Thank you for visiting! 


(click on back cover to read summary of story)

on Amazon!
Click this link to read unsolicited reviews from verified Amazon purchasers:

(click on any photo to enlarge)

(special effects provided by God)

(my dog UB is visible in canoe)

Besides portaging the dams, I pulled my canoe/cart across South Dakota from the northern boarder to the southern boarder, (300 miles) traveling on rural blacktops and gravel roads from farm to farm and town to town.

(500 MILES)

(first 5 pages)

Trail to Trail
Chapter I
“WE COULD MAKE THE JOURNEY. You know, like Lewis & Clark did. We could canoe the rivers and walk over the mountains.”
James caught the light in his older brother’s eyes. Frank, it seemed, had pulled the idea from thin air.
The family had gathered around Frank’s dinner table just like every Sunday, and as usual they were enjoying a good deal of animated conversation. Frank, however, had hit upon something special. His idea opened a trail into the great wide-open and the two brothers were suddenly fixed on it like a pair of boys making far-flung camping plans.
Frank’s wife Kathy was a level-headed woman and, seeing the two men heading into the great unknown, decided to intervene, “Frank, we would have to pull Megan out of college.”
Frank’s eyes filled with realization even as his jaw went slack. He turned to his wife and tried to backtrack but Kathy wasn’t having it, “We would have to sell our house. You would lose your retirement. And...”
While Frank got a good reminding of life’s realities, James sat immersed in his own situation. Certainly he would have liked to of had children but his ex-wife had felt differently, so he lived alone in a motor home at the end of a dead-end road. James wasn’t without hope however. He had an old canoe and some camping gear tucked away. All that was needed was a good dusting off. He had some money in the bank, not a lot, but enough.
After an evening of family time, James took his leave with hugs and well wishes. He drove into the cool of night, beyond the city limits where the stars of November shone bright. On an empty gravel lane he followed the lay of the land, climbing the prairie-covered hills, descending wooded ravines. He went with thoughts on what his older brother had said, and such being the case, perhaps he felt something not so terribly removed from what Captain Meriwether Lewis felt after President Jefferson laid out his plan for an expedition. Something like a spark to the heart. Not a thrill-seeking spark, but that spark that gives meaning to life.
James’s home could be found at the end of Wild Horse Road in Jefferson County, Kansas. James didn’t own the property but lived there by the grace of his friend and landlord Mark, a high-school teacher who lived with his wife and son in town. James wouldn’t have moved there if he hadn’t needed a cheap place to live. To his surprise, it turned out perfectly, secluded and beautiful, between rolling pasture and wooded ravine. And down in the crux of the ravine, immediately below James’ motor home, a spring had carved a horse-shoe-shaped pool out of the rock. The spring pool was crystal clear, never ran dry, and rarely froze in winter.
On a rocky shelf above the spring, James had cleared undergrowth by hand to claim the excellent contour of the land which was shaded by a grove of walnut trees. And keeping with that flow, James had parked his old church bus behind his motor home so that both were parallel parked atop the rock shelf. Both motor home and church bus were of 70's vintage. The motor home was earth tone in color. The church bus was bright white with bold black Christian insignias and vivid stained-glass windows. In the summer- time, both motor home and church bus appeared to sit in a grassy cove peppered with rocks and bordered by trumpeter vines in bloom. The walnut trees provided shade. A hand-buried line supplied electric power. A barn cat controlled rodents while her kittens played in the yard.
Monday as usual, Frank came to visit and also perhaps to check on James who was nine years his junior. And as usual, on seeing Frank coming up the trail, James’s dog UB, though old and frail, barked and danced and wagged his tail.
“How’s life at ‘the compound?’” Frank asked with a wry smile, standing on a wooden pallet that served as a stoop.
“Good,” James replied happily.
 With Frank comfortably seated inside, James pulled down a large window shade on which he had mounted a map of the USA. “I’ve been thinking of what you said about the Lewis and Clark trail, and you know, I’ve come to realize, I’m in a good position to give this a shot.”
Frank seemed worried. James might drown in the river, or fall from a cliff in the mountains. Moreover, Frank’s fears were magnified by the lens through which he saw his little brother who for some years had been chasing after things that couldn’t put a crumb of bread on the table. In fact, having gotten onto such a path, James had willingly given up a very successful business which he’d built from scratch. Fifteen years of hard work, apparently thrown away. James also sold his house and gave away most of his home furnishings. And things had only gotten “worse” from there. Most recently, James had made an ink pen from a falcon feather which, as far as he could tell, floated down from above. With the feather, James paid homage to his forefathers in verse by candle lantern. Only after showing his mystic feather to Frank had James learned it wasn’t a falcon feather but a turkey feather.
Some months before finding the feather, James had found a long-forgotten pioneer graveyard with the help of a third-generation farmer. The old farmer had told James to walk past a giant cotton- wood tree on the horizon and then continue until he found a wagon road hidden in tall prairie grass—,
 “Find the road and follow it,” the old farmer had said, purposefully neglecting to tell James what waited at its end. So James did as the farmer said and walked toward the cottonwood. Soon the farmer’s place seemed a tiny island of trees in a sea of corn and soy beans behind. It sunk from sight as James went over the next rise. He skirted the edge of a pond that had filled with silt to become a cattail marsh with frogs singing in a chorus. From there the fields were taken over with hedge and hawthorn trees. James walked with a weave to avoid their prickly branches. On the other side of the wood, at the base of a long low rise, James came out in a virgin prairie, wide in girth, and featureless as the blue sky above. At once James noticed how the angle of the sun fell upon the native grass to betray the shadows of two parallel lines. There lay the wagon road. Its ruts were hidden even though they were deep in the earth. James followed their shadows with his eyes across the prairie, rising slowly to a hilltop where stood a small crown of trees. The trees, which must have been great in their day, had gone the way of those who lie below. Their bark had been stripped away, their storm-wrecked limbs bleached by sun and time. Below these wood skeletons, the graves lay concealed in a thicket. Only an ornate fence spear protruded here and there to tell of the Victorian age. Also, the top of a granite obelisk was just visible in the center of the plot. There the pioneers had laid their loved ones to rest. The last to be laid down was in 1895. And by all appearances, there hadn’t been anyone to pay their respects in modern times even though the cemetery lay just ten miles outside a thriving city. But to be fair, local folk kept the place a secret for fear of thieves and vandals. The number of graves surprised James. And he should have seen it coming before he crawled into the thicket but, as he made his way from grave to grave, he realized that nearly all were children. So there James was on his hands and knees, getting closer to something he could not explain, thinking about how it must have been for those fathers and mothers who had to bury their young. And he realized, he did not understand the struggles of the past. He did not know the sum of his debt.
Some folks thought James crazy but in truth he was answering a call. He did not know what he was called to but only knew it to be right in his heart. And as for the Lewis and Clark trail, James saw it as an extension of the path he was already on, and he had already gone beyond the point of turning back.
Several days after James spoke with his brother Frank, their sister Patricia reached him through the modern magic of a telephone (and what would those pioneers have thought, had they known that a 150 years later, people at opposite ends of the Oregon Trail would be speaking clearly to one another through midair!)––,
“James,” said Patricia, “you can do it. I know you can. And I want you to know that, at least on this side of the [continental] divide, I’ll do everything I can to help you.”
Throughout the winter James worked at meeting obligations unrelated to his dream except that they had to be done in lieu of beginning on it. Then in mid-March, James removed a tarp from atop his motor home to reveal a dusty canoe. He put the boat in a   9' X 26' over-the-road cargo-box he’d had trucked in to serve as a workshop. The cargo-box had a ceiling of clear fiberglass which let plenty of daylight in. James strung up plenty of lights so he could work day and night. Next he climbed to a luggage rack atop his church bus where a steel locker contained four large plastic tubs full of camping gear. James brought down his gear and took it into the cargo box where he laid it out alongside his canoe. He next went around behind his bus where a small wooden deck provided easy access through the back door. Above the door, a sign read, “FOLLOW US, WE`’RE FOLLOWING JESUS!”
James had made the inside of his church bus into a workshop. And a fine workshop it was, with workbenches and cabinets custom fit to the contour of the interior. The floor of the workshop was rubberized because it had originally been a school bus. Thus having everything he needed, James turned on the power and set about building the invention that had previously existed only in his mind, a lightweight portage system that integrated canoe, machine, and man.
Although James hoped to be ready in a month, he actually completed his preparations in seven weeks. His tasks included constructing a portaging machine, fixing up an old car that could be thrown away, getting his gear in order, figuring out an unrefrigerated diet, completing physical training, putting the compound into mothballs, arranging to have his rat-killing cat fed while he was away, and so on.
Based on logistical reasons to be later revealed, James decided to attempt the Lewis and Clark trail in reverse. In other words, he would go inbound on their outbound route (from west to east). Therefore James needed to find a way to get his one-man-expedition to the Pacific Ocean some 1,800 miles away. And that was how it came to pass that his friend and landlord Mark stood shaking his head while asking––,
“James, do you really think that this [junky old car] can make it over the mountains?”
The object of Mark’s question was an automobile from the gas crunch days of the early 1980s, a real runt of a rust bucket with its interior gone to rags.
 With a worried gleam, James looked up from the engine bay, “Yeah.”
Mark could hardly keep from laughing.
“It’ll make it,” said James, wrenching on the grease-caked engine. “I’ll make it, make it.”
James had no choice but to make do, having neither budget nor time to afford better. In fact his plan was so short it ended at the beginning, beyond which he had no plan other than to put his boat in the water and paddle.

(Photo looking out from the BLUE MOUNTAINS to 




Mark in Kansas: “I was dragging myself to work in the morning because I couldn’t put it
down at night.”

 Longtime Mayor of Blunt S. Dakota: “The book arrived last Saturday. And I read it and was
done on Monday. I found that every time I laid it down to do something, I could hardly
wait to get back to reading again.”

 Mike in Idaho:  “I have to wonder if you even know what you've achieved...  Your story is
coming right down the street of the folks - it's a journey into the center of the heart of God

Randy in Colorado: "I put off some chores and honey-do’s that needed to be done to read
a little of your book Saturday morning - I ended up reading all day and a good part of 
yesterday. About 7:00pm my wife commented, ' you’ve been reading that book all day, can you

 put it down long enough to eat dinner?' "

 Harold in N. Dakota:  “Just completed your book I am a slow reader but it was great it 
is the first book I have ever read all the ways had trouble keeping a interest in a book but your
book did that I was very pleased to be able to do that being I am 68 years old...”

Marceil in Kansas: "I stayed glued to American Errand, reading on Labor Day weekend, between activities on an antique auto tour. The author's incredible determination was amazing. Surely only by the grace of God did he survive to tell his adventure."

Photographer in Vancouver, WA:  "I read your book with gusto - it held my interest throughout."

Director of Sales for software firm in Kansas:  "Thoroughly enjoyed the read."

Retired Newspaper Publisher in Maine: "…enjoying your book very much."  

Carol in S. Dakota:  "...enjoying reading it."

Cynthia in Illinois:  "James, 4 am... just finished your book. my eyes are tired but my heart and soul feel refreshed and my faith in God even stronger."

My horse Reba and I in rural Kansas
(see explanation below)
After completing the Lewis and Clark Trail, I spent the next five years writing my book, “American Errand.” During this time, I supported myself by working part-time at a large ranch that bordered the property where I lived and eventually I moved my Winnebago and Bus onto the ranch. By such means, I afforded myself a great deal of time to write my book. After completing my book, I had planned to market it, but I gave up my plan because, my heart was in turmoil…I knew God had a different plan for me. God wanted me to go and tell people what He had shown me in my journey, traveling 4,000 miles through America in the footsteps of my forefathers and mothers. My book American Errand was well written but not mature enough to relate such a message. I guess I was just stumbling along in faith. I sold my few remaining disposable assets like my skid loader, etc, and with the proceeds, purchased a draft horse, wagon, harness, etc. Also, I traded my quarter horse to a Amish trainer as part payment for showing me how to wagoneer with draft horses, and for shoeing my draft, and he did a truly excellent job. I should add here that I am not a cowboy, I say this out of love and respect for the real cowboys, men who work cattle from horseback, or rodeo, or both. With fond smile I remember how the ranch hands, foreman, and owner would laugh, and today I laugh with them because it had to be a funny sight to see, what with my draft horse being such a spirited girl, tied to a strong post, and me up in the wagon seat behind her, whereupon turning us lose, she would explode with all her 1,800 pounds of muscle and power, and me flying and bouncing along behind in the wagon. In fact, it wasn’t long before she pulled the wagon in half! Yep, I had to reconstruct it to withstand her strength. She eventually calmed, and became a truly bomb-proof horse and trusted partner! Then with prayers that God lead the way, I set out on a faith-based mission, traveling the gravel roads of rural Kansas by horse and wagon, going from farm to farm, and town to town, delivering a message of faith to my people, the people of rural and small town Kansas, and America, and all that would put their faith in God.

My mission, which I am still doing today, includes the booklet pictured below:
The booklet pictured above is free, and is much more important than my book, “American Errand.”
I handout my booklet to the folks I meet on the trail, and you can read it for free simply by clicking on the caption below the picture of my booklet above which will bring my booklet up on your screen. It is free, easy and quick to read, and I believe you will agree that it is worth your time.

Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.