Journey to Standing Rock

After plans to go to Standing Rock had been made, postponed and/or aborted multiple times, the morning of Dec. 1st, even though Wes hadn’t spoken to me in days, the trip was back on. Recalled him saying “she is dead to us,” when Kim hadn’t committed fully, so I tried not to think about what nasty things he’d said, after I’d told him I couldn’t afford to miss that much work. Now, since the newly-adapted travel dates fit a small window of time availability on my calendar, I was in again. Besides, seemed like they needed me. I’d introduced Kim (who had an SUV and an angry, resentful boyfriend) to Wes (who’d gathered a bunch of donations but no car, let alone license to drive); I was the glue.fullsizeoutput_180f

Kim arrived at 8am, Dec. 2nd. Discussed my conversation with the server the day before, him suggesting this was just some sort of ego trip. We agreed there were certain aspects of the mission that could be considered perks, (that warm fuzzy feeing one gets from doing a good deed, the potential for meeting hotties along the way, the thrill of being on the right side of history – to name a few), but there are wins and losses with any social action. This is Social Economics, where gains are not quantifiable in terms of dollars, but they do make sense. A solid friendship happens when both individuals are getting something they consider worthwhile, whether it’s companionship, a mentor, counsel, encouragement, someone to laugh at their jokes, or any number of other things. Of course we were going to benefit from this journey! It was going to be hard, but we knew we’d have fun and the experience would be valuable in ways we couldn’t yet comprehend.

Our first stop was a breakfast sendoff party for a local group of veterans who were going to Standing Rock in a caravan later that day. This took place at the Native American Family Center. Got there at 9am, just in time for a ceremony, where we joined in a circle, at least a hundred people, praying and sharing a peace pipe. A man in the middle explained, when everyone smokes from the same bowl and there is still smoke leftover at the end, it is a sign the Holy Spirit is present. We cried. We hugged people. We were invited to join the caravan, which Kim and I thought was a great idea, but once we got to Wes, he vetoed that plan, saying we’d be much faster on our own. (Perhaps too fast.)

Wes had three cubic feet of supplies and plans to buy more. I’d posted a message on Facebook that we needed to borrow a roof rack storage container and an old friend, Jophiel, came through in the pinch. Hadn’t seen him in fifteen years! So Kim and I went to retrieve it, then returned to Wes and his friend Sean, our fourth compadre for the trip. Made a stop to get firewood (procured by Sean), which filled the entire storage rack. By the time they were closing the lid, I was already in the driver seat, ready to roll. After a long pause, had a pang of fear – it had something to do with the roof rack.

Sure enough, the boys were struggling, unable to get the key out of the lock. It was stuck! Everyone took turns trying. Wouldn’t budge. Next, Wes and Sean busted out pilers, yanking with all their might. I was afraid they were going to break it! That’s when I noticed the words next to the keyhole, “CHECK LATCH POINTS FOR PROPER ENGAGEMENT”

Once we cleared the lock, it worked fine.

There was one more essential stop, Andy & Bax, where we picked up six hundred dollars worth of gear, including gas masks, hand warmers and flashlights. Hit Robo Taco for our last meal before getting on the road.

It was around 2pm when we passed my exit on the way out of town. A little voice in my head said, “Now’s your last chance to jump ship!” Already starting to miss my cat, did my best to stifle the thought of it.

Maintained my spot at the helm for a solid eight hours, until we got pulled over for speeding. Then it was Sean’s turn to drive. Halfway across Montana we stopped again. It was around 3am, after Kim had woken up and noticed the gas light was on. We were in the bathroom at the gas station when Kim and I realized we had different plans for a return date.

Had a big job scheduled for Dec. 6th, so it was crucial that we left Standing Rock on the 4th. I thought it was going to be a simple supply drop! Also, my period was coming, along with a brutal arctic storm. I’d only allowed myself to go because I’d be home before any of that mess. It was tense for the next few miles, while we debated who’s fault the miscommunication was. I’d interpreted “coming home on the 5th” as arriving in Portland on the 5th. What Kim actually meant was leaving Standing Rock on the 5th, which would get us home a couple days later. This revelation was alarming. While everyone berated me for causing a “bad vibe,” searched for a bright side to the situation. Concluded the mishap was overall a good thing (and apparently 100% my fault) because the trip, as it was, would not have happened otherwise. Laughed out loud at the thought of myself PMSing in the middle of the Standing Rock campgrounds. Ugh.

That’s when Wes offered to pull off in the next town and send me home. There was a bus departing at 4:15am, from Bozeman, so if we stepped on the gas, we’d make it just in time. Didn’t hesitate to accept his offer. It was thirteen hours on three different busses, before I was back in Portland.

Meanwhile, they made it to Standing Rock! They worked in the donation center, did San Pedro, and got to be there for celebrations when the announcement came the next day, that President Obama had FINALLY taken a significant step to help stop the Black Snake of Big Oil. But the fight isn’t over. Energy Trust has vowed to move forward with pipeline construction – despite orders. We will have to wait and see what happens next.

To donate, please go to the Oceti Sakowin Camp website. If you are looking for excellent coverage of the Water Protectors, please check out Jordan of TYT Network:

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