I’ve been out of the net for a couple of days meandering in the Jeep in the Smoky Mountains with Scout. We explored the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala. We crossed the Appalachian Trail a couple of times as we skidded the TN/NC border. Topped out at 5,000 feet on top of Johns Know (okay a couple of feet short at 4,908).

Camped on a mountainside far from civilization. Watching a fire burn down to embers and then sleeping under the stars is always great. There were zero lights in sight no matter what direction I looked. As I lay there, I thought I heard cars on an Interstate, but then realized the noise was waterfalls.

I also went up a road that went: nowhere. Well, it ended at a splendid overlook, but it was a two lane, paved road. At one point there was a tree fallen across most of it. I envisioned zombies as it looked like one of the desolate roads in Walking Dead, partly covered by stuff.

All the campgrounds were closed, although dispersed camping is allowed. Other times I’ve been in the mountains, the campgrounds are usually packed; often with people who live from campground to campground, moving just inside the 14 day max. Some live in tents, most in pulled campers. But all the campgrounds were empty, which made me wonder where all these nomads have gone? I did see some dispersed campers along riverbeds with big stacks of firewood which made me suspect they were going to be there a while. But where are the rest?

I don’t think those who have never experienced poverty understand what it’s like. I see people in the mountains filling up water jugs out of the Little River; they come down from their shacks farther up to get their water supply as they have no running water. So far, I think they’ve been largely spared COVID-19, since they have little interaction with others, although they do have to go into town for some supplies. I noticed in Ducktown, TN, yes it’s called Ducktown, south of Turtletown, TN, that no one was taking any precautions. I topped off the Jeep, doing my standard disinfect after and an old man stared at me oddly.

The feeling I’m picking up is that people think we’ve peaked and can come back; the data tells me we’re on the upslope. NYC might have peaked, but FL is on the rise along with other places. We just crossed 1 million positive and our testing, despite a constant bragging to the opposite, is lousy.

This pandemic, which has killed more in two months than we lost in the entire Vietnam War, should make us really re-evaluate a lot of things. There are many people dying alone, in their apartments or houses because they can’t afford to go to the emergency room or call an ambulance. I think a lot of people who were laid off and lost their business’s health insurance are having a rude awakening. Universal healthcare isn’t just about helping those less fortunate. It’s about being a community and helping others, helps ourselves.

Will we learn and get better?

Stay safe. Stay positive. Be like Cool Gus. Or even Scout.

The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also now in Kindle Unlimited.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)