crazy for You, by the brothers Gershwin, and Lance was playing the role of Everett Baker, Pollys father.
The sprawling Playhouse complex included The Theater, The Pavilion for dining, and last but certainly not least  important, The Palace of Necessity with entrances on  opposite sides for cowboys and cowgirls. All these structures were built from pine logs in the style of an old frontier town.
The Playhouse is the legacy of the Larsen family, who built and refurbished it and also comprised the original cast, acting, singing and dancing. Many other talented compatriots joined and left over the 20 years of surprisingly successful, and almost professional, activity of this incredible theater and this dedicated 87 members-strong families.
Just like most other not self-realized actors or producers, Im usually finicky about somebodys else play, but have to admit that the whole play was performed on a highly professional and joyful level. I enjoyed it dearly, so here in my book I am following instruction from the Master of Ceremonies, If you liked the show, tell you friends. If you didnt - just shut up.
In the lobby of the Pickleville Playhouse are posted their highly original rules of conduct for patrons:
In the remote possibility that this theatre should be attacked by Indian during performance (as in the Rendezvous Massacre of 80), Ladies are to remain seated in the auditorium, while Gentlemen are requested to join our Valiant Actors and Management in defence of the Theatre.
Firearms may not be discharged in the direction of the stage.All horses are to be securely tethered in front of the theatre. Any animal found in the lobby will be confiscated by the local Livery Stable.
Children left in the theatre over three days become the property of the Villain.
It is requested that liquor be not imported into the theatre in any other than a human container. Bottles may be checked at the ticket window or with Charlie Griswald, the slightly discolored gentleman lying on the bank.
However, indecorous behavior including boisterous laughter, wild applause, hissing, weeping, shrieking when startled by gunfights, or unceremonious covering of the ears to avoid being startled will be enthusiastically tolerated by the Management.
This bubbling, sparkling humor on stage and off made the theatre the jewel and main attraction of beautiful Bear Lake and, just as one is expected to do, I fell in love with the heroine Mitzi, played by Celesta Larsen.
Still in theatrical mood the next morning I told Vanya, The show must go on I decided to drive along the less populated and pristine east coast of the lake. But even this coast is becoming spoiled with housing developments and likely in a few years its natural homeliness will be transformed, for the worse. Happily I didnt come across any industrial developments yet. Bear Lake was blue and beautiful. I even felt encouraged to build a home of my own.
Coming to a cattle-bridge, I would usually drive through the gate beside it, but this one was impossible because of sagebrush growing high around. I unhitched my horse and guided it alone through the gate, but the wagon was too heavy to push across the bridge. I was lucky again this time being met by Jill Frantzen and her son Laird who happened to be up from Texas traveling around this area. Between the three of us we managed to get it over and through. Wish we could join the trip. If youre ever in Texas, look us up! was their entree in my ledger.
Merlin Jester, owner of a newly built house, was spraying weeds with some a very smelly stuff when I asked him about the best place for camping. He advised me to drive a couple more miles and stop at Indian Creek Ranch managed by his friend, LeGrand Dilworth.
On that site, I was met by LeGrands daughter Lela who didnt know about my intent but suggested herself to stay at their place. (As I found soon, their telephone was disconnected for payments delay.) LeGrand arrived later after irrigating pastures in the southern part of valley and welcomed me as well. His perfectly built and maintained body matched his first name, most of days he works outside and his bronze face sculptured by joint work of wind and Sun radiated good nature and joy of simple life.
Showing me his barns and surrounding fields, LeGrand was expressing concern about his family future. This ranch is kind of a last fortress preserving the former life-style of Mormons in this area.
Just as their ancestors used to, Dilworth raise horses and cattle, makes hay and grows vegetables and fruit in his garden, but skyrocketing prices for land desirable to developers is a strong lure to sell it and be rich doing nothing. I hope they are able to withstand the temptation for awhile.
Lela is a real cowgirl, whos chosen ranch life instead of going to the big city and living in the virtual reality of the computer world. She knows how to break horses, train sheep-dogs, to make hay and mend dikes. Besides that she was in charge of household and managed to make a good dinner from a trout, which their neighbor, Merlin Jester brought over.
Merlin is known as the best fisherman on this coast and its point of pride with him once catching a 9 pound trout. Being allergic, he wouldnt eat even a forkful of the fish he caught. All his bounty goes to appreciating neighbors.
LeGrand, being cowboy all his life, had accumulated a lot of spare harness parts and skillfully mended mine which was falling apart. His message in my book baptized me somehow in the chivalry of cowboys. He wrote: Happy Trails Cowboy. The Dilworth Family. And since then, I know I am a Cowboy!

 UTAH IDAHO
 July 15
 
 On these country roads it's hard to designate the border between the states, and I sneaked into the potatoes State of Idaho very stealthily with no one on the road to observe me. Idaho's popular name the "Gem State" is often erroneously translated as the "gem of the mountain." The name actually is an expression of the Shoshone Indians, Ee-dah-how, meaning, "Look, the sun is coming down the mountain!" It was used by the Indians to arouse the camp in the morning. For many years Idaho was a part of the "Oregon Territory" claimed by Spain, Great Britain, the United States, and even Russia. But the strongest claim gained the U.S. after exploration of this territory by the Lewis and Clark expedition. Great Britain and the U.S. held the region jointly until signing a treaty in 1846 which gave the U.S. sole possession of all the land west of the Rocky Mountains and south of the 49th parallel. Less than in two years, by Vera Cruz treaty signed February 2, 1848; Mexico surrendered to the USA about 540,000 square miles combine of Texas, New Mexico and California in a return for a payment of $15 million. Americans already had experience of good bargain, purchasing in 1803 from Napoleon 828,000 square miles of "Louisiana Territory" for the same amount. In 1819 General Andrew Jackson occupied Florida chasing Seminole Indians into then Spanish territory. He executed on foreign territory several Indian chefs and two British subjects. Congress was a bit upset with his conduct but the negotiations for the purchase Florida put an end to the diplomatic difficulty. I still do not know whether anything was paid or if it was, how much was paid for purchase of Florida.
 In Idaho, between 1870 and 1880 the influx of gold miners and ranchers on territory reserved for the Indians made their tribes restless. The Nez Perce refused to sign a treaty giving up their territory where the whites already settled. When the Federal Government tried coercing them, they angrily resisted. After a long period of skirmishing General Howard met the Indians in a two day's battle near Kamiah, 200 miles north from here. Finally the Indians masterly retreated, but finally were captured by General Miles in the Bear Paw Mountains. Driving through the almost desolated village of Dingle I was surprised to see a huge brand-new Mormon "Church of Latter Day Saints." It looked like they built their churches in anticipation of a population explosion of church followers - big families being the rule among them.
 Crossing the railroad tracks on the way to Montpelier I was stopped by two small girls who brought me a handful of wild strawberries and asked if I'd give them a ride. Concerned I might be accused of kidnapping, I drove them only 200 yards while I enjoyed for the first time in many years the taste of real, undomesticated strawberries, the kind I used to collect in Russian glades. David Higley, chief of Montpelier police generously gave me the patch of his department for my collection and escorted us through not very crowded streets of that beautiful town. Montpelier was preparing for the Oregon Trail Rendezvous Pageant, scheduled for that coming Saturday. I would have liked to see it, but couldn't stay put it for five days. Just a few miles down Rte. 30 I noticed a small house with good grazing field around, and pulled my wagon toward it.
Our well-decorated rig seemed to amuse Ted Knutti who came out of the house with his wife Sandra and their grandson. He had just come from work and was enjoying his dinner, but was happy to interrupt it to accommodate us. Tom was a retired nuclear-powered submarine sailor and a former follower of the Mormon religion. Many years in service had changed his original habits and now he was a sinner, consuming coffee and smoking cigarettes; besides, he didn't like paying the obligatory 10% of his income tithe to support the Mormon Church. He was quite free-minded and humorous about how these funds were been spent. Despite losing contact with his past, he was good with horses; he used to have one of his own and planned to buy one for amusement of grandchildren. Recalling his father's philosophy he opined, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man."
That's exactly what I had been experiencing in these months of travel with my Vanya - he has been transforming me into the absolutely new entity of the man I was supposed to be. The next day in Bennington I was invited by Jack Crane to stop at his place for a rest. He told me that not long ago my soul mate David Grant was staying with him, traveling in the opposite direction. Jack retired a long time ago, but keeps himself busy building an extension on his already large house, which he means to use as a guest-house. Mostly he was used as a work-shop to build very sophisticated horse-stools, allegedly intended to be a footstool for mounting a horse. Making them as pieces of craftsmanship, he's been giving them away as gifts to friends and relatives; in the last few years he managed to make 54 of them.
 The walls of that hideout were decorated with quilts, beautiful oil-paintings by his wife and all kinds of memorabilia from important stages of not only their life but lives of their ancestors. When he found that I had stayed with the Dilworth family, he told me that LeGrand's daughter Laurie had been a very successful and known singer, but LeGrand had never mentioned it. Since he's been retired, Jack has spent a lot of time growing his fruits and vegetables. It is very characteristic for Mormons to grow their own food-supply, and their back-yards are generally very well-kept and pleasant looking.
He supplied me some home-grown strawberries and my horse was spoiled with a lot of apples. In Soda Springs I pulled in front of Robert and Ann Imler's house because I noticed a good grazing field close to them. They didn't mind letting me stay and invited me for family-dinner with their children and friends, after which Craig and Yvett Adams asked me to come and sleep in their daughter Ashley's bedroom. Craig is a music teacher in the high school and a very devoted member of the Mormon Church. When I asked him whether it is a big burden to him to pay 10% of his income to the Church as a tithe, he answered that it's been his obligation and dignity to help his own church to grow and attract a new members around the World. Part of this fund goes to support missionaries and to build new churches.
Worldwide, the membership of the Church of Latter Day Saints is about 10 million at present, and rapidly growing. In St. Petersburg, I used to meet Mormon's young missionaries walking always in couples and looking very neat. I was surprised at their knowledge of the Russian language and culture, but had no idea how successful their activity had been attracting my compatriots to their faith. When I once had asked a man in the street about his willingness to join the Mormon church, he had smirked and muttered something about why should he go there if he only goes twice a year to his own Russian Orthodox church - on Christmas and Easter.
 The town of Soda Springs is known for its carbon dioxide geysers, one of them located downtown. But when I got there the next morning, police informed that the activity of this natural spring is now regulated by humans. The next time it will be switched on is at 11 am, so I had to give it a miss. Just a few miles north, in 1811, it was the trail of expedition sent by John Jacob Astor. Under the command of Wilson Price Hunt these 56 explorers were sent overland to the mouth of the Columbia River. They were my predecessors - the first party which made the trip along the route later followed by the Oregon Trail. Their disastrous adventure was told by the great American writer Washington Irving in his book Astoria. To avoid steep hills that Rte. 30 cut through I had to detour, adding an extra 10 miles to our trip going through Bancroft. On the way I was approached by Mr. Johnson whom I had met just the day before. He had brought me four horseshoes, each perfectly welded. Working as an engineer in a mine, he had the capability to weld hardtacks on shoes and I was very appreciative for this gift.
In the small village of Peble I stopped at the grocery store where Hal Toolson befriended me. In the course of our conversation I told him of my plan to write this book. Hal wanted to buy a copy and asked me how much it could cost. I had no idea but guessed, oh, something around $15. He paid me this amount in advance in hopes that I would mail it to him when it's published. Wow! My first profits!
Driving along a picturesque Portneuf river I noticed a beautiful blue house at the bottom of a hill and crossed the small bridge for a visit. A young woman with green eyes and long blond hair, remained me mermaid, she came out of the house, a bit shocked, I think, by my appearance, but she didn't mind my staying on her property. Roxanne and her husband Kemp Iverson actually were renting this house but planned to buy it. Kemp worked at a lime quarry in Soda Springs and made good money by local standards, about $15 in an hour. Property prices in this region are quite low; a medium-size house may cost as little as $60 - 90 thousand. There is a lot of wildlife around and Kemp has been hunting not only with a rifle but with a crossbow. Actually this kind of hunting I see is getting popular all across this country. Kemp found a good way also of utilizing the horns of the elk and deer he has hunted down, making chandeliers from them.
 A few months ago he shot a black bear and for dinner Roxanne cooked pasta with ground bear meat. The winter time in this area is very long and snowy so the Iversons even have a specially dug tunnel for getting to the garage, which stands about 50 yards from the house. They use this tunnel when too much snow makes the path to the garage impassable. My hosts were Mormons by faith but didn't abide completely to the restrictions of their church smoking and drinking coffee and I was allowed to puff my pipe in the house, a very rear occurrence on the way - nowadays most Americans don't smoke.
 
PORTNEUF RIVER
July 18
 
I was more than just foolish crossing the railroad tracks only 300 yards from an oncoming train. Vanya was so spooked he ran wildly until he wore himself out. On the run we dropped a lot of personal items out of the wagon, but Kemp was following in his car and collected them for us. Catching up with us, he handed them over together with some home-made jerky and elk salami.
Following this adventure I found myself on the most remote and picturesque road I ever drove, with gentle hills covered with pine, fir and juniper trees. Horses were rolling over in green pastures and the Porntneuf River was meandering between rocks luring me to stop and stay, and live here to the end of my life. (How terrible it sounds: to the end of my life, as I accept without hesitation my oncoming death.)
Perhaps the rivers name came after French - Newport; in 18th century many French beaver trappers used to hunt here and built their trade posts. But later they were pushed out by British fur traders who dominated this area until the Treaty of 1846 which designated the United States - Canada border along 49th parallel. Idaho present boundaries were established in 1868. One year after fixing border between Alaska and Canada.
Until now many Russians consider that sell of our territory just for $7.2 million as big fraud and loss to our country. But in 1867 the United States Senate by majority only in one vote approved this purchase. Journalists of that time have suggested that the vast territory should be named Polaria or Icebergen. Only in this century, after finding big deposits of crude oil and natural gas, American found how precious is this land.
Last winter, in St. Petersburg, I noticed near entrance to subway station a man holding big placard where was written: Join to our party of Repossessing Alaska. He explained me that purchase of Alaska was unlawful because
Americans bribed Russian officials and purchased Alaska so cheap. So, his party was planning to challenge this purchase in the International Tribunal, to win this case and to return Alaska buck to Mother-Russia. Russians joined his party had opportunity to get Alaskan and, consequently, American citizenship. I was astonished by these plans and   asked this justice-fighter how Russians can get the American citizenship if Alaska will be back in our possession. But he answered that this trifle his Party adjust later, in working order. The most important now is to attract more party members and their funds.
I left this crook surrounded by future Alaskan citizens who didnt know that they had more right to be citizens of California. From 1812 to 1840 Russians from Fort Ross (Russia) managed the Russian American Fur Company and had the same rights for California as Americans and British, and had not recognized Mexican authority over California. But they behaved foolishly and in 1840 decided to sell Fort Ross and depart to inhospitable Alaska.
The Russian commander decided to sell all the property at Fort Ross and Bodega Bay to American representative, Captain John Sutter, just for $30.000. As American historian Irving Stone wrote: If John Sutter did not meet his payments, the Russians could move into the Sacramento Valley and take over the fort, establishing a new base in the Far West. This time they would have rich agricultural lands behind them and the strategic position to repel all American migration coming south from Oregon or west from Missouri.
John Sutter did not meet his payments and Russian got from him about $0, 00, so America illegally owns our property in California, or at least owns us billions of dollars as percentage for debt for last 156 years.
But Americans dont want to know about my calculations and live in peace on their land in California and here, in Idaho. This peace lasted quite a few miles until I returned back to Rte. 30 in Lava Hot Springs, where I found less picturesque herds of tourists who had come to consume the wilderness.
On the outskirts of McCammon I noticed a big warehouse with a huge sign in a front: Retsel International Corporation, and decided to stop over. From the office came a young man who tried to speak Russian, but eventually switched for English.
Michael Jagodzinski was the manager of this company of two employees manufacturing electric and manual wheat-grinders. With a growing demand for healthy natural food, many people now like to make their own grout and flour using such portable grinders. Just recently Michael got an order for 300 of them from Australia and demand for them was growing faster than his company could produce.
He came to this country from Poland with his family 5 years ago, and already had managed to serve in the Marine Corps, after that met his girlfriend, the daughter of the companys owners and became the manager of this enterprise. The two fell in love and decided to marry, but her mother, being of Mormon faith, demanded Mike to convert to their religion.
Born and raised in a Catholic family, he couldnt very easily betray his faith, so both he and his girlfriend have been strained in this clash of religions and traditions. He was pretty critical about the ridiculous habit of his prospective mother-in-law of spending 10 percent of the companys profit for the support of her church, but hes optimistic in the hope that they will finally find some mutually acceptable grounds.
We decided to take Vanya to the bank of the Portneuf River to water him, but after drinking Vanya thought hed swim to the opposite bank and soon was stuck in mud. He tried to climb back to us, but he kept wounding himself on the sharp branches of trees growing along the bank on our side. Giving up on us he turned back again and did swim across the river to other bank where somebodys horse stables were located. It was very possible that the horses grazing outside would bite or attack my Vanya so I hastily drove with Michael to that stables to recover my unfortunate adventurer.
Luckily, the stable owner managed to catch Vanya and place him in a separate paddock. I was extremely apologetic but he assured me that nothing serious had happened. Working with horses, he said, you never know what they will do next.
I had no grain left so Michael suggested we try to give Vanya some wheat, but my horse rejected it because this grain was too hard for chewing. Luckily, local welder and horseman Bill Jenkins came with his son to pet my horse and brought a sack of oats with them. And it was always like this on the way - somehow people would bring exactly what I needed, and I dont know how they knew about my urgencies.
On the way to Pocatello, Vanya became sluggish and started stumbling, and I had no choice but to find any resting place promptly. Noticing the entrance to Fort Hall, I pulled up there and found myself in the local Zoo with expansive fenced in fields of grazing bison, elk, deer, pronghorns and other animals. Vanya was so tired that he didnt pay much attention to the animals who were excited by his arrival.
Scott Ransom, Director of Ross Park Zoo was very hospitable; he allowed me to place my horse in an alley way between paddocks, and brought a bale of hay for him. Vanya by now was so used to a variety of animals - including dinosaurs - that mediocre bison and elk behind a fence didnt attract his attention. Besides, he was busy eating unshelled green peas that soft hearted attendant had donated.
While Vanya was occupied I found some time to visit the near by replica of Fort Hall built on Ross Park terrain. Its recreation of the fur-trading post that operated in this area 1834-60. It was built by Nataniel Wyeth, a Bostonian man in an ambitious attempt to establish a trade on the upper Snake River. To draw away his trade the Hudsons Bay Company built Fort Boise which now is capital of the state. Both forts later became known hostelries on the Oregon Trail.
Here, in 1834, Methodist clergyman Jason Lee met his future converts, Flathead Indians, and with a grieved surprise watched their religious simplicity, commenting:
The Indians play foot-ball on Sunday, and (tell it not in Christendom) it has been taught them by people, calling themselves Christian, as a religious exercise.
Perhaps he meant Catholic missionary priests who successfully compete here with Protestants for souls of Indian converts. Later on, this fort became residence and stronghold of the Jesuit order and its priests, Pierre Jean De Smet and Nicolas Point who distinguished themselves with study of Indian culture and imposing their own. Nez Perces and Flatheads became interested in Catholicism as a medicine that would heal their wounded souls and give new power to withstand oncoming intruders.
I made friends with forts attendants who happened to be Catholics and knew of a Franciscan Convent where the nuns had a very good grazing field for horses. It sounded like a perfect destination for our next stop. My new friends even phoned the Convent and made arrangements for my arrival.
After 7 P.M. all the park gates were locked and I was left together with my zoo-mates. Channel 6 was supposed to show reportage of my expedition on the evening news, but the zoo administration had failed to install any TV-boxes for entertaining their animals.
The big challenge that night was to get water for my horse. For some reason, there were no faucets handy, only the sprinklers on top of fence poles that irrigated the grazing fields. They were waving slowly back and forth partially watering the grass on my side of the fence. My attempts to climb a pole and fill Vanyas bucket resulted in the soaking of all my clothing and a mere pint of water at the bottom of a five-gallon bucket. After that I had no choice but to change tactics. I took my clothing off, and suffering cold shower - on, off, and around - finally got a bit more water for my thirsty companion. About two hours I spent filling that vessel. Since then even the sound of the word sprinkler causes my skin to cover with goose pimples.
Driving the next morning through downtown Pocatello, by happenstance I bumped into a parade celebrating the Day of Mormons Pride with a re-enactment of their ancestors travel down the Mormon Trail. Horses were pulling coaches, kids were pushing handcarts, horsemen were riding beautiful horses. But as far as I know, I was the only real traveler, who had gotten here by horse and buggy.
I asked local Pocatello police for permission to join this parade, but they refused because I wasnt registered for it beforehand. When I argued that it could be hard to register for something that you didnt know about they consider it wisdom to escort me down the road with a warning not to come back soon.
On the way from Pocatello I was stopped by two young Mormon missionaries - Elder Karl Cramer and E. Flores, who wanted to make snapshots with me and to give The Book of Mormon, which I thankfully accepted - it was the fourth one in my mobile library.
Coming off Rte.30 at Airborne Exit I bumped once more into a cattle-guard, but this one had no gates. I had to cut the barbwire fence and mend it again after going through. A few yards farther at the side of the road stood a huge metal cross from which was hanging a mail-box. To the middle of cross was welded a bank-vaults lock in the shape of an asterisk. Such a curious mixture of clerical and secular symbolism was quite unusual, especially in front of this Franciscan Family Life Center.
Sister Mary Paul Muller happened to be near the entrance. About 40 years-old, in a plain working robe, she greeted me with a welcoming smile and guided my wagon to the barn area, where I unhitched my horse and placed him in a grazing field, along with the sisters horse, Sabrina. I was accommodated in old dormitory that had formerly been used by the sisters before they moved into a new building.
Besides sister Mary, sisters Janice Otis and Dorothy Prokes were staying in the convent. By day they worked in town, but their nights were spent praying here. In a small vegetable garden they grow onions, sweet peas, beans, strawberries and sweet corn. The sisters invited me for dinner and after Grace was pronounced by myself in Russian we ate the delicious beefsteak theyd prepared and talked about the religious movements in Russia and this country. I was so good that even volunteered for dishwashing and permission for this was granted, unfortunately.
Sister Dorothy at her own expense had founded a private school for Indian children and was teaching there. Because of a shortage of priests they help the parish by conducting services at Fort Hall, and invited me to join them the next day.
I went out after dinner to check on my horse and found Vanya in a quite peculiar situation - the mare Sabrina was in heat and had foolishly decided that he could be a good, big and strong father for her steeds. But poor Vanya was a gelding, castrated many years ago, and had only a very vague idea about making love with a mare. My poor ill-furnished boy - I gave him extra oats as some kind of compensation for his shame.
The next morning the four of us drove to Fort Hall for services in Kateri Tekakwitha Chapel, named in honor of a young Mohawk woman, who being baptized in 1676, and dedicated her life and love to Jesus Christ. She refused to be married and was killed by members of her own tribe for such sexual misconduct. Later she was declared Venerable but it was until only in 1980 that she was beatified by Pope John Paul II.
Most of the parishioners belonged to the Shoshone and Bannock tribes; there wasnt much difference between them and the parishioners of any American church. But there were almost no young people attending - mostly elderly women whod brought their grandchildren of naughty behavior.
This spring the seedlings of trees had been planted in the front yard of the chapel but nobody had been taking care of them and the sisters asked me to water them after service.
Father Jim Rodenpul had no time to answer my many questions about serving in an Indian parish. After this service he had to make haste for Chubbuck to perform service there. It was more visible in this rural area than it had been anywhere else how the adherence of the Catholic Church to the celibacy of priests leads inevitably to shortness of clergy.
Back home, I decided to fish in the Convent pond, and to my own great surprise caught five trout that the Sisters were happy to cook for dinner. They went to bed very early, locking the doors to the main building and shutting my greasy memories about ancient nuns breaking their vows and always ready for sexual adventure. Perhaps Giovanny Bocaccio, writing his Decameron in 14th century was luckier or just fancied all that shameless behavior of contemporary nuns and monks. I doubt that he ever got permission to sleep in convent as I did.
I sat alone on the bank of the pond listening to the howls of coyotes, the splashes of fish in the pond. My leading star Venus was giggling at my and Vanyas love misfortune from her celestial upstairs.

 HATCHERY
 July 22

 When the rural road ran out, I had to drive mostly down Interstate 86 along the snaky Snake River. Close to highway was located Massacre Rocks Park, dedicated to skirmishes between the Shoshone Indians and Pioneers on August 9 and 10, 1862, when ten pioneers were killed in a fight involving five wagon trains. Park manager L Max Newlin came to help me drive across the treacherous railing of the next cattle-guard, bringing in his truck a big piece of plywood to lay across the grate. I hate these cattle-guards. They seem to have been built specially to slow my progress. On an observation deck of the park I was approached by Helen Harding, an Englishwoman who fell in love with America, and was traveling around shooting the most picturesque scenery and people of this country with her video camera. The last two weeks she had spent making a story about Sundown, a half-Indian man, who for a few years has been traveling in a dilapidated buggy pulled by three burros. I wanted to meet him and Helen gave me her telephone number in Oregon for further contacts about his whereabouts - it would be quite interesting to meet another of my soul-mates.
 After visiting the park I found a side-road along the highway but it was very hilly and Vanya got tired soon; apparently he needed longer than one-day of rest. On top of the hill, a passing truck stopped and its driver approached to suggest that we stay at the "Fall Creek Fish Hatchery", where he was a manager. Again, the Good Lord or else my Guardian Angel had sent us help. The hatchery was about half a mile from the main road up Fall Creek. Jerry Foster Sr. met us near a mobile-home which he shared with a young man Matt Dunn, who also worked at the hatchery as well. Here they were raising about two million rainbow and gold trout. Those five trout that I caught in convent's pond, I discovered had been were raised here as well. Four workers were supervising hatching, fish feeding and transport between raising ponds. I was surprised that loss of young fish was only about 2.5%. Wholesalers purchase a live trout for 80 cents. By the time it gets to the consumer it sells retail for $4-5 per pound. Built just 15 years ago, the hatchery was already outdated, the main problem is hand cleaning the raising ponds, to keep them clear of water-grass and algae, but they expect to renovate soon and will install concrete ones. It will allow applying mechanical cleaners. The hatchery belongs to Range Inc. who makes food for both fish and people in this country.
They pay Jerry about $25,000 a year, but he's also provided with free housing, and may eat as much fish as he likes. Jerry had been recovering after the loss of his beloved girlfriend Cathy to brain cancer. It happened a year ago but her photos and other memorabilia were still around. She is with him all the time, in soul and mind but I hope that he will overcome this sorrow and find himself again in the World, without the emptiness of his sorrow. Jerry and Matt scooped out from pond a good number of trout for broiling and smoking to supply me with foodstuffs for the road. While it was cooking, they decided to do a little target practice. Matt was planning to enroll in the Police Academy and had to be in a good shape, besides there was a lot of game around and they had to be in a shape to hunt it down. A family of cougars lives in the rocks across the creek, so the coyotes keep away from them far upstream, in the hills of Table Mountain, but they pay visits to the hatchery on a regular basis. It was absolutely new for me shooting with a "Sig Sauer P229" and a "Springfield", but I was more familiar with the "Smith and Wesson" which I had shot with in the company of gold prospectors in Wyoming. I'd done much better there, than I did competing here - my contestants here were sober.
 The next morning I paid a visit to Don Benson, the owner of a lot of land around here and other parts of Power County. Don was about 70 and had served during WW II in New Guinea. After the war he wanted to homestead in Alaska but didn't manage to collect the $5,000 required by the Government to start farming there. His starting capital had been only $500 and now his family owns about 5,000 acres. Don had a lot of stamina and a great sense of humor, commenting on his age as he flashed, "I am not old - just getting older, and if I stop doing it - I will be dead."
He gave me a ride back to American Falls to visit "County Line Farms" owned by his daughter and her children. They grow potatoes, sugar beets and grain on 10,000 acres. I was impressed by quantity of combines, tractors and other machinery standing in rows like a mechanized army column ready for attack. An acre of non-irrigated land here yields about 30 bushels of wheat, but an irrigated one can produce 100-150.
The main expense of farm is man-power and electricity for pumping water to the fields. Permanent field-workers here earn $8 in an hour; seasonal ones, mostly from Mexico, are paid between 5 and 6 dollars. It was the first time I was ever on such a big farm, and the Funk family, who owns it was very hospitable and showed me everything that I was interested in. Their small office contained little more than a couple of computers, very few people; the same size collective farm in Russia could keep about 20-30 people busy in the office alone. We have more managers there than real workers. Actually, I should stop reprimanding Russia - in this country at government jobs, as well as in big companies, the same situation exists.
 
POET
July 25
 
Don Benson with his grand-children and Jerry with his crew came to wish me happy trails. Don presented me with an antique sickle and Jerry gave me a big jar of silver change had been saving, about $50-worth, and fastened a burlap sack with smoked trout to the outside of my buggy. Again I was leaving dear friends whom I would like to live together with to the end of my life, but at the same time I knew that hospitality could be tiresome as well.
On the Raft River I was approached by four Russians from Chicago - Victor Matveiuk was traveling with his family in hope of finding a better place for living than that overcrowded Metropolis. I shared with them the abundance of my smoked trout and in exchange received the New Testament in Russian translation - five ones in English were already in my possession. I found that for traveling along rural roads, if you have no County maps, the Atlas of States can be useful, so I purchased one for $14.95.
In the town of Yale, the Register Road changed its name to Old US 30 as I traveled through deserted BLM Public Lands, rented out from the Government by ranchers for grazing their cattle. But I didnt see anything suitable for my horses grazing.
Across this road five cattle-guards were installed to delineate subdivisions of the land to avoid mixing herds of cattle or flocks of sheep. Before each guard I had to dismantle and open the gate made of five rows of barbwire rolled around a wooden pole, which in turn was attached by two wire rings to a fence-pole.
In the event that there was no gate, I had to cut all five barbwires, pass through the opening and then mend the fence again. It was a treacherous job and my hands were cut to bits, bleeding in worn-out gloves.
Some guards or gates had the carcasses of dead animals lying in front of them. As I later found out, this was to scare other animals and keep them from crossing those obstacles.
Before South Side Canal I noticed the house of Chuck and Sally Telleria and stopped for the night. They were descendants of Portuguese settlers, and used to raise sheep but hadnt enough of land to do it profitably so changed their occupation.
Now Chuck works at a power plant and his wife is a real-estate agent. Their 360 acres are rented out by neighbors. Chucks brother Mike has been planning to build a farm for breeding minks there. As I mentioned this business became profitable after dismantling of USSR and its fur-producing industry. Once the biggest exporter, Russia is now the biggest importer of furs from the United States. Anti-furs activists do not have enough public support in freezing cold Russia, and I doubt that they are very supported in Alaska either.
After crossing the Snake River the next morning I came to the incredibly hot and hospitable town of Rupert. Instead of taking my money the Assistant Vice President of the First Federal Bank Savings Bank, Karen Woodbury, handed me in the name of her Bank a contribution of $20 and can of juice.
Robert Vasquez, under sheriff of Minidoka County gave me his patch and a cup of coffee and there were a lot of other people coming and writing good wishes in my ledger.
In the small town of Paul I noticed a small Rock Shop with piles of semiprecious stones and crystals, old gates, columns and any all kinds of stoneware. Interior was crowded with gems, jewelry, and gift items.
I was greeted by its owner Layne Jackson, a strong, bearded man past 80 and his wife May. They told me that after Interstate 84 was built most of Pauls businesses relocated to its intersection with Rte.24, where tourists congregate, but the Jacksons couldnt afford to move so they stayed here.
Business was very slow, but they didnt need very much since they were living on Social Security pensions. Now having quite a lot of free time, Layne decided to realize his long-held dream of publishing his poems. Laynes a good observing philosopher, and he has been writing prolifically.
His book of poems will be published soon in 100 hard-cover copies, just for friends. One of his poems hit close to home with my expedition and he gave me permission to quote it in this book:

A PIONEERS DAY

Its up in the morning
Well before day break,
And its to check all the stock
And a big breakfast to make.
It will be a long day
And a rough trail ahead
And it will be stew again for supper
Or maybe roast meat instead.
The patient beasts pull the wagons
Thru many long hours
And the pioneers are thankful
For their steady, faithful power.
They stop at mid-day
For a light lunch, and rest
And make more plans
On which ways are best.
They had to be extra careful
In places there might be snakes,
For even with all the noise
It was easy to make mistake.
The day before, a horse
Had been bitten on the nose
And it was a small rattler
As rattlesnake goes.
Everybody is very tired
As they spot the camp-site, up ahead
And after they take care of the stock They eat, and are ready for bed.
  Layne G.E.Jackson
   Layne had a few more poems; that were simple in expression, but full of the wisdom of an old man who is more comfortable with the way things used to be than with the contemporary world.
He even commented the famous process of O. J. Simpson in his long poem Not Guilty?? and I would like quote a few lines of it:
The verdict of Not Guilty, disappointed most people.
And they saw the prisoner, using smile and guile.
Was he innocent, or guilty, or things most vile.
Did he brutally and willingly, take lives, as was claimed.
Or was actually, Not Guilty, as proclaimed.
May we never have to see such another ridiculous scene.
Lets just give this one its rating, as being obscene.
The Not Guilty, verdict was put on file.
And the prisoner had got away with it, smile.
There wasnt supposed to be an issue, between black and white.
But the verdict itself showed this was not right.
This old American expressed feelings of many people of this country about fallacy of contemporary Grand Jury system of courts with which rascals with money can avoid punishment. More than 100 years ago, great humanist and humorist Mark Twain mocked this system saying that in this country for jury duty are chosen the least educated, illiterate people who dont read newspaper, have no interest in politics, community matters or about their own neighbors. Only this brand of humanoids preferred by lawyers to decide whether accused is guilty or innocent beyond reasonable doubts.
My friend happened to be called for a jury duty and told me his torture spending two days in mazes and pins of the Supreme Court building between hundreds of the same hapless people who decided to perform their obligation to judge other citizens. Nobody knew what to do and who they should listen to. In the middle of second day somebody of clerks called his name and he found himself between 16 prospective juries for hearing of case of an old man against the City. That hapless Irish man broke his hip walking along slippery sidewalk and accused the city management in negligence of not spreading sand with salt on icy surface of pavement.
My friend was rejected because lawyers from both sides asked him whether he could promise not discussing this case with his jury-mates outside jury room, as well as with his friends or family. His response was quite sharp: I would consider myself liar while promising not doing this, and would be stubbornly dumb to follow your instructions not discussing this case with my friends. His sincerity was rewarded and he was relieved from jury duty for at least next two years, but from those 16 people were found enough hypocrites to perform their citizens duty - who is wrong and who is right.
Driving just couple miles farther, I found a retreat at the place of Wayne Gillespie who let Vanya share a green field with his horses and cattle. Waynes son Clyde was a veterinarian and he came to check and treat my horse. He dewormed Vanya, gave him a shot against brain fever and left an electrolyte in powder that may boost Vanyas performance.
Three generations of Gillespies live on their ancestors homeland. Clydes son after graduating from Veterinarian College is planning to come back here and practice with his father. This inherent continuity of generations is common in rural America and makes this country strong and morally sound.

 ASCENSION PRIORY
 July 27
      
 The owner of Korean grocery store in Hazelton told me that a single Russian guy lived there and I decided to call on him. Under a broiling sun I pulled up to a humble house hidden in the shade of a huge weeping willow. Nobody came out to answer the buzzer so I stepped in through the unlocked door. In the crowded, messy house a stocky man about 70 was astonished at my intrusion;, he was even more amazed at my speaking Russian and happily responded. Walt Miszczenko was a bachelor and worked at a local repair-shop for many years. He managed to survive some very hard times after being captured by the Germans in 1944 and detained in a prisoners' camp. When he learned that those POWs released were freed by the Red Army but were automatically sent by the KGB to Siberian labor-camps for alleged "betrayal of Mother-Russia", he managed to escape to the Allies Zone of occupied Germany. After many years of hardship in Europe he brought his family to the U.S. and settled in this area with his two sons and daughter.
 Life hasn't been easy here either. Divorced from his wife he lives by himself. Russian women from the last wave of immigration had to come here for a short time, but they couldn't withstand the boredom of prairie life, nor his refusal to give them all his savings. His alleged girlfriend has been using him modestly but her own family is completely dysfunctional. None of them have a steady job. Her cancer-stricken son-in-law dreams of earning some money by house-painting so he can move to Alaska to prospect the gold and freedom. But most of the money that he makes he spends on booze. The good Old Russian helps them with food knowing full well that he is being used, but they are the closest thing he has to family around here. His son is a professor of History at Idaho University and I hope to meet him in Boise.
From hell in Hazelton I drove five more miles to Eden where I could stay on Eliann's pasture. With her friends Becky Craig and Joe Cooper, she gave me a ride for ranch of Jim Grant who organized tonight a barn-party for friends and neighbors. We drove across sagebrush prairie, beautiful in its solitude and horizons of no-man's-land. About a hundred guests congregated in and around a huge barn transformed into a hall for folk-dance competition. Our hosts supplied beer and hamburgers made from their own Galloway cattle, and the guests brought more drinks and more meat as well. Those folks didn't care about quantity of cholesterol in their diet. Jim Grant's party was a major annual event. Ranchers would coming here to meet old friends and make new ones; young people might ones could meet their future spouses. Everybody was very friendly and joyful - the dancers competed, the musicians enjoyed playing for an audience. The smoke of the grills rose into the night sky and everybody was happy. Obviously, people of the land were obliged to be good grass roots of this country.
 Early in the morning I phoned to the Ascension Priory which was located near the trail, and got the monks' permission to stay on their grounds. Picturesque Rte.25 was wearing between potato fields, everything was green and peaceful. But it wasn't that way back 1942 when the Government of the United States transferred here to Hunt Station about 50,000 American citizens of Japanese descent under the false pretext that they might betray their own country on behalf of its Japanese enemy. Innocent people lived here in the detention center until the end of war. It wasn't until after 40 years after that the American government recognized the injustice of the detentions and paid compensation to surviving victims.
 All this productive area is the brainchild of the Bureau of Reclamation whose dam projects on the Snake River have transformed the surrounding lands from semi-arid to one of Idaho's principal agricultural areas - when sweetened by an ample water supply; the soil of pulverized lava is marvelously fertile. Here I finally found potato and sugar beet fields that reached beyond the horizons. A small airplane was spraying the fields and us with smelly chemicals and I was again concerned about the health of my horse. In addition to potatoes and beets, this area boasts huge dairy farms with 3,000 or more milking cows on each. Mexicans are the majority of the work force; each milkman serves about 100 animals - phenomenal productivity compared to the small farms in Pennsylvania where 50 cows were milked by two workers.
 I found Ascension Priory on the top of a hill with a view of the farms and small towns down below. Nobody responded to my buzz and I had no choice but to go on inside without permission. After wandering around the empty halls, I finally bumped in a dozing monk in the lobby. Brother Inigo Echanove was left on duty while the other monks were out in the parishes helping to conduct services. He knew about my expedition arrival and guided me to a room for guests. It was so nice to find myself in the air-conditioned luxury of a modern monastery, but horsemen's rules of conduct required that I take care first of my horse. I was given permission for Vanya to graze all around the priory on lawns with good, green, clover-sprinkled grass. As a gesture of appreciation my horse was fertilizing it.
 Later in the afternoon, three other monks came and after words there was a short service in spacious chapel before we went into the dining room. Our chef, brother Inigo, in his worldly life had served in the Spanish army. After immigrating to this country he had been a cook in a sheepherder camp. When he joined the brotherhood of Benedictine monks he was assigned to the kitchen. Besides cooking he liked knitting socks for his fellow brothers. Before grace Father Boniface quoted the Rule of Saint Benedict: "Let those to whom God gives the gift of abstinence know that they shall receive their proper reward." After that he quoted the first epistle to the Corinthians, in which Saint Paul said: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." It sounded a bit spooky but I was too hungry for a deep lamentation. Dinner was served at big rectangular table covered with a starchy-white tablecloth. Each place had a complete setting of silverware which I don't always know how to use properly. Perhaps, brother Inigo wasn't raised in Victorian traditions either and ate dinner not using any fork or knife - just with his hands. Beefsteak was served with incredibly tasty fried onion rings on the side. The onions were grown in the brothers' own vegetable-garden, as well as the beans and salad that rounded out the meal. Five of us dined on this miraculous meal, all the while laughing over stories of the day's events. Sitting around this table, and sharing a meal with the monks, I was appreciating the meaning of human communion and brotherhood.
After dinner I went out to pollute the air and myself with a puffing pipe; Fr. Andrew Baumgartner decided to ventilate his lungs, stepping out to the porch. As we performed our opposite tasks we talked about the magnetism of travel. At the age of 61, Brother Andrew for five months trekked with back-pack the Pacific Crest from Mexico to the Canadian border. That trip, he told me, gave him a unique and intimate experience with God in prayer and reflection, and exposed him to the awesome, powerful, delicate and rich beauty of God as reflected in nature. In his revelry he noted, "The trail will always be there and I will always keep walking it. Choosing the less traveled path has made the difference. As this episode comes to a close in my life I find myself looking to the future with a sense of direction, with focus, and filled with energy, excitement and challenge. I look to new horizons and with determination I have decided to 'choose life, live fully and rejoice always'. I boldly declare that life begins at 61.
 For all that has been - thanks.
 For all that will be - yes!"
 A fantastic personality who happened to be a Benedictine monk spoke for me as well, and encouraged me to believe that it is never too late to start a new beautiful life and find something new in yourself. Father Andrew went to bed earlier but I, looking in the dusk for my horse, found myself in the middle of the priory's cemetery. About a quarter of an acre was bordered with hedges, and in the middle was some kind of stele, but I saw no graves around. This priory had only been opened since 1980, and all the monks were still young and healthy enough that they didn't need to be resting under this beautiful field. They might follow to the best advice of their teachers: "Pray for miracles, but make ready your gravestone." Vanya was peacefully grazing in the middle of this graveyard to be fertilized with a human flesh.
 
RANGEFIRE
July 29

All the Brothers came out to wish us good luck and I   expressed my gratitude to these brave people who   voluntarily decided to live in poverty, celibacy and obedience. They waved after us until I turned out of their views on to the main road to Jerome.
It happens to be a beautiful, clean and peaceful town with friendly but suspicious police. Leonard Frings, the maintenance man for the Courthouse and owner of a construction company offered to be my chaperone and gave me a ride around town. Seemed he knew everybody here, and even introduced me to a Russian family.
Andy and Liya Levdanskiy after coming to this country as religious objectors from the former USSR, had lived in Los Angeles, but it was only after coming here that they found what it is the real America stands for. Installing and repairing air-conditioners, Andy makes good money and plans to buy his own house. Fellow - Baptist parishioners helped the newcomers to settle in to a new life here.
My compatriots were happy to see a fellow-Russian, but they dont miss the Motherland where their neighbors always were suspicious about these Baptist sectarians. Their new Fatherland country was more tolerable and used to hundreds of sects and religions.
Further down the road, Vanya was scared to death by the imposing figure of a blue dinosaur that had been erected to draw attention to a gas-station and ran berserk a few hundred feet. For a long time after that he kept turning back to look over his shoulder, fearing the animals charge - perhaps even for him a blue dinosaur was too much.
After town of Wendell I turned on to a two-lane road proudly called the Hagerman Highway and came to a dairy farm where I asked for permission to stay. Carol Sybesma couldnt let me stay until consulting with her husband, for whom we had to wait. In an hour Dave came and let my horse graze in a paddock that had, however no edible grass. He brought some hay, but even though it was good enough for cattle it was distasteful to my horse.
Dave used to be a truck driver but he managed to accumulate some money and bought this farm. In his herd he now has about 700 cows, 380 of them are milked. Each cow produces 75 lbs. of milk daily which a dairy factory buys for 14 cents a pound. His stock generates between 80 and 100 thousand dollars monthly.
Four Mexican farmhands work from 6.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. and earn $9 an hour, but the work is very intense and requires good skills and endurance.
It was already dusk and Sybesmas daughter brought me a plate of ground meat with macaroni, two pieces of bread with margarine, and cup of tea. I was also allowed to drink as much milk as I liked, but I didnt.
I woke up very early and got right on the road. For a couple of hours I found myself driving in a corn-forest. Studying genetics at Leningrad University I knew that American scientists had created hybrids of corn with incredible productivity, but never had I seen them in the field. Here, finally, I could touch their stalks, more than eight feet-tall, with abundant ears. I stopped and brought some to Vanya. He especially approved the Pioneer 3211 hybrid, but he wasnt very finicky about 3527 either.
In the town of Hagerman I made it a point to pay a visit to Museum of Fossil Beds where they exhibit more than 140 animal species of both vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as 35 plant species.
From local Hagerman fossil beds have come the skeletons of the zebra-like Hagerman Horse, ancestor of todays horse. Only here did I finally apprehend that North America had been an evolutionary cradle for llamas, as well as camels and horses that had migrated across the Bering Land Bridge to Eurasia when habitat conditions changed here. The Spaniards reintroduced horses to America only in the 16th century.
Finding myself at the bottom of the beautiful Snake River valley, I realized Id made a big mistake going down Rte.30: if the road has been going down, it must go up somewhere.
For a few miles I was pulling Vanya behind, climbing up hills, under 105 F., with no shade or water around on the way to the village of Bliss.
From the beginning, Bliss wasnt very hospitable, and when I pulled up to the farm of Leo Hobdey, he was on the way to some kind of meeting. At my request for permission to stay on his grazing field he responded that he would never let any man stay alone with his wife. Considering that he was 76 and his wife was a bit younger but restrained in a wheel-chair, I was amazed by this burst of jealousy. He added that he could call the police if I didnt leave immediately. I could tell that he was serious.
But all at once Mother Nature stepped in on my side - out of blue came a hurricane wind, almost overturning my wagon! In an instant, a thunderstorm hit with numerous bolts of lightning flashed around us. Nature showed its immense powerful authority and Leo caved-in. Since I obviously couldnt drive any further, he let me hide the wagon in his barn and allowed me to unhitch my horse to graze on his green field.
Leo willy-nilly canceled his meeting and came out to watch the rage of nature triggered by his refusal to give   me a hideout. There was not a drop of rain, only   thunderbolts pounding on dry prairie grass and the surrounding wheat fields.
Very soon we noticed brown clouds of smoke rampaging to the skies. We got into Leos car and drove in that direction. No, it wasnt a sagebrush fire, because even under a blazing sun sage saves some water in leaves and does not burn easily. It was the fire of boundless wheat fields, ready for harvest and burning like powder. Lightning ignited the fire in a few places and now the wind was blowing the ground swell, destroying everything alive on the way. There was no means to stop this inferno. All one could do was fly or run out of its way. The fire could only extinguish itself, burning down these wheat fields and coming to the edge of sagebrush prairie.
Since we could drive out Leo and I were not in danger, but I was sorry for having provoked such disaster. Helicopters were circulating over head, and fire-engines shuttled on the road, but nobody was trying to put this fire down. I only hoped that the owners of these fields had fire insurance.
After getting back home, Leo melted even more and arranged a dinner-party, inviting his brothers family and shooting the affair on his videocamera. His generosity even extended to a promise of giving me horseshoers tool-box, but he later decided that it was better to keep it for himself.
How marvelous it was, and refreshing, to sleep with almost no bugs around, under the skies washed clean by the last thunderstorm. Vanya was sleeping close by, protecting me from any bad goblins.
I left the farm early, a la the English - not disturbing my my hosts with giving thanks. But just a hundred yards down the road I was stopped by the owners of Woodtick Farms, Dick and Karen Elliot, who asked me to stay with them for a breakfast. I excused myself explaining I had a long road ahead, and I didnt stay, but they promised theyd bring breakfast later on the road. In an hour Karen and Cindy Elliot together with their kids Brian and Michell, brought a lot of food and fruits; the kids liked to be photographed on top of my horse and Vanya didnt mind chewing on apples.
Under the still blazing sun, we came to settlement of Glenns Ferry and found shade behind walls of the huge workshop of Campbell Tractor Co. Its employees brought water for Vanya and showered him with a hose; those big men acted just like children, petting and stroking my horse as if they had missed him for a long time. Certainly, they couldnt pet the monstrous tractors or combines they were repairing for a living.
One of them called ahead to his wife and she stopped me on the way to Hammett, unloading a sack of grain and so much of food that I couldnt carry it with me and had to donate some to people at the next stop on trailer park. It was funny, I had planned on this trip to spread love, but was finding all along the way - with the tractor workers, just like with Leo - that love was always there. It just some hires needed a little stirring up.

MOUNTAIN HOME
August 1

Driving between irrigated fields of corn, potatoes and sweet beets I saw hardly any white men - all the irrigation work was performed by Mexicans. As a matter of fact they paid no attention on my wagon, carrying irrigation pipes. But some greeted me in Spanish, Commo esta!. In my turn, I responded with, Hi!
Many months ago I gave up of using regular Hello!, while driving Vanya. It was the matter of linguistic differences between us. Vanyas vocabulary included four main words: giddyap - to go ahead; haw - to turn to the left; gee - to turn to the right; and whoa - to stand still. I inherited these commands from Vanyas former owners and decided not changing them for a Russian substitute.
But from the very beginning I found some complications with using the last word. Each time when I was greeting somebody along the road with a common: Hello - Vanya was abruptly stopping. It took me quite a few days until finding that for Vanya the sounds of hello and whoa sounded similar, especially in my Russian pronunciation. After that I always greeted a passerby only with Hi!
From Hammett, Rte.30 turned north away from the Snake River, and pointed toward the last town before open ranges of real desert.
Mountain Home was a paradise in the middle of the desert, but only if you could find shade. I parked across from House of Flowers, and its owner, Rita Harris, came out to offer her assistance in planning how I could go farther down the road.
The main concern, naturally, was about the absence of any water sources in the desert along old Highway 30. A reconnaissance mission was required, and I asked Rita if she could give me a ride to my next stop at Indian Creek Reservoir.
Rita and I drove 30 miles of hot road with no trees or any other shelter, no water or grass on the way and the temperature well above 100. I definitely needed to take extra water and some hay, but how would I prevent heat stroke? OK, well see.
Before going across desert we needed a good rest, drove a couple more miles north-west from downtown Mountain Home and stopped at the small farm of Kim and Cindy Baird. As I was pulling into their front yard, Kim came out and was pretty surprised at my unceremonious intrusion on his property, but I had no choice - Vanya was exhausted from a long day under the sun. I had noticed beforehand a big grazing field behind their house. It was soon dedicated to the use of my horse.
Kim looked just like a real cowboy in his Western style hat and boots. He even kept one horse for his three children to ride. He was working for the Idaho Power Company as a computer designer, but his soul belonged to open ranges and horses.
The Bairds older daughter fixed a meal of ground meat burritos (I would never call burritos better than commissariat, subsistence or fodder, I hate them.) and we enjoyed sitting outside and talking about travels, fishing and hunting.
Kim was a real poet and I enjoyed his verses, which he writes occasionally. One of them was dedicated to his friend who was forced to retire. It reminded me Western interpretation of Rudyard Kiplings poem If:

GREENER PASTURE

As Aw think of the time
Awve known ya, and time has gone by fast.
Aw remember how ya set em tall,
Them bronks they jest couldnt last
Ya rode most to the ground and when
Ya sometimes hit the dirt.
Ya dusted yourself off, and crawled back on with yer quirt.
Well All tell ya what Ol Pard,
from you Awve learnt allot.
Aw sit my saddle a little taller, as none can take yer spot.
Hell, they put ya out to pasture
Awm a thinken way to damn soon.
But with yer ranch in Cambridge,
Mall find a plenty fer ya ta do.
So pick yerself out of the bog
and out of the merky mud.
Hell they didnt put ya out to pasture they jest put ya out to STUD!

I made a few calls to Boise to make arrangement with Mounted police, but nobody wanted to take responsibility for my accommodation there. Finally I phoned to a friend of my friends, who owned Oregon Trail Horse Stables in outskirts of Boise and got permission to stay there.
Kim and Cindy supplied me with hay, filled a plastic drum with water and their daughter Jenny handed me her drawing of my horse. It was extremely lucky that I had driven with Rita and after that with Kim, the road ahead; some road-signs here were misleading and parts of Old Highway 30 could bring you to a dead end.
This road runs parallel to Highway 84 and is almost human less, though there are more people now than there used to be. Even this desert has been populated by people who couldnt afford more picturesque habitats.
On a cross-road with Ditto Creek Road I found the young family of John Malota, who just recently brought their trailer home here. Farther down at Squaw Creek Road a new development of trailer homes was bulking and Kelly Rogers invited me to refresh and water my horse. Her sister and mother were watching TV, half asleep. All the life happened on the screen of their TV-set, those two-dimensional heroes were falling in love, traveling, fighting, and dying in behalf of these TV-watchers.
Exhausted by this watching, Kellys father was sitting in kitchen masticating some kind of junk-food and looking through the window at desert where nothing happened. Nobody of their neighbors came out to greet my horse or ask any questions. Their trailers were broiling under the sun and exuded a smell of medicine, poverty and incurious ignorance.
After making a few phone calls to the Governors Office to arrange a meeting with him that coming Monday, and pouring a lot of water over Vanya, I departed further down the road toward an uninvestigated future.
Driving down this desert road did not turn out to be as hard as I anticipated. A refreshing breeze was blowing from the far away mountains. I stopped from time to time to pour water over my horse, no insects were bothering us; all we saw were just sagebrush and antelopes.
Observing them, I recalled the theory of the Universe. According to it, besides matter there is antimatter exists and each time when matter collide with matter they annihilate destroying each other. The same would happen when, by chance, antelopes will meet lopes.
Coming to Indian Creek Reservoir, I opened the gates and found plenty of green grass and water in a creek. Just a mile from my camping were the blinking lights of a Truck Coach - a resting area for truckers and tourists with rest rooms, showers, restaurants, shops and videogames. I walked over to phone and socialize.
Many truckers consider themselves modern cowboys of the open roads and attire themselves in cowboys boots and Western hats. I was envious of their Western gear having only tattered sneakers and rope sandals. Hell, who is cowboy here? Most of these guys never even touched a horse!
My KA-BAR knife was getting blunt and I asked knife-shop owner to sharpen it. He gave it a very professional treatment, and I found that entire all my life Ive been sharpening knives the wrong way - a blade should be sharpened from the outside edge toward the main body of the knife. Yes, after five minutes of sharpening the knife was keen enough to shave my armpits.

BOISE
August 3
 
At night the temperature dropped to 42, but I had an excellent sleeping bag and didnt mind it. Vanya decided to sleep lying down on the ground - I guess 30 miles of hot road really took it out of him.
We came to the end of Old 30, and I reluctantly took Interstate 84 leading to Boise, Idahos capitol with a population about 150,000. From my manual I found that French-Canadian trappers named this area Boise, meaning wooded, but the city was founded only in 1863, a year after the gold rush reached this area.
The famous Idaho potato was developed by the great plant experimenter, Luther Burbank and Idaho grows more potatoes than any other state - almost 1/3 of the U.S. market. The dollar value of the states potato production exceeds $500 billion.
I took exit 53 and drove down Columbia Road to the Oregon Trail Horse Stables where I was met by its owner Scott Southwick who accommodated my horse in a paddock and me in his new and lustrous house. His wife actually was in charge of the stables but she was out visiting her parents in Utah. Otherwise, as Scott said, she wouldnt let a stranger stay in her house. It was kept so spotless and clean that I felt myself as a dirty intruder Scott graduated from the prestigious Columbia University and was a Sr. Engineer with the mammoth of the local computer industry - Micron Technology Inc. A few years ago hed purchased 20 acres of land for $2,000 per acre, now its market value has jumped up $10,000. He knows how to earn and invest money and belongs to the YAPE generation (Young American Professional Entrepreneurs), followed by the BB generation (Baby Boomers - people born after WW II) who are well represented by president Bill Clinton.
Scott decided to introduce me to his colleagues, who were at that time renovating a country house in Idaho City. We drove around Lucky Peak Lake and up Mores Creek canyon. White fir, Douglas fir and red cedar blanketed its slopes. These surrounding were absolutely different than those I had just come from, and a different brand of people lived here - highly professional, confident, and alive to changes upper middle class of America, which whom I had nothing in common.
The old-timers in this country used to build a porch in front of their house to sit on reclining chairs, or swing bank and communicate with their neighbors, but not any more. For the last twenty years new houses are built with concrete or wooden decks in the backyard, where the owners make barbecues, organize parties, float in their whirlpools and rarely have any contact with their neighbors.
Actually, I cant say that a stony sense of community was very common in this country even before. Descendants of Anglo-Saxon, German or Scandinavian Protestants always were dedicated to family but not communal life. Big spaces between homesteads accustomed their inhabitants to keep distance between one another. Just once a week they used to congregate in the same church but even there kept the distance.
Have you ever noticed how far two people stand from each other at a regular party? Anglo-Saxons and Northern Europeans keep about two yards apart, but Southern Europeans and Asians might be comfortable communicating with only two feet between their bodies - this is a result of inherited behavior.
Anyhow, we came at the proper time when Scotts friends were just finishing installation of a new deck and had enough time for communication. Cottage owner John Scrovan, an engineer with Micron, had recently been in China. Hed traveled with a group of martial art students who were in search of the Master of Martial Art. Finally they found that the Grand Master had already left China for California and there was nothing sacred left in Communist China.
John had acquired a lot of inferior-quality armory there it would have been cheaper to by armory in this country, which would be Made in Hong Kong any way.
I should admit that it wasnt easy for me to communicate with the new generation of young men and women of high IQ, health-food, and health-life-oriented, and politically correct. They all seemed to know what they were doing, but I always have had a lots of questions about my own life as well as life around. I smoke and drink, but for them even coffee is a nemesis.
The next morning Scott invited me to visit the Mormon temple newly built in his neighborhood - no problemo, I used to attend many of them along the road. In this overcrowded and noisy auditorium the parishioners were mostly young, with a lot of children around them. Its the Mormon Churchs policy to tolerate and even welcome parents with children for service. After prayers, the podium was given to regular parishioners who shared their experiences of the usefulness of their prayers.
A middle-aged woman from Texas told her story: her husband had been laid-off and had been sending his Curriculum Vitae around the country with no results. Finally she decided to intensify her prayers up to five times a day and shortly the Personnel Department of Micron invited her husband for an interview; eventually he was hired for a better-paying job than his old one.
Such stories were repeated again and again. Finally I came out to puff my pipe and think about how that womans prayer had persuaded Personnel to lay-off somebody and to hire her husband. And probably another womans prayer persuaded Personnel in Texas to fire her husband and take another man.
How chaotic and unpredictable life would be if each good prayer were given the requested result! Its peoples travesty believing that through prayer they can influence Gods Will if God even exists. Good Lord is not a referee of our rat race for better life and to ask him for more money, better job or better spouse is selfish and blasphemous. In own prayers I just ask Him to give me a peace. On the way back we stopped in huge department-store and I bought for $104 my first cowboy boots made by Code West Co. Since then I never take them off.
Scott brought me to the top of a high rock to see far below Boise River flowing through the gorge. Swallows were nose-diving for insects, signaling with this behavior their prediction of good weather tomorrow. For Scott it was a favorite place for meditation and I wouldnt mind having one like it myself.
The next morning my host left earlier for work and locked the doors but allowed me to use his cordless telephone outside. I made multiple calls to the Governors Office and arranged to arrive at the Capitol by noon. Vanya after a rest was in good spirit and pulled our wagon to glory being the first horse to be crossing the continent.
I was 30 minutes late, but all the press corps and KTVB 7 crew were waiting on the steps of the State Capitol. After an interview with reporters I went to the office of Governor Philip E. Batt and he signed in my ledger, Thank you for your visit to Idaho. I appreciate your determination to promote world peace. You are to be commended for your stamina and the time you spend on this project. In addition to such a nice greeting Phil handed me the Certificate of a Goodwill Ambassador. It was a well-orchestrated show as I watched it later on the evening news.
From given me booklet I found that the Governor and practically all the elected state officials belong to the Republican Party; the Congressional delegation and Legislative leadership are completely Republican as well. They keep the economy of the State in good health, lowering taxes and attracting new technology enterprises.
That night I decided to spend at the grounds of Les Boise Park Race Track and was greeted by its officials very warmly. They found a stall for my horse and called the best farrier Jackson Howard.
And he came - a picturesque cowboy with long moustaches and an open smile. Howard had served in Vietnam as he wrote in my diary, from December,68, to January,70, in 173rd Airborne, 2/503 Infantry and have no regrets about those times. It took him about two hours to shoe my horse but he didnt take any money. Just wrote in my ledger, Good Luck on the trip. Hope the shoes work. Thanks, Howard, they really did!

PROMISE KEEPERS
August 6

I decided to go farther down Rte.44 and very soon was roadsided by a group of three Russians from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York. Alexander and his colleagues were exploring the Wild West for business opportunities.
In Russia he used to be a poet and a member of the International Pen Club. After immigration to this country he found very soon that you cant survive here by writing poetry so he opened a business for helping other immigrants to apply for citizenship or transfer money from Russia to the U.S. and vice versa. Business is booming and he has no time for such bull as poetry, he found himself.
When I got to the town of Eagle, I was invited to the Senior Citizen Center for dinner and socializing with its inhabitants. Seniors wield some very important political power in this country and politicians dont miss an opportunity to talk with them and lure them into their own camp. For todays dinner-party came Vernon Bisterfeldt, Chairman of Commissioners Board, Ada County.
The Chairman was talking about his impact on the welfare of older people, and after him I was talking about my love for Americans, but the Senior Citizens were preoccupied with their delicious fried chicken in soy sauce; their hearings were switched off.
Many of them signed my ledger with good wishes. Mary Hess signed a document stating that I was granted forever membership in this center, which could be useful later on after my retirement. The center coordinator Carl Hiaring had a very curious pamphlet which he was circulating among the seniors. I dont know its author and Im sorry about that, but I would like to quote it:

FOR ALL THOSE BORN PRIOR TO 1945
WE ARE SURVIVORS!!!
Consider changes we have witnessed:
We were before television, before penicillin, before polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the PILL.
We were before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams and ballpoint pens; before pantyhose, dishwashers, clothes driers, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip-dry clothing - AND - before Man walked on the Moon!
We got married first and THEN lived together. How quaint can you be? In our times, closets were for clothes, not for coming out of. Bunnies were small rabbits - and rabbits were not Volkswagens. Designer jeans were scheming girls named Jean or Jeanne, and having a meaningful relationship meant getting along well with our cousins.
We thought fast food was what you ate during Lent, and Outer Space was the back of the local theater! We were before house-husbands, gay rights, computer dating, dual careers and commuter marriages. We were before day-care centers, group therapy and nursing homes. We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word processors, yogurt, and guys wearing earrings. For us, time-sharing meant togetherness - not computers or condominiums; a chip meant a piece of wood; hardware meant hardware; and software wasnt even a word.
In 1940, Made in Japan meant junk and the term making out referred to how you did on an exam; McDonalds and instant coffee were unheard of.
We hit the scene when there were 5 and 10 stores where you bought things for five and ten cents. The corner drug store sold ice cream cones for a nickel or a dime. For a nickel you could ride a street car - make a phone call, buy a Pepsi or enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards. You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, but who could afford one; a pity, too, because gas was only 10 cents a gallon!
In our days, cigarette smoking was fashionable, GRASS was mowed, COKE was a cold drink and POT was something you cooked in. ROCK MUSIC was a Grandmas lullaby and AIDS were helpers in the Principals office
We were certainly not before the difference between the sexes were discovered, but we were surely before the SEX CHANGE; we made do with what we had. And we were the last generation that was so dumb as to think you needed a husband to have a baby!
No wonder we are so confused and there is such generation gap! BUT WE SURVIVED!!! What better reason to celebrate?
In many aspects this lamentation concerned me, too. We in Russia have been experiencing even more drastic transformations. What was sacred and untouchable to a Soviet citizen just six years ago - Lenin, Communism, Kolhoz, etc. has become shameful. People still adherent to old Communist values are themselves nowadays considered untouchable, at least by the new generation.
Always and everywhere men prefer equality to liberty and in Soviet Union people had such equality or at least good illusion of it. And when instead of slaves equality we got freedom of choice, we were lost and disappointed. For most of people it was the freedom to be hungry and angry, and for small part of society it was the freedom to plunder of their fellow-citizens.
What was bad is good now, and vice versa. Old values have ceased to exist, but new ones have not yet emerged. Nowadays people are even confused about how to call each other. Before they used to say - hello, tovarich, or citizen. Now this sounds too communistic, so confused citizen now says, hello, man or hello, woman.
While visiting this country in the beginning of last century, French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville predicted that the future belonged to America and Russia. And despite their differences, each of them seems to be marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe. I dont know whether the future of Russia already in the past or we can recuperate after all our current calamities and build better and prosperous Russia. Here, again I have to quote Tocqueville: The great advantage of of the Americans is that they have arrived at a state of democracy without having to endure a democratic revolution; and that they are born equal, instead of becoming so. As the Born again Christian find new approach in faith in Jesus Christ, we also have to transform ourselves in the Born again Russians, and Christians as well. After dinner I left the Center; going down the road I was greeted many times on the way to the town of Star. It was a day filled with learning and meeting some very interesting people.
James Crossley and his friends were on the way to a wedding and invited me to join their company. But first of all I needed a place for my horse.
I managed to chitchat about his membership in the brotherhood of Promise Keepers - Men of Integrity, faithful to God, Wife and Children. These men have regular meetings supporting each other in adherence to monogamy and good family behavior.
I have ambiguous feelings about such reassurance of your vow already given in church. It sounded morally like - I am sure that I am sure.
I preferred the wisdom given to me at the next stop by Susan Mattos, Attorney-at-Law (and a beautiful woman) who gave me a slip of paper with J.A. Dingers saying about who are the true friends: Three men are my friends - he that loves me, he that hates me and he that is indifferent to me. Who loves me teaches me tenderness; who hates me teaches me caution; who is indifferent to me teaches me self-reliance.
Very soon after meeting these people I noticed a two- story red brick building with painted white attic and four massive Doric columns. It was built in pseudo classic style which was characteristic for urban architecture in the end of last century. Across the top of the arched front doors was engraved, 1905 Central Park. In front of this monumental house were beds with flowers, in bonsai pine tree, groups of sentimental sculptures and fountains, with a cast-iron fence guarding this seclusion. I waved from the road and bespectacled man past 50 wearing a suede jacket came out, opened gates, and agreed to accommodate us.
David Bohart used to keep a Bed & Breakfast for Man & Beast - small Inn for people traveling with horses. His house used to be a Public School that hed purchased after its closing many years ago. He was also a very successful Arabian horse breeder and an antique dealer. But all that was in days of old. He lost a lot of money when the Government adopted a new regulation banning horses as an investment shelter.
He closed his Inn and antique business as his main occupation and now devoted his time to his preoccupation - writing a book about his ancestors on his fathers side.
The Boharts came to this country in 1806 from Alsace/Phaltz area of Europe and had lived in many states as whiskey makers, butchers, land speculators and horse-breeders. As a matter of fact they were making good fortunes, but had a tendency to lose it very fast also, a trait retained in Davids generation. At the time of the Civil War, Boharts were on both sides of the firing line.
David managed to collect data for about 12,000 Boharts living in this country, hes been communicating with many of them personally and hopes to publish this book in the near future.
When I asked about his plans after publication, he laughed and said that he still has a lot of research to do for a book about his mothers side of the family as well as more study for the European history of the Boharts (Bucharts?).
His mother is 93 and lives in a retirement center, where David visits regularly. Hes never been married, but has his sweetheart Jody who comes periodically to take care of him. At 58, David looked younger and was definitely more attractive than me, but he suffered an inferiority complex. David even rejected my request to make a snapshot of him because of his alleged ugliness.
Being a hermit by birth and self-castigation, he always felt better off with his animals and flowers. David is a member of many agricultural organizations, including Cattle and Arabian Horses Association and raises rare varieties of chrysanthemums.
The English are better known for their eccentricity, but I was privileged to be meeting their American counterpart, a brand of people who make life different and interesting. God bless them. Amen!
I also felt privileged sleeping free of charge in the Northwest Room, which used to be the best, and the most expensive in his Inn: $45.00 a night, while Vanya made a midnight tour of the flower beds, eating and nutriting them.

IDAHO OREGON
August 7

Becky OMeara, reporter for the Muddleton Gazette, came the next morning and persuaded David to come out on the porch for a snapshot. It was a kind of torture for David, but he managed to overcome his shyness and even talked with Becky about his book, which shed never heard about before. She invited me to come in to Middleton for a meeting with the Mayor and other city officials, and I didnt mind.
Down Rte. 44, I was flagged down by Pat Mechtel and her son Kevin to share breakfast with their family. A few years ago Pat and her husband Ed had gotten sick and tired of living in the crowded, drug-infested Poughkeepsie, New York. They relocated here to enjoy the pristine life of the rural America; they dont regret the move at all.
After a fattening, cholesterol-impregnated, and delicious because of this meal, I barely made a mile before I was stopped again by Mike Vincent who asked whether I need any help fixing Vanyas harness.
I sure did. The horse collar was too big and constantly rubbed against my horse shoulder making a sore on his shoulder. Mike used mobile phone to call his father Jerry and explained the problem. Jerry Vincent was the owner of the Flying Enterprises, a company that sells saddles, tack and metal stall equipment. In 20 minutes he came and inserted a soft cushion to the relieve pressure on the right shoulder. Vanya and I almost kissed him in our appreciation.
The central square of Middleton sported a Sherman tank as its main decoration; looking at it, I found that Russian custom of decorating their squares with T-34 tanks wasnt extremely original.
I was greeted by bearded Mayor Lee Swigert and other dignitaries of this beautiful town of 2,081. In response to their greetings I said something trivial; like that Russians are now coming to America not with tanks but with horses. But seriously speaking, I found this town the friendliest in this whole country.
Driving closer to the Old Rte. 30, I noticed with regret a multiple housing development in progress; perhaps they were building mostly for followers of the Mormon faith because their temples were brand new, too. Wilderness was under constant assault even in this rural countryside.
Farther up the road, I heard the sound of music apparently coming from a garage. I couldnt miss free entertainment and pulled closer to find an old-timer playing on an electronic organ the religious hymn, How Great Thou Art!
The musician, Virgil Van Zante, enthusiastically greeted my horse and me and asked his daughters and sons-in-law to take care of us. His daughter Adrianna was married to a Spanish man,
Dominico Pacheco, and Kathy to a black man John Chase. Such trans-racial marriages are quite rare in rural America, but my hosts werent ordinary either.
After watering my horse and giving him a lot of apples, they showed me a beautiful mini-garden with a fountain and gypsum sculptures in European style. Virgils ancestors came here from Holland and he has kept an attachment to his roots. He proudly announced that he had in his possession a piece of very precious China. But when I asked to see it and didnt find at least 12 traditional Chinese elephants around, he said that its a bit inconvenient to show - a piece of Chinese shell-splinter was in his buttock where it rested since the time of the Korean War.
But it didnt prevent him from sitting at his organ to play The Wonder of It All and John 3:16, For God so loved the world, which he gave his only begotten Son... Under this joyful music I left my hospitable hosts and proceeded to the town of Sand Hollow for camping.
Mistakenly, I tethered my horse to a wooden fence that guarded a dormitory for mildly retarded people and asked for a shelter. But the management decided that I wasnt retarded enough for their facility and directed me across the street to the place of Mr. Wallace, who had a very good grazing field and agreed to accommodate us. His horse wasnt so happy with a new neighbor but being very old had no stamina to defend her ground.
Mr. Wallace, along with his son, has been in the business of constructing all those subdivisions that I saw on the way here. He wasnt happy facilitating more neighbors around but said, How I can back the trend when theyre paying good money. What was surprising, all that time while I was there, parked to his sons house, neither he nor his wife approached to me or even hailed. I even thought that he was influenced by that retardation field emanated from across the street.
Mr. Wallace gave me ride to the farm of his other son who was also in the construction business. Farming was only a side occupation to keep the land alive and productive. He rotated crops on his fields giving rest to soil once every seven years by not planting anything. One acre of land yields him hay valued at just $100, but the acre of potatoes generates about $600.
Back at my camp, I decided to pay a visit to the Sand Hollow Cafe next-door where I happened to meet Michael Disotell, a production manager in the entertainment business. He was proud recalling his work with Madonna, Bruce Springstein and other celebrities but they werent from my stud of breeding.
Mikes hobby was biking and, I guess, philosophy, because in my ledger he wrote: Since Im living my dream too...just my heart can travel on. Peace to you...But remember - Nature abhors a naked singularity. Even now I have no idea what he meant because I was more or less dressed.
But maybe I was dressed in a peculiar way because the next morning when I went to the cafe to wash myself before breakfast, its manager, Duane Cone, told me laughing, that seeing me the first time she thought that I was a bum just passing their area.
Vanya was happy to work after good pasturing and a lot of grain. It was a time when things were getting ripe and we were stopping along the road for rest sometimes under pear or apple trees. I taught Vanya to be giraffe and pick fruit not from the ground but straight from the branches.
He was a good student, but our happy life was interrupted by Bud Reifsnyder, Police Chief of Fruitland. Somebody from a passing car had called him up about a man and horse eating fruit along the road, and allegedly violating something. I despise this brand of concerned citizen and call them moral watch-jackals.
Because these trees were growing along the road and didnt belong to anybody particular, Bud didnt write me a citation, but invited me to stop in his office for cup of coffee and added his police badge to my collection.
Fruitland is the self-proclaimed capital of watermelon - a slice of it was painted on the top of a water tower and I was impressed with this unused advertisement for watermelon sale written on piece of cardboard: Welcome to the Capitol of H2O - MELONS. Cool - isnt it?
Behind Palisades Bar & Grill I noticed big tree making good shade and decided to rest beneath it with can of cold Coke. Inside the bar just few patrons were sipping their beer. One of the patrons was playing videogame and overheard my conversation with customers about finding a good place for my horse tonight.
When I returned to Vanya, that man approached and suggested that I stay on his ranch where he raises the Paint and Quarter horses. Mr. McCarty even made drawing to make it easier to find him. He was free that night but the next day he would go to Salt Lake City for an auction. As he proudly assured, every month he sells or buys horses for more than $100,000. He kept about 150 elite studs and mares on his ranch, he told me.
When I arrived at the location he directed me to, none of the farmers or ranchers near by had ever heard such a ranch or such a person like Mr. McCarty. On my way back to the downtown Payette I noticed this gentleman who was supposed to be my host driving horse-trailer, and I waved to him in hopes hed stop and show me his ranch, but he drove by indifferently.
Probably hed followed to be sure that I was fooled completely. His role of big shot was over and now he was just a plain cowardly skunk.
My horse was exhausted and no grazing field in sight in downtown of Payette. But out of blue a young couple came with their truck and suggested we drive five more miles to their ranch across Snake River in Oregon State. I had no option so with big apology to Vanya and with many stops we managed to cross the state border and come to the State of my dreams - Oregon.
 
OREGON
August 9

 My next hosts, Aaron and Lavora Blackburn, were both raised in the dysfunctional families. They met when Aron was 16 and Lavora was 13, and have lived together since. From age of 10 Aaron has been working and supporting himself and later his whole family. Now the couple is 22 and 19, and bringing up a three year-old son. Aaron recently managed to buy 7 acres of land, built house and acquire three horses - despite all the odds. Lavora, self-respecting and hospitable lady of the house, served us dinner and disclosed her plans to open some kind of Inn or resting place for people traveling along the old Oregon Trail. Because of proximity of their ranch to the trail I suggested they name it as Oregon Trail Ark.
 Because, of their tough life experiences, the Blackburns gained wisdom, which attracts a lot of friends to their house. They've forgiven their parents and are now on good terms with them. Aaron found a good job with a company that builds mobile homes and just recently he bought a brand-new truck. They found spare room for me and I enjoyed a good bug-free night. But, waking up quite early, I found nobody in the house. Hitching my horse, I was approached by Lavora and her mother who had come from hospital with a grim story. Driving to work in his truck, Aaron had been rammed from behind by an even bigger truck carrying five Mexicans. An emergency ambulance came, but his bruises were not life-threatening. However, his brand-new truck was wrecked. Police found that neither the driver nor the passengers of second truck had any ID or insurance, but the Mexicans couldn't be arrested because those perpetrators pretended to be injured and were transported to the local hospital. Very possible, they will escape from there with no penalty. With a bandage around his head Aaron was driven to work by his wife.
 I left my young hosts in sorrow and hope that they will overcome and this calamity. They were descendant of those pioneers who came to this land in the middle of last century and overcome all the elements to make their life bearable. They hope were good expressed in lines of a pioneer woman:
 When God made man,
 He seemed to think it best
 To make him in the East,
 And let him travel West.
 In earlier days of 1840th, each settler was allowed here to clear a likely piece of fertile land of generous size - 640 acres - provided he filled a claim and built a house within half of the year. Between settlers was popular tract written by an Oregon enthusiast: "As far as as its producing qualities are concerned, Oregon cannot be outdone whether in wheat, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, peas, potatoes, turnips, cabbages, onions, parsnips, carrots, beets, currants, gooseberries, strawberries, apples, peaches, pears or fat and healthy babies. Emigrants heard from another local sage that in Oregon, "the pigs are running about under the great acorn trees, round and fat, and already cooked, with knives and forks sticking in them so that you can cut off a slice whenever you are hungry."
The sense of humor about harsh settlers' life on the frontier was expressed in writing of one of them: "I never saw so fine a population as in Oregon. They were honest, because there was nothing to steal; sober, because there was no liquor; there were no misers because there was no money; they were industrious, because it was work or starve."
 Going up the Ferry-Ontario Highway which goes along Highway 95 I had an opportunity to see a variety of crops and irrigation methods. Fields of onions were mostly irrigated with the sophisticated water-saving method of micro-irrigation straight to the ground. But the majority of cropland was serviced by sprinkling pivots moving slowly on wheels, making circles, half-circles or quarter of circles, depending on the size and shape of irrigated fields. To install these pivots cost the farmers about $25,000 but it pays back with increased productivity in a few years.
 Farmers of Japanese origin are common in this part of Oregon and are really the best in cultivating onions and sugar beets. They also were the first to use micro-irrigation, I learned from George Marishiqe, specialist in modern method of irrigation, in the Shelly's Country Cafe, in town of Ontario. When I left my last stop, I foolishly hadn't filled up a plastic drum with spare water figuring that driving along the Snake River I'd be able to get water any time. But the road was climbing up hills, while the river was flowing deep down below in the canyon with no way to reach it. The temperature jumped from 102 up to 107 degrees and Vanya was getting dehydrated and exhausted. I needed water immediately; otherwise I will loose my horse. I tried to think who on this rural road might have some spare water and concluded I should stop at an RV camper. I was lucky when the first RV to come along stopped, and a couple of senior citizens shared not only their spare water with Vanya but cold Coke with me.
Coming down hill, we found a good field of alfalfa and stopped for grazing. Jerry Strickland, its owner, showed up very soon but instead of castigating and chasing me out, he suggested I call Bob Lynch, whos Riverbed Ranch was very close. Using his mobile phone he negotiated my arrival with Bob and signed a farewell in my ledger. Robert Lynch's farmhouse was built on the curvy banks of the Snake River where he claimed one mile of river-front as his private property. He was happy to share his bachelor's house with me and located a good grazing field for Vanya. The heat had increased considerably so I asked his permission to stay one day more for a rest, and he didn't mind.
 Bob with the First Marine Division had fought Japs in assaults on Guadalcanal and Okinawa and had lost his left lung in those battles. Even so, he served in the Marine Corps eight more years and had acquired a good collection of Japanese armory. His most precious possession, a hara-kiri dagger, is valued about $500,000 and for reasons of safety is kept in bank vault. Receiving a lump of money after his honorable discharge, Bob opened a plumbing company in the Bay area of California and sold it 30 years later, when it grown to 65 employees. He invested his money in a 1,400 acre ranch in California, but soon decided to find a less populated area and came here, purchasing 330 acres for $500 each; its market value is now $2,000. He was the first I'd met of those "rich Californians" despised by locals who supposedly buy out "the most precious pieces of land," and I liked him.
 Bob spent his Golden Years ranching, hunting and collecting Indian artifacts. I'd never heard before Bob told me that American Indians used to make arrowheads by heating them in fire and dripping cold water on them for easier chipping. As he said good bye, Bob invited me for geese hunting in August, especially hunting down Canadian geese. Because of their high reproductive rate they are pushing out native geese from their natural habitats. These birds create a big environmental problem all around this country and are considered by many ecologists as a pest. Coming close to Huntington I decided to weigh my vehicle on huge tractor-trailer scales. I got a receipt from the weight master, Jay Shultz, stating that my expedition weighed 3,000 pounds. So, the 1,600 pounds of Vanya were working pulling a 1,400 pound load - not so much for such a mighty creature. In the middle of Huntington I found good pasture on a recreation field close to the house of Ken Kowalski. Ken came out and gave me a lot of cucumbers and tomatoes grown in his own vegetable garden. I guess that it was the first time in his life Vanya had tasted such delicious vegetables, organic, they are called nowadays. But he was even more delighted pulling the buggy to our next stop across from the grocery store of Tricia McLean. She urged me to take from shelves whatever I liked, free of charge. Overpowering my native greed, I picked two jerky, a bag of sunflower seeds, and a pack of M&Ms with peanuts.
 But Tricia shamed me saying that I hadn't taken anything for Vanya. She handed me some "Apple treats" - candies made especially for horses that look like apples. And Vanya was happy again! I tried to find the night rest in the abandoned town of Lime, which probably was named for the already closed lime factory. But the field around the abandoned schoolhouse was overgrown with inedible weeds. Farther uphill, I noticed a newly built house and decided to try my luck there. When I buzzed, a man of middle-age with anxious eyes showed up behind the screen-door. I explained him my adventure, but his response was quite harsh: "I would never let a stranger come into my home." OK, adios amigo!
 Despite Vanya's exhaustion, we made four more miles before noticed on the right a big ranch with good pastures; I decided to pull in there. A bit surprised, the owner came out and first of all wanted to know how I'd managed to drive across his cattle-guard. My Vanya was able to do it if the railings weren't more than five inches from each other. Pat and Roy Valentine kept their ranch as a side business, raising cattle and inviting tourists to try their luck at gold panning. They deliver the dirt containing bits of gold from an abandoned mine and charge tourists $2.50 to washed out one gold pan in a tank of water. The tourists take all the bounty. They sometimes even add some small nuggets to raise interest and delight children. Additionally, they sell gold sand in plastic packages along with instructions: "This material is guaranteed to contain flakes of real gold. Put the material in a clean, crease free gold pan, cover with water and move in circular motion. It sometimes helps to tap the rim of the pan with the edge of the palm of your hand to settle the gold to the bottom of the pan before tipping the pan in more water to let the waves gently wash up and over the material. This will wash out the excess dirt and rock and leave some fine sand and your gold."
 Pat and Roy have even established a private museum of the gold mining with their collection of old mining tools and pans. They presented me with a plastic bag with golden sand and a pan for washing it out. I haven't done yet. I'm still saving it for even more rainy day than now. Florence Calvert, Pat's mother came from Mesa, Arizona, to visit her daughter and to fish in this area with her boyfriend, a retired banker from Portland. She's 83, and likes ballroom dancing; recently she has discovered in herself the artist's talent and now makes good water-color paintings, one of which she gave me. Looking at her I was inspired with the hope that later on I may dig-out some hidden talent and bless humankind with own masterpiece of something ingenious. While the men were out fishing, Florence was sitting on a swing singing something melodious from her childhood - she was young again at 83.
 
Baker City
August 12

In area of Farewell Bend State Park, the Old Oregon Trail deviates from the comfort of following the Snake River and turns north-west. Than it went along the Burnt River, followed by the Durkee and Alder Creeks which valleys more hospitable and homey than that wild river. My predecessors found this shortcut from the Farewell Bend to the Biggs Junction at the Columbia River, and I followed it too. The landscape was beginning more picturesque, the rocks of the Blue Mountains resembled the humps of dinosaurs fossilized instantly by the great magician.
Pulling in at a gas-station in the town of Durkee, I was greeted by Kathleen McKow who opened the gates at the side of the cattle-guard and took care of us sending Vanya to graze in a green field and inviting me for a lunch at the Wagon Wheel restaurant. There I was served by so gorgeous and hospitable waitress, that I had no choice but leave a good tip, even paying nothing for my lunch.
After a good rest we got back on the road and soon found ourselves in the most miserable town ever seen along the road. Almost all the houses in Durkee were in disrepair or falling apart. Through open garage doors I could see couches or mattresses with homeless-looking inhabitants resting on them (perhaps they were cautious lodging in those houses).
Piles of garbage and remnants of junked cars were all around. On a piece of plywood was written, Welcome to Durkee, but it was nailed down in a vertical position to the corner of an abandoned house and to read it you had to crook your neck. Behind a pile of discarded furniture and rolls of wire on a warped and whitewashed board was written, Durkee is heaven to us, please: dont drive like Hell through it.
It surely wasnt addressed to me, but I wanted to meet any tenant or squatter of this poor town and finally one came. An old man in long briefs and fur slippers came out of the shack and introduced himself as Clif Gerry. I didnt understand whether he was the Mayor or town councilman but the main topic of his oration was about the refusal of younger people to take care of their own town. I thought it more likely that this town was just cursed and waiting for a saviors to revitalize it. Sadly, I was too busy to perform such a task.
Farther down the road, I was sided by a couple driving truck who asked about my destination. After a short talk the unshaved man suggested can of Old Milwaukee beer. When I asked whether they have instead just can of Pepsi, they burst out laughing, saying that they never drink such.
After crossing the railroad tracks I was stopped by another couple driving station-wagon who suggested we stay at their place just a mile down the road. Bob and Bev Dunkel were renting their little dilapidated house on the prairie with two grown sons and three horses. Before going to paddock, Vanya found peach tree in the backyard and enjoyed its fruits very much, tasting these for the first time in his life.
My hosts were in love with horses and, I guess, knew much more about them than I. Bev gave Vanya his very first grooming and it was news to me that the horse supposed to be groomed on regular basis.
Bob was truck driver and hed seen me crossing Nebraska two months ago. Because of his job he hardly even home and earns about $40,000 a year; his older son is already 18 and soon will join him making Bobs life easier. Bev was busy and had no time to cook something extravagant, so she fixed pasta with fried ground meat. Housewives in Russia also make such kind of fast food and call it Macaroni a la Navy (Makarony po Flotstky), because this dish is common in Russian Navy.
The next morning, in the outskirts of Baker City, I noticed a workshop Double W., Inc. and pulled there to find help with my horseshoes. I needed new drill-tacks durable metal and at this shop they were welding such a metal on edges of crushing machine used in mining. Kevin and Laurie Woodworth promised to do the work for me and bring it to the place where I was staying that night.
In 1861, gold was discovered in Baker County by miners searching for the mythical Blue Bucket Mine. Since then Baker City has been a center of the mining industry. Many historic buildings here are reminiscent of the ornate architecture of early gold rush days.
I was making my way to the Fair Grounds, when tall, muscular man in his late 30s sided me and introduced himself as Roy Anderson. He was brother-in-law of my earlier host Craig Floyd from Utah. Craig had phoned to Roy and asked him to meet and accommodate me on his ranch five miles west of Baker City. Hed just happened to come to the Fair Grounds for an exhibition of new ranching technology and had noticed my caravan on the way.
Roy moved to this area from Utah because there was not so much available land left there. Since Mormons have big families, the price of land skyrockets in areas where they settle. Here Roy managed to buy 640 acres of irrigated land and kept it in a good shape. He would like to buy more land but in this area, too, there are more buyers then sellers. Ron explained how to reach his place and left to take care of his 500 heads of cattle.
On the way to Roys ranch I was roadside by a woman holding small girl who looked very Asian in appearance. Christina Wood had just recently come from China with her adopted daughter, whod never seen horses and was scared by Vanya. Christina invited me to stay at her place but I already had an engagement with the Andersons.
Rays wife Mary Ellen organized dinner-party inviting all neighbors and university friend of Ray, Linden Greenhalgh, from town of North Powder. He wanted to share with me his experience of living in Russia.
Just couple years ago Linden with his professor had gone to southern part of Russia and spent a few months introducing the process of artificial insemination of cattle to a big collective farm. The quality of elite frozen spermatozoids was outstanding but it was hard to find the liquid helium to preserve it. To measure the improvement in milk production, they had to know the original daily productivity of cows. This data could only be given by milk-women attending those cows. Eventually, he found soon the data werent available. Each woman was taking some of the milk from the farm to her home for resale, hiding the real numbers from the farms management.
  The management, in turn, didnt like the idea of disclosing the real productivity of their stock to foreigners and would also falsify data.
To ward off these annoying Americans so foolishly persistent in their quest helping Russians to improve their stock, officials spread rumors that these Mormons came here to convert aborigines to their sect. Besides, people couldnt stand that these Americans didnt drink or smoke and avoided any promiscuous behavior. This black cloud of intolerance finally made impossible further artificial insemination of Russian cows and customs.
Roy and Mary let me stay day longer to rest up and also to wait for a horseshoer who was busy with other clients. In the meantime, Mary gave me a ride back to Baker City to learn a little more it, and to visit the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center on the Flagstaff Hill.
The Center features both permanent and changing displays of historical artifacts and replicas illustrating the Oregon Trail journey and former life in the Northwest. The museum staff was very enthusiastic about my expedition and gave me a T-shirt with a picture of the Oregon Trail.
Three years ago they celebrated 150 years since the beginning of the Quest to West down the Oregon Trail. The Oregon State Mint, Inc. had pressed memorabilia coins in honor of it. When I stopped at their shop, managers Terry Karp and Richard Secriest, gifted me with these coins in recognition of my role in the celebration of this Trail.
In Richards office for the first time in my life, I was given to hold an 80 oz. gold nugget with a market value of $80,000; it even had the own name Grandpa. Never before or since have had I held in my hands anything so valuable, the size and shape of a badly made pancake. I placed it on a page of my ledger and made a contour of it. Somebody was pretty lucky digging it out and finding his Mother Lode.
This mint makes special golden medals for Gay and Lesbian Alcoholics Anonymous persuasion (GLAA), as well as a lot of other commemorative medals. I decided to stay Anonymous and didnt buy such a compromising ID.
Walking around the streets of this prosperous town, I noted that people carefully preserved its heritage and identity. There arent any big shopping malls around as in most of medium-size towns across this country, and most of people know and greet each other.
During my trip Id been collecting photos of the most remarkable mailbox supports Ive seen and here on the main road I saw a good one. Welded from iron, was a semi-abstract sculpture of a couple driving a carriage pulled by a mailbox instead of horse. Not far from there I found another support - this one made from a shopping-cart. It belonged to Mr. York, who was a retired shopkeeper, according to his neighbors.
Back home, I was happy to find the farrier Art Shor who for $50 changed my horses shoes but he wasnt very familiar with draft horses, so I was concerned how long these shoes would last. The hardtacks welded by the Woodworth brothers were quite durable but slippery on the road and later on I had to change them for boric ones.
That evening was dedicated to celebration of the Mormon history. The Mormon Exodus to Utah Territory was only the beginning of emigrant travel on the overland route. Thousands of converts followed in succeeding years. Besides religious freedom, moving to Zion offered the hope and opportunity of economic freedom, especially for European refugees. To help them, the Latter Day Saints Churchs Perpetual Emigration Fund financed expenses for tens of thousands of emigrants. But a grasshopper plague of 1855 cut short these funds and instead of large wagons, handcarts were pulled by humans desperate to find the Promised Land.
One young Scots woman - Margaret Dalgish - continued to pull her handcart despite offers to load her possessions onto a wagon and ride. She set her shoulder to the wheel through snow and cold until, coming to a cliff overlooking the Salt Lake Valley, she saw the end of her journey. Margaret took her handcart loaded with all her mundane goods, pushed it over the cliff, and devoutly walked into the valley to begin a new life from a scratch. (Personally, I dont buy this legend because of its absurdity.)
This heroic period of Mormon history was celebrated on the Andersons ranch. With some friends, they gathered teenaged girls from the neighborhood and euhemerized a small taste of those hard and magnificent times.
To re-enact the handcart trail they chose to travel of about a mile from a crossroads to the ranch. No handcarts were available so the girls pushed wheelbarrows loaded with their friends and overturning them frequently. It was a lot of fun rather than a hardship, but the next task was more challenging - to collect gooseberries and chicken eggs.
A big campfire was started and about 20 girls congregated around it. They had no choice but eating beans with meat that had been cooked by their parents, and listening to stories about their heroic ancestors.
Everybody was singing and dancing around bonfire, young girls were happy to be free in expression.
I offered to teach them how to bake potatoes with no aluminum foil wrapping, just by putting the potato on the bottom of their bonfire and covering it with hot ash and burning wood. In an hour potatoes were ready and everybody got her half with margarine and a sprinkle of salt on top. Their fingers and lips were black but taste of this exotic food was delicious for these kids raised on prepackaged food.
Four Anderson children participated in this adventure. Katelyn was about 12. I immediately fell in love with her as I watched how she was took care of her animals - hens named Henrietta and Lady Cock, geese Tag and Swanky, horses Nick and Grit, and her dog Lou.
Before the girls congregated around the bonfire, she painted herself like an Indian warrior and jumped out from behind a bush hoping to scare them to death. Sadly, she was too small to impress her adversaries.
When early in the morning, I went out to the porch to puff on my pipe, I found Ray sitting in a swing chair reading The Book of Mormon. His youngest son Kleston showed up later, and seeing me smoking, was so astonished that he ran back to call his friend to see this wonder of smoke coming from my mouth. Nobody in this surroundings smoked either cigarettes or pipes.
For a farewell, Rays older daughter Amanda made a painting of my horse, her brother Quinn made a drawing of my trail with wild animals along the road; the Blue Mountains were painted green and a huge golden sun roused smiling on us from the horizon. My love Katelyn painted a bouquet of tulips, roses and violets; her brother Kleston wasnt good with drawing yet - he just greased his small palm with charcoal and left an imprint on a sheet of paper.
Their mother left in my ledger a following note, Anatoly, you have given our family a new adventure - one that we will remember throughout our lives! Our home is always open.
As a family, we would like to share with you our most precious gift - our love and testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It binds our family and gives us a direction through eternity. Christ is our Savior and our Heavenly Father loves us. We have a prophet who is his mouthpiece today. We experience miracles every day. Love. The Andersons.
Thank you friends for your generosity and such a warmhearted farewell!

BLUE MOUNTAINS
August 15

Back on Old Highway 30, I was lucky to meet Diane Pearson, Stephen Hart and Terry Drever Gee. All three were members of a delegation representing the interests of Baker City/County and were going to Russia to sign an agreement with representatives of the Zeya/Amur Region about friendship and business cooperation between the two sisters cities/regions. This agreement was typed on an official form of City of Baker City. The purpose of project was:
- To facilitate cultural exchanges to build stronger understanding between people;
To develop a student exchange program to enhance the international awareness in each community for primary and secondary To exchange delegations of specialists in different industries, education, tourist groups, amateur art groups, sportsmen, literature and art professionals;
To exchange information on city life and local government activities with the purpose of sharing experiences in municipal economic development, industry, education, health care, social maintenance, trade, culture, etc.;
To encourage commerce and technological assistance. 
Like Baker County, the economy in the Zeya/Amur Region of Russia is derived from a natural resource base. Mining, energy production, timber, agriculture, commercial hunting, and tourism. Ironically, there was over a gold rush in Amur Region about 1860, just a year before Henry Griffin discovered gold a few miles southwest of Baker City.
If on the Oregon Trail pioneers traveled from east to west, in Russia they went from west to east, but their goals were the same - to find a better place to live, a quest for freedom and economic independence.
There are a lot of similarities and parallels in the histories of our two countries, which cast the characters of our nations very similarly. An oppressive Communist regime kept Russians in a harness of ignorance and even fear of the nation living on opposite shore of Pacific Ocean for more than 70 years. But this regime has ceased to exist and now cooperation between peoples of our countries is growing.
Actually, differences between political systems of our countries didnt prevent their good relationships in last century. Especially they were warm at the time of the Civil War in this country, when England and France planned to invade this country and take back their former possessions.
But according secret agreement between Lincoln and Emperor Alexander II, Russia sent to America two fleets. One came to San-Francisco harbor, and another fleet was moored close to New York City. After this gesture of good will and good muscles, plans of invasion were cancelled.
Perhaps about that time, American delegation came to St. Petersburg and between other gifts, handed to the Emperor a few acorns from the oak tree grown on the site of George Washingtons grave site. They were planted on the small island in the middle of Olgin Pond, in Noviy Petergof.
A few years ago, I happened to be there and found that that small acorn of friendship had grown in mighty oak tree and even Bolsheviks had have no guts to cut it down.
On the road I met a wide variety of people coming to this region to enjoy its beauty and to meet with its people. August is month of vacations and many foreigners are wandering on roads of America as well.
Asuka Izumi from Yokohama, Japan, came here to study English in a student-exchange program, but wrote her wishes hieroglyphic inviting me to drive across her country. But I dont think that its a worthwhile trip - you could cross Japan even at my speed in just a couple of weeks.
Finding a good field of alfalfa I stopped on it for a sin of illegal grazing and very soon was detected by its owner Gary Krame and his friend Stewart Schuldt. They recommended that I relocate to a more convenient field with a fence around it, and Steve invited me to sleep at his house.
He works as a ranch hand, earning $1,000 a month, and his wife April is in the business of cleaning houses; together they manage to make ends meet. Their spare time they dedicate to community service as volunteer medical technicians. The following day Steve was planning to join hundreds of professional and volunteer fire-fighters in an effort to extinguish a fire in Whitman National Forest.
Stewart had served for three years in the Navy and fought in Vietnam, after that hed moved to California to enjoy a biker life style riding on his Harley-Davidson. But with age he came to prefer slower pace and for three months was driving mules from California to Washington State.
Since that time hed saved a leather harness in good condition and was happy to give it up for my horse - finally all my plastic harness was exchanged for leather. But I found that plastic reins are in some way better than leather ones - they get less tangled and wet.
Stewart gave me a ride to my next potential rest area down Rte. 30. When I asked him why he used his old truck instead of his new one, he admitted being ignorant about these new vehicles with computers-shmoputers in the engine.
I used to have the same problem with my car, but finally decided that horses are better. On my way the next morning I was greeted by the Pratt family, friends of my hosts in Huntington, the Valentines. This kind of relay of friendship was common along most of my road across this country. Ronald Pratt wrote in my ledger, Good luck on your vast trip. You help people of the world understand how much we have in common. Cheers.
Bob Tuck, massive as a retired Arnold Schwartzeneger, was traveling with his wife Nancy in a camper, and combined pleasure with business buying antlers and selling them later to craftsmen. I was sorry that I didnt have his entrepreneurial skills so I could make some money down the road.
The road was getting prettier with a dense forest growing on the slopes of Craig Mountain. In Ladd Canyon the slopes came too close, squeezing the road from both sides. My horse, accustomed to wider spaces didnt like it at all and started running in a desperate hope to get to the safety of open range. I barely escaped collision with an oncoming truck and had to lead Vanya for a while to soothe him down.
The rest area at Grand Ronde valley was closed to cars because of sewage spill but I figured out that I didnt belong to the majority of car-drivers and being a minority was subject to preferential treatment under affirmative action. At least my horse was, being sexually deprived and castrated. Using such an excuse I pulled in to the green lawns of the rest area.
Since this area was far from the main road, I decided to let Vanya graze on the trimmed lawns with only hobbles on. He wanted to roll over to relieve the itching from his harness but couldnt get back up because of the hobbles so I had to let him wander free.
Keeping an eye on him, I went to the interpretive center for information about this region, and found that my predecessors had experienced the same kind of problems Id had going down the steep hills of a gorge. Brakes didnt work to slow down the wagons so they had to use ropes to secure a smooth descent into the valley. Albigart Scott, an emigrant of 1852, called this valley, Garden of the world, and still it is.
Returning to Vanya, once again I learned how important it is to be alert working with a horse - I wasnt careful applying an ointment to Vanyas shoulder sore and he bit my face very painfully and with bloodshed. A scar is left as a memory of this mishap. But I palliated myself recalling that a scar on a mans face is a decorative mark of his honor.
For the first time on our trip, Vanya slept all night laying down on his side - my naughty boy, he earned a good rest.

PROSELYTES
August 17

I was driving down Foothill Road, thinking about how lucky I was to be seeing this picturesque valley. Its jewel, the city of La Grande, named in honor of the areas beauty. Fruit trees grew along the road, and Vanya and I enjoyed eating apples and pears as much as we liked with no charge for it.
In the La Grande I was greeted by Terry Griffin who called herself a Union County Ambassador. I was a beet jerk up recalling that somewhere I was called the Goodwill Ambassador and had a right to be on the same kind of summit. We finished our summit meeting with her invitation to visit Oregon Trail Days Rendezvous being celebrated at the County Fairgrounds, but I decided to stop farther down the road at Blue Mountains Oregon Trail Park.
Old Oregon Trail Highway ran along the Grande Ronde River, and the beauty of this countryside so overjoyed me that I decided to return here sometime later and stay forever. Sitting in such a state of meditation on a bank of the river while I let Vanya have a rest, I was approached by two men in their 40s who were filled with the enthusiasm of proselytes. Doug Lussier and Michael Harris were on their way to a meeting with fellow believers in the Christian Church and decided to talk with me about Him.
Missionaries of any faith or religion, especially with such shining eyes and deep inspiring voices drive me crazy and trigger a denial response in me. Especially when I can sit and communicate with God through the flow of such a gorgeous river.
We Russians were raised and drilled by our Communist teacher that Religion is opium of Mankind and even now its hard for me to discuss any religious matters. Doug Lussier felt this attitude and wrote in my ledger, May God reveals himself to you through his Son Jesus - He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. God be with you.
He gave me a card with picture of Jesus Christ. On the back were instructions for what to read in case of hardship, I would like to quote it here:
HELP FROM GODS WORD
When you are afraid...........................Psalm 46
When you are sick..............................Psalm 121
When you are discourage................... Isa. 40:28-31
When you are in sorrow......................Psalm 34
When friends fail you..........................Psalm 27
When you need an ideal.......................1 Cor.13
When you want peace..........................John 14
When you have sinned.........................Psalm 51
When your faith is failing......................Hebrews 11
When you want assurance....................Romans 8
When you you feel misused.................Matt.5:3-10
When you are tempted.........................James 4
When you are discontented................. Phil. 4:4-13
When you are thankful.........................Psalm 95
 
 
Im envious of people who can find answers to all their mundane problems just reading the Bible; unfortunately (or fortunately) I dont belong to them.
Down the road I turned right following a sign for the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, which happened to be far uphill, and after a few miles of driving I bumped into a cattle-guard, which I managed to pass through. But very soon, after driving through a tunnel, I encountered a second cattle-guard with ditches on both sides and no gates to go through. I could not even turn back because there was no room to do it; besides this, a car obstructed the road behind. Its passengers, Tom, Emilie and Matt Kroen, helped to push my wagon across the guard and I walked Vanya across a ditch. My saviors happened to be from Portland and Emily promised to help me with accommodations over there.
Volunteers working at the Interpretive Center explained that there is no way down the Oregon Trail from here; the trail dead ended. To proceed any farther I needed to go back to the crossroad, but because it was getting dark I decided to stay overnight at this place. There was no fence around and almost no grazing grass, however, I had no option but to camp here.
Vanya had broken his hobbles, but he hadnt strayed very far; I found him grazing along the road ditch, where some grass was available. But pretty soon he snorted a few times as felt some wild animal hiding in darkness. Vanya came close to our wagon looking for my protection. I found my tomahawk and was ready defending ourselves to last drop of our blood. Seems, that unidentified animal felt my firmness and decided to back up to his obscurity. But all the night I was sleeping with my weapon handy - fear is good thing to make our life sensible.
Dale Moulton and Frank Leinwebur, volunteers working for the Center brought a big piece of plywood to cover the cattle-guard and facilitate my way back to main road. There was nobody but Vanya and me on this lonely road; the town of Kamela consisted of just one house on the left side of the road, and even no barking dogs were around.
Meacham was more populated, even boasting an Oregon Trail Store & Deli where Cathy Creech served coffee. She told me that pastor of local church of the Seventh-Day Adventists had come here from Russia. I was palliated hearing this. It was good to know that were exporting to the USA not only lumber and Russian Mafioso, but pastors as well.
There was no good place for camping in Meacham so I drove farther on to the Emigrant Spring State Park. It was crowded as Hell. Spending most of my time in the solitude of country roads, Id just forgotten about human crowds and felt there uncomfortable. But everybody was friendly and all of them wanted to touch Vanya; especially happy were the Boy Scouts of Troop 603 from Portland. They fought for the privilege of walking Vanya around and feeding him every available fruit and vegetable.
It was quite unusual camping with a specially allocated area for horsemen with corral and stalls for horses. The park worker and horse-lover, Irene Fitzpatrick drove home to bring hay and grain for Vanya and some food for me. I made a big bonfire and taught the Boy Scouts how to bake potatoes in it and we enjoyed the primitive life. It was great!

 UMATILLA INDIANS
 August 19
 
 Just a couple miles down the Old Emigrant Road I came to the 172,000 acres of Umatilla Indian Reservation. The surrounding hills were barren, only the creek valley was covered with green grass and juniper woods. It seemed that Indians didn't like ranching very much - there were very few cattle grazing on the grassland. The hard washboard-like road traveled by hairpins between hills but I was happier here than on the Interstate 84 with its heavy traffic and exhaust fumes. There was no housing along the road and first shacks begun popping up soaring my eyes by their neglect only when I came downhill approaching to Mission. I noticed a ranch with horses grazing and pulled in to the front yard and asked a woman there for permission to water my horse. She let me use a hose, but chose not to speak with me. A fat man covered with gray hair came out of the house onto the porch and watched me in an irritated silence, telepathically pushing me off of his property. With a feeling of being brain damaged, I made couple more miles and let Vanya graze on the edge of an alfalfa field.
Very soon seen there by the owners of Quimby's Quest ranch and Robert Quimby, M.D., and his wife came offering me a stay at their place. But it was too early for camping and I decided to make it into Mission. I pulled up to the main entrance of the Tribal Office, but all the officials were in a meeting with white-skinned financiers who'd come to finish negotiations about opening a just built hotel for the Wildhorse Gaming Resort. On the way here I'd already been stopped twice by passing cars of senior citizens asking about the location of this Gambling Heaven. I despise gambling, but understand that for many people this adrenaline-bursting habit is a substitutes for some other high as for drinking or drugs. I've never been a moral watch-dog; I may even balance at the opposite end of the moral scale but just so afraid of being caught up in a gambling spree that I have been trying to hate it. Finally the business meeting was over and the white members of it walked straight to cars not paying any attention to my beautiful horse; that turned me against them. But their Indian counterparts went straight to my horse. The younger one with moustaches and ponytail was Dave Tovey, the Director of the Department of Economic & Community Development. The older man with two long braids of crow-black hair was Antone Minthorn, the Chairman of the General Council of Umatilla Tribes. Talking with them, I learned that the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation (CTUIR) have roughly 1,900 enrolled members and is also home to another 1,000 Indians from tribes of Yakama, Warm Springs, and Nez Perce, as well as to nearly 1,700 non-Indians. According to the 1855 Treaty with the U.S. Government, CTUIR reserved their sovereign authority and "the right to govern, to determine (their) destiny, and to control (their) persons, land, water, resources and activities, free of all outside interference throughout (their) homeland."
As a sovereign government, tribal affairs are governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees elected by the General Council which consists of all tribal members of the age of 18 and older. The day-to-day operations of the tribal government are carried out by a staff of nearly 300 employees.
 I was a bit surprised by a proportion of one bureaucrat for each ten Indians; it is much higher even than the average for the U.S. Government. But I believe most of the Indian Reservation's expenses are paid by Uncle Sam. But CTUIR today are rapidly moving toward an economic self-sufficiency by diversifying their Reservation economy. In their pamphlet was mentioned such commercial development as trailer court, grain elevator, and the Wildhorse Gaming Resort and Hotel.
 After our long friendly conversation, Chief Antone Minthorn wrote in a ledger, "Hello Anatoly from Russia! You look like a great Cossack! Can you ride the horse?" Yes, I can - I assured my hosts. Dave Tovey decided to drive me to that gambling place. I'd never been in a casino and was astonished at the sight of people pushing and pulling buttons and handles of state-of-the art gambling machines. No one talked to anybody. They'd come here as individuals to challenge their luck and fortune. Perhaps people like gambling because it gives them an escape from the boredom of every-day life. Anyhow, I didn't spend even a quarter in the casino, but challenged a free drink allowed to gamblers. Dave offered me a free stay at their hotel, but I had to find a grazing place for my horse. Back at the Tribal Office, I asked a young woman in charge of the day-care center to let Vanya graze overnight on a playground for kids that had a lot of grass and was secured by a fence. She couldn't do it without the approval of her boss, who in her turn needed approval of her boss, etc..
Finally, Joseph Ainsworth, an officer of the Umatilla Tribal Police decided to put my horse on the playground on the pretext that otherwise Vanya was endangering himself and the community by wandering around the baseball field and picnic area. Visiting the tribal police office I was surprised to see officers smoking inside, until they explained to me that all those anti-smoking regulations have no power on tribal lands. I was happy finding such an island of smoking freedom in the Ocean of Government Regulations and Persecutions of smokers - last free people of this opinionated society.
 That evening was spent meeting with people who live on this Reservation; many of them opened up enough to tell their life stories. Though just a teenager, Geofrey Joseph was huge as a football player. I met him leaving the field after playing softball. He was 1/2 Hopi and 1/2 Umatilla; his parents divorced a few years ago and since then he's been shuttling between them. When I asked him whether he would like to work at the Wild horse casino, he replied that jobs like security guard or croupier aren't challenging. He would rather work in the construction business than in surrounding of crazy about money whites. Retired police officer Rex Huesties came especially to speak with me about Russia. A Caucasian himself, he was married to Umatilla tribe member Alvina (Burke) Avesties, who was the eldest child of Chief Raymond Toburke. Rex was proud of his affiliation with Indians and raised his children to respect both cultures. In our long conversations I mentioned about my mishap with the ranch owners who almost kicked me off their place. Very wisely Rex explained to me that those ranchers followed their nature to live in the most remote area of Reservation and didn't want to see anybody around, not even a Russian pilgrim. My friend Bob Quimby whom I met earlier along the road arrived very late and brought a lot of food for me and a bale of hay for Vanya. Bob was a WW II veteran and retired physician raising beautiful Appaloosa horses on his ranch, and for their beauty he called these horses, "my drifting snow." When we met each other the first time on the road, some kind of bond was made between us, a feeling that I already knew man. Bob was pretty philosophical about his own life experience saying, "You know Anatoly, after 77 years being on this Earth I finally found that we are getting old too soon and smart too late." Actually that's my strategy in this life - to be stupid as long as possible. I don't like smart asses.
 
HEAVY HORSES
August 20

My stomach ache was back making it necessary consume spoonfuls of baking soda all the night. It doesnt matter whether I drink alcohol or not - this pain is coming just to warn me about something and help me to be humane and vulnerable.
Vanya had a good rest and trotted down busy Court Street in Pendleton in good spirits but I was a bit embarrassed by his leaving behind his road apples. However, I was under protection and escort of Ron Harnden, under sheriff of Umatilla County and Lesly Carnes, manager of the Chamber of Commerce.
Both of them were proud by their Pendleton Round-Up, the biggest and the most known and colorful rodeo in eastern Oregon. It was born in 1908, the year when the Buffalo Bills Wild West Show was on brink of bankruptcy. The aging Cody appeared in a carriage instead of on horseback, his times were over, the public stopped buying tickets on his show.
But it was the proper time for rodeo sprang to full growth. Veterans of the big tents moved into the rodeo arenas. One was Juckson Sundown, a nephew of the heroic Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, who won a riding championship at Pedleton when he was fifty years old. Since then rodeo in this town had become big-time show.
Lesly guided me to pick up two sacks of grain from the shop of Pendleton Grain Growers Inc. and made arrangements for me to pick up a fried chicken at Albertsons supermarket.
Coming out of Pendleton I decided to stop at the welding shop of Richard Mayer to get some hard-tacks put on Vanyas old horseshoes. Richard was busy with his regular work load but decided to donate an hour to help me fix the shoes. Learning that Im from St. Petersburg, he told me that his daughter had just come back home after spending two months there. She liked the architecture of my beautiful city, but was absolutely taken aback by the rough behavior of local males. I commented philosophically that good conduct had never been a forte of Russians - weve always been open in expressing sexual desire. But who is better?
After getting the shoes repaired I proceeded down Old Pendleton Road along Umatilla River. It was a good and lonely road with just a few travelers along it who came here to be themselves, sharing company with Nature alone.
River meandered through a deep gorge and wild animals were grazing on opposite bank; coyotes crossed the road with no concerns for own safety, the disease of housing development had not yet contaminated this countryside.
I switched on my radio and heard that the number population of Americans serving time behind bars has jumped to 1.6 million, meaning that in this country for each 200 law-abiding citizens there is one justice recognizes as a criminal. Is this a reasonable proportion or is it too much for the society? When you have nothing to do, you commit crimes or perhaps have vague thoughts like mine; maybe it is better just to shut up.
But there are so many people making a living by teaching others what to do. For many days Id been listening to Doctor Laura Shlessingers show, on which she demonstrates universal knowledge answering the silly questions of cuckoos lost in this world. She has been bathing in common sense and so much enjoys her own intelligence that I imagine bubbles coming from her mouth.
On the way to town of Hermiston I stopped overnight at the farm of Russ Nekraszewicz, director of the Pendleton Round-Up but he was so busy going to a fund-raising party that we had time just for a short conversation. I did tell him that if he were working in Russia as a road-maintenance man, his wife a medical technician, he could never afford to buy his 180 acres of land, or have horses and cattle. This country is the real land of opportunity for this son of Ukrainian immigrants who came here after WW II.
In Hermiston I went straight to the Fair Grounds knowing that they always have some extra food and a stall for a horse, and they did. Gary Garraud, president of the Umatilla County Fair Board placed my horse in a stall and phoned to their biggest specialist in draft horses, Cy Rooch. Cy came soon to see my horse and help me with the harness. He was 79 and shared company with 30 heavy feathered-legged Clydesdale draft horses.
Cy was a master of team driving and could harness and drive 6 or even 8 horses, which he did mostly for parades or for driving competitions. Just recently, the new management of the Fair Grounds had installed new, but narrower gates and that were not wide enough for Cy to drive his team of horses through. It so frustrated Cy that hed voiced his intention to blown out those damn gates.
Cy belonged to a rare breed of horsemen who used to work with a plow horses and had never given them up. He still used them at his farm. I played for my soul-mate a song Heavy Horses by Jethro Tull:
The Suffolk, the Clydesdale,
The Percheron vie with
The Shire on his feathers floating
Hauling soft timber into the dusk to bed on warm straw coating.
Heavy Horses, move the land under me
Behind the plough gliding---
Slipping and sliding free
Now youre down to the few
And theres no work to do
The tractors on its way.
And one day when the oil barons
Have all dripped dry and the nights are seen to draw colder
Theyll beg for your strength, your gentle power
Your noble grace and your bearing.
And youll strain once again to
The sound of the gulls in the wake of the deep plough, sharing.
  .......................
 In these dark towns folk lie sleeping
As the heavy horses thunder by to wake the dying city
With the living horsemans cry.
At once the old hands quicken
Bring pick and wisp and curry comb---
Thrill to the sound of all
The heavy horses coming home.
 
This song happened to be the hymn of my expedition and Cy very much appreciated it and agreed with its lines, being himself a true preserver and guardian of the ancient art and mastership of real horsemen.

COLUMBIA RIVER
August 22

The next morning Cy brought a new horse collar and grain to my horse; we hugged each other and promised to be in touch. His advice was that I head for Portland by the north side of the Columbia River because of heavy traffic on Highway 84 along the south bank of the river.
Highway 14 was also called Lewis and Clark Highway because their expedition took this track on the way to the Pacific Ocean.
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson ordered two young army officers, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, to lead a mapping exploration to the Pacific coast. They were assigned to cross areas never seen before by white men. In terms of high adventure and risk, the expedition in its time compares to human exploration of space. It was the most extensive, most interesting and most fruitful expedition in the history of the United States.
The expedition was equipped by the state of the art exploring tools and arms. At the Harpers Ferry, the United States Arsenal, they obtained 15 rifles and 15 each of such items as powder horns, scalping knives, gun slings, etc. The rifles were the so-called Model 1803, a forerunner for of the Model 1814, the Common Rifle. If, as seems probable, the expedition of 32 men had in all some 35 rifles, about 20 of them must have been the long barreled Kentucky rifles.
But the most mysterious armament was the air gun purchased by Lewis in the east and brought to the west. Although apparently an excellent weapon for taking small game and deer quietly, the air gun figured as strong medicine to impress the Indians. They were already familiar with flint stocks making sparks, smoke and thunder-clap noise, but the soundless and powerful air gun was Big Magic.
Sergeant John Ordway recorded how the Indians swarmed around asking for gunpowder and our Great Fathers milk that was whiskey. When Lewis fired the rifle, They appeared to be astonished at the sight of it and the execution it would do.
Air guns date buck in sophisticated form to the 1600s and even earlier in Europe. They used to be made in the shape of fire guns or even air canes that fired bullets. Some of them were so powerful that could kill a man at 150 yards.
In the Napoleonic wars a whole regiment of Austrian fusiliers was equipped with air guns. They created such damage and panic that Bonaparte gave orders that any enemy caught with an air gun in his possession was to be summarily executed.
The fabricators of air guns had no power tools, no micrometer calipers, yet they were able to work to such tolerance that the reservoir valves and the pumps withstood pressure of over 500 p.s.i.
The amazing air gun that Lewis sometimes waved about like a magicians wand was indeed calculated to make an impression. Resembling guns instead of a wooden butt had a pneumatic butt reservoir scarcely distinguishable from a regular butt, although it was actually a sheet-metal flask welded strongly to hold pressurized air. And these reservoirs used to hold pressure very well; it was reported that at least one reservoir held its charge undiminished for over sixteen years.
To pump up the flask, it was detached from the frame of the receiver. A plunger-type piston pump fitted with two internal piston rings enabled the shooter to raise the air pressure up to 900 p.s.i. The butt reservoir once pumped up with as many as 1,000 strokes, retained enough air for 40 shots.
Air guns were noiseless and smokeless, they shot equally well in rainy or windy weather and their barrels didnt get fouled or become hot from shooting. Their great fault was that they were expensive to manufacture and difficult to maintain in shooting order. In those times the Daisy Manufacturing Co. did not yet exist in this country.
The second big gun of the expedition was York, Clarks black servant. He was tall, robust with shining teeth and eyes which especially attracted Indian women who wanted to have children from him, they lined up to kiss York and touch his body. Their husbands had nothing against it because it was their custom to share wives with honored guests and York was the most honored, especially by the Mandan tribe. Perhaps, he left a lot of offspring along the trail and made the American Indian more Yorkish.
I was thinking about my predecessors driving along the Columbia River on the Washington State side. William Barbour in his article about the guns of Lewis and Clark wrote, Every red-blooded American who likes adventure, and is interested in the early history of his country, should read the Lewis and Clark journals. He will gain an added respect for the many men, well-known or obscure, who made possible the winning of the West, and will find his faith bolstered in the destiny of America. At least I did. The river was mighty and pristine but certainly different from the way it used to be at the time of Lewis and Clark. Numerous islands were covered by woods and there were few boats or ships wandering on the main stream. However it had already been pacified by dams and dikes along it.
I pulled in to the village of Paterson, population 50, and was greeted with enthusiasm by all its inhabitants. Steve and Merilyn Ferebee accommodated my horse and me but all their neighbors congregated to talk and help me.
The wagons brakes were absolutely broken and Frank Allen, Bob Brown and John Blasdel found the time and materials to fix them.
Holly Whitesell, a young girl under 20 approached me and talked about her hard search to find herself and I had to tell her that this process is never ending - if you ever do find yourself, you are dumb, dead or holy, or everything together. Probably she realized that I am not a Guru at all. She noted in my diary, Youre searching and havent yet arrived. Keep your eyes open. You will complete your journey. Certainly, everybody will.
My host Steve was the real cowboy on a next-door ranch and said of himself: I live in Paterson and work where my horse is pastured. He used to work as a cowboy at the huge Willow Creek Ranch in Arizona for $50-60 a day, but finally decided to come here, where they pay a bit more. He is very good at painting the cowboys life and supplements his income selling his graphic arts. He gave me copy of a drawing of a cowboy on a stampeding horse. It was a gift from cowboy to cowboy.
Passing a local cafe early the next morning, I noticed a small helicopter parked on the top of a neighboring hill. As my friends later explained, it belonged to the Watt brothers who came for their regular breakfast. They were the owners of 100 Circles Ranch named after the 100 irrigation pivots watering their potatoes fields. Theyd masterminded a very good contract with McDonalds to supply potatoes for making a French fries. It made them more confident in both present and future tenses.
There were no grazing fields along the road - just sagebrush, chit-grass and cactuses. On the left side of the road I noticed a woman with tethered Arabian horse who was waving to me invitingly and I stopped for a conversation with her. Dolores Milliman was a horsewoman raising 28 Arabian horses on her ranch. She was on her way to water them and decided to stop for chitchatting.
Though she was 81, she looked only 40 and rode her horse most days. Just recently shed came back from a pilgrimage to Medjigore, small town in former Yugoslavia, where three local kids about 20 years ago had been enchanted with the image of the Virgin Mary on the top of a hill, and have since then been in touch with her. For the last 20 years, millions of pilgrims going to that village each year hoping for inspiration and healing of their diseases. Dolores brought a wooden crucifixion from that place and handed it to me with a blessing.
I am not a strong believer in the power of talismans, amulets or any magic wish-givers, but my Russian friend Tamara who happens to be a psychic, after examining this crucifixion found a lot of energy concentrated in it. However, this energy could be useful just in case if you believe in it.
At decline of day I found patch of green vegetation at Crow Butte picnic area on the bank of the river. There wasnt so much grazing grass, but enough shade to hide from the blazing sun. But I was lucky meeting Bill Mitchell who came here from Yakima for fishing with his five grandsons. Being 67, he was strong, colorful and even rowdy as young man.
When I asked him how much a fishing license would cost in Washington State he said that, Fishing is illegal only if they catch you. He inherited a lot from his father in Louisiana, who, all his life had grown tobacco, made his own cigars and smoked 9 a day, drank a pint daily of his own moonshine whiskey and lived to be 97. I dont like to live so long.
In his school bus transformed into a primitive camper we drove around 15 miles until we found the Mormon ranch where they gave me a bale of alfalfa. It was the most isolated and the most beautiful ranch I ever seen, located between the Horse Heaven Hills. Blessed is such a person who gave this romantic name to the ridge.
 
THE CONGRESSMAN
August 24

When I switch the radio on there are the same Radio Gurus in the air - Dr. Laura Schlesinger, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Reagan, etc. teaching Americans how to think and behave in their Guru frame of mind. It is amazing how in this country a relatively small mob of self-proclaimed pundits are broad-casting the citizen mentality.
I must admit that the show-hosts probably, arent the worst ones, and in many matters I agree with their views, but there are also much more invisible or less prominent ones who influence the peoples mentality.
Crossing this country, I liked to listen the local radio stations broadcasting upcoming events, marriages, and burials. Before weekends they had radio flea-market on which listeners were allowed to announce their used household merchandise for sale. It was very educative listening programs of knowledge: how to grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables; how to build or buy your own house, or invest your money. Alas - I had no money to invest or to buy my house with land around to grow my veggies and fruits, raise my horses and cattle; to watch my growing children and grandchildren. I was born to be free from all of this.
In the area of Alder Ridge I was sided by Riley Bonds, garbage truck driver, who for the last two days had been shuttling along this road and finally decided to stop and speak with me. He had his own unique view of the surrounding world and expressed it in a short sentence, Things own people in this country. I agreed with him to some extent.
About two miles west of Roosevelt I was stopped by Doc and Colin Hastings. Congressman Doc was returning with his son back to his hometown of Pasco after pre-election debates with a Democrat challenger. This was the first time Id met such a big shot in the middle of the desert. But here we were just travelers who wanted to say hello to each other and exchange good wishes.
In Congress Doc was Chairman of the Task Force on Nuclear Cleanup, Task Force on Endangered Species, Task Force on Property Rights, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on National Security, and a member of the Committee on Natural Resources. He had many responsibilities but even more challengers who would like to take those from him.
But Doc was applying the legacy of his family name Hastings which means to move or act swiftly. He assures his constituency that in the next seven years he and his fellow Republicans will manage to balance this countrys budget.
He helped introduce the Back to basics Education Reform Act that would return funding and authority over education to local communities and parents. Besides, he sponsored legislation to allow children the right to a voluntary quiet moment of prayer in schools or at graduation ceremonies.
Newspaper Yakima Herald-Republic wrote about him: Hastings, the congressman, has pretty much voted the way Hastings, the candidate, said he would. You cant fault a person for that...
I cant say that I was very envious about Docs life because he has to fight for a position on Capitol Hill. But I have almost no competition in my quest to the West as a Russian Pilgrim; and its very unlikely that I will ever run for Congressmanship in Washington State. I guess we both were happy with what we were doing, but I wouldnt mind for awhile to chair some Committee in Congress if he would sit in my chair and drive my horse.
I wished him luck to win the election and for me he signed in the ledger: Anatoly, best of luck on your journey. Welcome to our part of the world. We both succeeded in our tasks. Good luck Doc, I enjoyed the company of you and your son Colin who perhaps following in your footsteps.
There were no grazing fields along the road so I pulled into the ranch of Robert Lee who was happy to give Vanya some hay and grain. He owns 1,500 acres and leases an additional 5,000 from the Government on which he raises beef cattle. His younger son Mark decided to be an optometrist but his older son Dale probably will take care of the ranch after Bobs retirement. They offered to let me stay at their ranch overnight, but I decided to make a few more miles.
In area of John Day Dam was a big chunk of land along the river which was used as a campground. It didnt have designated campsites so you would stay at any attractive place on the bank. But most of these spots had no grass around. The best one with the toilet facilities and green field was already occupied and I had to go farther.
At the next green island of trees and green grass I unhitched my horse and let him graze but very soon found that place was infested with ticks and very angry ants jumping from the trees and biting like a small bullterriers. The ticks were slower to advance but I didnt want to be infected by encephalitis or Lime disease. I had no choice but to hitch Vanya again and camp near a small pond with almost no grass, but also not so many bugs.
Robert Lee supplied me with a bale of alfalfa and Vanya accepted it as a substitute to good green grass. I brought a lot of driftwood from the riverbank and enjoyed meditating on a huge bonfire with a sparks flying up to the stars. The closer I got to my destination the less my guiding star Venus could be seen.
Under blinking and hot light of bonfire I was reading kept in small wagon library the London edition of Chronicle of the World. To my surprise I found in this book that today Americans could mark one of the worst days in history of their country. Exactly, August 25, 1814, a British invading army marched unopposed to the banks of Potomac river and burned the White House, the House of Representatives and the Library of Congress. President Madison was forced to flee, but his wife Dolly managed to rescue the original Declaration of Independence.
  Washington, DC, was a smoldering ruin and victorious British proclaimed revenge for own humiliating on July 4, 1776. In American history this black day is barely mentioned. But it isnt surprising that on those days of hardship was born a patriotic song The Star-Sprangled Banner, by Francis Key.
The next morning going along the riverbank by dirt road I found out too late that Rte. 14 climbed up hills, and to take it I would have to go back to John Day Dam. Instead I decided to take U.S. Route 97, cross the Columbia River and drive to Portland by way of Interstate 84. In the small town of Maryhill we found peach and apricot orchards and enjoyed eating fruits from the ground.
We had no problem crossing the Columbia River but traffic along the 84 was appalling, with many narrow construction sites where I was driving just a few inches from zipping cars and tractor-trailers. Road-construction crews helped me a lot by slowing down the traffic and letting me drive through construction sites.
The city of The Dalles gained its name from the Columbia River narrows and a series of rapids, which the French adventurers christened les dalles, or the through according to the AAA guide. In my French-English dictionary it means the plates, perhaps after high perpendicular banks of rocks on each side of the river. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
Long before the paleskins came to this area, Indians found this natural interruption in navigation a convenient place for trade. On their way through this area, Lewis and Clark described it as the great Indian mart of all this country. I found later that contemporary shopping mall in The Dalles, while not the biggest in this country, has a variety of goods for sale far greater than what was available 200 years ago.
I guess that the most intelligent and literally expressive traveler of the Wild West was lovely, blond Narcissa Whitman (Prentiss, was her maiden name). She came here with her husband Marcus, a Presbyterian missionary, to wait completion of the house at the mission at Ft. Walla Walla. Almost 170 years ago she described the hardship of traveling in this area, We came to the Dalles just before noon. Here our boat was stopped by two rocks of immense size and height, all the water in the river passing between them in a narrow channel and in great rapidity. We were obliged to land and make a portage of 2 ; miles, carrying the boat also.
Here for most pioneers going down the Oregon Trail the road part was over. Bluffs along the river banks closed off further land passage west of The Dalles. They had to take commercial boats to float down through the Cascades to Oregon City.
Gregory Franzwa in his book The Oregon Trail Revisited described how, in 1852, Ezra Meeker, a young emigrant and future popularizer of the Oregon Trail legacy, appreciated the end of the road: After the hard trails of the Platte and Snake banks and dusty deserts of Oregon, a heavy drowsy prostration settled on the emigrants as they sat on the rafts in a stupor. The exhaustion was complete and so was the silence. Suddenly someone on Meekers raft started singing Home, Sweet Home. Soon all 500 voices in the water-borne caravan joined in without restraint, and strong men found themselves sobbing like babies.
I had no opportunity to float my wagon down the Columbia River and had to follow tracks of those emigrants who had no money or patience to wait for the next boat. About the luxury of sobbing, I should say that it is good and relaxing to perform it when there is somebody around. But when you are by yourself, somehow no tears come out. We can only afford to be weak if theres somebody to support or share our impotence.
I decided to move over to the south shoulder of the Mount Hood because the Interstate 84 was getting more congested and dangerous for a horse, and for me as well.
Rick Eisland, Deputy Sheriff from The Dalles recommended we stay overnight at the site of The Seed Shack, a store selling animal food and tack. Its owners, Alex and Mavis Feist, found a good paddock behind the shop and supplied us with a lot of hay and grain. I washed myself in a nearby restaurants bathroom and was happy watching my beloved Vanya consuming his hay and looking for more grain.
Just across a ditch was a huge railroad junction where freight trains linked up to go off in every direction of this country. About a dozen hobos were wandering around or sleeping between the old railroads tracks waiting for an appropriate freight train. They were the descendants of those free-minded and hungry hordes of people who in that great era of the Great Depression from 1932 to 1941 decided to leave their depressed relatives and to find new opportunities along the road. I doubt that in this country they were without food more than a day. But those chaps were hungry to find their own way of life.
Hobos used to be called the railroad cowboys because of their custom to come together and risk their lives jumping on and off boxcars, and saving their honor being desperate, as cowboy supposed to be. Besides, railroad tracks gave them some kind repetition of the Oregon Trail with no direction. This kind of vagrants substituted nowadays by RV-dwellers, less romantic but more comfortable brand of people who decided to see as much as possible before settling in their a few cubic feet of ground or a few cubic inches of urn, if cremated.
The real hobos whom I was looking at, lived on the road and by the road, they were remnants and reminders of less structured kind of life, which used to exist in this country. These railroad cowboys were my soul mates, but lost in their freedom.

MOUNT HOOD
August 27

In The Dalles downtown I was greeted by John Hufman, General Manager of Q104 radio station and got an opportunity to express my appreciation to all the people who had been helping me along the trek.
Susan Huntington, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, suggested I park my wagon close to her office where she phoned to Lyle, Washington, for horseshoer Craig Yaw. He promised to come over in an hour, but in the meantime I was enjoying the company of a beautiful chamber-of-commercettess.
Back at my wagon, I was approached by a skinny, bearded man with even more wrinkles than I have so far managed to accumulate on my bored face. He asked whether I had any empty cans or bottles he could have to get a nickel for recycling them. On an average day he could collect about 60 of them, which is enough to buy a pack of smoking tobacco for rolling cigarettes. I had no empty cans but gave him some canned ham and he went around the corner to finish it on the spot using his knife as utensil.
After rolling cigarette from my pipe tobacco David Scheibach told me his story. After serving in Vietnam 1966-68, he went to Texas and very soon was placed in the San Antonio veterans hospital, diagnosed as manic-depressive. He left the hospital on his own recognizance and since then has been on the road crisscrossing this country and looking for a way to feel better.
In Indiana he even married a woman who had grandchildren and was 30 years older than him. For three years David lived with her spending his pension on sweet port and cheap Californian Gallo wine until she developed a liver disease and left him for good.
Since then David had been traveling around this country in search of his beloved sweetheart who is probably around 70 now, but it does not matter - he will find her here or there.
Many times he applied to receive Veterans Disability Benefits, but could never wait long enough for approval. For the next two months he will stay in The Dalles sleeping near the railroad tracks (I presume he knows that the local police wouldnt arrest him on the private railroad property), but hell spend winter in Orlando, Florida. By railroad it will take him 2-3 weeks to reach, but certainly the trip will be free of charge.
Before going for collecting empty cans David told me that most of his colleagues in this business dont fool around with empty bottles - they are too heavy. In my ledger he wrote, It was nice meeting you here in the Dalles I wish you the best of luck on your travel. I was born in N.C. and went to Vietnam and am now homeless.
Finally, the horseshoer, Craig Yaw, came, but because of Vanyas naughty and restless behavior Craig decided to shoe just front feet. But I was lucky when I got to the local saddle club where another horseshoer, Lonnie Shoemaker, finished the job. The Chamber of Commerce made arrangement with a Days Inn about my accommodations, and there I had my first shower in a week. Vanya was in the good hands of the saddle club attendant, Joyce Thody.
  The next morning, on the way out of town I was privileged meeting Kathy Comini, a beautiful and sharp-minded woman about 30. She fell in love not with me, but with my horse, and gave him a lot of fruit. Kathy was working for the animal shelter and told me how hard it is to work with people who like animals so much that they forget common sense. They vigorously oppose spaying or castrating stray pets. She called them humaniacs and I joined her in her attitude toward these brainless animals lovers.
The best way to go around Mt. Hood was by State Route 35 from the Town of Hood River, but to reach there I had to drive 15 more miles and when Ill ran out of Old 30, I have no choice but to drive down the horrible Interstate 84. Going down 30, I happened to notice on the opposite bank of the Columbia River that Rte. 14 went into a tunnel and felt blessed that making mistake Id managed to come on this side; my horse would never go through such a spooky enclosure of that long tunnel. So, I accumulate one more of road wisdom - blessed those who make mistake in proper place and in right time.
Id heard in town about a fanatical man in this area who even now works his farm with horses, and now, driving down this country road, I spied him plowing his land with two horses. I waved and called to him but he was about two miles down the river valley, and didnt hear me, and I couldnt go to him with my horse and wagon because the road to his farm was very steep.
In Mayer State Park they had no grazing field and I had to go farther to the town of Hood River to find a more convenient place for my horse. On Main Street I tethered Vanya to a street pole and went to the police office to beg for one of their patches for my collection. While I was talking with an office clerk I overheard the police message that some very serious traffic congestion had occurred on Main Street because of stupid Russian, who left his horse, inviting a crowd of people to congregate around. I ran back out and got in my wagon to proceed farther south down Mt. Hood Highway.
Coming out of town I saw a lot of cars with windsurfing equipment on the roofs - it happened that this town was the Capital of windsurfing on the Columbia River. Twice in my life Ive tried to windsurf with extremely unsuccessful results. I decided that my inner ear, needed for such activity, had been permanently damaged by a stupendous consumption of alcohol. Or perhaps I just wasnt born to be the Flying Dutchman and was better off traveling on a solid ground.
I was driving between the endless apple orchards with no place for grazing. Finally, I found place on the farm of Larry Moore, who was in the business of sharpening saws. Its rare so an occupation that I asked him to show me how he does it. All the tools and devices to do the job were very old but worked perfectly, especially those for sharpening huge sawmill saws.
Back on the road, I was driving slowly because of the steep hills of Mt. Hood which dominated the surroundings. Tourists from around the world traveled along this picturesque road. By the Oregon state law you may camp any place along the road and there were a lot of beautiful sites for it.
In area of Parkdale I pulled into the front yard of Mt. Hood Farms Museum and was greeted by Al Streich, its owner. This tall, muscular man of 80 looked at least 20 years younger. Never before have I seen such rich collection of artifacts owned by a private person. In his museum Al had collected for 30 years over 4,000 tools of agriculture, mining, railroad, and household life of Americans. As he commented in my ledger, If you havent seen something, its probably here. I like oddities.
  Hundreds of the antique cast-iron tractor seats, gracefully shaped to contour the bottoms of long-ago farmers, covered walls and the ceiling of his barn-museum. They were delicately painted in brilliant color and each one was piece of art made with just fire, iron, and a hammer.
His collection includes such rarities as a buffalo meat shredder from the late 1800s; a Hudsons Bay Company fur scale; or the first telephone strung to a farm in Nebraska.
The front yard was crowded with iron dinosaurs of the farming, lumbering, and railroad development. I was especially impressed by a corn planter, circa 1869; a late-1800s reaper; and a horse-drawn tumbler for moving dirt for the railroad tracks building in the mid 1800s.
Al proud with his collection as by own children saying, It was all made by hand. This was the time when machines were individually crafted by real people, not by other machines.
This ex-farmer, ex-fisherman, ex-logger found his solace in finding, repairing, and preserving these relics of human genius, playing the role of their Guardian Angel and saying: Someones got to save them. I cant wait to get up in the morning and get down to the shop. Im always working on something. Fishing is not life stile of this retiree. He even works now more than in younger years, working for love, not money. Youll never be a J.P. Morgan or a John D. Rockefeller doing this, he says.
Admission was free but donations were very welcome. When I asked Al whether hed considered donating his collection to the State he snapped, Let them kiss my derriere. This museum belongs to my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I requested his black-and-white photo to publish in this book, and a catalog of his museum, but he had none - there was no money to make one. Lucky, was the nickname of this giant with gleaming eyes. Saying farewell and following my own destination, I was envious about his life.
Among the variety of people I met farther along the road it was an unpredictable pleasure to meet the young and beautiful Masha Zbankova from Moscow, Russia. Masha had come here to marry her fianc; Richard, and the quantity of beauties in Russia dropped by one and increased by the same amount in this country.
In recent years, we have been losing our best ballet dancers, figure skaters, athletes, artists, writers, actors -the cream of our society - to enrich the American society, but those who can pay for it choose the music.
Farther along the road, I met a road-scraper operator by the name of Dale Floria and asked him whether the Highway Department sprays chemicals to rid off weeds along the road shoulder - I sometimes let Vanya graze on it and was concerned about chemical poisoning. He assured me that in the National Forest they dont use any herbicides. He recommended that we stop at the Robinhood Campground and promised to come with his children and bring food for me and my horse.
On the banks of the Hood River I found a nice site for me but not much grass for Vanya. My camping neighbors happened to be Daniela and Andrin Kaiser, both from Switzerland. Danielas husband was working for a Swiss bank in Portland and couldnt go camping with her. She came with her mother, who was visiting them, who couldnt speak English. Perhaps meaning her bank-oriented husband and her friends, Daniela wrote in my diary, Now we can see that we dont need many things to be happy. Oh, Good Lord I would be even happier having her as my road-mate, for a while.
Dale Floria attived later with his son Jesse and beautiful 8-year young daughter Lisa who decided to crayon my horse and wagon and did so magnificently, just transposing my motto - To Russia With Love From the USA. They brought also enough fruits and vegetables for me to be able to share with my neighbors.
I was not sure whether I was sitting on the bank of Robinhood Creek or of Hood River, but for the time being I was certainly happier than Danielas husband in his bank.
The soothing sound of running water even soothed my stomach-ache; I would like to fall asleep with this kind of music for the rest of my life, but the same time I knew that Ill newer stop because I want to follow the example of Tennysons hero, Ulysses:
I cannot rest from travel;
I will drink Life to the lees...
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch where through
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not
To shine in use! ..............................................
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
.Come, my friends,
Tis not too late to seek a never world.
 Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
  ..........................................
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

 GLORY OF OREGON
 August 30

 The road was getting steeper and steeper. At the height of 4,647 feet, I crossed the Bennett Pass and soon after that the Barlow Pass at an altitude of 4,161 feet. Soon my road had changed into the U.S. Route 26 and rolled down from the summits of Mt. Hood towards the small town of Government Camp. A stable was located close to the office of Mt. Hood Skibowl resort belonging to Grady Johnson and Tom Driver. Both were on site and let my horse to be in paddock along a herd of about 20 of own packhorses. But Vanya was ready to take on my personality and wasn't happy in a big crowd. I let him stray and graze from the green grass of the lawn with flagstaff in the middle which he reached just easily breaking fragile wooden fence around it, humiliating me and disturbing big symbol of America's might, the bronze eagle on top of that mast. Grady was packing horses for a two-day trip with a group of tourists and suggested that I join him, but I had to stay close to my naughty boy. My hosts fell in love with Vanya and asked whether they might buy him at the end of my travel. We'll see.
 Jennifer Ford, gorgeous as blue skies stable attendant, happened to be already girlfriend of ski-instructor, Petr Kakes. I was envious of him and as usually regretted that the most beautiful women always belong to somebody but not me. Perhaps they felt my pity and compensate it, inviting to go with them for dinner-party with some friends. Petr came to this country from the Czech Republic in 1986, and was working as an instructor in mountain biking and skiing. He told me that before coming to this area he had no experience of mountain biking but had too much spare time in summer season and decided to be instructor in biking. Very soon he found himself surrounded with bunch of people with the same as his experience in biking; only they decided to be his student and choose him as a teacher. In this country people like to be students.
After finding how many miles I already managed to drive, he decided to write in my ledger such a strange judgment, "Where ever you are will bring people to smile. You have beautiful mission and you find the time to come thorough little Government Camp to remind me of big cosmopolitans." Their friends, Charlie and Juli Dobson, were waiting for us in just recently built bungalow. By profession, Charles was a Registered Investment Advisor (I guess, this profession was invented just to serve morons who don't know what to do with their money.) and doing perfectly O.K. I guess, he felt himself as being born for such a life of the middle-class prosperity.
 That night they had other guests from the east coast. Nonnie and David Thompson just a few days before had come to Portland from the state of Maine. For nine months they were going around the North and South America with their daughter Annie on a sailboat named "Bittersweet." They were my soul-mates in coming from Atlantic to Pacific shores, and had had a similar great experience. In my ledger Nonnie wrote, "Through high seas and Mother-Nature we find that everywhere people are good + pure, life is appreciated and friendship is love. Believe in that!!" Yes, I do.
Together with Jennifer's parents, Tom and Carol Ford, we had a magnificent party with bonfire in the backyard, enjoying shish-kebab and the Czech liquor "Bukerovka." Charles invited me to go with him when being a meeting of the Rotary Club in Portland. I will go in hopes of finding sponsors for my next track around Australia. After sleeping in Petr's crackling with all its boards house (especially irritating when you're, in middle of the night, crawling in unknown direction to the bathroom), I hitched a well-rested Vanya and proceeded down the increasingly busy Mt. Hood Highway. Soon I was road sided by Mark Wever, the owner of the Mt. Hood Water Works who suggested to us a mid-day rest on his farm. Vanya got a lot of hay and we drunk with my host a terrible percolated coffee, the worst invention of the American civilization which I am getting addicted to.
On the way across this country I got privileged meeting quite a few wise women and men such as Mark, who signed in my diary: "Making Good Friends and Learning Something New Helps Us thorough Life. Hard Roads and Hard Times make Days. Go By. Good Luck My Friend Forever!" On next gas station I was encountered by group of Bosnian men, who had to emigrate from own war-torn country and had no time to learn English. It was hard to say whether they were victims or persecutors of that terrible war but this country gave them an opportunity to heal their wounds and start a new life. They came to this place for building somebodys house but had no language to inquire and find their employer. I was happy to assist them and made a few phone calls to their future boss, he came soon. Edolie, Idris, and Dana wrote their best wishes in Bosnian language but it was obvious that they wished me good luck as much as I wished it to them.
Later afternoon I was greeted by Sharon Benson who decided to guide me to my next hosts, Linda Shockey and Carolyn Kardinal, retired teachers. In town of Sandy they shared common household and kept one horse, mostly for amusement than for riding. My horse got fantastic grazing field and I was treated as a long-waited guest with a dinner-party. Carolyn had magnificent angel-like voice and recently recorded together with her brother Roger an album of songs named "Oregon Glory" which was dedicated, "To the many who still see Oregon as God's Country. I dedicate this album. May it inspire efforts to preserve Oregon's glory for all who love forests, mountains, and sea." I am writing these lines and listen her heavenly voice. She is extremely talented not only in composing but in writing songs and poetry. Carol was so generous that even wrote the poem dedicated to my endeavor:
 Another night, another dawn
 One more day to carry on
 To bring the light of hope and trust.
 When shadows flee, as they must
 We concede with opening minds
 What one man's sight.
 Can reveal to the blind.
 Will he succeed? Perhaps in part.
 What more can one ask? It's start.
 What an awesome task to journey through life.
 Hand in hand with freedom,
 To let go of greed and envy,
 To believe enough in mankind
 That one knows he will find
 All his needs along the way.
 Luring for now, just for today
 He journey's on
 Beyond the night into the down."
 I should admit that consider this poem addressed to an ideal traveler across life, which I don't belong to, but it is nice to listen such verses. Don't you think so?
 
 PORTLAND
 September 1
 
 Linda and Carolyn made an arrangement with their friend Florence about my accommodation at her place in the outskirts of Portland. When I came to that place, it was obvious I wasn't welcome there. Florence even castigated me for puffing my pipe on her backyard and, together with her girlfriend refused to sign my ledger. Something wrong was happening between us but I had no time and desire to find out it.
As usually, my good Lord sent me help named JoAnne Newland and I immediately accepted her invitation to proceed farther by the Kane Road in the town of Troutdale. Coming to the Gateway Arabian stables, I found myself in surrounding of people dedicated to living with horses. The owner, Michael Hartman, was raising Arabian horses mostly for pleasure having them around, with no apparent profit. He gave Vanya everything needed, accommodated me in a mobile house and ordered food to be delivered from a local restaurant.
The next morning I phoned to Sergeant David Pool, the head of the Mounted Police Unit in Portland and got his permission to stay at the police stables in downtown Portland. Along the Stark and Burnside Streets, I was proceeding slowly; stopping, talking with people, letting them pet my horse and give him apples and carrots. At the corner of NE 86th I stopped to water my horse and found myself in house of Jennifer McCammon, publisher of the Portland Family newspaper. This whirly woman was a bit surprised seeing the horse and bearded Russian at her doorstep but ready for interview.
Forman, "Pollen Man," lives on the NE Flanders and after we bumped in each other, he described me the advantage of treating any kind of decease with honeybee pollens which, by his words, were, "the Highest Vibrational Foods the Planetary Surface is Capable of Yielding." I told him that in Russia people also relied on natural remedies and products of honey-bee's activity respected greatly. Specs of pollen which are used by bees to fix their hives called here bee pollen, in Russian "propolis," used to cure immune deceases.
But we use also in folk medicine "mummy," some kind of wax-like staff to be found in caves of Caucasian and Pamir mountains. This substance of black color, pungent smell and bitter taste, could drip from the roofs of caves sometimes melding in stalactite-like icicles and accumulate on their floors mixed with mountain mice droppings. People mix it with honey or milk and use to heal any kind of wounds or fractures which heal after its application a few times faster than that of modern medicines. More than two thousand years ago, Aristotle wrote about the healing power of mummy for the treatment of deafness and stammering. Avicenna, about a thousand years ago, recommended mixing mummy with marjoram oil for the treatment of bone fractures, wounds, paralysis of facial nerve, headaches and otitis as well as for stomach and kidney problems. In ancient Egypt mummy was used for the preservation of cadavers and from this we have the word mummy. In the middle, mummified bodies were brought into Europe and they were made into powder from which alchemists prepared remedies for many diseases. Mostly, mummy is now used in India, China, and other countries adjacent to mountainous areas. While I was in Pamir area, I used to find this stuff in caves and later successfully treated people with diabetes and chronic anemia. This remedy was popular between geriatric members of Soviet Politburo and was available to purchase only in Kremlin pharmacy. It's still very in demand between Russians, now you can buy it in any pharmacy but it is quite expensive.
 Being in area of Pikes Peak, I found this stuff in big amount but none of locals including Indians had no idea about usefulness of mummy. I told the Pollen Man about it but never heard about it either; I promised him to mail the sample in hope that he popularizes it between his clients. Coming close to the Burnside Bridge across the Willamette River, I was stopped by a young girl with quite unusual request to give her a lift. I was so shocked that lifted her and while we were driving across the bridge she wrote about herself, "Gamin' is French for street urchin, a wandering gypsy of sorts - that's me. So when I saw you traveling down Burnside, I had to chase after you to wish you well in the traveling spirit. It gives me great hopes to see you following your vision; you are an inspiration to all of us who dream."
I myself wasn't sure where I will sleep that night but suggested that she go with me to the police stables at the 9th Ave. Sergeant Pool was in his office and accommodated Vanya in a stable with a plenitude of food and the care of an attendant. Because of security regulations, I couldn't stay in their office overnight but was permitted to sleep in my wagon parked at the police premises. After leaving Vanya in good hands, I decided to go with Gamin downtown and feed ourselves. About 20, she was the most unusual street urchin I have ever seen - not drinking alcohol or taking any drugs. In her purse was a book about quantum physics. Gamin was very good singer and used to take music classes. She actually didn't live on the street but lodged with her friends in the Hollywood area of  Portland.
I've had the impression that Gamin just decided to call herself a street urchin to romanticize her every days life. I escorted her to a stop of TRI-MET Light Rail Line and returned to my wagon - Home, Sweet Home. The next morning my police friends called their veterinarian, who found my horse in good shape but just needed new shoes, which they made an arrangement to fix by their own farrier. In the meantime, I decided to put new soles on my cowboy boots and asked Sgt. Pool about the nearest human shoer and he recommended the best one in Portland - Cesario Rubio located on the 3rd Ave.
Walking down the Broadway, I noticed a lot of homeless people wandering around or sleeping on benches. But not very much of them were begging with pursuit to get some change for a can of beer. The repair shop was some kind of a hospital for crippled and unfitted shoes where they had a good surgeon to take good care of. Cesario found very soon that my Code West brand boots lost their strength because of overexposure to the severe weather conditions. They needed a new stitches and good lubrication which was done in just 15 minutes and I was charged only five dollars. Cesario, it looked like, was everybody's friend and people were coming in the shop not only to fix their shoes but to talk with him as with an good old friend. I befriended him as well and decided to buy a pair of used but still strong the Danpost boots and was charged $79.00, half of their original price.
 Wandering around the clean and green streets of Portland, I stopped by "The Saucebox Restaurant" and immediately fell in love with its hostess, Shere. We talked as friends who didn't see each other for a long time and were happy to meet again. She invited me to stop by the "Opus Too & Jazz de Opus" bar where her friend Warren Rand was playing saxophone. Sooner or later we'll meet again. My friend Emilie Kroen who I met earlier at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, came with a car and brought me to the Red Lion Inn hotel and paid for two days in advance. She suggested I stay later more time in her family house in Tualatin. I was very appreciative for her generosity and the opportunity to know more about Portland.
 My hotel's balcony was with view on the banks of Willamette River where a huge Panamanian cargo ship "Hai Hang" was slowly coming down being loaded with American grain. Magnificent view of downtown was a bit obstructed by multiple bridges across the river. Charles Dobson whose house I was visiting couple days ago, came the next noon to bring me to a meeting of the Rotary Club in Beaverton, west of Portland. About hundred lawyers, realtors, investors, insurance executives and brokers congregated in the hotel's dining room for a lavish lunch and for discussions about the new state insurance law. I was given ten minutes to speak about the expedition. After that all the audience sang, "Happy birthday Anatoly. Happy birthday to you." It was very touching and the first time in my life so many people were greeting me with my birthday.
 Many businessmen expressed some envy about my trip. Edward Nimmo, vice president of the Poorman - Douglas said, "I think I would like to do what you are doing - I wish I had the nerve to go! Good luck on the rest of your trip." Dan Florea, my old friend whom I met in Fort Casper, Wyoming, came later with his son to my hotel and invited me for dinner in an expensive Chinese restaurant. But the waiters there didn't understand or speak the English and the oysters weren't palatable as well. Dan's plans for going to the Israel were changed a bit and now he on the radio shows was giving lectures about money investment. His son is more idealistic and hopes to go to China and teach communists English and American democracy. I expressed him my doubts about Chinese's readiness for such thing as democracy. While in 1989, students of Beijing came to Main Square of the capital, they were ready to fight for democracy of China. In deliberations which fraction of student's body was more democratic and more right, they started fighting against each other. The main prize was to get access to microphone for propagation of the most right and democratic ideas, and to shutdown the wrong ones, morally and physically. As the result of that burst of Chinese democracy, the most adventurous, ambitious, and ruthless students were in charge of that uprising. The old man of Chinese politics, Dian Shiao Ping, had no choice but to crash those usurpers. They decided to show me the landmark of the city, the statue of Portlandia in front of the Portland Building. This post-modern 35 feet-tall impersonation of the Mother-Earth was kneeling among sculpted animals.
The second largest hammered copper statue in the USA after the Statue of Liberty, she was erected in 1986, but it was barely visible from Fifth Avenue. Probably influenced by the women-rights movement, the sculptor armed this woman with a trident, which mostly is associated with the God of the Seas, Neptune. The trident used to be used by him for hunting and fishing, representing his masculine power and rage. This peaceful Madonna of the Earth holds idly the useless trident and silently castigates her politically correct Pygmalion. Dan dropped me at the 33 NW 2nd Ave. near the entrance to the "Opus Too" jazz club to meet with a new friend musician Warren Rand. I didn't know what he looked like but found him from the first attempt. It was written on the face of this tall, getting gray man, that he was Warren, who liked music and the Russian language. We tried to speak Russian but very soon switched for English and Warren told me about his plan to go to Russia and play saxophone in the Moscow jazz clubs. I don't distinguish jazz from rock or allegro from presto but gave him the telephone of a friend-musician in St. Petersburg.
 Perhaps I could tune to the good music and enjoyed that jazz concert very much as well as beauty of my waiter, Michelle Warner. She was a singer and wrote in my ledger this tune:
 May the circle be open
 Nver broken.
 May a piece of the goodness
 Be forever in your heart.
 Merry meet
 Merry part
 Merry meet again
 Blessed Be.
 There was a lot of music and cheering people in this jazz club, so what? I was alone and nobody was around when I came back to my room in the hotel and greeted myself with a single achievement of reaching of my birthday and starting my real life just a year ago. I checked out of the hotel and came back to the more familiar environment of horse stables.
To keep Vanya in shape, I decided to drive around downtown Portland. On Broadway I noticed an announcement about opening an exhibition of Russian Realism in the Chetwynd Stapylton Gallery. After tethering my horse to a lamp pole, I went inside the gallery to meet the director, Thomas Augustine, and the owners, Tessa and Bill Papas. They were specialists in Russian art and in their handout they wrote, "...the exhibition features the work of seventeen prestigious Moscow artists representing Russian realism which recently was dismissed as socialist art, sponsored by Soviet regime. But represented artists were realists first, Russian or socialist second." I didn't think so - they were and are the subjects of the communist system and served it by their art. In his younger years, Bill Papas, was the political cartoonist for the Guardian, Sunday Time and Punch magazine in London. In 1984 the Papas moved to Portland and from the beginning fell in love with it. No other city in Europe they have lived in had come under so much reflection by Bills pen and brush.
Tessa presented to me book "Papas' Portland" written by her and illustrated with watercolors and sketches by Bill. A brightly illustrated coffee table book is very rare in contemporary publishing practice. I doubt that I could afford to buy Papas'. I want to pay them back by publishing my own book and mail to them. There was a big party for the Russian community and many of them coming to the gallery were surprised to see my horse and wagon outside, with the motto, "From Russia with Love & Peace."
These compatriots managed to make a good living in this country and distinguished themselves in things connected with art. Otherwise, they would not have been invited by Papas, who used to live in the environment of Oxbridge (shortly after Oxford and Cambridge Universities), high society of England. Yan Borodovsky was a former nuclear physicist now working for Intel Co. Marat Nizberg was the president of a marketing company. Many more people, proud of themselves, came for this exclusive party. I felt a bit out of touch with this high society because my horse was making "road apples" in front of those people. As I decided to drive out, Tessa asked me to stay longer for a meeting with reporters of the local TV-channel. She kept me alive supplying me with shots of vodka. In couple of hours, after I expressed to the TV-reporter not exactly a true feeling about the exhibition, we were free to go around this beautiful city.
 In Portland they decided to copy New York City in naming and numbering streets and avenues, but to confuse those knickerbockers, they added their own street names and placed Park Avenue west of Broadway. To bathe myself in a more intelligent surrounding, I decided to stop at Powell's Books store on Burnside. I was amazed by the number of books and humans inside. With a cafeteria, it looked more like an intellectual club than a bookstore. As I later found out in Papas' book, it housed over 1,000,000 volumes. There was enough room here for real readers and bums sleeping with a newspaper in their hands. I didn't know to which I belonged, because for the last year I had barely read five books. My intellectual capacity filled to the brim. Any added information poured out. I can't even remember more than one new anecdote. I made a big roundabout, driving along trendy NW 23 Ave. On the way back to the stables, I stopped at a couple of coffee-shops where they served espresso and Cappuccino coffee, which Portlanders are crazy about.
I spoke with a number of patrons, mostly middle class and age people, with a secure life and income. I asked them, what they thought about my expedition. Here I quote some of their answers. Margo Cash: "My Great Great Great Grandparents came across the Oregon Trail in 1851. They settled in Carlton, Oregon. Good luck and God bless you on your journey." David: "You're now living the life that I can only dream about; the life of Tom Saywer (sic), a life of complete freedom and adventure that most can only dream about and never actually realize. I only wish I could be journeying with you! God Bless."
Jewish girl Amid Gabriel Michel: "May you speed to the Angel's blessing. Best of luck. Mazel Tov!" Nancy Dorr: "You are an inspiration to all of us to follow our dream - to go for what is real + important. Best of Luck." Andrea Davis: "I grew up with visions of being a farmer and living close to the land. Now I am working at making this dream come true. I want to be the best farmer I can be. You must be a building spirit. To go slowly, to live close to the land ... lets listen to the Earth and hear what she has to say." These quotations definitely show the state of mind of these people.
 We slept with Vanya quietly and peacefully in the stables waiting for the promising morning, for a new group of fantastic people and a next road that opening to us. Sergeant Pool invited Gordon Riffel to shoe our horses. It was definitely the farrier of higher class who taught me how to take care of my horse's hooves. I'd been learning it all the time and still needed more knowledge. At least Vanya didn't limp or fall down with exhaustion as he had in Idaho. Tessa Papas came with her husband to see my horse and to say farewell. My beloved Shere came on a bike to take snapshots and help me along the road. She promised to come to my next camping and bring me back to Portland for a celebration my birthday that had just passed.
On the way out of the city, the Papas suggested us to drop by the Farmer's Market, an organic food lover's Paradise. The vegetables and fruits were grown mostly not very far from here, on Sauvie Island. I decided to stop there overnight. Along the way Shere came with her car and brought food and anisette liqueur to soothe my stomach ache. Because it was Saturday, there was a lot of traffic along U.S. Rte. 30 and there were many interesting and friendly people I met.
 As Papas promised, Sauvie Island happened to be the oasis of small farms, picturesque narrow roads, wildlife sanctuaries and ships plying the Canal. To the guests of the Island there was a road sign:
 U-Pick Flower Garden
 June - Strawberry Month
 Bird Watching
 Beach Areas/Boat Launch
 Fishing & Hunting
 October - U-Pick Pumpkins
 Food - Hayrides
 Petting Animals
 School Tours
 At Sauvie Island Market I was greeted by its owner, Denny Grande, who after feeding Vanya fruits and vegetables, guided us to an accommodation on the farm of his friend, Robert Wiley. The retired oil company executive, Bob managed to make a good investment buying that peace of land a few years ago. Prices for the land have skyrocketed since then. He suggested having a dinner party but I was waiting for Shere to bring me back to Portland. While I was watching Vanya rolling over on the sandy field of the farm, Shere came to show me her beloved places in town. At the corner of Main and Park Ave. we found a drinking fountain given to the city by someone almost my namesake, Jacob Shemanski. Near the Performing Arts Center we found a cafe with street tables and ordered Perrier water for her and anisette for me. We drank to my birthday and her new life, I thought that I was in love with her but our lives and plans for the future were different. It wasn't worthwhile even trying to be happy together, as they write in fairy tales, "to the end of our life and die the same day embracing each other."
On the way back to the Island we stopped at her modest studio-apartment on 23rd Ave. and she showed me her new wood sculptures. One was a sculptural fantasy named the "Soul of the house". I hope she will find herself in such design. Actually, as I later heard, she found a job with the "Will Vinton animation studio" building props and sets for animating commercials and films. Godspeed, beautiful Portland and Shere!
 
ASTORIA
September 8

Bob fixed a breakfast of pancakes, because he thought that he made them better than his wife. Denney loaded me with fruits and vegetables. I came back to the main road along the Columbia River, the same road which was used by the Lewis and Clark expedition on their way back from Astoria to the civilized East.
The Oregon Trail was now completed, and at this stage I decided, after paying a visit to Astoria, to head for Seattle and farther north to Vancouver, British Columbia. My plans for going farther north through Canada to Alaska were vague because of concerns about Vanyas reaction to bugs and wild animals. The probability of encountering grizzlies and black bears was very high on the roads north of Vancouver. I had no means to defend my horse and myself.
Coming close to Deer Island, I noticed a billboard with the name Stock Ranch on it and decided to go there. After half mile of driving, I came to a bridge across an inlet called the Slough. After a short examination, I found that there it was no way to go across it. This wooden bridge was paved by old rotten logs with hollows between them. My horse could break her leg easily if her foot got wedged in one of the spaces.
I had to camp in a big field before the bridge, but I needed the owners permission. I stopped a passing truck and asked the young driver to find the owner and tell him about my intent. Meantime I decided to unhitch Vanya and let him rest on this fertile field.
In a short time, a van with the owners crossed the bridge from the opposite side and stopped near my wagon. Kems family came to accept me as a guest on their ranch. Because I couldnt cross the bridge with a horse, they suggested I leave my horse grazing and come to their ranch house for a dinner-party. Despite the absence of fence around the grazing field I figured out that Vanya would not sneak out of here - the grass was incredibly fresh and, at least from my point of view, tasty and there were almost no bugs to chase him out.
The Kem family owned the ranch since 1950, and besides 800 heads of cattle, raised ducks and pheasants as hunting game. They owned a convenience store in the nearest town as well.
The father, Harry Kem, decided to retire and let his son, Howard take care of the business. Most of the time Harry lives on his boat moored somewhere in Mexico. Ten years ago, with his friend, Jean Mathison, he traveled from Vladivostok to Moscow on the Russian version of the Oriental Express, built in 1950 for a convenient travel of the members of the Soviet Politburo.
Nowadays it is used for the transportation of rich foreign tourists. For their convenience, 18 carriages were used. Three of the carriages accommodated dining; one was used as a refrigerator, and third was a special club car. The Express traveled with frequent stops to allow tourists to visit sights. It was an incredible experience for Harry and Jean and they still remember the Russian hospitality.
I was happy to hear this and enjoying their hospitality around the dining table. I shared a broiled lamb and home-grown vegetables with my hosts. Kems told me that 200 years ago the expedition of Lewis and Clark ate a deer provided by the Indians here. This was first wild game eaten by the expedition since the upper reaches of the Snake River. My hosts kept the legacy of that time, increasing the amount of game to match with the times of Lewis and Clark.
The road next morning was getting busy and there was a new obstacle in driving. Vanya found corn ears dropped along the road, and chased after them not paying attention to traffic. So, each time I saw a dropped ear I had to jump off the wagon and run in front of my horse to pick it up and feed him. In one instance he even stepped over a road-railing and was stuck with two front legs on one side of the railing and the hind ones on the other. A passing motorist seeing that I had a problem stopped to help me unhitch my horse and free Vanya from that embarrassing position.
After passing the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, we were stopped by a woman who invited us to stay at her place down the road. Going uphill I found the impeccably neat and clean house of Dale and Lucille Lee. They operated their Oriental Antique business from here.
The first time in this country I met a woman with the same first name as the famous Lucille Ball of the I love Lucy show. Nowadays they do not give girls such a magnificent name.
Both of them were married the second time and happy living in a house so perfectly clean that I was afraid to walk around it. It reminded me of a Chinese doll house, where everything is so clean and fragile that you are worried about touching any thing.
My horse made messes on their neat lawn, grazing and dropping horse-apples all around. But my hosts assured me that they appreciated having the best yet free manure.
Luciles daughter was army engineer and lived somewhere in the Arizona desert. Before giving birth to her first child she was involved in the U.S. Army project testing the Tomahawk missals. After giving life to the new creature, she objected creating anything destructive and resigned from the project.
They were happy telling me this story about their daughter and I was happy hearing it. But I added that children give people some solace and put down their ambitions and aggression against their surroundings. In our history, the most aggressive and dangerous were people with no ability to make children.
Those poor Amazon women-worriers had no pleasure for making love with men and perhaps had sexual discharge in fighting. To make easier to shot their bows, they used to cutoff their left breast if it was too large for a good aiming. Guessing by their behavior and their custom not letting men be around, they were just a band of typical lesbians. According to legend about Alexander the Great, he had meeting with the Queen of Amazons and formed alliance with her - so, Gay-Lesbian community was created more than two thousand years ago.
More dangerous were such child-less famous conquers as this Alexander of Macedon, Napoleon Bonaparte, our Russian revolutionaries Lenin and his henchman Trotsky. The most resent one was Adolph Hitler, besides being impotent, he was strict vegetarian and to compensate his protein-deficiency, he always wanted a human blood. All those mentioned above people didnt smoke or drink, so Im always suspicious about people with such a behavior, especially if they also vegetarians.
The next morning I enjoyed the beauty of this country, driving along the mighty Columbia River. In my wagons library I happened to find an essay entitled Walking written by the inspiring and sensitive American naturalist and writer Henry Thoreau.
He mentioned the writing of the English traveler Francis Head comparing expressions of Nature in the Old and New World: The heavens of America appear infinitely higher, the sky is bluer, the air is fresher, the cold is intenser, the moon looks larger, the stars are brighter, the thunder is louder, the lightning is vivider, the wind is stronger, the rain is heavier, the mountains are higher, the rivers longer, the forest bigger, the plains broader.
Sir Francis Head was matching his own, not very much weather-wise extreme country England with America. But at least in a matter of cold we, Russians should be awarded by the order of priority.
George Berkley, Irish poet of 18th century also viewed the New World as the culmination of wisdom, Where nature guides and virtue rules, and declared: Westward the course of empire takes its way; The four first Acts already past, A fifth shall close the Drama with the day; Times noblest offspring is the last.
Perhaps Henry Thoreau reminiscent this stanza, writing: Westward the star of empire takes its way. As a true patriot, I should be ashamed to think that Adam in paradise was more favorably situated on the whole than the backwoodsman in this country.
I myself fell in love with this country but being privileged to travel around the world more than Thoreau, I reserve some mentioned priorities to the other countries.
In 1950 Russians were programmed in the idea that our Russian scientists were the first in invention of everything - from electricity to the telegraph, and disregarded the American priorities. But even in those times we joked about this: We, in Russia, have the most progressive sclerosis.
In the small town of Clatskanie I decided to stop at a barbershop and asked Naomy Mohning to trim me a bit. She did it, free of charge, and wrote in my diary: Good Luck. - Enjoy your hair cut!! Your trip too.
On the way farther down, somebody had left a bale of hay on the shoulder of the road. I presumed that it was addressed to my horse. This part of Oregon is known for growing the best alfalfa which they sell to neighboring regions for $150 per ton or $6.70 per bale.
Finally, I pulled up to the Gnat Creek Hatchery where I was warmly greeted by its manager, Bob Mills. Actually the hatchery was closed because of funds cut by the Bureau of Reclamation and a skeleton staff was left. But the hatchery was kept in good shape and ready to be reopened any time.
Noticing my wagon, from the main road came Hassan Ghandour, MD, who just wanted to say that hed been dreaming all his life to do something like this. But the last five years, after immigrating to this country from Lebanon, he spent for endorsement his MD-degree and had no time for travels. He found that the dreams of childhood for adventures may be realized just after retirement. He was the first doctor whom I met in the last few months. I asked him to give me medicine to soothe my ulcer. He promised to mail a bottle of the Prilosec the best medicine against the stomach ulcer. Hed send it to me in Seattle by general delivery.
Vanya found enough green grass on the trimmed lawns of the hatchery. I was given a separate cottage with a shower facility but after washing myself, I preferred to sleep in my own wagon.
Katie and Aaron Speer, residing at the hatchery, were in the age of sentets. This term I invented writing this book for kids before the teenager age. The first letters of these numbers: Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve gave me this acronym sentet and I hope that the American literature will never forgive me this neologism. Anyhow, the next morning these two sentets were happy being driven around the fishing ponds and made good drawing of my horse eating a carrot.
I proceeded farther down the same road which was used by Lewis and Clark in 1806 on way back to east. On the way to town of Astoria I was stopped many times by friendly people of a variety of professions and religions. Driving his truck in the opposite direction, Sam Owen, came out and suggested that I try a piece of fresh beef. Having no refrigeration facility I declined against such a gift but got from Sam his business card where on the background of the United States flag was printed:
Sure Shot Sams Slaughtering Service Satisfaction Specialist 1-800-747-Kill (5455), (503) 556-2241
On the outskirts of Astoria, I met three Russian boys: Yuri Sashkov, Slava Sarusyan and Vladimir Shavchuk, who came here to study by the sponsorship of students exchange program between our countries. All of them were ready to join me but I doubted that Vanya would be happy with an additional load.
Astoria was founded in April 1811 by the crew of the Tonquin, a ship sent from New York around Cape Horn by John Jacob Astor, founder of the American Fur Company. It is the first American settlement west of the Mississippi River.
In the following years it was to be the destination of explorers, traders, missionaries and settlers. In the beginning of this century it attracted a lot of fishermen and whale hunters from Scandinavia. Their influence on the economics and culture of this region was expressed in an exhibition opened in Finlandia House which I passed on the way to downtown.
Certainly the main attraction of this town is The Astoria Column commemorating the discovery and migration of settlers to these shores of the Sunset Empire. The 125 foot-tall column was patterned after the noted Trajan Column erected in Rome by the Emperor in 114 A.D. I didnt climb up that column in Rome, Italy, and decided not to climb its replica of 164 steps, either, because was busy finding an appropriate camp.
I was invited to stay in the neighboring town of Warrenton by a generous sister, not Mother, Teresa. I met her in downtown Astoria while talking with the newspaper and radio reporters.
It wasnt a very smart decision to go there, because I had to drive across the Youngs Bay by a two mile-long bridge. Tom Bergin from the Clatsop County Sheriffs Department gave us an escort and we safely drove to the other side to be met by Teresas brothers and father, Norm Tussing.
They guided us to the site of Electric Norm Inc., electrical contractors company founded by Norm twenty years ago. He managed to survive when bank interests were 22%, which almost bankrupted him. Nowadays interests are about 10.5% and life is much easier. His three sons Stan, Tom, and Phil with daughter Teresa take care of most of business and leave more leisure time for him and his wife, Gay Joy.
Gay Joy keeps to herself, preoccupied with compiling two volumes of memories, named One Incredible Lady. They were written by her mother, Lora Troutman, and describe her life in hard times of the Great Depression and WW II. They are precious by their simplicity and open-heartedness of an average American woman: wife, mother, grand-mother, and great-grand-mother. In one of her letters she wrote: The world says if you accomplish something outside of your home you are great, but I guess to me, my greatest accomplishment was my family. As I look back on the years of my life, I realize my dreams did materialize. I wanted above all to be a mother and a homemaker. That came true. And this family lives on her legacy, being heartily, open, generous, and following the word of God.
They had no fenced-in field for my horses grazing. Vanya decided to wander around until he was surrounded by the companys trucks and flat-beds. Teresa called the animal food store and they delivered hay and grain. I was placed in an office conference room with a couch and a lot of magazines about electric machinery which were very good to soothe you.
The next morning Gay Joy washed all my clothing and fixed me breakfast. Norm gave me a ride to the Pacific coast.
In their journal Lewis and Clark recalled their elation when November 7, 1805 they reached the Pacific, being the first Americans to cross the continent: Great joy ...we are in view of the ocean ...which we (have) been so long anxious to see, and the roaring or noise made by the waves breaking on the rocky shores...may be heard distinctly.
Never being a good speller, Clark scribbled in his journal:
Ocian in view! O! The joy! They had realized Christopher Columbus dream by finding the shortest way to the Orient. When I reached the Ocean I felt a similar joy at seeing this mighty body of water. I managed to drive from ocean to ocean with my horse and buggy. But I doubt that the editors of the Guiness Book of Records are in a rush to write it down. Perhaps Ill celebrate it tonight with a bottle of Guiness beer.
It was too breezy and cold to swim or sunbathe; huge waves were bringing in the smell of cabbage, vodka and something else nostalgic from the direction of Russia. Id never been on the Russian shore of the ocean and felt elated being on this one asking myself which new ocean I would see next year. I hope sometime to be on the Australian coast and breathe in the mist of the Indian Ocean.
We decided to visit the Fort Clatsop National Memorial, to pay tribute to the Corps of Discovery which under the guidance of only 29 year-old Meriwether Lewis and 33 year-old William Clark established here an American foothold on the Pacific Coast. They originally came to northern banks of Columbia Rivers estuary. Those shores were not of hospitable conditions at all, but this south bank promised more appropriate with an abundance elk hunting and friendly tribe of Clatsop Indians. But to consider this option, Levis and Clark decided to give their men an opportunity to decide themselves the next movement of the expedition. This group of Americans gave here right to vote for a black man York and Indian woman, Sacagawea, more than 100 years before it happened in the rest of the country.
The Corps of Discovery lived here from December 7, 1805, until March 23, 1806 and life at the fort was far from pleasant. Except for 12 of the 106 days it rained every day or night. Clothing rotted and fleas infested the furs and hides of the bedding. It was so bad that Lewis and Clark mentioned in diaries many times that they lacked a full nights sleep. On the road across this country I found the same bugs a nuisance but perhaps to a less extent than my predecessors.
This fort was useful foothold in later diplomacy between the United States and Great Britain to establish the priority of ownership of this region. Today, the Fort Clatsop has been restored and has a shape of a log stockade 50 feet square with two rows of cabins separated by a parade square. Indians, whom Clark described as close bargainers, came to the fort daily to visit and trade, which quickly depleted the expeditions commodity supplies. Especially valuable for trade with the Indians was cooking salt. To augment their low supply of it, Lewis and Clark assigned a high priority to the task of production by boiling ocean water. Before departure it was packed in kegs and carried eastward to be a prime commodity in trade with Indians.
I have paid tribute to the brave men who had paved the trails of this nation and I was happy to be able to partially retrace them.
That day Norman decided to show me as much as possible the beauty of these shores. We drove south to the Ecola State Park. The recreational park of such a bacteriological and contagious name remaining E. coli was actually in harmony with the Terrible Tilly. Lighthouse with such a nickname was installed one mile eastward of the shore. Commissioned in 1881 to help guide ships entering Columbia River, it is now used as a columbarium, a storage place for ashes of the deceased (after E. coli?).
I was impressed by sense of humor of these beachcombers, who choose a graveyard as a beacon for directing seamen.

TIDEWATER
 September 13

The next morning my hostess Gay Joy made sandwiches to go and Norm wrote in my book: Good Luck - welcome. We have a saying in Oregon State that you may leave Oregon but you will always return. I hope so!
He phoned the Sheriffs Office and Sergeant Tom Bergin escorted me again across the Bay, this time in the opposite direction. He gave me time to prepare to cross the Columbia River to Washington State. It was serious matter because the 4.1 mile-long Astoria Bridge is the longest continuous truss span bridge in the world.
Never before, had I experienced driving on such a long a bridge with heavy traffic in both directions. I doubt that Tom had such an experience either, he called for another squad car to back us up.
The most important participant of this adventure - Vanya had no idea how to cross such a big chunk of space as well. I was very anxious about his behavior. In such a situation the veterinarian could recommend giving the horse a sedative, but the horse as a result could behave unpredictable in a dangerous situation. Besides, we had no veterinarian around. I gave Vanya apples and corn, hugged him, blessing ourselves and preceded with Tom in front of the horse with his lights flashing. Another squad car followed behind.
Tom chose the least busy traffic-time for crossing. We reached the Astoria Bridge 9.45 a.m. At height more than 100 yards, wind could be very strong, but this time its velocity was acceptable, and there was no rain which is normal here for the middle of September. Everything seemed serene; skies were mirrored in the waters of the mighty Columbia River. Small boats and yachts passed under the bridge, waved to us.
Cops kept traffic behind us on hold. From time to time they stopped oncoming traffic, letting cars behind to pass us. Most travelers smiled and waved to us. Just one frustrated slob saluted me with his middle-finger. I laughed as hell fancying his brains bubbling with anger at that slow horse which could not make 55 m.p.h.
This typical American gesture has been accepted in Russia for last few years, as well as four letters words. Today, Russians, knowing no English, use this fruit of intercultural exchange to express themselves in this trailer-parks style finger-f.....g way. Maybe that angry guy was Russian?
Actually such kind of people inspires me to behave better than I might normally do. Somebodys ill-breeding might inspire your own good breeding, especially if you want to be a gentleman, at least for awhile.
At 10.50, we came to an exit from the bridge and waved to the cops in appreciation for a safe crossing. All of us will remember this adventure for a long time. Again I was in Washington State whose boundary flows along the mighty Columbia River to the 49th parallel and thence east to the crest of the Rocky Mountains.
In 1792 Robert Gray, an American from Boston, after a long exploration finally spied the legendary River of the West. He named it after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. This discovery gave the United States its first claim to the Oregon Territory, as the land drained by the Columbia River was named.
In 1853 its territory was divided and state of Washington acquired its present name. The first president had never been here and I dont understand why Americans decided to name the state in his honor.
Before the Revolution, George Washington distinguished himself as a courageous but unsuccessful provincial officer. General Edvard Braddock invited him to join his ill-fated expedition as personal aide-de-camp with the courtesy title of colonel. Braddock accepted from him the unwise advice to divide his army, leaving half of them to come up with slow wagons. His army was ambushed and bloody defeated on July 9, 1755, by the French on their march to Ft. Duquesne.
Washingtons choice as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army was chiefly the fruit of political bargaining. New Englander John Adams offered to Washington, representative of Virginia, the chief role as a commander to satisfy Virginian desire to be an equal part of the Revolution.
It didnt require General Washingtons a lot of tactical skills to send an army across the icy Delaware River, Christmas of 1776, to ambush the deadly drunk Hessian troops. Washingtons mistakes of fighting of the French war on the English side had done nothing to teach him the strategy of modern war. Thomas Jefferson later intimated that Washington was not a great tactician, he failed in the field many times and was guilty of grave military blunders.
Naturally bold and courageous, most of time George Washington used evasive and delaying tactics against the British. In general, this General overshadowed the real heroes of the American Revolution, such as John Hancock whom British regarded as one of the most dangerous revolutionaries.
Driving through this Evergreen State, in the neighborhood of Chinook I bumped along in 100 yard long tunnel and again needed the police escort. In such an enclosed space Vanya might be spooked very easily. I asked passing motorist to call the police for assistance. Shortly, two squad cars of the State Troopers came and secured the tunnel for my passage.
Many houses along this road were decorated with driftwood. Mailbox supports were shaped as light-houses, anchors or sea-gals. Chinook was the most decorative town I ever seen before. But the summer season was over and streets were almost empty.
I noticed a biker riding in the same direction with two big luggage baskets on each side. I stopped him to inquire about his direction. Bill Bercik wrote in my book: I was the American on the unusual bicycle riding to Cincinnati, Ohio, to visit my friend Jeremy Williams. Last year he rode his bicycle to Monterey, California, to visit me. This year I am riding my bicycle to visit him.
We said good wishes to each other and proceeded on. He was much faster, which didnt matter to either one of us.
I crossed small creeks and sloughs, looked at the beauty of marshes with its abundance of wildlife and breathtaking view on the Willapa Bay.
At the next rest stop, I decided to water my horse and brought a bucket of water from nearby creek. A touch of that water by his lips drove Vanya frenzy and he kicked the bucket in a fury. Oh gosh, only after that I realized that I was driving through a tidal area and all the water here was salty.
An entrance to headquarters of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge was locked, but its grounds grazing were available. As usual, help came soon. Mr. Royce Baxter, maintenance worker approached when I told him I needed a place to stay. He phoned the management about letting me stay on the grounds, but because of security regulations they refused to grant me permission. We were too close to the road, so I had to tether Vanya to a lamp pole overnight. Royce left me for an hour and came back with a bale of hay for the horse and fruits for both of us.
Royce was happy working in this area with its abundance of wildlife area. On the fall it was open season for hunting. A license cost just $12, with a provision to kill no more than seven birds. I had not the means or desire for hunting. Twenty-five years ago I was entrapped in Yoga belief, followed by Buddhism, Theosophy, etc. and finally I gave up killing any game but myself.
It was raining all night but my wagon was adequately water-proofed. It was just one leaking spot that let water drop onto my sleepy face every 23 seconds. I fixed it the next morning.
The road was surrounded by dense prehistoric forest covered with moss and lichen. Neither ranches nor farms were visible in any direction. Untouched forest was interrupted by Weyerhaeusers Logging Companys tree farms of Douglas-fir and fast growing western hemlock planted in 1960 and already fit for cutting.
Timber from second- and third-growth forest makes up more than 90% of Willapas Valley logging harvest. Nearly two-thirds of the land in the Willapa Bay watershed is commercial forestland.
Soon, on both sides of the road I discovered a forest of stumps which once were living Ponderosa pines. Ponderosa are, the most majestic trees predominant to this region. The trees may reach more than 200 feet, while their width range 5 to 10 feet, this tree might grow as much as 500 years or even longer. These characteristics and their light, strong wood made them the victims of the lumber industry.
For the improvement of public image the logging company put birdhouses on the gigantic stumps closest to the road hiding the destruction. It reminded me of Potemkin village. In the 18th century, Grigori Potemkin, the Governor of the newly annexed Crimean area in southern Russia built impressive fake villages along a route Catherine the Great travelled to inspect his governorship of the land. We, Russians, always were famous in creating false impressions that everything was better than it was. But here I found that our American counterparts can be not better than we.
Close to St. Petersburg, in the town of Sosnovi Bor (Pine Forest), about 30 years ago the Russians built a nuclear power plant, similar to that in Chernobil. Since then, few pine forests were left in the area around the plant. The local public had no idea about the radiation level around there. In case of an uncontrolled radiation discharge, similar to Chernobil, they had an emergency plan, using bombs to redirect the radioactive cloud from St. Petersburg over the Baltic Sea.
Finally I noticed a corrugated metal roof of a huge barn with the word, The Rose Ranch and pulled into front yard of it. A tall middle aged man greeted me with a smile, Hello Russian, Ive heard about your progress and welcome to my place. Bob Rose lived in this house with his wife Janie. His son Jim recently builds his house close to that of his parents.
On 1,500 acres the Rose family raises about 600 heads of cattle. They ship these cattle to Eastern Oregon to gain their market weight at feedlots. Its cheaper than feeding them with purchased grain. This farm area isnt good for grain growth, however, the Rose family considers itself privileged living in such a pristine region.
From the booklet A Tidewater Place, by Edward Wolf, I found that the Willapa Bay ecosystem - the estuary and the forested uplands, whose fresh waters mix with the tidal surges of the bay, is the most productive coastal ecosystem remaining in the continental United States. But introduction of species alien to the ecosystem has provoked worrisome changes of this system. The most visible example is the aggressive cordgrass spartina brought by chance on bottoms of ships from the East Coast in the 1890s.
This weed displaces eelgrass in the intertidal zone, crowding out the many plant and animal species. It traps sediments, raising mudflats into meadows at a rate of several inches a year. In area of Willapa Bay it can grow from a few scattered clones to meadow in just five years. Ninety percent of Willapas 4,000 acres of spartina appeared in the last decade and half.
Methods of riding off spartina range from hand pulling which gets 100% of it, but costs $150,000 an acre, to aerial treatment of herbicide which cost only $125 an acre but only kills about 10 percent of treated area each time.
The Rose Ranch overlooks the Palix River valley which is potential for flooding caused by this invasion weed. It convinced Jane Rose to apply for federal funding through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program. It is designated to help farmers make their farms environmentally better, improving water quality and conservation, and preventing erosion or flooding. It could help local landowners make up their share of the cost of killing spartina.
Sharing dinner with the Rose family and discussing all these problems, I was impressed by their deep involvement in the global environmental problem. They work very hard in order to save the beauty of their land and they help their neighbors to do the same.

RAYMOND
September 15

Probably Mr. Ziak had more money than his opponents in the election campaign for the County Commissioner. Billboards and signs with his name occupied the most visible spots and hills along the road. But to my eye the most impressive sights were the hundreds of metal sculptures of animals and people depicting the history of this country. Made from sheet-metal cutouts, they were placed on hills or along the road, five miles between the towns of South Bend and Raymond. They were so naturalistic and expressive that Vanya was spooked many times and since then I am more inclined to abstract art.
But seriously speaking, the functional exhibition of such a grandeur and impression was phenomenal, comparable to the front yard installation of sculptures by Ray Pearson in Sutherland, Nebraska. This however, was on a much larger scale.
Coming to the gas station for horse watering, I was greeted by an excited Kristine Nevitte who even tried to speak Russian with me. Recently she came from Russia after spending two months there with a peace mission. She enjoyed Russians so much that she was planning to go there again; as soon as she could save money for the trip. My arrival gave her an opportunity to practice her Russian and to show me her neck of the wood. Kristine used to be in accounting business but now was involved as a volunteer in a public relations committee having to deal with unemployment in the area.
After implementation of the new Federal Spotted Owl Law defending forest habitats of this bird in the North-West, thousands of log-workers lost their jobs. Ample areas of logging were declared threatening to the owls well-being because these birds prefer to live in old trees. Loggers in this area lost their job also and needed to consult job-replacing specialists.
Last week workers of local cannery were laid off after cannery was closed because of depleted production of oyster farms. This decline in production was primarily caused by the population explosion of burrowing shrimp who consumed the same food as oysters.
People who lost their jobs couldnt live on unemployment benefits forever and had to find a new occupation. One possible answer was development of a sustainable economy that could harvest the abundance of the ecosystem while maintaining its diversity and integrity. The gathering of mushrooms for the regional restaurant trade and for the export, collection of sword ferns, salal, and moss for the floral trade, etc. wouldnt provide enough jobs for the laid off workers.
Ecologist and writer Edward Wolf stated, Creating a sustainable economy is in a sense a more modest change than the replacement of Willapas temperate rain-forest wilderness with its contemporary tapestry of farmed trees, fish, and oysters. The government programs of environmental restoration of Willapa ecosystem, especially spartina and burrowing shrimps control, could add job opportunity.
My new friend, Kristine, was very much involved with such problems. She was sensitive enough to be concerned about impact of new United States environmental laws on world ecology and development. Cutting off the log industry in this country created growing demand in lumber and consequentially increased logging in the Brazilian rain-forest and Siberian taiga. Enforcement of other countries environmental laws should be coordinated by the International Body and enforced rigorously, as they are in this country. Practically it is impossible to do until they create an International Fund for Protection of World Environment.
Kristine and I discussed these matters while we rode to the Olsens Timberline Ranch in the outskirts of Raymond. The owner, Tony, was on a hunting trip. His wife Margaret, fed pasture and grain to my horse, and accommodated me in a camper parked on the road. Margaret was 7/8 Native American. The ranch was established a hundred years ago by her husbands family. They raised the Registered Polled Hereford Cattle. It was of such good quality that it always won prizes at the County Fairs.
Kristine came again to drive me to the performance of actress Caitlin Hicks in the Third Coast Theater, which recently revitalized its activity in Raymond. Apparently, Caitlin was a professional actress in her own play Some Kinda Woman, brilliantly restoring own experience of child delivery. After that she gave her impression of the life of a woman with cerebral palsy. Such a realistic art was too much for me. I asked Kristine to bring me to a less moralistic place. We ended up in The Boondocks Restaurant.
In such small towns you cant find any liqueur stores and for a gulp of alcohol we had to go to a bar. Patrons there were friendly with a good sense of humor. Todd Stephens, as a token of friendship, and in a memory of our meeting cut off a lock of his Scandinavian blonde hair. He stuck it in my ledger commenting, This is naturally blonde hair. In California it will be hard to find. I have no idea why he was so bitter about Californian blondes and not mentioned Russian ones, but I was relieved that he didnt cut any other part of his body.
Kristine joined me the next morning for a one-day drive. I didnt mind, because she brought a bottle of wine and fish chips with fried onion rings, which I liked since testing it the first time with monks in the Ascension Priory, Idaho.
On way to the town of Olympia we decided to stop at a place of the local celebrity and well-known western artist, Kenneth Hurley. His house was hiding in the middle of the woods. When we came inside, it was crowded as hell. Ken was my age but more slender and muscular; he was a personification of a cowboy and a piece of art by himself.
I was amazed finding, that he had been an artist just since 1979 when he tore up his shoulder while driving a railroad spike. For that mishap, Western Art should be forever grateful. This accident ended up Kens career as a railroad worker and propelled him into a new one as an artist. He was a self-taught artist and his subject matter reflected his love for wildlife, history and the buffalo, these got most of his attention.
In addition to painting, the artist has been the Washington states competitive trail ride champion seven times and Rider of the Year eight. But even after this presentation I was surprised when he gave me a photo of himself riding a buffalo. In my ledger he drew a buffalo pulling my buggy. It is a real piece of art of imagination. I would like to find such a buffalo to do it.
Being a bachelor, Ken doesnt care much about household matters. His house is crowded with memorabilia, animal hides, trophies, oil, pencil and watercolor works. This is the home of a real artist and cowboy who dedicate being himself. I invited him to join my expedition at any time. With regret I left this incredible place to proceed further and to meet more such people.
While Kristine and I were driving and drinking wine we noticed a man about 50 in a rest area. He was sitting on the steps of his brand-new and expensive RV. Jim Wise was a retired airline pilot, who came from Texas in pursuit of adjusting himself to the leisure life of a retiree. Being a young bachelor, he didnt match the senior citizens wandering around the country in their RVs. Jim was somewhere between a dog and a wolf. He was too young to be old and too old to be young, and had no idea what to do with this freedom to be on his own. We chitchatted for a while and Jim was envious about my style of life.
We continued our journey and after a few more miles of driving we pulled up to the side road, which continued into the pine forest. One could collect mushrooms here as I used to do this in Russia. The best, boletus mushrooms, grow in this kind of forest. This forest is common to Russia. Taiga consists mostly of these pine trees. Pine is the tree of life for Russians, especially in the northern region of the country. The best houses are built from pinewood; the same tree is used for firewood. In Siberia, a cedar wood, relative of the pine is more common. Its nuts make good addition to the diet.
For two hundred years Russian navy power depended up on ships built from pinewood. Peter the Great, by his edict, created pine groves to grow the mast trees for his navy. He used these in the Baltic Sea to fight the Swedish fleet. Acquiring the southern shores of that sea, he accessed the richest deposits of fossil resin (amber), originated from the now extinct species of pine. We have existed as long as our pines have existed. And we will be extinct when they are extinct.
In this country, pine trees grow mostly in the North-West and I was happy finding myself in familiar surrounding. Very soon to my surprise I found a rare and huge King-boletus mushroom. I ate it raw sprinkling with salt.
In the United States people are very cautious about eating food from the wilderness. To Russians, the forest gives a substantial part of their foodstuff. We depend on nature much more than people here, and for that reason we destroy it. Our dependence on wilderness is caused on great deal by underdevelopment of our agriculture. Practically, we have no cranberry, blueberry or raspberry farms; we dont grow enough mushrooms; oyster beds and fish hatcheries are almost not known to Russians.
Our environmental awareness is very low because for over 70 years we were told by the authorities that everything bad with environment had been happening only with the Imperialist United States and capitalist Europe. We were raised in the false belief that being born in the USSR was a blessing. For the last ten years our life has been changed considerably. We learned so much bitter truth about our country that most of people dont know in which direction to go. Now we are aware of everything, but can do nothing.
This gigantic mushroom in the middle of the pine forest reminds me of my own blessed yet unhappy country. I promised myself I would write this book about the United States to tell my fellow Russians what I saw here.
 
OLYMPIA
September 17

 I spent a night in house of Bill and Diana Hill, they gave me a lot of pears and apples, my horse and I would share them. When we got to Montesano we met with reporters for The Daily World and The Vidette. Wanda Benvenutti, photographer, bubbling with her Italian blood fell in love with my horse, but not with me. She wrote her comments in my ledger in Italian - till now I have no idea what she wrote. In the town of Brady, I was stopped by a crew of teenage inmates from a local juvenile detention facility. They were working on a construction project and wanted to see my horse. They were so happy petting my horse; it reminded them the free world of their childhood, a world of open prairies and mountains, and the freedom they had lost. Life in a crowd deprived them off the sense of individuality and self-expression. In my ledger they signed their names with no comments or addresses. It wasn't surprising because all of them had the same jail address. In my turn I wished them to get their freedom back as soon as possible and use it in the future more carefully. Farther down the road, in the town of Satsop I pulled over into household of the Creamers to rest. They operated the Creamer Adult Family Home for senior citizens.
 After an encounter with its inhabitants, I found that such a small facility for old people was more humane and hearty than those huge State institutions, where they processed old people however be well-fed but zombie-like creatures with no contacts in the real world. The owner of these people, Pat Creamer, was happy to feed my horse. She described the complications with accommodating such a fragile people in family surroundings, but it was worthwhile psychologically and economically. These poor old-timers were prisoners of own bodies and had no ability or even intention to cross the gate of their lodging. In the beautiful and cozy town of Elma I met again people who were keen to help me with whatever they had. When Joe Swenson found that I was running out of grain, he went to an animal food store and brought over an 80 lb. sack of grain. He invited me to stay in his place if I didn't find a more appropriate one down the road. Farther down the road I was attracted to a new house with a good grazing field on the side. Especially interesting was a mailbox support in the shape of a concrete-mixing truck. But its young inhabitant wasn't up to express his hospitality and excused himself by saying he would be busy tonight with his girl-friend. Actually, that was quite a good excuse.
 Three blocks down the road, I found the hospitable home of Robert and Debbie Jackson who were happy to accommodate me and my horse. I don't know how they managed to keep their own horse, because Bob made just six dollars an hour as an electrician trainee and Debbie worked part-time. They were really poor having no money for fuel and used wood-stove, firewood was piled in the kitchen and outside. But they had a very lovely son and high hopes for Bob's promotion. Besides, they liked horses. Debbie phoned her friend, Pola, a horseshoer, and asked if she'd like to ride along beside me as escort to downtown McCleary.
The next morning Pola came with her horse in a cowgirl's outfit and talked Debbie in to putting something western on before mounting her horse. Debbie found only one piece of western clothing appropriate to her size - her husband's hat. It was the first time in my life that I was escorted, not by police, but two Amazonians and felt myself a real horseman in an appropriate surrounding.
In the outskirts of Olympia I stopped to rest at the Unicorn Feed Store. Here I met the real enthusiasts of horses. Sequoia Elljan stated, "Your free spirit has helped free modern day conceptions, it have placed of transportation restrictions further, shining light and love, opening my mind and eye towards endless possibilities for life." It is hard to catch the main concept of this good wish, but it was very nice of her to write it.
Farther down the road, I was roadsided by George Kilbey, professor of Management of Pacific Lutheran University, who was more specific than Sequoia. He wrote, "Best of everything to you. I have long had a notion that we will return to using horses as a major source of transportation in this country - your existence with the horse proves the possibility of a transition by any of us using horses. Thanks!"
 I am not so optimistic or pessimistic about using horses in our mundane life. They could be useful on small farms where owners grow crops for making organic health foods. As a means of transportation, in such a crowded world, they are definitely obsolete. I don't even want to think about such a grim scenario in the future when human population will shrink ten times, natural resources depleted and horse driving will be economically sound again as it used to be in the last century.
Back on the road, I passed a young woman with fire-red hair, Tia Addington. She agreed to be my guide and drove with me down to East 4th Ave. I stopped at a house with the plaque "Richard's Reptile Refuge". My friends in St. Petersburg, Russia, work in the similar terrarium of the local Zoo and I was interested in how it is maintained. After tethering my horse to lamp pole, I buzzed the door and was greeted by a beautiful middle aged woman holding a Joanne DeGroff, and her husband, Richard, was a passionate lover of snakes, lizards, turtles, and other crawling creatures. This zoo was accommodated on the first floor of their house and the reptilians were in perfect condition. Only two times bigger, the terrarium of my friends in St. Petersburg was maintained by seven employees on the government payroll.
Richard and Joanne kept their small zoo at their own expense. They welcomed children and animal lovers at scheduled times. I gave them the address of my friends in St. Petersburg in the hope that they might exchange animals and visit each other. Their daughter volunteered to drive in front of me to find an appropriate site for my night camping. After a long wandering around north-east Olympia, we finally found a household with an apple orchard and a good pasture under the trees. But before approving my accommodation, the owner, Adrian Brown, inquired at the governor's office and the police station about my identity and criminal records. Only after receiving a positive report did he allow me to unhitch Vanya to graze.
 
 LOST BETWEEN THE BASES
 September 19
 
Today Jeff Smith wrote an article in The Olympian with the headline, Russian hitches his wagon, heads west. He was mistaken in the headline. I had already finished my quest to the west and was heading east, then north to Vancouver, British Columbia. But more outrageous was, he wrote that I was a retiree of 65 - to get instantly 10 years older wasnt good news. Perhaps, for Jeff I was irreversibly old anyway, but to mistake the west for east - give me a break.
To reach the Tacoma-Seattle area, I had to take the Interstate 5, but the state trooper detour me to exit 109 for Rte. 510, going in the opposite direction. After a few miles of driving I was feeling more and more outrageous at this injustice. I knew, there was an old state law that a horse-driven vehicle has priority on the road. Why did he make me take a detour? There was no traffic on the road; I had intended to drive by the Interstate for just seven miles. Perhaps, I was pushed out because some high official person was in this area and would drive by the same road.
In hope that it will be no police around, I turned back to entrance 116 and made my exit at 119 for the Stellacoom Rd. It wasnt the best choice. I found myself in the middle of the Fort Lewis Military Base. I drove alongside fences with trucks and tanks parked behind them, speculated what the soldiers thought about a buggy passing with the motto From Russia with Love...... Were they at least partially suspicious about my being there or didnt they care at all?
Close to the base entrance, I encountered Colonel Dan Peterjohn, from the 5th Army (West), who was returning home on bicycle. Russian officer of such a high rank would newer ride on bike, concerning about lowering by this his authority.
He used to drive tanks, but now both of us were using simple means of transportation and felt something in common.
I had never been in service any thing to anybody and despised the idea of wearing a uniform. All his adult life Dan spent serving this country on army bases around the world and uniform was his second skin.
He respected an order and subordination. I never had been happy serving for any institution. As a researcher, I was more or less independent. But Dan and I felt a deep sympathy for each other because both of us were doing something that we liked. He even invited me to stop for a rest in his house. However, I needed a good pasture for my horse and regretfully, I had to refuse his invitation.
This was a big mistake because five hours after our meeting I was wandering around the luxury suburbs of Tacoma with no place to camp. I found myself in the middle of mansions, private clubs, and golf courses - between people who werent keen to help me. The suburbanite was too busy helping themselves be happy, slaves of happiness.
I decided to cross the Interstate and find something different on the other side of it. Congratulations - I came to the checkpoint of the McChord Air Force Base unexpectedly. There was no way of going back. I asked the Military Police sergeant to arrest the horse and me overnight and keep us under surveillance somewhere on their green field. Actually, I already overheard that they have had very good horse stables.
After long phone negotiations with his superiors, a sergeant gave me an order to follow his squad car. With an escort of a second car behind my wagon we proceeded through the military campus. I believe, I was the first Russian to come on this base. couldnt spy very much because it was already dark.
Base regulations required all oncoming traffic to stop in front of approaching police cars. Drivers behind us werent allowed to pass a squad car. This created havoc on this peaceful military campus. Probably drivers thought that the horse and I were under arrest and were being escorted for detention. To combat impression, I was ceaselessly waving to passing servicemen, showing that I wasnt handcuffed or arrested.
Finally I was deported through another checkpoint with the suggestion to drive south where I might find a private stable. Something went wrong with my blinking lights and to prevent collision with passing cars, I was waving by mini-magpie walking in front of my horse.
In absolute darkness, we pulled into the front yard of the Klear Mont Farms. Its owner, Kim Hanson, laughed loudly listening my experience at the Air Base. She found a spare stall and hay for my horse. Kim excused herself, going to bed, not surprisingly - it was already about midnight.
The next morning Kim found some time to show me her stables and exercise ring. She was an instructor in dressage and jumping with horses and reminded me the iron lady, Margaret Thatcher, by behavior and conduct.
Her employee worked productively and fast, stables were swept clean and horses were shining like waxed cars. I guessed that the neighboring military bases emanated some kind of aura of order and obedience, which could influence me as well - I had to escape this region promptly.
Through the outskirts of Tacoma I managed to reach the state Rte. 167 and proceeded slowly by the shoulder of the road which didnt prevent me from an encounter with  trooper, Thomas Foster, who checked my documents and told  me,
Your license plate is expired.
All fourteen of them hanging from the skirt of the buggy.
Where is your insurance?
 Just relax, officer. For such a kind of transportation I am not required any insurance, license plate, or driver license.
He wasnt sure about it and called to consult his supervisor who came soon with a Polaroid and took a few snapshots for his and my memory. They let me go but warned me about driving on such busy road.
Actually, the road was relatively free of traffic but in the opposite direction it was packed with Friday afternoon traffic of those coming from work in Seattle. Perhaps, it was good and free entertainment watching the horse and buggy on the road. Two helicopters were buzzing over my head as well and probably called the cops again.
Trooper, Christopher Williams, came and explained that I was creating a danger which would lead to road-accidents. People diverted their attention to my horse and might bump into each other. I had to make the next exit and find a side road for farther driving. For a long time I had wanted to do this but there was no side road. Luckily here the West Valley Highway was available.
Chris decided to help me with finding the next camp and drove in front of us making requests along the road. Finally, we came to the Evans family house with a fine paddock. Vanya could roll over and graze on their good green grass here. He left me in the hospitable hands of the Evanses but soon came back in civilian clothing with wife his and kids to pet my horse and feed him with apples. For the last two days my horse was so exhausted that he slept all night lying down. Sorry, Vanya.

SEATTLE
September 21

 On the way through Kent I was stopped by a police officer, S.S. Tamanaha, who couldn't help but to make a snapshot for which he called his supervisor with a Polaroid. I was lucky that they didn't follow me because on the next red light Vanya snatched about ten ears of corn from a truck parked in front of us, and I, as a petty thief, had to hide them inside the buggy. Finally I was coming to the city of my dream - Seattle named after Sealth, a friendly chieftain of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes who was paid $16,000 for the use of his name. It was settled only after 1851 and grows slowly until the 1897 Klondike gold rush for which it served as a jumping-off point to Canada.
I always thought that heroes of Jack London were going in pursuit of their dreams for gold to Alaska and was surprised that they were crossing the Canadian border to get their gold nuggets. For us Russians, books of Jack London were the best source of information about Americans - tough but sincere guys with a sense of respect to themselves and even to their competitors. People, who could survive in any circumstances because they had to, or just their love was waiting for them. In Russia, Jack London was the most popular American writer after Mark Twain and both made the major influence on my life.
Approaching Seattle from south, I found how important for this city existence of the Boeing Co. was: for four miles I passed hangars, shops and airfield of this gigantic pride of American industry Perhaps the second most important company here is the Microsoft computer company headed by the youngest and smartest billionaire, Bill Gates, who owns $60,000,000,000 and each zero means a lot.
 By the Marginal Way I came to Occidental Ave., where I was met by Scot Hansen from the Seattle Mounted Police Patrol. He brought some hay and grain for Vanya and explained how to get to the stables of his unit in Discovery Park. I had never received such a generous welcome as from these people of peace and order, the Mounted Police in Seattle. On the way, I noticed the stables of the Sealth Excursion Company conducting horse carriage tours around downtown Seattle. Their horses were equipped with rubber shoes. The idea of rubber shoes is great but they are too expensive to me. I thought that if Vanya managed to walk without them for four thousand miles - he didn't need them very much. Nataly, half Gypsy and half American Indian, was in charge of these horses, and she was as beautiful as a childhood dream. Such a blood cocktail of hers was so attractive that I wanted to drink it right away. She, perhaps, was 30 years younger than I but it didn't prevent me falling in love with her. It's normal for elder men to loose their heart and mind and even sacrifice their families and honor in behalf of their younger lovers.
 Nothing is special with love of people belonging to the same social circle or age; and even boring. However, such encounter as love between Romeo and Juliet made them famous because Shakespeare shoved that their love was doomed from the beginning. They belonged to feuding groups of Italian medieval society and had no right to fell in love. Nabokov's book Lolita attracted so many readers because he described the love between ageing man and teenaged Lolita. Only tragic and unequal love is worthwhile and interesting for us. Nataly was matching in this range and even expressed her desire to join my expedition, the saddest part of this encounter - I lost her telephone number and have not seen her since.
I drove along the waterfront with crowds of tourists and enjoyed their love of horses in a very practical way - they fed Vanya with all kinds of fruits and vegetables.
 The view on Elliott Bay and Puget Sound was magnificent, yachts and boats moored to piers made this place the haven of my childhood dreams about the place to live and then leave, but to come back after a long journey. I have an impression that the cream of the American dream managed to settle here for awhile, before finding something even more challenging to achieve. These people partially fulfilled their "Manifest Destiny." It was a long and hard way to the headquarters of the mounted police, located on the grounds of a former military base in Discovery Park. The last two steep hills were especially hard.
Lieutenant Kerry Guynn greeted me warmly and after our conversation he wrote in my journal: "Anatoly. You are a scholar and a gentleman. A courageous man travels the world by himself and friends around. Good luck in your travels. Be kind to the world and she will be kind to you." Not so bad either expressed her fillings Japanese look-alike she-cop, Tami McClincy: "Anatoly, it was great fun to meet you!! Now I can say that I know a famous man!! Good luck on the rest of the adventure. Please write to us and let us know how you are doing. Of course, please take very good care of Vanya. Vanya and I really want you to throw away the business card for the slaughter man! Take care and no more "fasting" for 40 days in a row!" She was referring to my experience a few years ago of fasting for 40 days with water but no food. It was made to lose weight but to cleanse my spoiled body. Officers Hansen and Vela, accommodated my horse at their exercise ring with much hay and five pounds of grain. After that Hansen invited me to his place in Ravensdale. I was impressed by his new house and his brand new wife, Renee. How can a regular police officer afford such a residence in such a magnificent surrounding? In my country, a regular militia man (policeman) on his salary can only afford to own or rent a studio-apartment. My hosts made a dinner-party on the deck with a view of the Rainier and St. Hellen mountains. I told them about my friend in Russia, Rostislav Danov, he is a specialist in searching for Yeti or Big-Foot, the legendary human-like ape which allegedly was caught on camera in this area. Rostislav asked me to watch for a Big Foot here. I was watching for him as I sat on the deck sipping a Bloody Mary. But the elusive Big Foot did not come to share drink with us.
Traveler and writer, Bruce Chatwin, once met near the Everest Base Camp a professional Yeti hunter, a Scotsman, and asked him for news of the Loch Ness Monster. "Bah!" the Scot had snapped. "Only loonies look for the Monster."
I hope one day to meet someone like Yeti or at least such Scotsman with his new stories. In the meantime, I was entertained by a local Scotsman, the police officer, who shoved me the Hansens family photos. The most impressive one was photo of the family in the frozen style of the famous "American Gothic," a painting by Grant Wood. In it a couple is standing with a pitch-fork between them, their house in the background. This painting is a bit spooky. It has been the object of jokes as well as being the pride of Americans who believe it depicts values of family, hard work, and owning your house.
 It was nice to stay in this hospitable home but I had to take care of my horse and find a farrier for shoeing Vanya. Scot took me back to the stables and called a veterinarian. Steve Sisley, their vet, meticulously checked Vanya's condition. He found him in perfect health, just in need of some rest. Steve gave Vanya all necessary vaccinations in case they would be needed to cross the Canadian border. For the last couple of weeks Vanya gained extra weight which is normal for horses preparing for the winter season. Sergeant Vela and Officer David Drain offered me a ride to Police Headquarters in downtown Seattle. I was not surprised to find that the Police Chief was a black woman.
Racial and gender quotas are enforced all around this country of former equal opportunities. I was surprised by her name, Toni T. McWashington. Many blacks acquired their last names after the plantation owners. Such names as Washington, Jefferson, or Jackson were common, but letters Mc before Washington, such a hybrid of the name sounded unusual to me.
 Toni wrote in my book: "Anatoly, I hope your trip to the Great North-West is everything you wished. Continued success." Not everything, Captain McWashington. The Consulate was already closed when I came, but the Russian law-consulting company was open. I asked its owner to sign my ledger. I was shocked when in response that a moral midget-at-law told me that the price of his signature is $500 minimum. When I told my police friends later about this incident with the Russians, they couldn't believe it. But I told them that now in Russia a new-born capitalist have no moral standards; they are greedier than their counter-parts in any established capitalist country. They are dangerous because they might use any available means to get rich. But, definitely, even by their low standards that Russian lawyer was a unique crook.
 I was immersed in the life of this beautiful, cozy town with an entertainment at the Pike Place Market. I got the impression that all salesmen at the Fish Market were more interested in amusing potential buyers than to sell their smell by the sea merchandise. Small boutiques were filled with handicrafts, a mass-production from Hong Kong or Taiwan looked more original than the kind sold on the East Coast. I dedicated the next day to visitors who wanted to see my horse and talk with me. Holt Ruffin, the executive director of the Center for Civil Society International, frequently visited Russia for cultural exchange programs. But he forgot all those international matters after seeing my horse and wrote: "Anatoly - it was a great pleasure to meet you + to learn about your trip. You are an example for us: independent, simple living, basic values. Best of luck with the rest of your pilgrimage!" I quote these complementary entries only in order to show the personalities of the people I met.
Later that afternoon, came a brother of my New York friend, Lora Hiroshe. Kurt, after a few years of living in rotten New York City, decided to move to the West Coast. Here he found everything he needed - love and serenity. I gave him a call to say hello from his sister and to invite him to my residence - the office of the mounted police. I was very comfortable here with my own room, TV-set, Xerox, copy machine and shower. A few months before, Kurt was in a car accident. He came on crutches, but with vodka and a lot of food. By habit of drinking, I found him a typical Russian who liked to drink. We became friends right away. After number of shots of vodka, he grasped something original in my expedition and expressed it his witty way: "Anatoly, nothing that I could write will compare to your action: you lead by example. The impracticality of your slow journey and the unachievable of your ideas are only a superficial deception. In this age of aimless technological conquest your journey seems to me to be eminently practical." Kurt made a good point.
The next morning the farrier, Thomas Wright, came to shoe together with the police horses, Vanya. He was the most sophisticated horse-shoer I ever met along the way. I wasn't surprised by this because he was born, raised and learned his skill in Scotland, the land of horse breeding where the best horseshoes are made. It is the country of Walter Scott and Robinson Crusoe's prototype, Alexander Selkirk, who spent four years in solitude on the Pacific island of Juan Fernandez. Thomas could have made the life of Robinson Crusoe much easier had he been there with his blacksmith skills.
Following an old practice, he preheated shoes and imprinted them on Vanya's hoofs before nailing them down. He made a special spike to hold shoes in a fixed position on the hooves. Tom spent twice as much time doing this than the regular farrier. I wasn't surprised that he charges $150, for such a job, but it was free for me. The owner of the Carriage Co., Phillis Eide, came to see my horse and negotiated its purchase. After visiting Canada, I planned to come back here to ship my wagon to Australia. The price would be $4,000. But the price tag for shipping the horse could come close to $20,000, with six months of quarantine in Australia. I didn't have such money and had no choice but to sell Vanya. I wanted to leave him in good hands with the hope that he would work every day pulling carriages with tourists around Seattle. The idle life on the farm is not acceptable for a draft horse.
 
WHIDBEY ISLAND
September 26

Before departing from Discovery Park, I drove with Dave along state Rte. 99 for a reconnaissance of this way out of Seattle. Along the road I noticed a multitude of car dealerships, coffee-houses and restaurants. Apparently, this town was in a good economic health and booming.
Driving again with a horse down the same road, I was sided so many times that I preceded very slowly.
Laurie Glenn stopped me to give me an invitation to visit San Juan Island where she lived with her boyfriend. It was a nice idea, but I had to drive through the Whidbey Island to approach her place. She asked to drive with me for a day. In my ledger Lora wrote: So happy to see you & your dream in motion. Thank you for doing this. Youre making the world what it ought to be. Keep on rolling.
For the next rest I stopped on the site of the BIG-SHOT Woodcarving where Steve and Nanette Backus were making a masterpieces of art with a chainsaw. They were assisted by a Russian who felt a bit deprived because he was working for the boss not himself. Their business was booming and I was happy for them, and grateful for their permission to call the Snohomish County Sheriff Office.
I couldnt see any acceptable place for camping so I decided to ask the police for assistance in finding it. Deputy D.D. Sorenson, came with a state trooper to escort me to the site of the future development, this would be built by Bob Becker and Harold Knox.
It was a very marshy area with soaking ground where even those with four wheels-drive trucks were stuck. For Vanya it wasnt any problem to pass through. I even suggested I would pull them out. My hosts managed to help themselves and after that brought a lot of food and vodka. We drank to our countries and to the lunar eclipse that happened for the second time on my way across this country.
The next morning, the property owners, Bob Becker and his son Robert, brought breakfast to my wagon. For me it was the same as coffee in bed. They also instructed me how to reach the ferry to Whidbey Island.
It wasnt very far from downtown Mukliteo and the road was passing Larrys Smokehouse. Its owner came and handed me two big chunks of smoked salmon, and wished me the best on my journey.
At the entrance to the ferry, there was a problem of the fare. Who am I by the definition - a motor vehicle or a person with horse? To make me fit for ferrys regulations, they decided to consider me a bicyclist with a heavy bike and charged me just $4.80. Vanya was quite relaxed crossing the Puget Sound but left some manure on a deck. It was cleaned by the crew at no extra charge.
Captain George Vancouver discovered this island in 1792 and named it after his sailing master, Joseph Whidbey, who proved the island was not a peninsula by navigating the Deception Pass. His predecessor, British captain John Meares, in 1778 failed to perceive the long-sought River of the West, later it was named the Columbia River. Unlucky captain named the inlet Deception Bay. Its neighboring land he called Cape Disappointment. Since the end of the last century this islands numerous bays and coves have been popular with boaters and fishermen.
On the way through the town of Clinton I was told about a Russian restaurant in a shopping mall. When I came there it was closed, and I proceeded farther to my next camp site. I dont know how the owner of the restaurant found out about my visit and location at the Simmons Garage place. Sonya Ozerova came later and insisted on my coming to her restaurant. She was a phenomenal woman of 50 who came to this country six years earlier with no money but an ambition to open a chain of restaurants with a European style of service but modest American prices.
Her restaurant was designed in the cozy Laura Ashley style with ornamental wallpaper, a lot of plants and flowers inside and out. She served mussels saut; with white French wine, there was a candle in the center of the table. This relax atmosphere was a bit spoiled by shopping-mall-style of music, but I already knew that perfection is a way of deception. The waitress was Marina who came here from Lithuania in hope to be a millionaires wife, but for a while she wanted to study business administration.
In my book they wrote in Russian: To Anatoly and Vanya from their admirers - what you managed to make in 9 months is impossible for other people to make in all their life. Your future book is something that we are waiting for. Good lack.
Sonya brought me back to my hosts, Shirley and Gordon, who had a towing business and were much better off than when they used to be barbers. They invited Jeffrey Thompson the next morning to wash the windows of their new house. It was a new business for him as well, but he was happy to do it because he could make $15 in an hour and he had a lot of clients. Washing windows myself in my apartment once in an year, free of charge, I was surprised that somebody can pay such amount of money to hire professional window washer. Perhaps, money give you opportunity for freedom to be lazy.
When I was hitching the horse to start my next day of driving, two men came and invited me to stop by on the M-Bar-C Horse Ranch. They conducted the handicapped and therapeutic riding program for children who were physically, mentally or emotionally disadvantaged. I used to meet such children before and was happy to meet them here. Dick Francisco and Scotty Ray, guided me to their place of their childhood dream. At this ranch they recreated a kind of western town: a sheriffs office and jail, horse stables, log cabins, and a corral for horse riding.
This ranch was created as an essential part of the Forgotten Childrens Fund program. The Fund began by chance in 1976. A young boys letter to Santa got mixed up in the business mail sent to the Francisco restaurant. The heart-tugging Christmas appeal from a small boy named Craig could not have found a more sympathetic audience than Dick and his employees.
The letter read: Dear Santa, moma said you got lost last year and couldint find your way to our house we wrilly mist you aspeshaly my little sisters Please come this year Santa We are beaing very good Moma sais youll get lost again mybe so hear is a map. Love, Craig. PS. dont leav any thing for dady becuse he isnt here anymore.
Despite an extensive search which included the FBI, Dick never found Craig, but the letter gave the beginning of the Forgotten Childrens Fund.
Its director, Dick Francisco, brings Christmas to those who have been forgotten. He has been a Marine Corps fighter pilot, a boxing national champion, a cowboy, and a successful businessman. With a gang of friends he manages this horse ranch for the amusement of handicapped children. He is fond of saying, The best thing for the inside of a kid is the outside of a horse. The poem, by John Anthony Davis was written about such a child:
I CAN
I cannot walk, or run, or play
A game of tennis every day.
I cannot dance or ride a bike,
Ill never know what skatings like
I have no soccer boots or ball,
They are no use to me at all.
Ill never ski the waves or snow,
So many thrills Ill never know.
Ill never sail the winds or surf,
Or chase a ball across the turf.
Nor climb the snow capped peaks above,
So many things Ill never love.
But I can ride through forest trails
To see the fox and rabbit tails
And watch the geese and ducks take flight
While leaping stages and deer take fright.
And I can follow mountain tracks
Past climbers weighted down with packs,
To trace a river to its source
Astride the broad back of horse.
Yes, I enjoy the sport of of kings
When carried high my feet take wings.
To fly me on a pleasure course
For I can mount and ride a horse.
 I gave a ride to the kids in my buggy. After that my hosts accommodated Vanya on a good green field, and I was the guest house. I showed my hosts the ledger with a letter from blind children in Jacksonville, Illinois, and told them about meeting with other children along the road. Unexpectedly, at the evening meeting of volunteers my hosts gave me the flag of the USA with a certificate that said:
THE FLAG of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
This is to certify that the accompanying flag was flown over the United States Capitol on February 23, at the request of the Honorable Rick White, Member of Congress.
This flag was flown for
ANATOLY SHIMANSKY.
TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE AND PEACE
  FROM: The Forgotten Children Handicapped & Therapeutic
Riding & Ranch Program. Whidbey Island Washington,
  Such an honor was overwhelming and I almost cried when accepted the flag. A few months after it was shown on Russian national television.

JIM REDSKY
September 29

As a matter of fact, I never knew where the next stop would be, but this day I was stopped by Michael Seraphinoff, professor of literature of Seattle University who taught students his native Macedonian literature (which I never heard about). He made arrangements for me to stay the next night at his friends Firecrest Tree Farm. It was another stop and conversations with happy, lucky inhabitants at beautiful Whidbey Island.
John Watson, the owner of The Open Door Christian Book & Gift Center loaded us up with apples and pears.
The owners of the Greenbank Store, Tom and Mary Coupes waited for us outside their shop with a suggestion to take whatever I liked from the shelves.
There was such hospitality and generosity in all the people that I got the impression of driving through a different time-frame with the people living in the past or future of this country.
I even participated in the current political campaign when I met the brother of the State Senator, Kevin Quigley. He was driving with his friend Eric Schnider. Their truck was full of slogans: Kevin Quigley for US Congress. 2nd District. They asked me to attach one of their signs to my wagon. All across this country I tried to be politically neutral but couldnt reject such a request, especially after being given a five dollars donation. Perhaps, my participation was effective, because as I later learned, Kevin won the election on the Democratic ballot. But my friend, the Republican Doc Hastings, won the election in his district as well.
The owners of the Fircrest Tree Farm, Jim and Cardyn Davis, were waiting for me. They had installed an electric fence to keep Vanya from sneaking out. For many years Jim used to be a banker and real estate agent but finally found that farming fitted his nature. Now he was happy growing Christmas trees and eleven varieties of apples.
There were about 500 producing trees on dwarfing rootstocks trained to be supported by a four wire trellis system. Because of an isolated location and cool nighttime temperatures, the Davises are able to grow apples without using chemical insecticides. Jim makes a good wine from his apples. I tasted it with great pleasure and was assured that I would be supplied with a couple bottles to go.
Glenn Jones, friend of Jim came to talk with me about the possibility to bike across Russia. I think he can do it with no problem using rural roads, but he should learn a few Russian words.
My friend, David Grant, with his family had traveled across Russia without any problems, but he knew Russian a bit and had a horse with buggy. From my experience, in this country people are more open to horsemen than to bikers. I suggested to Glenn he should buy a horse in Poland and drive it across Russia. It isnt easy to find a good horse in Russia nowadays.
I was sleeping in a house of the Davis family under a blanket made from goose feathers and dreamed about my own farm, somewhere on an oceanfront with an orchard of breadfruits. With such fruits you may forget about making bread.
The next morning I found Jim had written in my ledger: Your journey will lead to another degree - Dr. of Humanity. Travel safely!
We had oatmeal with raisins and coffee for breakfast. Vanya got an unlimited amount of apples, Jonagold variety. I was sorry to leave such fantastic people of good heart and nature but I had to finish my task.
At Oak Harbor I came under cover of jet-fighters taking off and landing with a roaring sound at their air base. I wondered why they made so much noise because of one Russians coming.
I was a bit soothed after being invited to the primary school; this belonged to the Seventh-Days Adventists (SDA). Its pupil, Shannon Schulz, gifted me with a handmade Dream Catcher. The instructions to use it said: According to American Indian legends, dreams are messages from sacred spirits. It is said that the hole in the center of the web allows the good dreams through while bad dreams are trapped in the web until they disappear in the morning sun. Dream catchers are believed to bless the sleeping one with pleasant dreams, good luck and harmony throughout their lives. I already had had very good dreams last night but with this new huge dream catcher my horse will be well-protected also.
My last hosts advised me to stop at the Arrow Leather shop owned by Jim and Angie Wood, in town of Oak Harbor. Jim was warned about my possible arrival and waited outside his trailer.
He was a tall bulky man with long red hair, outfitted in suede clothing in the style of the fur trappers. My first question was, Where did you get that hat. Because his felt hat was a piece of art, a hybrid between a fedora and a 10-gallon hat - definitely of his own design.
Jim was about 45, retired army sergeant, who used to serve in Alaska, South Korea and Vietnam. All his three children were serving as well. His major occupation was making buckskin and leather clothing, besides; he was a big fan of flintlock guns and primitive skills of hunting.
In his front yard he installed a bulls-eye to practice throwing tomahawks and knives. He gave me a lesson, but I found myself a very humble student.
To compensate my poor performance, I told Jim an old anecdote: An Arapaho Indian chief was in his tribe the champion in crossbow shooting. Once he dropped to his Jewish friends house where he found on the fence 10 target marks with arrows exactly in the center of bulls-eyes. Impressed by such marksmanship, he asked how it was achieved. His friend explained: The difference is in an approach to target shooting. While most of people draw target marks before shooting, I first shoot and only after that draw bulls-eye around arrow.
Jims sense of humor and energy were overwhelming. It charged everybody and everything around. He said, in their trips for rendezvous with people who were like him, his Korean wife was a good substitute for the American Indian; she resembled the Indian in appearance. Because of Jims red hair and good humor, his Indian friends named Jim, Redsky, and he was very proud of this.
Angie broiled sausages made from blood with as much cholesterol as the average person consumes in a year. But Jim wasnt the usual personality, and he was a big fan of food with cholesterol. To save Jim from an unavoidable heart attack, I shared half of that dangerously delicious meal with him.
He accommodated me in the attic of his shop. When I woke up the next morning, I found next message in my ledger:
Dear Anatoly. Today I received a phone call and someone told me that there was a man riding a wagon pulled with a horse, that was coming to see me, and that this man was from Russia, and that we just had to meet him: a day I would always remember: a few hours later this man arrived. He gave me the lead rope to his horse John and introduced us. John and I walked around the yard, got feed, water and settled in for the night. Now that the horse was comfortable, Angie decided it time to feed us. This will be a meal Angie & I will always remember, to share thoughts, events - life & times with a man that should be a total stranger, we feel we have known a long time. For sure we will remember him for a very very long time: good life to you my Jim Redsky & Angie Wood.
To our surprise, Jim and I didnt find Vanya on the field. Only after an hour of searching did we see him. He was paying a visit to the horses in the stables across the road.
To boost my physical and moral strength Jim Redsky gave me a breast plate made from beads and leather in the shape of the American Indians mandala. Its supposed to transform the power of a horse directly to me each time I think about it. I made a point that my horse was castrated and he cant transfer his sexual power to me if I should be in need, Jim assured me that I could rely on his help any time.

 LAURIE GLENN
 Octomber 1
      
John and Molly Swen-Sheevan, stopped me to talk about horses and boats. Most of the time they lived on their sloop "Grace," moored on the Lopez Island. To support a modest style of living, they had a blacksmith shop on old school bus and forged things in the Celtic style. Their life was slow with no attempt to be rich or famous. Definitely, these islanders represent a distinctive brand of Americans. On the mainland life was a bit different - only after a third attempt I found lodging with Ken and Mary Meyer. Their neighbors were much less hospitable. Ken was 74. He used to work in an oil refinery, gaining a good pension. But now his life was in a shambles because just a month before Mary was diagnosed with lung cancer. She tried to soothe her husband, in his turn Ken wouldn't allow himself to show his sadness and went outside to grieve. Ken asked what I would like to drink - whiskey or vodka, and I chose vodka. It was obvious that alcohol helped him to survive these hard times. While he was drinking, I tried to persuade Mary to fast, at least for a month to heal her cancer, but she didn't want to hear about such a remedy. It seemed that she already was preparing herself for death.
 Driving up Rte. 11, I found myself in the neighborhood of two hospitable towns of Edison and Bow. I was invited for breakfast in the Rhododendron Cafe. Recently its owners, Don and Carol Shank, opened the Rhody Too! Gallery and gift shop. In appreciation of their hospitality I took Carol for a ride. We swapped my bandana for her hat pin with a silhouette of Mount Baker, landmark of this region. Their friend James Bertolino gifted me with the toast:
May you always have art
To charm your days,
A sensible hearth, and friends
As dependable as gravity.
May you have an appaloosa
To ride the outline of blue hills,
And nothing that sickens,
And no black sticks.
A little while later my friend Laurie Glenn came with her car. She parked it on shoulder of the road and joined me on the way to Bellingham. I met her in Seattle and she invited me to stay as her guest on the island of San Juan. Since then her situation has changed and she decided to move to Seattle. For many years Laurie enjoyed the life of a free spirit, wandering around, trying her talents in dancing, singing, playing, and art painting. But getting closer to 30, she found a necessity to establish her own family. She was admitted to the State University to study the profession of midwifery, less romantic but more reliable. She had a steady boyfriend with a steady job. Her drive for family life with children was so great that in my ledger she made a drawing of herself as pregnant woman.
The road along the Chukanut Bay was breath-taking beautiful, with majestic pine trees along the sides and the lustrous Pacific Ocean in front of and behind the horizon. Limestone rocks along the road were impregnated with fossils of perished animals, palm trees, ferns and other plants - this land was always abundant with life and beauty. Only now, seeing this crowded and stopped by the magic wand of time life, I appreciated Mark Twain's tales about fossilized snails which were blasted out by miners of lime rocks and happily crawled away, or petrified men, disturbed by these blasts and wandering around mines.
We stopped at The Oyster Bar for watering my horse and phone calls to friends of Laurie in Bellingham. The restaurant chef, Frank Liddell, was a fantastic personality with a deep sense of pride in his job and place in this life. He wrote, "Welcome to Skagit County. Hope you enjoy the colors of Fall, this is beautiful country. I'm happy for you to visit & see this part of the Valley before the developers move in and destroy this precious piece of land and water. Congratulation - you have traveled and enjoyed this country and have seen more than most Americans. I hope our people can travel and enjoy your country as you did theirs. Peace and love. Bless the roads that lie ahead." Frank supplied us with a load of newer delivered oysters and lemons, as well as a special knife for opening them.
My next stop was scheduled at the home of Shella Todd, certified farrier and stable's owner. She placed Vanya in paddock and gave him hay and grain. I knew, he was in good hands so I went with Laurel to the home of her friends. Sarah Clarke lived with her roommates in a big house. She happily greeted us with her friends, Cathee and Jeff Taylor.
Cathee was in Russia twice and each time was shocked by our habits of drinking so much alcohol. Warned about such misbehavior, I was cautious with my drinking habit but enjoyed the company of these friendly people and shared with them oysters and wine. Sarah made a watercolor of blue skies and gave it to me writing: "Dear Anatoly, to a brave heart and an open soul...May the sunsets continue to bring you beauty and may the road bring you good fortune. And when you choose to rest may your garden grow." Laurell gave me a ride around Bellingham, town of her childhood and I fell in love with her and this town - it's so good to be in love for a short time without obligations on either side. And this was her farewell: "Anatoli - it was such a pleasure to travel with you and Vanya along Chuckanut Drive. I know you & your story will grow & spread. When I go with the dancers to the Barter Fair I will dedicate a dance to you." She brought me back to my horse and I kissed his big and soft mouth - a big horse requires a big love.
 
 FERNDALE
 October 3
         
Laurell phoned to friends of her father in Ferndale and made arrangement for me to stay there. Driving through downtown Bellingham by the Marine Drive, I was amazed by the variety of architecture of the private houses. Most of them were built at the beginning of this century, perhaps in prosperous times when the fishing and logging industries were booming.
Now  it  is  the  southern  terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway  from  where  the Cruise Terminal ferries depart for ports  of  Alaska.  A lot of the state's wealth concentrates here because many Alaskan fishermen and gold prospectors live here. Its sheltered harbor gives a safe hide-out to their numerous boats and yachts. I was not in a rush, stopping on the way to feed Vanya with apples or making snapshots of the most interesting mailboxes.
In  the  Lummi  Indian  Reservation  I met Maggie Keelam, half  Indian,  half German, who was so impressed by my wagon that  she  had  an  idea  to  acquire it after I finished my trip.  She had a lot of dogs in her house and decided to make a dog circus.  In order to travel around the country she needed some kind of buggy pulled by a team of mules. Such  the  idea  of  using  my  buggy  for  the amusement of children  was  very  attractive  to me. We came to her house for meeting with members of the future circus.
 Her  house in the village of Lummi Reservation was almost          inaccessible  from  outside  because  of piles of garbage in the  front  yard  and  on  the  porch. Dogs, not knowing yet about their coming fame, were running inside and out of the house and even Maggie didn't know how many of them existed           on premises and could be used for her circus. On  a  fence,  in front of her house she had installed an exhibition  of  her  oil  paintings  - a mixture of American           Indian  and  abstract.  She picked one to give me and called it Fireworks."  Maggie  was  good  artist  but  I had some doubts  about her abilities to drill even one of her dogs to stay  on  hind  legs.  She belonged to type of dreamers, not           doers.
Maggie friend, Freda Abrago, 1/2 Lummi and 1/2 Oceinalt Indian came for a visit. Maggie was very expressive about Freda's  generosity,  she  sold her house to Maggie for just $11,000  which,  as a matter of fact, is the same as a down-payment  by  today's  prices  for a property. It was not the first time I found the American Indians were incredebly generous.
It  wasn't  the  first  time  either  that  I  felt sorry driving  through  an Indian Reservation. Most houses were in disrepair, with piles of garbage and junked cars around. Many men were drunk and idled with no purpose but find more alcohol.  Such villages are more typical for Russia than for the United States.
In  the  town  of  Ferndale  I  was  met  by the chief of police,  Dale Baker, and teenage look-alike reporter for the Record-Journal, Josh  Barnhill. They decided to guide me to my future hosts, family of Ted Lavrinovicz. He lived with wife Marie De Bois, adopted daughter, Joannah, and their common daughter, Flora.
Marie and Ted met each other when both were living in Alaska and fell in love to be married. They purchased a fishing boat Dancer" and moved here to buy this house and settle for a long time. Being sculptor, Marie, found a teacher's job in a local school but Ted was still in the fishing business.
Each year, in March, he flew to Alaska with his crew and spends about a month collecting the caught fish from other fishing boats.  Amazingly, but the earned for this time money let his family survive for last of the year.
Discussing  with  Ted  my plans after visiting Canada, I asked  about  an opportunity to leave my buggy for awhile in his  barn  in  case  I  decided  to ship it to Australia. He didn't mind. I had the option to leave it at least a year.
 My  horse  was  grazing  in  their garden on a variety of grown   vegetables   which  he  was  not  used  to. He was especially surprised by the taste of artichokes, but enjoyed the sweet corn.
The next morning, Ann Marie, made an arrangement with a school principal about a lecture by me to pupils of her school. I   accommodated  Ted  and  his  small  daughter, Flora,  in  the  front seat of my wagon and came into the           school  yard.  About a hundred children crowded under a huge pine tree because of rain.
I was happy to answer their questions. Especially interesting was, whether I was a Republican or Democrat. I dont see much difference between these two parties and had never even belonged to the Communist party in Russia. I doubt that democracy is good for most countries in the world.  The Republican style of government in any country gives an opportunity to be in power not to the best but the most   ambitious and luring people.  And to children I responded that neither party I would belong to.
Coming  close  to  the town of Blaine I was getting a bit nervous   because   the  veterinarian  papers  from  Seattle supposed  to  be  at  checkpoint  of  Canada  but  I  had no acknowledgment about its receiving.
Being  close  to  the  border  with Canada, I noticed the Peace  Arch  with  the  inscriptions:  "Children of a Common Mother" and "Brothers Dwelling Together in Unity." I  already  heard  that this country's name probably came           from   the  Huron-Iroquis  "kanata"  -  meaning  village  or  community. Canada is still considered as a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
But   I  have  some  reservation  about  that  slogan  of children  of  a  common  mother.  In 17781, Americans kicked their Mother out and accepted the concept of the melting pot nation. Canadians decided to go their own way. Their Constitution enacted in 1982, made both English and French the official languages. If 40% Canadians claim the British Isles as a country of their origin, 27% claim France as their mother-country. So, Canadians decided to have two original mothers. For my knowledge, if French Canadians consider themselves as the nation, English-speaking Canadians are neither ethnically nor culturally the nation. This is why they are so attached to their Queen, living quite a few thousand miles from her subjects.
I  was  approaching  Canada,  passing  the  line  of cars waiting  to  be checked-in. After crossing the border, I was pulled over by a customs officer. He sequestered (i like this  word)  from  me a few vegetable but didn't ask for any           veterinarian  papers  when  he  found that I was planning to stay with the horse in Canada less than a month. After  that  I  puled  close  to  immigration  office and           handed  my  passport  to an officer with no name-tag but the number  1875.  He was a bulky man with a Slavic face. And it was the beginning of six-hour torture of me and my horse.
The  officer  spent  long  time  checking  my  data  on  the computer,  after that came back and asked whether I had some cash  on  me. I had somewhere about a hundred dollars but he required $1,600 for supporting myself and horse in Canada for a week.
I  wasn't  sure  how long I'd stay considering the option of  driving  around Vancouver Island or shipping my buggy to Australia and coming back to the USA just with my horse.
I produced my Chase Morgan Bank card and Visa to the officer.  My credit allowance was for about $5,000, but it didnt impress this officer - he needed to see cash. I went to a cash machine in the next building to get money and a bank statement to show how much money I had in my account. But  when  I  dialed  my  pin  number which I thought was my birth  year  written  in  an  opposite  direction, it didn't work. Dialing another combination of digits gave the same result.
It was late Friday afternoon and all the banks in Blaine were already  closed  and  I rejected his proposal to leave with  the  horse  and  come  back later. This bureaucrat was torturing my horse as well. Vanya was tethered to a lamp           pole for hours and the passing cars choked him with their exhaust fumes.
  Finally,  number  1875 called  me  inside  and  with his supervisor  gave  me  an  ultimatum  -  if  I  would  not go voluntarily  back to the United States, they would arrest me and  put my horse in an animal shelter. In complete shock, I          was ready for this solution - at least my horse would get some food and rest. But they backed off saying, if somebody of Canadian citizenship would sign a paper in my behalf, they'd let me go.
  To make things worse, the number 1875 phoned the mounted police in Vancouver with whom I had a preliminary agreement to stay for couple days. He warned them they had to assume complete responsibility for my welfare if they agreed to accept me. Perhaps the police backed off. No formal invitation was sent.
  I saw how that officer's colleagues were shamed by his rudeness and toady behavior. One of them told me that Number 1875 was hired recently and wanted credit from his superiors. In the meantime, the regular Canadians took care of my          horse   bringing   him water and vegetables. The custom officers handed me the flag of Canada.
  When I was  out, puffing my pipe, I decided to chitchat with  a  young  woman with long blond hair and blue eyes who was  petting Vanya. She asked me why I was here for such a long time - she had seen me a few hours ago and on the way back to Canada she saw me again.
  Briefly I described  my  culprit  and Tracy Ann Roberts decided  to  sign  immigration  papers in my behalf with all the responsibilities. I witnessed for about an hour how the number 1875 was trying to pursue Tracy not to do this. She insisted on signing and after six hours spent on that damn checkpoint I was allowed to depart with provisions going straight to her place.
  There was just a small problem to solve. Being  a Canadian  citizen,  she  lived  at  the  Point Roberts which belonged  to  the  USA.  By  the  1846  treaty,  the  U.S. - Canadian border was installed along the 49th parallel and a small   peninsula   named  Point  Roberts,  being  south  of parallel,  was  claimed  as the United States territory. But to reach there you had to go by sea or through Canada. I decided to go there through Vancouver.

CANADA
October 5
          
 I left a checkpoint in absolute darkness and had no knowledge where to go that night. Luckily, I noticed a sign for a camping near-by but when I arrived, there was no grazing field for a horse. This territory belonged to the Semiahmoo Indians who guided me to an enclosed area with gates; the piece of land was leased-out to a billboard company and was lighted by these huge billboards. Finally, I could unhitch poor Vanya and let him graze along the fence. Indians brought water for the horse, smoked salmon for me and an eagle feather to decorate my hat. The woman in charge, Band Manager Joanne Charles, signed in my ledger: "Anatoly, it was a pleasure to meet with you + Vanya on your journey across North America. I'm glad that we were able to accommodate you while traveling through Semiahmoo First Nation Traditional Territory on the Canada/USA border near White Rock, British Columbia. I hope that you + Vanya have a safe journey on your remaining travels. While in BC - enjoy the "SUPERNATURAL" outdoors."
 I left my Indian friends in the hope to meet them again when I would bring them this book as a token of appreciation. For reaching downtown Vancouver I used the King George Highway and it appeared that police watched me constantly. By mistake, I made a wrong turn and almost hit 99-th Highway, but constable, Al Clapp, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police noticed my misbehavior and returned me back to required route. It was obvious that I couldn't reach downtown in one day and in a few hours I started looking for an appropriate camping ground, which was not easy to find in a suburban area of Surrey.
This township was under rapid development. Rows of spacious, lustrous, and faceless mansions were mostly occupied by large families of wealthy Sikhs and other people of Indian extraction. They came here with their money from that former colony to this British dominion. These people didn't concern about well-being of their former country neither about the new one. This town was also rich with people of Chinese descent as well, although these two communities existed separately and barely mixed with the surrounding Caucasian population. Close to crossing of 88 Ave. and 132 Str., I noticed castle with surrounding green field and grazing cattle on. Animals had a small hump on their shoulder which made them zebu-like in appearance. I was not very much surprised by this small ranch in the middle of town, because I already knew that some smartest use this trick for tax-exemptions on their property. Around the corner I pulled into the front yard of a three-story mansion. At the sound of my buggy, a woman in sari, which looked like a duplicate of former Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi - majestic and inaccessible, came out to the porch of her castle. At my request to let my horse graze on her field, she responded very sourly, with the excuse that her husband was not home and would be back very late. It meant - "get out of here and never come back."
Fortunately, not very far from that local Tadze Mahal I found an entrance to the Bear Creek Park. I asked passing police whether it was possible to camp in the picnic area of the park, and they said it would be all right. I unhitched Vanya and let him roll over on the lawn grounds relieving his itch (poor creature, he had no hands to scratch his skin). At the site I was greeted by a man about 70. He was limping with walking-stick wandered around the park in hopes helping somebody and being useful. He offered me assistance to get accommodations. Bent Koster, retired, used to work as a merchant sailor in Denmark and later in Canada and got a retirement pension from both countries. By Canadian standards, it wasn't so bad - $1,600 a month. Being a bachelor, he doesn't spend much on himself; with the extra money he helps unemployed neighbors.
I made a kind of shish kebab, frying pieces of salami and bread on the grill. Bent drove back home and brought back a bottle of vodka and cheese. We had a good party with a good delirious conversation, communicating in English as a second language. We both had a heavy foreign accent. That night we decided to castigate those French-Canadians who decided to separate from Canada and create their own country. Their culture is based on the common Catholic faith, the French language, and the values of rural life. In the province of Quebec they declared French as the official language. I consider it inappropriate because they still live in Canada where two languages are official. The separatist movement in that province is supported by France, a country with big inferiority complex. The French were expelled by the British from Quebec in 1759 and lost most of the wars at the last century and this one. Pompous Charlies-Andre-Marie-Joseph de Gaulle came to Quebec in 1962 and pronounced quite provocative phrase, something like: "Vivre la France."
 I don't think that creation of the new state - New France - separated from Canada will be good for anybody, but seasoned, French speaking politicians. Bent told me that with this scenario, remaining part of Canada will be very easily swallowed up by the United States. It will not be a big surprise, because even now more than half of Canadian industry is owned by investors south of the border and American cultural influence is pervasive.
 It was peaceful in this park even with a group of teenagers playing basketball or football. This sense of community was very well guarded by police patrols on bikes and squad cars. And, both public and police, were happy to communicate with my horse. Vanya was persona grate of the park and he felt safe here sleeping on the side. Early in the morning I was fresh and alert to meet the complications of the coming day. Back on King George highway, I enjoyed the greetings and well-wishes of thousands passing motorists. But after crossing Fraser River I was stopped again. This time by constables, Brian Knipstrom and Bill Grant, who checked my documents but let me proceed farther - it seems I was getting paranoiac about being chased by the Immigration Office. Farther down the road, thousands of people were standing on the sidewalks with signs proclaiming the peaceful war against abortion. They handed me a leaflet with instruction how to conduct, addressed to members of this "Vancouver Life Chain." I would like to quote some lines from it: "May the Lord richly bless you for your stand against the killing of our pre-born children! To God be the glory...Remember the ultimate sacrifice was God's only Son on our behalf. Jesus Christ paid a debt we could never repay - He, by example, demonstrated His love for us. God bless you and thank you."
Personally, I don't like to be in debt and especially when I can't repay it. This doctrine of Christianity isn't acceptable to me, as well as the idea that we're all born sinful. These fighters for the lives of unborn children sounded ridiculous when millions of new unwanted children are born every day on Earth. Human species survival isn't in jeopardy but we can't say this about most of the animal species. These activists should use more energy for saving an unborn wild animal than human beings. The fuss created by these antiabortion activists didn't bother Vanya very and much. He was castrated many years ago and had no impact for creation any problem with somebody's abortion. His driver had never been a sexual activist either - he impregnated a woman ten years ago and until now was sorry for her abortion. But it was her choice refusing to be the mother of his but no her child, and he reluctantly respected it.
 Coming into the edge of town, we encountered a danger in Vanya's mind - trolley cars. They reminded him of huge animals with long horns. He was so spooked by them that I had to walk along side holding his bridle, soothing and petting. On Robson Street, we passed downtown and turned toward the Stanley Park where the stables of mounted police were located. I didn't find much enthusiasm on the officers' faces when we pulled into the front of their office. After conversation with the immigration officer and refusal to be responsible for accepting my expedition - I was a snowball from the skies. Because it was late to find any of their superiors to consult, they decided to let me stay until the next day. To prevent bad scenario the next day, I made a few calls to the media. I invited them to come the next morning for an interview because I felt that my problems with the Immigration Office weren't over. My horse was placed in a dirt paddock and given a few flakes of hay. I was so ill-bred that asked some grain as well. My host gave it to me but said that Canada is not the USA and the yearly budget of stables was just $37,000. After accommodating the horse, I decided to walk around the park and downtown. But before that I tried to communicate with the owner of horse Carriage Company next-door. From my experience I knew that horsemen help each other.
In the case if the police would like to throw me out from their premises I wanted to have some place for an emergency accommodation for my horse. But in this case I found a cold response that shocked me. Since he couldn't get an accommodation for my horse, I asked the owner if he would like to buy my beloved Vanya. That traitor of the Italian nation suggested he pay for Vanya at the price of horse meat - 70 cents per pound, about 1,000 Canadian dollars altogether. Such a meat equivalent of my horse turned me against the man. He wasn't up to communicate with me either. It looked like that we were in confrontation with each other a thousand years before this meeting.
 Walking across the Shakespeare and Rose Gardens of Stanley Park I was amused seeing the monument of its founder, Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada. The Park was established in 1898 and dedicated: "To the use and enjoyment of people of all colors, creeds and customs for all time." Lord Stanley, in his monument holds his arms up blessing the future users of this park. By his appearance he reminded me very much tovarich Lenin's monuments with one difference - tovarich Lenin was allowed to raise just one arm pointing out to the people which direction they have to go. Stanley Park was reigning over Coal Harbor where multiple yachts and boats were moored or idled about. Shining luxury hotels' windows reflected in the harbor's blue water.
The castle owned by a Hong Kong billionaire, the symbol of Vancouver prosperity, was an eyesore to the harbor. As I heard, each inhabitant of Hong Kong who can shows the Immigration Office that his bank account more than $300,000 would automatically be given a Canadian passport. Multiple restaurants and cafes on Deaman Street were filled with people of a variety of color and origin. There were a big percentage of Poles and Czechs. I couldn't afford to eat there and decided to buy some food in the Safeway. After checking the unbelievable high food prices on the shelves I found that I could afford only a few slices of bologna and a piece of Italian bred. Fourteen per cent sales tax added a substantial burden on my budget.
 The next morning, Judy Swanson, reporter from The Province newspaper came to talk with me but asked to keep my horse far away from her - poor girl, she was allergic to the smell of horses. Constable Mike Kuncewicz decided to help me with visa matters. He took me to the Immigration Office, where they asked for $65 to pay for a six months extension of my visa. I had no money, but even more - I neither had nor desire to pay such an amount. Perhaps, as a person, I wanted to challenge this machine of bureaucracy. My hosts weren't happy with such an outcome. They warned me that if they will get the order to arrest me they would have no choice but to do it. My visa wasn't expired yet so after receiving Tracy Roberts' invitation to be my host, the police decided to bring me to the Point Roberts, USA.
 
 POINT ROBERTS
 October 8
 
Constables, Grant Rainsley and Mike Kuncewicz, came with a horse-trailer and flat-bed truck to load my horse and buggy. While we had driven together in the same car through crowded streets of Vancouver, Grant and Mike were busy enforcing the law and stopping automobilists for any kind of traffic violations and writing them citations. What was surprising, that being with them I completely changed my personality. I acquired their attitude to those traffic violators and potential criminals. I was as a hawk in the sky flying over those mobs and ready to dive down any time and punish those violators. From now on I knew the lure of authority and understood why the police like their work. But finally, in couple of hours we were at the checkpoint of Point Roberts. Without any formality we crossed it on the way to my friend Tracy's. We found her very busy restoring her house which was burned a year ago. Even in a working outfit she was as beautiful as a spring dream, with her shining blue eyes and long blond hair braided in a ponytail. While we were busy unloading horse and buggy, Tracy's neighbor came out to complain about Tracy's misbehavior. Tracy, in turn, loaded the officers with her complaints about her neighbor Kristina. Both officers were in Canadian uniform but on the United States territory. They had no authority to make a judicial decision, but this didn't matter to the two women. The officers tried to divert these complaints to a local sheriff. It didn't work until the women exhausted their verbal energy and retreated to their fortresses giving us an opportunity for saying our farewells.
 For the last two days, despite all hurdles, we have gotten along very well. Until now I'm sorry that communicating with these two officers I found only a minuscule part of their characters or interests. Mike Kuncewicz handed me a book of his drawings of horses for kids to color. While on duty, he distributed them, free of charge. After that I understood an additional part of his personality. In my book he signed: "Good luck on the rest of your travels and remember: there is no such thing as a bad day with a horse - only good days and better days." His partner, Grant Rainsley, commented this way: "Anatoly - what a journey! You have a fascinating story to tell - best wishes from the Vancouver Police Mounted Squad."
 Using an opportunity being in the United States, they decided to buy booze which was much cheaper here than in Canada - everything here was cheaper than in that Dominion of Commonwealth. I drove with the officers to a shopping mall. After saying a few last words to each other we hugged as friends forever. After that I came to Kiniski's Reef Tavern to have a glass of good American "Old English "800" beer and forgot about all my troubles with the Canadian law. I come on the tavern's deck with a view on the ocean which is good point of whale watching. But, probably, that day whales were watching humans or just ignored them, so I came inside to watch people.
The summer season was over and the bar almost empty. Close to me an American Indian with braided hair and gold ring in his ear was sipping his beer and playing the instant lottery. The floor around him was sprinkled with hundreds of lotto tickets. He said that in the last two hours he managed to lose $150, but he hoped to compensate with each newly purchased ticket. As he explained, the tribal medicine man told him that this day was supposed to be the luckiest for him and there he was challenging his luck. I knew that for the last years American Indian managed to make a lot of money on gambling habit of their pale-skin counterparts but this guy decided to swim against the current. After Indian, I befriended a bartender, Rob Hawes, who happened to be a big fan of biking. Last year he traveled that way around Australia. After making some money in this bar he was planning to go for biking in Mexico. He made this sounding strange for me comment in my book: "Best wishes on your journey. I hope good luck will rub off you for my trip." I didn't understand what he meant but it was nice anyhow. After 5 P.M., when the working day was over, the bar filled with construction workers, government employees, and other Canadian subjects who came to enjoy the American beer that was 200% cheaper than in their Constitutional Monarchy. In this sense I recalled as Finland's boozers used to come by bus-loads across the border to drink cheap Russian vodka after which they were loaded back to buses in an unconscious conditions for transportation back to their boring country with regulations on alcohol. Being still in a sober condition, construction worker, Allen Connory, wrote a good wish for this book: "May all the wisdom and experience you have gained on your expedition be shared and remembered by many. Good luck for the future."
 I decided to walk around that piece of the America, two square miles-big and populated with 500 people of mixed nationality. As potential border violator or smuggler, I checked the border and found that it was very easy to walk through but for driving it was only one road. Canadian houses along the border had front yards facing their country but backyards were ending in a shallow ditch marking the border with the USA.
Back with Tracy, I found that she was busy monitoring renovation of her house. To do the most of work, she hired handyman, Jim Scott, a friend of her husband Jack whom she was in the process of divorcing. Most of the time, Jim lives on Molokai Island, Hawaii, on his own farmland. Being young, he came to Hawaii and fell in love with that land forever. By that time, it was piece of land for sale on Molokai, 11 acres-big with a price of just $23,000. He hurried back to Detroit and begged his retired father to lend him this amount of money. All his life his father worked hard on the assembly conveyor. He believed in the American ethic of working hard all your life to earn your leisure time at the end. But his own son wanted to start his life in the opposite way - from the leisure of Hawaii. It was something that an old man couldn't comprehend. After a few days of deliberations, he agreed to lend his son the required amount. This is how Jim came to acquire his own land.
Since then, Jim's been living in the Waialua Valley which in English stands for "many waters," 300 waterfalls decorate this level of the island. About two dozen of his neighbors are free-lance people having no steady jobs and living after land which produce most of their needs. He's called there "Mango Jim" because he grows a lot of mango as well as cassava and other native fruits and vegetables. From time to time, he hunts for wild pigs. Jim shares his prize with neighbors who, in their turn, share with him their own plenitude. Nobody in that valley has electricity or a telephone. Everybody opposes attempts to install such trash of the outside world. That cranks masterminded the program of sustainable agriculture long before even heard about it. With his, mostly Caucasian neighbors, Jim founded an educational program for children of indigenous people. He invites those mostly urban children to his farms where they learn an already forgotten Hawaiian agriculture and hunting skills. The valley is accessible just by helicopters or boats, and to keep unwanted tourists or beachcombers off, locals installed a sign warning that Captain James Cook in 1779 perished on these beaches because he wasn't wanted by locals.
But it is not easy to sustain such a primitive style of living without a side income. From time to time, Jim has to paint or construct something to pay his bills. He came here to renovate his friend's house in six weeks, but already he has spent more than four months with Tracy's projects. She was a high maintenance woman and needed constant attention from her surroundings. Tracy was a kind of star who wasnt comfortable without her satellites. At the same time she was a successful businesswoman who managed a spacious house as well as a fashionable clothing boutique. She asked me and Jim to help with sorting out a lot of the garbage in the storage barn close to her shop. There is just one garbage dump in Point Roberts. It's owned by a "garbage guru" who charges exuberant prices for collecting garbage. Because of it people accumulate tons of garbage around them. Tracy was no exception and we were just shuffling unwanted items in a huge hall of a former theater from one corner to another. To stress her own beauty Tracy needs humble people around her, like Jim and me. She couldn't stay idle and people around her should always be busy. Her activity mainly consists in shuffling items and people. But her personality is so powerful, her skills of using female insecurity so sophisticated that you couldn't withstand it. You stayed in her orbit with a pleasure of being the sacrificed goat. For the last two months Jim has been saying that he'll go home tomorrow. Each time Tracy found emergency tasks to keep him there. She suggested that I stay here longer as well, but I wanted to meet with the Prime Minister of British Columbia and express my feelings about his Immigration office.
After multiple phone calls to Victoria, capital of British Columbia, I finally scheduled an appointment with the Executive Director, Ron Wiekstrom. My immigration rivals found out about it and warned that I'd not get permission for using ferries to drive there with a horse. As an alternative, I considered to visit the provincial capital without the horse and to make complaints about how I was treated by these officials.
 The next morning when I came to the border checkpoint, the officers detained me until it was too late for the ferry's scheduled departure. I missed the appointment with  the Director. After that I was given an order going with my horse straight to checkpoint in Blaine. Tracy and Jim came to say farewell and he signed book: "Anatoly. Lean forward, all will follow. Wish only the best of times for you. Auha Nui Loa. Mango Jim." Tracy invited me to come again and wrote: "Anatoly, you're a wonderful human being and I truly enjoyed meeting you. Safe journey on the road & in your life. May it be like a maple tree more beautiful as it turns. You friend Tracy."
 Aloha, my friends!
 
 BACK TO THE GOD-BLESSED AMERICA
 October 11

It was so nice to meet a beautiful Russian girl, Laura Walsh Kuroyedova. She was married to a Canadian and very much involved with restoring the Boy and Girl Scouts movement in Russia. For 70 years the Scouts groups were interrupted by the Communist movement which, thank God, is over for good. Laura was enthused by an idea of my book, and she gave me some contacts in Moscow for publishing it in Russian.
 I was hoping that constables, Mike Leary and J. Poulin, in the town of Delta weren't sent by the Immigration Office to enforce its order but came just to greet me along the way. They brought me a patch of the Delta Police Department with the Queen's Crown on the top of it, suggested the route along the Boundary Bay by the dike and even phoned the local police to escort me there and unlock the gates along the road. There was no traffic along that dike-road and even park rangers from the Greater Vancouver Regional District Parks were patrolling the area on bikes. I asked who owned a castle-like building on the edge of the park. They told me that the owner was a rich doctor from Iran who was hiding here from Moslem extremists. There are many rich people coming to Canada who consider it safer than the USA.
 When I, accidentally, turned on the 96 Street and proceeded along a little farther, I was greeted by the same woman who had confronted Tracy at the Point Roberts. She finally told me her side of the conflict. My love's, Tracy, character was painted in the most dark colors and many four-letter words were used. But only one woman a man don't want to see naked it is the truth. Finally Kristina had the opportunity to give Vanya carrots, which was denied by Tracy when I was staying on her premises. Ken Dave, uncle of Kristina, was breeding Holstein cattle and was so nice that watching my greedy eyes on his worn out straw hat with holes, he gave it to me as a token of friendship, with this comment: "Anatoly enjoy my straw hat - wear it in good health."
 Down Rte. 10, in the twilight, I came into the town of Surrey and pulled in backyard of David Fay. He lived in rented house and phoned the owners who brought some grain for Vanya. Recently David's family life fell apart - he separated from his wife, his daughter dropped out the school. Only his job was steady. Working for the telephone company he was making $50 an hour but his union was charging the client $98. Hearing this, I wasn't surprised that Canada was so expensive. I found David deeply depressed because that day his friend, Alex, came with a new wife and was making love upstairs. It was so intensive that the old house was shaking. Dave was sorry for his friend, for his wife and for himself. He knew how hard it to be married. Basically he was just drunk after the wedding party. Luckily, his friend came downstairs in a little while and laughed about Dave's grief. Alex and his fianc; had faked their marriage and were just practicing for the honeymoon.
More serious were, Cherie Dolo and Sanja Cowan, who came to see my horse. They graduated high school and were in love. Their parents weren't happy about possible marriage - he was 18 and she 20. At such a young age it was a big age gap. Besides, Sanja was of East Indian origin and she was Caucasian. I was surprised how life in a new country and the adoption could change the boy from a poor Indian village into a typical American or Canadian teenager. Both of them were so sweet and I hope for a happy conclusion with their marriage. On the way back to the border I was stopped by the owner of a huge tractor-trailer with hay. Romanian immigrant, Arnold Wittchen, told me to take as much of hay as I liked. With a deep appreciation I took a few flakes because there was no room in my wagon. I couldn't pull into the area of the duty-free shop on the border because at the entrance they had installed sharp, rake-like spikes to prevent the cars that had entered that area from backing up. I tethered Vanya outside and came to buy a bottle of tax-free vodka. At the counter they asked for the license of my vehicle and my turn I asked which one they needed. I had license plates of all 14 states of the United States that I crossed and the fifteenth was of British Columbia. They were hanging all around my buggy.
 Such an extraordinary situation confused the management. To make procedure as it was supposed to be, they sent a security guard with me. He wrote down the number of one of my plates, never mind that all of them were expired. I was coming back to the United States as in my own country and was happy to show the Immigration officer my credentials but he didn't bother himself to look. He just waved a greeting and gave me his patch. Oh home, sweet home!
 Shortly after crossing the border, I met a biker with a small trailer pulled behind his bike. He named himself, Hunter Mann, or Mir (Peace in Russian). On his trailer was written: "Traveling Film Festival." I asked him to sign in my ledger what he's been doing and he wrote that he made, "10,000 miles so far. Travelling by bicycle with trailer - I carry movie projector, films + folding screen. Free movies in small towns that have no cinema. 324 shows in U.S. + Canada. Heading to S. America + Europe. Happy travels my Friend."
 I was lucky meeting a great soul-mate who was bringing amusement to the people around the world and making videoplayer owners obsolete and selfish watching films just for themselves. In Bill Becht's antique shop I overheard information about a unique person who lives here, in Blaine. With friends he restored an old ferry which has been used to glorify the history of this fishing port. I went to his house and met a beautiful personality in the shape of Richard Charlies Sturgill, retired teacher, fisherman and collector of bamboo varieties in his garden. He fishes in Alaska on a boat "ANNA E," named after his daughter. Each year he ships a boat on a barge and flies there with his team-mate. A decade ago he used to make about $30,000 in three days of fishing.
Nowadays fishing isn't as abundant but he still makes good money. Most of his free time he dedicated to the restoration of an old boat. I asked him to write in my diary how it happened and here is his quote: "I am Richard Sturgill, "The Plover Guy." The Plover is a foot passenger ferry, built in 1944 for the Alaska Packers Association cannery, Blaine. It was the only one of its type built. It carried workers across Drayton Harbor, Blaine, to the Alaska Packers Association cannery for 20 years. In 1964 it was converted to a harbor tog. It worked as a tog for for 18 years, until the cannery was sold in 1982. The Plover was dry docked for 14 years. I first saw it in 1988, it took 8 years to get her restored and returned to service. Had lots of help 'The Friends of the Plover' and 'The Plover Beach Gang' did the restoration. I was the engine behind the work. Come back and see us!" I had no time to see his Plover but hope visit this area later and enjoy the company of Richard and his friends. On the way to the town of Ferndale I saw a group of Russian men. It's easy to distinguish the newcomers from Russia by their habit of cracking sunflower seeds in a shell. For them it's like people of this country chewing gum.
 Actually, Viktor and Nazar Gamdysey, weren't Russians but Turks from Azerbaijan. After ethnic cleansing in that country, displaced Russians, Turks, Jews, and other nationalities were pushed out to find new homes around the world. They invited me to stop in their place but I needed a place not only for myself but for my horse, and they had no stable or grazing field.
 On the way across the town of Custer I stopped at the farm of Willard and Charla Wilder who were raising beautiful Percheron draft horses. They were close relatives of Vanya and enjoyed saying hello each other. Charla told me that recently they had visiting with them three Australians who planned to buy Percherons for breeding in their country. I was happy writing their addresses down in the hope to go there one day and meet my soul-mates After an hour of driving, I finally found an appropriate place at the Buttin' Grove farm of Pat and Nadine Grover. They happily found a place for my horse and invited me into their home. On 20 acres they kept 4 pigs, 4 horses, 5 + 5 cats and dogs, and raised 27 pygmy goats for business. Only after finding that I appreciated this they wrote on their business card: "We Do Sell Our Kids."
 Nadine was worked for ASPCA and accepted hurt or displaced animals on the farm. Pat was a big shot in the Vancouver branch of the Safeway Company in Canada. I found that he was responsible for the work performance evaluation of the company's employees. I asked him: "Pat, are you some kind the Big Brother for thousands of people and can you make decisions about their life and future?" He was embarrassed by such a question and assured me that the company has objective criteria and tests to judge how people perform their task. He doesn't decide single- handled who is better or worse. But I was happy that I was just a guest and didn't work for Safeway. For dinner we drove to "George's Cafe & Lounge" in Lynded.
On the way I was surprised by how clean and empty the streets of this beautiful town were. Nadine explained that this town is mostly inhabited by descendants of the Dutch settlers who preserve their ancestors' love of quietness and order. I commented that I could never be their neighbor, being disorganized and sloppy. They would chase me out of the community. Everybody in George's restaurant was friendly. Restaurant owner, George, was a big match for his jumbo dishes. We chose the house's special "12 Baby Back Ribs" for $8.95 and Big George himself served it as the special respect to the Russian. Thank you again, George. The next morning was practically the last one of my expedition, I didn't plan to go farther from Ferndale. I had to find a good place for my horse and store wagon until shipping it to Australia. I came to my former hosts, Marie and Ted Lavrinovcz, and found their house was filled with guests. The artist, Paul Glenn, father of Laurie whom I traveled with, came to visit Marie and Ted on the way to Portugal. Paul was with his wife, and stepmother of Laurie, beautiful Kathy. She was 20 or 30 years younger than him but they matched each other perfectly. Paul generously drew in my ledger an old pine withstanding heavy winds - a perfect match with his personality.
 The second guest was an old friend of Ted, Michael Schmidt, a carpenter from Alaska. His lustrous Harley Davidson was parked in front of the house, its chromatic parts shining. I asked him to give me a ride - never before had I had an opportunity to ride on a Harley, impersonation of the American culture. We made a short trip to downtown Ferndale after which I asked him to write about himself. He willingly did: "Anatoly - It has been a true pleasure meeting you and Vanya. I admire your adventurous soul. As we sit at Mac and Ann Maries home - I think about your journey and mine, for I too am on a journey. Since the 1st week in September I have traveled from Washington, Oregon to Wisconsin - via many back roads on my 1997 Harley Davidson Fatboy. This motorcycle has been my dream for 23 years - and finally I have begun a journey I have looked forward to for many years. I wish you very good luck and many nice adventures. Traveling is a trip! Happy travels Russian pilgram (sic, and I like this misspelling). Now I travel back home - Alaska! Very nice place. May be you will venture that way some day - you are always welcome."
 This time of visit Marie was allergic to horses, so soon I found a good shelter for Vanya across the street, in the Billy and Becky Gaber household. They kept their own Arabian and thoroughbred horses and agreed to accommodate Vanya until I find better place to him. Gabers did not have their own children and adopted Becky's nephew, Jason. A few months ago, as a construction foreman, Bill broke his back and was recuperating very slowly. When I asked about his education, he said that basically he graduated from the school of "hard knocks."
 The next morning Bill brought me to the bus station for the trip to Seattle airport. Waiting for a bus, I became friendly with Tim O'Connel, a wheelchair road-racer who was on the way home after completing the "Midnight Sun Marathon" in Alaska. Before departure for this expedition I was a big fan of the television series about life in Alaska named "Northern Exposure" and fell in love with the main character, Maggie. In one of series they showed wheelchair racers whom I was very impressed by. After that I wanted to meet the real ones. Tim finished the 375 miles-long marathon from Fairbanks to Anchorage in fifth place being "team shadow" - in such competitions the coach designates who's supposed to take first place and who of the team should ride most of the time in front saving their energy for the last jump. Only this year Tim managed to ride 3,000 miles and was planning to go for the Australian marathon. I asked him to sign in my ledger and he wrote: "I will look forward to reading your book, in English of course, and maybe I will see a passage with my name in it. When my travels take me to Russia, I will look you up. I'll write down an Irish saying for traveling, 'May the road meet your feet and may the wind always be at your back." I wished him the same.
 Flying on board of the Boing 747 back to New York, I showed my ledger to the crew, and the First Officer of flight 460, F.A. "Ax" Feltenberg, noted there: "Anatoly, fascinating chronicle. What has taken you months, we now cover in a matter of hours although in much less interesting circumstances. We're now over Rapid City, South Dakota, at 37,000 ft. with about 2 1/2 hours to go to New York. Now that you've met small town America on a first hand basis, are you eager to go back to New York City? Best wishes." Actually I was on the way back to Russia, but I presume, I had a right to sing:
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness;
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.